Thursday, June 28, 2018

Almost Heaven...Nope, It's Not West Virginia

Whatever is good on earth is just a prelude of heaven to come.

There is no bad in heaven...because there is absolutely nothing bad in our God.

Yet, earth is a shadowy precursor, a simple introduction...not the real thing...not the complete whole. Earth is merely a faint picture of what is to come. It is nothing more than bits and pieces of a puzzle, not yet put together. It’s a slightly blurry picture; a little bit faded; somewhat unclear. It’s wisps of a dream that floats in on a cloud, and out with the morning light. Yet, if I look hard enough, long enough, and diligently, I get a small glimpse of the spectacular-to-come.

When I do, I long for it with all my heart.

I’ve always had this inkling-idea of what I thought heaven would look like. 

There have been moments where I think I see it...

Rolling hills.

Green pastures.

Bright blue skies.

Wild flowers scattered about.

Sheep, horses, cattle grazing, or lying down, in sublime peace.

Gently flowing rivers.

Think Psalm 23 and you’ve got it...

Think Scotland, and you’re much closer still...

We just returned from the UK - 26 days of GONE, 4 days of travel; but, 35 speaking times! I’m so thankful for all these windows of opportunity the Lord allows us here on earth!

The first 13 days, we traveled north from London to Norfolk, to Nottingham, and on to rural Scotland, where we ministered in a prison, and in two different Teen Challenge rehab centers, and at a Teen Challenge leadership academy. The ministry was wonderful, but the scenery was other-worldly...

Truly, by the time our driver-friend stopped the car at the center near Duns, Scotland, I was speechless...breathless, even (like someone stole the air from my lungs). 

When I found my voice, I commented, “In all my dreams, this is exactly what heaven looks like...” 

It did.

For you, it may be the majesty of the mountains, or the rushing in and out of strong powerful ocean tides upon white sandy shores. For you, it might be the hush of a quiet library, surrounded by ALL THAT KNOWLEDGE; or a chemistry lab; or even the sight and smell of a glorious garden in full bloom...  Heaven is all that, too... But, even then, it is SO. MUCH. MORE.

After all, add family and friends who have gone before us. Those who’ve found salvation and are already there, ready to greet us and show us all that awaits...

Most of all, add to the mix, Jesus...and, all of a sudden, that verse in Psalm 16 (# 11) that says, “In His presence is fullness of joy...” (OY!), it simply takes on a literal meaning. IMAGINE!

Total goodness, stunning beauty, incredible relationships, the presence of Jesus, bubbly-overflowing-uncontainable-joy..........................................

Well, it makes me wonder: 
Why, then, do I struggle when people I love are possibly sick-unto-death? Why, then, do I refer to the home-going of gone-before-their-time-loved-ones as tragic? Why, then, do I want to cling to life on earth, instead of seeing each day as a step closer to all that awaits? 

Gaining an eternal perspective changes so much how I think about life and death. 

It gives me greater appreciation for Paul’s words:

For me to live is Christ, but to die is to my ADVANTAGE... 
(Philippians 1:21)
But we do not want you to be uniformed (ignorant, uneducated, to be mistaken), about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died... (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

These thoughts have led me to these conclusions:
1) Heaven is incredible gain...I’m to keep looking for that eternal perspective...

2) Earth is my one opportunity to serve Heaven’s purposes...I’m to continue using every opportunity to creatively love and share the gospel that others may escape the alternative...

3) For those who go before, who have “believed in Jesus, the ONE who died and rose again to bring salvation,” I will CELEBRATE with joy the blessing of being in His Presence. 

4) No longer will I grieve without hope attached...

5) I will fix my eyes on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God...not on the things of earth!

🎶...and, the things of earth will go strangely dim! 🎶

All this beauty...and it will just be a dull dimness of what is to come!!!!

Join me next week, for one final thought on heaven...after which, I'm about to shift gears...

Thursday, June 21, 2018

I Can Only Imagine...How About You?

“I can only imagine…what it will be like…when I walk by Your side...”

With that song ringing in my ears, I wonder…what do others think about heaven?

That question has been bouncing around my brain for a week.

So, I went to that all important world of hashtags to see what others were thinking…the land of Twitter.


Here’s what the top hits revealed:

“My brother did it again!! Congrats Bubba!!!!! #1 song in the country!!! #heaven”

(A picture of a gorgeous red tulip field) “This place. #heaven”

“Beer-can chicken is off the grill and smells AMAZING! #heaven”

“I could spend all of my money at Yankee Candle! #heaven”

“My home next week ~ Italia Puglia. #heaven So excited.”

“My favorite lilac from childhood is in bloom! #heaven”

“I’ll just stay in this queen-sized-memory-foam bed in the Lakes on vacation forever. Thanks. Bye. #heaven”

I could go on and on… #heaven is represented by food, places, smells, music, friendships, flowers, tourist spots, vacations…

Finally… far down the list I almost didn’t see it, this tweet:

“There is a God in heaven. #heaven (followed by a meme siting Daniel 2:28)”

That’s reassuring, right?

To be in heaven is to be with God. 

So, what we think of God is what we think of heaven.

And, I wonder…how well do I know my God?

Sometimes, I fear it is pretty shallow…

But, if all I know of Him is all there is, then HEAVEN is QUITE AMAZING (much more-so than beer-can-chicken)…

God is, so heaven is, too:













I just picked the first dozen characteristics of God the Father that came to mind.  There is, obviously, so much more to our God.

So, ponder this list. Just think about it for a minute…


Think what won’t be there:

FEAR (OK..just that…that is enough)



ANGER (perfect relationships)


SELFISHNESS (oh, praise Jesus!)













“I can only imagine…what it will be like…”

What’s on your two lists? I’d love to know…

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Why Home Must Have a Purpose

A random illustration I read this week had me thinking a little bit more about our heavenly home. 

Believe me, it is random.

But, I’m learning to pay attention to those things that settle in my brain for a bit. 

It's often good to stir that pot!

The unforgettable usually incorporates something worth pondering…

Recently, I’ve been reading books and articles, researching information on the types of ways we as adults can help our younger generation ——— those, currently, in junior high and high school. 

If there is one thing I learned during the years I worked in higher-ed, it’s that not every generation responds to the same approach when it comes to guidance in life-skills.

With so many of my grand-treasures approaching the age of this generation, if I’m going to be Super-Nana (ok, maybe not Super-Nana, but an informed-nana), then I better be on my toes. Right? Of course, right!

OK…back to random illustration:

A dad, living in the Northwest, was quite concerned about his teen-age daughter. He and his wife had raised their girl in what they hoped was a godly, Christian home. They had taken her to church from a young age, instilling biblical concepts in her from nursery to youth group, in their choices of educational instruction, and through family devotional times. Now, in high school, she had begun to date what he termed a “drug-abusing-Goth.” The parents were broken-hearted. Not knowing what their next steps should be, not wanting to alienate their girl any further, nor drive her away, the dad approached a well-respected mentor in his church. The friend’s advice was what caught my eye. In the form of questions, the friend challenged the father:

➽ Is home more attractive than the world around? 

➽ What do you do together for investing in fun/play as a family?

➽ What kind of honest dialogues do you have about life…are questions and concerns allowed the    freedom to be discussed with openness and vulnerability?

➽ What are you doing at home to challenge the status quo?

➽ Is there a life-problem, a purpose for your family to work on solving together? Is everyone included in the problem-solving?

➽ How are relationships being built together as a family unit?

The father took these questions to heart, tweaked his approach to leading his family, helped them find some new purpose that they sought to invest in as a family unit, interjecting some problem-solving that incorporated answering this question: how can we help; what difference can we make? Then, they followed up on that question by serving overseas in critical missions projects. It wasn’t long at all before the daughter broke off the relationship with the boyfriend, and gave her all to serving the Lord with whole-hearted passion.

This isn’t meant to be a “help” for fixing your family.

This is about how we live and portray our heavenly home to those in the family, and outside the family…

Is home more attractive than the world around?

Is there purpose attached to our home? A reason we want to be there…and, be present there…

Heaven is our ultimate home.

We’re just passing through this world.

We sing “heaven is a wonderful place…filled with glory and grace…I want to go there…”

But, do we? 

Do we really believe it is a wonderful place?

Do we make heaven seem attractive to the rest of the world?

Do we make them want to come “home” with us?

Does “home” hold purpose and meaning for us?

How do we present heaven to those around us… what does a quick look through the lens of our churches, our small groups, our youth groups, our Christian homes and lives show in regard to what heaven might be?

Is it desirable?

Is it really all that wonderful that others want to go there, too?

These are convicting questions for me.

What do I portray to others about my home?

How about you?

If "home" holds no attraction, why would we want to be there?

Spend a minute reflecting on your perspective and listen to this song by Chris Tomlin on You Tube (click on link provided):

Thursday, June 7, 2018

What Satan Wants Us to Believe

As I've been thinking more about my heavenly home, I have often pictured the events surrounding the home-going of my father-in-love. What a godly leader for his family! In death, as in life, Nelson Forrest led us well. So, when I read this quote (above) by Randy Alcorn, in his book,
Deadline, I immediately thought of Nelson. When he took his last breath on earth, he, too, gasped. We all believed that gasp was all we needed to know about where he went when his soul left his body... Alcorn just put the right words to it: it was a gasp of wonder...  

But, our enemy, the devil, has tried to fill our minds with lies about heaven and what it holds for us... He has an agenda, and as we mentioned last week, it is totally contrary to God's design for us.

Here's what Satan wants us to believe:

1. The "things of man" are much more glorious than the "things of God and heaven." If we can get distracted with all that lies below, the glory of heaven will dissipate, and we'll long for earth, more than we will long for our heavenly home.

2. Having a life on earth is far better than living a life in the glory of the Father - remember how Peter rebuked Jesus when he learned that Jesus' life on earth might be cut short? Well, that was a Satan-mindset!

3. Whoever would save his life on this earth would find it; but, whoever would lose his life, on this earth, will simply lose it.  It  profits a man to gain the things the world has to offer. 

4. We must cling to LIFE on earth at all costs.

5. Be afraid, be very afraid.

If these tenets become our mind-set, as they were Peter's, we fall prey to the schemes of the enemy, and our lives become a hindrance to the Kingdom of God, just as Peter was in the moment.

Fortunately, a little glimpse of heaven at the Transfiguration, shifted Peter's perspective.

It should change ours, too...

1. Heaven is much more glorious than earth...I have a new, magnificent HOME. I'm simply passing through this world.

2. Christ Jesus is our LIFE...and our life is hidden in Him. I have a new identity.

3. "Whoever (fights to save his life) will lose it, but whoever loses his life for (the Lord's sake) will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul (Mt. 16:25-26)?" I have a new purpose: living for Jesus' sake, offering His salvation to others.

4. To surrender our life, means living with no fear. At the Transfiguration, in awe and amazement at what they saw and heard, the disciples fell on their faces before the Lord, but Jesus came to them, touched them, and whispered these words, "Rise, and have no fear." I have a new focus..."When they lifted their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus." That was no mistake. Eyes on Jesus - this is our lifestyle.

5.  Add this all together and I have a new hope. A vibrant hope that will not disappoint. It is a hope I live for...His Kingdom Come.

Everyone of these perspectives is abnormal. It's a fight to keep my eyes on Jesus, and continue glancing heavenward. As mentioned earlier, it's just not natural, because Satan has so wormed his way on where my mind often focuses.

But to tell you the truth, I don't want Satan to win.

I'm re-working my perspective, just as Peter did, knowing that it is a process, just as everything else in the Christian life is...

BUT! Here's the thing:

I want to think more about thinking about heaven!

What I have to gain is far greater!