Encouraging Our Children’s Dreams

Emily 8x10 b

daddy and ee

I would love for this story to be about me, a mom who chose to encourage her child’s big dream, but it isn’t. This is a story about a little girl with a dream, and a daddy who chose to encourage her.

Each year, at Christmas, we allow the children to choose items from the Gospel for Asia’s (GFA) Christmas Catalog. They choose from gifts such as farm animals, warm blankets, gospel tracks, or even a water buffalo! Last Christmas, our daughter noticed the Jesus Well in the catalog and started asking questions. We explained to her how many people in the world don’t have access to clean water and that GFA builds wells for such people while simultaneously sharing the gospel.

She was hooked.

“I want to raise money to build a Jesus Well,” she declared. We explained that the cost for one well was one thousand dollars but encouraged her to start raising money if she was committed to the project. Please follow me over to iBelieve.com for the rest of the story. (Click here.)

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Will I Be in Heaven?

 Will I Be in Heaven

Many people believe that they are “good people.” Failing to compare ourselves to God, we can always find someone worse than us. Like Pilate (See Matthew 27 :24-26), we wash our hands of Jesus blood when our pride says, “I have not sinned, I am a good person.”

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

~Romans 3:23-24

So if no one is truly good, then who will be in Heaven?

Jesus did not drink the cup of God’s wrath for good people. Rather, when sin entered the world through Eve and Adam eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, good people ceased to exist. All people thereafter became fallen, sinful, lost people separated from their Creator by our sin nature. Christ drank the cup of God’s wrath against sin so that fellowship between God and man could be restored for eternity.

Do you have a hard time thinking of children as sinful? Consider, we are sinful from birth because of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. One example of children’s sin nature, we do not teach children to lie, but rather to be truthful even when consequences of punishment are at stake.

Christ’s sacrifice is not a blanket forgiveness for all people. His blood sacrifice provides forgiveness of sins for those who repent, turn from their sin in confession and action, and believe on Christ Jesus for salvation.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. ~Romans 10:9-10

In Matthew 27:25, the priests and onlookers shouted out that Christ’s blood be on them and on their children. However, His blood is on each of our hands as we have all sinned against God.

The only way to Heaven is through faith and forgiveness in and through the person of Jesus Christ. Following our conversion experience, the act of putting our trust in Christ to save us and repenting from our sin, our lives tell the story of our eternal change:

Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God. (1John 3:7-10)

 

 Thank you dear friends for joining me on this final post in the six-part series on Heaven. I dearly look forward to His return and the beginning of eternity in the New Heaven and New Earth. Until then, we will live in our temporary home with an eye to the eternal.

God bless you and keep you,

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Will My Pets Be in Heaven?

Will My Pets be in Heaven

Furry puppies, kitten-paws, and the horse’s mane possess a common denominator for me, they all have the ability to ignite an allergic reaction of hives, itchy-watery eyes, and a runny nose. To say I am an animal person would be the falsehood of any day of the year. Yet I love to witness animals and their ways.

 My family never tires of looking for deer in our neighborhood or feeding the horses apples while visiting family in Alabama. I have laughed with friends at an occasional cat, YouTube video or  Pinterest mime as well. However, when a person mourns the death of their pet, it is total sympathy not empathy that I offer. I don’t have a personal connection with any animal. Sorry pet lovers… please keep reading!

The beautiful animals that God created from the dust of the ground and with the breath of life as an initial offering of companionship to Adam share commonalities with man given by our Creator. First that we were all formed from the dust of the ground and with the breath of life. (Genesis 2:18-20) Next, our DNA is similar in that all living organisms have DNA strands or sequences made up of differing combinations of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). These chemical bases are combined in differing codes which combinations are found in all the living organisms we observe today. Just like the alphabet we use to form words and produce differing languages, the chemicals are not what separate us from the animals,  but the exact combinations which produce different animal kinds and mankind. Finally, reproduction and gestation are primarily the same for mammals with the exception of the time of gestation differing between animal kind.

With all these similarities between mankind and animal kind there remain a few significant differences that place humans above animals. The primary difference is that God made mankind in His image and to rule over the animals of the earth:

The God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26, NLT)

To be created in the image of God is to possess the ability to love, be holy, communicate through a spoken language, to think, reason, create, desire immortality, have freedom of will, and possess a spirit that remains when our body dies. Because the Lord is a Spirit He had to take on a bodily form in the man of Christ. The highest of His creation, man, also possess a spirit that will be judged at the time of death.  Consider reading more here and here.

Secondly, that Christ left Heaven and came to earth to save mankind from His sins. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost of mankind. When Eve and Adam ate of the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3, the result was the curse of death on all of creation and the entrance of sin into the world. Additionally, some animals which were all herbivores in the beginning became carnivores and omnivores post fall of mankind. This is pertinent here because we see animal kind affected by sin of man and the fall as well. However, we never see Jesus say that He came to save animals from their “sin” although He will make all things new when He comes again. (Revelation 21:5) Christ didn’t explicitly come to save animals and restore their relationship with God for eternity. He came for us.

So, what about animals? Will they be in Heaven? My answer is assuredly yes, some form of animals will be in Heaven based on the teachings of the scriptures. Consider the “living creatures” or animals that are” giving glory, honor, and thanks to Him who sits on the throne” (Revelation 4:8-9) Additionally, God’s declaration that, “all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. Every bird of the mountains and all the animals of the field belong to me.” (Psalm 50:10-11, NLT) Horses are mentioned throughout Revelation and in conjunction with taking people to Heaven. Consider Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) or that the armies of Heaven ride on horses (Revelation 19:11-14). Finally, a favorite passage in Isaiah 11:7-12 we read of harmonious living between herbivorous animals (like the original creation of Eden) and man. Animals, some of which are presently carnivorus, including: bears, cobras, lions, lambs, goats, leopards, wolves, and cows.

I have no doubt that animals will be in Heaven, and assurance based on the accounts recorded by John in Revelation that some will be talking animals. (Revelation 4) However, we have no promises in God’s word that the animals which will fill Heaven’s streets and skies will be our own pets made new. Conversely, to this last point, God is the giver of all good and perfect gifts and He possess the power and the freedom to recreate your pets into a heavenly form.

The bottom line concerning pets and Heaven is this, God has created the animals for man’s enjoyment, for man to rule over, and for them to bring glory to their Creator. God loves the animals and mankind He created and declared His original creation to be very good. When the New Heaven and New Earth are established, God will produce an Eden-like experience once again and the inclusion of animals will be a part of that. Your relationship of companionship with animals on earth is a foretaste of the divine.

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What Activities Await in Heaven?

What activities await in heaven

The children followed, somehow able to move against the thundering flow. Nothing like this was possible in the old world.

“Further up and further in!” Were the words spoken? Or were their hearts shouting from within?

They reached a golden gate that suggested the beginning of an even greater discovery.

~C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Many a cartoon has depicted heaven as a place where we will sit on clouds of white and strum harps for eternity. However, the God who created the universe, galaxies,  and starry hosts, in addition to carving canyons, raising mountains, and flooding grassy plains with wildflowers seems a bit more apt to consider an eternity of harp playing even more mundane and pointless than we would.

God is the greatest artist, most well-known author (the Bible is the number one best selling book of all time), the all-knowing scientist, judge of all, and Master of the time, space, and matter He created in every way.

Because we are created in the image of God, we are then able to create, design, and imagine even in our fallen state. The New Heaven and New Earth will contain elements of the earth we now know: art, worship in music, song, and dance, perhaps building, decorating, designing, and instruction.

Simply because we will know God for who He is and comprehend His greatness and majesty in a way that is veiled to us at present doesn’t mean that we will know every craft and trade and possess all knowledge to complete jobs. Perhaps in Heaven we will learn new trades by which we can benefit our heavenly society and magnify God.

While the absence of crime, death, and decay will necessarily delete some jobs from Heaven (physicians, dentists, police and firefighters), not all levels of judiciary are swept away. Consider, many verses concerning heaven state that the saints will rule the universe, judge the angels, and that the Lord will appoint the rulers and authorities of heaven in accordance with His will and our faithfulness. (See Mark 10:40, Luke 19:11-27, 1 Corinthians 6:3

All this talk of jobs may have you thinking that Heaven may instead be a place of all work and no play. Nonsense!!! I should hope not. I must tell you that I am looking forward to heavenly recreation as well. Hiking, kayaking, sports, and horseback riding may be just a few of the recreational enjoyments that await. One difference in heaven is that our work will not be toil but an outward working of enjoyment and worship. An outworking of our mind and body minus the hope deflating struggle we battle spiritually and physically on fallen earth.

Consider the following words of King David:

In Your presences is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” ~Psalm 16:11

God has the best yet to come for us in Heaven as perfect relationship and dominion over His creation will be restored.

The God who created us to do good works (Ephesians 2:10) will not cancel this purpose when he resurrects us to inhabit the new universe (Luke 19:11-27). ~Randy Alcorn, Heaven

Perhaps you will spend time in study seeking what the scriptures have to say regarding Heaven and the activities that await. Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven, sections seven and twelve go much deeper on these subjects if you would like further reading. He also has multiple quotes from other resources that will direct you further in your study.

Looking forward to all that awaits us in Heaven,

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Relationships in Heaven

Relationships in Heaven

One of the things I most look forward to in heaven is a restored relationship between man. Here on earth we have striving, jealousy, dissensions, miscommunications, misunderstandings, and a selfish pride that impedes our ability to live in unity with one another despite our best efforts and good intentions.

In heaven we will no longer hold the title or relationship of husband and wife (See Mark 12:18-27, 22:23-32), I am unsure of mother and father, but assuredly we will all be brothers and sisters united by the blood of Christ. To press further the matter of no spouses in heaven, Jesus says that we will be like the angels. As far as my study has taken me, there is no reference to angels procreating in the Bible. In fact, it is unknown if they possess the anatomy to have sexual relations. Earth and this temporary life are the only place where we can join together in marriage and the full consummation of physical oneness.

Marriage is a relationship only enjoyed on this earth and set up to paint a picture of Christ loving His church. The relationship I now enjoy with Ron will be even richer in the life to come as I see him the way that Christ sees him and as we live in perfect holiness together. I can only love him as a wife in this life, but I will love him as the brother he is in Christ in the next.

Heaven will bear the fruit of relationships that are always mutually edifying and pleasing unto God.

I eagerly anticipate the holy communion with God, and my fellowman. Relationships that bring me joy here on earth will only grow richer in the absence of evil and the presence of the deepest desire of my soul…God.

Paul writes of the believers he preached to and encouraged in Thessalonica:

What is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)

Paul eagerly anticipated heaven and living in the continual presence of the Lord Jesus. Here we see he also deeply desired and enjoyed the relationship he had established with the believers in His ministry.

We can desire Heaven for the ultimate relationship it will bring with God and the fulfillment of perfect relationships with fellow believers: familial, friend, and all of God’s children. People we have ministered with, too, as well as those we have been the recipient of in ministry and friendship will eternally dwell in unity in Heaven.

This brings me such joy to think of the eternity I will experience building upon the richer relationships that began on earth and the promise of rich relationships to come: relationships with saints I haven’t even met yet. Best friends, minus the jealousy of others, are awaiting discovery in heaven! That is a rich reward to anticipate.

Life beyond cannot mean impoverishment, but the enhancement and enrichment of life as we have known it here at its best.~W. Graham Scroggie

Dear friends, it is impossible for me to cover in 500 words what eagerly awaits us in heaven in the area of relationships. I encourage you to study the scriptures and some of the books that abound on the topic of heaven for more information. I hope that today’s post has spurred your thinking and anticipation of the joys that await us in the Celestial City.

Seeking Heaven with You,

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Seeking Heaven

Seeking Heaven

Heaven, an eternal destination described in the scriptures yet a seeming mystery to man. Even so, the bible teaches that we are to set our minds on it:

Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1)

The Greek word translated “set your hearts on” is zeteo, which “denotes man’s general philosophical search or quest.” It is a diligent, active, single-minded investigation. So we can understand Paul’s admonition in Colossians 3:1 as follows: “Diligently, actively, single-mindedly pursue the things above”–in a word, Heaven. (Randy Alcorn, Heaven, pp. 20-21)

If we are to seek Heaven, why does the Bible seem so vague on what it will look like? Let’s consider the following:

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

I agree, the scriptures seem a bit vague on what Heaven will look like, but perhaps that is because I have not searched them, studied them. Perhaps I haven’t sought Heaven. Additionally, heaven is a place for which the only reference point we have is our present earth.

The Holy Spirit will show us God’s deep secrets to the degree our finite time and space bound minds can fathom. With that in mind, join me on a 6 part series seeking to understand Heaven as our eternal home.

First, we need to address the topic of the present heaven and the eternal heaven for these are two different points of reference.

When a Christ-follower dies he or she is immediately in the presence of God. We know this for certain as Paul tells us that to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8) Additionally, as Christ spoke to the repentant thief on the cross, “And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Paradise, or the present heaven, is where Christ-followers go when they die prior to the second coming of Christ.

The word paradise comes from the Persian word pairidaeza, meaning “a walled park” or “enclosed garden.” It was used to describe the great walled gardens of the Persian king Cyrus’s royal palaces. In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Greek word for paradise is used to describe the Garden of Eden. Later, because the Jewish belief that God would restore Eden, paradise became the word to describe the eternal state of the righteous, and to a lesser extent, the present Heaven. (Randy Alcorn, Heaven, p. 55)

Could it be that paradise or the present Heaven is the Garden of Eden? Perhaps. But the scriptures simply do not say.

My first question to this idea is, did God rescue Eden from the destruction of the earth during the world-wide flood? Did God take Eden up into heaven to be paradise or the present Heaven? The scriptures do not say this. However the Bible does tell us that Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden so that they would not eat from the tree of life and live forever. (Genesis 3:22-23) In the eternal Heaven man will live forever and Revelation tells us that two trees of life will be used to heal the nations. (Revelation 22:1-5) Thus implying a restored Eden of sorts.

Our God is a master storyteller and only He knows the answer to the question of the Garden of Eden’s fate with certainty.

After the final judgment (see Revelation 20:11-15) of all men and their works, God will create a new Heaven and a new earth in which God will make His home among His people.(Revelation 21:3) The New Jerusalem , the holy city, will be God’s eternal home to share with His people forever.

In closing, here are some physical descriptions of the eternal Heaven:

  • There will be no sea. (Revelation 21:1)
  • There will be no sun or moon for God illuminates the city. (Revelation 21:23)
  • There will be no night. (Revelation 22:25)
  • The holy city will be surrounded by a great wall made of jasper (with 12 foundation stones made of exquisite gems) and twelve gated entrances made each of a single pearl and guarded by angels. Three gates will be on each side of the square city and each will bear one of the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. (Revelation 21:12-13,18)
  • The wall of the city has twelve foundation stones, and on them are the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:14)
  • There will be streets of pure gold like glass. (Revelation 21:21)
  • There will be a river flowing through the city from the throne of God and of the Lamb, down the main street. (Revelation 22:1-2)
  • No evil will be allowed to enter the city. (Revelation 21:27)
  • No temple will be in the eternal Heaven for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. (Revelation 21:22)

Seeking the things above with you,

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