Heaven Is For Real …’cause the Bible says so.

20 07 2012

Please note:  This is not a post about a book.  I am writing a post that is a bit less challenging than usual. Actually, it may be more of a fun post.  Anyway…

I got into a discussion with someone this past week about just how awesome Heaven (Eternity may be a better word) may be like.  Notice how I said “may be like”.

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things God has prepared for those who love Him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9

People have some crazy notions about what eternity will be like, most of which are pretty self-focused.  Some think they will just be able to golf, fish, tan, play with dogs, etc. to there hearts content.  Just think…you’d never get tired, the weather will always be nice, and it will be just one big happy place.  Um….okay.

Even though I have no idea what it might be like, I was getting quite excited just talking about what could happen.

I enjoy creation.  I get excited by it.  There is just something that rises in me when I see or hear about something that is bigger than me that man did not create.  I have not been to many places in this world, but I am amazed by just hearing about or seeing some natural wonders.  I have been to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and have been in awe of the beauty that it displays.  I would love to see the Colorado mountains, the Grand Canyon, or to just to sit and enjoy nature in seclusion.

While those things are some amazing things to see and reveal God’s beauty, I also love seeing things that put fear in my heart.  I love seeing a good thunderstorm that has plenty of lightning.  There is just something fearfully awesome about watching a lightning bolt flash from the sky and knowing that it can start a fire or kill someone in an instant.  It was only a couple of weeks ago when we had a storm come through with hail.  Yes, it has hailed here before, but only for thirty seconds or so.  When it hailed a few weeks ago, it was quarter-sized hail for about five minutes.  I was able to look at the hail after it stopped.  It was amazing to me.  How can it be over 90 degrees(F) and rain big balls of ice.  It just blows my mind.  I have also be wanting to see a tornado with my own eyes for most of my life (from a distance, of course.)  All these things testify of the glory of God.

These are things that we can see.  We may even be able to know a bit about how these things happen.  But even if science can know and discover some things, science doesn’t and will never know it all.

You may be able to watch the Discovery channel to learn a bit about our bodies, nature, or space, but how does it all work together?  How does our digestive system truly work to break down food, use the nutrients, and give us energy?  How does it work together with the brain, nervous system, and muscles?  Why do we have feelings and how do they happen?  Exactly how does our consciences work?  How can I think and it seem like I’m talking inside my head?  How do dreams really work?  How in all creation does my heart beat, eyes blink, and everything that happens inside my body all by itself?

Did you know that some animals cannot live without the existence of a different animal?  If one of them dies out, there is no hope for the other.  How do animals and plants works together?  What exactly are the other planets like?  If the sun and moon were just a little closer or farther from us, it could be disastrous.  What about the other planets?  What purpose do they serve?

These are just a few questions to think about.  Some of them we may be able to find answers to.  However, are the answers we have the FULL answer?  God knows and I look forward to be able to soak up all the glory of God if He chooses to explain just how awesome He created things.

Even deeper, I look forward to hearing and understanding to the full extent what happened on the cross.  While we have it in the Scripture, I am sure we cannot fully grasped everything that happened.  Furthermore, is what is recorded everything that happened, or just what God decided to reveal to us for now?

What about how he has worked in your life?  Can you comprehend it?  I look forward to knowing exactly what paths God took me through, which bad ones I took but God still used,  what trials he put in my life and what I learned through them, and all the things He did through and to me that I never realized or even thought He’d ever do.  Not only that, but also seeing how He had worked in and through countless others throughout history to bring about His purposes and glory

To me, those are a few things I look forward to in eternity.  I would love to be able to know how He glorified Himself through these things because what we do know already glorifies Him and it’s only a tiny amount that we actually know.  If we could know everything about His glory in creation and our lives now, our brains would possibly explode.  I could see myself after a million years (if there is time as we understand it) still being absolutely full of awe and worship and still be soaking it in.  Hopefully, He will allow that to happen.  I was a little sad when I came across this verse though:

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.” – Isaiah 65:17

So, we’ll see what happens  Maybe we can get a glimpse of His glory in this creation before we forget about it.

So while you go play golf, I hope to be able to learn and see the glory of God without my brain exploding.

Jesus said to follow Him.


The Dislocated Body of Christ

14 07 2012

What I want to post about is an issue of so much importance.  Yet, I don’t even know how to start it.

How is it, O Christian, that you look down at your brother that doesn’t believe just like you?

How is it that you judge your sister because she thinks speaking in tongues is for real and you do not?

Why do you seclude yourself from the Christian couple down the street just because they are “King James only”?

Can you have fellowship with an “Arminian”?  Or are you too good for that because you claim to believe in “Calvinism”?

If you are more prone to show mercy, do you think those that “tell it like it is” are too merciless and judgmental?

Of course, these are just a sampling of questions to prove a point.  I am not here right now to debate and argue about these matters.  The point in this post is to say that those that follow Christ are to be united as a “Body” and we are doing an absolute awful job at it.

While Christians smile, have happy faces, and raise their hands while singing in church, I must admit that they can be just as judgmental as the people outside the church.  (By judgmental, I don’t mean merely having an opinion as many think is judging, but looking down at others.  More on that in a later post.)  One person might think all “Baptists” aren’t really “in touch with God”.  One may think all “Pentecostals” are heretics because they speak in tongues.  Some “Pentecostals” may think everyone is wrong if they don’t speak in tongues.  One may believe that God alone brings a sinner to repentance and despises others who believe that people make that decision themselves.  I could go on and on.  I hope you get the idea.

Fellow followers of Jesus Christ, these thing must not be this way.  We are not only doing damage to ourselves as a “Body”, but also saying to the world, “Hey, we can’t agree and can’t stand each other.  But, come on in anyway!  We will try our best to like you.  You just need to believe everything just the way we do.”

Personal evaluation time:  Can you have fellowship with someone that doesn’t believe just like you?  I am not talking about the major doctrinal things that are in plain black-and-white in the Bible.  I am talking about the little things that you constantly hear come up and being debated.  If you’re a “Baptist”, can you have enjoyable fellowship with a “Pentecostal”, “Lutheran”, or “Non-Denominational” Christian and vise-versa?  Or does it bother you so much that “those people” are “wrong” that you shun them away?  What if another Christian is actually wrong about something?  Can you go to them gently and with sincerity let them know?

For example:  You meet a “Lutheran” or “Presbyterian” who may believe it’s okay to baptize babies.  Maybe you meet a Baptist that doesn’t baptize babies, but rather does a “baby dedication” and believe in 3 of the 5 points of Calvinism.  What is the first thing that comes to mind?  Do you automatically get a sour look on your face and think to yourself, “That’s just wrong!”?  Do you automatically start a debate about what you disagree with?  Are you sure you’re the right one?  Do you have to make sure you let the other know your right?

Don’t get me wrong.  There are surely things (and people) that we must stand our ground on, defend, and reject.  It has to, however, be perfectly in line with what God says in Scripture.  I am not talking about those things here.  I am talking about silly things we can easily get carried away with arguing and defending that we reject a brother or sister for whom Christ died.  We end up cutting part of the Body off and saying with our actions, “I have no use for you for you are not a (insert body part here) like me.”

But enough of my words.  What does God say to us through His Word?

First, are you separating yourself from a follower of Christ who may not understand as much as you?

    “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.”  Romans 14:1
“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”  Romans 15:1

Pretty much the whole 14th chapter and some of the 15th chapter of Romans deal with those whose faith and understanding are weaker than than others. Another good passage is 1st Corinthians 8 where Paul writes about eating meat offer to idols and making those weaker to stumble.   There are so many grey issues that people have different opinions about because God decided not to make plain for some reason.  One person believes such-and-such is sin while another does not.  Is it plain-as-day a sin in the Scriptures or just your conviction?  If God did not plainly say it, why do you judge another as if He did?  If someone worships God with rock music, then with rock music he worships while another thinks that you should only worship with hymns.  So what?  There are just some things that are not worth dividing the Body of Christ over.

Do you think yourself  “more spiritual” and know more about the Scriptures than others do?  Do not look down at them!

 “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.  For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  … Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. – Roman 12:3-16

“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also [is] Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free–and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? … If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” …Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” – 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27

I guess my challenge to you is this:  Do not make trivial matters that are not black-and-white in Scripture major dividing issues, even if YOU think they are.  Indeed, if people are preaching a different gospel, as Paul says, let them be cursed of God.  (Galatians 1:8)  But if you are making a big deal and dividing the Body about differences in understanding God and His Word, you need to check yourself.  You or I will NEVER understand God or His Word perfectly this side of eternity.  Therefore, do not act like you do and tear someone else down that doesn’t think just like you.

I wish I could think of the perfect words to bring the “Body of Christ” back together, but it will take peoples eyes being opened, repentance, and a move of God in our hearts.  Unfortunately, the world can see what we are doing with each other. We need to come together despite our some of our petty differences and honor God as the Body of Christ.  Can you do it?    How can the world truly know we are Christ’s disciples if all we do is argue with each other?

“By this all with know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

Jesus said to follow Him!