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Posts Tagged ‘heaven’

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Death and taxes, those two fatalistic certainties of life. Neither desirable, but both inevitable.

It is a difficult thing to walk in the shadow of the valley of death with someone.

I say this mostly at a distance from experiencing it, as my walks with the dying have been rather few. My hubby, though, is a pastor, and he has walked this road much more frequently.

When death is imminent, daily life gets postponed, for to live with the dying can be the most real of living life.

I often think of this valley walk as one on holy ground … living in the space between no longer and not yet.

Throughout the ministry of Jesus, he would preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17). As Jesus gave his famous Sermon on the Mount, he spoke of the kingdom of God/heaven. It would seem that the kingdom of God/heaven is wherever He was/is. So, when he was walking this Earth, as a man, he was delivering the Kingdom, just as we, who live with the Spirit of God in our lives, also bring the kingdom with us where we go (“for the kingdom of God is within you” Luke 17:21).

But, Philippians 3:20 also tells us:

our citizenship is in heaven.
And we eagerly await a Savior from there,
the Lord Jesus Christ.”

You see, our residence is here, and we bring the kingdom of God and heaven wherever we go, but our passport … we are citizens of the eternal kingdom of heaven, ruled by the God of all time.

For the believer, “we do not grieve as those who have no hope”. Our hope is in the promise of Jesus, himself, who said, “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3).

“Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!”

Will L. Thompson

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When I was a kid attending Sunday School we sang a song about heaven …

“Heaven is a wonderful place
Filled with glory and grace
I wanna see my Saviours face
Heaven is a wonderful place.
I wanna go there”

But, I can also remember hearing a speaker talk about the excitement of one day going to heaven, then say, “I don’t want to die, I like it here.”

There are times when I understand both perspectives on heaven, the desire to go there as well as the desire to never leave this Earth.

A friend is in the midst of awaiting the joyful news of her mother-in-laws passing into eternity. Now this might just sound like a daughter-in-law who is eager to be freed of her evil M.I.L., but that is not the case at all. This lady is ninety-seven, tired of her decaying physical body, and eager for the home her heart longs for … her heavenly home. My friend purely desires for this dear lady to have her prayers answered, and to sit at the feet of her Savior.

Another is mourning the diagnosis of her good friend … terminal cancer. This woman is my age, with children younger than my own. She is holding onto life here with white knuckle determination. She likes it here.

Then another who told me of a story of her dad having a heart attack and her mom saving his life. When her dad came to in the hospital, he refused to talk to his lifelong partner and wife, for days. It was not until much later that he explained that he resented her … because she brought him back to life. You see he has memories of moving towards a warm and bright light, and a feeling of peace he had not known before or since. He had no thoughts of his life or his loves on Earth, and his longing was to continue toward the light.

Thinking of heaven always brings me back to the book of Revelation :

“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.
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.
They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
‘He 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.”
He who was seated on the throne said,
“I am making everything new!”
Then he said,
“Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Revelation 21:1-5

The image created in Revelation is of a dream that would be hard to awaken from. To dwell with our God is to have an Eden-like experience. There is “no death or mourning or crying or pain” … as a female, it is difficult to imagine no crying (maybe that is easier for males). It is difficult to imagine no pain.

The reality is that I think our problem is not in thinking about going to heaven, but thinking about leaving Earth.

I believe that once we are there, ‘here’ does not exist in our thoughts … because what we go to, like that man who was traveling towards the light, is what our heart longs for from the moment we are first created.

“Indeed, we groan with this body, desiring to put on our dwelling from heaven …”
2 Corinthians 5:2

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I am not an expert in grammar, and that is no surprise to anyone who has ever read even one of my posts!

One thing I do know (not as a grammar expert, but as a Christian) is that worship is a verb, it is a ‘doing’ word. I’m not just making reference to my head knowledge of the word worship, but the knowledge that comes from living with a mind and body and heart and emotions that ‘do’, without conscious thought, when worshiping.

I love to go to concerts of Christian worship musicians, because they provide hours of opportunity to not just entertain the concert goers but also to participate in the worship they are leading. There is nothing that drives my inner worshipper more crazy than when church worship becomes entertainment, and I have to sit still while someone else is worshipping solo …

When I enter into a place of worship (my back garden, my kitchen, the beach, my bedroom, on my favorite trail, and even in a church sanctuary) I am often unnerved by how my inner self responds to what is around me. My senses drink in what I see, what I smell, what I taste, what I feel, and I am led into a spontaneous act of worship. I have no control on this happening, it is my insides wanting to burst out.

I feel a little about worship, like Olympic runner Eric Liddell said of running “when I worship (run) I feel His pleasure.” There is a connection to my Creator that is so deep, so innate in a way, that I have little to do with how I respond to the opportunity to worship.

And that opportunity is constant, and often surfaces without warning. As I have grown I have heard of people talking about preparing for worship, which is a good idea. It is not always easy to settle into worship when you’ve just arrived at church having had the equivalent of battle royale with your toddler to get their shoes on, or had a disagreement with your spouse (which of course NEVER happens in our house ;). But I find that most times when worship begins, the magnetic-like force within me pulls me into God’s presence, whether I am prepared or not. This happens not just in a church sanctuary, but some times when I am weeding, or taking a walk, or standing on a beach, or holding one of my loved ones.

J.I. Packer said, “we need to discover all over again that worship is natural to the Christian, as it was to the godly Israelites who wrote the psalms, and that the habit of celebrating the greatness and graciousness of God yields an endless flow of thankfulness, joy, and zeal.”One cannot read the Psalms and not see and feel the joy that is being expressed.

Worship is an act of celebration, and whether we are participating in a room with hundreds of other worshippers or laying in our bed when we awaken and take a deep breath, it is a party worth celebrating!

“Worship leader George Beverly Shea kidded Billy Graham that the latter would be unemployed in Heaven — while Shea would still have a job leading worship.”

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