What the heaven? What the hell? Podcast notes

Several years ago I took my family to Orlando. It was a business trip and I got to take my family. We only had 4 days to tour the area so I wanted to make sure we did it right so I got several tour books and planned carefully. One thing I wanted was a really cool hotel so I booked a Disney resort. It said it was a great kid hotel and had a water slide on the property. I thought cool. When we arrived I toured the hotel in search of this water slide and I couldn’t find it. Finally, I asked someone and they pointed me to the pool. You know how big that slide was. Five feet. I booked my hotel based on a five foot slide. When you are picking a destination it’s important to get the right information and most of us got a hold of a bad brochure when it comes to heaven.

Anyone have that view of heaven? If that’s it I have to admit that I’m not really geeked up about it.

Nearly every Christian I have spoken with has some idea that eternity is an unending church service… We have settled on an image of the never ending sing along in the sky, on great hymn after another, forever and ever amen. And our heart sinks. Forever and ever? That’s it? That’s the good news? John Eldridge

Folks, today we are going to look at heaven and find that is not just clouds and harps and bathrobes.

Heaven for the nature lover

We know what the effects of sin are in our life, we can see them, but earth suffers from the effects of sin as well

Creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. Romans 8:21

God is going to renew the earth. It will be different. He will make it better than it was before.

He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. Acts 3:21

Have any of you ever watched a show where they take an old car and or an old house and restore it.
American restoration
This is what God is saying. God is going to restore the earth to cherry. It will look better than it ever looked before.

Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  Isaiah 65:17

In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. 2 Peter 3:13

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. Rev. 21:1

Over the last several years I have been to a few of the most beautiful places in the world. One of them was Niagara falls. I can’t describe to you the sound of being at the bottom of Niagara falls. It was so loud and powerful. Now I was with my little one and all she could think of was Can I buy a churro?

Several years ago I went to the Grand Canyon with my son and the day we arrived it snowed. It was a white out and you couldn’t see anything and I thought, ‘Are you kidding me. I drove all this way and I can’t see a thing?” Then about 6:30 the skies parted and I said to Riley, let’s go. That first look was amazing. I’m afraid of heights but even from 20 feet back it was amazing

Hear me. This is just a preview of what heaven will be like. Grand Canyon will be like the Lancaster of Heaven.

Heaven for the businessperson

Some people think, “If I’m just sitting around, playing a harp, I’m not that interested. One person put it like this.

Whenever I think about heaven it makes me depressed. I’d rather just cease to exist. I can’t stand the thought of that endless tedium to float around in the clouds with nothing to do but strum a harp. Heaven doesn’t sound that much better than hell. I rather be annihilated then spend eternity in a place like that.

Again I get where that guy is coming from. If that’s what heaven is, I’m not that interested. Heaven doesn’t mean that you have no skill set any more. God designed us to work.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

In heaven you will be able to use your gifts and abilities to the best of your ability with one big exception.  Your work will no longer be cursed.

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’  “Cursed is the ground because of you; Guys, what is the lesson there? Don’t listen to your wife. through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:17-19

In heaven you will be able to use your gifts and abilities but but it will not be a grind.  It will not be tedium. It will not be toil.  It will not cause anxiety.  God will reverse the curse

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. Revelation 22:3

No longer sweat and toil and thistles and pain. Your work will be streamlined. Now this next one hits home for me.

Heaven for the Hypochondriac

Have you ever got up in the morning and you think  “This ain’t right. This is sick.”

Let me give you one example. My hair. I’m talking about getting hair where I don’t need it. For example my ear. I’m not talking about hair in my ear, but on the outside. I have to be ever vigilant. There have been times when I’m neglected it and I’ve found hair that’s an inch long off my ear. I don’t need that. Take my nose for example. I’m not talking about nostrils. We’re in church and don’t need to talk about nose hair, but I get hair on top of my nose. Do you ever look and think this just isn’t right. In heaven you’re body will be set right.

The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. I Corinthians 15: 41-44

Our physical body bring us nothing but disease and dishonor and death.  Your spiritual body will not be like that. It has power. It wont’ feel sickness. It won’t feel disease. The best understanding about what kind of body you will have is Jesus body after he was resurrected. Our new bodies will have a natural beauty that won’t need cosmetics or touch ups. The most beautiful body you’ve ever seen on earth is under the Curse, a shadow of the beauty that once characterized humanity. If we saw Adam and Eve as they were in Eden, they would likely take our breath away. If they would have seen us as we are now, they likely would have been filled with shock and pity. We will be healthy and appealing, untouched by the Curse or disease or restrictions, and we’ll each be perfectly happy with the for God designed for us. We won’t experience heart disease, diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis, arthritis, cancer, MS, HIV or anything else that consumes the body. We’ll feel neither insecurity nor arrogance. We won’t attempt to hide or impress. We won’t have to try to look beautiful- we will be beautiful. Heaven, Randy Alcorn

Heaven for the animal lover

There are some people who think I don’t want to go to heaven if I can’t bring Mr. Jingles. There will be animals in heaven. I love these verses.

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.  Isaiah 11:6-8

Have you ever gone out in nature to look at animals. I like going up to the mountains to watch deer. What happens when a deer finally sees you. They’re gone.   It’s like they’ve seen the movie Bambi.

Have you ever gone to the zoo and looked at the tiger and thought, “That tiger looks so cute. I’d like to crawl over that fence and give that guy a belly itch.” Well,  you can get near it’s belly but it’s going to be a short trip on the way to it’s intestines.

In heaven that barrier between humans and animals will be gone.
A lion will be a lap dog and your kid can play with a cobra. There will be animals everywhere. That’s what the bible says heaven will be all about. .

The cat was run over by a car and the mother quickly disposed of the remains before her four year old son billy found out about it.  But after a while her son finally found out about it. Billy the cat died the mother explained, but he’s up in heaven with God to which Billy responded “What in the world would God want with a dead cat.”

You cannot conceive of how great heaven will be. You do not have a big enough imagination.

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11

Longing for Heaven
Have you ever wonder why in an imperfect world we have a longing for things to be perfect? When we get sick we’re surprised by it. Oh no. What bad timing. In this world sickness is a regular part of life why are we surprised by it.

Someone dies we’re shocked.

You look at the world and hear about global warming and we wonder why is it like that.

We hear about injustice and think why is there injustice. We’ve never known anything but injustice on this earth but we are shocked by it.

Folks, listen, inside of you is a longing for heaven.  There is a longing for things to be set right.

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And 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 14:2,3

What about Hell?

When we think of hell we think of burning and demons and pitch forks. Other people view hell like one big party. It won’t be that great but at least all my friends will be there.

Season ticket on a one-way ride
Asking nothing, leave me behind Taking everything in my stride
Don’t need reason, don’t need rhyme Ain’t nothing I would rather do
Going down, party time My friends are gonna be there too

Anybody know that song. Thats’ Highway to hell by AC/DC.   If you know those lyrics the odds go up of you going there.

Hell is not party time.  But I also don’t believe that it’s a place will guys running around with pitch forks and the place is on fire. When the bible talks about hell it talks about weeping and gnashing of teeth and burning and a lake of fire, but I believe that the bible talks about hell that way be cause those are the best words to describe how awful a place it will be. Ever burn yourself. How does that feel. Hell is a burning that never goes away.

If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where ” ‘their worm does not die,  and the fire is not quenched.’ Mark 9:47.48

Let’s contrast that with heaven for a second. Heaven is a place where all those desires are fulfilled.  Hell talks about a fire that is never quenched.  It is just the opposite. All those desires that you wanted will never be fulfilled. You see you can only have those desires fulfilled in relationship with God.

So it hell is that awful we think, why would God send anyone there.  This is just me but I don’t think God sends people there but God gives people what they have always wanted. They have always wanted to be away from God and He finally gives them what they’ve wanted.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

If you don’t think people are trying to get rid of God let me challenge you?  Do me a favor.  Take a copy of the ten commandments and put it in the break room.  See how that goes.  Try to pray in a school.  See how that goes over.  Put a cross in a public place. See what happens.

Because throughout our world people are trying to get God out of our schools and off our dollar bill and out of the pledge of allegiance.  People are trying to get rid of God.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. Psalm 19:1,2

God will proclaim it to them through heaven and through nature. God is capable of communicating to everyone and giving everyone a chance to respond to him but there are a lot of people who want nothing to do with him and they keep saying no, no, no, no God I don’t want you, no , get out. God gives them every opportunity and they keep saying no so God gives them what they’ve always wanted. Life without him. That’s pretty ugly isn’t it?

So where do you want to spend eternity. That’s pretty obvious isn’t it.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 6:23, 24

Preparing for Paradise

1) Schedule a glimpse of heaven
2) Schedule a trip to explore your purpose

3) Don’t waste your energy on temporary worries

“One Harlem preacher likens us to the pink plastic spoons at Baskin Robbins: we give the world a foretaste of what lies ahead”Vanishing Grace, Philip Yancey

Extended life is not our hope. Eternal life is our hope.

I want to end with a question. What is the best amusement park ride you have ever gone on.

Okay, let ask you one more question. What is the best line you’ve ever had to wait in? The fun is not in waiting in line. The fun is in the ride. You can’t wait to get on the ride.

Folks, this life is just a line. This is your life line. But if you know Jesus Christ you are heading for a new body and a new earth and a new life. It will be the ride of your life. The fun is not in the line. It’s in the ride.

When I asked you what your favorite line was, who said the shortest one.

I was in the courtyard last week and ran into Jeff and Teena Webster. They are new to Canyon Springs and their story is one of the most amazing I’ve ever heard. I asked Teena to put it in writing. Here’s the readers digest version.

Your series on insomnia has been coincidental, since i have been an insomniac since the night i got “the phone call”.  The hospital called and asked if i was Aaron’s mom, the nurse told me he had been in a serious car accident, i crumpled to me knees- i think we are all one phone call from our knees!   When we saw Aaron he looked perfect, it was a head trauma.  We could not wrap our head around the fact that he wasn’t going to open his eyes and speak to us.  He was a Junior at Baylor and home for the Labor Day weekend.  He had been engaged for one month to the day of the accident.  Jeff and i were shaking so badly that we werent’ even speaking on the way to the hospital- we had no idea HOW serious it was, they wouldn’t tell us anything.

 When we realized there was nothing the Dr.s could do, i asked to be put in touch with the organ donor people.  Aaron and i had a conversation when he turned 16 and got his drivers license, he asked what the organ donor heart thing was and i explained it to him, he answered “why wouldn’t everyone do that?”  That conversation helped me make the decision to donate his organs so much more tolerable.

 It took the transplant team about 36 hours to match Aaron’s organs and fly the surgical teams in from the state’s and places Aaron’s organs were going to.  Heather (Aaron’s fiance) laid next to him in the bed for 24 of those hours without eating or even going to the bathroom.  I sat in a chair next to him.  Some friends came in to say their goodbyes.  We were grateful for the time it took to organize the surgery.  When I said goodbye, i just rubbed his head, i cut a few locks of his beautiful black hair, I told him how much God loved him, and that i couldn’t wait to be with him again.  It took 3 of us to pull Heather off of him.  The goodbyes are hard, they continue- no college graduation, no wedding, no grandchildren… their are only broken dreams and the anticipation that i will see him again one day soon.

I live much more open handed now.  God took my one and only son, among other things, but amazingly he has placed blessing in my open hand.  I see Him truly as a living God now, because of the burning bushes he knew i needed to see, just at the right moments.  My faith is stronger than it ever has been, but my heart is more broken then i could ever imagine, the pain sometimes palatable. 

Right after Aaron died the news station did a couple of interviews because it’s very rare to have 8 organs successfully transplanted- a record in arkansas,. In the interview i said “I’m thankful we had the chance to raise, nurture, love and laugh with Aaron for 20 years.  By most accounts 20 years is a long time.  Aaron was on loan to us from God, and now to God he returns.  This place is not our home, and i know i have all the more reason to be excited to get to paradise one day”.  I still think of that last goodbye, but i try to think of it as a “see ya later”.