Categories
Christian Living heaven

Heaven. This Isn’t It!

The year I turned fifteen, my dad took my older brother and me on a fishing trip to Mexico. But first we had to get to my uncle Bill’s house in Alamogordo, New Mexico. From there we would fly south of the border in his Cessna.

I was reared on the Great Plains of the Southern Midwest (USA), and had never been too far from home. Here, stunted trees follow the mostly dry creek beds. And when you do find water it’s the color of chocolate milk. I was eager for a change of scenery.

Yet the farther west we went the more dry and desolate it became. Driving through the bottom end of the Texas panhandle, the topography resembled the surface of the moon! That’s when I fell asleep in the back seat of our ‘79 Buick.

Shortly before dawn that morning, we stopped at a convenience store in Southeast New Mexico. When the car doors opened the air felt much cooler than the last time we fueled up in the desert. Crawling out of the back seat, squinty eyed, I stumbled toward a giant conifer, the ground underneath it dappled with snow. Half awake I blurted out, “Is this heaven?”

I later learned the tree was a blue spruce and we were at the top of a pass in a scenic little village called Cloudcroft. The crisp mountain air, snow in Spring and the tall trees were things I’d only heard about. Now I was experiencing them in person!

There’s an old southern gospel song called, How Beautiful Heaven Must Be. The tune describes reading about the City of God, but concludes that the actual place must be more than we can imagine.

Kind reader, picture waking up in heaven after leaving this “desert” world.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.

1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)

Or as Paul puts it later in this same letter, “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as He knows us!” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (MSG)

There’s a REAL place called heaven. And this isn’t it. But receiving Christ as savior means a one-way ticket!

How beautiful heaven must be!

Note: the video below is me singing the song I mentioned.

🙏❤️prayers and love.

Categories
Christian Living Diligence

Confessions of a Reformed Doomscroller

There’s always a lot happening in the world. And, if we’re to believe the media, most of it’s bad. Some call this bent toward negativity in the news the “crisis crisis.” It’s a seemingly endless stream of hyped threats that are supposed to make us afraid–very afraid.

Let’s face it, most of the people clamoring for our attention are not focused on truth telling. Nope, their sights are set on things like ratings and ad revenue, or likes and follows. Why bother with ethical matters–like separating truth from falsehood? Negativity, mixed with equal parts uncertainty, SELLS.

On the other hand, it’s comforting to step out of the 24/7 news cycle and simply believe what Jesus says.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.

John 14:1 (NIV)

Christ said these words to comfort his disciples on the very night he was betrayed. And as my friend Jeff King said, in a post that inspired this one (Quote for 7/03/2021), “Jesus is as good as His word.”

A quick plug for Jeff. He’s a Christian guy who has been around the block a time or two and doesn’t mince words while talking about it. His site Jeffrey H. King’s Blog is well written, Christ centered and filled with absorbing thoughts.

Now back to my post. I used to spend a nonsensical amount of time doomscrolling through the latest happenings. But I noticed something. Often, after reading my favorite news feeds—for way longer than I care to admit—I felt an odd sadness. So when it came time to give up something for Lent this year, I decided to quit the “breaking news” business. Guess what? I never went back after Easter. And I don’t miss it!

The Philippians were a persecuted church with plenty to worry about. Yet Paul encouraged them to turn their anxious thoughts into prayers of thanksgiving (Phililippians 4:6). The pay-off, he said, was the peace of God guarding their hearts. A few verses later, he shares what I like to call the “Philippians Filter.”

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Please pardon my hand drawn illustration. I need a graphic artist!

Filtering sure beats doomscrolling any day!

🙏❤️ prayers and love.


Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

Categories
Christian Living

Falling out of the Nest

I was doing some yard work the other day when I noticed what looked like a little black ball underneath the mimosa tree. As I came closer, I realized it was a baby bird. I looked up and could see the nest–about 10 feet high in the fork between two branches. Mom, a yellow billed cuckoo, was sitting up there with two other hatchlings visible beside her.

My wife and I debated about what to do. The chick on the ground seemed no worse for wear. Should we put it back in the nest? A quick internet search told us that birds have a poor sense of smell and don’t normally reject a chick handled by humans. But we also found a warning to not disturb migratory birds or their young. Well, our apologies to the wildlife service, but we decided to intervene.

I grabbed a six foot step ladder, put on some disposable gloves and waited. Before too long, mother bird decided to run some errands, and that’s when I sprang into action. Positioning the ladder under the tree, I gently picked up the baby bird, and put him back in the nest with his siblings. Mom returned a few minutes later with some food and all was well.

This whole scene brought to mind a promise from Psalm 91: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge (vv. 1, 4a).”

Obviously, the little hatchling didn’t fall out of the nest on purpose, but his predicament also reminds me of something Jesus said when he arrived in Jerusalem before that last Passover.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.

Matthew 23:37

The application to the body of Christ is clear. In the nest (fellowship of believers) we are safe in God’s care. However, outside the nest, we are vulnerable to predators.

Satan and his demon goons are like lions on the savanna–waiting to cull one of God’s children from the herd (1 Peter 5:8). The enemy seeks to separate Christians from each other, because he knows this: when we stray from the fellowship, we are alone and defenseless (Matthew 9:36).

To enjoy God’s best, we must stay in the nest!

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

Psalm 133:1

“Bird’s Nest” by Rugged Lens is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0