Friday, January 20, 2012

Worship in Heaven...Isn't Boring!

When you imagine you experience even a tinge of an inward cringing at the thought of spending eternity crowding among other believers in a boring worship service? 

Well, if you do, be assured those feelings are not from God but just another illusion designed by the devil. We will be worshiping in Heaven...but it will not be boring! Our worship there will be exhilarating!

     Give to the LORD the glory due His name;
      Bring an offering, and come before Him.
      Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!
 30 Tremble before Him, all the earth.
      The world also is firmly established,
      It shall not be moved.
 31 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
      And let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
 32 Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
      Let the field rejoice, and all that is in it.
 33 Then the trees of the woods shall rejoice before the LORD,
      For He is coming to judge the earth.
 34 Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
      For His mercy endures forever. ~
1 Chronicles 16:29-34 (NKJV)
We will delight to worship God!

We’ll never lose our fascination for God as we get to know him better. The thrill of knowing him will never subside. To imagine that worshiping God could get boring is to impose on Heaven our bad experiences of so-called worship. Satan is determined to make church boring, and when it is, we assume Heaven will be also. But church can be exciting, and worship exhilarating. That’s what it will be in Heaven. We will see God and understand why the angels and other living creatures delight to worship him.       ~Randy Alcorn 

Theologian Sam Storms writes, “We will constantly be more amazed with God, more in love with God, and thus ever more relishing his presence and our relationship with him. Our experience of God will never reach it’s consummation...It will deepen and develop, intensify and amplify, unfold and increase, broaden and ballon.”
Christ desire for us to see his glory should touch us deeply. What an unexpected compliment that the Creator of the universe has gone to such great lengths, at such sacrifice, to prepare a place for us where we can behold and participate in his glory. 
Will we ever tire of praising Him? Augustine writes, “As there is nothing greater or better than God himself, God has promised us himself. God shall be the end of all our desires, who will be seen without end, loved without cloy, and praised without weariness.”
“Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. 
~ Revelation 21:3 CEB


Monday, January 16, 2012

Destination Known

I love to travel! I firmly believe that God Himself placed this desire inside of me and then blessed me by giving me a career as a flight attendant to explore and enjoy numerous places and its people. Not only did I go to places I desired to visit...but I also experienced (and enjoyed) places I would never have thought to go visit, if not for my flight schedule which took me there! 
Regardless if my destination was one I had on my “desire” list or was on the company’s list for scheduled over-nights...I most often looked forward to exploring or discovering something new about each place. One of the great benefits of being a flight attendant was being able to return to a favorite destination repeatedly and either explore it in a new way or relax in the familiarity of it.

My love for travel has not been limited to my life as a flight attendant, thank goodness! I have since retired and continue to enjoy the adventure of traveling to places I have never seen before... or revisiting a place as familiar as an old friend, yet still holding a few secrets I long to discover. 

Perhaps like me, you plan your vacation trips by researching what you can expect to see and perhaps imagine what you will do while there. Even plans to revisit a familiar place will have you “googling” for ideas and events or areas nearby to visit. This kind of research always heightens my excitement and increases my anticipation for what I will see and find to do.
When anticipating my next travel destination, not only do my thoughts travel... but I will be found talking often about them as well. I will talk with excitement in my voice and I will share how wonderful and beautiful this chosen place is! Because of my excitement, the one who is listening to the details and descriptions usually ‘catches’ a portion of my desire to be there too. I have to admit, when I have finally put on my calendar that long awaited trip to a place I’ve desired greatly to see and experience...I spend time every day thinking and dreaming about the different aspects of my adventure... beginning with the day I will arrive! 

Soooo....I can’t help but find it interesting that for someone like me who enjoys the anticipation of an exciting travel destination almost as much as the trip itself...that I have spent so little time in researching and exploring what Heaven will be like. After all, Heaven is the most exciting future destination I have waiting for me!
So, I have decided to change that. Beginning this year I have immersed myself in reading and exploring books and sermons about Heaven. I desire to have greater wisdom and understanding and to increase my excitement about where I will one day live! What joy this pursuit has brought me!  

Perhaps the reason so many Christians are not heartfelt excited about Heaven is because they only think of Heaven in the abstract like I once did. You know... like the ending of a love story that closes with the thought or words: “They lived happily ever after...”  When we hear about we think about it in an abstract form and remain unable to envision what being “happy ever after” in Heaven will look and feels like?  For some...perhaps they even fear that Heaven might be least compared to what we know here. Or... that we will lose the wonderful and fulfilling relationships we share with our loved one here.

I strongly encourage you to join me in reading books about Heaven. Ponder, explore, and reflect on what great biblical teachers and scholars and Christian writers have to say about Heaven. God through His Word reveals to our hearts and minds many of His wonderful promises and gives us beautiful descriptions of what Heaven will be like. 

I have a new excitement of how we will relate to each other in the New Heaven and New Earth... The things we will see and the things we will do. Our abundant God who has given us such beauty here on earth...who has given us such diverse interest and talents and people to love... Would this abundant God give us less in Heaven? Would our abundant Father remove all our passions and desires and enjoyment in seeing and exploring life? Are these things only for our earthy pleasure? No... God does not give us a “boring” beauty in we will grow tired of seeing. Heaven will hold many hidden treasures to discover ~ explore ~ and experience. We will also have emotions that fill us with joy and laughter and excitment. Our hearts will know the purest of love...and we will feel its power pulse through our whole being! 

 Yes... I am immersing myself in thoughts and prayers about Heaven...and in doing so I have discovered a heightened sense of anticipation for heaven in me!  Glory! I love anticipating my final destination...It will be the Destination of a lifetime! Will you join me? I would love to be there with you....
That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,
   “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 NLT

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cancer... Godly Optimism

Cancer... It turned my life upside down and inside out.  I often found myself on a roller coaster of hope and fear during Brad’s illness. One test delivering hope...the next...filling me with fear. 

I eventually became very aware that my confidence on any given day (or portion of ) was likely tied to what I fixed my understanding upon. I found myself repeatedly asking; “Am I looking for assurance and relief from my struggles from my understanding of what the doctors are telling me or in what God has promised me?”

“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.”   ~  Matthew 11:28 CEB

I was blessed to have my husband Brad, whose faith encouraged my own in our struggle over  God’s Providence. I strained so hard to hear and I failed to understand the things God was revealing in the midst of it...yet Brad seemed to understand His every word. When Brad would attempt to describe it to me...his words strangely became a language I could not decipher fully it’s meaning... But just the same I felt eager to know it too. I think God had given Brad some holy “One on one” time as a precious gift for what was happening and for what was to come. Although I may not have grasped a clear understanding of what God was doing...I found some comfort in knowing that Brad was at rest in it. But I wanted...I needed more...
So...I went to the only source I felt certain God could “break through” my deafness and feelings of defeat... His Word.  It was there I found a very clear message that God was not forsaking me and He had not abandoned His post over mine and Brad’s life by allowing cancer to enter our lives. As hard as it was for me at times to accept... I knew that God is the one who had allowed this disease into Brad’s body. I also knew, it is God who will either defeat the cancer or call Brad home by it’s effects. 
For me, there was never going to be a “good time” for Brad to leave me ‘behind’...but I knew that whether the Lord gave us many more years together or took Brad “too soon”, that God would work this out for our good. Brad often said he was in a “win - win” situation. Brad was eager to remain here and enjoy more years with his loving wife and continue serving the Lord here on earth. Yet, if God called him home...Brad often pondered the day he would be with Jesus and see his Savior face to face.  
I remain to this day unable to answer why God allowed Brad to die from such a wretched disease...but I feel confident that Brad’s death which was ‘too soon’ for all of us who loved him was not one moment early or one second late according to God’s Providence for Brad’s life here on earth.
In this precious understanding...I have been given peace. In God’s grace, I continue my desire to seek Him more and more; and in my search, perhaps I too will discover what God revealed to Brad when I sought so hard to understand His Providence in the calamities of cancer which changed my life forever.
Although there was a brief time I doubted God’s goodness, I can proclaim with great certainty now, that the adversity of cancer and Brad’s death by it..our God remains faithful and He is good. 
When Brad was diagnosed with cancer, I prayed for healing. Countless were the prayers from our family and friends, even people we didn’t know, for God to make him well. Yet, woven into each prayer I made for healing I found myself praying perhaps what I see now as a ‘better’ prayer. I often prayed that I would be the wife Brad needed me to be in all be faithful and trustworthy ... compassionate and giving. I prayed to be ‘strong’ so as not be worrisome to him, and I prayed to bring my husband laughter, contentment...and joy. 
I also prayed asking God to help me to trust Him. Although I wanted Him to see that keeping Brad here with me would be better for the whole world and not just me...I also wanted God to increase my faith and help me to believe that it really was less important that God see things ‘my way’ or for “God to believe me”and more important that I believe God and His promises. 
You have searched me, LORD,
   and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
   you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
   you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
   you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
   and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
   too lofty for me to attain.
 7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
   Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
   if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
   your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
   and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
   the night will shine like the day,
   for darkness is as light to you.
 13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
   before one of them came to be.
(emphasis mine)  ~
Psalms 139:1-16  

Nothing that touches our lives can make the number of our days here on earth last one day later or have us leave our earthly dwellings one day earlier. Cancer cannot determine when we will go home. Only our Father can.
“They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.”    ~ Revelations 22:4 CEB