Book Review: How Could a Loving God…? By Ken Ham

“How could a loving God…?” by Ken Ham is a heart wrenching account of how his brother died from ‘frontal lobe dementia” and incurable brain disease. Ken does an incredible job of journaling his brother Rob’s tremendous ministry of preaching God’s Word and then describing how everything changed when he was transformed to an empty hulk of a decaying brain and body. Continue reading

Life Insights: Bucket List

Life Insights: Bucket List

I have to admit I enjoyed the comedy “Bucket List.”  When a person finds out he has less than a year to live and tries to accomplish a number of adventurous things before he dies and then dies, it is rather moving to me.  I like adventure.  I like to do risky things.  I know death is a sobering time for most people, because it causes us to reflect on what is important in life.  Is a bucket list important in life?

I have heard many people say they have a bucket list.  Some of the things I have heard people say they want to do, I applaud them and hope they have a good time.  I have to admit, I don’t have one. I have been blessed and have traveled all over the world and accomplished many things. So for me to say, “I don’t have a bucket list,” does not mean much to people.  Some often think, “If I had done what you’ve been able to enjoy, I can see why you don’t have one.”  For that reason, I write this respectfully and defer to the desires of others.

Yet, at the same time, I must help you think through priorities.  What is a bucket list?  I have yet to hear of one person have one item about sharing the gospel with people, or leading a person in discipleship, or discipling ten people to become disciple-making people.  The bucket list is always a place to go, or something earthly to do or see. 

When I compare what I hear what is on a bucket list, compared to what believers in Jesus Christ will do and see in heaven, I have to admit, I do not see any comparison.  I wonder, as one dear sister mentioned, “Bucket lists are made to make people’s lives more interesting.”  I must admit, I have to agree with her.  When we get to heaven, a bucket list will be a far distant memory at best. What we see and do in heaven will be far more vivid, far more glorious and far more exalting.  The resources needed for a bucket list will be a dismal investment for eternity sake.

The enemy has filled our lives with so many things, which distract us from what is truly important.  If people put as much mental, emotional and physical energy into God’s priorities as they do thinking about a bucket list, we Christians might influence our community from its downward spiral.

How intent are Christians learning how to be disciple, so they can disciple others who will be able to disciple others?  How intent are people pursuing the multiplication of discipleship to honor the Lord?  How intent are people denying what they want to do in order to put others first and help them in their walk with the Lord? 

I see Christians content with Bible study, fellowship and attending church.  Praise God for the ones who are seeking to learn multiplication!  Praise God for the ones who are building bridges with others!  Praise God for those who are less concerned about their own knowledge intake and are more concerned with helping others understand how to multiply!

I am encouraged every time I see people grasp the multiplication process, because the enemy hates it. 

The enemy will distract people from God’s priority of discipleship at whatever level he can.  He will use all the entertainment of life and of sports.  People shout when their team wins a game, but the same people are dry and stoic singing praise to God in church.  People plan great trips across the United States, but the same people expect the church to teach and entertain for 40 years, without their involvement in discipleship.  People plan out their 50 item bucket list, but never get around to discipling another person to Jesus.  Do I want you to enjoy all that God has created?  Absolutely! It is God’s magnificent and beautiful world. 

Enjoy a trip.  Enjoy what God has created.  Enjoy your vacation.  Enjoy your retirement.  Enjoy the adventure.  Yet, don’t get distracted from God’s priorities.

I like what James says about misusing the tongue, “My friends, these things ought not to be so.” (Jam. 3:10)  Let’s not misuse the time He’s given us. Let’s follow what Moses said, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Ps. 90:12)  
 
What’s your bucket list?  Who does God want you to reach for His name sake?  Who are some people you might be able to disciple?  How does God want to exalt His name? How can I help you with God’s bucket list of priorities?

Blessings: God owns our days

Blessings: God owns our days

A week ago I had the privilege to minister to a dear member of our church in the hospital.  I just kneel  by the bed (as long as my knees hold out or unless there is a handy chair) and listen to the person who might be struggling or suffering.  I have known this dear sister for twenty years.  She lost her husband a year and a half ago and I know she has missed him greatly.  She is ready to move north to be close to one of her children, but this sped up the process. Now she is already north until her unit opens up in the home close by to her daughter.

While I was at the hospital, I remembered a waitress who had tended to the same table at the same restaurant for the last ten years. The men always went there for breakfast after Men’s Prayer.  She had not been at Cracker Barrel very much in the last year as she had battled cancer in her lungs.  The week before one of the other waitresses informed me the cancer had spread to her bones and she was struggling.  Fortunately, I remembered her and I went to see her. 

Some of her family was present and she looked pretty well.  I spoke with her husband for twenty minutes in the hallway and found out he was a spiritual man wanting to lead his family.  As we went in to see her, I read from Psalm 91 and spoke of God as a strong refuge.  He would protect.  We needed to trust Him.

The next Thursday, right after prayer meeting, we went over to Cracker Barrel and one of the other waitresses lit up.  She was so excited to see us, but I could immediately tell something was wrong.  I asked, “Is she okay?”  Shesaid, “She died Sunday afternoon at two o’clock.”  We hugged and she asked that I be ready to do a memorial service. 

As I ate breakfast that day, I could only think of the great Psalm 90 Moses wrote. Moses wrote, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Ps. 90:12) Friends are you ready to see your Creator.  None of us knows how many days we have.  Some will have a warning through a lingering disease, but many of us may see our last view of earth on the way home.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, what He did for you on the cross and you will be saved.  Ask if you have any questions about salvation.

Question: Do we see Jesus when we die or at the Rapture?

Question: Do we see Jesus when we die or at the Rapture? 

This is a great question and the study of last things is always fascinating.  The answer to the above question is yes.  Yes, we will see Jesus at death and yes we will see Jesus at the Rapture. We should consider 1) the death of the believer; 2) the order of ascension; and 3) additional passages.  Let’s first look at the death of the believer.

At the death of the believer, the saint will be ushered into the presence of the Lord.  Paul writes, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8)  The context of 2 Corinthians 5 is regarding death and the tearing down of our outward body and receiving a new resurrection body from the Lord.  The above passage states that we can have confidence that when we are absent from the present body, we will be “present” with the Lord.  The word “present” comes from a prepositional phrase that means “face to face” with the Lord.

Secondly, let’s note the order of ascension. At the Rapture, there seems to be a confusing statement that causes some to think that those who die before the Rapture won’t see Jesus until the Rapture.  Paul writes,

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus1.
 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  (1 Thes. 4:14-17)

The first aspect is the order ascension.  The phrase “sleep in Jesus” is a reference to those believers who have died (1 Thes. 4:14).  Paul adds, “We who are alive and remain until the Lord’s coming (Rapture), will by no means precede those who are asleep.” (1 Thes. 4:15)  If those who are dead go first, have they really seen Jesus at death?  The answer is yes, because in order to harmonize 2 Corinthians 5:8, they have in spirit, but they may not have received their resurrection body until the Rapture.  The second aspect is that once we die, there is no time.  In time beyond, everything happens (no time given).  The third aspect is that those who are alive will be together with those who died “to meet the Lord in the air.” The fourth aspect is that “we shall always be with the Lord,” so that the time element will seem instantaneous and we enter right into the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9).

            Thirdly, let’s note several additional passages.  David writes, “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” (Ps. 17:15)  David spoke of seeing Christ when he was walking in righteousness, but we should consider that in our perfect righteous state, we will see Jesus.  Jesus said that He would leave to prepare a place for His followers, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3)  Jesus desires that we behold His glory, which will be completely fulfilled at death, “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)

            The application is that we want to please Him now! In the verse immediately following the first verse above, Paul writes, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. (2 Cor. 5:9)

Question: What is heaven like?

At a funeral this week, one of the passages I addressed was Revelation 21.  I was asked by one of the family members to address what heaven is like.  I only scratched the surface of how great heaven is.  It was just enough to give those who had not trusted in Christ an opportunity to hear that heaven is a place unlike the earth.  Let’s note several principles about heaven:

Heaven is coming. Twice in Revelation 21:1-2, John says, “I saw…” the new heavens and new earth.  We can praise the Lord for the great expression in the Bible, “And it came to pass…”  It didn’t come to stay, but it came to pass, because there is something better coming.  We may or may not experience it on earth, but we, who have trusted in Jesus Christ will experience the better in heaven.

Presence of Jesus. In Revelation 21:3, we see the “Tabernacle of God” is with men.  The Tabernacle in the Old Testament was a type of Christ with all of its articles pointing toward an aspect of Jesus Christ.  For example the showbread spoke of Jesus as the Bread of Life.  The Menorah spoke of Jesus as the Light of the world.  Revelation 21:3 says there will be a new relationship with men far beyond anything even what most Christians will experience on earth.  Jesus will be with Christians in heaven and they will willingly submit to Him as their head.  He is the great Builder of heaven.

No more pain.  Revelation 21:4 provides that great expression, “No more death, no more sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  Why?  It is because God makes all things new in quality and wipes away every tear.  We will have sorrow and pain on earth, because this is not heaven and it is a sin-dreadful place.  But it will come to pass.

New surroundings.  Revelation 21:5 describes how Jesus will make ALL things new.  Nothing from the old will pass into eternity.  We can’t load up the Uhaul and take anything to heaven.  We won’t want to once we get there.  It will be beyond what we could ever imagine.  That’s the reward for simple faith at the point of salvation.  His words are true and faithful.

Living fresh water. Revelation 21:6 describes Jesus, the Alpha and Omega from Rev. 1:8 and 22:13, promising the water of life to anyone who thirsts.  We can experience that fresh water on earth, and it will be unbelievably real in heaven.

Overcoming friends. Revelation 21:7-8 describes those who overcame will be in heaven and inherit all things.  John writes in 1 John 5:4 that an overcomer is one who has been born again because of faith in Jesus Christ.  However, the rest of humanity who rejected Jesus and showed their rejection by hatred, sexual immorality, idolatry and lying will end up in the Lake of Fire, which is the second death.

Glory of God’s city.  Revelation 21:9-11 describes the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, which is the holy Jerusalem, the glory of God prepared for God’s people to dwell.  It is the presence of God.  It’s hard to understand the infinite, so John records Jesus’ words that He was going to prepare a place for Christians, mansions in heaven (John 14:1-3).

Solid structure for living.  Revelation 21:12-14 describe a city of walls, gates and foundations.  There is perfect protection and orderly living in heaven, because there will be perfect harmony in Jesus Christ.  It will be the best vacation spot, but where every believer will want to worship the Lord forever and ever.

Perfect spaciousness.  Revelation 21:15-17 describe the space provided in the city.  God has it measured and God’s perfect character ensures it will be perfect for us.  There will be no fighting because of a lack of room or having to share with another person. Why?  It will be because we will be in perfect harmony with each other.

Perfect beauty.  Revelation 21:18-21 describe using precious gems and stones the construction of the city.  It will be beautiful!  It will cause everyone to have to lift their mouths, like a gal who sees a beautiful one carat diamond ring a guy she loves uses to propose to her.  It will hold our attention because of perfect variety and beauty.

God’s presence.  Revelation 21:22 describes a lack of a temple, because the Father and Lord Jesus Christ are its temple.  It will be beyond anything we could ever imagine today.  Some great cathedrals seize your breath the first time you walk into them, because of their grandeur.  God’s presence will be amazing.

Light of glory. Revelation 21:23-24 describe the lack of light in heaven, because Jesus is the Light and all nations will walk in that light.  The infinite character of Jesus’ light is not easily understood, but in heaven, there will be no need for street lights for seeing or for protection.  Jesus will be the light.

Open access to Jesus.  Revelation 21:25-27 describe the open door policy of Jesus.  He doesn’t just have open door hours.  He is always available.  You won’t have to leave a voice mail or wait for a text message return.  Jesus will be instantly available, not for or to you, but with you because you will be in perfect submission to His glory.

Unending truth provided. Revelation 22:1 describes a river of life coming from the throne of God.  This will be truth that we will continue to enjoy the infinity of God.  Water is used for God’s Word in Ephesians 5:26.

Perfect sustenance. Revelation 22:2 describes 12 varieties of fruit for a different kind of pie or food each month.  God is creative and what is provided will not be boring or monotonous.  It will be better than anything you can imagine.

Freedom from cursing. Revelation 22:3 describes the freedom we will possess from the effects of the curse of sin.  All of God’s children will be servants who serve the Lord in perfect harmony.  There will be no estrangements.  There will be no hurt feelings.  There will be no harsh words spoken, wicked comparisons made, slights made toward anyone.  People will always be focused on the Lord in perfect unity.  THAT will be heaven!

Perfect fellowship with God. Revelation 22:4-5 describe that in the radiance of Jesus’ face, which will be reflected on our foreheads, we will see and reign forever.   Even as Moses’ face shone when he came off the mountain (Ex. 34:29-35), so we will bear that radiance on our face, because we will be face to face with the Lord!  There will be no shadows.  There will be no distrust.  There will be perfect harmony in heaven with each other, because we will be in perfect submission to the Lord.

 

Friends, are you a child of God?  You can become a child of God by trusting in Jesus Christ as your Savior.  There is nothing more important that understanding and taking the gift of salvation that God offers in His grace.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.  You will be adopted into God’s family and become a part of the Bride of Jesus Christ.  Your destiny will be heaven. 

Jesus was God and when He became man also, He bore the sins of all mankind while He hung on the cross.  God the Father made Him the target of His wrath as sin.  And pouring out His wrath on Jesus, the righteousness of God was satisfied and the world was reconciled to God awaiting that decision of faith by people to accept the gift of salvation.

Then you can begin to enjoy the blessings of heaven on earth as you submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  To the extent that you humble yourself to His Lordship, to that extent you will enjoy heaven on earth.  Yes, there will be tribulations (John 16:33), but you can have His peace and harmony that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7) and be a blessing to others regardless of their actions toward you.  You will be living heaven on earth, which is something the world does not and cannot understand. 

Let me know if you have any questions.