Tag Archives: heaven

Viewing Home

There’s a place I used to go when I was younger, when I was in much better shape, and when my family still lived down by the river (but not in a van). It was a bluff overlooking the Tennessee River Gorge, right above where we lived.

Just the other day, as I walked out of the cardiologist’s office, I saw in the waiting room a photo on canvas, a photo of the very place I used to hike to as a kid. Emotions took my breath away.

I moved a chair out of my way and used my phone to take a picture – this picture – of the picture.

There it was, the view like no other in Tennessee, like few in the world. It was the view of my home from on top of that rocky outcrop that I’d gladly hike for a few hours to reach.

Oh, how I’d love to go there again, except this time with my wife and girls! I would love for them to share in the awe and grandeur of God’s perfect river view.

If you were to sit on the edge of the rock, to your left you would see the Tennessee River flow down from the direction of Chattanooga. Below your feet would be a hundred-foot drop to the tops of maple and oak trees. To your right would be (as you see here) the river on which we’d fish, ride in a boat, and watch the rains from every storm approach us like a white wall.

This was Cherokee country. This was moonshine country. This was the place where my great grandfather immigrated to after hobo-ing a train out of Rainbow City, Alabama. This is where my grandfather married a half-Cherokee woman and built a house out of rough-cut pine that he and his father cut at the saw mill. This is where my dad and my uncle would sneak across the river at night to take food to my grandpa Baker who was hiding out from the revenuers.

This was where my dad got his first and last whiskey still at the age of 14, but gave it up after the plum whiskey nearly killed him.

This is where we would later live after my dad met my mom, gave his heart to Jesus, and displayed what it really looked like to be changed by the Gospel.

This is where I learned to shoot, hunt, fish, and be proud of my “hillbilly” roots. It’s also where my cousin and I snuck what we thought were .22 cal. blanks out of my uncle’s gun cabinet and then proceed to shoot at each other across a field at night. Actually, I had the blanks, but Danny had the bullets.

I can say with all certainty, he missed.

This is where I would accept the call to preach at age 16.

This is the place I used to call home, but no longer. Even if I wanted to move back there, the millionaires have bought up much of what used to be my stomping grounds, at least what’s not now part of the Tennessee River Trust. I’d never be able to afford a place to build a campfire, much less a house, even if the old family property was available.

But that’s OK.

Sure, there’s a sentimental ache in my heart to stand on that bluff again, to look down on my old home. But the older I get, the more I have a longing to see someplace else, someplace where I’ll be welcome forever… A place I’ve been reading about in an old Book.

From what I’ve been told, well… the view there is spectacular! Even infinite!

And there’ll be no cardiologist waiting rooms, either.

 

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Filed under Family, General Observations, Life/Death, places, wisdom

After Christmas Is Proof We Need to Be Redeemed

As I was thinking about some things I wanted to write this morning, a thought popped into my head which was far more profound than my original idea correcting other peoples’ spelling…

The feelings we have after Christmas point to the fact that we have not been fully redeemed. Our bodies are still waiting for that final transformation.

[We] also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. – Romans 8:23b CSB

What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption. Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality. – 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 CSB

What does this have to do with “after Christmas“?

Celebrating Christmas has completely worn me out. I’m tired of carols, smiles, joy, and jingle bells… even eggnog. I need a break.

So, just imagine how difficult it would be to survive heaven for more than a day or two?

Not only will we need new bodies that never grow old, get weak, and want to go to bed before sundown, but we will need to be set free from all the chains of this mortal flesh – everything that turns an elf into a Grinch around December 26th or 27th.

Our corruptible minds and bodies must be exchanged for that which is incorruptible, else we won’t be able to endure the celebration that is to come.

Without being changed, heaven would be full of worn-out billion-year-olds leaving the dirty dishes for the angels to deal with.

Heaven will be a celebration of the Redeemer by the redeemed. If the corruptible got in, it wouldn’t be long before they felt like hell.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christmas, clothing, salvation, the future, worship

Ranting About Realty

The following is a rant I’m making on my cell phone via talk-to-text. I’ve just got to get some things off my chest, even if I have to talk a lot. Forgive me.

Here we go…

Today is the day we close on a house. Oh, don’t get me wrong, however. This is not a house that we are buying; it is a house that we are selling.

Let me further clarify, the house that we are selling is not a house that we are going to be profiting from; it is part of a trust for which I am the trustee. And let me tell you, this has been more of a pain than I ever thought it would be.

Honestly, the whole process of buying and selling property, especially an older house, has been enough to make me never want to buy a house for myself! Sure, I guess if I ever get rich enough to do so, I can have other people do everything for me. However, if I have to go through all this stuff again, I might go insane! I’d rather rent, or live in a van down by the river!

Regardless, all we’ve gone through up unto this point – the day when the papers are to be signed and everything is finalized – has made me think of my future home, the one in heaven.

Just think about it for a moment. Up there we won’t have to deal with contractors, sales people, home inspectors, and realtors. There will be no commissions, no closing cost, no concessions, no negotiations, no allowances, and no last-minute repairs before anyone can move in.

No, when I finally get to move into my heavenly home, I won’t have to worry about a title company getting my name spelled correctly, collecting all the keys and garage door openers, or signing on any dotted lines. I won’t have to worry about any upkeep, any unfulfilled promises, or property taxes (hallelujah!). When I get home, it will be my home, bought and paid for by my heavenly Father!

And I won’t have to sign any more contracts, or revisions, or even more revisions of more contracts… My name has been written in the Lambs Book of Life, and that’s all that matters.

I’m through ranting, now.

Be blessed, y’all 🙂

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Filed under General Observations, Struggles and Trials

Just Around the Bend

There are a lot of straight roads, some of which go on for miles upon miles. Most roads, however, are not completely straight; they have turns and curves.

Life is like most roads: it is full of twists and turns, many of which conceal what’s just around the bend.

This morning I was traveling down a stretch of Highway 24 that curved along beside the Tennessee River and into downtown Chattanooga. The sun was rising in the east, therefore practically blinding anyone driving in that direction.

The following thought crossed my mind and prompted me to pull out my camera: “This sort of looks like I’m on the road to Heaven, and there’s the glow of the city just ahead.”

That’s when I took this picture.

Fact is we really don’t know what lies ahead around the bend, do we? Sure, we have things like maps, GPS, and the popular Waze app, but eternity is not exactly a pot hole, speed trap, or detour.

Just around the next bend in the road your trip could end. What then?

It would be best to know what direction you are headed, for only one leads to eternal life (Matt. 7:14; John 14:6).

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Filed under Future, Life/Death, salvation

My Allergy Will Be Gone!

My daughter Katie is allergic to a list of things, and although the list is not a long one, it does include bacon, so she does deserve our pity.

On the other hand, our young and uber-talented pianist at church, Olivia, has list of allergies longer than the strings on a Steinway concert grand! Seriously! Let’s just put it this way: just listening to the song “99 Balloons” could kill her.

But for me, I’m allergic to nothing… well, almost nothing. I’m not allergic to any foods, liquids, or chemicals; I don’t reach for an EpiPen whenever I see a bee; nor do I provide a list of medicines that could kill me should I visit a doctor.

I am, however, allergic to one thing… PAIN. The following are symptoms I experience when I receive a dose of pain, each one varying based on the length or intensity of exposure:

  • Immediate onset of watery eyes, the accumulating result being streams of salty fluid running down my face.
  • Widening of the eyes.
  • Convulsions of the hand and fingers, usually in conjunction with flailing arms and connecting concussions with inanimate objects.
  • Mental delusions, temporary insanity, and near-death experiences.
  • Random bouts of temporary-onset Tourette Syndrome.

Some people say “pain is weakness leaving your body.” To those people, I say, “Go eat a worm.”

Unfortunately, barring being put into a coma – and that’s no guarantee – I will have to suffer with my pain allergy until the day I die. There is no known cure on this earth, only items meant to temporarily mask or lessen the effects of the allergic reaction.

But someday… one day… I will have a new body! No more pain allergies for me!

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. – Rev 21:4 KJV

No allergy shots in Heaven!

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Filed under Life/Death

Keep Looking Up

Totality

Now that it’s been a little while since the Great American Eclipse of 2017, permit me to share with you a thought.

Do you remember the first time you saw something for the first time face-to-face, something which before you had only seen in pictures? For example, how excited were you when you drove over a hill and caught your first glimpse of the Washington Monument, the entrance to Disney World, the tops of a mountain range, or the ocean horizon? Didn’t you heart leap within you?

My daughters and I took part in a meeting at Bryan College on the day of the eclipse. Little did I know – because we had forgone attempts to make it to Hopkinsville, KY (the perfect viewing spot) – that in Dayton, TN, we would also be able to view “totality.”

Fortunately, my wife had gotten some viewing glasses a few days before, so we were ready when the moon started creeping across the sun. We, along with hundreds of others, stood around in the field adjacent the college and hung out in the heat, continually wondering if this was going to be worth all the hype. After all, it was hot outside that day.

But it got darker…and darker…and cooler…and cooler. It wasn’t too long before the crickets started singing and the street lights started coming on. It seemed all the world was confused at what was happening, all except for those of us who were… looking up.

I could stop right there and preach! It just occurred to me what I wrote as I was writing it. Hallelujah!

Anyway, the light from the sun grew dimmer and dimmer as the moon slowly crept in front of it. We kept looking up… more constantly, now… and then all of a sudden all of the light disappeared. I could see nothing as I looked through the glasses.

Then it happened… I was totally unprepared for what I was going to see with my own eyes… no darkened lenses… (is there anyone out there feeling the way I’m feeling as I write this for the first time?) … with my own eyes I saw the splendor of totality… like a light switch just came on and all of a sudden a big, blazing, golden ring hung in the darkened sky!

What I was then viewing made me immediately realize that all the waiting was worth it. No picture in a book… no description… nothing anyone had said about it from a scientific standpoint… nothing could have prepared me for what I saw, for it was like nothing on this earth could ever capture or replicate.

A once-in-a-life-time event that was totally worthy of the hype.

Heaven

As I stood there looking up at the eclipse, the following thought (not very spiritual) went through my mind: “This must be what it would feel like should a person actually be confronted with an “Independence Day-like” alien encounter…like, I never believed, but there it is.” Being a preacher of the gospel, I don’t know why I thought that, other than the fact that I was completely dumbstruck.

Later, when I describing this to an older, fellow believer, he replied, “Imagine what it will be like when we first see heaven.”

DUH! ABSOLUTELY!

Dear friend, there is coming a day when all descriptions will go out the window like worn-out chewing gum. Heaven, the place we’ve heard about all our lives, will actually come into view. And not only that, the Person who created us, loved us, and saved us, will step out, eyes blazing brighter than “totality,” and say, “Welcome, child, to your new home! Come see what I’ve prepared for you!”

[shouting time]

There, right in front of your eyes, totally beyond the description of eyes and ears, will be the ultimate reality…it will be real…it won’t be a dream…what Jesus Christ has gone to prepare. Totality like you never could have imagined!

But just think of stepping on shore
And finding it heaven
Of touching a hand and finding it God’s
Of breathing new air and finding it celestial
Of waking up in glory and finding it home

– from “Finally Home,” by Don Wyrtzen and L. E. Singer

Just keep looking up! TOTALLY worth the hype!

 

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, God

Escapist or Expectant?

As I was lying in bed this morning, shivering in the cold – the house is like a dadgum freezer – I proceeded to do an mental inventory. No, it wasn’t an inventory of all the things that need to be organized and packed for our upcoming move in a few days. I wasn’t even thinking about all the bills that need to be paid with money we don’t have (that’s a growing list too depressing to think about). Actually, it was a mental inventory of pain. 

It’s the last day of 2016 – this is the last post of the year – and with every day that passes I’m acquiring a new pain. As I lay there covered up, not wanting to get out of bed, I came to the realization that there was not one part of my body that didn’t hurt – literally. 

I’m not yet fifty years old, but I hurt from head to toe. Seriously, I’m looking forward to that “new body” the Bible says I’ll have one day. Maybe that is why I’m not as critical as I used to be of certain hymnals that have more songs about heaven than other, more weighty themes. Maybe it’s because I wake up and go to sleep with pain that I look forward heaven a little more than my younger, healthier theologians. 

One of the criticisms leveled at Christians is that we are “escapists” (i.e., those who care more about escaping this world than saving it). Sometimes we are accused of being so “heavenly-minded” that we’re no earthly good, all because we believe there’s a place to go after the cares of this life are over. Well, I’ve got news for everybody: I’m ready to go!!

No, I don’t want to die. No, I don’t want to give up on reaching the lost in order to selfishly escape to paradise. However, with each new day that passes by…with every New Year’s celebration that comes and goes…I’m that much closer to my faith becoming sight. …And no more pain. 

No, I don’t want to escape, but my expectations are pretty high. I’m looking forward to what God has in store for those who love Him… and believe it or not, that includes 2017. 

Happy New Year, my friends! 

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Filed under current events, Future, the future