Dreaming of Heaven – Article 34

 

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DREAMING of HEAVEN for Kids

Answers for the Kid in all of us, from 3-103.
A series by Amy Jo and Heidi Roland on excerpts
from Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven for Kids epm.org

Snow in Heaven

Will we have fun in the snow on the New Earth like we do on the Earth as it is now?

Do you suppose that it is quite possible that God could have even more magnificent snows in Heaven?  Fun?  Of course God made us to love having fun, so it stands to reason that some of our most happy Forever adventures could be taking place in the snow.  Job 37:10 – “From the breath of God ice is made, and the expanse of the waters is frozen.”  Have you heard that there have never been two snowflakes exactly alike?  I think God likes snow so much that He takes time to design every single flake to be unique and individual.

Psalm 100:3 – “Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”  This verse speaks to the fact that He made you—just as He did those snowflakes.  You too are made as a one-of-a-kind!  He carefully and intentionally designed every part of your being before you were ever born.  He also watches over you as a sheep is tended by the shepherd.  Knowing the things that this fallen world brings us to, He even planned to re-use & recycle the bad things and sin to show us how much we need Him and how happy He is to rescue us from it all.  This will go on until the moment He will sweep us up into His Heavenly Adventures in Forever.

Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, …”  Not only is He coming to our rescue from our sin, but as we let Him be our shepherd, He begins to reveal His real plans for us.  Plans to use our lives to bring Him glory.  That sounds funny to our inexperienced ears, but as we continue to study the whole of His Word, we find that that is what He created us for.  And before we get to Heaven, bringing Him glory is the only thing that will satisfy our hearts.

Being made in His image, we are creative creatures with imaginations to be used for good.  Thus, we may dream to His glory.  One of my favorite dreams of Heaven on The New Earth is picturing all of us gathered in Norman Rockwell style (Maybe your family remembers the jolly, fun winter Rockwell scene in the movie “Funny Farm”).  Now, picture being at our wonderful Heavenly Father’s House for the Holidays.  Arriving (perhaps for a Christmas vacation stay in our many rooms) from our various cottages, cabins, mansions, etc. (whatever places God has provided us according to our hearts’ desires).  See us . . . dressed in winter coats, mittens, hats and scarves—against a snowy backdrop of tall, colorfully decorated, Christmas trees.  Children throwing snow balls from fantastic forts and happy skaters gliding around—doing all sorts of joyous antics on ice (Did you see “The Bishop’s Wife”?  If not, add that one to your holiday viewing!).  All of us, singing Christmas Carols at the top of our lungs, to the glory of God.

Did you know that Gods’ Word actually tell us that our sins will change from crimson red to become whiter than snow?  (Psalm 51:7 Cleanse me . . . and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.)  One more reason we think He surely has wondrous excitement in store for us!  Those Scriptures get us going!

Who’s up for a ski date with Jesus and the gang!?!

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Dreaming of Heaven – Article 33

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DREAMING of HEAVEN for Kids

Answers for the Kid in all of us, from 3-103.
A series by Amy Jo Roland on excerpts
from Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven for Kids epm.org

Sparkling Memories …
Glorious Future!

Someone recently said, “I don’t know why there’s so much talk about wanting to get to Heaven when there is so much to enjoy about being here and now.”  I thought, “Yes, that’s verrry true—however, I’ve found that having a bright Eternal Perspective helps to make evvverything—good, bad and past, present and future, more understandable, acceptable and even appreciated when we focus on the good that is promised.

This brings to my mind the scripture that tells us , “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  ~Philippians 4:8.  Awesome?!  Then take another look—the Message Bible says it this way, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.  Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized.  Do that, and, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

Contemplating these things, as I sit here typing, I am looking forward to taking my children to see the Grand Lighting in our local City Park tonight.  The memories of this area’s Christmases past flood my mind of my own childhood excitement as the lights would fill up the dim evening with unbelievable glitter and excitement.

Do you remember the exclamations—”Oooh, aaaah.”  “Wow!”  “It’s sooo beautiful.”  “Can you imagine how long it took to get all those lights up?”  “I think there are even more this year than ever!”

Santa Claus majestically heading up the scene with all enthusiasm and jolly “Ho, ho, ho’s.”  And then the friendly chatter and frolicking in the snow as we waited in line to have a word with the Main Man, himself.  As we inched toward the door of that cozy cabin that we had looked at longingly all year, we could feel the warmth of the roaring fire in the fireplace.  That glow only added to the magic of the evening!  Finally, I was face to face with Him, telling Him my heart’s biggest desire.  He looked me in the eye, listened intently and laughed with me about my excitement.  It was such a wonderful experience year after year.

And here we are, with our children, experiencing all of the holiday thrills.  Who is more blessed now, the kiddies or the parents and grandparents?  Even while so much in this world is wrong and sad, we still can get happy about the joys and hope of what God’s Son, Jesus brought to be celebrated year after year.  That being His gift of growing up to give Himself, in His death on a cross, for the sins of all of us that will eventually conquer death!  This gift of freedom from darkness allows us to look at everything with hearts full of love—His love for all mankind.

This hope includes the hope of Forever that Jesus is arranging for where He is preparing a room for us in His Father’s house. “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that 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 (NIV)  This tells me that there will be a day when we have gone home to Heaven that we will see an even better sight than what we have been so thrilled by on Earth as it now is.  It will be our real home and the Main Man will not be a friendly impersonator of Father Christmas, but the author of Christmas—the King of Kings, the One who will reign over The New Earth.

What a Christmas that will be—when we will look into His eyes and see how He knows our hearts desires!  What adventures we have and can look forward to!

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Dreaming of Heaven – Article 32

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DREAMING of HEAVEN for Kids

Answers for the Kid in all of us, from 3-103.
A series by Amy Jo Roland on excerpts
from Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven for Kids epm.org

Will We Eat & Drink in Heaven?

Seems like Mid-October to Mid-January is the Season of Food in our culture.  From Harvest parties to New Year’s celebrations, we find reasons to top last week’s menu for 90 days in a row!  An overwhelming majority of us seem to adapt to this perpetual feast with exuberance.  Soup kitchens—to my kitchen—to the White House Kitchen, we ramp up our efforts to fill and nourish the tummies around us.

Rich soups and hot breads slathered with real butter and the jams we put up from the summer’s bounty warm us up for the big game.  Casseroles of comfort food and apple desserts abound.  October at my house is a big birthday month as well, and though it’s odd for many Iowans, we like to celebrate with sushi.

Soon, many of us will plan a spread that covers an entire table, so that we have to eat in the next room just for the space; roasters full of good things will fill the air with an aroma that is not easy to duplicate—or forget.  Our family tradition has often included a friendly (and mouth-watering) turkey competition between in-laws, a stock pot full of mashed potatoes & two kinds of gravy, sweet potatoes with perfectly browned marshmallow topping, delicious corn and macaroni casserole, green bean casserole with those crunchy little onion things on top, a mounded veggie platter, fresh hot breads and rolls with an array of flavored butters & jams, homemade pumpkin, apple and pecan pies with Mom’s honey-whipped cream and finally, cranberries—shaped like a can.  Lest that sounds ridiculously overindulgent and just plain too much, our immediate family alone, currently numbers 29 and we often have several other families join with us to polish it off over the entire weekend.

Then we put up our tree, we plan days to make sugar cookies, party mix, and candies, “Oh My!”  Soon it’s time for recitals, concerts and dances—all with “refreshments served.”  We love it—a chance to sample others’ culinary brilliance.  Every stop we make offers steaming hot chocolate or cider and a plate of goodies.  This alone seems to go on for a week, solid, followed by at least one incredible meal somewhat similar to the one I described in the last paragraph.  Then it tends to taper and abruptly stop.  That is, until we look a few weeks ahead to Super Bowl Sunday.

So, we have established that eating is generally enjoyed around here and the more the better.  From fabulous buffet to sushi buffet, we make eating a national pastime.  That brings up an interesting question about Heaven that actually concerns some deeply.  Here are some ponderings from Randy Alcorn . . .

“Many people are afraid that in Heaven there will be no need to eat or drink.  But think about this:  After his resurrection, Jesus asked his disciples for some food and ate a piece of fish in front of them. (Luke 24:41-43)  He proved that resurrected people can and do eat real food.”

“Other Bible verses say that we’ll eat at feasts with Jesus in an earthly kingdom.  Jesus said to his disciples, “I will not drink wine again until (emphasis mine) the Kingdom of God has come.”  (Luke 22:18)”

“An angel in Heaven said to John, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).  What do people do at any meal or feast—especially a wedding meal?  Eat, drink, talk, tell stories, celebrate, laugh, and have dessert.  Wedding feasts in the Middle East often lasted a full week.”

“After Jesus referred to the resurrection of the dead, a man at the same dinner said to him, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God” (Luke 14:15).  If the man who said this had a wrong idea about eating in Heaven, Jesus could have told him so.  But he didn’t.  In fact, he built on the man’s words to tell a story about someone who prepared a banquet and invited many guests (Luke 14:16-24).

“So will we eat and drink in Heaven?  The answer is a very clear yes!

With all of our experience and first-hand expert knowledge of wonderful food, my guess is that we haven’t seen anything yet!  Bring on the Heavenly Feast.

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Dreaming of Heaven – Article 31

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DREAMING of HEAVEN for Kids

Answers for the Kid in all of us, from 3-103.
A series by Amy Jo Roland on excerpts
from Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven for Kids epm.org

Why Is It Cool to Think About
Being With Jesus For Eternity?

“Each of us is made for a person.  And we’re also made for a place.  Jesus is the person.  Heaven is the place.” –Randy Alcorn

Why does Randy say that we are made for Jesus?  Jesus made the world and everything in it—including you—because it made Him glad to do it.  He then gave His own life in our place because we have sin and He is perfect, so He could pay for our sin, because He loves us.

Why does Randy say that we are made for Heaven?  In Genesis 2, God put the first man in the Garden of Eden, which was as close to an earthly description of Heaven’s geographic highlights as I have ever heard.  After sin messed up the Garden (and the rest of the world, too), Jesus came to the rescue of all who trust in Him, and he told us the rest of His plan.  He had Heaven in mind the whole time!  He always planned for us to live with Him there.  Jesus told His people that He was going to prepare a place for us.  “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  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 14:1-3

This Jesus is the same guy who made water turn into wine when they ran out at big wedding.  He healed people who had never been able to see or hear or walk and made them perfectly healthy.  He gave (and still gives) people without hope, perfect hope and brings His peace into lives that have been scared to death.  He walked on water in the middle of an angry sea; he turned a child’s lunchbox offering into enough for thousands; he even knows your name, your favorite food, your biggest wish and how many hairs are on your head.  He’s cool.  Oh, and He designed the Platypus.  And He’s looking forward to hanging out with you forever!

Randy A. says, “Jesus lives in Heaven and is getting a place ready for us there.  So if we look forward to being with Jesus, that’s the same as looking forward to Heaven.  Why?  Because that’s where we’ll be with him.  So whenever we think about being with Jesus, we’re thinking about Heaven.  And whenever we think about Heaven, we should be thinking about Jesus.”

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Dreaming of Heaven – Article 30

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DREAMING of HEAVEN for Kids

 

Answers for the Kid in all of us, from 3-103.
A series by Amy Jo Roland on excerpts
from Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven for Kids epm.org

 

Will Our Anticipation of Heaven
Ever Disappoint?

 

Last week, I thought about how as a kid, I loved looking at Toy Catalogs and gazing at the wrapped packages, wondering what would actually be inside.  And how wonderful it was to anticipate those gifts.   Now, as an adult, while I enjoy recalling each gift very much, I have come to see them more as a bunch of plastic and batteries.  It’s funny to me that after all the excitement, 30 years later they have almost all broken or been discarded.  The newness wore off.  My interest faded.  Some of them actually became kind of boring.  Now I wouldn’t even want them.  Even as I cherish the memories, I realize that I moved on . . .

Could it be that Heaven will lose its’ luster after a thousand years there?  Will we tire of what it has to offer?  Will Heaven ever start to fall apart or be boring?  Is it possible that we would decide we want to move on?

Let me share an excerpt on Hell vs. Heaven that I was reading this morning from Randy Alcorn’s Heaven for Kids:  “The fact is, Hell is a place where everyone is lonely and miserable, where friendship and good times don’t exist.  Hell will be deadly boring.  Everything good, enjoyable, refreshing, fascinating, and exciting comes from God.  Without God—and all the good things that come from him—there’s nothing interesting to do.  King David wrote, ‘You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever’ (Psalm 16:11).  Just as without God there is no joy, so in God’s presence there’s nothing but joy.

“‘Won’t it be boring to be good all the time?’ someone asked.  This guy believed that being bad is exciting and being good is boring.  But that’s just a big lie.  (Don’t fall for it, okay?)  Doing wrong things doesn’t make life interesting; it makes life complicated.  Sin doesn’t create adventure; it creates emptiness.  You may have guessed by now that my favorite book series is The Chronicles of Narnia.  If you haven’t read these books, I really encourage you to.  Aslan the lion is the king of the fictional land Narnia just as Jesus is King of kings in the real Kingdom of Heaven.  So here’s my question: can you imagine Aslan ever being boring?  Can you imagine anyone hanging out with Aslan who isn’t totally excited to be with him?

 

“The stories tell us ‘Aslan is not a tame lion.’  He isn’t under anybody’s control.  Like Aslan, the real Jesus is creative, fascinating, and anything but boring.  You can be sure we will always wonder what more he has waiting for us.  As our leader forever, he has plans that will just blow us away!  I think Heaven is going to be full of great surprises and astonishing new adventures as we learn more about God and enjoy his wonders in a new universe.”

So I’m thinking that if Heaven is where God hangs out and He is so full of creativity and He loves all the exciting, interesting completely unboring things He has already given for us to enjoy, won’t His home be exactly that?  Everything I’ve read in His Word tells me that while He loves us and cares for our deepest concerns, He is “not a tame God,” but full of adventure, bravery and power.  Romans 5:3 (NAS) says, “. . . And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  Unboring!  Perfectly satisfying.  Never breaking or falling apart.  Truly epic!  Alcorn makes me laugh about this, and hey! “Once we’re in Heaven, we’ll think we were pretty dumb not to have looked forward to it more than we did.”

 

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where Heaven books, CDs, and DVDs are available.

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Dreaming of Heaven – Article 29

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DREAMING of HEAVEN for Kids

 

Answers for the Kid in all of us, from 3-103.
A series by Amy Jo Roland on excerpts
from Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven for Kids epm.org

 

How Should We Anticipate Heaven?

When I was a kid, I loved looking through some of the most magical of books—TOY CATALOGS!  My favorite was the one that came out in October each year.  That thing was over an inch thick and filled with amazing photos of toys and fun items the company suggested could be purchased for Christmas.  Since my birthday falls in December, I loved to write out long lists of things that my parents could choose from for my presents for both occasions.  I spent hours, pouring over my options and carefully considered each item, size, color, etc.  The dolls were exquisite, and there were so many accessories to go with them.  I loved the little household items–ovens that really baked, sinks that had running water, a kid-sized sewing machine—I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that I have enjoyed a good portion of my career years actively engaged in homemaking.  Then the bicycles, motorized riding toys and my all-time favorite, The Whiz Wheel!  (That was awesome!  You sat in the middle and separately cranked two big wheels, one on each side of your body.  If you did it right, you could spin it around like a saucer.  Sick-making but fun!)  As I edged into the upper-elementary grades, the individual video games began to come on the scene.  There was one that simulated driving a race car— and then the wondrous—Frogger!

Oh!  The anticipation of opening those wrapped boxes to find out which one they picked for me was nearly as much of my enjoyment as actually having it in my hands.  Or as in one case, up my nose!  While I’m onto this subject, I must share a “joke’s on me” memory.  It was one of those “I couldn’t wait” gifts.  With no one looking—I got so curious about it, while I was doing the pinch and shake examination, I discovered a tiny tear in the gift wrap and actually gave it a sniff—which was followed by a completely unexpected surprise!  My aunt and uncle had brought our family a beautiful braided string of hot red peppers.  Ow!  One of those little pepper seeds lit up my sinuses so hot that I howled in tears until my family came to rescue me with a Kleenex and a rioting of laughter.

Even so, while the years have gone by and I have grown up, I recall with so much fondness, the process of looking and choosing and savoring the wait until I could pull off the paper and bows and actually claim my prized possessions.

My family and I ponder Heaven in much the same way children look forward to receiving gifts.  We read in Genesis that God created this spectacular earth in 6 days—and even with the brokenness that human sin has brought to it, we all know that it is still breathtaking and amazing!  Two thousand years ago, Jesus said He was leaving this earth to “go and prepare a place” for us.   If what we see of nature in the here and now— created in six days and deteriorated by humans for centuries—can fill us with so much joy and wonder, can you imagine what His untainted creation of two thousand years will be like?  Shouldn’t we be anticipating and building up our excitement for our real home?

Randy Alcorn writes, “Maybe at some point you’ve said, ‘I believe Jesus died for the wrong things I’ve done’.  Perhaps you’ve placed your trust in him.  If so, the Bible promises that Heaven will be your future home.  Jesus said so himself.  ‘There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.  If this were not so, would I have told you I am going to prepare a place for you?  When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am’ (John 14:2-3).

“Finding out in advance about the Grand Canyon or Disney World or summer camp helps us get excited and look forward to going there.  The Bible says, ‘We are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness’ (2 Peter 3:13).  But we won’t really look forward to that place unless we know something about its attractions before we get there, right?”

Be inspired today to get into the Word of God (it’s better than magical!  It’s real!); see what He has to say about your future.  Be spurred on today to give that future to Jesus and receive your ticket to the wonders he has been working on for two thousand years—so you can pour over the gifts that are ahead.  Be excited today to know that He loves you so much that through his personal sacrifice for you, He paid your way to the perfect place He is creating with you in mind—and preparing you to fully enjoy.  Be at peace today that the anticipation will come to the point that you can pull off the bow and paper and claim your most prized possession.  The day is coming when He will welcome us into the place that our hearts were designed to be perfectly at home in – let’s savor the thoughts!

 

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712-243-5492 in Atlantic –
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Dreaming of Heaven – Article 28

book cover shortest cropped _1

DREAMING of HEAVEN for Kids

Answers for the Kid in all of us, from 3-103.
A series by Amy Jo Roland on excerpts
from Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven for Kids epm.org

What Cool Features Will the New Earth Have?

Penguins!  Doesn’t that word make you smile?   Remember the last time you went to the zoo and the penguin exhibit was packed with people laughing, pointing and mesmerized with the antics of these unique creatures?   Penguins love to show off and entertain.  They seem to find so much freezing-cold fun that we get tired just standing there watching and yet we are glued to the spot, because they are showmen of the highest order.

And social . . . can you imagine if people worked together so industriously and interacted so joyfully?  Don’t images of incredibly dapper, animated penguin waiters sliding up to a smiling dinner party, including Mary Poppins and Bert, almost give you the giggles as you read this?  Those cartoonists captured it so cleverly–these amazing little guys even fall gracefully.  If baseball teams were made up of penguins, there would be so few injuries that we might actually have a whole team for an entire season.

The egg-sitting that they so patiently do, puts all of us who complained about having to slow down a bit during pregnancy, to shame.  And the penguin dad’s handle more than their fair share.  I looked it up this morning; the mom’s take off for girls’ night (or girls’ month) and the father’s don’t even ask them to bring back takeout.   It says they lose 45% of their body weight just standing there snuggling their egg.

Awhile back a friend of mine did some studying about penguins, noting that they were only discovered by humans within the last 500 years.  Think of the centuries of our ancestors who never even heard of a penguin, let alone got to watch a guy with a bucket of fish delight a whole troop of them–crowds standing by to cheer them on.  She commented to me that the only person that even knew about them since the beginning of time–was God–The One Who created them.  He did so for His own glory and enjoyment.  If we think they are fun, can you imagine the kick He gets out of them?

“What,” you might wonder, “does this penguin essay have to do with the Cool Features of the New Earth?”  Glad you asked . . .  There have been so many interesting and amazing natural wonders and unusual species that have recently been discovered and are being stumbled upon constantly.  So many already here on this earth that I’ll never have the time or money to see.  My friend that shared her thoughts on God’s excitement about penguins was also lamenting to me that she will probably not be able to afford an extended hiking trip in Europe.  It’s her life-long dream of bucket-list quality and it had been troubling her that it was most likely not going to come to fruition between finances and family obligations.  And then in her typical eternal perspective, she began to realize that the New Earth will have all the mountains, streams, trees, animals, and trails she could ever wish for and all eternity to explore them.  Their untainted perfection will rival our knowledge of the Black Forest or the Alpine Rouge so magnificently that it’s almost (not quite) a waste to go see them now.  Kind of like paying to see the billboard for a coming attraction at our favorite zoo.  Or, at least, buying tickets to see the artificial zoo version of the real thing.  One other bonus–for our older readers—her knee is not going to give her even one fit.

Randy Alcorn compares my friend’s musings on a New Earth Travel Package, to a new version of a computer game.  ” . . . You hope that the new version will have better features, don’t you?  You eagerly scan the package, hoping that you’ll see phrases like better graphics or a bigger adventure.

“It’s only natural to wonder what new features ‘Earth version 2.0’ will have, especially considering how the original Earth 1.0, once an amazingly good program, was infected with the Sin Virus on every level.  The River of Life and the Tree of Life are just a couple of the fantastic things we’ll see on New Earth.  Because it will be a new version of this same Earth, we should expect some of the features we see now: forests, waterfalls, and rivers, for example.”

God loves surprises of the best kind and delights to show them to His only creation that He created in His own image–us.  If God has this many astounding things to show us around so many corners and under so many rocks in this fallen, scarred world, can you imagine the features he has in mind for the New One?  Go ahead, try . . .

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712-243-5492 in Atlantic –
where Heaven books, CDs, and DVDs are available.

See our blog and collection of these columns at

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Dreaming of Heaven – Article 27

book cover shortest cropped _1

DREAMING of HEAVEN for Kids

Answers for the Kid in all of us, from 3-103.
A series by Amy Jo Roland on excerpts
from Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven for Kids epm.org

Will Animals Talk in Heaven?

Have you known or heard of pets that nearly blew you away with their incredibly smart, clever, sweet or funny behaviors?  For our family, it is our delightful Bichon Poodle, Snicker Doodle, who fits into our funeral business where he amazes people with his sensitivity for seeking out children, and adults as well, who are in need of comforting.  Snickers came to us as a puppy who had been abandoned along a highway near Villisca a couple of years ago.  We are often called on to share the story of our find as follows:

When none of the neighboring families in the area could locate an owner for the little stray, one suggested Atlantic veterinarian, Dr. Victora, would find him a home.  While Doc’s wife was cleaning the scruffy, soiled little guy, they were trying to think who would love and care for such a nice pet.  It was then that our daughter appeared to pick up her cat.  Amongst the three, an agreement was pounced upon, and we were soon answering a texted picture of the cutie—with the message, “We think this pup would make a good funeral home dog!”  And who could have turned the adorable little fellow down?!  Promptly, we responded, “Bring him home!”

Since that day, Snickers has followed me—right along with my shadow—making me feel totally adored.  A fantastic side to this is that he has become a therapy dog with a knack for seeking out grieving folks who will welcome his paw pats on their shins.  Hearts melt when his solemn eyes tell them that he would be pleased to be taken into their empty arms.  As he speaks his consoling message to aching hearts, those who observe his gift agree that it is surely God given.

Further on the subject of animals’ human-like gifts, Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven for Kids, probes our minds in regard to parts that animals may play in Heaven:
“Have you read the stories by Beatrix Potter about Peter Rabbit, Mr. Jeremy Fisher, and other animal friends?  How about The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame or the Narnia books by S.S. Lewis?  If you love any of these stories, I’ll bet you wish that animals really could talk.  (It’s okay, you can admit it.)

“At least one animal talked in the Garden of Eden—the serpent, who turned out to be Satan.  We’re told that the serpent was “more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made” (Genesis 3:1).  This means that other animals were also crafty.  Notice Eve didn’t say “Wow, Adam!  A snake just talked to me?”  She didn’t seem surprised that a snake could talk.  So it’s possible that other animals—at least some of the other crafty ones—talked too.

“Animals, as God originally created them, were smart—probably smarter than we imagine.  The most intelligent animals we see around us can’t be compared to the way animals were before the first sin.  Why?  Because the wrong choices that Adam and Eve made affected all of creation.  If people will be smarter and have more abilities on New Earth, should it surprise us that animals might also be smarter and have more abilities there?

“How exciting to discover for ourselves someday the unbelievable things God has planned for the New Earth!  You might want to thank him right now for whatever plans he has for his animal kingdom.”

Wouldn’t it be fun to find in Heaven—that our pets might be among the other animals that are mentioned will be there in scriptures?  We do know that whether God creates entirely new animals; brings back to life animals that have suffered in our present world (giving them new bodies that will last forever); or that He creates some animals brand-new and brings back to life some old ones—we can look forward to enjoying the company, in Eternity, of those amazing creations. And, well, I like to think that He just might surprise us by gifting them with the ability to speak vocally.  Whether vocally or not, whatever He actually does, I, for one, feel it’s good to be Dreaming of Heaven for Kids!

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Roland Funeral Service

712-243-5492 in Atlantic –
where Heaven books, CDs, and DVDs are available.

See our blog and collection of these columns at

www.rolandfuneralservice.com/blog

 

Dreaming of Heaven – Article 26

 

book cover shortest cropped _1

DREAMING of HEAVEN for Kids

Answers for the Kid in all of us, from 3-103.
A series by Amy Jo Roland on excerpts
from Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven for Kids epm.org

What’s the difference between the
present Heaven and the Future Heaven?

Have you ever thought about the fact that how Heaven is situated right now will change when God comes bringing Heaven with Him to the New Earth?  I, for one, was surprised when the scriptures in this regard were shown to me.  I found it settling to think that if the earth will be burned up (according to Revelation 21), since God is so into making things new,  it very well may be that when Jesus comes back He may bring a resurrection of Earth making it the New Earth.  And it may be even in the same place in space that is now—which seems more familiar and comfortable to my thinking.  How have you pictured in your mind where we’ll be making our eternal home—before and after the end of the world as we now know it?

According to Randy Alcorn, this is a good subject to be checking out.  He responds to our natural curiosity with the following response:

“Good question.  The present Heaven is where angels live and where people go as soon as they die.  Remember, it’s a great place.  The Bible says that to die and be with Christ ‘is even better’ (Philippians 1:21) than being here now, even if we have a life that we really like.

“The future Heaven will eventually be the home of God’s people who are now living either on Earth or in the present Heaven.  The coolest thing about this is that God will live with us there too!”

Alcorn points out that John writes in Revelation, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. . . .I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people!  He will live with them, and they will be his people’ (Revelation 2:1,3).”

Alcorn goes on to say that some people are not sure that the New Earth should be called “Heaven.”  Is it really correct?  He calls us to consider that whatever specific place that God chooses to make his dwelling, that is, in fact, “Heaven!”  According to Ephesians 1:10, God has perfectly planned to ‘bring  everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.’

“Whenever we pray,” says Alcorn, “‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,’: we are looking forward to the day when Heaven and Earth will be together, no longer separate from each other.

“Jesus says about all people who want to be his followers, ‘My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them’ (John 14:23).  So, we can look forward to living with God on the New Earth.  And that New Earth won’t seem strange to us.  It will be our home.  It will be all the good things that we love about this earth except w-a-a-y better.  After all, God made people to live on the earth.  And the New Earth will be very much like this one, except without the bad things.”

I believe that Alcorn makes a good argument from scripture that there will be a renewal of Earth which is where God will dwell with mankind.  This truth alone takes much of the strangeness out of the idea of Heaven and also helps us to see something about God’s character.  He is not intending to rip the carpet out from under us so to speak.  God created trees and said they were good.  The Bible says there will be trees in Heaven.  God created rivers, light, animals, fish, birds, and all these things that He declared good.  The main difference the Bible gives us between Earth and Heaven is that He will purge out sin and death, and that He will Himself be present with His people in Heaven.  Alcorn is right that Heaven is where God lives.  Is it surprising that Jesus said over and over that “The Kingdom of God/Heaven is at hand.”?  If Jesus is in the room, you are standing very near to Heaven.  And this is not a mystical state-of-mind or something.  It is reality.  Immanuel, one of Jesus’ titles means “God is with us.”  There are a lot of things that will change to be sure, but the main reason they will change is because of God’s presence.

Let’s make great efforts to get to know His power and love by enjoying His Presence now.  A great way to do this is to take to heart His Scriptures, written lovingly to help us to know Him and to trust Him with directing our steps daily.  Great books (by gifted writer, Sarah Young) that will help you to keep on track are Jesus Calling 365 Devotions For Kids and, for adults, Jesus Calling A 365 – Day Journaling Devotional.

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Brought to you by

Roland Funeral Service

712-243-5492 in Atlantic –
where Heaven books, CDs, and DVDs are available.

See our blog and collection of these columns at

www.rolandfuneralservice.com/blog

 

Dreaming of Heaven – Article 25

book cover shortest cropped _1

 

DREAMING of HEAVEN for Kids

Answers for the Kid in all of us, from 3-103.
A series by Amy Jo Roland on excerpts
from Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven for Kids epm.org

Do we really look forward to going to Heaven??

What do you suspect about God?  Do you think He is trying to trick us, to punish us if He can?  Do you suspect that he just wants us to have whatever we want no matter the effect on our character and how we treat others?  Or do you suspect that God has something deeply fulfilling and wonderful in store and that this difficult “character building” life actually will mean something in the end?  At Roland’s, we have deeply enjoyed writing these articles in the hopes that you get excited about Heaven.  Yet, we realize that many people still struggle with the idea of living in a place they don’t understand and may be confused about.  It is difficult to picture Heaven even with the descriptions in the Bible, and we may fear of losing many of the things we love about this life.  Hopefully, if you have been following along or have read “Heaven For Kids” for yourself, many of your fears are being relieved as we have taken a closer look at just how “down to Earth” Heaven may actually be.  But some of us may still struggle with the idea of change and the relative unknown.  This article is dedicated to rethinking our perspective on Heaven.  Feel free to ask, as Randy Alcorn does, do we really look forward to going to Heaven??

 

“…let’s be honest.  Are you really looking forward to going to Heaven?  Maybe in seventy or eighty years, right?  After you’ve done all the things you want to do.

Think about some things you do look forward to:

  • Christmas or another favorite holiday
  • Your birthday, your sister’s birthday (well, maybe not), or even your dog’s birthday
  • Going to your favorite place (like a water park, the beach, the woods, the river, or maybe SeaWorld or Six Flags
  • The last day of school and the start of summer vacation
  • Seeing a movie you’ve been told is really, really good
  • Getting the next book in your favorite series

 

“Why do you look forward to those things?  ‘Duh,’ you might say.  The answer is obvious.  Because of what you already know about these things, you use your God-given imagination.  You can almost taste, feel, smell, hear, and see all of the wonderful things you expect.

“For example, if your birthday’s coming up, you might taste, feel, smell, hear, and see chocolate cake with thick frosting, the laughter of friends, and presents.  Maybe you’re looking forward to seeing cousins, aunts, and uncles you haven’t seen in a while.  Or perhaps you’re counting on getting lots of cool presents.

“But guess what?  Looking forward to Heaven is no different.  In fact, looking forward to Heaven is even better than looking forward to Christmas or your birthday!  Yet many people find that hard to believe because they don’t know how to picture Heaven.  They don’t know how to look forward to it.

“Does that describe you?”

You may be able to read Alcorn’s question and answer earnestly, “Yes, I love the idea of being in Heaven forever with Jesus!”  If so, that is wonderful!  Maybe Alcorn’s writing has been inspiring for you, or maybe you have had a parent or pastor who has taught you to love the Bible’s teaching on eternity.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to celebrate the truths of scripture and to long for the secure hope of being with Jesus forever in the restored Kingdom of God.  But was it always that way for you?  How long did it take for you to learn the truth about Heaven?

And how about your neighbors and friends?  If you have people in your life who struggle with their understanding about Heaven, I would encourage you to remember that understanding comes as a process.  You can’t rush a good thing, and we must have patience with those who still avoid thinking about Heaven because they don’t understand it.  I heard a talk once from a wise man who taught me to consider how long it takes me to grasp truth when it is time to have patience with other people.  God works in His own time, and He may work slowly from our perspective, but that is because He is patient with us.  So, we must be patient with others.

And anyway, we all struggle sometimes with wanting to hold onto things in this world.  We all have secret fears from time to time that God is going to take away something that we cherish in Heaven.  No one ever said that faith is easy, and if they did they probably have misunderstood it.  By definition, faith is believing what we have not fully experienced and seen for ourselves.  Faith involves trust in God’s character based on what He has done in the past.  So you might say that remembering what He has done in the past is an essential part of getting excited about what He says He will do in the future.

So, we have two things to remember.  First, remember the things God has done in history, in the Bible, in our families, and in our own lives that show how much he cares for us.  This will help build our faith that He is preparing a good place for us in eternity.  And then, remember how long it is taking us to learn to get excited about Heaven when we are tempted to judge others who may not be as far along the path.  God doesn’t ever “waste” time, and He doesn’t want us to waste it either by forgetting the good things He has done.

 

Remember the days of old;
consider the years of many generations;
ask your father, and he will show you,
your elders, and they will tell you.

Deuteronomy 32:7

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Roland Funeral Service

712-243-5492 in Atlantic –
where Heaven books, CDs, and DVDs are available.

See our blog and collection of these columns at

www.rolandfuneralservice.com/blog