Dreaming of Heaven – Article 24

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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 sing, dance, and make music?

           Music has been an important part of life for a long time.  Our kids grew up singing at church, nursing homes, holiday parties, and were thrilled when they were invited to walk main streets while singing Christmas Carols in Atlantic and Walnut in years past.  Our house was filled with the music of gospel, hymns, Broadway musicals, “oldies,” wedding music, classical, and some rock and roll thrown in for good measure.  We understand the labor of practice that goes into creating a good performance and that there is a great deal of discipline which is needed to grow and develop as a musician.  But with that, there is also the joy of performance with the possibilities of evoking laughter, tears, joy, and hope.  Music is a gift from God, an ancient form of expressing worship and prayer in a unique way.  We also express other feelings and experiences of life through music—such as love, loneliness, happiness sadness, forgiveness, anger, patriotism, and even revolution.  Nothing stirs the soul like the rhythm of a drum or bass instrument, and nothing lifts the spirit like wind instruments.  Strings can express the agony and angst we experience in the difficulties of life, but can just as easily bring you to your feet in a jig.  But what about in Heaven?  Should we expect to enjoy music there?  We might immediately think of the picture of us sitting on a cloud playing a harp.  Heaven is more than harps on a cloud, but it is no less than that either.  In Alcorn’s “Heaven for Kids” he writes.

          “What are your favorite tunes?  Got an iPod attached to you?  Music is an important part of life—something that many of us would be unhappy about leaving behind.

“The good news is we won’t leave it behind.  There will be plenty of great music in Heaven.

“The apostle John speaks of trumpets and harps in the present Heaven (Revelation 8:7-13; 15:2).  If we’ll have musical instruments right after we die and go to Heaven, it certainly seems that we can expect to find them on the New Earth after Jesus returns.

“The Bible is full of examples of people praising God with singing and musical instruments.  In the Temple, 288 people sang and played different instruments (1Chronicles 25:1-8).  The psalm writer instructed the people to praise God with trumpets, harps, lyres, tambourines, strings, flutes, and cymbals (Psalm 150).  Hezekiah, one of the kings of Judah during Old Testament times, said, “I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the LORD” (Isaiah 38:20) Jesus sang with his disciples (Mark 14:26), and the apostle Paul instructed Christians to sing to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19).

“We can expect some of the old songs written on this earth to be sung on the New Earth also.  Revelation 15:2-3 describes people singing “the song of Moses”—probably the song of Exodus 15, where Moses and the people thanked God for rescuing them from Pharaoh and his army.  (Perhaps we’ll even sing Third Day songs.  Who Knows?)  New songs will likely be written in Heaven too.  Are you a songwriter?  Maybe you’ll write songs there.

“Not only will there be singing, but there will be dancing as well!  Not the kind of dancing that puts impure thoughts in our minds, but dancing that brings glory to God and is much more fun.

“Throughout the ages, people have danced to God’s glory on

Earth (Ecclesiastes 3:4; Jeremiah 31:12-14).  After the parting of the Red Sea, Miriam and the women of Israel danced and played tambourines, singing praises to God (Exodus 15:20-21).  Kind David danced as he worshipped the Lord (2 Samuel 6:16).  When the Prodigal Son returned home, the house was filled with music and dancing (Luke 15:25).  Shouldn’t we expect to dance in Heaven, too?

“It’s God who created us with the ability to dance.  Just as we can use our voices and musical instruments as a way to worship God, so we can use dancing to honor him.”

Above, Alcorn mentions the “Song of Moses’ in Exodus 15 and how some of these “old songs” may be sung in the “New Earth.”  The first verse of this chapter reads, “I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted.  Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.”  In this one musical expression we get a glimpse of what the establishment of Heaven means.  In our modern culture and thinking, we don’t like the idea of punishment, yet here we see God’s vengeance for what it is, justice and mercy for His people.  The Oppressors (here the Egyptians), who had held Israel in slavery for 300 years, are supernaturally overthrown in the very process of trying to recapture God’s people.  When there was no earthly hope; when there was no apparent way out for Israel, God fulfills his promises to His people by opening a path through the Red Sea for them to cross over on dry ground.  Then, as the Egyptian soldiers are trying to follow them across, the waters crash back down, drowning them and freeing God’s people.  This is a bold, mysterious, irreversible, dangerous, impossible, and epic deliverance.  And Moses wrote the chorus:

“…The deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy boasted,
‘I will pursue, I will overtake them.
I will divide the spoils;
I will gorge myself on them.
I will draw my sword
and my hand will destroy them.’
But you blew with your breath,
and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
in the mighty waters.
Who among the gods
is like you, Lord?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
working wonders?”  (Exodus 15:8b-11)

One might think of the stirring redemption of the musical Les Miserables in comparison to the Delivery of God’s people here.  Or one might remember the climax in the sound track of “The Lord of the Rings” as Gandalf defeats the Balrog by splitting the bridge while he also fell “into darkness.”  Since Christ Himself died for us, those who are allied with Him will one day sing for joy as they witness the end of evil, oppression, persecution, and even death itself.  It will be a stunning and complete victory for our God who is powerful to save His people.  There will be no weak and poorly written praise song sung on that day.  The trumpets will sound and “every knee will bow” to the Lord of Hosts.  Meanwhile—take courage and hope in our deliverer who is worthy and who is the deserving inspiration of our finest compositions.

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712-243-5492 in Atlantic –
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Dreaming of Heaven – Article 23

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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 speak just one language in Heaven?

Have you ever met up with someone who didn’t speak your language?  If so, did you find it to be an awkward or difficult situation?

I had a couple of those opportunities that made for significant challenges to both sides.  The first of these took place while I was still in high school, when my Tante (Aunt) Anna came to visit our family from Germany.  At the age of 60, she had not seen my dad (her brother) since they had been teenagers.  So, to say the least, the anticipation of the reunion was very exciting.

When the event of meeting her at the Atlantic Train Depot arrived, my Dad labored to resurrect enough of his German to communicate a warm welcome while my brothers, who in their enthusiasm, humorously entertained her with their flimsy efforts to “sound” German.  And wasn’t long before we discovered that we were in for some glitches throughout Tante (Tawn-teh) Anna’s summer long visit to America.

I remember one uncomfortable morning when I found myself alone and one-on-one with Anna, as she cornered me with what seemed like the will to pour her whole heart in telling me all that she wished I could know about whatever it was she was saying.  On one foot and the other, I strained and failed to catch one word even.  I did nod and said “Oh” and “Um” a lot.  That was it.

Through the months of the summer she was with us, I did eventually learn through what Dad could relay to us, to love Tante’s great smiles, laughter and sweet heart.  I also learned, however, just how important it is to become familiar with the languages of those we hope to communicate with.

How many languages do you speak?  Have you ever thought about what language you might be speaking in Eternity?  Some people think we might all speak just one language.  They may base that on where the book of Revelation 7:10 where it says about Heaven that the people there, “They cried out in a loud voice” (Rev 7:10).  We might take it that from the word, “voice,” and not voices, it is suggested that folks in Heaven probably speak the same language.

Randy Alcorn, in Heaven for Kids, reminds of the story of the tower of Babel back in Genesis. (Check out Genesis 11.)  You may be familiar with the people speaking one language at that time and how they decided to build a city with a tower.  Their thought was, “This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”  But because of their pride, God caused them to speak different languages.  Because of this, they finally scattered apart and formed their own nations.

Alcorn says of this, “Okay, you might wonder what was up with that.  Why would God want them to scatter?  Well, God sometimes acts in ways that keep us from doing dumb things.  He knew that the people building the tower wanted to stay together—but not in order to worship him.  Becoming a powerful group would eventually have led to destruction.

“Someday, though God will do what the tower builders couldn’t do.  He’ll build a city for his people and bring together all who live in it.

“What couldnt the tower builders do?  In Genesis 11, the people attempted to connect Earth to Heaven with their city, making Heaven one with Earth.  What can God do, and what will he do?  In Revelation 21, we’re shown that God will bring Heaven down to Earth, making Earth one with Heaven.

“God will probably restore to all of us a common language (perhaps the same as the language spoken in the Garden of Eden, which seems to have existed until Babel).  Why?  To make communication easy, not frustrating.

“God knew that at the time of Babel, one common language would have made it possible for the people to do anything they wanted (Genesis 11:6).  Because their hearts were evil, that was bad.  In Heaven, however, everyone’s heart will be filled with God’s goodness.  We will never join together to destroy or mistreat others.  We’ll only serve others in some way.

“I think it’s likely that we’ll speak our current languages too.  In The Lord of the Rings, the people of Middle-earth had a common language in addition to the language unique to their people group.  That’s also true in many places in the real world, including Kenya, where different tribes have their own languages but every one talks to each other in the “trade language,” called Swahili.  This gives you an idea of what language in Heaven might be like.”

What is fantastic is that in our perfect bodies, we will be smarter, so learning languages should be easy and fun.  Who knows?  We may speak many, many languages so we can communicate with our many friends in Heaven!

Later on in my life, as a wonderful gift, our children took my husband, Warren, and I to Germany to meet our family in Heidelberg a few years ago.  On our trip, we met our cousins who were the grandchildren of our beloved Tante Anna who had since passed on.  Through the years, we had continued to write letters and send gifts at Christmas time and, because German students learn English, our meeting was much easier than the one with their grandmother so many years ago.

Even so, interestingly, we didn’t need words when we stepped off the airplane to greet one another—as at that moment, none of us were be able to utter even one syllable.  Rather, we laughed and cried as we hugged, kissed and sobbed joyful tears—even through the time while we gathered our luggage and before we finally sat down to converse to plan the wonderful meals, gatherings, and adventures that we would be sharing in their home land.

So, for those of us who have experienced the challenges of language differences, we realize that while verbal is very important, it is not always the most important communication needed.  Love is also a very precious and powerful way of expressing ourselves.  We can be sure that however we bond and communicate in Heaven, it will be to the glory of God and that He will make it amazing!

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712-243-5492 in Atlantic –
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Dreaming of Heaven – Article 22

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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

While I am looking forward to living eternally, how should I live now?

While I am looking forward to living eternally, how should I live now in light of receiving Jesus guidance that will make a difference in my daily life and what I might expect in Heaven?

Let’s begin by thinking about Heaven every day.  The apostle Paul commands us to, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).  Likewise, Paul instructs us to, “…seek the things that are above” (Colossians 3:1). As we think about Heaven and imagine all that God has in store for us, we can receive miraculous guidance by focusing our minds on inquiring of Jesus, our King and Savior.  With our minds focused on Jesus, He changes our hearts to live lives that are pleasing to God. Then, while we live to please Jesus, we can trust Him to help us to live lives that reflect God’s goodness and give other people a preview of life in Heaven.

Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven for Kids, says, “Now is our opportunity to live for Jesus in a world where most people don’t believe in him. By obeying God’s Word and not giving in to pressure to do wrong things, we please Jesus and prepare ourselves to live forever in Heaven”.

We also prepare ourselves for Heaven by reading God’s Word (what we call the Bible). The same book that tells us all we know about Heaven also shows us how we can live to please Jesus, the King who gives beauty and glory to the new Heaven and Earth.  We are not born with the ability to please God, but he has given us the Bible to show us what He requires and also His Holy Spirit to teach and guide us as we read and talk with Him.

God has given us deep treasures that we can discover every day.  It is up to us to dig for those treasures in His Word—and for our search, He promises great rewards that daily grow beauty and purpose into our lives.

While He tells us to keep our minds on the things of Heaven and not the things of Earth, He has made a way for His Spirit to guide us.  Like when Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the Garden of Eden, He now walks and talks with us in the gardens of our hearts where He is with us at all times.  If we choose to listen, we can trust in the Spirit as He gives us understanding about the Bible and changes our lives so that we will live like Jesus.

Some days, the sun shines brighter, the flowers are fragrant and in bloom, life is full of blessings and you feel like Heaven has come to Earth.  Yet there are other days when all we can see is the brokenness of sin around us and we feel like we can’t wait for Christ to return—when He will remove all sin from the world and reign over the new Heaven and Earth where we will live forever.  Sometimes you may grow tired of waiting—and wonder when God will complete His promise.  Let’s look to God’s Word for hope:

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).

The great hope is that God has His own timing for His plan and the faithfulness to back it up.  As Peter explains, God is not limited by time and has no trouble doing everything he sets out to do.  This gives us confidence that God’s plan has not wound out of control as we wait for Christ to return. Also, we can look at God’s patience to see his faithfulness.  If it were not for His patience, we would have had no hope for receiving the free saving gift of God in Jesus Christ.

There is another side to God’s patience that gives us purpose while we wait for Heaven. Peter says, “Count the patience of our Lord as salvation” (2 Peter 3:15). Alcorn explains:

“And don’t forget Peter’s other reason why Christ is waiting to bring his kingdom to Earth forever. He wants to allow time for ‘everyone to repent’ (2 Peter 3:9). If you already know Jesus, then look around you and ask who you can pray for and share Jesus with while there is still time”.

It’s not just you that God is “waiting” for, but he wants many to turn away from their sin and to turn to Him.  As you can see, looking forward to Heaven changes the way we live now.  And God’s purpose now is for those who trust in Him to live to glorify Jesus and to tell others about Him so they can know Him and be laying up treasures in Heaven too.  It is good to work hard and receive a paycheck; God designed us to work and called it “good.”  But work for the Lord, and not the paycheck.  The Bible says that we are “stewards” of all that God has given us, and that means we should deal honestly and with integrity in our work; take studies seriously and be honest on tests, love everyone, be forgiving,  share generously with those in need, and above all—be listening to Him.

What ever we do to glorify God will multiply our rewards in Heaven. So while we concentrate on pleasing Him, we can also be laying up treasures in Heaven where we will forever enjoy the fruit of what we have done in this life. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:10-21)

Meanwhile—walk with Him and listen all day long everyday—to what Jesus will tell you in your heart.  Thank Him in all things, no matter what, and act on what will bring Him, others, and you His good pleasure Forever.

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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 21

 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 we have the freedom
to make our own choices?

Freedom is an important and popular topic these days.  As Americans we have historically put such a high value on freedom that we have been willing to die for it.  We have certainly fought many wars on our soil and abroad under the banner of freedom, and we rightly celebrate and remember those who have given their lives for it.  I think it is OK to as the question, “Will we have freedom in Heaven?”  We might wonder if there is a sinless God in charge and if there is no sin in Heaven, will that restrict our freedom of choice?  It is certainly an understandable question because, frankly, sinful choices are part of our everyday experience.  We frequently deal with “little white lies” and other “minor” deceptions.  We become used to “watching our backs” financially, socially, in business, and in school.  We all know that there are people who don’t like us very much and would be happy if bad things happened to us.  And, we have sometimes felt this way about other people as well—haven’t we?  We know that we should not leave money lying around because it might well get taken by someone.  We know that, even in a quiet neighborhood, leaving doors unlocked is a bit risky because sin is a part of our everyday experience.  So, if we are used to sin like this, we might wonder in a “perfect world” if our freedom may be threatened.

If we put this question on hold for a moment, it is worth wondering what things might be like if we didn’t need to hire lawyers, if we never had to look over our shoulder in the school yard for the bully who might approach, or if we didn’t have to worry about leaving our wallet or personal information somewhere if we knew no one was going to steal them.  It is hard to imagine this kind of world isn’t it?  But perhaps worth the effort don’t you think?  Is this the kind of world God has in mind?  What place might the idea of freedom have in a world like that?  Randy Alcorn has the following thoughts on freedom in Heaven.

“God doesn’t force us to obey him.  He gives us the freedom to make that choice.  Free will is the freedom to choose to obey God or disobey him.  God won’t take that freedom away from us in Heaven.

“Having this free will might sound as if we’ll be free to mess up in Heaven.  However … we’ll no longer want to do wrong things.  Why?  Because of Jesus.  (Take a look at Romans 5:19)  The inability to sin doesn’t mean we won’t have free will.  God cannot sin, yet no created being has greater freedom of choice than God the Creator.

“Jesus died once to deal with sin and will never again need to die (1 Peter 3:18).  Remember, Jesus promised to make all things new (Revelation 21:5).

“We will be new people.  Although we’ll still be our old selves, we won’t have the same old desires to do wrong.

“We’ll never forget how terrible it is to hurt God and others.  People who’ve experienced severe burns aren’t tempted to walk too close to a bonfire.  Having known what life was like with its temptations on this earth, we who will experience new life in Heaven will never want to go back to that old life.

“If the thought of sin ever came to us, we’d think, Sin?  Been there, done that.  It was awful; only an idiot would choose that path.  The good news is, in Heaven we’ll never be idiots!  We’ll never be tricked into thinking that God is holding back something good from us or that doing something sinful would be more fun and exciting.

“In Narnia, Aslan comes to a world that is “always winter and never Christmas.”  When he arrives, the ice starts to melt, signaling a coming change to the whole land.  The White Witch’s sledge (a type of sled or horse-drawn sleigh) begins breaking through to warm mud.

“‘This is no thaw,’ said the queen’s dwarf driver, suddenly stopping.  ‘This is spring.  What are we to do?  Your winter has been destroyed, I tell you!  This is Aslan’s doing’

“Just as Aslan came to save Narnia from the power of the White Witch, Jesus came to save Earth from Satan’s power.  The Bible tells us, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.”  (I John 3:8, NASB).

“Sin and Satan will never get hold of the earth or us again. Though we will have desire and free choice, not only will we never want to sin, we will never want to want to sin.”

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelations 21:4 ESV)

Imagine what this kind of freedom this will be . No more dread, remorse, guilt, shame, sorrow and despair. Sounds like we’ll be so thrilled with God’s new way of life (gift) that we’ll be refreshed, energized and inspired to do all kinds of projects with no hindrance and conflicts. Are we ever going to have us some fun forever?

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712-243-5492 in Atlantic –
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Dreaming of Heaven – Article 20

 

book cover shortest cropped _1DREAMING 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 Learn New Things in Heaven?

If you have children or grandchildren there is one thing you can count on, they will ask lots of questions.  The mind of a child is doggedly curious and though unfortunately many of us “learn” to dislike learning as sometimes structured education can make learning tedious (though there are many wonderful teachers and students who thrive in school), we are designed to be delighted by gaining understanding of the world around us.  Also, notice that children repeat things over and over?  That is because we are hard wired when we are young to soak ourselves in new information and repeat it until we cannot forget it.  Think of counting, letters, songs, simple jokes, etc.  Children never get tired of these things.  And even the most jaded adult has something they love to learn about, for some it might be keeping up on news or sports, others are insatiably curious about computers and other technology, for those in love, they cannot learn enough about their beloved.  Some of you are using your life savings to go back to school because you know the importance of learning for your life and career, others are making a career of education because you love the reading, lectures, writing, and tests.  And still others are fascinated by learning about your own children, watching them grow, trying to understand them, learning about what is good for them, and easing their way through life even as you allow them appropriate challenges.

In many ways, home educating our family of six gave us, as parents, second chances to learn what we weren’t of a mind to have absorbed during our own school years.  To this day, we are grateful to have spent the majority of our kids’ growing years in bonding with each other through sharing in their personalized exploration.  Encouraging our children’s interests in quality books, developing small cottage industries like baking and cooking for boutiques and the farmer’s market, and giving them opportunities to perform music and travel were ways that we encouraged them to explore and discover the world around them.  Increasing knowledge remains at the top of the list of our families’ interests and we treasure learning about what’s doin’ now within their own families’ education activities.  Having healthy eternal perspectives, with the belief we will be forever growing in knowledge, gives us hope and enthusiasm for our daily lives.

Randy Alcorn writes the following in “Heaven for Kids”:

“I heard someone say, there will be no more learning in Heaven.  But according to God’s word, we will forever continue learning.

“The Bible says, ‘God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace’ (Ephesians 2:6, NIV).  The word     show means ‘to reveal.’  This means God will keep showing or revealing more things about himself so we can continue learning more about him.

“Jesus told his disciples, ‘Let me teach you’ (Matthew 11:29).  In Heaven we’ll have the privilege of listening to Jesus teach while we sit at his feet as Mary did (Luke 10:39).  We’ll also enjoy walking with him over the countryside, always learning from him, as his disciples did.  Perhaps angel guardians or loved ones already in Heaven will be assigned to guide or tutor us.  Maybe we’ll even be allowed to tutor others who enter Heaven after we do!

“There’s so much to discover in this universe, but in our present lives here on Earth we have so little time and opportunity to learn all the things we want to learn.  We’ll have plenty of time in Heaven.  Among other things, we’ll be able to explore the New Earth and discover amazing things about God’s creation, all of which will tell us more about our Creator.”

But there is more to understanding and learning than just knowing about facts and figures.  There are significant questions we have about our lives and time here on earth that don’t make sense to us.  We will not have some of the answers to what our lives “mean” until the Lord returns.  A great woman of faith, Edith Schaeffer (who recently passed away) wrote a book called The Tapestry which describes how while our lives, including pain and disappointment, don’t always make sense to us, when we step back and see the whole picture over time, and how our lives overlapped with people we love, things fall into perspective and we begin to see the beautiful “tapestry” which God is weaving with our lives.  In Heaven we will see these things more clearly than ever.  In his book “Heaven” Randy Alcorn comments:

” On the New Earth, some of our greatest discoveries may relate to the lives we’re living right now.  Columnist and commentator Paul Harvey made a career of telling “the rest of the story.”  That’s exactly what we’ll discover in Heaven again and again—the rest of the story.”

Just as we may look for deeply satisfying answers in God’s word here and now, we have the wonderful promise of “the rest of the story” when we stand before the Lord.  The God who created the world we love to explore has the answer key which we desperately long for.  And the answer begins with knowing Him first.

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Dreaming of Heaven – Article 19

 

book cover shortest cropped _1DREAMING 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

In Heaven, will we be allowed to do
what we really, really want?

Randy Alcorn, of Heaven for Kids asks, “Have you ever wanted something and been told, ‘You can’t have it because it’s bad for you’?  Maybe you really wanted to eat sixteen scoops of ice cream instead of dinner. Or maybe you wanted to play video games all afternoon instead of doing your homework.

“We’ll have many desires in heaven, but everything we want will be good.  Our desires will please God.  All will be right with the world, nothing off-limits.”

How could this be?  Surely many of the things we desire are destructive to us and the people around us?  Yes, this is sadly true, our perspective on desires is often out of control and unhealthy.  But the solution is to become delighted with God first.  We begin to do this when we learn to see the things we enjoy as His gifts and practice thankfulness.  Consider this well known chapter from the Bible: Psalm 23

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

For 3,000 years God’s people have not only been comforted by this Psalm, but they have learned how to see all of life as a gift and provision by Him.  As we do this, our perspective on our desires changes, and He becomes the main thing we really want.  Also remember Deuteronomy 6:5 which commands us; “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  And in Luke 10 Jesus said this is the most important commandment.  It is not that God doesn’t want us to enjoy the things of life, it is just that if we love Him more and see him as the giver, we learn to put other desires in perspective.  And ultimately we take more satisfaction in them.  If you can think of an heirloom, Christmas, or birthday gift that you cherish, then you already understand this principle very well!  Which do you love more, the gift or the giver?  Doesn’t the meaning of the gift come from love for the giver?  No wonder then that we feel deeply unsatisfied and even frantic about food, money, and other obsessions if we have lost touch with the real meaning and satisfaction of loving the giver.

Alcorn tells us, “God created our desires and all the things we long to have.  He loves it when our mouths water for what he’s prepared for us.  When we enjoy looking forward to the gifts He has promised us, we’re enjoying Him—He who made us and gives amazing gifts.

“One of the best things about Heaven is that the bad desires we had to fight on Earth won’t be around anymore.  We’ll enjoy food without eating too much or too little, we won’t do anything to hurt ourselves, and we won’t do anything to hurt anyone else.

“On the New Earth after Jesus comes back, there will no longer be a difference between what we should do and what we want to do.”

Having escaped the evil in this world, we will at last have lined up our desires to His pleasure as well as our own—so that everything will be pure and good in all of the work, play and adventures of Forever.

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:3&4

www.epm.org

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 18

 

book cover shortest cropped _1DREAMING 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 There be Families in Heaven?

Thinking of families—and mine is dear to me—I am thrust back in time to when our folks would annually take my brother and me to Okoboji for a week or ten days, supposedly of “relaxation.”   They say that sometimes it is easier to laugh about calamities awhile after they occur and this is certainly true concerning many of our family’s memories.       We all loved anticipating our trips (driving three and a half hours) to the renowned “Blue Lakes” of northern Iowa.  With dreams of swimming, fishing, Arnold’s Park, Roof Top dancing, caramel apples, nutty bars, and lounging in lawn chairs at whatever rustic cabins we had reserved in advance (the cost of which was a shocking $25 a week—according to a letter my mom had written to my older brother, who was serving in France during WWII).

As the day of V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N departure arrived, however, the same old disappointments would surface.  Dad, my brother and I would anxiously wait in our ‘48 Oldsmobile that Dad had packed with the bedding, kitchen supplies, food, clothing, and necessary beach toys that Mom had tied up into a bed sheet that perfectly fit the trunk—while she painted her fingernails and dried them before we could take off.  Besides my brother and me, who would be springing around unbelted in the back seat—Mom, at last, stuck our fishing tackle, parakeet (in it’s cage), skillets, and our dog, Emma E. in beside us.

We sibs were crowded, hot, and as was not usual, grabbing every excuse to quibble—until, volla!  Upon arriving at our destination, we would have only each other for buddies.  Mom would use Lysol to clean every inch of the cottage while Dad paced back and forth checking out “how the fish were biting” while awaiting the unpacking scenario.  Settled, with expectations of frying fish and potatoes, Mom would light the gas burner to get coffee cooking and wafting delicious aromas throughout the cottage.

My brother and I would daily jump into our bathing suits and head for the dock where we would dive for rocks and shells, while he would tease me about leaches and we would splash each other until we were water logged and so hungry that even bullheads (with bones to pick out) tasted heavenly to us.

On it went, and the best part was when the two of us kids watched from Smith’s Bay, enthralled with common ground, as Arnold’s Park lighted up, knowing we would soon be in the Haunted House, Tipsy House, and licking cotton candy.

Those were good family times—that both of us laugh about now and relish reliving, together, with our children and grandchildren.

So what favorite family memories do you have?  Maybe you’re from a very loving family, having lots of time together—including meal times, working,  learning, sharing recreational activities, and spending holidays together.  Some of us, for one reason or another, haven’t found our families to be very close- knit.  These persons may connect with neighbors, school peers, or people at their workplaces who feel like family to them.

Throughout scripture God showed his love and care for families, and he revealed his big plan for mankind thousands of years ago to a man named Abram (later named Abraham) in Genesis 12 when he promised him “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  Blessing in the Bible means something like “a good and happy life.”  Christians believe that this is mostly talking about Jesus’ gift of eternal life which is offered to everyone regardless of their family, racial, or national background.

This kind of language is used powerfully in Revelation 7:9-10 “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and people and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”’  This is what comes of God’s good promise to bless “all the families of the earth.”  While not every person comes to the Lord, there is great comfort in the idea that God loves and longs for families to love each other and Him, and he wants to be surrounded by families.

Randy Alcorn in Heaven for Kids asks, “Are there people you’re not related to who are like a brother or sister or aunt or uncle or mom or dad to you?  In Heaven we’ll be one big happy family.  But it’ll be even better than now, because all our friends will also be family members, and all our family members will also be friends.

“We’ll all be happy to stay together in our heavenly family because of our common love for God, our heavenly Father, and his love for all of us.  Every time we see another person, it will be like having a favorite family member come to visit!”

Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?  We can all probably think of certain family members and friends who we love to be with.  Maybe it is a funny uncle, or a grandma who takes you out for lunch or plays with you.  It could be a father who takes you fishing or outside to play catch.  Maybe it’s your mother who comes up with creative crafts with you and snuggles with you on the couch.  It is any wonder that God loves families?  He loves them and wants them to be loving.  He longs to help families grow in this way, and then he wants to bring them to Himself, forever, in Heaven.”

So, while God sends us opportunities to bond with “family” this side of Heaven, let’s make every effort to appreciate and pray for one another—actually laying up treasures there—where there will be no more cause for disruptive disagreements and heartaches—only joy filled good times forever!

www.epm.org

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 17

 

book cover shortest cropped _1DREAMING 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 Sleep in Heaven?

Do you like to get another half hour of shut-eye on a rainy morning, take a little nap after a late night, or plan “sleeping in” on Saturday morning?

Last week our grandchildren came for a slumber party, and while we were sipping Grampa’s special, banana smoothies, they were investigating the Bible’s amazing teachings on what they can expect to be doing in eternity.  A question came from a sleepy-eyed, four year old asking, “Will we sleep in Heaven?”

Hesitating, I offered, “Well—we know we will rest there, because Revelation 14:13 tells us “Blessed are those who die in the lord from now on.  Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work.”

Searching for more answers, his eyes widened and we were off and running for answers from Randy Alcorn’s, Heaven for Kids.  Once again, they were caught up in the fun of building on scriptures from the Word of God.

Alcorn did give us things to consider as follows: “What’s your idea of rest?  Silencing the alarm on your radio/CD player/alarm clock?  lazing on the couch in front of the TV?  The Garden of Eden provides a different definition of rest, one that includes work that’s meaningful and enjoyable, lots of good food, a beautiful place to live, and nonstop friendship with God, other people, and animals.  Even in the peaceful Garden of Eden, however, one day was set aside for special rest and worship. (You can read about it in Genesis 2:3.)  This tells us that while work will be fun on New Earth, we’ll have regular times of rest.

“If our times on New Earth will be so restful, will we need to sleep?  Some people argue that sleep won’t be necessary because we’ll have perfect bodies.  But the same argument would apply to eating—yet we will eat.  Adam and Eve were created perfect, but did they sleep?  Probably.  God made us to need and enjoy sleep.

“The Bible doesn’t answer this question directly, so I’m guessing.  But sleep is one of life’s great pleasures.  It’s part of God’s perfect plan for humans in bodies living on the earth.  (Nightmares aren’t, so we don’t need to fear having those.)  If we’ll eat, walk, serve, work, laugh, and play in Heaven, why wouldn’t we sleep?”

While pondering rest in Heaven, did you ever think that your sleep here on Earth might be a preview of your rest in Eternity?  We can dream of doing things in Heaven on the New Earth that are fun and wonderful to us now.

And speaking of rest and sleep, what child doesn’t like a slumber party?!  I know that my grands love anticipating sleep while they hang out in their pjs, pop corn, watch movies, and best of all—work on an activity we call “Laying up Our Treasures in Heaven”

When our babes come lugging their overnight bags through the door, the first request they call for is, “Can we work in our Heaven Books?!”  This project involves each getting into their giant scrap book in which they draw, place stickers, write and glue cutouts from greeting cards and other bits and pieces that trip their fancies.  With the selection of those special items, we find Bible verses for fitting titles or captions.

Each finishing gets to choose a treasure from a basket of goodies supplied with trinkets for them to take home—reminders that there are treasures awaiting them in Heaven according to (Matthew 6:19-21), “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

What a promise!  Imagine our hearts being there already—along with whatever good deeds we’re doing.  And do remember that we don’t need to concern ourselves with trying to earn admittance into Heaven.  Jesus gave His life for us to accept as His gift of eternal life—and doesn’t require we do things in order to deserve it.

Once sorry for our sins, we can accept His righteousness covers mistakes and bad stuff we’ve done.  We just need to do our best to please Him as thanks for the price He paid for our redemption.  With that great gift, we’re free to enjoy His love and understanding—even with our shortcomings.  Does this have to do with sleep in Heaven?

Since all of us have done things we were ashamed of, the good news Jesus offers us is—that He can give us peace and relieve us from worry about guilt that would keep us from resting and sleeping.

Once we connect with Jesus, His Spirit is forever available to help with decisions and willpower to resist doing wrong things.  And we can talk to Jesus anytime because he is the mediator between us and God.  “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).  We can find healing through Him in confessing our faults to one another too—”Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

So with our consciences clean, we can have sweet sleep—knowing we can have Jesus’ love lifting us from  worries and making all things, no matter what we have done—work for good” (Romans 8:28).

Again, we don’t know exactly what God has in store—whether we might rest in bean bags, bunk beds, or boudoirs.  But it’s nice to know that we’ll enjoy rest as a part of working and having rollicking good times.  He’s an amazing God of variety preparing us perfect places in Heaven suited to our hearts’ desires.  And while we’re wondering—lets just sleep on it.

 Excerpts by Randy Alcorn

Written for youth, 8 to 14

Answers about Eternity for All Ages

Based on the Best-Selling book HEAVEN for Adults

www.epm.org

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 16

 

book cover shortest cropped _1DREAMING 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 and drink in Heaven?

What’s your favorite food?  Do you like burgers and fries, pizza, mac and cheese, chocolate cake and milk, or root beer floats for starters?  Maybe you can imagine that some of the fun in Heaven could be eating those foods in huge amounts without fear of gaining too much weight, upsetting your tummy or having your face break out.

Some people fear that there won’t be a need for food in Heaven.  But we know that after Jesus was resurrected, He ate here on earth with his disciples.  In Luke 24:41-43, He shared a fish dinner with them.  And since we know that He chose to eat, we get hope of how He may be arranging for us to enjoy this wonderful pass time as He did.

The Bible also tells us we’ll be feasting with Jesus in the new Earthly kingdom.  And, in Luke 22:18, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come’ so we know that it is in His plans that we will surely be among those who will be drinking and without the dangers of alcoholism.

According to Randy Alcorn’s, Heaven for Kids:

“Jesus said, ‘Many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven’ (Matthew 8:11).

“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 and drink, talk, tell stories, celebrate, laugh, and have dessert.”  Sound good to you?!”

Then Alcorn tells us that:

“One day, while eating in the home of a Pharisee, Jesus said to his host, ‘When you put on a luncheon or a banquet . . . invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you’ (Luke 14:12-14).  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, I’d say, according to what we see in the scriptures, that it is safe to say that we can look forward to eating and drinking with Jesus, family and our friends in Heaven!  This adds to the realities of how familiar things we enjoy now will continue to delight us in Heaven. We can go ahead then and imagine the great wafting of scents of dinners being prepared, barbeques grilling (Jesus himself actually charcoal cooked the fish he served to his friends), cakes and cookies baking, and don’t you just thrill to the aromas of hot chocolate or spiced apple cider brewing?  Mmmm ~ yum!

Want to make a date—maybe at a soda shop—to meet me for a hot fudge Sunday and some kind of a burger?  And while we are pondering the possibilities of making dates with loved ones who we plan to meet in Forever, you may like to go ahead and dream up some amazing possibilities.  What about meeting, to debate the latest books you’ve read, in a soda pub in England; flying to another planet where a truffle tasting party is taking place; back to Florida or on to Hawaii for a beach luau; and back to our Father’s house to cozy down before a fireplace, in our own rooms where there’s a closet of clothes to fit us and that will suit our tastes.  A slumber- party?  Not me.  I’d like to think that I’d enjoy snuggling down in a cozy bed with a puffy spread to roll up in.  Which brings up the question of whether we will sleep.  Well, God has given us the desire to enjoy our rest, so we’ll talk about that too—later on.

For more about making dates for Heaven, see Joni Erickson Tada’s book, “Heaven Your Real Home.”  She and Randy Alcorn are friends who have seen much the same scriptural possibilities of what to expect in Eternity.  Let me recommend you read her book too.  You well may have heard of Joni, due to the fact that she has set a tremendous example to us about trusting God through what ever challenges we may need to deal with.

Being a paraplegic as a result of a diving accident, rather than become bitter or depressed—Joni has chosen to use her talents for ministering of the gospel, gifting people, all over the world, with wheel chairs; speaking on behalf of the courage she has received from her relationship with Jesus; painting with a brush in her teeth—you may have seen her greeting cards; and to lending her heart and mind to God for inspiration about the exotic place that we can look forward to spending the adventures of Forever in.  As it is said of her work, “Joni just might help you to discover that Heaven is closer—and more real—than you’ve ever thought.”

Stick with us.  There are many of us who have questions about Heaven, and all of them are good questions that can lend us peace and inspiration needed for making each day meaningful and memorable.  So, think about these possibilities when you are indulging in something good to eat.  You just may find the same yummy stuff you like to eat here—available in our renewed world.

 Excerpts by Randy Alcorn

Written for youth, 8 to 14

Answers about Eternity for All Ages

Based on the Best-Selling book HEAVEN for Adults

www.epm.org

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 15

Heaven for Kids

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

In Heaven, will we just hang out with Jesus,
or will we have other friends too?

           When I was in the first grade and had a crush on a cute boy in my class—a most thrilling opportunity fell right into my lap.  Valentine’s Day was approaching and I had a dollar’s worth of change in my little purse!  Merrily, I was off to the drug store, along with my mother, to pick out a card that would bear my sentiments (with roses and lace) in just the right way.  I still don’t know how I talked Mom into allowing me to spend my whole dollar, but my heart swelled as I skipped along home hugging my little sack—while unknown to me, I would be devastated during the Valentine box openings the next day.

As it turned out, my friend never did comment on his super, deluxe expression of my love and worse yet—the Valentine, he had selected for me, was one of the little cut out kind with a picture of an elephant on it.  I don’t recall what was printed on it, but in my mind it could just as well have said, “You have LARGELY misinterpreted my feelings for you!”

Point made—even though there can be disappointments within our friendships in this life—as Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven for Kids, tells us:

“When you really get to know Jesus, you’ll realize he is your very best friend!

“But Jesus wants you to have other friends too.  He values friendship and made all of us with a desire for relationships with other people.  This started back in Genesis when God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).  The Bible also says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed” (Ecclesiastes 4:9).  So God understands our need to have friends and our desire for those friendships to continue in Heaven.  He’s the one who made us that way!  In Heaven we’ll be able to have our same old friends—all those who know Jesus—and lots of new friends, too.

“Has anyone close to you died?  Do you look forward to being with that person in Heaven?  (Look at Thessalonians 4:13, 16-18.)  God says that when Christians grieve it’s different than when others grieve.  Why?  Because we know in Heaven we will be together again with those we love.  We will be with the Lord forever, and with each other forever.

“I really mean it when I say the best part of Heaven will be hanging out with Jesus.  I’m not just saying that because it’s what I’m supposed to believe.  It’s what I really do believe.

“While Jesus was here on Earth, crowds followed him because they loved him and wanted to be near him.  He was more popular than an actor, a rock star, or a great athlete.  But, unlike those people, he will never disappoint you or let you down.  Being near Jesus is what will made Heaven what it is—Heaven!  What could be better than that?

“While Jesus will be our best friend, God the Father will be delighted to see us having other great friendships in Heaven too.  I’m a father, and I can tell you that nothing makes a father happier than watching his children enjoy each other’s company!  God loves it when we have good friends now, and in Heaven he’ll provide us the best friendships we’ve ever had.”

Looking back to my first friendship disappointment, I realize that life goes on—and even with ups-and-downs, I did eventually make lots of great friends and even received Valentines from the love of my life who I’ve been married to for 41 years.  Meanwhile, the little first grade boyfriend grew up to marry a dear girlfriend of mine, and I had the opportunity to confess the Valentine story to both of them at our recent 50th class reunion.  Finally able to swallow my pride, though delayed a bit, the laughter was healing and once again I was reminded that even disappointments in friendships shouldn’t get us down—and that we can trust what is said in His word, that—”All things work together for good for those who love the Lord . . . .” (Romans 8:28).

This subject reminds me of the following words in Michael W. Smith’s song that most of us have enjoyed, “Friends are Friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them, and a friend will not say never, ‘Cause the welcome will not end.”

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day and sweet dreams of a Forever with lots of friends.  And may we be reminded that even when friendships are difficult and broken—we can look to Jesus who loves to mend them and desires the great reunion in Heaven with friends—even more than we do!

Excerpts by Randy Alcorn

Written for youth, 8 to 14

Answers about Eternity for All Ages

Based on the Best-Selling book HEAVEN for Adults

www.epm.org

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