Mansions

“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 14:2-3, NKJV).

Several years ago a younger visitor commented about his modest aspirations for a house. “I don’t want anything fancy, just a simple place kind of like your house.” Though I would agree that my house is not fancy, it represents many years of saving and working and is likely the largest and last house I will own. I was a little shocked at this example of the next generation’s definition of “starter home.” Of course, that particular individual may not be a true representative of his generation. Continue reading “Mansions”

A Place For You

I am going to prepare a place for you” (John 14:3).

It is difficult to fully fathom what the various descriptions of heaven might mean or imply, but they are interesting to ponder.

Heaven is there as opposed to here. Heaven is a place to which one goes. Jesus went to prepare it and will come back and take us there. Heaven and earth are always spoken of as distinct entities. Will earth become heaven? Some Jews believed the earth would receive a “makeover.” Others believe that heaven and hell is a construct of the conscience. When the rich man pleaded with Abraham, he wanted someone to go “back” to where his brothers were (Luke 16:27). Heaven and hell were not in his mind, nor were they the same location. They are entirely different planes of existence. But where, exactly, is there? Continue reading “A Place For You”

Fire from heaven

They were disciples, apostles, and brothers. Along with Simon, whom Jesus called “Peter” (meaning “a stone”), they were part of Jesus’ inner circle. Like Simon, they had been given a sobriquet. The Lord called them “Boanerges.” They were the “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17).

Perhaps they were powerful preachers. Perhaps they had powerful personalities. We simply don’t know the full reason for the moniker.

James was the first apostle to die (Acts 12:2), John was the last. While Jesus walked the earth, no one was closer to him than the “Stone” and the “Sons of Thunder.” Continue reading “Fire from heaven”

You are reaching the goal. Right now.

November is a big month for writers and authors. It’s the National (American) Novel-Writing Month, a yearly challenge for people anywhere to write a novel in a month’s time, with a challenge of so many words a day. Other people have been inspired by it to create challenges to write daily during November for nonfiction and academic writings.

I like April when the National, and now Global, Poetry Writing Month rolls around, but November is the big month for writing challenges.

Humans like challenges and deadlines. Many if not most people live by competing against others, against the clock, against the current. This probably qualifies as eustress, Hans Selye’s term for beneficial stress: Continue reading “You are reaching the goal. Right now.”

The glory of heaven

“Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27 NKJV).

“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God” (Revelation 21:9-11).

Most Christians are familiar with John’s vision of the New Jerusalem as recorded in Revelation 21. We frequently long for the time when we will approach the Holy City, New Jerusalem (v. 2), enter through its gates of pearl (v. 21) and walk those glittering streets of gold (v. 21). Even as we imagine those things however we puzzle over many questions: where exactly is heaven? How literal are those gates and streets? What will we do when we are there? On the one hand we are intrigued with the imagery John uses. On the other, we understand that it is a vision, and therefore may not be intended literally. Continue reading “The glory of heaven”

From heaven or from men

The Tuesday before his crucifixion Jesus made his way into the temple. He was approached by Jewish leaders who questioned his authority, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23).

It was a good question, though obviously not born out of sincerity. The need for authority in religious practice often is regrettably ignored, forgotten, or abused. Continue reading “From heaven or from men”

Isaiah’s New Heavens

Everyone knows what Isaiah’s new heavens and new earth is all about, right? Spoiler alert! Some regard Isaiah 65:17-19; 66:22 as referring to the end of time. Others understand it to have been a prophesy informing post-exilic Israel how God would rebuild worship in Jerusalem in their time.

Why such divergent interpretations? The short answer involves assumptions, methods and goals. Whether we realize it or not, this is also why we hold onto whatever views we might have.

Continue reading “Isaiah’s New Heavens”

Giving up glory

Heaven is the place we all want to go. Heaven is the greatest place imaginable because it is the dwelling place of Deity. Why would anyone willingly leave heaven?

I once had a discussion with someone who feared sinning and being cast out of heaven. I suggested that while angels were cast out (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6), it was not possible for us to sin and thus be banished from God’s presence.

Sin requires temptation (James 1:14, 15). There will be no temptations for us in heaven, and thus no possibility to sin. This is a great comfort to me, for I desperately want to live forever with my Lord. Once my glorified body is taken to heaven I can not imagine ever wishing to leave. Continue reading “Giving up glory”

What and who will be in Heaven

If in Heaven we’re going to play harps for all eternity, I don’t want to go there, said a woefully uninformed person. This perspective reveals that people must be careful not to think of Heaven in earthly, carnal concepts, far from God’s revelation in Scripture. This is also a problem for one masculine-centered religion which sees Heaven in terms of access to hundreds of virgins.

What is going to be in Heaven that motivates everyone, men and women, rich and poor, to make every effort to get there? Here’s a short list. Continue reading “What and who will be in Heaven”