Is Heaven For Real?

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I recently saw the movie, Heaven is For Real.

The curious thing to me is that the parents of Colton Burpo, who  are Christian pastors, had such a hard time coming to terms with their personal belief in heaven as a real, actual place.

What convinced them? It wasn’t necessarily Colton’s vision of his dad yelling at God in another room while Colton was in surgery.  It wasn’t even the description of a blue-eyed Jesus with those marks on his hands and feet. Neither was it the beautiful flowers and colors that are indescribable in human language. For Todd, the deciding proof for his belief lay more in Colton’s seeing Todd’s father, who had passed away years before. The most surprising element was that Colton saw a young adult version of his grandfather in heaven, not the elderly man he had become before his death. How could the four-year-old have recognized the wedding day picture of that young man, some fifty years ago, as the same man who had introduced himself to Colton in heaven?

Colton’s mother, Sonja, was even more disbelieving of the story, until Colton revealed that he had met his sister there. The little girl had no name, and she told Colton that she had died in her mother’s tummy. Perhaps other details of his eyewitness of heaven could be explained away, but it was impossible that Colton could have known these facts. Her disbelief dissolved in a pool of tears.

What do you think? Is heaven for real? Do we just accept these eyewitness accounts with blind faith? Although the Burpo family struggled to believe their son’s spiritual experience, my family has its own stories to tell.

My mother’s side of the family is a strong Christian clan who periodically has experienced the supernatural, especially at the time of death. My great-grandmother was a true saint during her lifetime, in which she spent ministering to her family, friends, and missionaries. She actually sat up and reached out her arms to the invisible right before she escaped from this life and entered eternity, pleading, Give me my crown! I want my crown!

What did she see? An angel that came to carry her away to heaven, showing her her waiting reward? Jesus Himself? We can only speculate, but I do believe that the curtain into the spiritual dimension was pulled back, allowing us to witness and to believe.

My grandfather also had a supernatural experience just hours before his departure into eternity. Lying in his hospital bed, he suddenly pointed and calmly said, “What was that–over in the corner? A star fell over there.”

I do know that this man, who had always been terrified of dying, was totally at peace and unafraid when it was his time to depart. Was that his angel who had come to escort him through the heavens and into God’s kingdom? He died shortly after seeing his falling star.

Are you convinced? Whose story would you have to hear to believe heaven is real? Listen to one from Jesus Christ.

Jesus comforted His disciples on the night of the Passover, before his arrest. After the meal was over and Judas had departed to betray Him, Jesus washed the feet of each disciple and spoke to them about what was going to happen. This was His story:

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 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 NAS 

Jesus also discussed heaven hours later at the crucifixion where He was crucified between two thieves. The one on His right begged Christ to remember him when He came into His kingdom.

And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” –Luke 23: 43 NAS 

God’s Word assures us in these and many other scriptures that heaven is for real.

Do you believe it?

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Torn

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Have you ever thought about the many ways in which we can feel torn?

We can be torn between two opinions or about making a difficult decision. A relationship can be torn apart by destructive circumstances. Sometimes we can feel as though our lives have been torn apart and shredded..

During this Easter season, I am drawn to the trial of Jesus in front of the Jewish Council and the High Priest, Caiaphas. The Pharisees had been endeavoring to trap Jesus by His words to prove that He was an impostor, so that they would have legal reason to put Him to death. They had paid off Judas to betray Him and had subsequently arrested Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Now Jesus stood before them, on trial for the truth of His deity. Caiaphas questioned him point blank.

“I adjure you by the living God that you tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God.”  (Matthew 26:63, NAS)

I can feel the emotions rocketing to dizzying heights. The confession, implied yet left unsaid until this very moment, was chosen by God to be thrust like a two-edged sword into the heart of these law-keepers.

Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, AND COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”  (Matthew 26:64, NAS)

At this point Caiaphas, overcome with distress, tore his robes as he roared, He has blasphemed! and the Council responded, He is deserving of death!  (Matthew 26:65-66, NAS)

It appears that the High Priest reacted passionately to preserve the Law of Moses and protect Judaism from false teachers, intending to silence Jesus and terminate this new movement that was daily winning over thousands of converts. But could Caiaphas have felt that his position was threatened and that this young teacher might replace him as High Priest? Could raw jealousy and fear have been the blinders that prevented Caiaphas and the council members from seeing the truth–that their Messiah had indeed arrived on Earth?

I feel that God answered Caiaphas when Jesus breathed His final breath on the cross, after having committed His Spirit into God’s hands. At that moment, there was a passionate response from God as …the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…(Matthew 27:51, NAS).

The most amazing fact about that curtain’s width, measuring about the thickness of a man’s hand, is that it was an impossibility to be ripped apart. What adds to the amazement is that an invisible hand ripped it from top to bottom, not just from bottom to top. This is a miracle that only God Himself could perform.

The High Priest tore his robe as a protest that Jesus not be allowed to enter in as Messiah, but God Himself overruled Caiaphas. God had the last word in the conversation by tearing down the temple veil. He made it possible for all men to enter into a personal relationship with God through the blood sacrifice of His perfect Lamb, Jesus Christ. The Law of Moses was fulfilled to the letter, giving birth to the era of salvation through grace, which continues to this day.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. (Titus 2:11, NAS)

Is there something torn in your life? Bring it and enter in. Everyone is invited to come into the Holy of Holies to receive salvation and healing from God’s hand.  What better time than today?

 

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A Hidden Infection

Today was a hard day, beginning with a second root canal on my front tooth. Only an unplanned dental emergency brought the hidden infection to light, which prevented a future dental tsunami.

It all began with my discovery of the nutritious benefits of raw foods. An entire aisle of raw nutrition at the organic grocery came into focus, and the granola bars almost leapt off the shelf and into my arms. Although I noticed that these treats were rather tough to bite into, I indulged for several delicious days in a row. I suppose it was on the fourth day that I happened to bite into a particularly stubborn bar, and my tooth loosened with the stress.

That is how I wound up in the endodentist’s chair this morning. A small but very old infection had been lurking inside the original root canal, undetected. Had it continued a while longer, the pain, diseased tooth, and the cost to fix it would have been far worse. Such a blessing in disguise!

This experience got me thinking. Is there infection in our spirits that can be lurking there, undetected? How can we know for sure? After all, the Word tells us that we are all sinners, which indicates darkness present on the inside. Romans 3:23 confirms it:

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (NAS)

When we have an accident that causes pain in our souls, do we acknowledge it or just ignore it? Admitting that we have done something wrong is hard to do, because we all feel justified in our own eyes. Pride keeps us in the darkness, but humility brings us into the light.

The question, then, is left at each person’s door. What will you do with the sin in your life?

Left undetected, sin festers and grows, making the spirit sick. As soon as we realize it’s there, we can go to the One who made a way for us to find forgiveness and a fresh start. John 1:9 explains it clearly:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse of all unrighteousness.”(NAS)

I’m so thankful for that rocky-hard granola bar. I’m even more thankful for the bumps in life that make me search my soul. To be saved and set free from sin is what matters the most.