Heaven

Refugees

Once upon a time, long ago a man was sent on a mission.  His responsibilities were clearly laid out and for a while he kept them.  But one night he went for a walk and found himself lost.

Lost.

And in the domain of a foreign kingdom.

He was hungry. He was tired.  He no longer had the resources provided for him by those who sent him. So he asked for help from the kingdom where he was a trespasser.

That didn’t go well. [click to continue…]

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Vacant Room

There’s a house in my neighborhood.  Beautiful place.  Well built and spacious.  And for the last two years, completely empty.

Not for sale.  We have some of those, too, complete with yard signs and open houses.

Not in foreclosure.  None of those stickers on the window with the bold letters NOTICE at the top.

No, this home – this beautiful home – is paid for (or being paid for).  Ready for move-in.  But for reasons I do not know, it sits completely empty.

I’ve been thinking about that house lately.  I’m sure the owner has his reasons.  But it sure seems sad that something built to provide a lot of comfort and satisfaction fails to fulfill its purpose as it sits, unoccupied.  Hey, even the mail addressed to “current occupant” has nowhere to go. [click to continue…]

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Heaven Worship

I could duplicate stories like these all day…

The Job Site

I was working construction (pausing here for those who know me to gasp or laugh or something).  It was a high-pressure day and I was off with a coworker on an assignment with a deadline that just wasn’t getting done.  It was Friday afternoon, I was leaving out of town, and the pressure just kept building.  I was a failure at this, and knew it.  I figured at that point the whole world knew it.

I had to swing by the other job site where my boss and Ricky were, to give the boss the bad news. Ricky and I usually worked together, but we’d been separated for a few days on different projects.  I’ll never forget the way Ricky made me feel – it was as though we hadn’t seen each other in years.  After hours and hours of devaluing myself in my head, his infectious smile and greeting made me feel like the king of the world.

It was a foretaste of heaven… where grace has the final word.

The Classroom

In a transparent moment in an online classroom filled with future and present church leaders I wrote this:

“If I could go back and do one thing over again in my 32 years of pastoring… I would be more ruthlessly intentional about leadership development.  I would allow myself to be criticized more for neglecting some things in order to focus more on developing discipling leaders. As passionate as I am and was about preaching, and as passionate as some of you are, may I just say, preaching alone won’t come close to accomplishing this.  Leadership development isn’t about lessons, outlines, or proclamation.  It’s about duplication of your passion, knowledge, skillsets, and passion in the lives of others.”

In reply to that, I got a simple, but profoundly encouraging reply from a student in that class:

I hope you know that by teaching guys like me you ARE accomplishing leadership development.  I doubt I will meet you here on earth, but someday I look forward to seeing you in glory! Thanks for everything, and may God richly bless you as you follow Him.

It was a foretaste of heaven… where grace has the final word. [click to continue…]

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We’re in an interesting season and it has me thinking a lot about – and working a lot on – home.  In a couple of months we’ll be moving from this…

Windmill Sunset

To this…

Mobile Bay

At times the process has felt a lot like David’s famous whine: “How long, O Lord?”  At other times we’ve found ourselves wondering how in the world we’ll get it all done.

All the details.

All the work.

All the thinking and buying and selling and meeting and planning and more meeting…

To prepare a place called Home.

In between all those details, plus the daily joys of work and service which go on regardless, I’ve been thinking about another kind of Home. One that’s more lasting.  One where I have a place, but don’t have the task of preparing it… I just have to partner with the Lord to prepare me for the place.

Sometimes, like the Whiner-in-Chief, I look at this hope and ask, “How long, O Lord?”  And sometimes I get this sense that it’s sooner than I think. [click to continue…]

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Nursery

The room was completely remodeled.

New drywall, carpet and wallpaper with clowns and balloons.

New furniture filled the space.

New little outfits filled the drawers.

And diapers!

Oh my, the diapers. [click to continue…]

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TransformationWe’ve seen and heard it described in myriad ways.  Some are actually in the Bible.  It’s a place where the streets are paved with precious metal.  A place of purity and timelessness.  A place of extraordinary worship and togetherness.  A place where nobody worries about the safety of their children and nobody nervously waits for lab results.

Yes, I’m talking about heaven.  And like the uber-hit song says, I can only imagine what it will be like.  But like you, I have imagined quite a bit… some in earnest, some in fun fantasy before the Lord.

But there was one thing about heaven I had overlooked until a couple of days ago.  I had read and actually preached from this verse many times and passed right over it.  I’ve read this verse at gravesides and church houses countless times and never quite got it.  But I think it’s an important thing to get… [click to continue…]

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It’s hard to look in the mirror – literally or figuratively – and not see it…

The evidence…

The scars…

The stains that are so obvious to us and, we’re sure, to the world around us.

Let someone float a compliment our way, and up they rise, at least in our silent thoughts –

The objections.

The dismissals.

That internal whisper that says, “If only they knew the whole story…”

Know what?  Somebody does.  And He’s the only one who has lived your story and His.  And His declaration over you is the final say:

Sin erased.  Shame forgotten.

Make no mistake about it.  [click to continue…]

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Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Our hope beyond this life is found here… [click to continue…]

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If I’m losing my way on an ocean of brokenness,

Wandering, wondering which way is home,

Will You still be merciful, Will You still know me

And call out my name when You come back again?

If you’re losing your way on an ocean of brokenness,

Wandering, wondering which way is home,

I’ll still be merciful, I still will know you

And call out your name when I come back again


If I’m pouring out light in the harbor of faithfulness

Saving the sinking with rumors of hope,

Will You be my brightfulness, Will you enflame me

And show me Your light when You came back again? [click to continue…]

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We don’t wear veils much anymore – certainly not in this culture.  Unless, of course, “we” are a bride on her wedding day.  Nobody from Paris or New York sends skinny models down the runway wearing the latest veil fashions. And chances are, you won’t find them in Macy’s or Chico’s or that fabulously French discounter Target either.

But make no mistake about it.  We still wear them – sometimes for good reason, sometimes not.

Veils are for hiding.  For creating boundaries and secret spaces.  And sometimes that’s a good idea.  Ever meet somebody at a bus stop or party and ask the customary “How are you?” and they tell you?  In detail?  Sorta makes you wish you had a veil (or a gag) in your back pocket.

At other times veils are symbols or expressions of something else.  They are reminders of how broken, how sinful, how messed up we are.  The veil dresses up on the outside what is ugly or painful on the inside. [click to continue…]

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