Category Archives: heaven

The two views of Christmas

Have you ever read Revelation 12 in contrast to the traditional scirptural account of the Christmas season?  When you read the Revelation, Luke and Matthew passages you are struck with a stark contrast of the two Christmas stories.  One (Revelation) that is very dark and troubling, and the other that appears to be more soft and sweet in its tones.  In Philip Yancey’s book, The Jesus I Never Knew, he references this contrast and provides the following observation.

Revelation is a strange book by any measure, and readers must understand its style to make sense of this extraordinary spectacle.  In daily life two parallel histories occur simultaneously, one on earth and one in heaven.  Revelation, however, views them together, allowing a quick look behind the scenes.  On earth a baby was born, a king got wind of it, a chase ensued.  In heaven the Great Invasion had begun, a daring raid by the ruler of the forces of good into the universe’s seat of evil…  Continue reading

Bedtime stories

It’s a little after midnight late Sunday night and I just got back from the hospital.  One of our dear friends called to ask me if I would come up to the hospital to pray with a family that just lost one of their own due to a complication with his fight with cancer.  You never know what to expect when you walk into one of those situations.  Is the individual a person of faith?  Is the family emotional or in shock?  You combine those unknowns with your own worries about the “right” words to say, and it makes for an intriguing late night.  Fortunately the deceased was a Christ-follower, but as always… the pain for those standing around his lifeless body is tough.  Even with hope, we grieve. 

So as I drove home trying to think about something else so that I would be able to fall asleep easily the thought hits me.  You may call this morbid, but looking at the lifeless body tonight reinforced in me peace, hope and strength – as opposed to shock, fear or sadness. That body represented a legacy of faith and belief of a man that is no longer with us.  I sit here typing in the quiet of my living room, with my son sleeping in the room next to me and my wife already asleep in our room, realizing that one day I too will be able to leave a legacy of faith and belief.  I really don’t want to dwell on that day too much, but I will be able to sleep well tonight because just like the gentleman that met his maker tonight I too will meet God some day with a peace because of my belief and faith.

So I ask you out there tonight – you on the world wide web – will you sleep tonight with hope and peace?  Would you be able to stare at a corpse and be confronted with hope and not fear?  Peace and not dread?  Celebration and not depression?  If not, why?  I would love to share with you how you can do this.  Interested?  Will you take the offer? 

If so, you can Yahoo Message me at “Wagonmasterjoe” or email me at wagonmasterjoe@yahoo.com.  I hope to hear from you.  

JT went home today

In an all too familiar story, we lost another saint to cancer this afternoon.  Jim Taylor (JT) went home to be with his “heavenly father” earlier today.  He passed in the presence of his loving and adoring family.  I know for a fact that he was “ready.”  He told me so just a few days ago. 

Though he may have been ready to meet his maker, the family is left to deal with his departure.  Pray for the Taylor Family in these days.  In speaking with Tim last night, it was a comforting to him that his dad would be passing on to a better place with all of his limbs intact and his spirit renewed.  It was sobering to realize just how soon that hope would be called on.

I don’t have funeral details as of yet, but if Suz has a chance to update the blog that was detailing JT’s battle you may get word before I can post it here. 

Early Angels

On Sunday, right after our North Campus worship time, I had the pleasure to lead out in a really unique way.  A few families here at FBC have begun a ministry called Early Angels for those couples that have endured miscarriages.  Though these tragic events are fairly common in today’s society, what is not common is the knowledge about when/if they do happen.  This tends to be the case in the church when families and young children typically roam the range with great volume! 

Both campuses held an “Infant Loss Remembrance Service” on Sunday.  At North we had a simple, but intimate, time with a few of our families that wanted to celebrate the lives of those babies that never lived to see their very own parents’ faces.  I was really nervous because Trish and I have never had to endure this severe heart break in our marriage, and I was at a loss as to what to say to couples that have. 

Fortunately we have the Bible and its accounts of how Christ endured pain and heartache.  Thru my own tears of compassion for my fellow Christ-followers and friends, all I could muster up were the following passages in Psalms and in John.  The passage in Psalms is really validated by what Christ does in the account found in John.  We can’t answer why these losses occur, but I do know that Christ understands better than anyone.  I left them with a statement that I have heard my pastor use over and over in funeral settings… “As much as you loved your baby, Jesus Christ loved them more.  So much more, that he felt it best to call them home early.”

The reality is that I am absolutely blessed to be a dad, but I am scared to death to raise LT and his soon-to-be little brother in a world full of strife and ugliness.  It would be the hardest thing for me to face, the death of a child, but I do have hope that heaven is a much better place for anyone – including children… born or unborn.

North Campus Summer Splash Recap

[rockyou id=70075143]

There are moments along the way in the life of an organization that can make or break it.  We don’t know yet if the North Campus Summer Splash was one of those, but it was definitely a defining moment!  There is something powerful about a bunch of people coming together simply for the sake of ‘community.’  Of course the biggest moment of the afternoon/evening was the baptism portion. 

On Sunday evening we were able to celebrate 6 lives that have been changed by God over the course of their respective lives.  As a pastor, it doesn’t get any better than to have an active part in helping people celebrate and communicate their desire for God and his plan for their life through baptism.  It was an awesome (in the truest since of the word) perspective to stand in a pool with each of the candidates while looking up to see over 200 beaming believers cheering on these changed individuals!  Continue reading

Going off to war

I am losing my children’s minister in a couple of weeks due to him being called up by the USMC.  His unit will be deployed to Iraq within the year after some preliminary training.  It has been hard to watch this scenario unfold.  I have spoken with him at length about the personal, relational and spiritual tension that this news has caused in his life.  The inconvenience it has caused on our staff pales in comparison to the frustration this news has provided in his personal goals, family and friendships. 

One of the more poignant moments for me along this journey came during a staff meeting in which Adam prayed.   He longed to go home, but home in this case was not his residential home but rather his heavenly home.  His prayer mentioned how taxed he was with the increased realization that this world is full of strife and turmoil.  It was obvious that this man, unlike most of us in the room, was being confronted with the ugliness of the world in a real and traumatic way through war.   He was coming to grips with the fact that he was soon to find himself in a world that was unlike anything he had experienced before.  Given that awareness, Adam was simply and honestly crying out to his heavenly father asking Him for a “different cup.” 

That prayer was one of the rawest I had ever witnessed.  He wasn’t dying, nor had he lost anyone.  Adam just knew that the world was about to be more upside down than it already was given his marching orders.  It got me to thinking… do I long for another place?  Do I long to be “home?”  Does the idea of spending eternity in heaven appeal to my core being?  I often grieve over what I see each day… death, crime, sorrow, lack of satisfaction, greed, etc., but do those observations propel me to ponder heaven’s qualities? 

I, like so many of you, get wrapped up with the goals and daily life objectives found here on earth.  Even as one who serves in the local church, my horizons are limited by my inability to gaze upon the life hereafter on a regular basis.  It usually takes a funeral or other dreadful news for me to consider life beyond.  I pray that the burden of this life does drive me to want for “home,” but in the mean time I ask God for wisdom and power to cope with and improve life as it exists currently. 

You can pray for Adam and Kimberly in the days and months ahead.  You can pray for his safety, and Kimberly’s peace of mind.  You can pray that God will reveal more of Himself to Adam in this trying time.  Pray that Adam will leave a lasting impact on his fellow soldiers.