What Brings Us Joy?

youth-active-jump-happy-40815

Do you ever have times when a line from Scripture jumps out at you and cannot get past it in your thoughts? One morning this past week was such a time. As I was reading in Proverbs 10, the first line of verse 26 struck me in such a way. It says, “The hope of the righteous brings joy.”

Our hope brings us joy; the anticipation of Jesus’ appearing and all that He has promised us for all eternity.

It’s the specifics of our hope that inspire me when I get out of bed in the morning. They are the reason I am able to joyously look beyond the impact of aging on my body. They are the reason I still feel young at heart and enjoy silliness, laughter, and having fun. Christ has redeemed the inner me and given it eternal life. Time is irrelevant to my spirit; my inner being does not have to age along with my body.

This is why something deep inside me groans when preachers gloss over biblical references to Jesus’ appearing to take us home or when popular authors ignore the matter altogether. Are they not doing a disservice to the body of Christ by keeping the hopes and joys of their audience pinned to the things of this life? I believe so!

A glorious day of redemption is coming (see Rom.  8:23-25). It’s the time we receive our glorified bodies and experience total wholeness not only physically but also emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. It’s when we will be forever free from the very presence of sin.

I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to preach again and excitedly proclaim the joy that comes from focusing on our hope of Jesus’ return to take us home, to the place He is specially preparing for us (see John 14:1-3). What wonder awaits us when we return with Him to earth and experience the incredible joys of the kingdom?

Can we even imagine the excitement of reigning alongside Christ with physical bodies like His?

Yes, our hope should bring us incredible joy. We should be jumping up and down with excitement.

Please Note: I am going to be updating my blog soon with a new title: Our Journey Home. The emphasis will still be on a two-world perspective and include our walk with God in anticipation of unending joy and glory.

 

What’s Your Destination?

Destination3

It seemed so simple. We would send our letter and earnest check for our new home in Illinois via certified mail. Our purchase contract for our new house allowed several days for the check to arrive.

After double-checking the address my realtor had provided, I took the letter to the post office in North Liberty, Iowa on March 30. The kind young man at the counter gave me the tracking information and said our check would be at its destination in Rockford, Illinois on Monday, April 2. I felt confident the check would arrive on time.

On April 2, I entered the tracking information only to discover that our certified mail was in the small town of Wellman, Iowa. After the tracking remained unchanged for a couple days, I went back to the North Liberty post office to find out what happened.

A helpful lady at the post office discovered that our mail had gotten stuck to another piece of mail that was headed for Wellman and had ended up there as well. She assured me that my letter had been sent back to Cedar Rapids, Iowa (the main hub in our area) and would soon arrive at its destination in Rockford.

The tracking, however, remained unchanged for four and a half days. Who knows what sights and sounds of America our letter and check enjoyed during this time?

Eventually, I wrote another check this time sending it via UPS, not the post office. Because we needed to make sure it got there by April 9, our realtor said to do this so we could be certain of its arrival.

Shortly after walking out of the UPS facility, our initial mailing mysteriously showed up again on the United States Mail tracking site. It was in Palatine, IL. This brought some relief knowing it was not hopelessly lost or the check in the wrong hands. At this point it seemed likely that the title company would now end up with two checks.

Clearly, this piece of mail had a love for Iowa and just refused to remain anywhere else.

After experiencing the wonders of a couple post offices in the Chicago suburbs, our mailing inexplicably found its way back to Cedar Rapids for a third time on its adventurous journey. After that, it went back to Wellman; no one can explain why it ended up back there. Clearly, this piece of mail had a love for Iowa and just refused to remain anywhere else.

Is not this experience like so many of our hopes and expectations for this life? Despite all our anticipation, they never quite fulfill their promise or take us to the place we hoped they would.

I am not saying that all earthly hopes disappoint us, not at all. However, even when the dearest of our dreams come true for us we eventually realize they are only temporary just like the rest of our life here on this earth.

This is why our hopes for eternity can bring us so much joy and relief. A joyous and eternal destination awaits for all who know Jesus as their Savior. We will not be disappointed.

When Jesus appears, He will give us wondrous glorified bodies that will no longer be subject to the pains and aging of this life. Revelation 21:4 promises that we are headed for an eternity where Jesus “will wipe away every tear from their [our] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore . . . .”

Unlike the check the check I sent that seemingly would have endlessly toured the Midwest never arriving at its destination, Jesus will not fail to bring His followers to their intended destination, the joyous and wondrous place He is now preparing for us. He is surely coming to take us home, perhaps very soon!

We can absolutely count on Him to fulfill our hopes beyond what we could ever imagine. He will not fail to get us to our appointed place and despite the seeming delay in His appearing, He will be on time.

What is your ultimate destination? Who or what are you counting on to get you there?

 

 

3 Compelling Reasons for Hope

inside_empty_tomb

Jesus’ tomb is empty; it’s an established historical fact. All the attacks on Jesus’ resurrection come in the form of trying to explain the vacant grave. They do this because they cannot deny the reality that His body was missing from His tomb.

However, no one has ever been able to come up with a credible explanation for Christ’s empty grave. Jesus is indeed alive!

The resurrection matters so much to our faith because if Jesus did not walk bodily out of His grave, if His body was buried somewhere else in ancient Israel, then humanity has absolutely no hope.

The reality of Jesus’ resurrection matters to our hope in so many ways!

Paul said this in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. . . .  If in Christ we have hope in this life only we are of all people most to be pitied.” Do you understand what the apostle is saying here? If Christ did not rise from the dead, then our faith in Him is totally worthless and we are more to be pitied than anyone else in the world. Wow!

The reality of Jesus’ resurrection matters to our hope in so many ways!

1. The Resurrection Verifies Jesus’ Claims

I hear so many people say Jesus was a good moral teacher, but they deny most, if not all, the claims Christ made about Himself.

What would happen if I were to go through the area where I live making these claims?

  • That I was equal with God the Father
  • That I was the only way to God the Father and eternal life
  • That those who reject me will perish; they will end up in hell
  • That as God I had the ability to forgive sins
  • That after three days I would rise from the dead
  • That someday I would return to the earth in great glory with all the world watching

Would I be hailed as a great teacher after making such claims? Something inside me says, “No!” I would more than likely end up in the psych ward at the local university hospital under lock and key.

You cannot make the assertions Christ did without backing them up in a convincing and overwhelming way. Jesus’ resurrection did exactly that!

No one can make the claims listed above (all of which Jesus made during His ministry) and later be regarded as a fantastic teacher. It’s impossible.

You cannot make the assertions Christ did without backing them up in a convincing and overwhelming way. Jesus’ resurrection did exactly that!

2. The Resurrection Establishes Jesus’ Credibility

So many people say they worship and trust Jesus, but then state they do not believe so many of the things He said.

Suppose you are selecting a guide to take you on a three-day hike deep into a dense and dangerous wilderness territory. You have read Surviving in the Backwoods written by candidate A and although he said many things in his book that you like, you believe he got almost everything wrong about what it takes to survive in the wild. And on top of that, he has never ever hiked in the area you want to explore.

Would you hire him? Unless you feel a tad suicidal at the moment, probably not.

Is this not what so many do with Jesus? They believe He was wrong about the Genesis story of Adam and Eve, the Genesis flood, and the credibility of the Old Testament but claim to worship Him. I do not understand such logic. Why would anyone revere someone who in their mind was flat out wrong about so many basic aspects of their faith?

The resurrection verifies that Jesus is trustworthy not only in His claims about Himself, but in everything else He said. It also proves He is able to do the impossible.

3. Jesus Alone Is Able to Take Us Home

Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope because it demonstrates He is able to give us eternal life.

If I am alive when Jesus returns, He will change my earthly body into an immortal and imperishable one and take me to His Father’s house, to a place He has specially prepared for me. The same is true if I die before His appearing. It should be beyond obvious I cannot do any of this for myself once I am dead.

So, how can I trust Jesus to do the impossible in raising me from the dead and at the same time say his beliefs about the purpose of marriage, God’s creation of each of us as either male or female, and His views on morality and the sanctity of life are not only totally wrong but highly offensive? I absolutely cannot do that. Either Jesus is right about marriage and life or He is a fraud incapable of giving me eternal life or providing any hope in this life or in eternity. There is no middle ground.

If Jesus got these basic things totally wrong then He is still in a grave somewhere, is either a lunatic or a liar (if not both), and my faith is utterly in vain (at best). The tens of millions of people throughout history who died refusing to denounce Christ gave their lives totally in vain failing to denounce some liar who lived long ago.

Are you beginning to see why I cannot say Jesus was wrong about these controversial issues and still have an ounce of faith in Him?

Listen to the words of the apostle Paul again, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of all those who have fall asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). This is where our hope rests!

Jesus is alive; He rose from the dead; His words are true regardless of what anyone says about them.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that all His words are true regardless of how unpopular they are at the moment. Popularity does not establish credibility or truth; Hitler was incredibly popular in Germany during the 1930’s and early 1940’s. Now his name is an anathema everywhere on earth.

Jesus was the most unpopular person of His day. But today, two thousand years later, hundreds of millions of people trust Him to give them everlasting life because His tomb is empty. Jesus’ resurrection forever establishes his words as true and gives us an unfailing foundation for our hope. He is alive; He is coming again!!!

The resurrection is why we treasure the words of Jesus and trust Him. It’s why we possess an unfailing hope of spending eternity with Him.

It’s why we can have supreme confidence in His claims, words, and supernatural power.

He’s alive! He’s alive indeed!

4 Strategies for Waiting

black-and-white-woman-girl-sitting

The idea for my book, Shipwrecked! Learning From The Bible Bad Guys, started with my study of the life of King Saul. I could see several of my faults in his life, particularly as I read about his unwillingness to wait for Samuel at a critical time during his reign.

From this wayward king, I discovered a strategy for waiting amidst the faulty reasons he gave to Samuel for his disobedience. If we can avoid the places where his thinking went awry,  it helps us wait for whatever we hope will happen soon, but doesn’t. We have all been there.

I believe if there is one shared experience among followers of Christ, it is that of waiting. He often makes us wait for:

  • The right person to come along to marry
  • The job we desire
  • The money to pay all our bills
  • Healing to get over the flu or a sinus infection
  • His intervention in a crisis we face
  • A slow driver to finally get out of the passing lane (perhaps of lesser importance)

I am sure you can add several other things to the above list. In an era where answers come so quickly via our computers and smartphones, it’s especially difficult when God does not immediately remedy our dilemmas.

So, what do we do when the Lord makes us wait, particularly in painful situations?

In my book, I provide 4 strategies for waiting that helped me immensely during my lengthy time of waiting years ago. I could develop each tactic here, but that would make this post far too long.

So, the best way to communicate them to you is through my book, through an invitation to speak, or both.

 

Three Fatal Dangers of Living for The Moment

10_Esau_Jacob_1024_JPEG with acknowledgment

What comes to your mind when you think of Esau? You likely picture a rugged red-haired hunter selling his birthright to his brother Jacob for some stew.

The story began rather innocently. Esau, tired from a long day of hunting, came home experiencing what he later described as life-threatening hunger (Gen. 25:32). Once he smelled Jacob’s lentil stew, Esau demanded that his brother give him some.

Jacob, sensing his brother’s desperation, took advantage of him by requesting that Esau sell his birthright to him in return for the stew. Esau, focused solely on the need of the moment, willingly gave up his most prized possession for a cup of the soup.

Esau, focused solely on the need of the moment, willingly gave up his most prized possession for a cup of the soup.

Hebrews 12:16 says this about Esau, “See that no one . . . is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son” (NIV). The word “godless” denotes someone who lives for temporal and material matters with no regard for God or anything of spiritual value.

What are the dangers of living solely for the moment?

1. The Danger of Seeking Immediate Satisfaction

I wonder what made Esau’s hunger so intense on the day he sold his birthright. It’s difficult to imagine he was actually as close to death as he claimed. Why couldn’t he have waited for someone else to cook for him? Was Jacob really that great of a cook?

I don’t doubt Esau’s weariness or intense need to eat something. While perhaps not the most satisfying choice to him at the time, he could have refused Jacob’s birthright deal and sought other alternatives for supper. Why the urgency to immediately satisfy his hunger?

Desire by itself is not bad or sinful. Imagine never experiencing hunger or desiring good food. While that might be great for weight control, it would have fatal consequences.

It’s when we value the immediate satisfaction of a desire above all else, including the Lord, that we make foolish choices. Esau’s decision to sell his birthright was reckless; he put his immediate need above all other considerations.

Like Esau, it’s tempting to believe our desires must be fulfilled right away. Such a frame of mind frequently leads to sin as well as to unwelcome consequences.

2. The Danger of Ignoring Eternity

Second Corinthians 4:17-18 says, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” Does this verse not describe Esau’s fatal way of thinking who only thought of what he could see?

Esau valued the fleeting realities of this life over eternal values that he could not recognize. As a result, despite his later acquisition of much wealth and great power, we regard him as a failure today, one deemed “godless” by the writer of Hebrews.

Esau epitomizes those who live without an eternal perspective. He made decisions based on what he could see. The great promises God made to Esau’s grandfather Abraham represented something in the distant future with no bearing on his current life. As a result, he lived with little thought of the future or of what truly mattered.

We do not know what Abraham might have taught his descendants regarding eternity or the future resurrection. Hebrews 11:13-19 tells us that the old patriarch believed in both God’s ability to raise the dead and in “city” beyond this life. Abraham possessed an eternal perspective; he saw far beyond the need of the moment.

We can assume he passed on a vision of eternity to Isaac and perhaps also to Jacob and Esau, who would have been teenagers when Abraham died. He certainly handed down a perspective much different than the shortsightedness of Esau who thought only of this life thereby earning the scriptural designation as “godless.”

3. The Danger of Elevating Wealth above Eternity

When Jacob and Esau later reconciled, I believe Esau’s gracious attitude toward his brother resulted from the riches and fame he had gained in the intervening years. During the twenty years the brothers remained apart, Esau obtained all the material blessings, power, and worldwide recognition he desired. He approached Jacob with four hundred men, a sign of both considerable wealth and influence (Gen. 32:6).

Esau’s vast possessions and power caused him to forget about what truly mattered, the Lord and life after death.

Esau reminds me of the Lord’s parable about the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21. At the end of a bountiful harvest, the rich man vainly reflects on his wealth. Thinking his wealth came as the result of his own efforts, he boasts of the vastness of his fortune and security for the future. He focused solely on his efforts securing his future in this life with no thought of God or where he will spend eternity.

For the man in Jesus’ story, death came that very night. For Esau, the end did not come as quickly, yet the end result was the same. He eventually died, and his great wealth and power vanished. The question Jesus asked in Mark 8:36 seems pertinent in Esau’s case, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” I wonder if Jesus was thinking of Esau when he asked this question.

From a worldly perspective, some might argue Esau was anything but a failure. In addition to his success in acquiring livestock, riches, and power, the ancient nation of Edom descended from him. What did he lose by missing out on his father’s blessing? Jacob became the father of the nation of Israel, and Esau the forefather of the nation of Edom. Humanly speaking, their outcomes seem similar.

Scripture, however, views their lives quite differently. The writer of Hebrews praises the faith of Jacob (Heb. 11:21) but says Esau was “godless” (Heb. 12:16, NIV). Jacob’s name appears in the hall of fame for faith while God’s Word designates Esau as both “godless” and “immoral.”

Which evaluation would you prefer?

Note: If you are interested in reading more about Esau and other bad guys like him, my book, Shipwrecked! Learning From The Bible Bad Guys is available on Amazon.com. Like Esau, the other characters teach us much about the necessity of living with a Gospel-centered worldview and hope for what lies ahead in eternity (Rom. 15:4).

 

Why the Bible Bad Guys?

Saul and Samuel
King Saul explains his disobedience to the prophet Samuel.

Several years ago, I discovered I could learn a lot from some of the shadier characters of the Bible. It was not that their examples were so stellar, most failed miserably. However, I have gleaned much from their bad examples over the years.

You may be wondering what in the world we can learn from such misfits and failures. How can they possibly help us in our walk with the Lord?

I’m glad you asked. To help you answer this question, I have picked a few of the characters as examples of what we might possibly learn.

1. King Saul – I learned the most from King Saul. His reasoning (AKA excuses) in 1 Samuel 13 for disobeying God gives us several clues as to where his thinking went awry. After looking at several of his excuses we see that in the end he trusted the sacrifice rather than God Himself.

How do we avoid the trap of elevating our religious behavior above our trust in God? It’s not easy especially when God makes us wait and wait and wait. Yes, I have certainly been there! King Saul helps us formulate a strategy for waiting, especially when we find ourselves in tough spots.

2. Esau – Esau sold his most prized possession for a bowl of soup. What was he thinking? Trading in a birthright for stew likely seems quite foreign to most of us, however, it’s easy to copy Esau’s approach to life in other ways. How do we avoid Esau’s egregious shortsightedness? Is there a way to avoid the urgency of the moment?

What about eternity?

3. Absalom – This guy must have been extraordinarily handsome for the Bible to make such a big deal of his appearance. Unfortunately, his anger left him hanging in the end, so to speak.

What caused the intense resentment that led to Absalom’s downfall? How does the Gospel help us deal with such growing bitterness, the type that eventually destroyed Absalom?

4. Joab – Joab is the most celebrated military general in the Old Testament. Yet, he possessed a character flaw: he was a cold-blooded killer. Okay, you are right, it was much more serious than a flaw in his personality.

I doubt anyone reading my book is likely to stick a sword into someone’s belly, but at times we all feel the frustration of dealing with someone who gets in the way of something we very much desire. A careful look at Joab helps us apply the message of James 4:1-4 to our lives. We do not have to kill someone to follow the errant path of Joab. We can cause serious harm to those around us in other ways.

That is why the lessons we learn from Joab are so important!

5. John Mark – This guy shows us failure does not have to be the last chapter in our lives (although it is the last chapter in my book). How does the story of John Mark encourage us to persevere even when we think we have blown it, failed, run our life into the ditch? Okay, I think you get the point. John Mark shows the mercy of God in giving us multiple second chances.

If you are willing to travel down some of the back roads of Scripture and dive into the lives of some of its more shady characters, my book Shipwrecked! Learning From The Bible Bad Guys is available on Amazon.com.

 

 

Shipwrecked!

Shipwrecked front cover final

The Bible bad guys in Shipwrecked! teach us about our walk with the Lord. We learn where their thinking went awry, which led to disastrous decisions. They looked to the things of this life to bring them satisfaction.

In keeping with an emphasis on knowing God, I conclude each chapter in the book with a “Walking with God” section. The purpose of these concluding paragraphs is to focus on what each character teaches us about walking with the Lord through all the ups and downs of life.

When life does not go as planned, relying on a memorized list of what to do (or not do) rarely helps us. Instead, it’s our walk with God that gets us through those times. Although what he sends our way remains unpredictable, his character never changes. Even in the darkest times, we can know he dearly loves us and will provide the strength we need for whatever we face.

Shipwrecked! stresses bringing the Gospel into everyday frustrations and setbacks!

This book is now available on Amazon.com

Shipwrecked!

Shipwrecked Cover

The above picture is what my first book will look like when Bold Vision Books publishes it sometime this spring, possibly as early as March.

Shipwrecked! is about learning from the mistakes of several Bible bad guys.

Life rarely goes as we expect. That’s why it’s so important that we learn to walk with the Lord and trust our loving heavenly Father before things go awry. Life caught several of our Bible bad guys “off guard” and instead of looking to God in faith, they turned away from Him and made terrible decisions. As we examine their lives, we learn how we can avoid their errant choices.

The last character in the book is John Mark. From him we learn that failure does not have to be the last chapter in our lives. John Mark overcame an early failure in ministry to be greatly used of God.

So that the readers of Shipwrecked! can easily find me, I am going to start using my name rather than “Eternity Versus the Moment” for my blog. The e-mails you receive from this blog will appear to come from me once this change is in place.

But don’t worry, while you may see a few posts about these Bible bad guys in the coming weeks, the emphasis of my blog will remain focused on eternity and our amazing and joyous hope of spending eternity with our Savior! We will be forever young!

I am excited about Shipwrecked! It’s my prayer that many will grow in their walk with the Lord as a result of reading this book and that several others will come to saving faith in Jesus.

Thank you all for your support and for following my blog!

Maranatha!!!

 

Forever Young, Forever Whole

Clock with no hands (2)

“Who is this guy with the wrinkles and droopy skin?” I asked myself as I stretched in front of a mirror at the gym (in a room with lights that revealed everything!). I looked every bit my age and for a moment I felt depressed.

Then I remembered Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” I think this is becoming one of my favorite verses! Even as believers, we have so much more to hope for than what this world can offer us even in the best of circumstances.

A little later in the chapter the apostle expanded upon our spectacular hope in verses 51-53, “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”

Forever Young

In 1 Corinthians 15:42-55, the apostle describes our new future bodies that we will receive when Jesus comes for us, His true church. Whether we have died in Christ or remain alive in Him at the time, our hope is the same. Jesus will change our bodies into wondrously imperishable and immortal ones. They will last forever no longer subject to the rigors of the clock.

Gone will be all the signs of aging I saw staring back at me in the mirror that day. I believe Christ will restore our bodies to what we looked like in early adulthood. He will not only erase all the signs of aging, but also all the scars and physical infirmities we have incurred during the course of our lives. We will have bodies like Jesus’ glorious resurrected body.

This means no more flu! This has been a particularly awful season for flu and a host of other sicknesses. Most people have either gotten sick with the flu or know someone they love who has succumbed to it. The good news about our new bodies is they will never again suffer with any sickness or infirmity.

Forever Whole

In a post last week, I quoted John Eldredge as saying this, “We are all traumatized and fragmented; no one passes through this vale of tears without it. And our Healer will make us whole again. . . . Think of it—to be whole hearted. To be filled with goodness from head to toe. To have an inner glory that matches the glory of your new body . . . .”[i]

Along with our glorious bodies, Jesus will also give us an inner wholeness or soundness such as we have never experienced.  Think of it, absolute and total emotional, spiritual, and mental wholeness! Total wellness from head to toe, inside and outside!

In Revelation 21:4-5 we read, “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. And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” Death, tears, and sorrow will all be things of the past.

In eternity we will be free from the presence of sin and all its ravages that have wreaked havoc in our lives on earth in one way or another. We will be complete experiencing sinless perfection throughout our being.

As a young pastor many years ago, I suffered greatly as the result of the actions of others along with my own foolish mistakes. It took a long time for the Lord to perform His healing work on the all the wounds stemming from those years of brokenness.

Although the Lord has restored my life and healed past wounds in truly miraculous ways, I still identify with Eldredge’s words regarding the trauma and fragmentation we all feel to some extent even as beloved children of God. I long for the complete wholeness that Jesus will give me someday in the resurrection!

Like a clock with no hands, time will no longer matter to us. We will be free from all its limitations!

Forever young, forever whole! Can you understand why Paul said that if our hope resides solely in this life “we are of all people most to be pitied?” If this life is all we have, we would have no hope at all.

However, when we look at what the Lord promises us, is not our expectation of eternal joy more than we can fully grasp in this life?

Like a clock with no hands, time will no longer matter to us. We will be free from all its limitations!

Spend some time today trying to imagine what your future life will be like without any of the ravages of sickness, aging, and emotional brokenness. What will your life be like with an imperishable body free from all the constraints of time?

 

[i] John Eldredge, All Things New (Nashville: Nelson books, 2017), p. 86.

 

The Renewal of All Things

Animals

What will our lives look like when Jesus establishes His kingdom over all the earth? What will the coming renewed creation look like? Can we even imagine what it will be like for the Lord to make us completely whole in our bodies, spirits, and souls?

John Eldredge, in his latest book All Things New, seeks to answer questions such as these. He focuses on passages such as Matthew 19:28-29 and Revelation 21:1-5 that point to the wondrous and joyous renewal Jesus promises for all who know Him.

You might think it strange I would recommend a book that ignores the rapture and the tribulation (as he does) and settles for a singular purpose of encouraging believers regarding their eternal hope in Christ’s coming kingdom. I admit, at first I was a bit leery about the book since I am passionate about all of these things.

Yet, his wondrously comforting and hopeful message continually warms and excites my heart. At a time when many popular Christian authors deny the reality of Jesus’ kingdom and pastors preach about the Gospel without even mentioning eternity, John Eldredge’s book seems like a breath of fresh air to me. He unashamedly tells of the grandeurs and wonders that await us when Jesus’ kingdom arrives.

The author takes us beyond the woes and disappointments of this world by first concentrating on the renewal of all creation.

Renewal of Creation

John Eldredge writes about the renewal of creation as only a avid lover of nature could do. Throughout this section of the book, Eldredge lets his imagination run wild as he contemplates the wonders of the new earth. Here is a sample:

        What will waterfalls be like in the new earth? What of the giant sequoias or tender wildflowers? What will rain be like? And think of your special places; imagine what it will be like to see them in their glory. How sweet it will be to revisit treasured nooks and vistas, gardens and swimming holes again, see them as they truly “are” unveiled, everything God meant them to be. Part of what makes the wonder so precious is that while it is a “new” world, it is our world, the world dearest to our hearts, romance at its best.[i]

Imagine our increased enjoyment of the Rocky Mountains, for example, in bodies that will never wear out or grow weary!

Let your imaginations run free as well about the wonders ahead for us! Maybe we will walk among giraffes and other large animals. I would love that!

Forever Young and Whole

When Eldredge writes of our restoration, he goes beyond the immortal and imperishable bodies we will receive when Jesus comes for us (see 1 Cor. 15:50-55). He puts it this way in describing how we will be forever young, “Death is utterly swept away at the Great Restoration. And not only death, but every other form of sorrow, assault, illness, and harm we’ve ever known. You will be completely renewed—body, soul, and spirit.”[ii]

Did you catch that? It will not just be our bodies that will be completely restored and better than ever, but absolutely everything about us!

Eldredge goes far beyond our future immortal bodies to show how the renewal will encompass all the broken places and lingering wounds in our hearts.  There is so much more to our restoration than just the physical aspect.

Eldredge writes, “We are all traumatized and fragmented; no one passes through this vale of tears without it. And our Healer will make us whole again. . . . Think of—to be whole hearted. To be filled with goodness from head to toe. To have an inner glory that matches the glory of your new body . . . .”[iii]

Can you imagine what that will be like? I am not sure I can.

In Jesus’ kingdom, we will be made completely whole. All the things we struggle with on earth, all our fears, the anger, and resentment, Jesus will wondrously and forever remove. Think of it! Again John writes, “What tender intimacy is foretold when we are promised that our loving Father will wipe every tear from our eyes personally—not only tears of sorrow, but all the tears of shame, guilt, and remorse. That moment alone will make the whole journey worth it.”[iv]

As followers of Jesus, we possess an amazing future, a wondrous and joyous eternity. The heartbreaks, disappointments, and sorrows of this present world are temporal and fleeting. In eternity, Jesus will make all things new in our world including our souls, minds, and hearts.

It’s no wonder Satan does all he can to keep our focus on this life. Our enemy knows how a proper two-world perspective motivates us to live for our Savior. If he can keep us looking for joy solely in this life, he steals the joy and overwhelming comfort that comes from focusing our hearts on what Jesus promises us after this life.

C.S. Lewis aptly summed up our disconnect between this life and our coming eternal holiday in Jesus’ kingdom this way,

“Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”[v]

I feel the same pull C.S. alludes to, that of elevating the things we see above unseen and eternal realities. However, as followers of Christ we look forward to a wondrous and joyous kingdom in which the Lord will restore creation to its original glory and make us completely whole in our body, spirit, and soul. What a day that will be!! It will be like a “holiday at the sea,” although I would prefer a lengthy stay at a remote mountain cabin alongside a cool flowing stream.

 

[i] John Eldredge, All Things New (Nashville: Nelson books, 2017), p. 69.

[ii] Ibid. p. 86

[iii]Ibid., pp. 93-94

[iv] Ibid., p. 95

[v] C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York: Touchstone, 1975). p. 26.