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The Handler

Growing up I loved spy movies. I especially liked the ones where the Russians would send undercover agents to America to blend in with American society and wait until they are called on to spy or do some sort of dirty deeds for their mother country. Sometimes they would send single men or women to marry an American, or even couples to blend in, raise a family, become an indispensable member of the community etc.

Sometimes you could get half way through the movie until you realized that this couple or individual who you grew to like and see as the protagonist turns out to be a “traitor”.

But how did these spies stay on track as they infiltrated society and blended in so they would seem, at least outwardly that they were just like any garden variety suburbanite.

Enter the handler.  There is always a handler. Another Russian spy, usually working for the Russian embassy or consulate and always has diplomatic immunity.

His job is to make sure the fake Americans stay on track, keep the motherland first and foremost in their minds and to be prepared for the day they will be called on to “spy”.  Or perhaps they have already been spying and passing on information to the handler. His job is to make sure that his charges don’t get sucked into society, don’t get too comfortable. Or worse get turned and become a red white and blue American. The handler is essential to the success of the mission. The mission is to do what they are asked to do and the end result is to return to the motherland in one piece.

Being a true believer, a christian in this world is not much different. If you are truly born again, then you know how different you are to the world we live in. We should never feel as though we fit in. We should always understand that our time here on this earth is temporary. We were sent to do a job, a special mission for each of us. Though many of us may not know what that mission is until later in life,  we spend our time fitting into society waiting for the call, knowing it will come.

So we pass our time trying our best to be one with our surroundings, we get secular jobs, we join churches, we go to schools and learn the ways of the world, we fit in. But we understand that this world is not our real home. We know that we are just passing through and we were sent to to fulfill a purpose.

With temptation all round us it is imperative to not allow ourselves to get sucked in. The world calls us to give in and become one, not just outwardly but inwardly too. Oh, how difficult it is at times to remain seperate in our hearts to the ways of the world knowing it is our duty to live in a world that is not ours. We can’t do this on our own.

Enter the handler.

Jesus. The perfect man for the job.

He knows us, he loves us, he understands us but most importantly he trusts us. He knows he can depend on us when the time comes. He looks past our frailties and our human weaknesses. He handles us like a pro because he has been here before. He keeps us on track, always reminding us of the bigger picture.   He continues to remind us that this world is not our home, we are just passing through. He too is essential to the success of our mission.

When our mission is complete he will then say to us, great job guys, you did good,  you can come home to the Mother Land. Heaven.

 

 

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A Glimpse of Heaven

How much do we really know about heaven. There are many accounts of those who say they have been or have had contact with those that have already gone before us. There are thousands of near death experiences of those who left this world for a short time say they went to heaven but had to return because it wasn’t their  time for one reason or another. During their brief stay they have tried to put into words what they experienced.

Then there are those who have had dreams about heaven not to mention the multitude of psychics who proclaim their gifts of being able to contact those that have left this world.

There are many movies on heaven with the help of creative minds that has probably given me the most food for thought when it comes to life after death.

Then of course there is the bible. Heaven is mentioned close to six hundred times giving pastors, preachers and teachers of the Good Book thousands of sermons or classes on the subject over time.

I am not a theologian, a psychic nor have I had a near death experience. I have not had any dreams or visions about heaven nor do I see myself understanding completely what the bible teaches about God’s heavenly kingdom.

My thoughts on heaven have come from all the above  and I must say I have not drawn any satisfying conclusion to what I believe heaven will be like at least from an earthly physical standpoint.

I have been thinking about heaven on a more consistent basis the last few years for a variety of reasons, one being that I am beginning to feel the finish line is not that far away. It’s probably the only thing we can count on in this life, is that we will die and that something has to happen to us after we die.

Paul stated himself, “if in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable”  I Cor 15:19  In other words if we live only for this world and in our service to God only for the benefits that this world has to offer then it will be a un-fulfilling adventure in itself.

When Jesus taught his disciples how we should pray in that infamous sermon on the mount in the book of Matthew, the words, “thy (God’s) will be done in earth as it is in heaven”,  a prayer I had read hundreds of times and must have said a thousand times without understanding its relevance.

Maybe heaven is not that far away. Aside from the miraculous spiritual aspect of God giving us a new life physically and a new life born again spiritually then maybe he also wants us to understand the connection between the two.

I have come to believe that in each one of our lives, young or old we are having experiences that gives us a glimpse into what heaven is like. I started thinking of some of the memorable experiences that I have had that could very well be a link between both worlds.

Experiencing the birth of my children has to be way up there.

Holding that child for the first time, sitting on the bed next to my wife with that baby in my arms, his/her eyes still closed but the warmth of our bodies connecting the feeling is actually indescribable. Handing the baby back to its mother and realizing that we have done something special in bringing a new life  into the world watching the baby take its first suck of the breast had to be one of the most rewarding times in my life. In retrospect it was far greater than that. God was giving me a glimpse of his will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

When I blurted out, ‘look at what we created’, I now know my wife was gracious in her allowing me to accept some of the credit. My part in that creation was rather small, literally and metaphorically speaking. I can almost see God at each birth looking down on me with a wry smile and his arms folded across his chest, a big sigh and a shake of his head. But he let me think I was king of the mountain even if for only a moment knowing that the baby’s first night home will change my tune.

That is only one little experience in my 67 years on this  earth. When I first started writing this post over a week ago I couldn’t get any traction. I finally got the point, this is not about me. This not about how many experiences I have had that could connect heaven and earth. This is about all of us having these earthly experiences that connect us  or act as a conduit between heaven and earth that allows God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I saw a movie recently that the police or security agencies had this software that could take hundreds of partial images from various cameras placed around a city or country. These images were then put up on a large screen in no specific order. Together they looked like pieces to a jigsaw puzzle all jumbled up. None of the pieces were clear enough or gave enough information to give a clear picture of who they were looking for. When they put all these pieces into the program, wallah, they were all pieced together to form one solitary picture of their suspect.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could do the same. Take our seemingly insignificant mortal experiences that relate to our connection to heaven and program it to show us a fuller picture.

Individually our experiences along these lines are like a drop in the ocean but together we could probably come up with a fairly good overall picture of what heaven is like through our early experiences. But until then we may need to be sufficiently satisfied with the few that we have individually.

I believe I have had enough of these links to satisfy my curiosity that God will is being done on earth as it is in heaven.

Now I am starting to see my life on earth in a different perspective. Heaven comes to earth everyday. We just need to keep our eyes and ears open to see and experience it.

Have you had a glimpse of heaven?

The Story Of The Rich Man In Heaven

There is the story of a rich man who died and went to heaven. He was met at the entrance of the City’s gates by his guide.

Welcome to heaven the guide greeted the rich man

Thank you  the rich man replied.

I am your guide and I will show you where you will be living.

The rich man got excited. Surely he was going to be living in the best of mansions on the biggest of properties. After all he was a very wealthy and powerful man on earth. Heaven would be no different he mused.

They passed by a castle that was by far greater and more glorious than any he had seen on earth,

Who lives here the rich man asked. Surely he must have been rich and famous on earth.

No, this woman took care of the elderly most of her adult life and was very poor as far as earthly standards go said the guide.

As they weaved their way through the sub divisions of mansions and houses that were fit for kings the guide gave a short run down on each owner. None of who the rich man knew or expected to be living in such luxury.

If these unheralded nobodies could find themselves living under such beautiful of circumstances then what would be in store for me,  he thought.

They soon entered into a very poor looking area with rundown and even incomplete houses. Some without roofs, unfinished walls, missing windows and doors.

The rich man was taken back. Why are you taking me through these poor areas the rich man demanded.

None of these are yours said the guide.

I would think not the rich man replied

What seemed like an eternity walking past some of the most horrible housing projects he had ever seen or experienced the guide stopped in front of piece of land.

Here we are the guide said with a smile. This is your new dwelling.

The rich man was speechless.

Standing in front of a house that was without roof, missing windows and no door with a porch that appeared to missing floor boards the rich man turned to the guide.

This can not be my house the rich man screamed.  There must be some mistake. I was a very wealthy and powerful man, I had companies that employed thousands of people, I went to church every week, I gave ten percent of my income regularly. I said my prayers in church, I was a good man and a good christian.

There is no mistake. This is all the materials you sent for us to use to build your house.  the guide said calmly.

I don’t understand said the rich man.

The guide took a deep breath before he continued.

As much as God appreciated how much good you did, how you kept the commandments and the law, how you presented yourself to the world you may have missed an important virtue. And I say this with all due respect, as your unfinished, run down shack speaks for itself.

You failed to do the most important thing that would have given you enough materials to build the mansion you feel you so rightly deserve.

And what is that the rich man asked with folded arms.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” With every act of kindness and love toward another human being no matter how big or small would ensure all the necessary materials needed to build your mansion. But you failed to do this.

The rich man looked into the eyes of his guide. In an instant he understood that his whole life of building wealth on earth meant nothing in Heaven.

Let us learn from the rich man what is most important in God’s eyes. To love Him with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind add loving your neighbor (those you come into contact with each day) as your self and you have a recipe for success.

Here and in Heaven.

Do Your Best and Keep An Eye On Eternity

God put us on earth for a reason. Each one of us with a special task or anointing, calling, mission or purpose, however you want to tag it.

As two snowflakes are not alike so is our relationship with God.  If you have been blessed with many children like I have you understand that although your parenting may not differ from one to the other if for no other reason than making an effort not to show favoritism.

There is a special place in your heart for each one. You may not be able to manifest this openly but as we love all our children with all our heart so God loves each of us with all His heart and has a special place in His heart for you and me and every other person who sees Him as their father.

In growing up spiritually from a babe in christ, to a young adolescent, a young man or women and then a mature adult we strive to do our best to please our God.  We make a life for ourselves on earth  only wanting to please Him.

He gave us life, he presented us with a mission or purpose and even if we don’t fully understand our place in the pecking order of our Christian world  we want our Father to be proud of us and to be able to look down and say, well done good and faithful servant (child) enter into the kingdom of God.

So we strive as children of God to please our father so he can accept us “again” in His kingdom or house. It is easy to lose sight of the overall picture. We tend to make our stay on earth the most important factor in our relationship with God.

So why is it that we continue to struggle and  never seem to be  content or completely fulfilled?

Paul stated …”If in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable.”  (I Corinthians 15:19)  In other words if we put all our eggs in one basket in  our life here on earth and view our calling or mission in this life  as the most important thing in our lives and service to God we can be assured that we will end up feeling “miserable”.

In all our good works, our faithfulness and desire to make our life on earth a legacy to be remembered we must keep an eye on eternity.

So how do we do that?  How do we keep a good balance of  doing the best we can  and pleasing our God with the gifts and talents he has given us and keep our ultimate goal of always moving toward our eternal home?

In Heb 11 we are told about  Abraham who God blessed richly while on earth.

God gave him a massive promise that his seed would inherit the earth, a promise that was clear Abraham would never see in his lifetime or the life time of his immediate heirs, Isaac and Jacob.

In fact “these all died in faith not having received the promises but having seen them afar off, were persuaded of them and embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth”.   They knew the promises were real and yet they understood that their reward was not in this life, they lived on earth as continual gypsies, strangers and pilgrims  just passing through to a better place.

That is how we keep a proper balance, by not let the cares of this world and our mission and calling in this life consume us so much by trying to please our God on earth.  Keep an eye on eternity while doing your best on earth and your life will take on a balance that will ensure more peace and happiness.

This world is not our home. This we must accept and live our life accordingly.

Handicapped?

When we come to the Lord we are bought with a price.  Jesus paid the ultimate price for us. He owns us and we don’t mind. Right? Good, we are on the same page so far.

And he bought us ‘as is’, just the way we were, warts and all. We are washed, cleansed,  remade, renewed and rewired but still not perfect.

Now why is that? Some of us come with handicaps. Handicaps God could heal us of if he wanted to but decided not to and I am not talking about the obvious physical handicaps either.

No the ones I talk about are those that are embedded in our natural human side of things, our mind, our emotions our physical attributes and idiosyncrasies.

I have been trying to overcome some of my own handicaps for years and have never been able to master the ‘how to’ on this. Day after day, year after year I wind up with the weaknesses, personality and character flaws I just can’t seem to master no matter how hard I try.

In retrospect these handicaps have held me back from being the man God wanted me to be. Or so I thought. That I realized is a whole lot of crap.

My sister-in-law, Lynn, my wife’s sister who is just a year or two older than her, has been handicapped since birth. Born without feet and without the use of her legs, this woman now in her late fifties puts me to shame.

For one she doesn’t look at her self as being handicapped.  The stories she tells of her exploits since the time  she could use crutches to get her around never ceases to amaze me. I am humbled when I am around her. She is always cheerful, fun, down to earth and has a great sense of humor. She even had a child and raised him on her own.

She is an advocate in her local community and now nation wide helping to better community facilities and programs for the handicapped. In a word, she puts me to shame when I think about all the internal handicaps I have that hold me back even from the simplest tasks.

Lynn, knows that she will never be healed while on this earth. She will never have feet, she will never have the use of her legs. She doesn’t sit around and wait for God to make things easier for her. She sucks it up and lives with her handicap. That is the way she has always been and the way she always will be.

She learned to not only live with her handicap but learned overcome it by not allowing her physical restraints to get in the way of what she wanted to do.

I am not even sure she believes in God or in Jesus the way we do, we’ve never discussed it but I know she is Godly.

We as Christians, if we are honest with ourselves, sometimes  hide behind our spiritual or emotional handicaps by trying to make ourselves perfect. We always seem to be waiting on God for one thing or another but in actual fact we use “waiting on God” as an excuse not to get out of the boat and walk on water.

We just have to accept that there are certain things in our lives that we just have to live with and  that being said, lets suck it up and accept that we are not perfect, some of us may very well be handicapped in certain areas of our life but lets not allow it to stop us from living life to the full.

Lynn told my wife that when she dreams she always sees herself with feet, walking, running, jumping skipping and whole.

That will be one of her rewards in heaven.

So let us in our dreams see ourselves whole, free from our own personal handicaps.

That will be our reward in heaven.

It’s Never Too Late To Say Yes To God

A few years ago my wife got the call that her mother was in the hospital and close to death. Her health at deteriorated to the point the doctors didn’t think she had very long to live and a call went out to all her children. Rhonda hopped on the next available flight and went to see her.

This is the account of her visit:

“The hospital room had a heavy feeling in it. Like death was lingering waiting for the right time to take my mum away. My sisters and brothers were none the better. My mum came in and out of consciousness during the course of my stay. I couldn’t help but see her internal struggle. When awake she was in such a negative state of mind, so unlike the woman I was accustomed to, that had such a positive outlook on life in spite of the hardships that surrounded her on a daily basis.A woman who raised 7 children, one handicapped from birth and performed her duties as a mother with grace and humility. She was a woman of God with out the religion or beliefs. She lived her life as God intended.

Now I had to watch her struggle in spirit as she was trying to make the transition from this life to the next. We could see that it was only a matter of time, my siblings seeing only the outward pain of a woman who internal organs were shutting down while I saw an inner struggle of a woman holding on to life either because she didn’t want to leave or was unsure of what lies ahead. Only God knows what goes on in these times. My impression was that she was struggling with her place in eternity.

Some stayed through the night some of us went home to get some sleep.

Arriving the next day my mother was sound asleep but this time there was no indication of struggle or pain. She was peaceful for the first time since I came to visit. As all her children gathered perhaps for the last time and we were preparing ourselves for the inevitable she awoke. She was different, she was lucid and at peace. She was her old self. One of my sisters decided to wear all black that day. My mother took one look at her and with a wry smile said, “hey, whats with the black, I’m not dead yet.” She was indeed alive and at peace with herself and perhaps with God too. No doubt in my mind. It was good to see her in such good spirits.

I left that evening as I had to get back to my work and family. I returned home knowing that this would be the  last time I saw my mother and I am thankful that she was in such a good state of mind.

Some time  later I got the call that she had indeed passed away. In her sleep.

Although the loss was not sudden or unexpected, I knew that my mother had lived an exceptional life. Loved by everyone that crossed her path. I miss her immensely but knowing that her struggle ended before she died and that what ever happened to her on her death bed brought her peace. I know my mother is now in the presence of dear Lord and Savior.”

It is never too late to say yes to God.

Pilgrims and Strangers Part 1

d6685d99a756c5372c4348e19cabe7dcAs a believer I talk about Heaven as my home. It is where I will go when I shed my human body, when my time is up, when God is finished with me here on earth and hopefully when I complete the mission that God has given me.

When I was young I knew absolutely nothing about Heaven. It wasn’t part of my upbringing. When I came to Jesus I learned that Heaven was indeed my home and when the time comes I will return.

Still being young in age and young in spirit Heaven was the furthest thing on my mind. There was too much living to do here on earth. Besides Heaven was for those old people whose life was lived and it was time for them to move on.

And  it was also for those who for reasons only God knew, left this earth, sometimes too early to comprehend, and those close to them not really understanding why.

So what does Heaven really mean to me? How much do I know about the place I will call home for eternity?

To be completely and brutally honest I know next to nothing about Heaven. At least not on a personal level.

Let me explain.

Heaven is relative to me, in other words it is something that only I can perceive to be real or unreal.

As the old saying goes, there is no argument when it comes to taste. Who is any one else to tell me what I like or dislike when it comes to food. Only I know what tastes good to me.

So who is anyone to tell me that Heaven is not real when I know it is to me. No one can physically or scientifically persuade me to the contrary because it is a matter of faith. Just the same as I can convince no one that is real because I can’t have faith for someone else. Plus I have never been there to claim its validity.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.”Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)

To believe in Heaven takes faith because there is no other way to authenticate its existence.

I believe it and that good enough for me.

End of argument.

I certainly don’t believe in Heaven because of any physical evidence. There is none. Yes, there are (apparently) thousands of recorded near death experiences of those who have claimed to gone to Heaven and lived to tell their story.

I have no reason to disbelieve their accounts but what does it really mean to me?

Heaven is one of those subjects that is personal. You either believe in it or you don’t. I certainly don’t believe in heaven because of the account of someone who says they have been.

I think one of the reasons for this is because the human language doesn’t do the subject justice.

If you have never been sky diving, like myself, all the photos, videos or personal tales told of its incredible rush or feelings means nothing to the person who has never jumped out of a plane.  The only way I can understand the rush and feeling is to do it myself. Its personal.

(For the record, no, I will not)

Yes,  there is John the Apostle on the Isle of Patmos who had the blessing of seeing the heavenly city and tries to make it as real as possible in his description. I think John would be the first to admit that human words just can’t do the subject justice.

The point I am trying to make is this. Although I believe that when I die I will go to heaven, how important is it really that I know what heaven is like?

None really, not from where I sit.

Through out my christian life there has been struggle and at my age I think I can safely say that struggle will always be there until I die.

Perhaps we are meant to have that struggle in our lives so that  we have to keep telling ourselves that this place called earth is not our home. That we are just passing through, we are strangers and pilgrims on this earth and we seek a better place. We will never be completely content here.

Our struggle keeps us moving forward (or it should) and to be a constant reminder that we are not to settle down and call this earth our home.

Our home is heaven. Maybe there is a reason most of us don’t know too much about it. Maybe we don’t have too, maybe its one of those mysteries of God that He keeps as a surprise for us when we do finally get to go.

I don’t know but it puts being a stranger and pilgrim on this earth in better perspective.

As for now?

Heaven can wait. But Lord I am on my way.