Monday, September 28, 2015

Moving Through Heaven (Section One, That Is)

(Last week I invited 21 of my friends from across the country to join me (and each other) in more purposeful dialogue, accountability, and intellectual stimulation.  Several of them have taken me up on the offer, including our first project.  That project is reading (or re-reading) Randy Alcorn’s monumental book, Heaven.  We’re taking it one section a week (25-40 pages or so) with a view to finishing the book by Christmas.  As part of the conversation, I’m occasionally posting observations and prayer items here on the blog like the one I print below.  Those friends involved in the partnership can respond to my notes and/or write up their own via email, phone, and posts on their own blog or a Facebook page. Maybe you’d like to join us?)

Okay, guys. Out of the 21 that I invited to be a part of this project, almost half have accepted. That’s terrific. May God use our reading of Heaven to encourage us, improve our serve, and increase our present joy as we live more heavenly-minded.

A few observations on re-reading the first section (Chapters 1-4) of Heaven by Randy Alcorn:

* John 14:3 emphasizes that being heavenly-minded is a crucial antidote to fear. Therefore, thinking of heaven as God’s secure gift to us steels our heart against such fearsome things as poverty, persecution, the rigors of illness and age, alienation, crushing disappointment, undeserved slander, etc.  Thinking of (and yearning for) heaven puts everything in correct perspective.  I find this of tremendous comfort and help.

* “God never gives up on His original plan for human beings to dwell on earth.”

* Alcorn’s review of how little attention theologians have paid to the Bible’s teaching is really something.  Our spiritual forefathers have given us much treasure…but they really messed us up with this critical oversight.

* The ignorance and apathy that so many Christians display towards heaven are among Satan’s most dastardly accomplishments.

* Heaven is not beyond our imagination!  That’s a wonderful truth, one that will steady us in hard times as we think, pray, praise, and witness.  Writes Alcorn in Chapter 2, “Rather than ignore our imagination, I believe we should fuel it with Scripture, allowing it to step through the doors that Scripture opens.”

* From page 20.  “Set your hearts” in Colossians 3:1 is zeteo and it’s in the present tense.  “It is a diligent, action, single-minded investigation.”

* Fidelity to God’s Word requires an acceptance of the awful reality of Hell.

* D.L. Moody’s quotes at the beginning of Chapter 4 are priceless.  So too are other quotes that Alcorn cites in the introduction and section one – quotes by Lewis, Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, McGrath, Eliot, etc.

* Guys, this week the prayer I’ve been lifting up to the Lord on my behalf and yours was simply that we would all be heavenly-minded warriors for our King, that earthly priorities and attitudes in our lives would be influenced more and more by heaven’s sharp reality.

For this next week, my prayer is a) that heaven will become an ever-escalating delight and comfort in our present circumstances, b) that God gives us opportunities to share with others what we’re learning about Heaven, and c) that we will wisely invest our time and talents in heavenly pursuits.