The Scenic Route home: pt 4

and all Joe’s angel servants and his family couldn’t wait to see him any longer.

The angel and Joe came through a portal in the universe to what seemed the end of all the galaxies but one enormous bright star outside of the rest of the known universe.  The closer they got, Joe realized that it was not a giant star at all, but a giant planet-home.

The angel did a flyby of the giant   planet, circling around it, trying to understand the opulent colors of thousands he could never see on earth.

When he looked back towards the universe which he perceived to be south he saw the entire universe, 200 billion spun galaxies, behind the planet of light.

Heaven was far more indescribable than Joe would have comprehended on earth. He knew this land was more dazzling with living light that all of galaxies put together and it never hurt his eyes, which continued to amaze him.  Plus there were no shadows in his new world, no darkness at all.

The place where his God ,lived was a beautiful diamond, seemingly disguised as a planet with a trillion colors, not clashing but reflecting everywhere  and off everthing in perfect symmetry and order.

As they landed at the pearl gates of the city, embedded with every kind of precious stone, Joe noticed the size of the wonderful city.  It was 1500 miles east, west and south and also 1500 miles high just like it said in the book of Revelation.

He extolled the LORD, praising him over and over again, then saying, “I made it, I made it, I made it!” There were angels everywhere, but he somehow knew that the ones before him on marbled stairs had been personally assigned to him.  

Then he saw glorious light way at the top of those stairs which he knew was the source of all light in the universe. It was Jesus. The angels parted a path for him, praising God as he ran up the stairs to meet his Savior, face to face.

When he finally hugged the King of Kings, no experience in human existence could compare. He was eternally safe and secure where no one would ever hurt him again.

Joe saw penetrating and loving eyes staring back at him, eyes that were endless in wisdom, power and understanding. When he saw the holes in Jesus’s hands and feet, tears flooded his face, but Jesus wiped them away tenderly.

“I did it just for you, Joe” the LORD said with a smile that warmed Joe’s heart.

“You served me well, Son. You have made me proud because you have followed and accomplished my perfect plan I had for you, my son. Your reward will be greater than you can comprehend-it will take you all of eternity to understand the treasures and rewards I have for you here.” 

“Thank you, LORD. I don’t deserve any of it,” Joe said in tears of joy as he look down at streets of gold.

“You are an ant starring up at a mountain range.  Of course you didn’t deserve it- all humans deserve Hell, but the gift of God is eternal life through his Son. You trusted your life in my hands and became a martyr for me in the end and for that, you will share a seat with me on my Father’s Throne in one of the highest places in Heaven.  You shall be a great king here Joe, ruling many under the King of kings” 
 
The LORD looked up to the Throne and his Father with great love and then back to Joe and said one final thing to him.
 
“As you can see Joe, many of your family is here to greet you and you shall discover wonders untold here.  I want you to know that I heard all your prayers in that break room clearly and because of those prayers, your death was not in vein.  I was fully able to save you from the wild mob, but because I allowed you to lay down your life for them, I now have worked it out that in the near future that your entire plant will be saved because of your good work that I was allowed to do through your submission to me.  Also, I have put it in the hearts of your company leaders that it is to be renamed after you because of your great love for your fellow man and for me and my word.”
 
He smiled again, “Enter into the joy of the LORD.” The Universe Maker started clapping and all of Heaven thundered. Joe walked into paradise understanding that this was just the beginning of discoveries, treasures and riches in this place, but that he would continue to increase in everything good throughout eternity.

The Scenic route home: Pt 3

If there was a ground, Joe’s mouth surley would have hit it. The angel announced again, proudly, “Behold, the glory of God! The Eagle Nebula. The dust plumes in this Nebula rise 50 trillion miles high.” As the angel flew me past this breath taking site, Joe knew that one day he would come back to explore this awesome expanse of this nebula and all its wonders. He wondered how he could even began to comprehend this awesome site, but he realized he had a new body now that was capable of understanding volumes more than he ever could back on earth. It was such a breathtaking site that it caused him to well up inside.

This is true eye candy for men, he thought to himself.

The angel begun to explain the story behind the grandiose site as they flew by. He told Joe that when he and the innumerable angel host saw Jesus create the universe.  He said the LORD had taken special attention to making this nebula as grand as man’s mind could possibly grasp because he knew that it would be well studied and a favorite on earth.

They flew past so many magnificent galaxies, nebulas, stars and solar systems that it seemed that each one they passed seemed to outweigh the previous in glory, but all had untold beauty and order. Joe even got to see Haley’s comet up close, which also blew his socks off. It all just hurt his mind to even try and comprehend the power, majesty, glory and dominion behind the One who made it all, let alone the fact that this universe would be his play-ground. He would be able to explore these wonders throughout all eternity and still never be able to even begin to get to the end of God.

They flew past an elegant nebula that was hundreds of light years across. It reminded Joe of a Picasso painting, but of course though, Picasso didn’t have anything on the Artist of the Cosmos. The Cosmos Artist used colors that Picasso could’ve never even seen, let alone use or dream they existed.  The blues, reds, and oranges were off the charts in beauty.  The Cosmos Artist had a great paint brush that could scan millions of light years across a galaxy in one broad stroke of paint , showing off His glory. Joe knew his Father had the right to show off the billions of masterpieces he had made, for he was the Almighty.

The angel explained to him, “The tour must come to an end because the Universe Maker…..

The Scenic route home: Pt 2

A thousand kicks and punches pummeled the face and body of the old man.  As he writhed in agony with shockwaves of sharp pain shooting from every pain sensor in his body, he started to convulse. His face was no longer recognizable.  His nose was noticeabaly broken and his eyes had rolled back in his head. He laid on the ground in misery, his speech slurred as he tried to force out one final breath, “I….I…I forgive you.”

Unfortunately, one too many kicks to the head had caused his brain to rupture in aneurysm.

As the old man’s heart slowed to a standstill, he noticed the sounds of sirens far off. To him it seemed odd that he was hearing these sounds, when by the time they actually got to him, his body would be no more than an empty vessel that use to house a man of God.

He knew it was his time.

Traveling through a glorious tunnel of light and colors, Joe realized he had taken his first breath on the other side of life.  The tunnel was a parquet of dazzling-vivid colors of  green, blue, purple, mauve, yellow and a thousand other colors that no man on earth had ever seen before. There was even black. Yes, black, that was dark, yet filled with indescribable light. It had always been his favorite color, but he assumed it would be no more in Heaven because it was a color always associated with sin and death back on the earth.  The scene was  more beautiful than any he had ever seen on earth, blessing him immeasurably.

The most gorgeous colored balls whizzed by him showing him his life in great detail, what was done, good and bad in the body. The balls were stunning and glorious and he somehow knew that no diamond on earth could even come close in value. Sixty-three years sped before his eyesight in a millisecond. In this new realm, time was non-existent, but yet he somehow understood on earth it would have taken hundreds of years for this same detailed and complex, informal judgment to be completed. Every decision he had made for his heavenly Father, every decision that had motivated him to go against the norm and stand on the bible was all written in the books, seeing each detail in the colorful balls, including his final prayers in the break-room and acts of heroism before the angry mob.   The light at the end of the tunnel was so brilliant that he knew he would have been annihilated with his old body. He was entering into the Shekinah glory of the King of kings.

As Joe continued upwards through the glorious tunnel and the last ball had past by, he noticed he was taking  a detour, as he went through the colorful folds of the tunnel wall. It was at this time that he noticed a mammoth angel who must have been at least twelve feet tall flying him through space. “Behold, the wonders of God’s universe, he promised to show you on your way home,” the angel said with a voice that thundered. Joe finally remembered: It was the scenic route home. He forgot about that prayer so many years ago, but his LORD had not.
 
Long ago when he was eight years old he had asked the LORD to see all his wonders of creation, the dazzling splendor, the awesome brilliance and vibrant color of his art work as Creator on the canvas of the universe. 
 
They came upon a beautiful galaxy that looked like a colorful Sombrero Mexican hat, which he noticed was the sombrero galaxy he asked God to see up close when he was little.
The angel continued, “We are 50,000,000 light years from earth now. This galaxy is 82,000 light years wide and contains 779 billion suns like earth’s or bigger.” As the angel flew him past this galaxy, he couldn’t help but boggle at the mind how photos of this galaxy on earth had not done this glorious scene justice.
 
The scenic route was more wonderful than he could have ever dreamed–stars were not only  more alive in his new existence, but they were almost, yes–speaking to him of the magnificence and splendor and dominion of the One who brought them all into existence for the opportunity to declare His glory. The angel, knowing Joe’s thoughts, reminded him of Psalm 19:1-5 and he began to well up with the type of joy, peace and love that he knew was impossible back on earth and that would only heighten in ecstasy each new breath he took.  Then,  moments later they were in a different part of the universe beholding a more spectacular site….

The Scenic route home: Pt 1

The crowd from hell beat the old man senseless.They steadied their eyes over Joseph Potter’s  broken and tattered body and watched him breathe his last breath.  The mob of union workers realized they had just killed one of their own managers of the company in their blind rage, but also one who followed his God closely. Joseph always did what was right, and today had been no different as he had stood up for one of the union employees who had crossed the picket line do to little mouths at home.

But Joe was a man who just talked too much about his God and His Good book and this time his God, apparently could not save him.

The hell crowd was not only in shock to the fact that they just had beaten a man to death who was about to retire in a few months to the easy life, but beat to death one who had just stood up for an employee who hated him to the core- from his black skin to his “in your face religious beliefs”.

 

Earlier that day in the picket line, Mark Dolton had decided enough was enough.  He couldn’t stand out there another minute while his three little precious children suffered at home, along with a wife who was at the end of her rope. Three years of marriage,  three kids and no money was putting a burden on his young marriage and he had to get the elephant off his chest.

Those on the picket line got incensed when Mark had all of a sudden dropped his picket sign like a bad habit.  Stone faced,  he walked passed the other picketers to the front doors of the factory to resume his regular workload.

Everyone knew Mark had never been a man of his word, constantly stirring up dissension, breaking company policies and daring others to follow his lead.  He also admitted cheating on his wife several times because she  was always  too busy  talking with friends on Facebook,  according to his story.

Marks crossing the line caused tempers to flare and threats to spew, even over to his family.  He was scared, knowing he could’ve been seriously hurt by his fellow colleagues.

Joe loved God deeply and frequently told the union workers that he had loved them like his own sons and daughters, which bothered them because he always did things by the book and lived by his Bible, causing many to be in a state of ambivalence towards him.
He had made an oath to God to pray for the strikers and their families over his lunch hour daily since it had started nine weeks prior, but it seemed nothing was happening, only getting worse.
That lunch hour as Joe had been praying five floors up he heard a major ruckus boiling below and noticed everyone surrounding and becoming more hostile to one particular worker-Mark Fenton, his employee, but enemy to everything Joe had stood for in his life.
But it didn’t keep the old man from shooting down the stairs like a track star to rescue the man who had everything to lose on that day.
As the crowd started gesturing, swinging signs and throwing anything they could pick up at Mark, Joe jumped in front of him like a father would his son, put his head down in his chest and shielded him from the crowd. Mark was amazed and shocked at his rescuer.
Nevertheless, Joe quickly walked him to safety to the front doors of the factory while putting himself at  grave risk.

When the old man walked back outside, the strikers had gotten even more visibly riled up. They hurled insults at him like arrows at a cowboy,  calling him the N-word and every foul word in the book,  mixed with his precious LORD’s name.

Nevertheless,  he had seen it as another opportunity to share about God’s love for them.  He shouted firmly but lovingly to the eighty or so picketers how God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believed in him would never die, but have eternal life.

The old man was full of compassion, as the sun beat down on his dark skin and sweated brow,  the pupils of his eyes full of radiant life and passion as he continued, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners and mortal enemies of the gospel, Jesus Christ died for us. So please, I beg of you, cut Mark some slack, just as the Lord Jesus Christ has done for you and I.”
This put  blazing fire in their eyes– the mob dropped their signs into piles and began charging him like a herd of angry elephants -what happened next was unthinkable.

Love over rough seas

What is agape love from God all about?  This story will shed light on it.  The three men went out on the rowboat that evening to do some fishing.  Mr. Hansen, Jeff, his son and his friend Billy, set off in the rowboat, talking about the past week of their high school graduation ceremonies.

Jeff was excited about going to seminary down in Texas where he would follow his hero, his dad, into the ministry. Mr. Hansen had always been there for him, providing, protecting, always loving him.  He shared the good news with his son at the age of four years old and Jeff had lived faithfully for God ever since.  His dad had taught him how to be a man- how to be responsible and live with character and integrity.  He had walked across the stage last week with academic honors, a man of god, because of his father.

On the other hand, Billy was raised by a single mother. His father abandoned them both while he was just a toddler.  His mother worked all day and night to pay the rent and mounting bills, leaving him to be raised by different baby sitters where he was abused frequently.  His grades suffered and he was an average student on a “good” day. Even though he graduated, it was at the bottom of his class and he couldn’t afford college.
He was full of anger, foul language and had a bad reputation with the ladies.
 He knew nothing of the church or God, for his mother never had the time to bring him to church.  Jeff had tried several times to share Christ since they had met as sophomores on the basketball team, but Billy would have nothing to do with God always saying, “What kind of love does your God have? What, he lets an innocent child go through the type of life I’ve led–Abused, neglected, stricken with grief, abandoned and then he has the audacity to say that he loves me?  No thank you, he can keep his love.”
Mr. Hansen had felt led of the LORD to bring the boys out on Lake Erie for a fishing trip since they both loved it to do it.  It was a sunny morning that day and the conversation had switched from graduation to the deeper issues of life.
As the conversation became more engrossing, the rowboat drifted miles away from shore.  As Mr. Hansen sat back and listened to the boys discussion, he noticed the sky turning dark with storm clouds and that the land was no where in site.
Fear swept over the three men in the little rowboat, as lightning and big waves began to tussle back and forth. A big wave almost capsized the little boat and both Mr. Hansen’s son and Billy, were thrown overboard. Mr Hansen scrambled to look for the life jackets under the tarp, but only found one life preserver instead. The boys were quickly drifting away from the boat and apart from one another as the winds picked up in velocity.
Mr. Hansen had to make a quick decision, which boy to save. Both young men hollered for the life preserver. Mr Hansen thew it out….shocked, Billy grabbed the ring, as Mr. Hansen reeled him in.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw his own son’s gaze way off in the distance. With no hope or chance of reaching him by now, Mr. Hansen’s tears were streaming down his face, mixed with the rain pummeling him. He forced out words that broke him to his very core and yelled, “I love you, son–I’ll…see you soon, son, ….I’ll see you… soon.”
He saw terrible fear in his son’s eyes, but all of a sudden, he  saw a bright and strange flash of lightning or so he thought; an unearthly brilliance around his son in the treacherous waters.  He then noticed a peace that graced his son’s face, a love expressed in his eyes that was unexplainable.
Jeff waived his hand in the air, as if accepting the situation for what it was, bidding his father and good friend, farewell. He floated there for a few moments as if someone or something were holding him up. And then, as quickly as it all happened, he vanished under the tumultuous waters.
Billy stared at the space in the sea that had once occupied his best friend and then back at Mr. Hansen’s sobbing convulsions. What had just happened? Why would he save me over his own son, Billy thought.  He was unable to grasp the meaning of the situation, as he also began to weep uncontrollably, knowing he could never understand.
Five years later, Mr.Hansen had taken Billy in as his own, taking him down to Texas and paying for his seminary school.  During that five years, Mr Hansen saw a young man who simply fell in love with God and followed him wherever he called.
Billy had joy, peace and the faith that he had always  sought after, but never could find. Mr.Hansen had been the father that Billy never had.  He had seen kindness andcompassion in Mr. Hansen the last five years that he knew was not normal for humans to have.
He had seen the love of a father, who gave up his very own son for a wretch in sin like him which he still, five years later, had not grasped and knew he never would. Mr. Hansen had tried to explain it in the Word of God several times since the incident, but Billy just could not comprehend it.
But it was today, fifteen years later, the pastor of the three thousand person congregation sat down in his office to write out the last sentence of his message to end his series on the Unconditional Love ofGod.
A watershed moment hit him and tears began to cascade down his face, as he remembered back to that day over rough seas, the love between a father and son–a father doing what he must in sacrificing his son because there were no other options to save his friends lost soul. Billy finally got a revelation of God’s relentless, unfailing, never-ending, agape love  from the gospel of the crossas the final sentence of his sermon rang outloudly, again and again in his heart, “No greater love has any man that he laydown his life for a friend.”
How does this short story help you grasp the scripture that, “no greater love is there than a man lay down his life for a friend”?

 

An Ant staring up at a Mountain

If  I could stand before the Creator of the universe, Jesus, what would it be like? Would I be scared, would I cry, would I be awe struck?  To go from the busyness and burdens and cares of everyday life, to  standing in front of the King of kings will surely be a watershed moment.  To understand the gravity of  that day, I could only  explain what it might be in this simple short story below.

The six-legged creature held the food high in the air, proud of his own strength, as he lifted the caterpillar, five times bigger than himself, on to his back. The work of the colony always kept him busy gathering food, which was a regular part of his life. However, today was different. He seemed so tired of the norm, so tired of the same old home, the same old scenery; his life was in a rut. In his heart he longed for something more. Whenever he looked up,  he always saw the same ole’ thick pine cone trees, leaves and branches innumerable, that hid the sky.

He and the other one hundred-thousand of his comrades ruled this place, so they thought. Second in command, behind the Queen, he had lived a long and productive life, most of his peers looked up to him. He was a warrior ant that protected the colony and reported directly to the Queen. He knew he was coming near the end of his life for it had been a good seven weeks and not many had lived passed the eighth or ninth week, except for the Queen. He wanted that kind of life, a life that would go on forever or least not yet have to click out his lights.God vs man

There was just something in him, making him want to explore more of this domain. In the past, the Queen had told everyone that there was much more inside the forest to explore but also something outside of it, full of grandeur.

With the Queens words and an already ingrained conscience of something out there far greater than himself and his colony,  he set off to investigate, but with great skepticism. After walking for some time in an area he had never seen before, he felt alive in a different way. He saw fruits and berries that neither he nor any of the rest of the colony saw before. There were other creatures and plants he had never seen. He looked around with amazement: It was as if he was in an entirely different universe.

Then he noticed a different kind of light up ahead, a light that seemed uninterrupted by the dark shadows. The closer to the edge of the forest he got, the brighter it became, until finally he made it to the end of all the trees. When he lifted up his eyes, the ant beheld a great expanse of light and something no less than glorious in the middle of that beautiful light. When he beheld the behemoth of a rock, words were of no more use to him.

It was what the Queen had talked about, but no one had believed her. It was what she had described as a glorious mountain, but he had also been an unbeliever that something bigger and better than himself and the colony really ever existed.  She had always encouraged them to explore for themselves, but they had always scoffed at her.

The glory, the beauty, the majesty of the scene, made him want to well up because of the neglect in his own heart of such a wonderful truth. He knew, the peace that canme from within of this glorious discovery, surely could not be found anywhere else in his universe.

Suddenly his smallness hit him, in that he was nothing, the mountain was everything. It was full of some kind of grace and royal-omnipotence. It was high and lifted up, far above all other creation, where he was low and the smallest thing in the forest. How could he have missed it, he had lived so long, but at that moment realized he had not lived at all, but only existed in a land of shadows. It saddened him that only now he recognized the folly of his life. But now he had seen the light and was in the light and his heart recognized that it was good.

He would not waste another day; he would live as he had never lived before.   He would go back to share his spectacular discovery that the Queen was right, and that she shared it with us in good faith, knowing most if not all would reject the truth of her discovery.  Maybe some more would believe his story and be transformed by the truth like he was and she was before him.

Although he was nothing more than an ant staring up at a mountain range, he knew he would celebrate his new found discovery of this majestic mountain and all it represented in his life, for the rest of his life.

And that is just on a small scale of what it must possibly be like to stand before our marvelous Creator. How does your problem, trial, or your own personal pride compare to The LORD God Almighty now? To help others, please share your thoughts and comments with the community.