Posts Tagged ‘heaven’

This year, I am going to post creative challenges from God’s Word, the idea is simple, read the passage and create something based on it.


Your Picture of Heaven


It’s the ultimate destination of every believer in Jesus Christ. How do you picture it?

While I’m on this subject of rest, (I have about an hour before heading out) there is something to be considered. When one day you walk through the gate of Heaven, remember this. You won’t have entered on your own merit. You won’t be going in because you were in any way deserving. You won’t be there because you earned it. The only way into our forever reward is grace. You get Heaven because you received it as a gift from the one who knows you best and loves you most. Heaven is a gift, not a payment for services rendered.

Why do I share this? I share it because there is a great temptation to try to earn what has been freely given and this can really skew our view of the work we do, not to mention our view of our heavenly Father. Your works aren’t going to be what gets you through the gate, so watch your motivation. When we start to feel deserving, we get into trouble.

Does that mean our works are unimportant? No, not in the least. Our works are acts of gratitude for unmerited favor. They are a way of showing how grateful we are for what God has done for us. They are acts of love and obedience to a God who loves beyond measure.

The only way to heaven in Jesus, period. So do what you do with a grateful heart, to the best of your God-glorifying ability, realizing there is eternal life in paradise for all who believe and when we get there it won’t be because we deserve it.

Heaven is a gift. It is utterly and completely


There’s a moment every creative lives for. It’s the moment when the piece of work is finished and the vision, becomes reality. There’s nothing better than being able to touch what once only existed in our minds.

In a few months, I am anticipating a new reality. By the grace of God, I’m going to be getting a new title, one I have longed for for quite some time. That title… Pappy. My daughter-in-law is carrying my first grandchild. I must confess that even now, I see him and me fishing by the pond on their farm. I can see me teaching him to build models, telling him about Jesus and teaching him to draw pictures. I can see my refrigerator becoming a gallery to some very precious art and I’m kind of hoping a few of them say “I love pappy” in the way only children can write it. I try not to let the anticipation go too far… he might not like to draw… but I can’t help it. This much I know though, regardless on that day he becomes reality is going to be a blessed day for me.

Of course there is another anticipation that stands before all of us believers, that day when heaven becomes our reality and while I don’t always feel ready for that day, because it so feels like there are many more people to be reached and more work to be done, I am also really aware of how awesome it will be when it’s time. It’s part of the blessed hope we receive in Jesus. One day, we believers will get to see the world as God intended it, untainted and perfect with no more tears or pain. The ultimate anticipation of the ultimate reality.

But here’s the thing, Our creations are already real to us. It’s why we take the risks it takes to make them and show them to the world. So they can see what we are already blessed to see. My grandson, he’s already real too and while he may not be at all the way I imagine him, he’s already exactly how God imagined him and when he is ready to make his arrival, I know he will surpass what I imagined and that just makes the anticipation better. And friends, no matter what you think heaven will be, no matter what you’re anticipating, the reality will surpass it. Oh and by the way, it’s already real too.

In all these things, the best thing we can do is allow the reality in our minds to drive us to do the best we can to prepare for that blessed day when imagination becomes reality…

In anticipation…

If I get to heaven and find out stories like the garden of Eden and Noah’s ark were allegories and not historical fact, I won’t be disappointed.

But Jesus speaks of them as if they were fact.

If I get to heaven and find out it took God more than six days to make the universe, I won’t be asking for a refund.

But Jesus seems to have thought it happened this way and He was there.

If I get to heaven and find out I misinterpretted a passage on sin, or deprived myself of something I didn’t have to because I wanted to obey God, I won’t feel deprived. I also won’t be too upset if I lovingly tried to get someone else to repent because of what I believed Jesus or the law to say, even if I was wrong.

After all Jesus never sinned against God.

If I get to heaven and find out I loved someone I didn’t have to, I don’t think I’ll regret it.

Because Jesus told me to love my friends, family, brothers and sisters in Christ, neighbors and even my enemies and Jesus loves at least one person He doesn’t have to… me.

If I get to heaven and find out Jesus wasn’t the only way to get there, well that will surprise me, (because the Bible says very clearly that He is) but I won’t be too worried because my hope is that I didn’t condemn anyone and I will have lovingly tried to get people to enter through the only way I know.

If I get to heaven and find out I didn’t have everything right here on earth, I won’t even be surprised because I am, well… me.

I try to follow the Bible because I believe it’s God’s Word. I follow the Bible because it
points the way to Jesus and I follow the Bible because it’s author followed it unfailingly.

If I get to heaven, it will be because of Jesus.

If I’m wrong about any of these things, then I am, but until I get to heaven, I’ll take the WORD at HIS word.

In the Beginning was the WORD and the Word was with God and the Word was God… John 1:1

I’m convinced part of the reason people don’t seem terribly interested in Christianity is because they don’t have a great picture of this place we call Heaven. I know this is true because even I as a pastor had some images that were not biblically accurate. In preparation for this message I read the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn and it really turned my image around. It made me want to paint a better more biblical picture of heaven. This message and the corresponding painting are the result. Check it out!

Bible Reading Guide
An important part of following God is knowing what He wants and a great way to know what He wants is to read His Word. Follow this plan and you will finish reading the Bible in a year.
Judges 11-12, Ruth 3
Judges 13-14, Ruth 4
You can also download your own chart here.

Sketches from The New Earth and the New Jerusalem

Sketches from The New Earth and the New Jerusalem

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking and painting at the Ephrata Church of the Brethren on the topic of heaven. Above are the sketches of the images I did at the two services. The one on the left depicts the New Jerusalem and the other the throne room of God with the river and the tree of life as described in Revelation 21 and 22. The message I preached will be posted next week.

I wanted to share a thought from the message with you this morning because I believe many are like I was. We want to go to heaven when we leave this world, but we’re not as excited about the prospect as we know we should be. I think it may be because we have an incorrect image of heaven. The good news is this: it’s a lot better than you think. Many of us have this image of an eternal church service of floating around as a disembodied Spirit but the Bible teaches that our bodies will be resurrected and that God will redeem creation with a new heaven and a new earth (for more details see Romans chapter 8). This opens a new realm of possibilities.”

Artists we have a golden opportunity in all of this. We can paint a better picture of heaven. We can paint it as described in Scripture and we can use it to point people to the One who made it possible.

Here’s the conclusion I came to:

“I have to tell you, deciding what to paint was the hardest part of getting this whole thing together. First because my whole image of heaven was reworked. I began to see that the best thing I could do was a few images from the scriptures, because other than that it would be to somehow create images of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen only better and the most joyful moments you’ve ever experienced, only more joyful. That’s when it hit me, the most beautiful things we see on earth now are just a taste of what God has in store in the new heaven and the new earth and your best, most joyful moments here on earth are just a taste of what God has planned. If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, your worst day on earth is as close to hell as you will ever get and from there things will only get better and better and better.”

Bible Reading Guide
An important part of following God is knowing what He wants and a great way to know what He wants is to read His Word. Follow this plan and you will finish reading the Bible in a year.
Joshua 22; Mark 16; Psalm 41
You can also download your own chart here.

Click the Image to get Randy Alcorn's book Heaven on Amazon

Click the Image to get Randy Alcorn's book Heaven on Amazon

I’m reading Randy Alcorn’s book on heaven and I found two quotes that would be of particular interest to the readers of this blog.

First is one on Culture in heaven… Alcorn writes:
“Art, music, literature, crafts, technology, clothing, jewelry, education, food preparation—all are part of society or culture, which is the creative accomplishment of God’s image-bearers. Human creations are an extension of God’s own creative works because he created us to reflect him by being creators. Mankind glorifies God by taking what God made from nothing and shaping it into what is for mankind’s good and God’s glory. The entire universe—including angels and living creatures in Heaven—should look at our creative ingenuity, our artistic accomplishments, and see God in us, his image bearers.”

The second relates to the symbols in the Chinese alphabet and their revelation of God.
“Each culture has a memory of a time when people knew about God. Consider, for instance, the ancient Chinese language. The character meaning “create” consists of other characters for “speak,” “dust,” “life,” and “walk.” The character meaning “devil” consists of “secret,” “man,” and “garden.” The character meaning “boat” combines those of “vessel,” “eight,” and “people,” highly suggestive of Noah’s ark. Chinese believers consider these and many other examples as evidence that their five-thousand-year-old language goes back to a time when biblical truths were well known in their culture.”

What do you think?

AMOKArts Heaven Challenge

AMOKArts Heaven Challenge

May 1, 2011, Lord willing, I will be preaching and painting for two services at a good friend’s church. The topic is heaven. They recently finished a series on heaven based on the scriptures and Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven. In preparation for the message, I have been reading the book and it is really challenging my perceptions. There are some things in the book that I am not sure I totally agree with and yet he has scripture to back it up so it’s taking me deeper into study of the Word, which is really cool.

My mission for these two services is to create an image of heaven, as informed by the scriptures. As I mull over just what this image will be, physical, metaphorical, etc. I had a thought, “Why not open it up to all my artists friends online?” So what do you think, what is your image of heaven. Create an image, write a poem a short story, whatever, post it to the web and send me a link. This is open to artists of any discipline.

You, of course, retain all rights to your piece but by submitting it you are allowing me to post the image on the site with full credit to you and to use it in my presentation on heaven. Any takers? Any questions, contact me at