Looking at the trees today, adorned in gold and fiery red, I wondered what the trees would look like in heaven. Will the decidious trees lose their leaves periodically? Will there be natural seasons? What would happen to a tree if it stayed warm all the time? We know that there will be no sun, because Jesus will be the light of the city. Revelation 22:2 speaks of the trees bearing fruit monthly. "Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime." -Martin Luther
Our only answer is that heaven awaits us. We know that the dead in Christ will precede us. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a
shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead
in Christ shall rise first." I have a few friends waiting in heaven. These friends are special because they blessed me during their time on Earth, and helped lay the foundation for my walk with God. The pointed the way before their death, and now they have gone on to their reward. Since it would be a very satisfying thing to be able to say, "Thank you for giving to the Lord..." I will say thank you to ten friends who have gone on to heaven before me.
1) Sister Burgess- I never knew her first name, just what everybody called her. Then again, I was 5 years old. But, I was old enough to remember our house had burned to the ground not long before I met her. Her Sunday School class was my first experience with church, that I remember at least. She had us sit in a circle of chairs. I was always short anyways, so my feet didn't even hang off the chair, but stuck straight out. I was looking at her eyes. They were so pretty and bright, as if she had light inside of her. I realized that while I was looking at her eyes, she was having each child in the circle say a Bible verse from memory. I had not read the Bible yet. I never spoke much anyways. I didn't have to worry, because when she came to me, she must have realized by my silence that I didn't know any verses. She said, "Say, 'God is love.'" I can't believe I answered her, but the words sounded so beautiful to hear her say them, and I said them after her. She was quite old, or at least she seemed ancient to me. Each week I would wait for her to provide the words again, though she always chose the same ones for me, and I certainly remembered them. I just wanted to hear her say them again. I could see that she knew God. I decided right away that I wanted to meet Him. Thanks to Sister Burgess for showing me the light of God and creating in me a thirst to know Him.
2)Sister Bolenbaucher- Fast forward 8 years, to the point just after I had decided at 13 that if there really WAS a God, He was so far away that I would never know Him. Paul Bolenbaucher's wife was a dear lady and I could see that if anybody was certain to go to heaven it was her. I've mentioned her husband already in an earlier post. I remember hearing her speak in a district ladies' retreat, saying "God never changes." I could see that she must have changed a lot over the years of her life, and I was certain that she had been alive long enough to measure that God had not changed in her lifetime. That seemed to carry a lot of clout with me, her testimony. I believed it meant something because she said it did. I was saddened to hear of her death, and I remember many people from around the state came to her memorial service in Georgia. I think her funeral was in Texas though, if memory serves me correctly. Many people loved her. She is certain to be surrounded by friends in heaven. I certainly can't wait until I see her there one day.
3)Lettie Cooley- Sister Cooley was another dear lady who I knew in McDonough. She treated my kids like they were her grandkids, which she did all of the kids I think. She was a sweet, kind soul and a prayer warrior. I used to love to see her and Kate pray together. I remember them praying at a watchnight vigil service and the site struck me then of how it would look to see them shouting on streets of gold one day. And, they are waiting on me I know. Thanks Sister Cooley!
4)Kate Allen- Kate was half blind, and loved to have me read the Bible to her. She had a close relationship with God, and often people would look at us when I drove her down the street, because sometimes she would start praying in the car, in the Spirit. :) She just spent much of her day praying, because she couldn't really get out much. Usually when I went over it was earlier in the morning. But, one day I went by in the evening and surprised her. When I walked into her living room, where she had been sitting all evening praying, I could feel the Spirit of God heavy and thick, present in the room, as if God Himself came down to listen to her words in the evening. It was like Cornelious whose prayers reached up to heaven. I will never forget the warmth of God's presence there around her. I thank God for the chance to know her.
5)Dean Woods- Dean just passed away a month ago. She was my Aunt-in-Law, a church planter, and a prayer warrior. I learned much about contentment and keeping my mouth shut from her example. I never heard her say a negative word in my life. She was at camp meeting the year she woke up and found her husband passed away in his sleep. She remained a widow until her death. She worshipped God like a young woman, though she was about 90 went she died. She had took care of her mother up until her death near her nineties, with her in her seventies. I believe God honors those who honors their parents with long life. I remember her best with her hands raised in worship. They usually were, most of the times I saw her. I can't picture her any other way in heaven, but with her arms raised worshipping Jesus.
6)Louise Mitchell- Louise was Dean's sister, and my Mother-in-law. Her and Dean lived through the Great Depression. I suppose that's where they learned to not complain. We have so much and we still complain. Odd. But, Louise was the Proverbs 31 woman in the flesh. I can think of no other way to describe her. She spent her life taking care of her family. Her husband died at home with Alzeimers. She cared for him herself until his death, refusing to put him in a nursing home. I noticed she went to a nursing home before her death, as did Dean in the last three months of her life. This seems to be the way it is for people who are always taking care of others. No one is left to take care of them. I don't understand this.
7)Grandmaw Wilson- Grandmaw was Dean and Louise's Mother, and she wasn't as soft and sweet as they were. She was a spitfire, and seemed to have the authority of Methuselah. She didn't mince words either, but I remember her getting onto adults in her family for not doing the right thing. She would tell them they needed to do the right thing and get a job. Things like that. She didn't sugar coat it either. She took the Bible seriously, and seemed to be able to cut right to the heart of an issue, with God'ly wisdom. You couldn't pull the wool over her eyes. I am thankful that she taught me to have gumption. They say, all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. This is what makes the story of Joe Paterno so sad. He did nothing while boys were being raped. Grandmaw would have had the guts to call the police on her own child, if he was commiting a crime like that. I am thankful for spirited women like her.
8)Claude Smith- He was the pastor of the church in Rome when I was in college. "The worst battles are fought from inside the church, and from inside hearts." I heard Claude Smith say this more than once. Years later he died while the church was in the middle of a great revival. He was a good man and served the Lord with wisdom. He was my pastor for a number of years, and I remember that he was always smiling. He laughed and joked a lot too. He seemed to be enjoying life, often joked about the fact that he had four kids. I spent a lot of time as a young married wife at their home and we played Trivia Pursuit and talked until late at night sometimes. I am thankful that I had a chance to learn from his exuberance for life, and love for God.
9)Emily Locke Nix- My paternal grandmother seemed to me to be a saint. Though my father abandoned us when I was two, and my mother was pregnant, his parents loved us. They told me themselves he was not right for what he had done. They loved to have us visit, and we did once a year. The weeks we spent there every summer were like vacations in paradise. She was sweet and kind. She was the best cook in the world and used to can and preserve foods which she stocked in a cellar outside. They were farmers. She made goat's buttermilk. Papaw used to laugh and joke so much but she would just smile. He would ask me while she was frying chicken, "You know what part of the chicken I like best?" Then he would wink at her and smile, and she would look embarrassed as he laughed and answered, "The legs, the breast, and all the rest!" He was a real character, but it was later when I was older before this "inside joke" was clearly funny to me. I just liked the way he laughed and she blushed when he said it. But, I remember going to church with her. She loved the Lord and I know she will be in heaven when I get there. I am thankful for having had such a wonderful person in my life. I miss her. She passed away 25 years ago, and her son didn't come to her funeral. That stood out to me. Now, he is old and alone in the world somewhere. He abandoned his children, and his parents. Now, he has no family. That is really sad, but that's why you should love your children and love your parents. They are your very life.
10)Brother Long- I believe his first name was Homer. But, he was the father of a large family. I remember they liked church so much that they didn't just go to our church, their home church, but usually visited revivals around the area every other night of the week. They were always in church somewhere it seemed every night. But, he was cleaning the church yard up one weekend, and was injured acidentally while blowtorching the lid off of a steel drum to dispose of it, from what I was told. He died working for the Lord. I wrote a poem inspired by his death.
A Beginning Somewhere
There is a way that all shall go,
A path that all shall follow;
There is an end to every life,
A resting place for the soul.
Yet for every ending of life,
There is a beginning somewhere;
For every ending in sorrow,
There's a beginning of joy up there.
When one fine morning I walk that land,
When I'm done with all earthly cares;
As I stand by the river of life I'll see,
There is a beginning somewhere.
I hope your heart is blessed in some way by hearing about these special people who have gone on to heaven before me. And, I hope that they inspire you like they have me to want to join them in Glory one day. Tomorrow, I will share thanks for 10 of the students that I have taught who affected me greatly. Then you will see why I can say that children are my reversed heritage.
The Genesis record continues to be credible in our day. The record provided by Genesis is verifiable on many counts. The New Testament contains over 200 references or allusions to Genesis, indicating that the Apostles and Disciples, as well as the Pharisees, Saducees, Jewish leaders, and Jesus Himself accepted the validity of the text.
Science lends credence to the creation account. Evolutionists contend that things of greater complexity derived from things of less complexity. This is purported in the development of intelligent Homo Sapiens from higher primates of the animal kingdom, which in turn developed from lower primates, reptiles, fish, down to a single-celled organism. This single cell developed from a “soupy Sargasso Sea” that formed from gases that appeared from nothing. This line of reasoning is in direct contradiction to the laws of Science. Science shows that intelligent life comes from intelligent life. All creatures reproduce “after their own kind,” as in the Genesis account.
Furthermore, the Big Bang theory supposes that a colossal explosion hurled the planets into their orbits. Of course, it wasn't supposed to be a fast explosion, just some unknown force moving things apart, as the Universe is thought to be ever expanding. Opponents of the theory first called it the "Big Bang" and the name just stuck. We know now that not all the planets or their moons orbit in the same direction, which would defeat the idea of the planets spinning as a result of an explosion. The idea of chance producing a complex universe is as absurd as the idea of a Mercedes Benz being created in the aftermath of a tornado going through a junkyard. Theoretically it could happen. But, would there be gas in the tank to make it go? I think not. In the same way, wildflowers can grow in a field, as fragile objects of beauty deriving apparently from nothing. But, in a hundred years the field of wildflowers will not remain, unless tended by human hands and caused to continue their growth. Living things decay. The earth changes continually, seemingly at the whims of nature. A garden continues to grow because it was planted. The universe continues to spin because it was constructed and hung in space by the Creator.
The universality of the Deluge in Genesis is a fact, based on Non-Biblical evidence (i.e. dating of oldest living things at post-Flood time, marine fossils found on crests of mountains, sudden extinction of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.)
Further, 87 important Biblical words were first mentioned in Genesis, providing strong internal evidence of the validity of this collection of ancient books. The words life, atonement, command, glory, just, impute, mercy, love, light, salvation, and righteousness all appear first in Genesis. This supports the idea that Genesis was the foundation work of the other 65 books of the Bible.
I think the most compelling reason to believe the Genesis record is the stark plainness and simple honesty of the recorded events. The polished omissions of a story weaver are not there. We read succinctly about Jacob’s lies, Sarah’s laughter, Eve’s deception, Noah’s drunkenness, Lot’s incest, Tamar’s adultery, Dinah’s seduction, Miriam’s outrage that her brother married a black woman, and Leah’s lewd accusation to Rachel concerning the mandrakes. These character deficits are not the usual list of accomplishments of a nation’s heroes or the founding fathers of a religion. You never read in the history books about what a drunk U. S. Grant was, but only about his military prowess. The detailed record of such foibles in Genesis, (as well as the accurate list of birth records) gives undeniable credence to the Genesis account.
Furthermore, if we expect to believe that God is capable and willing to redeem us, then we must first believe that He created us. If we cannot accept the accuracy of Genesis miracles, such as creation, then we have no basis for belief in later miracles, such as Jonah and the whale, water into wine, Elijah in the chariot, etc. This is one of the primary reasons Atheists try to deny the credibility of Genesis. They seek to tear out the foundation for the cross.
The Genesis record is important as the foundation of our salvation plan. Genesis 3:15 is called the protoevangelium, which means “the first good news.” Now that man has sinned, God’s grace is evident in that He promised a Messiah who would come later and bruise Satan, destroying his power. There are many types of Christ in Genesis; including Isaac and Joseph. There is no purpose for the cross work of Jesus if Genesis is discredited. This would destroy all our Christology and Soteriology Doctrine. Without a Fall, we would not need a Savior-Hero.
There is evidence that God could have created a universe with “age-dating factors” already in place to support life? After all, it is stated that Adam and Eve were created as adults, not babies. It is reasonable the earth would have appeared aged at Creation. There are fossil records dating back billions of years, as well as human attempts at “carbon-dating” that indicate an aged terra, well beyond the age indicated by creation and the Genesis account. This, as well as the existence and extinction of the dinosaurs indicate an apparent conflict in dating. However, one theory is that God created the earth fully mature, as he did Adam and Eve and the animals. Therefore the mature earth was created with fossils intact, sufficient to support plant life. Another theory conflicts with this idea. This theory contends that the earth was perfect after creation, according to God, and could not have contained death within the earth. The fossils only appear to be so aged because of the devastating effects of the worldwide flood. Both are viable options. Why should they be less viable than current evolutionary thought?
When Enoch was 65 years old, his wife had a son. Enoch named this first son Methuselah, meaning literally, “man of the dart.” That can be interpreted as meaning “God’s Judgement comes next” or “When he dies, Judgement” for two reasons. First, Enoch was a prophet, according to Jude 14, 15. He prophesied of the Second Coming of Christ. Second, the Flood began the year Methuselah died; indicating God seemed to have a promise with Enoch concerning the life of his son. So, it seems Enoch was prophesying of the Flood when he named his son. We know that God relates longevity to adherence to his laws because of Exodus 20:12 and the fact that Enoch (and Elijah) was translated not to even see death because of his walk of faith. Methuselah lived 969 years, the oldest recorded. He must have had a good relationship with God. Its interesting to note that God stayed his hand of judgement for 969 years in loving compassion, just as He now tarries so long before the final judgement. As Peter said, God is “longsuffering,” not willing “that any should perish.”(II Peter 3:9) This lays a foundation of our escatological doctrine. Escatology, the study of things to come, is meaningless if there is no resurrection from the dead.
The Patriarchs were a part of the Genesis Record: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Abraham was born in Ur of the Chaldees, 19 generations after Adam. Terah, his father moved the family to Haran, possibly to separate his family from the prevailing idol worship. Abraham moved the whole family to the Promised Land, after Terah’s death. The word patriarch means “rule by the father,” so these men were the ruling fathers who formed the roots of the nation of Israel. Pulling Genesis out from under the Biblical Canon would quickly unravel the whole Gospel.
A dispensation is a period of time in which God deals with humans in a very distinct and unique way. It refers to the geographical concept of time and place. It includes the different groups of people who were treated in a different way from other people, or people of a different time. The seven dispensations can be broken down the following way:
1st Innocence Gen.1:28 One rule, close (perfect) communion with God
2nd Conscience Gen.3:10,23 Do your best, communion through sacrifice
3rd Human Government Gen.8:20 Man governs for God, communion through government
4th Promise Gen. 12:1 Blessings tied to the land, communion through bloodline
5th Law Exo. 19:4-8 10 Commands and many laws, communion through strict adherence
6th Grace John 1:17 Love brother as self, communion through blood of Jesus
7th Kingdom Ephesians. 1:10 Rule by Jesus Christ, perfect or Messianic communion restored
We live in the dispensation of Grace. Genesis establishes reason and evidence of God's plan through the ages for a redemption of mankind from the curse of death. Paradise was lost in Genesis. Paradise will be restored in Revelation. Unless, of course, Paradise never existed. Where would we be without Genesis? There is so much more to look at when considering the Genesis record, and I have not scratched the surface. But, there is more than enough evidence to convince a thinking person that the record of Creation has been retained through the generations intact. I believe in Creation by an omnipotent Creator God. I believe Genesis was inspired by Him, and outlines not only His work of the ages past, but His plans for the ages to come.
He was older than Methuselah...Methuselah's Dad was, literally, no joke. And, he was a prophet. He prophesied about the Second Coming of Christ, followed by 10,000's of saints (Jude 14.) The name he gave his firstborn meant "after this judgment" or "the man of the dart" meaning God would soon send judgment after Junior died. But, God is merciful, and though He intended to keep his word, He seemed to linger, allowing Junior to live 969 years before taking him and bringing the great flood on Earth the same year Methuselah/"Junior" died. So Methuselah was the oldest man to ever die. But, who was Methuselah's Dad? The friend of God...Enoch. Enoch walked with God, and God took him. Enoch did not die, but much like Elijah, he was taken up to heaven without seeing the grave. I can picture Enoch and God walking and talking in the cool evenings, much like Adam had walked with God in the Garden before the fall. Such friendship! Such communion!
Mary loved having Jesus over to their house for dinner! But, even more than that, she loved to sit in the floor and hear Him teach after dinner. Her sister Martha was a worker though and didn't understand her devotion. Some people are devoted without service, while some serve without devotion. God needs devoted servants. But, what did Jesus answer when Martha asked Him to tell Mary to come help her with the dishes? He told her Mary had chosen the best part... communion with Him.
Twelve of Jesus' disciples were allowed to follow Him closely throughout His earthly ministry. They ate where he ate, and walked where He walked. They "did lunch" together on a daily basis. Shuffling through the crowded streets by His side, hiking through the desert at His heels, or sitting around camfires, watching the sparks fly upwards in front of His face, they seemed to hang on His every Word. They loved to hear Him speak, and often questioned him on His words, seeming to enjoy the privileged communication they were granted with the Master. But, one very special dinner was their last time to communicate with this Friend...their last communion before His crucifixion. Jesus, with heavy heart, told them the wine was symbolic for the blood He was about to pour out willingly for them. Then He broke the bread, pronouncing that His body would likewise be broken for them. They shuddered and dared not question these acryptic words, afraid for what He could be thinking. (They had so much invested in His ministry...had given up everything to follow Him...it would be a horrible loss without a resurrection.)
Death, crying, burial, fear, sadness...all followed this meal with their beloved friend. How they must have missed Him in the following days as they huddled around the table over a meal, looking silently at an extra empty chair someone forgot they no longer needed. And, when the bread was broken between them, how they must have quaked. How the wine must have tasted on their lips! Until...until Pentecost and beyond...until they were filled with power, revelation, and mission and took up the act of communion as a memorial of that bittersweet evening with Christ.
Today, at church, we took communion. We ate dinner with Jesus. We drank from His cup. We acknowledged His broken body. And, when the bread is broken... do you feel inside your heart what it must have felt like to be sitting next to Him at the table? Can you close your eyes and imagine having dinner with Jesus, hearing His quiet steady breath as he talks to you. Can you see His face as He passes you the bread, saying "Take, eat...this is for you," meeting your gaze with that look that demands to know if you love Him? Communing with Jesus, imagine that!
The disciples who drank from Jesus' cup all shared literally in His suffering here on Earth. Each, with the exception of John, died a torturous death. John survived boiling in oil somehow, and lived out many of his last days imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos, where He was given visions now recorded in Revelation. Then he was released when he was so old he had to be literally carried to church. Those moments at the table with Jesus were life changing. The broken bread of Jesus' body was multiplied, much like the loaves and fishes from His miracles. And, today I was fed from His bread of life, the Word of God. It is such a blessing to "do lunch" with the Savior...to commune with Him at communion here on Earth.