Toward Cleaner Entertainment

remote-control-205828_640A friend and sister in Christ came with her husband to visit me a few years ago. We talked, we laughed, we baked, and during their visit I shared one of my favorite movies with them. I love the characters, the humor, the creepy bad guy, and the happy ending. I’ve seen it a dozen times at least. But I never realized until my Christian friend was sitting there on that couch with me how much language and nudity are in that movie! I was intensely embarrassed. Now, to be fair, the majority of the times I have watched that movie have been with the aid of the TVGuardian device, which cuts out bad language. I probably never worried about the scene with the mostly naked woman because as a young person, you learn early that it’s not supposed to matter if you see people of your gender undressed. But with our husbands on that couch? You’d better believe it mattered! I have recently apologized to my friend for putting those images and words in their hearts. I was just not thinking! But I have to wonder, how does a Christian come to find herself in that situation? How did that happen to me?

Another movie, shared with us by a preacher’s wife and beloved by my family at holiday time, was on television one afternoon and my dad ​​and I were watching. I’ve seen this movie probably two dozen times. A humorous line was spoken about a male body part, and my dad said this: “I don’t know why we ever let you watch this.” We changed the channel. That’s the question, isn’t it? Why do I ever watch these movies in the first place? ​It must have been a time when I had my guard completely down. Maybe at the time I chose these favorite movies, my senses had not been exercised to discern good and evil (Hebrews​ 5:14​). My conscience must not have been trained properly, or might have been seared. And now that I appreciate the characters and the plots, it’s hard to let them go.

I feel the same about the sitcom Friends. When Friends came out, I was only six, but as it played well into my teen years I remember Christians saying how ungodly and terrible that show was. Well, I guess I wanted to see for myself, because when another Christian recommended it in my twenties I bought the DVD set and watched every episode. After seeing it all, I must say that the series was very well written. I laughed so much. The characters are unforgettable. At the end of it all, you really feel like Chandler and Joey and Ross and Rachel and Phoebe are your own friends (and could Monica please come clean my house?!), and you miss them when the show ends. But you know what? That show has loads of sexual humor, lesbians raising a child, unscriptural divorces, a man having had a sex change, a female minister, lots of immodesty, a seance, cohabitation, and exactly zero main characters who save themselves for marriage. You might be wondering, why would someone who claims to be a Christian watch nine seasons of that sort of content? I think the answer is emotional involvement. Good entertainment makes the viewer identify with the main characters. So when I say I feel like Chandler is my friend, what I ​reveal is that I have become emotionally invested in the show, and have thereby lost the ability to consider the content objectively. When you research the content of a new movie you’re thinking about seeing, using a resource like Kids in Mind or ScreenIt you can read a detailed report of all the objectionable content within a movie. When the movie is stripped of its beloved characters, flashy trailer, and well-known storyline, you can easily tell which movies and shows to avoid. I can make an objective decision as to whether or not I’m going to buy a ticket or watch the pilot. But it’s different when you’ve already watched a season’s worth of episodes, or when a movie is as much a family tradition as the Christmas tree. I’ve got movies and tv and music I became familiar with when I wasn’t being vigilant, and now it’s hard to let them go. I’m emotionally involved. We watch that movie every Christmas… and it’s time to stop. When preachers say, “Could you watch your favorite tv shows with Jesus on the couch by you?” I always thought they were talking to someone else, but the truth is they’ve been talking to me all along.

You want to know who is supposed to have had my emotional investment first? Christ. When He asked for my heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30), and I said He could have it, that ruled out letting inappropriate entertainment into my heart and my mind. Even if it’s a hugely influential part of pop culture. Even if every single one of my friends, in the church, is watching it. Even if it’s well written and really, really funny. As one preacher said, we mustn’t laugh at what makes God cry.

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Are You Being a Baby?

Luke 18:15-17 “And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, ‘Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.'”

I’ve never noticed before that the text in the King James uses the word “infants” in this passage. Paintings and drawings depict the Savior at this moment surrounded by grade-school kids, and sermons are preached about what attributes of young children we should emulate: we should be honest, innocent, trusting, and kind, the way children naturally are. But as I read this verse while nursing my daughter, a two-month old, I’m thinking of it a little differently. When I look at my baby I can’t help but think, dependent. Completely and utterly dependent. This child cannot do a thing for herself. She is totally dependent on me and her daddy and the other adults in her life for her care and existence. I think we can learn something about our relationship with God by considering the dependency infants have on adults.

Dependent for nourishment. At two months, my baby can’t so much as hold a bottle to her mouth. She’s still learning how to coordinate her tiny hands, arms, and legs. All she can do when she’s hungry is cry out and hope someone responds. Like infants, we are to “desire the sincere milk of the word, that [we] may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). God’s word is the only source that provides all the nutrients we need to develop properly, spiritually speaking. If you had to go in for a spiritual checkup every so often, would your provider see that you are putting on weight, building yourself up with the spiritual nourishment of God’s word? Would they see a pattern of growing and learning, or be concerned by low growth and stunted development? Just like the APA discourages parents from giving babies water, because it takes up valuable room in the stomach without providing any nutrients, we shouldn’t be filling up on anything less substantial than the pure word of God. If you’re taking in more articles and books written by uninspired men than you are the holy scriptures, you need to reevaluate. You might be setting yourself up for uneven growth or worse, spiritual sickness.

Dependent for cleanliness. Babies are messy. It seems like they’re always exuding some bodily excretion or another. And while they do complain (loudly) when they’re dirty, there’s really nothing they can do about it; they need their caregiver to clean them up. Similarly, it is not within us to clean up the mess in our souls. Proverbs 20:9 reads, “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” The answer is no one! In Psalm 51, David asked God to wash away his transgressions and cleanse him from his sins. He knew he was unable to remove the filth of his sin on his own. Christians’ sins are washed away at baptism (Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 22:16), making the church spiritually clean for Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11, Ephesians 5:26). And don’t babies seem to get messiest right after a bath? God knows we can’t be perfect, so when we sin after baptism, he offers to make us clean again if we confess, ask in prayer, and repent (1 John 1:7-9, Matthew 6:12, Acts 8:22). Although babies don’t always cooperate in the tub, for us to be washed we must participate. God is all-powerful, but he has never forced man to do anything against our free will. He can’t make us clean if we don’t choose to submit. Note that the Corinthian brethren had to stop their sinful behaviors when they were washed and live sanctified lives instead (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). While we are completely dependent on God for spiritual cleansing, it is on our own shoulders to stay as clean as we can in service to him (James 1:27).

Dependent for protection. Toddlers can drown in less than an inch of water. They get into chemicals and poison themselves, confuse medicine with candy. My two-month old could choke in her own spit up, smother in a blanket, or slide off of a smooth surface and hit the floor. Kids need protection. While thankfully adults are safe from blankets and Tylenol, spiritually we bumble around as much as a toddler does on his feet. God knows that sin has physical consequences. Drugs and alcohol can cause illness and brain damage. Sexual promiscuity can cause heartbreak, spread disease, and bring children into the world that can’t be provided for. Gambling can ruin your family and get your kneecaps busted. These are just a few examples. Have you ever noticed that living a life according to the principles found in the Bible is fraught with fewer of these struggles? While we are never promised an easy life, as Christians there are some obstacles we can avoid, and we have God to thank. Just like toddlers who swallow pills, it may not be evident at the time why God would keep us away from certain activities, but we need to trust that as our Heavenly Father he knows what is best for us. Even more than a parent, God is our creator and designer. He has the right to tell us what to do.

Dependent for learning. With a newborn, it’s easy to feel like physical needs are all mommies are supposed to attend to. Feed them, change them, and get them to nap, right? But babies are learning machines. They are busy soaking in everything they can about their world, from light and color to language and motor skills. Because baby spends about 75% of her time with me, I know I’m majorly influential in her language development. I try to help by narrating to her as we go about our day, and she loves it! Likewise, we should love to learn from God. Everyone should read Psalm 119 every so often to be reminded what zeal for God’s word looks like–David praises God’s law in practically all 176 verses! God’s word is truth (John 17:17), and it is the only reliable source for spiritual knowledge. Proverbs 23:23 admonishes us to “buy the truth, and sell it not.” In New Testament times, very few people had access to God’s word in its entirety, but now you and I can have it anywhere, anytime! God’s perfect truth is in books, on the internet, on my iPad! And it is free! My baby may end up with 75% of her language learning from me, but we must depend on God’s word for spiritual understanding 100%.

Dependent for compassion. I have often thought that maybe God made babies so cute so that adults would want to take care of them. (Even that doesn’t motivate me much at 3am!) God has provided for our spiritual nourishment, cleanliness, protection, and education because he loves us. (Maybe he thinks we’re cute, ha!) The Psalmist described God as being “gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy” (Psalm 145:8). During the three-year ministry of Christ on earth, Jesus showed us compassion in so many ways. When he was so very tired from teaching and he withdrew to rest, because he had compassion on the crowd he pushed through the exhaustion to share a little more of the word (Mark 6:31-34). Time and time again he healed the sick and afflicted out of compassion (Matthew 14:14, 20:34; Mark 1:41; Luke 7:13; just to name a few). And in the ultimate demonstration of love, God gave his only child–something I could never do with my baby–and Jesus freely offered his own body and life to purchase our opportunity to be free from sin. We are totally unable to save ourselves, but because he had compassion on us he shed the blood that can make us whole (Hebrews 9).

As much as we don’t like to think of ourselves as dependent, when we think of ourselves compared to God, we truly are and we would do well to recognize it. We must be humble enough to submit to his will in order to receive his loving care and all the benefits that come from being his child.

“How can you tell me what’s right for me?”

Patient education and its source. I’m a nurse, and I work at a hospital. I care for four or five patients at a time, and a big part of taking care of them is patient education. We teach them that with whatever their condition is, they need to do this and that. If you do these things, we say, you will be better off, and you won’t have as many negative outcomes from your disease. Maybe it’s eating more fiber, or exercising more, or checking their blood sugar. We also tell them there are things they shouldn’t do. Maybe we tell them, you can’t smoke anymore; you shouldn’t drink too much fluid; you must avoid alcohol; you should rarely eat fried foods; you need to cut back on your salt. You need to avoid these things, we say, and if you don’t, bad results will tend to happen to you. What if I instructed my patient like this: “You shouldn’t be eating any salt, and if you do, you’re a bad person and you deserve what’s going to happen to you”? I never talk to patients like this, and it isn’t true, anyway. I have made no determination or judgment about a whole person based on whether they do or don’t do what I tell them. But I still have to tell them what they need to do. I have to tell patients what are the expected outcomes of their behavior so they can make informed decisions about their lives. Why is it that I can say with such certainty that, for example, my patient with heart failure mustn’t be taking in much sodium? I can say these things because I have resources with evidence. I have the authority of research built up over the years. My sources show that if you don’t avoid these things, bad outcomes will happen. I trust this authority because it’s been proven by years of scientific research.

The source for spiritual education. When I come across someone in my life who is living what we like to call an “alternative lifestyle” and I say that homosexuality is wrong, what gives me the authority to say that? On what grounds can I make such a generalized allegation? Am I simply another bigot? Am I forcing my opinions on an entire category of people because I, personally, am grossed out? Not so. I have an authority. I have evidence. I have a trustworthy source I can go to that mentions that very thing. I have this book, you see. I have this book that is credible because it was written by forty or more people over a period of about 1600 years and doesn’t have any contradictions in it. It’s unified, presenting one message and one theme, even though it was written by people of different languages, times, countries, and cultural climates. I have this book that had historical facts in it hundreds and sometimes thousands of years before our archaeologists could even hazard a guess at some of those facts; they couldn’t confirm they were true; they could find no record of the people described therein… until they did. I have this book that had scientific knowledge and understanding contained in its pages, waiting for hundreds of years to be recognized by the scientific community as truth. Knowledge that was far before its time, yet correct. So I trust this book because it has things in it that were impossible to know.

The diagnosis. This book says that homosexuality is wrong. Now, if I approach someone I know, and I say to her, “My source says that what you’re doing is bad for you and bad things are going to happen to you if you continue to live this way,” have I made a judgment about that person as whole? Do I know her heart? Have I said that she’s a horrible human being? Have I asserted my own personal beliefs that I came up with on my own, because I don’t like the way she dresses or how she talks? I haven’t said any of that. If I tell her my source disagrees with her behavior, it’s nothing personal. It’s nothing I made up of my own accord. It’s a statement of fact. I didn’t arbitrarily decide it. It’s nothing I have against these people. If I say to someone who supports abortion, “Abortion is wrong, and there is a very negative outcome waiting for you if you continue under that persuasion,” I haven’t said I hate him or want him to die or anything. I simply said that according to the best information available—a perfect and infallible source with impossible knowledge—he is expected to do better, and I encourage him to do so.

The prognosis. I don’t know if you know, but it’s even more inflammatory that just these hot button issues. The Bible doesn’t just teach on homosexuality and abortion. It doesn’t say, “Those who are heterosexual and pro-life shall inherit the kingdom of God.” It doesn’t condemn just those two things. It also says that all liars will burn in the lake of fire and brimstone (Revelation 21:8). All liars. Who hasn’t told a lie? I have. I think almost everyone has. It also says things like that those who are disobedient to their parents have sinned (Romans 1:30). That’s practically everyone. I mean, yeah sure, all the murderers and rapists will be punished. Most people are okay with that. But what about “fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4)? Fornication is sexual activity outside of marriage. Adultery is sexual activity with one person when you’re married to someone else. I would guess that between the two of them, we’re now talking about three quarters of the population in this country. So it really doesn’t stop at these hot button political issues. My resource, my authority has a lot more to say about your life. But you know, it’s not even just all those people. My resource says that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). All of us, every accountable human who’s ever lived, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Seriously? All of us have done things that are bad for us, and will result in bad outcomes if we continue living our lives this way? That’s what my source says. You know it also says that the wages of sin, the dues that you’re going to be paid if you’ve sinned, the wages of that sin is death (Romans 6:23). Now have I just said that I think all homosexuals deserve to die? Well, that’s really not what I said. But my source says that everyone who has sinned deserves death. Death and sin go together. Sin causes death. Not only the homosexual and the fetus killer. Not only the murderer and the rapist. We’re talking everyone who has told a white lie; everyone who has fooled around; everyone who has dishonored their parents; everyone who has uttered a single vain word (Matthew 12:36); everyone who has ever lost their temper (Ephesians 4:26). That’s pretty much the most negative outcome you can imagine, and the diagnosis falls on everyone.

The solution. My source has this word that it uses sometimes. It’s a lovely word. Because see, the rest of that verse that tells us sin deserves death reads, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life” (Romans 6:23). We have just discussed that every one of us had death coming as a result of the things we’ve done and the choices we’ve made. But the gift of God is eternal life? We don’t deserve life, we deserve death. Every one of us. We need help. We all need saving. We need someone to take our place, to take that death for us so we can live. And so, even though we don’t deserve it, someone came. Someone came, and in the most beautiful story ever told, and the main reason my source was composed, someone came and took the death that we were scheduled for. He came, and took the horrible death for us. And when he did, all the sins that we’ve ever committed, all the lies and deceit, the hate, the lies, the jealousy, the lust, he took it all away. He gave us the ability to have our slates wiped clean. I think you know who that was.

The treatment. Mohammed didn’t die for you. He didn’t die for anyone. Neither did Buddha. Neither did Confucius. What about other men whose names we take and wear proudly? What about Martin Luther, the first Protestant? Did he die for you? What about John Calvin? Did Calvin die to save you? You see, we couldn’t have just anyone take our place. We discussed that we have all fallen short; all have sinned and missed the mark. In the time of the Old Testament, under the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and its associated code that God gave Moses (which were the shadow of things to come in the New Testament), in that old time people had a sin problem just like we do… just like I did. And the thing God told them to do to take care of their sins and clear their names was to sacrifice. There was bloodshed. They would take a lamb and kill it so that they could be forgiven of their sins. But it couldn’t be just any lamb. It couldn’t be a spotted or blemished lamb. The lamb couldn’t be blind, couldn’t be gimpy, couldn’t be a weakling runt. It had to be youthful, strong and healthy; it had to be perfect. It had to be the best that you had (Leviticus 22:17-22, Malachi 1:8). And you would select that best, strongest, healthiest-looking lamb that you had, take it to the priest, and have it killed. The Bible teaches sin requires blood in order to be forgiven (Hebrews 9:22). It had to be a perfect lamb, and God wouldn’t accept it if it were a blemished lamb. We have all been blemished with sin. Mohammed was blemished with sin. Luther, Calvin, Joseph Smith, any other human you can think of, they have been blemished with sin. But Jesus Christ? My source tells me he lived for 33 years and he never ever sinned (1 Peter 2:21-24). He never hated anyone. He never cheated or stole. He never lied, or lusted, or envied, or gossiped. He was perfect. He had no blemish, no spot, no stain of sin on him. He was the only appropriate sacrifice (Hebrews 9:28). And the shedding of His blood takes our sins away in the new law, under the new covenant (Hebrews 9:14).

So I guess it’s worse than you think. Christians don’t just think all the homosexuals are going to burn in hell. Because our source tells us that anyone who hasn’t come into contact with that saving, perfect blood of Christ is going to be lost. And it doesn’t even matter if you’re straight. It doesn’t matter if you are pro-life. It doesn’t matter if you try to live your life as a basically good person, and not speed, or steal, or lie too much. What matters is whether or not you are wearing the blood of Christ. You must come into contact with His saving blood, accept the gift of God given freely, through immersion in water—not a bath, “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh” (1 Peter 3:21), but the moment at which Jesus’ perfect blood is able to wash away your sins and make you as clean as if you had never committed any. This is what he accomplished at the cross. This is why he died for you and me.

My source says that the best way to take care of yourself after immersion is to “walk in the light as he is in the light” (1 John 1:7), trying to imitate Christ’s perfection as much as possible. But we can’t be completely without blemish, and he knows that. When we do sin after contacting his blood in immersion, re-staining our souls with the sin that brings death, if we confess that we’ve done it, he’ll forgive us again. My source says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). And he can forgive any sin. I think you’ve seen from the discussion that no sin is worse than another sin. He doesn’t need to die over and over when we sin (Hebrews 9:25-28). If I lie today, he won’t have to die again for me. I’ve already come into contact with his saving blood. All I have to do is ask for forgiveness from him. That’s what my source says, and because it hasn’t been wrong yet, I will continue to believe and share its words.

Sharing the truth. God’s people should be just as vocal about the “little” sins as we are on hot topics in politics and the news. We should always be speaking out against pride, covetousness, deceit, and extramarital sensuality (Mark 7:21-23); against immodesty; against lustful thoughts (Matthew 5:28); against adultery and fornication (Hebrews 13:4); against jealousy (Galatians 5:21); against divorce (Malachi 2:16, Mark 10:9); against hate and murder (Matthew 5:21); and against disrespecting parents (Ephesians 6:2), as we uphold the good things the Bible promotes such as love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22, 23). We should be vocal on all those things to accurately represent our stand in line with The Source, The Authority, the only rules that really matter. Because science changes, research findings change… but my source hasn’t changed. The Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). And there’s a warning in my source the Bible that says anybody who adds anything to the message in the book is going to be just as lost as the other people we’ve mentioned. Anybody who takes anything out of the message is going to be just as lost as those people, too (Revelation 22:18, 19). I’m not happy about that. I don’t like that. I haven’t made judgments about those people saying that they’re 100% terrible people and God hates them and I hate them. I don’t know their hearts. It’s terrible what Satan has done, how he’s beguiled so many people. He tells so many lies through society, through pop culture, denominationalism, and through other world religions. As long as he can keep you away from Jesus, from really and truly getting to Christ and His message, that’s all he needs. That’s all he wants. That’s all he has to do to keep you from getting the wonderful outcome reserved for God’s children: eternal life. But my Jesus, my perfect, holy, saving God Christ? He just wants to save you. So please, please try not to be angry or indignant when I try to share with you the evidence they have for why they believe what they believe, and what it means for you. I’m just trying to help you make informed decisions about your life based on the evidence I’ve been given.

Communication is a two-way street

Relationships require communication. What marriage could survive without talking? What friendship without texting and Facebooking? Yet sometimes we expect God to be pleased with a “relationship” in which we never speak to each other. That is not the kind of relationship God has ever had in mind. God has asked us for our prayers (1 Thessalonians 5:17). He gave His Son up to die so He could become mediator between us (1 John 2:1). Our prayers are like incense in His throne room in Heaven (Revelation 5:8).

We expect God to listen to us when we pray to Him, and indeed, He does (1 John 5:14, 15). He wants our petitions and requests (Philippians 4:6). He listens to the afflicted, providing consolation by prayer (Psalm 56:8). His children obtain forgiveness through confession in prayer (1 John 1:19, James 5:16).

But are we listening to Him? When we disregard His ideas on topics like love, marriage, and modesty? When we take His words out of context to “prove” commands that aren’t really there, or misapply passages of scripture without rightly dividing (NKJV) or accurately handling (NASB) God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15)?

God has never been pleased with just lip service (Joel 2:13)! How can we call ourselves Christians if we don’t listen to God by reading and studying His thoughts, and share our requests and gratitude with Him in prayer?

What human relationship is sustained by this kind of behavior? Does your friend like you better when you take her words out of context to use against her? Do you grow closer with your mother by willingly misapplying her instructions? Do you enjoy your relationship with your boyfriend most if you refuse to communicate with him at all? I’d call that breaking up!

Can we “agree to disagree” with God? Will that save our relationship? In Amos 3:3, Amos shares the word of the Lord: Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? God won’t change His opinions to agree with yours. Rather, James 4:8 teaches that when we draw near to God… He will draw near to you. God is perfect, righteous, and just. He is our Father and a good friend to keep. We must study and pray as He asks us to so we can keep our relationship strong.

Priorities

This was the first devo I had planned for camp last week. Only six little verses, but they took us 45 minutes to talk through. It’s because each one has so many implications. Each one is so much to apply to our lives.

  1. Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Put God in first place and worry about the other things in life afterward. He says He’ll provide the basics for you if you make sure you are faithful to Him.
  2. Colossians 3:2: “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Your goals, hopes, dreams, and plans need to be oriented around spiritual things. Make sure your material and education goals fall in line with God’s plan. You want to study for a degree? Great! You’d better choose a school near a faithful congregation of Christians, and you’d better not choose so many classes that you can’t make it to worship. You want to save up for a house? Congrats! You’d better be giving as you’re prospered along the way (1 Cor 16:2). Set spiritual goals for yourself, like preparing a devotional for young people, leading singing, or leading prayer. Determine to be a Bible class teacher soon, or an elder or ladies’ day teacher one day. Plan to work in the kingdom. Don’t allow yourself to become so busy that you don’t have time for the Lord.
  3. Daniel 1:8: “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” In order to keep God first, you must purpose in your heart to follow Him. Like the verse from Colossians, you must set your mind on things above. You must decide now, before you’re around the temptation, that you’re going to choose God’s way. It won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding.
  4. Luke 9:62: “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Back in the day, plowing fields was done with an animal and a man. You had to keep your eyes focused dead ahead to keep your rows straight. If you turned around to look back, your arms would tweak the handle of the plow and give you a crooked row. Jesus says someone who has put his hands to the handle of Christianity and looks back to his former, sinful life is unfit for the kingdom. When Lot’s wife looked back, she was turned into a pillar of salt (Gen 19:26). Who knows what she was thinking about. Whatever it was, it wasn’t worth it.
  5. Deuteronomy 30:19: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live…” God knows there are many things vying for our time. He has asked us to choose the best things, to choose life. Prioritize with God at the top.

What will Heaven be like?

I prepared this devotional for my girls at Camp Ida this year. Unfortunately, five of them were asleep before it was over. (I’m trying not to take it personally… lol) Since almost no one heard it, I thought it might be good to share it online where they could all access it anytime.

Tuesday night in cabin devo we were discussing priorities. I was telling the girls that physical goals would mean nothing in eternity because we won’t even have a body to exercise at that point. Several of the girls were quite confused by this, and one even asked, “So we’ll never have to use the bathroom in Heaven?”

Joking or not, I decided then that we desperately needed a lesson about Heaven. Here are five things that won’t be in Heaven:

  1. No earth. 2 Peter 3:10-12 tells us that “the elements shall melt with fervent heat” and the earth will be “burned up.” In Matthew 24:35 Jesus tells us that heaven and earth are going to pass away. We know Heaven where God’s throne is isn’t going anywhere, so Jesus must be talking about heaven in the sense of the earth’s skies.
  2. No time. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). The beginning of what? The beginning of time. Time was created during the six days of creation: “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years’…” (Gen 1:14). God created time, and He can do as He wills with it (in Joshua 10, God stills the sun and moon for about a day’s time). In Heaven, there will be no night (Rev 21:25), and no sun (Rev 7:16), but the Father and Son will provide all the “light” we need (Rev 21:23, 22:15).
  3. No body. Our corruptible, physical bodies of carbon and water cannot ascend to our eternal home. In 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, Paul describes a “change” that is to occur in the day of the Lord, the day of judgment. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (v52). This change is not limited to those who have already died: “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: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Ths 4:16, 17). I don’t pretend to know exactly what we’ll “look” like after this change, but I’m pretty sure this body of mine can’t fly. My body and my spirit will have to separated. Also, we won’t be married in Heaven (Mk 12:18-27). Physical ties will be broken.
  4. No pain. Revelation 21:4 teaches that there will be no tears, death, sorrow, crying, or pain. Don’t you want to go there?
  5. No sin. There will be no sin, or sinful people, in Heaven (Rev 21:8). This is partly how #4 will be accomplished, because sin causes sorrow, pain, death, etc.

Okay, so we’ve mentioned several things that won’t be in Heaven when we get there. So what will be there?

  1. The throne of God. Revelation 4:2 describes the throne room of God in Heaven with Him sitting on His throne. One of the blessings of Heaven is getting to be in His presence.
  2. Christ glorified. Revelation 1 records the apostle John’s vision into Heaven with Christ there. He sits at the right hand of God (Heb 12:2), and is no longer humbled by a human form (Phil 2:5-8, Heb 2:9).
  3. Prayers of the saints. Our prayers are like incense, adding a (figurative) sweet smell to the throne room (Rev 5:8).
  4. The Book of Life. Revelation 20:12 reveals that our deeds are recorded in this book. They will be compared to the words of Christ (John 12:48). Those who are not in the book are going to be eternally lost (Rev 20:15).
  5. The Faithful. Revelation 21:7 teaches that he who overcomes sin will be with God and Christ in Heaven forever. That is our life goal. Solomon said that the whole of man is to do the will of the Father (Ecc 12:13), and that is what we must fulfill if we are to live in Heaven with Him. Since we are not perfect, God prepared a plan to cover our imperfections: allow Christ’s blood to wash away our sins in baptism (Acts 22:16, Eph 1:7, Heb 9:14, Rev 1:5), and then live faithfully (Rev 2:10), asking forgiveness in prayer for our sins after that point (1 John 1:7-9).

All these things will be so for eternity: “And so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Ths 4:18). The Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (Mat 24:36, 2 Pet 3:10, 1 Ths 5:2), so it follows that each description of the end of the world is proceeded by the admonition to be sober, watchful, and ready to meet Him (Mat 25:1-13, 1 Ths 5:4-8, 2 Pet 3:14).