Why Our Church Cancels Children’s Church on Communion Sundays – and why it has turned out to be a incredibly awesome!

kid glasses smilingBut they won’t sit still!  They don’t understand what’s going on!  I can’t get anything out of the service if I have to keep my kids under control!  They are a distraction to everyone else!  They need something just for them!

I have heard all of these reasons from parents (and many more!) in response to our church’s decision to cancel children’s church on the first Sunday of each month and have children ages 3 and up stay in the worship service.  I have four kids of my own (currently spread between ages 1 to 11) so I understand how hard it is to have the kids sit through a church service – though I probably don’t understand this quite as well as my wife!

We first made the decision to cancel Children’s Church on Communion Sundays for two main reasons.  First, we realized kids never had an opportunity to take communion.  Second, we realized that some children’s volunteers were always missing communion because of serving in children’s church.  These were good reasons, but they were small in comparison to how God has used this in our church.

By including kids in the worship service on communion Sundays we were causing children to ask their parents about Jesus.  Here are some things I’ve heard from parents now that we have been doing this for a few years:

  • My son/daughter asked me if he could take communion so we talked about what Jesus did and whether or not he/she understands the gospel.
  • I was able to pray with my child to accept Jesus.
  • Can you help me know how to talk to my child about Jesus?
  • How do I know if my child is saved and should take communion?

Think for a moment about all the incredible conversations these ideas and questions (and many, many more like them) have sparked between kids and parents in our church!  I have had the opportunity to meet with parents and kids to help them in these conversations which is one of my favorite things as a pastor.  I believe that having the children in the service when we take communion has done more to facilitate gospel centered conversations between parents and kids than anything else we have attempted – and that is incredibly awesome!

photo from pixabay

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Through the Bible: Life on the Wrong Side of the Garden Gate

Garden Gate

Choices have consequences and some choices have more consequences than others.

Dethroning God

As I wrote about in the last post, when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they were doing more than just breaking a rule.  They were removing God from his throne and setting themselves in his place.  They were saying they had the right to determine good and evil for themselves instead of trusting God’s judgment.  The consequences to this decision were both immediate, long lasting, and even eternal.

Bad judges

Immediately after taking the fruit they begin to make their own judgments (Genesis 3:8-24).  They judge that being naked is a bad thing though it was the way God made them and they didn’t mind it before.  They judge that encountering God in the garden is a scary thing even though they had been made to live in and enjoy his presence.

 The really interesting thing is that their judgments aren’t all wrong.  They do have things to be ashamed of and they should be afraid of God.  What is so messed up is that even in the things they are correct about they are still wrong in how they are thinking.  Adam says they were hiding from God because they are naked.  Really?  That’s why?  Not because you did the one thing you were told not to do by the all-powerful God who made you and gave you everything you could possibly need ?!   No, it couldn’t possibly be because of that!  Evidently Adam felt the lack of appropriate clothing was a much bigger issue in this situation.

Do you see how their judgement is warped and twisted?  But it doesn’t stop there.  Adam judges that he is innocent because the whole situation is God’s fault for making Eve and Eve’s fault for giving him the fruit.  Eve judges that she is innocent because the situation is the serpent’s fault.  They aren’t exactly shining examples of determining right and wrong, good and evil, are they?

Twisted Purpose

But the consequences don’t stop there either.  Everything God made them for now is twisted.  God made them to increase, multiply, and fill the earth (Gen. 1:28).  God’s purpose will still be fulfilled, but now it will be at great pain for women (Gen. 3:16).  God put them in a garden where food was abundant and they were to rule over creation and to care for it (Gen. 2:15), but now instead of joy this will be a difficult labor and food will only be gained through difficulty (Gen. 2:14-19).  This is not God losing his cool and throwing a punishment at them – this is what they chose!  They wanted to be in control and when we take control from God the world becomes twisted and warped.  But there is one other consequence that is even worse.

Cast out of the Garden

Genesis 3:22-24 says:

And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

The Garden was a place for humanity to live in God’s presence.  The Tree of Life was a symbol of the life giving presence of God.  To be cast out of the Garden of Eden is to be removed from the experience of the presence of God that Adam and Eve (and all of us!) were created for.  They are now cut off from the one thing that was to be their greatest joy – living in God’s holy presence – and all of future humanity is born into this situation.  Why?  Wrath…judgment…punishment…  all of these words are used throughout Scripture for God’s perspective on sin and are certainly appropriate here, but I want to add one more…  MERCY.

Look at the passage.  God says Adam and Eve must not be allowed to eat from the Tree of Life and live forever.  Why?  Because for a sinful person to come into the presence of God is not joy, it is absolute misery.  For a sinful person to live in the presence of God forever and ever would be unending misery.  We cannot fully understand the power of God’s holy presence because we live on this side of the Garden Gate, but throughout the rest of Scripture and the rest of history, God shows us what it is like to be sinful people in relationship with a holy God.  The rest of human history is lived east of Eden, the wrong side of the Garden Gate, cut off from the full manifestation of the glory and the holiness of God because if God did not cast Adam and Eve out from the Garden they would have been immediately consumed by his holiness and killed.

God Comes through the Gate to Us

By casting us out of the full experience of his glory, God was being merciful and allowing time for him to come to us in ways we could experience and understand without being wiped out.  Ways like a tent that was set up as a meeting place between God and his people to teach us about sin and holiness.  Ways like a baby born as Immanuel – God with us – who lived and showed us who God is and died in our place to pay the price for our sin so that we could be restored in our relationship with God and have God dwell in us.  Ways like groups of people throughout the world and throughout the ages being a living temple of God as God’s presence dwells in them and they take the good news of salvation to a world living on the wrong side of the Garden Gate.  And all of this to give time for people to accept God’s way back through that gate – through Jesus Christ – before the full manifestation of his presence will come again which is exactly what the book of Revelation is about.

photo by Flickr user Bonnie Natko

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Through the Bible: A Tale of Two Trees


What is the meaning of the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

Yesterday I wrote about some key themes we learn from Genesis 1 and 2, but I left out one key detail (actually two!).  Genesis 2:8-9 form a sort of summary section (of which there are several throughout these chapters) that highlight something really important:

“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:8-9, NIV)

These two trees symbolize a major theme throughout Scripture.  By saying they are symbols does not necessarily mean they are not real.  God, as the great author of history, can make real things that have great symbolic value!  But whether they were actual trees or not (and I tend to believe they were) is not the real issue.  The real issue is why does God point them out in the creation story?  What are we supposed to learn from them?

The Tree of Life

If you have a tree that bears fruit consistently year in and year out, then you have a good source of fruit.  If that tree is bearing fruit that gives life then you have a constant source of life!  Throughout Scripture God is described as the source of and the one who sustains all life.  There are other metaphors for this as well, such as a river or (or water of) life (which is beautifully combined with the Tree of Life and God’s presence in Revelation 22:1-3).  In yesterday’s post I noted that the key theme in the Garden of Eden is the presence of God.  This is what the Tree of Life is about.  To be near the tree of life and to be able to eat of it’s fruit is to be in the presence of the creator and sustainer of life – God!

Before we move on to talk about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, there is one more very important aspect of the Tree of Life to note:  Adam and Eve were allowed to eat from it!  God does not give any restriction on eating from the Tree of Life until after Adam and Eve sin.  The removal of Adam and Eve from the presence of the Tree of life is significant and I will deal with this when we look at the Fall in Genesis 3, but for now it is enough to note that God’s action in keeping Adam and Eve from the Tree of Life after their sin is as much an act of grace as it is of judgment.  God knew that in their sinful state, to live forever in his presence would not be the wonderful plan he has for them, it would in fact be absolute and unending misery –  an eternal hell.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was not bad.  If it was, then why would God, after creating all things – including the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – declare creation “very good” (Gen. 1:31)?  The problem was not that the fruit was bad, evil or even poison, as if God put it there to test them.  No, the point of this tree is that it was not for Adam and Eve.  This is a difficult point for us who believe the whole universe revolves around us to accept, but not everything is actually about us!  This tree was about authority – the authority to declare good and evil.  It is about the ability to set the definition of what is good and what is evil and to exercise proper judgement in setting that definition.  This authority, this ability, and this judgement IS NOT FOR US!  It is God’s job and he does it quite well.  We, on the other hand, do this quiet poorly – as all of  human history since Adam and Eve took the fruit has shown.  The problem in taking the fruit was more than simply breaking a command – though it was this.  When Adam and Eve (and yes I know Eve took it first, but Gen. 3:6 says Adam was with her and presumably could have stopped it at any time!) took the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they were making a choice to dethrone God and put themselves in his place.  This is the essence of all sin – it is the failure to recognize and submit to God’s authority and instead replace his wisdom with ours, his judgment with ours, his sense of right and wrong with our twisted, distorted, and extremely limited understanding.  This is why eating the fruit was so bad that it affects all of the human race – it was an act of rebellion against God.

One Tree Remains

As I write this blog series, I am preaching through the book of Revelation at the church where I pastor (Orchard Community Church in Rochester, NY).  Toward the end of the book of Revelation, which is all about God appropriately judging and removing all effects of sin from the world, there is a scene that shows that God’s purposes in the Garden of Eden have never failed and will be ultimately realized forever and ever.  I mentioned the text above, but let me quote it here because I believe it is significant:

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life,bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. (Revelation 22:1-3, NIV)

Where is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?  IT IS GONE!  I believe the point is very clear – we are living in the time of the knowledge of Good and Evil now.  We are still digesting this fruit that was not meant for us.  The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is not mentioned again in Scripture, but if I may be so bold as to put in my own idea, I do believe it comes up in one key place.  I think it is not without purpose that cross where Jesus was crucified is sometimes referred to as a “tree.”  This was the end result of the eating of that forbidden fruit.  The death he died was because we ate – and keep eating – what is rightfully only God’s.  His death forever uprooted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and by so doing the cross becomes the ultimate tree of life!  In eternity with God we will forever enjoy it’s fruits day after day.

But for now, in a way we live between these two trees.  We face the constant choice to live recognizing God’s authority, truth, and provision of life through the cross of Christ or to live the lie that we are in control and have the ability or even the right to say what is right and wrong.  Which are you living?

photo by Flickr user BeingandBecoming

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Through the Bible: In the beginning…


New Series: Through the Bible

Today I am starting a new, occasional blog series called “Through the Bible.”  The bible is not a collection of random stories about God or about people.  It is one story from start to finish about God and his plan at work in this world.  My goal in this series is to help readers get a sense of that story so that we can not only better know the bible but also to better understand our place in this story.

Start at the Beginning: Genesis 1 – 2

The bible opens with the words, “In the beginning, God…”  With these four words we are immediately taught that before anything existed there was God.  He has no beginning and will never have an end.  His existence does not depend on us or anything else, he simply is.  We are then told “God created the heavens and the earth.”  Everything that exists was created by God.  As creator, God is in control of everything.  He understands how everything works and has a plan for all of it – including us!

A Garden, in a Land, in a World

So God creates the world and said it was good.  In one area of this world there is a land called Eden and in this land God makes a special garden.  Did you catch that… in a world that was good, in fact, that was very good, God makes a particularly wonderful place.  It is here that he places Adam and Eve.  Why the garden?  God tells Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Gen. 1:28).  We also see in Gen. 2:15 that God puts Adam and Eve in the Garden to “work it and take care of it.”  But let’s add one more piece to this picture.  In Gen. 3:8 we are told that God was walking in the garden.  So here are the really important pieces we can put together to discover something amazing about God and about who we are.

Living in the Presence of God

God made the Garden of Eden special from any other part of creation because it was in the Garden that Adam and Eve would live in his presence.  God’s purpose for them was to live in and enjoy the Presence of their Almighty Creator who loves them.  As they lived in God’s presence they would be images of him – sort of like reflectors of his glory.  God’s purpose for us at the very beginning of history was for us to be with him.  This is a theme that runs throughout all of Scripture as God designates places and ways for people to come into his presence and it is no accident that the bible ends with God coming to be with his people forever and ever (see Revelation 21:1-4).

Keepers of the Garden of God’s Presence

But Adam and Eve weren’t just created to hang out in the Garden and do nothing!  They were to tend the garden, take care of it, and extend it.  The implication of the commands to take care of the Garden combined with the command to fill the whole earth is that Adam and Eve and their offspring were to constantly be extending the borders of the Garden of God’s Presence until it filled the whole earth.  This means that we are made not only to reflect the glory of God’s presence, but to work with the stuff of creation to increasingly and intentionally reflect God’s glory.  This is another theme through the Bible.  God’s people are to grow and spread.  The land of God’s people is to grow and spread.  Jesus tells the church to go and make disciples.  The book of Revelation ends with imagery both of a building (city/temple) and a garden that have expanded to cover the whole earth (see Revelation 21 for the city that represents a temple and Revelation 22 for the Garden imagery).

God’s Presence is Our Purpose

So right at the beginning of the bible we have several major themes that will come up again and again throughout Scripture.  God made everything, is powerfully in control over everything and has a plan for all of it.  We are made for the incredible purpose of living in God’s presence, reflecting God’s presence, and extending the place of the meeting of God’s presence with people.

So when you wake up this morning, thank God for his purpose in creating you!  Don’t just walk out of the house (after doing your morning bible reading of course) and go through the day like God doesn’t matter!  You are living in His presence!  It is what you are created for.  So how are you going to live that today… and tomorrow… and the next day…


image by flickr user ah zut

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Truth Expressed Through Love


The other day I saw a Christian – I’ll even go so far as to say a pastor – on Facebook ridicule a song by a young Christian musician.  Now I’m somewhat musical and have dabbled in song writing here and there and I can be as critical as the next person when it comes to lyric content (I think I frustrate our praise team with songs I refuse because of content – or lack of content).  But let’s put this in perspective.  If this young woman was to show up at your church, would you bring her up on the platform and publicly denounce her in front of the whole congregation?  No?  THEN WHY POST IT ON FACEBOOK???  You’re doing the same thing!

Truth is not a billy club

We have gotten into a rut in the modern (postmodern? Gen X?  When did labels get so confusing?) church.  So many believers grab truth from Scripture and then use it to beat up everyone around them!  Why is it we choose some important truths from Scripture and use them to ignore the clear teachings of Scripture that we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ?  Why is that we ignore the clear teachings that our love for one another is one of the surest signs of being a follower of Christ for a watching world to see (John 13:34-35)?  We are to know Christ and to grow in our knowledge of Christ, but as we gain understanding of Christ we should not use that truth as a billy club to beat up others around us.

Enduring in Truth is Not Enough

In Revelation 2:1-7, Christ commends the church in Ephesus for enduring in truth.  They have faced false teachers from within the church and have not given in to their teachings.  They have faced persecution from the culture and were unwilling to compromise the truth of the gospel.  Then Christ unloads a bombshell.  He says, “Yet I hold this against you:  You have forsaken the love you had at first.”  A little further down he also says, “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Revelation 2:4-5).  It is an interesting study to think about exactly what “love” they had lost, but let’s for the moment just take it in the most general sense of love for God and love for others (I assume it was at the very least one of those two!).  Christ is saying he would rather not have a church in Ephesus at all – since that’s what removal of the lampstand would mean – than to have a church that is unloving.  Why?  Isn’t it enough that they were holding on to truth?

There is no Truth Without Love

It was at this point in my sermon preparation on this passage that a light went on in my mind.  Truth that is not expressed in love is not actually truth – no matter how sound the content – because the bible clearly teaches that we are to love one another and clearly teaches that God is a loving God.  Certainly we must make sure that we define love on God’s terms and not ours, but we should be left with a better definition of love, not a complete lack of it.  If someone has studied Scripture, has great knowledge of theology, yet does not love fellow believers and/or does not love God then then they may have gained a lot of knowledge, but they have missed truth.  They have missed the truth that the God of all truth is loving and has commanded us to be loving as well.  They have missed the truth that this incredibly smart, knowledgeable, and truthful Savior’s greatest expression of his truthfulness was to love us (even in our ignorance and error, our desire to hold on to untruth and half-truths) by sacrificing himself to die on a cross.  If we miss the essential truth of love in God’s treatment of us, which should then be the standard of our treatment for others, then we have not comprehended truth.  There is no truth without love.

The Hard Road of Truth and Love

So where does this lead us?  It leads us to a more difficult road.  It is easy to seek to be truthful and not care how you impact those around you.  It is easy to be loving and not care about truth (which I wrote about here).  It is difficult to walk the road of love informed by truth and truth expressed in love.  Yet I believe this is exactly the road Christ called us to when he said, “Come, follow me” (Matthew 4:18).  It is also the road that he called us to when he said “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34) because the cross is the greatest expression of truth and love in perfect union that there ever was.  We live the way of the cross when we humbly speak truth in love and boldly show love based on truth.


The ideas from this post were taken from a sermon I preached on Revelation 2:1-7 which you can listen to here.

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Love informed by Truth


Love that is not informed by and rooted in truth is not love at all.  In fact, it could be hurtful, harmful and, as such, even hateful.  At its core, I believe love is wanting and working for what is best for someone else.  But when we seek to love someone, we are acting out of what we believe is best for them.  It is common in the world today to say that love is simply giving someone what they want, but certainly this standard is flawed.  If my child wants to eat candy all day I do not think anyone would say I was loving if I let him.  Instead, I would be harming my child and failing to show love because I was acting on what my child wanted rather than the truth of what I know is good for him.

It is tempting to go the other way and say we love someone by giving them what we know is best for them.  This presumes we do know what is best at all times which would take unlimited knowledge of the person and the situation.  Too often people do things with the best of intentions that are actually harmful to others.  We justify these things by saying we had good intentions, but good intentions only become good actions when they are based on truth.

Love must be informed by truth if it is to be truly loving.  Only God knows what is best for us.  His love is not limited by our feeble desires, but instead is rooted in the eternal truth he knows about the world (since he made it) and about us (since he made that too).

True love must be rooted in truth or it fails to be loving at all.

Tomorrow I will be writing on “Truth Expressed in Love.”

These thoughts come from a sermon I preached on Revelation 2:1-7 where the church in Ephesus is commended for how it endures in truth but strongly warned that it has lost love.  

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Living a Life that Points to Christ

billboard-63978_640As believers, we want to live lives that point to Christ.  So often, though I think we end up living lives that point to us.  The apostle Paul has some great instruction about this in 2 Corinthian 6:4-10:

“As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”

We don’t point to Christ by making much of ourselves.  In fact, when we make much of ourselves we are guilty of idolatry and leading others to worship an idol – but in this case the idol is US!  It is time for Christians to stand up and declare that we trust in Christ – no matter what may come.  We need to know that how we respond when the difficulties comes speaks just as much about the truthfulness of Christ as anything we say we believe.  Throughout Scripture it is the ability of God’s followers to endure in faith even through – maybe even especially through – persecution and hardship that shows a watching world the truth of what we say we believe.

When we start preaching, teaching, or living a life in Christ that says Christ is good only when good things are happening then we have lost the truth of Scripture even though we have nothing, we possess everything.

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Spiritual Leadership


“Humble teaching and servanthood is the model of spiritual leadership that Jesus sets for his under shepherds.  That’s our goal.  We want to be—and known by the congregation as—men who are lowly inspirit and gentle at heart, who teach God’s Word with a spiritual authority that comes from God, an authority that’s not rooted in our personalities or techniques, but that’s derived from speaking his Word faithfully.” (Paul Alexander, in 9Marks March/April 2007 Vol 4, Issue 3 “Elder training” page 19)

What a great quote on spiritual leadership!  I found this as I continue work on our elder process at Orchard Community Church.  This really captures my hope for elders at OCC.

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Writing Assignment


Did you know that every new king of Israel was required to write himself a copy of God’s Law?  Deuteronomy 17:18-20 states, “When he [the king] takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.”

At Orchard Community Church we are working on changing our leadership structure to be an elder led church.  The leaders of the church have been studying, praying about, and discussing this issue for about a year now as we want to be sure we are doing this not according to our ideas but according to God’s ideas as set forth in His Word.

Today I am working on a process for assessing the qualifications of an elder candidate and to train that candidate to be an elder.  There will be work involved for the candidate going through this process.  There will be reading, discussions, maybe even some writing.  It will take time and effort and will be intense.  I find it challenging that the Israelite kings were to hand copy the entire Old Testament law by themselves before they became king.  They had to know God and know His will.  They had to understand what it meant to lead God’s people according to God’s ways.

I don’t think we’ll have our elders hand write a copy of all of Scripture, but reading and studying through certain key topics and passages is essential and it will take time and effort.  Any less would not be taking seriously God’s call to leadership among His people.

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Five Things I’m Thankful For – #5: Eternity

I wrote this several weeks ago and left it sitting in my drafts folder on accident…

There are moments in life when we experience something that strikes a chord in the depths of who we are.  Moments when we know, like Eric Liddell of “Chariots of Fire” fame, that we have found something we were created for.  It’s like when I’m doing some work in the garage and trying all different tools that sort of, kind of, just barely get the job done (but are incredibly frustrating) and then I find that tool that was made for what I need.  It’s like when you step out in faith to do something that at first terrifies you but as you do it you know that somehow, some way, God has wired you to do that very thing.

So often we look at spending eternity with God as getting everything we want, but what we want is way too small.  Eternity getting what we want (especially getting what we want this side of heaven!) would be extremely limiting, boring, and disappointing.  I am thankful for eternity because it will not be the ongoing experience of getting what I want, it will be the ongoing, ever-expanding experience of finding the purposes for which God has created me.

Every moment of eternity will be a new discovery of God’s grace in how he has created us, how he sustains us, who he is and who he has made us to be.  We serve an eternal and infinite God and we will have the extreme joy of spending eternity experiencing the depths of his love, grace, and wisdom.  We will know the fulfillment of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-19 that we would know “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”.

This side of heaven these moments are gifts that give us a scaled down glimpse of eternity.  But every day with God in eternity will be a new experience of joy, a new discovery of who we are and who God is.  Every moment will be an “aha!” experience that makes us want to jump up and call out to anyone who might hear, “Have you ever seen something this amazing?!”

In eternity we will find something we long for in this life – something people too often despair of and so seek selfish pleasures instead.  We will find and experience in ever increasing measure the purpose for which we are made – to see, experience, and live for the glory of God.  It is the reason we are created, the reason Christ died and rose again, and it is the promise that is summed up in Revelation 21:3: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

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