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Why I'm a student of heaven - Greg Laurie - http://www.wnd.com/2016/01/why-im-a-student-of-heaven-2/?cat_orig=faith
Greg Laurie urges readers to think about the afterlife
I'm a student of heaven. I'm certainly not an expert on the topic, but I've become more of a student of heaven in recent years for obvious reasons. Since our son Christopher went to be with the Lord in 2008, I often find myself just thinking about heaven, trying to imagine heaven, trying to wrap my mind around heaven. It isn't an easy thing to do.
Numerous books about heaven have been published in recent years, and many of them have been written by people who claimed to have gone there. To be up front with you, I don't immediately believe someone when they say they have been to heaven and back. The only way I can know what heaven is like is by going to an authoritative source, and I know of only one: Jesus Christ. He said, "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me" (John 6:38 NIV). He is the expert on heaven.
As a pastor, I preach a lot of sermons about heaven, and I, too, have written a book on heaven. That is because I think our belief in heaven should affect us while we live on Earth. Our belief in the afterlife has a lot to say about how we live in the before life, how we live in the here and now. The way we view the by-and-by affects us in the here and now.
As we begin another year, we ought to be thinking about heaven. Why? Because this could be the last year on Earth for some of us. I don't say that to frighten or terrify anyone. But what if it is?
I read an interesting article about a man named Val Patterson, who died of throat cancer in 2012. He decided that he wanted to buck the trend and write his own obituary, which was published in the Salt Lake Tribune. Patterson confessed in his obituary that decades earlier, he had stolen a safe from the Motor View Drive Inn. "I could have left that unsaid," he wrote, "but I wanted to get it off my chest." He also revealed that he had been banned for life from Disneyland and SeaWorld San Diego, and he admitted that he didn't actually earn a Ph.D., which he had received due to a clerical error.
I couldn't help but laugh as I read it. At least he was honest. If you could read your own obituary today, what do you think people would remember you for? What would be written about you?
We don't determine the date of our birth, and we don't determine the date of our death, but we have everything to say about what happens in between.
I am not a big one for making New Year's resolutions because I think it sort of a waste, really. Most of us quickly break those resolutions. But I do think the beginning of a new year is a good time to recalibrate. It's a good time to look at our lives and ourselves and ask, How have I done in this last year? Have I moved forward spiritually? Or, have I actually regressed spiritually? Have I been a heavenly minded person this past year? Do I want to be in the coming year?
One of my favorite films of all time is "Chariots of Fire," which features the story of Eric Liddell, a great runner from Scotland who competed in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. A committed Christian, he ultimately became a missionary in China. In the film, Eric's sister chides him because she feels he is wasting his time with running and should be out on the mission field doing what God made him for. Eric responds, "Jenny, you've got to understand. I believe that God made me for a purpose, for China. But he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure."
If you've ever played tennis, you know there is a sweet spot in the racket, and if you hit that sweet spot, it gives you maximum impact on the ball. In the same way, we have a sweet spot in life. When we do that one thing for God's glory, we say, "I feel his pleasure doing this."
You were wired to do that thing. That is why you're here. We should all consider how well we are fulfilling our purpose on here on Earth. Our belief in the afterlife should inform our choices in our before life.
We want to redeem the time God has given to us. We don't want to waste it. And we certainly don't want to try to kill it. It has been said that men talk of killing time while time quietly kills them.
James wrote, "For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:14 NKJV). You will live only as long as God wants you to live. You can eat all the free-range chicken, organic vegetables and tofu that your heart desires - but it is God who appoints the day of your death. And then comes eternity.
When you reach the afterlife and look back on the before life, you will see things far differently. You will see them from an eternal perspective. You will realize what really mattered in life was not what you got but what you gave. What will matter is not your competence but your character. What will matter is not your success but your significance.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians living in Colosse, "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2). That phrase set your mind speaks of a diligent, active, single-minded investigation. To put it another way, "Think heaven." Paul was saying, "Constantly keep seeking and thinking about heaven."
If you really start thinking more about heaven and seeking heaven, it will transform you. As Warren Wiersbe has said, "Heaven is not only a destination, it's a motivation."
We want to put God first in every area of our lives, from the thoughts we think to the friends we choose to the way we use our time. Why? Because life comes and goes so quickly. And before you know it, you will be standing before God.
C.S. Lewis wrote, "Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither."
If we put God first in our lives, then we will have very fulfilling lives here on Earth. And I believe those who think the most about the next life do the most in this one.