{source}
<iframe style=”float: left; border: 1px solid #000000; background-color: #C0C0C0; padding: 2px; margin: 10px; -moz-border-radius: 3px; -khtml-border-radius: 3px; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px;” width=”400″ height=”225″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/N-ewaCVARtM?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>{/source}I wonder how many people went to church on Easter Sunday and wondered if the preacher’s sermon was really the truth.  Many will see the movie, Heaven is for Real, and wonder how much of that is true as well.  All of us have attended funerals and wondered about the afterlife.  Is it real, or do we just want it to be?

The recent movie is bringing those discussions to the offices, televisions and dinner tables across the country.  Some will be touched by the story and others will be skeptical.  Most will quietly hope heaven is real – others will confidently trust in that reality.  What makes the difference?

Heaven is for Real was a surprise bestseller in 2011.  Colton Burpo, the son of an evangelical pastor in Nebraska, said he experienced heaven after being rushed to the hospital with a burst appendix.  There is a lot about the book and the movie that lends credibility to Colton’s experience being quite real, especially if you believe heaven exists.  For those who don’t believe, there is a lot that could be questioned.

A painting of Jesus Christ by Akiane Kramarik, which Colton Burpo said looked like Jesus when he saw him (Credit: Akiane Kramarik)My favorite moment is near the end of the book when Colton sees a picture of Jesus painted by a young Lithuanian girl, Akiane Kramarik.  Akiane is an internationally recognized child prodigy.  She is an exceptional artist who at the age of eight, painted Jesus as she had seen him in her vision of heaven.  My favorite moment in the movie was Colton’s gasp when he saw that picture.  He pointed to his dad’s computer and said, “That’s him.  That’s what Jesus looks like.”

This is a great time to brush up on your knowledge of heaven, and make certain that you can add God’s word into each conversation.  Peter taught the early Church to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that your have.”  He also admonished them, “But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ my be ashamed of their slander”  (1 Peter 3:15-16).

I was recently privileged to hear Eric Metaxas speak at a Dallas Prayer Breakfast.  He said many memorable things but my personal favorite was when he described all the Christian shouting and pontificating displayed by the media.  He said that he wished Christians would keep in mind that God has told us to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  Metaxas authored my new motto.  At one point he used the phrase, “Speak the truth in love – or shut up!”   Looking back, I can think of SEVERAL times I wish I had adhered to that motto.  In every conversation about heaven or any other spiritual matter, speak the truth in love or, keep your thoughts to yourself.

Here are a few other things to remember when you speak to others about heaven:

  • Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven”  (Matthew 6:9).  Heaven is where God dwells.  If God is real, so is heaven.
  • Jesus taught his disciples that he would prepare a place in heaven for them and that they would dwell with Jesus when they arrived (John 14:2-3).  Heaven is where we will be with Jesus, face to face.
  • Jesus told the thief on the cross that very soon they would be together in Paradise (Luke 23:43).  If Jesus’ promises are true, heaven is paradise.
  • The apostle Paul was quoting Isaiah when he said, “‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ – the things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).  There is a reason we know so little about heaven.  I don’t think we possess the vocabulary necessary to describe heaven. 
  • That which is heavenly and eternal is impossible to translate with earthly images and words.

John saw a vision of heaven in Revelation 21:1 and it was nothing like he had ever seen before.  Many people have had near death experiences that they felt had given them a glimpse into eternity.  If a lot of people see the same thing, most of the time we believe it is true.

Heaven IS for real.  The book, the movie, the countless stories and the truth of Scripture all confirm its existence.  The real question is this: Do our lives, witnesses, and the hope that we have, convince those around us of the reality of heaven?

Vance Havner said, “If you are a Christian, you are not a citizen of this world trying to get to heaven; you are a citizen of heaven making your way through this world.”  We should focus on our true citizenship and we should focus on learning to “speak the language” of our citizenship.  Speak the truth about heaven – in love – or don’t say anything at all.  We want everyone to know that heaven IS for real.

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