Tag Archives: What will heaven be like?

The Truth About Heaven

by Michael J. Klassen

Heaven on Earth
We need it now
I’m sick of all of this
Hanging around
Sick of sorrow
Sick of pain
Sick of hearing again and again
That there’s gonna be
Peace on Earth

 Ten years ago, poet Paul David Hewson penned these words about heaven. You might know him better as Bono, of U2 fame. The song is entitled “Peace On Earth” which you can watch in the video above.

Strange—all too often we become so satisfied with the world we live in that we tend to forget about heaven…until people like Bono, Rob Bell, or Harold Camping remind us of its significance.

Do you ever long for heaven, I mean, really long for it? Centuries ago, negro spirituals brimmed with hope for the hereafter. Life as they knew it was so difficult that the African-American slaves looked forward to the day when they would experience relief from the pain and frustration of this present life.

To be honest, I don’t long for heaven near like I should. Sometimes I find myself quite satisfied with my life…until something bad happens. All too often, life must get so difficult that we give up placing our hope in the present.

Perhaps that is partly the purpose behind our pain—to remind us that this earth is not our home. At least not in its current form.

In Hebrews 11, we read a description of the great men and women of faith as people who admit they are “foreigners and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13). Perhaps that’s what made them great people of faith: they refused to make this present earth their home, preferring to focus on the treasures of heaven.

So what will heaven be like?

  • It will be a beautiful city—think the Emerald City from Wizard of Oz, but better! (Revelation 21)
  • No one will grow old because the tree of life will be there to give us food (Genesis 3:22; Revelation 22:2). Gray hair, be gone!
  •  Eventually it will descend to its permanent location—earth (Revelation 21:2).
  • Jesus will live there with us (Revelation 21:3).
  • Boredom will be no more (Psalm 16:11).
  • No more death, pain, tears, sorrow, sickness, hospitals, operations, tragedy, disappointment, trouble, hunger, or thirst (Revelation 21:4; Isaiah 33:24; Revelation 22:3; Isaiah 65:23; Revelation 7:16).
  • No need for naps because you won’t get tired (Isaiah 40:31).
  • Life will resemble our present lives here on earth—but without the bad stuff (Isaiah 65:21-22).

As much as we might like our lives, they pale in comparison to the real thing.

Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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Imagination: God’s Greatest Gift

By Eugene C. Scott

My mom was proof that, though humans were cast out and barred from the Garden, we took a piece of Eden with us, like dirt lodged under our fingernails. For nearly twenty-five years my mother lived in an ugly two-story brick apartment building in a part of the city that no longer had much going for it. No parks, few trees–buggy elms–and only the constant rush of cars going elsewhere surrounded her. Surely no garden.

Yet mom transformed that place. She had a wonderful imagination, an artist specializing in raising rose bushes. Every summer on the canvas of dirt between the apartments and where the cars nosed in to park she created a masterpiece of color and beauty. By mid July, red, yellow, white, burgundy, pink, and multicolored roses splashed their colors against the pale brick and rusted iron railing of that old building. Summer after summer people from all over the neighborhood streamed by to see what mom’s horticultural imagination had wrought.

When mom passed away in 2003, the whole neighborhood groaned in grief. For comfort, my family and I imagined mom, now healed of her emphysema, planting a rose garden in heaven, taking God’s best and giving it her own unique twist. Between tears we laughed and smiled at that picture.

Then at the memorial service, mom’s well-meaning and beloved pastor decided it was time to dispel that notion. We don’t know that there is gardening–or are even roses–in heaven, he said. He read a passage about heaven (I don’t remember which one) and told us heaven is not about continuing what we loved doing here but about being forgiven of our sins. He continued, Only what is true, not what is imagined can bring you comfort.

On one level he was right, of course. Even what we imagine heaven or God–or anything really wonderful–to be like will pale in light of God’s reality. My mom may well have gladly chucked her spade upon entering the Pearly Gates.

But . . .

Imagination is one of God’s greatest gifts. Imagine what life would be like without it (sorry).

Just think. Robert Adler imagined not having to get up from the couch to change the television channel. Viola, the remote control.

But seriously, you name it. If it exists, someone imagined it. Leif Enger’s surprising, glorious novel, “Peace Like a River,” “Star Wars,” the Internet, the artificial heart, my mom’s rose garden in the middle of a concrete jungle.

Imagination is also what infuses faith. As a matter of fact, faith would not be possible without God’s gift of imagination. By imagination I don’t mean only dreaming up Easter Bunnies. That’s only the starting place. I mean seeing something real that is not yet there–or is not there on the surface of things.

For example, some see the cross only as so much misused lumber or–today–mere jewelry. But Jesus imagined it as the ultimate instrument of healing. His death and resurrection made it so. Our God-given imaginations then let us see into the past as Jesus hung on that cross and at the same time gaze into the future as Jesus welcomes us back to the Garden.

This is the kind of imagination that thrilled atheist C. S. Lewis and made him see that “Nearly all that I loved I believed to be imaginary; nearly all that I believed to be real I thought grim and meaningless.” He read books, like George MacDonald’s fantasy, “Phantastes,” and found faith and Christ buried in the poetry and prose. His imagination was the tool God used to dig out those truths. Later, moving from atheism to belief in Christ, Lewis said his new faith came from having his imagination baptized. We know the end of that story. Lewis then used his baptized imagination to write stories that helped thousands believe in a God who came down into a weedy, overgrown garden to bring it back to its original state. Without an imagination Lewis, and you and I, would never believe.

Traditionally Lent is about fasting, giving up for a time what we think we have to help us yearn for and realize what we don’t yet believe we really do have. This Lent let God baptize your imagination. As Crystal Lewis sings, let God give you “beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning, peace for despair.”

God can and will show you the truth that he has planted beautiful roses even among the harsh, concrete reality of day-to-day life. As Paul said, God can do far more than we can hope or imagine.

So, what was that piece of the Garden, stuck under our fingernails, we took with us from Eden that day? Our ability to imagine what it once was and what it one day will be. And no matter what my mom’s pastor said, I can still imagine mom in the Garden–sleeves rolled up, dirt smeared face, smile a mile wide, pruning back a red rose. One day I’ll join her, I imagine.

Eugene C. Scott writes the Wednesday Neighborhood Cafe blog.  If you’re reading this on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com. Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO

Beginning on March 13–the Sunday following Ash Wednesday–we will begin a Lenten series titled “Embrace: Discover, Desire . . . Jesus” at The Neighborhood Church.  During worship we will explore those things of God we can embrace and add to our lives as a response of love to Jesus.  These worship gatherings will also include hands-on opportunities to practice these things God asks us to add to our lives.  Join us.  See tnc3.org for worship times.


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Why Jumping To The End Of The Book Might Be The Best Thing For You

My daughter Allie loves to spoil of any movie or book I want to see. Even without asking, she’ll unapologetically describe the ending just as we’re entering the theater.

But sometimes, beginning with the last chapter can actually work in our favor.

Jumping to both the end of the Old Testament (Malachi) and New Testament (Revelation), brings us to the same place. First, it brings us to Jesus, but also, it brings us healing, restoration, reconciliation—and it brings us to a new creation. Even Psalm 150 offers a triumphant ending to the end of days. The correlation between Malachi 4 and Revelation 22 are astounding. In the same way, the correlation between Revelation 22 and the first 3 chapters of Genesis are equally astounding.

Most encouraging of all, we read in Revelation that “no longer will there be any curse.” The curse that Adam and Eve brought upon themselves and us in the garden of Eden will no longer apply. No more death. No more crying. No more hunger or pain or sickness or weight loss programs or insomnia or awkward moments…anything that affects us through the curse will no longer exist.

We also learn that we won’t be spending eternity in heaven. Instead, we will live on the new earth (see Revelation 21). The present earth gives us glimpses of what it will be like, but someday, we will enjoy the earth and life the way God intended at the beginning of creation. And we will live in an unhindered relationship with God.

I can’t wait!

So why is it helpful to begin with the last chapters? They gives us a glimpse of what life will be like someday. Knowing how good it will be gives us strength when we encounter the various facets of the curse that Adam and Eve handed down to us.

Someday, life will be perfect.

So what do we do while we wait?

Without a doubt, Jesus knew we’d be asking that question. Three times in the final chapter, Jesus says “I am coming soon.” Obviously, “soon” according to Jesus’ definition is different than ours because 1900 years after he gave this promise, he still hasn’t come. But perhaps he gave us this promise because he wanted us to live as if he were coming soon. It means living with the end in mind. Better yet, living with eternity in mind.

That is the life God has called us to.

Sounds like a good way to begin the new year!

*As you probably already know, the format for A Daily Bible Conversation will change in the new year. However, if you’d still like to read through the Bible using last year’s posts (as some of you have already request), you’ll be happy to know that we’re going to keep them online.

Also, I invite you to read my few parting words a little further below in “The Final Word.”


Malachi 3:1-4:6
Revelation 22:1-21
Psalm 150:1-6
Proverbs 31:25-31


Malachi 3:1-4:6. In the beginning of Malachi 3, God tells the people to return to him. And what does that “returning” look like? Returning to God what rightfully belongs to him in the form of tithes and offerings. While the concept of tithing is scarcely supported in the New Testament, we can look at this as generosity toward God. And really, our generosity often reflects the state of our heart. That’s why Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 and Luke 12:34).

Amazingly enough, the book ends with a smooth transition to the Gospels as we read about the prophet Elijah who “will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6). This prophecy was fulfilled in John the Baptist (Matthew 11:10-14 et al). Luke 1:17 describes John the Baptist this way:

And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.



Over the last 13 years, God has allowed me to write 14 books for other people or myself. When people ask me what it’s like to write a book, I tell them, “Writing a book is the second hardest thing I’ve ever done.” When they ask me, “What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?” I tell them, “Being married.” Marriage is a great deal of work.

But now, with daughters #2 and #3 in their teenage years, I’d have to say that parenting teenagers is the second hardest thing (although it’s vying for number 1!), pushing book-writing to number 3.

But on a consistent basis, blogging ranks up there with writing books. In fact, the amount of writing between Eugene and me is equivalent to about one book every month.

A year ago, I launched A Daily Bible Conversation by writing a post every day of the week. Every day of the week! Initially, friends would tell me, “Mike, I really enjoy your blog—but I can’t believe you’re writing every day. That must be a lot of work!”

“Oh, it’s nothing,” I would reply.

But it was.

And by the beginning of the summer, I was wearing out. In fact, I planned to shut everything down by the end of June because it was not only consuming too much of my time (15-20 hours a week), but it was also draining me emotionally and creatively. All this without any compensation.

The excellent movie Julie and Julia (which began as a book), comes to mind. In the movie, Julie Powell decides to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s famous cookbook Mastering The Art Of French Cooking in one year’s time—and blog about it. In order to accomplish her goal, she would need to cook at least one recipe every day. She begins strong, but midway through her pilgrimage, she wears down and nearly loses her marriage. Somehow, she crawls to December 31 and achieves her goal.

Although my life didn’t reach the low ebb of Julie Powell’s, I could certainly identify with the movie.

So, in the effort to save the A Daily Bible Conversation, I decided to ask my co-pastor and aspiring writer Eugene Scott to contribute. Interestingly enough, the same day I was planning to extend him an invitation, he offered to jump in and contribute. I feel incredibly blessed to work beside him. Eugene, thank you.

At various times, Mike Mullin, Mark Benish, Jeff McQuilkin, and my wife Kelley contributed as well. Please accept my sincerest thanks.

But I also want to thank all of you for the last year. A Daily Bible Conversation has grown significantly since last January 1, 2010. As of the end of this year, our posts are now read over 4,000 times in a month by people in North America, Australia, and Africa (if other countries and continents are represented, please let me know!). I’m also thankful for the many people who have offered the nearly 600 comments. Elna Dreyer, who lives near Cape Town in South Africa, has been our champion comment-er. Thank you Elna—and the many others—who have made this a Bible conversation.

So for the first time in a year, this blog will be silent over the weekend. Then Monday, we will begin The Neighborhood Café: A Faithblog Community, an extension of A Daily Bible Conversation. You don’t need to find us on the Internet because we’ll remain at the same web address. Eugene and I will offer posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—along with our friend Jadell Foreman. The format will look slightly different, but you’ll still read stories and reflections about where our faith intersects with life, all firmly grounded in God’s word. We hope you’ll like it!

Well, that about concludes this final post of the year.

May God bless you richly in the New Year in unexpected ways—as he has in the past and as he will in the future. This is our hope.

Michael J. Klassen


  1. How has God spoken to you or changed you over the last year by reading his word?
  2. What insights stand out to you?
  3. What does “living with eternity in mind” look like in your life? Do you live that way right now? Why or why not?
  4. How can you live with eternity in mind in the new year?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.


Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.


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