A popular song called, ‘I Can Only Imagine’ invites us to imagine what it will be like when we meet up with Jesus after our death. Although I absolutely love the song, there’s one thing I wonder about when I hear it. The song doesn’t contemplate or mention the possibility of tears. Probably because of a certain verse in the book of Revelation.
He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world, and it’s evils are gone forever. (Revelation 21:4 NLT)
There will be no sorrow or crying or pain because the old world will have passed away. In other words, there will be nothing to cause sorrow, pain and tears. No sin, no selfish hurtful people, no fallen planet with it’s disasters, no sickness or disease, etc.
That will be wonderful! However, again I wonder about the tears. Doesn’t it seem to you like there’s a place in Heaven for the good kind of tears? This morning during my prayer time, I felt a wonderful connection with God that brought me to tears. Sometimes when I hold my wife or hug my children, attend a wedding or even think of how much I love my granddaughter, I’m moved to tears.
Yes, I’m a sentimental guy, but I’m in good company. The Bible records David crying a lot and once he’s mentioned as weeping until he had no strength left to cry. Then there’s Jeremiah the weeping prophet who wept over God’s people, their refusal to listen to God and their coming destruction.
Out of all the weeping Bible characters though, my personal favorite is Joseph. When his brothers (who had sold him as a slave and thought he was dead) came to Egypt, he secretly overheard them lamenting what they had done to him and he wept. Joseph wept again when he was reunited with his younger brother Benjamin. When he finally told his brothers who he was, forgiveness and love flowed. The Bible said he wept so loudly that he was heard throughout the palace. When he was reunited with his dad, the Bible says that Joseph hugged him and wept on his shoulder for a long time. When his dad died, Joseph threw himself on his body and wept over him and kissed him.
David and Jeremiah cried mostly as a result of sin – and the sorrow that it left in it’s wake. Joseph’s weeping came mostly when relationship was restored, needed to be restored or because it was (in the case of his dad’s death) temporarily suspended.
Let’s not forget the Bible’s most famous verse about tears, ‘Jesus wept’ (John 11:35). A verse recorded when Jesus arrived on the scene to raise His good friend Lazarus from the dead and saw everyone else weeping. The Bible records that twice during this event, Jesus was deeply moved. So was that just something Jesus did as a man? Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father.” Jesus represented God in everything he did, even in his tears. The ability to be deeply moved and show emotions are something God gave us from Himself.
I love what happened when Mary Magdalene and Jesus were reunited after Jesus’ resurrection.
Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). (John 20:10 – 16)
In a moment Mary went from tears of grief, confusion and pain, to tears of joy, amazement and thankfulness. Notice the angels and our Lord didn’t object to Mary’s tears. They only questioned her reason, “Why are you crying?”
Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would comfort those who mourn by replacing beauty for ashes, joy for mourning and praise for despair. (Isaiah 61:3) It’s true that ashes (devastation), mourning (loss) and despair (hopelessness) all cause sorrowful tears. However, beauty (restoration), joy (hope) and praise (thankfulness) also cause tears, but the kind we love to shed.
Before the fall, God created Adam and Eve with tear ducts and the ability to cry, weep and shed tears. Although I look forward to the day that there will be no sorrowful reasons to weep, I believe that tears of beauty, joy and praise should flow now and I’m hoping for all eternity. I believe that the book of Revelation is talking about tears of sorrow and not the tears our tear ducts were created to shed.
For those of you who think that heaven will be relatively emotionless and therefore practicing stoic frigidity now, my advice to you is to stop balling it all up inside and let it loose! God is love and he invented it’s emotion, it’s expression, and it’s tears. When you’re connecting with God and those you love, don’t be afraid to wear your love on your sleeve. Those tears bring God glory!
For those of you who are shedding tears of sorrow, don’t give way to despair. God has promised you restoration and has given you reason to hope and be thankful. He understands your tears and what you’ve been through and he’s there to comfort you. He’s also gently asking you, “Why are you crying?” because he wants you to look to him with hope, faith and expectation, trusting that he will turn your tears of sorrow into tears of restoration and joy.
The fact that the song (I Can Only Imagine) leaves out the possibility of tears becomes ironic when you realize how many of us have cried listening to it. If the very thought of seeing our Lord on that day brings us to tears, what will hold them back when it really happens? I don’t know about you, but I can imagine what I’ll be doing, I’ll be pulling a Joseph and breaking down and weeping tears of joy in His loving arms. And you better hope you’re not in the lineup behind me because I’ll be there for a long time.
For help with teaching your children about their Faith, check out The Singing Bible.
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad)
How should a Christian vote? It seems to me that, with very few exceptions, there are Christians backing each and every political party and asking others to do so along side them. There are Christians who align themselves with an issue or issues instead of a party. They believe that these issues are important to their Faith and therefore more important then their allegiance to a certain politician or political group. The problem here is that Christians seem to differ greatly in their opinions about which issues should be seen as paramount and also on what the stand on these issues should be. To top it all off there are Christians who believe that we shouldn’t get involved in politics at all. In short, Christians are all over the place regarding politics and how we should vote and in many cases are even opposing one another.
Please allow me to humbly throw my hat into the proverbial ring. However, instead of siding with any party or issue I would like to take a look at what God’s Word says about our vote. There are no scriptures that deal directly with government as we know it, democracy, voting etc. but there are teachings about our response to and responsibilities towards governments that can be applied to our vote today.
Let’s take a look at one of the primary New Testament portions of scripture that deals with church and government, 1 Timothy 2:1 – 4.
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1 – 4)
I don’t know about you but for years every time I read these verses or heard them preached the words “that we might live peaceful and quiet lives” always bothered me. Didn’t Jesus tell us that we are not to put the things of this life first but to put God’s Kingdom first? Didn’t he tell us that one of the first things we are to pray about is for his Kingdom and also that his will would be done on Earth? Isn’t it true that pretty much all of the New Testament writers and Jesus himself have called us to be witnesses for the Gospel and to endure persecution for doing so? Didn’t Paul, who wrote the above words to Timothy (and us) teach that we are to FIGHT the good fight, run the race to win the heavenly prize, to boldly share our Faith and also to expect persecution?
Perhaps I was misunderstanding the intent of Paul’s words to Timothy because the Bible does not contradict itself. The problem was that I wasn’t trying to understand Paul’s words in their context.
Please allow me to take the liberty of adding some commentary to Paul’s word’s so that I can get right to my point. Here’s what I now believe Paul to be saying in these verses, my words in parenthesis:
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone (all people everywhere)–(Also) for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (So that we can get on with growing in Christ, sharing the Gospel with everyone, and expanding God’s Kingdom everywhere, as unimpeded by Kings and governments as possible.) This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (And praying for authorities will help us accomplish this.)
When Paul penned these words the church was being persecuted everywhere. Nero was governing Rome and not too long after these words were written Nero put Paul to death. Paul was letting Timothy and the Church, then and now, know that we should pray for the gospel to be spread to everyone everywhere and that we should pray for the governments everywhere because doing so can help us get the job done. The Christians of that day easily understood Paul’s words because they were attempting to follow the Gospel’s mandates and they were being persecuted and stalled at every turn.
Our focus is to be on the spreading of the Gospel not a quiet and peaceful life. We need the governments to not oppose us and perhaps even cooperate with us so that we can use the resulting peace and quiet to get on with our calling.
So how does this relate to politics, democracies and our votes as Christians today? Well in my estimation understanding Paul’s intent in these verses makes it simple. We are to stick with our Kingdom first purpose and pray for governments to not hinder us and perhaps even help us. Since in a democracy we have a say or a vote, our vote should mirror our purpose and prayer. Simply put we should vote for the person, party government etc who (after prayer and consideration) we believe is most likely to not hinder but to promote our God given purpose, to grow as Christians, to spread the Gospel and to expand God’s Kingdom.
Any vote for any other purpose by a Christian, say for the economy, more tax breaks, more money in our pockets is a misguided vote for a peaceful and quiet life for the sake of personal comfort.
It’s recorded six times in the Gospels that Jesus said that those who deny their lives for the sake of the Gospel will find their lives, but that those who put their lives first will lose them. Let your vote count, vote for those who will be more likely to support God’s agenda for this planet.
I appreciate and welcome your comments.
For help with teaching your children about their Faith, check out The Singing Bible.
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad)
The best time to teach anyone anything is when he or she asks a question. Why? Because that is the time when the questioner has a desire to learn. Unfortunately, when our children ask us questions about God, Heaven, the Bible etc. we are often not prepared with the answers and the moment passes. Or worse yet we do our best to answer without really knowing for sure what the Bible says.
This book is a compilation of the original 8 books in the ‘101 Questions Kids Ask’ series. It was put together to provide parents with a handy reference for help answering their children’s questions when they arise.
The big difference between this compilation and the original books is that only a small amount of the over 800 illustrations have been included and the ones that are included are very small. This is ideal if you want the handy reference but if you are looking for a family devotional for your young children (ages 4 – 8 ) or a personal devotional for your older children (ages 7 – 12) it is best to use the original individual titles. The illustrations draw the children in and keep them wanting more.
Ideal as a ready reference for families with children of all ages. Buy Now
AMAZING QUESTIONS SERIES
The best time to teach anyone anything is when they ask a question. Why? Because that is the time when the questioner has a desire to learn. Unfortunately, when our children ask us questions about God, Heaven, the Bible etc. we are often not prepared with the answers and the moment passes. Or worse yet we do our best to answer without really knowing for sure what the Bible says. This series of books was created to help with this need and help parents give their children great answers when they are the most curious. In order to really make the book authentic every question we used was actually asked by a real kid. Millions of families have not only used these books for a handy reference but also as family and children’s devotionals to inspire more curiosity. Can be read with 4 – 8 year olds and is also ideal for use as a personal devotional for 7 – 12 year olds to use on their own.
A parent’s practical guide to God, Bible stories, children and church, bedtime prayers, virtues, and other spiritual stuff.
This book answers over thirty how-to questions commonly asked by parents about everything Christian.
Questions like, “How can I show my children that the Bible is trustworthy?” and, “What can I tell my kids about Heaven?”
The text does not just stop with the answers but moves beyond and supplies easy tools for getting the job done.
This book is recommended for parents who want practical hands on help with the basics.
A great gift idea for new parents, for relatively new Christians with kids, or for those who are contemplating reconnecting with their Christian heritage now that they have kids.
Do you remember your parents telling you to not air your family’s dirty laundry? It’s a metaphor which apparently can be traced back to Napolean. The idea being that you shouldn’t do laundry in public (eg hang clothes on a line to dry) that would reveal intimate details of your life and you also shouldn’t tell others about the troubles and private things that happen in your family.
I remember hearing this saying when I was young and my Granny was still alive. I remember wondering why (if this saying were true as a fact as well as a metaphor) she would hang her unmentionables on our clothes line when she visited. Now I should mention that my Gran was a wonderful lady but she was a very large woman and her private garments would attract attention. However, for some reason she seemed oblivious to this fact.
I’m telling this story because I believe that somehow, somewhere along the way, we’ve adopted the idea that what happens behind closed family doors is no one’s business but our own. Which has again somehow led to the idea that we are free to behave in ways in our homes that we would not act in public. Read more
In the very beginning of creation God announced that it wasn’t good for man to be alone. That announcement led to the first marriage, the first family, the first friends and the first community.
God created us to function in and be blessed by relationships. Not only in relationships with others but also in a relationship with him.
Jesus stated that the two greatest commandments were to love God and also to love others. Since God is love and therefore void of selfishness, his two greatest commandments should carry with them the greatest secrets of an awesome life and they do. Having a wonderful growing relationship with God and wonderful growing relationships with others is truly the biggest key to an awesome life. Loving and being loved. Read more
“Dad, why did God make me?”
“Dad, why can’t we go to heaven to see what it’s like, then come back home?”
“Dad, if God wants us to get to know Him, why doesn’t He let us see Him?”
All of the above are questions that my children have asked me. Why do I remember those out of all the questions they have ever asked? Well, because trying to answer those three questions is not something you easily forget.
Over the years, I’ve discovered that as difficult as some of my children’s questions are, taking the time to answer them is the most time-effective way to teach them. When children ask a question, all of their learning receptors are turned up to full. They’re curious. They’re thinking about it. They’re truly listening. They want to hear what you have to say. Taking a few moments to answer their questions can be more effective than hour-long sermons or lectures.