post

The Kingdom Of Heaven Is Like A Sand Dollar

sand dollar

Last Thanksgiving, my family took a wonderful trip to San Diego. We stayed in a hotel right by the beach, and almost every day we were there, we were exploring the sandy shores. The weather was beautiful – sunny and warm – and although the water was too cold to get into the ocean, we had plenty of fun on the beach.

One of the things my kids wanted to do was search for sea shells. We have a giant bag full of them around here somewhere. One day while we were out, my daughter Zoey found a sand dollar. And at that point the search was on for more.

We searched high and low for hours, but only found the one sand dollar. I knew, and explained to my kids, that the best time to find sand dollars is right after high tide, early in the morning. But nobody (including me) wanted to get up that early on vacation.

Soon our vacation was over, we came home, time passed, and I forgot all about this experience. Until yesterday.

I worked yesterday until around noon, came home, had some lunch and decided to take a little nap. I fell asleep pretty hard actually, and had a dream.

I generally don’t remember my dreams, but the ones I do remember involve me either chasing something or being chased, falling off a cliff or building, showing up in middle school in nothing but my underwear, breathing under water (seriously – who dreams that?) or that I have a super power such as flight or the ability to turn invisible at will.

This dream was different. Vivid, but partly in black and white, partly in color.

In this dream, my whole family was on the beach again. It was sunny, but chilly. We were desperately searching for sand dollars, but all we could see were shiny rocks and sea shells. They were everywhere – they littered the beach, they hurt our feet as we walked over them.

We came to a low spot on the beach and a young man with long hair and darkly tanned skin asked us what we were doing. We told him we were searching for sand dollars, had been searching for hours and days, but had not been able to find anything except rocks and shells.

He looked at each of us, snapped his fingers and said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a sand dollar.” We looked, and where there had been nothing but rocks and shells, there were now sand dollars everywhere.

I was still dreaming. I could see the blue water of the ocean, the color of the sand, and that the sand dollars were that same sandy color – they had been there all along, but we couldn’t see them because of the rocks and shells.

When I woke up, I immediately knew what was going on in my dream. The beach was the whole world, and our desperate search for sand dollars was what everyone in the world goes through – a search for meaning, for purpose, for peace and rest. The thing being searched for is at hand, but it’s missed because of everything else that’s in the way – the worries of life. Jobs, laundry, dirty dishes, house payments – the day to day things that keep us from seeing what is true, what is real, what is eternal, what is just below the surface and blends into the background.

Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” If you’re a child of God, it is something you take with you everywhere you go. It is on us, the sons and daughters of the King, to prepare the way, to clear away the debris of the day to day so that the world can see what lies obscured in the background. And even for us it can be hard. We have the same worries as everyone else, but we also know that if we are seeking the Kingdom, all these other things will be added as well.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a sand dollar. Not at all hard to find! And people are searching for it. They are desperate, lost and alone. But we can show them the way!

post

Healed

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

on earth as it is in heaven

(This is the part 2 of a 7 part series of posts on the vision of Gateway Church, which is to see people saved, healed, set free, discipled, equipped, empowered and serving.)

What do you think of when you hear the word healed? Or when you hear people talking about healing, or people who claim to have been healed by God? I’ll be honest – I used to dismiss it. Coming from someone who has led his fair share of Wednesday night prayer meetings, where we spent a significant portion of the time going over the hospital list, that should be shocking. I didn’t believe in it.

But, I found out that God does all kinds of God-like things, regardless of whether I believe or not. And I came to realize that there are all kinds of healing, not just physical.

There is plenty of evidence in scripture that Jesus spent a great deal of time healing people from all kinds of physical ailments. Just read any or all of the gospels. And his disciples did likewise. What I want to ask is, does that type of physical healing still happen today?

Think about it like this – in Matthew 6, Jesus tells the people that they should “pray like this.” And then He says the words from above – “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Does this mean God’s will is not being done on earth? No I don’t think that’s what this means. I think Jesus is saying that in heaven – in God’s presence – things happen in a certain way, for a certain purpose. That purpose is the glory of God. So, all things that happen on earth should be to the glory of God as well.

Is that they way things really are? And if not, what can we do to make it so?

Just taking a minute to think about my day, I can tell you I did not glorify God in rush hour traffic this morning. I’m just going out on a limb, but I’ll bet not many people did, or ever do. And that’s just one part of my day. I didn’t lie, cheat, steal or kill anyone today. But my thoughts wandered away from heavenly things.

I think as a Christian, it should be normal for us to encounter heaven on a daily basis, and to take heaven and the conditions that exist there with us wherever we go.

What do we know about heaven? And not from people who claim to have died and been given a back stage pass and personal tour of the place by Jesus. What is heaven like?

I think it is a wonderful, perfect, awesome, terrifying place – since we are talking about actually being in the presence of God. It should change everything. I think that since it generally doesn’t, it means that most of the time we Christians are not seeking to be in His presence at all.

On earth as it is in heaven. Revelation 21 gives a little insight into what that will be like. These verses describe a new heaven, a new earth, a new Jerusalem coming down as a bride, and God dwelling with man. Then there will be no more sorrow or pain or death.

We are not in heaven, but we are not of this earth either – as Christians, we are straddling two realities. We walk this planet in physical bodies, but we are spiritual creatures and God actually dwells with us right now! And as such, we have access, because the veil is torn, to things we would not otherwise have had access to. We have God’s attention. And He’s big enough to give each of us His full, undivided attention at all times.

To be in His presence is an awesome, terrible thing. We are to approach him boldly and humbly, believing that what we ask, we will receive.

On earth as it is in heaven – words Jesus said we should pray. I think it’s a lifestyle worth living.

And now back to my point – if there is no sickness, no pain, no sorrow where God is, and if He dwells within us, if we take heaven and His presence with us wherever we go, why do we encounter so much sickness, pain and sorrow? Is God doing it wrong? Are the ones who are sick or hurting or mourning the ones who lack faith? No! It is the ones who carry His presence – we are the ones who lack faith, lack boldness, lack humility. Nothing changes because we don’t believe, because we don’t pray, because we hide who we are and try to blend in and be just like everyone else. You don’t want to come across as weird or anything, do you? No. So you do what everyone else does – “Yes I’ll pray for you!” and you think those words carry some kind of power but you never take it directly to the One who can change everything!

I say “you” a lot above, meaning “me” actually. I don’t see healing on earth as it will be in heaven because of me. And I have actually experienced physical healing, and I’ve seen it happen with my own two eyes, and still I have disbelief. Why? I don’t know, maybe I haven’t worked all the “Baptist” out of myself yet.

But I do know this – in my head anyway – that wherever we go, there God is. And just like always, He loves us, and He wants to know us. I think as we learn who He really is, and as we learn to become His sons and daughters, we will also begin to see more and more of His Kingdom all around us. And I think that means people will be healed physically, both because of who we are becoming, and because of who God is.

What do you think? Does God still heal people physically? Have you seen or experienced physical healing? Tell your story below –