There is a kind of man that the “church crowd” tends hardly to notice and certainly not to visit often. He is a hunter, a fisherman – an outdoorsman. These men are in church, but most have learned to suppress their instincts and take on an elan of gentleness and superfluity of kindness that disguises this addiction to the rough side of life. Such a man never minds being alone, loves to work in his garage shop, and usually reaches his saturation point with about two Hallmark movies a year.
The outdoorsman doesn’t answer any unnecessary questions and consequently arrives on the scene with a veneer that is rock hard. But these men are not thoughtless miscreants; and, while they do not talk readily, once they sense that you know their origin and current dwelling place, they open up accordingly. Not infrequently I will have one say to me, “Man, I don’t want to go to heaven.” The first time that ever happened, I was stunned. Gradually I have come to understand.
Too many piously sweet songs about the streets of heaven; too many sloppy, syrupy, sentimental sermons and Sunday School lessons; too many promises that sound like an eternal eleven o’clock worship service in a boring assembly made up of folks who are as old as I! No wonder he does not hanker for heaven. Christians have given him a spurious reading of what it is. If informed that eternity with Jesus is not becoming a “cloud potato” floating in an ethereal sphere while playing a harp and polishing a halo, he will gain interest quickly. Heaven is adventure surpassing any hair-raising experience of this life in the presence of life forms about which he has never dreamed. Loaded with responsibilities and divine assignments, he will not tire and will never need “sick days.”
Well, you can imagine my great surprise the other day when my postman delivered to me a new book written by my pastor Dr. Robert Jeffress and entitled A Place Called Heaven. The subtitle of this devotional book is “100 Days of Living in the Hope of Eternity.” The book is blue as might be anticipated, but after that Pastor Jeffress follows the course he has long since established and simply tells it like it is. How refreshing! Dedicated to our Executive Pastor Ben Lovvorn and the FBC Dallas staff, I believe Pastor Jeffress must intend to work with them for a long session.
What about chapters on “Our Inevitable Journey to a New Destination,” “Heaven Should Affect the Way We Live Today,” “Why Are Stories About Near-Death Experiences So Popular?,” “Why Do People Have to Die?,” “Heaven Is Not Boring,” and “Heaven Is a Place of Enjoyable Work,” or “Ruling and Reigning with God.” One hundred days of salient questions are answered crisply and succinctly by a pastor who spends hours with people disembarking for heavenly shores. Pastor Jeffress says of this book he penned, “This is a practical way to set your mind on things above.”
Is heaven sweet? Yes, it’s sweeter than New England molasses. Is it beautiful? Its grandeur surpasses the combination of the Hawaii Islands and the Himalayan range. Do we worship? No Billy Graham Crusade ever began to equal the energy, passion, zeal, comfort, and solace that you will experience in every moment of heavenly worship. But heaven will appeal to every human in the most challenging way.
Next time you see a blue-jean-clad farmhand with rough, scarred hands and a sun-darkened face, do not sing another verse about “the dew is still on the roses.” Look him square in the eyes and say, “Hey fellow. Are you up for the most demanding and exciting confrontation of your life? Join me for the journey you will never forget.” Then introduce Jesus, your guide.
Oh, and get a couple of copies of Dr. Jeffress’ book on heaven – one for you and one for your new friend.