Extreme Makeover – Heaven Edition

I love the show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I’m not an emotional guy, but I always get choked up when I watch the show. I just can’t help it.

One of the reasons that I love the show is because it’s a faint echo of what each Christian will experience when he or she comes face to face with Christ in heaven. For example:

Wrong Made Right

The show revolves around wrongs being righted. A family loses its house in a fire or a mom contracts leukemia and can’t live in her old, mildew-ridden house. By the end of the show however, everything is made right, and is even better than before. The homeless family receives a luxurious mansion tailored for their special needs. The family sheds tears of relief, because their hardship has been transformed into beauty.

Heaven is going to be the same way, but infinitely greater. Every injustice made right. Every tear wiped away. Perfect safety and peace in the presence of our Savior. Everything that has been twisted and torn by sin will be made right on the final day. Ty Pennington and his crew can make some things right. Jesus will make all things right.

Extravagant Generosity

The folks on the Extreme Makeover team take creative generosity to a new level. They build a house for a ravaged family and then pay the mortgage in full. They create a special bedroom for each person that reflects that person’s passions and desires. They raise money for the family and send kids to college. They bring in celebrities and do food drives.

The result? The end of every show is one “Oh my goodness” after another. The family is blown out of the water by the unmerited generosity they’ve received.

We’re going to experience the same feeling when we stand before Christ and are rewarded for our obedience. We’re going to exclaim, “You’re going to reward me? For that little act of service that was stained by sin? Oh my goodness. I don’t deserve this.” And then, as we’re overwhelmed by gratitude, we’ll cast our crowns back at the feet of the Savior.

The Loud Crowd

The family is always welcomed to their new home by a crowd that is going absolutely bananas. The people want to communicate their affection to the family and they want to see the family’s reaction to the new house. And so the crowd is screaming and giving high-fives and yelling, “Move that bus!”

We’re going to be embraced by a crowd in heaven. A multitude of saints awaits us, cheering us on even now, urging us to the finish line. When we arrive in heaven, we’ll hear their thunderous applause and shouts of, “You made it! I’m so glad you’re here! Isn’t God good?” Then we’ll hear the words we’ve always longed to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Finally Home

Every show concludes with Ty Pennington saying, “Welcome home family, welcome home.” The exiled family finally has a place to call home, a place for peace and rest.

We are exiles as well. As Randy Alcorn says, we were made for a person and a place. That person is Jesus, that place is heaven. When we arrive in heaven, we’ll immediately sense, this is the home I was always longing for. We’ll be with Jesus in the place we were made for. We’ll finally be home.

Do you like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition?

Was the Father Smiling?

When in college, every Saturday after Thanksgiving, I played in the “Turkey Bowl” (the original and true Turkey Bowl, not one of the ten thousand played across the nation which are but cheap imitations). Before this collar-bone-cracking, skull-smashing game of tackle football, the 2 best players would pick their teams. I always knew I’d be chosen last, like I had some kind of disease they might catch from me if I were on their team. By the time the picks dwindled down to me, the captain with last pick would “choose” me with as much enthusiasm as if he’d just been asked to shovel a mountain of manure.

I’m glad God didn’t choose his children with such “enthusiasm”. I can see the Father smiling as he wrote the names of his chosen ones in his book. He elected his own with joy and excitement, not in compulsion. He saved because it brought him pleasure and joy. God inscribed his children’s names on his palms with a happy flourish. Jesus said it was his Father’s pleasure to give his children the kingdom.

And can you imagine Jesus grumbling and dragging his feet about his role in the Father’s rescue mission? “Alright, I guess I’ll go if I really, really have to.” No, I can’t imagine it either. Jesus was delighted to do his Father’s will. And even now, Jesus can’t wait to enthrall us with his majesty and engulf us in his beauty. For he knows how much joy we’ll receive from seeing his glory. He takes pleasure in our pleasure in him. Can you detect Jesus’ excitement in the following words he spoke to his friends just before he died?

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God: believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:1-3 (ESV)

Recently my daughter Beth visited some friends for a couple weeks. Since we’d moved into our home, I’d never gotten around to remodeling her room, so when she left town I decided to bless her by doing an Extreme Room Makeover. I painted the walls in 2 colors she’d told me she liked. I bought a large Schefflera plant and a stylish pot for it, as well as an elegant chrome watering can with a long, slender spout. I replaced the knobs on her dresser with a wild variety of knobs, from Celtic-looking knobs to pewter leaves. I built a cool bookshelf and an end table Frank Lloyd Wright would envy. Purchased sleek looking lamps. Hung a huge poster of a Mark Rothko painting (one of her favorite artists) above the dresser, placed an antique hope chest at the foot of her bed.

What surprised me was how excited I began to feel as I anticipated Beth’s return. The more I worked on her room, the more I wanted to add new delights for her. The more my joy welled up at the prospect of seeing her face when she opened the door.

And then I thought of Jesus preparing a place for us. What joy he must have in preparing a place for us and anticipating our homecoming! If I experienced such joy in preparing a room for my daughter, what gladness must Jesus feel as he waits to show us his glory.

How the Father must have been smiling when he wrote our names in heaven.

Why not take a moment and tell the Father how glad you are he chose you and thank Jesus for the wonder you anticipate when you look into the face of joy.

By the way, Beth really liked her room.

The Permanent Ink of Heaven

“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.?When God writes someone?s name in heaven he will not erase it ? ever.

When we adopted our son, RJ his name was written down on an official document as being my son. Before signing that paper, the judge asked me ?Will you love RJ as your son, as much as any of your other children?? Of course I said yes. RJ is my son. His name is recorded, written down in an official court document as my son. I love him as my son. I won?t change my mind, ever. He will share in the inheritance with all my other children. He?ll get five bucks, just like each of my other children.

Having our names written in heaven means that they will never be erased. When we make reservations in hotels, we don?t worry about getting there and not having a room. They have our name written down. It doesn?t matter if we get stuck in traffic and get there late, our name is written down. A room has been reserved for us. I?ve never arrived at a hotel where I?d made a reservation to hear the desk clerk say, ?You know, I had your name written down, but then I just decided to delete it.?

Things in heaven are permanent. God doesn?t change his mind. When he writes down our name he doesn?t come back later and rub it out.

Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:15-16

God asks, Can you imagine a nursing mother forgetting her child? A mother has such an intense care for her baby she?d never forget that child. But it?s happened on rare occasions. But God says I will never forget my children, because he has engraved us on the palms of his hands.When my wife Kristi really needs to remember something she needs to do, she writes it on her hand, because she?ll see it continually through the day. God has ENGRAVED US on his palms ? this means he will NEVER FORGET US. We are continually before him. He never stops thinking of us, longing in love for us, not even for a second. What a reason to rejoice!

But what if I sin, what if I stumble and fall and disqualify myself from heaven?

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24-25

God has written believers? names in heaven ? he will keep us from stumbling and present us blameless before his glory ? and he?ll do this with great joy. Glory to our God who has written our names in heaven! Praise him for transforming you to be like Christ.

God, the Stars, and Your Hair

“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.?Jesus tells believers that as exciting as gifts or power may be, we should rejoice in our salvation. That our names are written in heaven. That God inscribed our names in heaven in eternity past, long before the dawn of creation, before the cherubim uttered their first cry of ?Holy?.

Jesus told the disciples rejoice that your names, your individual names, are written in heaven. God didn?t choose a nameless mass of people, but he chose individuals, by name.

God hasn?t chosen to save a huge crowd he doesn?t know personally. It?s not like God says OK, everybody whose last names begin with A thru L may now come in. God chose and knows individually.

Is this too hard for God? Jesus said that not a single sparrow falls to the ground apart from our Father. That every single hair on each one of our heads is numbered.

In Isaiah 40, God tells us that he brings out each individual star in heaven and calls each one by name and doesn?t lose track of a single one:

To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.? Isaiah 40:25-26

Think about it. God has named every individual star that exists. Scientists have estimated that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies, each one composed of hundreds of billions of stars. And there is not a single star that God has not named and does not remember.God is intimately aware of each and every one of his children:

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. Psalm 139:1-4

God knows you individually, intimately. He discerns your thoughts from afar and knows every word you?ll ever say before the words ever reach your tongue.Every individual star. Every individual hair on our heads. Every sparrow. Every thought.

God wrote every individual believer?s name in heaven before the universe existed. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, rejoice in God today for choosing you and writing your name ? your name – in heaven.

Don’t Rejoice In Your Power

“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.?

If you?re a believer, you?ve got power. Jesus blesses believers with grace and gifts of the Holy Spirit. But we?re not to rejoice in power, gifts or success, we?re to rejoice in our salvation. Rejoice that God wrote your name in the Lamb?s book of life when he chose you in Christ in eternity past.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. Ephesians 1:4

God inscribed our names in his registry before the foundation of the world, before creating the heavens, before flinging the galaxies across the sky. He chose us in the misty eons of eternity past, long before angels existed. God chose us before we were born, or had done anything good or bad.

Incredibly, God wrote our names in heaven knowing we?d rebel and reject him, and nail his Son to the cross. He also elected us fully aware that even after he saved us we would still sin.

God didn?t set his love on us because of anything worthy or desirable in us. For we were only wicked and rebellious. We were all running as hard as we could, hell-bent toward destruction when God said, ?I?ll save that one, and that one, and this one too.?

One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 31:3: ?I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.? For some reason found only in God he has loved us from all eternity.

This verse gives me great comfort. For if Jesus has loved me from all eternity, then he will continue his faithfulness and love toward me. He will love and keep me till the day I close my eyes in death. And when I open my eyes in heaven?s eternal morning, I?ll gaze upon the face of him who loved me with an everlasting love. And forever I will praise the One who wrote my name in heaven before I was born.

Does this encourage you? Take a moment and thank God for choosing you and saving you. Try to praise him throughout the day for loving you with an everlasting love.

What To Do When You Cast Out A Demon

Occasionally I take a walk in a cemetery located near our church building. Some of the tombstones date back to the Civil War and the Spanish American War. Some are so weathered and worn you can?t even make out the names. I?ve thought, That?s all that remains of that person?s life ? a stone with the name wiped away. I?m glad God has written believers? names where they can?t be wiped away.

In Luke 10:17, seventy-two disciples return pumped from a short-term mission trip, saying, ?Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!?

Imagine one disciple interviewed by a sports reporter:
Reporter: ?How did it feel today to be casting out those demons??

Disciple: ?It felt great man! You know those demons they were really tough, they didn?t want to come out of those people, but we came into their house to make a statement. We came in there real physical ? we came to play. Every one of us gave a hundred and ten percent. Yeah, we?re lookin? forward to the next time.?

Jesus responds: ?I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you?? Jesus says, ?Yes, I?ve given you power over the enemy, but don?t rejoice in this.? Don?t be glad if you can cast out demons or heal the sick. Don?t rejoice if God has gifted you or blessed your ministry. Even unbelievers can do works of power: On that day many will say to me, ?Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?? And then will I declare to them, ?I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.? Mt. 7:22-23

Here?s what Jesus says we should be glad about: Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.? If you have trusted in Christ, rejoice that your name is written in heaven. Not on some tombstone that will wear away. Not in some club?s membership book. Your name is written in the Lamb?s book of life, never to be erased, never to be forgotten. Rejoice that God has saved you from your sins and adopted you into his family. Now THAT is something to be glad about. Why don?t you take a couple minutes right now and thank your heavenly Father for writing your name in heaven and sending his Son to save you.