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Tag Archive | "Heaven"

Living with hope and joy


Pilgrim-BibleRev. Mike Shiery

Pilgrim Bible Church

West Pine St. • Cedar Springs

“And I heard a loud voice from Heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;  there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4) (NKJV)

These words of promise are especially poignant to me as I write this article. Just last week, a former college classmate and friend of mine, found his world suddenly ripped in two. His wife was leaving a store near their hometown when their two-year-old son broke loose from her grasp, dashed into the parking lot and was struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle. Obviously the family is devastated over this tragedy.

However, in the midst of overwhelming sorrow, what gripped my attention was how the family has responded during this difficult time. Although their hearts are broken, they have reached out to the driver of the vehicle with love and compassion. They have met with her, prayed with her, and assured her that there is no bitterness in their hearts toward her. Their words and conduct have resonated with quiet hope and certain joy, and their testimony in the midst of personal tragedy is impacting their community in a powerful way.

My friends long ago placed their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and now through tear-stained eyes of faith they rest confidently in the promise of our text. They realize that tomb that holds their son’s body is only temporary, that his spirit is with the Heavenly Father, and that this separation will come to an end! There is coming (as the old songs says) “A great, getting up morning.” Eternal reunion is assured through the victory which Christ won over death on Easter morning.

Perhaps someone reading these words is also grieving. Perhaps your world is upside down. Tragic events have shattered a tranquil existence. Let me remind you that as a Christian, through God’s grace, you can live with hope and joy.

When we say we have the hope of Heaven, we do not mean that in the way we usually use the word “hope.” Some of you right now are hoping that warm weather will arrive in a few weeks. In our beloved state of Michigan, you can hope that, but there is no certainty or guarantee it will happen that quickly.

However, when we talk of the “hope” of Heaven, we are talking from a standpoint of confidence. The Bible tells us that it is impossible for God to lie. That same Bible holds multiple promises from God that Heaven is a reality and that the separation of death for God’s children will end in an eternal reunion of joy.

Paul Helm wrote: “Though the life of Heaven is for our future, its certain occurrence imparts a confidence and joy during the present.”

C.S. Lewis said: “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.”

And maybe T.W. Hunt summed it up best when he wrote:

“In this life, pleasure ends itself. When the meal is past,  the enjoyment of taste and smell ceases. When the symphony ends, no audible harmonic vibrations remain. When the ride finishes, we ‘want to do it again.’

In eternity future, joy will be a continuum that never ceases. That joy will include within itself peace, expectation, beauty, sublimity. Our present understanding of pleasure only hints at the dimensions of enjoyment in the sheer outer joys of Heaven.” 

If you are hurting, allow me to encourage you. Joy is coming in the morning. Weeping only last for the night. And for the children of God, the best is yet to come!

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Is Hell real?


Barry Briggs, Senior Pastor

The Springs Church

135 N. Grant, Cedar Springs

 

Everybody wants to know the answer to the question, “What happens after I die?” In a recent survey, from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, they found that only 59 percent of Americans believe in Hell, compared with 74 percent who believe in Heaven. Even a well-known pastor, at a large church in Grand Rapids, wrote a book recently suggesting that Hell—as it has been traditionally understood–d oesn’t exist.

Those who challenge the notion of a place of eternal torment wonder, “How could a loving and gracious God send someone to Hell?” And, when the question gets framed like that, it does seem at odds. But what if God doesn’t send people to Hell? What if people choose to go there? What do I mean?

Hell is total separation from God. 1 Corinthians 16:22 (NCV) says, “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be separated from God—lost forever!” The choice is ours. If I don’t want God in my life now, why would I want to spend eternity with Him? Why would I say I want to live without God on earth, but I want to live with God in Heaven? That doesn’t make sense. God says, “You get to choose. If you don’t want Me in your life, I’ll stay out of your life—forever.” We can choose to accept Christ and live with Him forever, or we can choose to reject Christ and be separated from Him forever. So God doesn’t send people to Hell, they choose to go there.

What is Hell like? Think about this—if Hell is total separation from God, then it’s the exact opposite of everything God is. We know that “God is love.” That’s His nature. So what is it like to live completely separated from God? There’s no love there. God is light, so Hell is complete darkness. God is good, so there’s absolutely nothing good in Hell. God is life, so that means it is eternal death. God is gracious, that means there’s no grace there. You don’t want to choose Hell.

One of the big myths about Hell is that Hell is going to be a big party for all the people who like to party. Hell will be no party. For one thing, no one will see anybody else in Hell. It’s total separation from God and everybody else. There are no relationships in Hell. There are no friends in Hell. It’s total aloneness. It will be like being by yourself, in a pitch dark room, with no windows and doors, for all eternity. There’s no way in or out. In Hell you are alone and afraid, for all eternity, because there is no love.

Sometimes you hear these guys preaching about Hell on television—the hell, fire and brimstone preachers—and they’re yelling and they’re sweating. When you listen to them you think they want people to go there. What’s with that? I don’t want anybody to go to Hell. And God certainly doesn’t want anybody to go to Hell. Jesus doesn’t want anybody to go to Hell. That’s why He died on the cross.

So how do I avoid Hell? Colossians 1:21-22 (NCV) tells us. “At one time you were separated from God. You were His enemies in your minds, and the evil things you did were against God. But now God has made you His friends again. He did this through Christ’s death in the body so that He might bring you into God’s presence [that’s Heaven] as people who are holy, with no wrong, and with nothing of which God can judge you guilty.” The key that unlocks the door to heaven is friendship with God. If you become a friend of God in this life you will remain friends forever. If you are not a friend of God in this life, you will not be friends in the next.

Jesus says in Revelation 3:20 (NLT) “Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear Me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends.” Friendship with God is the key that unlocks the door of heaven.  Jesus is standing at the door of your heart right now. He is knocking. He is calling to you. If you open your life up to Him and let Him in, He promises to open the gates of Heaven and let you in. Why don’t you take a moment to do that right now?

 

 

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Foster mom sentenced in girl’s death


Joy Ann Heaven

Joy Ann Heaven, 31, of Gaines Township, was sentenced to 25-50 years in prison last week in the death of a Cedar Springs girl.

Emily Meno, 5, died of a brain injury last summer after Heaven, her foster mother, hit her with something hard. She entered a no-contest plea last month on a felony murder charge, just as her trial was about begin.

Circuit Court Judge Mark Trusock delivered the sentence, and told Heaven that Emily’s death “was not an accident,” but “an intentional and violent act.”

“(It was) more likely out of frustration, but because of you, this little girl will not be able to grow up and know her sister,” Trusock said, speaking of her twin sister Tiffany. “She will not be able to grow up and go to school and have a family, nor will she be able to enjoy holidays. What you did was violently kill an innocent 5-year-old child.”

Emily Meno

Both Emily and Tiffany were special needs children, and Heaven’s first placement as a foster mom. Tiffany has since been placed in a new foster home.

Emily is the daughter of Lori Meno, of Cedar Springs, and Carl Meno, of Sand Lake.

This is not the first heart-wrenching loss that Lori Meno has suffered. On August 17, 2009, her oldest daughter, April Sue Kirtley, 10, was killed when a drunk driver hit her father’s vehicle head-on after he had picked her up for visitation.

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Foster mom pleads no contest in death of Cedar Springs girl


Joy Ann Heaven

A foster mother from Gaines Township pled no contest to second degree murder Monday in the death last summer of a 5-year-old Cedar Springs girl.

Joy Ann Heaven, 30, entered the plea Monday just as her trial on a felony murder charge in the death of 5-year-old Emily Meno was about to begin. She had refused a similar plea deal last August.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, Heaven called 911 on Thursday, July 15 and reported that 5-year-old Emily, her foster daughter, was unresponsive. Emily was transported to Spectrum Butterworth and put on life support. She died two days later.

An autopsy determined that the cause of death was a sub-dural hematoma with bi-lateral retina hemorrhaging, and was ruled a homicide.

Emily Meno

After the autopsy, she admitted to police that she was frustrated with Emily for wetting her pants and being in her way, and that at about 8 p.m. she shoved Emily really hard. She told them that Emily flew through the air with her feet off the ground and landed on her head in the kitchen. She was unconscious for several seconds, but she was able to get Emily to wake up and sent her to bed. Around 10 p.m., Emily got out of bed and threw up, and then fell to the ground unresponsive. Heaven tried to revive her and called 911 when Emily wouldn’t wake up.

Emily and her twin sister, Tiffany, both special needs children, were removed from their Cedar Springs home in February and put into foster care. Tiffany has since been moved to another foster home.

Heaven reportedly worked with Bethany Christian Services, and this was her first foster experience.

A no contest plea is not a guilty plea but is treated as such for sentencing. Prosecutors agreed to a minimum sentence of 15 to 35 years in prison on the charge. Heaven will be sentenced in March.

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