I received this book and workbook one night in a random giveaway from someone at church (Thank you Dave!!) which has since been probably… well over a year ago. I had seen this book before in Mardel and had actually wanted it – on my list of books to someday own and read , of course.
This is one of those books that I managed to “read” by listening to the audiobook while I work. It took me about a day and a half (based on my 9 hour work day, between calls, emails and interruptions that need my attention).
There were times during the reading of this book that I thought of my Dad. Perhaps, had I read this closer to when I received the book itself, I might have been even more comforted by the reality of heaven and the account of this one man’s story. Of course, I know where my Dad is and that Heaven is real, always have. There’s something about someone’s real account of being pronounced dead, seeing heaven’s gates and all the loved ones in full glory and beauty so bright you can’t fathom it.
After reading this story, I went to the workbook and began note taking from it for this blog post. It’s a 7 week study and I’ve broken each of these out below with my brief notes.
Heaven in the next instant?
The study of the brevity of life
While Don Piper was laying in a mangled car, trapped, a sheet laying over him, pronounced dead at the scene, a man named Dick Onerecker was called by God to pray for Don. This didn’t make sense to anyone else at the location, but he did it anyway.
James 5:16 calls us to pray for one another that we may be healed. Prayer was and is not limited to one set of people. If it were, we would not be encouraged to pray about everything.
One question in the book begins like this: Though He loves us and cares about our well-being, God gives us no assurance of mortal life past the present moment. Why do you think that is?
God knows that there is plenty of suffering and pain on earth. He has limited our time here to spend eternity with Him without all the things this world gives us. We don’t know when our last breath will be. We’re encouraged to live each moment and be present, live in such a way that you’re ready to be with the Father tomorrow. Some days, I don’t feel ready. Some days, I want to just be taken.
…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.James 4:14 ESV
People can never predict when hard times might come. Like fish in a net or birds in a trap, people are caught by sudden tragedy.Ecclesiastes 9:12
Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered –
how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you:
at best, each of us is but a breath.Psalm 39:4-5
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.1 Peter 2:9
If you have ever endured serious pain or trauma, list the good things that came from it. I encourage you, along with Don Piper, to share that experience with others.
does God still work in miraculous ways?
The study of God’s continuing work among us
Do you believe God still performs miracles? I do! There’s been times where people have defied odds of survival or came through something that seemed like at first they wouldn’t based on what science tells us. Don Piper says that one reason God isn’t as obvious about miracles is actually our own spiritual blindness.
Living in the age of rationalism, we have lost a sense of the miraculous and therefore must fight all the harder to attune ourselves to God’s work and voice. He acts and speaks a lot more than we realize.Don Piper
Prayer. Believing and full faith prayers work. Do you think that if you pray a prayer without believing one bit that God can perform the miraculous that God would perform such miracle? Obviously, He can do what he wants, but God is going to perform for those who believe. Our western culture doesn’t much believe in the supernatural, which has also hindered miracles being seen. That doesn’t mean they do not happen, they happen every day. When you’re unbelieving, your eyes will not be open or as open to such happenings as they could or should be.
Something that disillusions believers is the unanswered prayers – or prayers that are not answered the way we want them.
When Dad was in the hospital, was I supposed to pray for God to do His will or heal my Dad with stage 4 cancer? I prayed that this was some mistake, some dream… I prayed that He would heal Dad and that we could make more memories. The 23+ years I had with him just weren’t enough. At the same time, I prayed that I would be comforted, along with everyone else, if and when God took Dad to Heaven. I knew the possibility that God could heal Dad, though scientifically I knew the chances were minimal – especially when Dad refused any kind of treatment except the meds to keep his pain at a bearable level. The last night, I prayed that I would be okay, that I would be able to let go. I was able to. I was able to sleep knowing that soon, my Dad wouldn’t be around. Was it really any easier to travel to the hospital at 4:30am? No. I was comforted by loved ones and God though, knowing that Dad was healed and at Home. In that way, God did answer my prayers for healing.
When we pray for something outside of God’s plan, He has to tell us no by not “answering” our prayers. He is a Father after all, we can’t be told yes every time – we’re blessed, not spoiled children of God.
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Do you know someone who has experienced a miracle? Share their story.
Is it easier to ask for God’s intervention in a crisis or in the everyday?
Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.Hebrews 11:1
God still works miracles because we still have needs. And He often does His work in wholly unexpected ways. Aren’t you glad He is willing to reach down into nature and massage events for our benefit? It’s all because of His great love. His miracles will never cease because His love will never cease (Ephesians 3:17-19).Don Piper
Who will we see in heaven?
The study of our Heavenly reunion
Those in heaven know who is there, but they do not know who is absent, and thus they experience no anguish over separations. However, they will know when their loved ones arrive and will meet them joyfully, just as my friends and family members met me.Don Piper
Those in Heaven are the one’s who know and accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. It’s the only way to Heaven – we know that.
While most Christians believe intellectually that they will see their lost loved one again, the loss often plunges their hearts into a lasting gloom, as if the separation were permanent.Don Piper
It’s important to remember that the separation we on earth feel is temporary. They do not feel the separation in Heaven. Our time on earth is measured, yet short. Time in Heaven will be eternal. The time here in this realm is so short in comparison.
That being said, the urgency we should feel is real. Urgency to speak life and truth into the world – what we’re called to do, but may slack on thinking we have the rest of our lives to get to it. Reality says that the time is now, today.
How confident that you are getting into Heaven?
Who will you see there?
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.2 Peter 1:5-11
The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
What is heaven like?
The Study of Heaven and the Life hereafter
There are a lot of commentaries out there that supports different versions of Heaven. Don Piper visited for but a short time, an instant – barely a moment in Heaven’s time span, and he tells his story and what he saw in his book. It’s interesting and is quite long and he has much detail. I would encourage you to look it up if you’re interested!
I will continue to believe that we do not know what it will be like . I know that whatever it is, God will be there and we won’t be thinking about what it looks like – we will just know we are home with our Creator and we will be glorifying Him in our new lives.
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.1 Corinthians 13:12
Are angels real?
The Study of angels and their place in God’s order
Hebrews 13:2 tells us that angels may be in the form of man without us knowing. Before that, in Hebrews 1:14, it says that angels/spirits are sent to care for people who will inherit salvation. What an encouragement to us!
Of course angels are real according to scripture. For me personally, I’ve experienced the unbelief only because I think of ghosts or spirits that act like God, intervening of their own will. When I go back to the word, I’m reminded that that’s not the case. These angels are not ghosts or spirits working by their own mind or will. They are sent by Him who gives them guidance and missions to carry out. Since they are from Heaven, they have different standards and are not swayed by earthly things.
And yet what utterly amazes me is that, in spite of thee tremendous responsibilities and the difficulties we cause them – in spite of the fact that we are newcomers in God’s creation who fell and rebelled against God – they love us. They help us. They rejoice when we turn to God, and they joyously celebrate our arrival in heaven.Don Piper
Does heaven change anything now?
The study of how turmoil and pain prepare us for heaven
My experience has caused me to ask people this question: “If you knew where you were going, would you act differently on the way?” I hear that most Christians who know that a heaven awaits them do not act as if they were going. They seem sour, complaining, and critical instead of joyful.Don Piper
How are you responding to the journey to Heaven?
If we know where we’re going, we should help others on the way. It makes the trip much better because it gives us a sense of purpose as we journey. Life can shatter us with devastating blows, but God can turn our adversity into a message.Don Piper
During this past year, I’ve been reading and digging deeper into the Word, seeking encouragement and also just learning more about God and what He has for me in my experience with loss and grief. I’ve been able to talk to other people about my feelings, how I’m coping and listen to them as well. One of the ways I’ve been able to cope is through my writing. It’s been incredibly beneficial for me to have this outlet to share with you, my readers, pieces of what I go through and formulate my thoughts in a way that I just can’t always seem to do verbally. I hope that through my coping, it helps someone else cope and learn to lean on God for their comfort and assurance that this isn’t all there is and this time we have here is only temporary.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Are you longing for Heaven?
The study of our purpose here on earth
This year in particular has been the single most strange year I think for everyone of every age. Everything seems to be wrong with the world and you have to search out the good things (yes, they are there!). At times, I have just wanted Jesus to come back. I want to go to Heaven. This world is so messed up and I want out. Wanting out doesn’t serve God’s purpose though.
I endure enough pain that heaven offers a very attractive release, and I’m not alone by any means. Paul endured plenty of pain, including some kind of chronic affliction. He expressed a strong desire to go on to heaven, but as long as he was on the earth he endured and found joy in the journey. God gives the grace to endure and keep on going, but one day the journey will end.Don Piper
How are you dealing with the misfortunes of this year? Are you being obedient to the things God still calls you to this year? Are you patiently and actively waiting on your trip Home? Are you ready?
When Christ calls me Home I shall go with the gladness of a boy bounding away from school.Adoniram Judson
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect me and comfort me.Psalm 23:4
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.Isaiah 41:10
For we know that when this earthly tent wwe live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.2 Corinthians 5:1-4
Thank you for reading this long post and I hope you could glean something from these some 2000+ words!