Heaven Life


Featured song: Changed In A Moment by Wayne Watson, from the 1985 album Giants In The Land.

Yesterday, June 6, 2010, Dana Key died suddenly. He was a founding member of the Jesus music duo Degarmo & Key, along with friend Eddie DeGarmo. At the time he died, he had been pastor of a church in Cordova, Tennessee. Along with many others, I am saddened by the news of this loss.

As I myself get older, the news of someone’s death in my age group (Key was 56, just two years older than I) seems to have greater impact than it did in the past. I’ve always had the attitude of “that could be me” when I hear such news, as I have no illusions to my own immortality or indestructibility. Working as a physician, I see disease and death often happen to people who are not “old”.

If you’ve read past entries in this blog, you know that one of my fond dreams is about Heaven, and what it will be like. That threshold we all have to cross, however, is that of Death. It can happen unexpectedly (auto accident) or after a known illness (cancer), but it comes to all.

What Dana Key knew, and what all believers in Jesus should know, is that the life that will be there for us after death is completely outside of our imagination. As written in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” And as much as this life has things in it that are beautiful, enjoyable, or wonderful, the things in heaven will be way beyond anything that we know here.

To commemorate the passing of Dana Key, I am not playing one of his songs. I am picking one by Wayne Watson that seemed appropriate. It deals with the concept of the second coming of Jesus, but is just as applicable to the transition from earth to heaven that happens to us one at a time.

Changed in a moment
In the twinkling of an eye
Taken up into Glory
Seated at the feet of God the Father
Singin’ with the angels, Allelujah!
Any moment now, we could be changed!

I have heard it for some time now
This life will soon be done
That our striving will be over
And the world will soon be one
That the Lord Himself will call us
That the trumpet blast will sound
And the graves will all be opened
And holy feet will leave the ground

Changed in a moment
In the twinkling of an eye
Taken up into Glory
Seated at the feet of God the Father
Singin’ with the angels, Allelujah!
Any moment now, we could be changed!

Oh, I remember praying
In the happy days of youth
For the world to keep on turning
There was so much left to do
There were battlefields to conquer
There were mountains left to climb
And dreams to be realized
But now I’ve changed my mind

Some of the goals that seemed unreachable
Are finally in my grasp
Some of the dreams most unbelieveable
Have come to be at last
And although I’ve had a better life
Than I ever thought could be
There is a better day a-comin’
When He comes back for you and me!

Changed in a moment
In the twinkling of an eye
Taken up into Glory
Seated at the feet of God the Father
Singin’ with the angels, Allelujah!
Any moment now (any moment now)
Any moment now (any moment now)
Any moment now, we could be changed!

Any moment now, we could be changed!

Any moment now, we could be changed!

Any moment now, we could be changed!


Roll Call

Featured song: Lazarus Come Forth, from the 1984 album by Carman, Comin’ On Strong

The Raising Of LazarusAnyone who grew up in a church that had Sunday school classes for children was exposed at a young age to stories from the Bible. There were stories from the New Testament about Jesus, but there were also those great stories from the Old Testament about the encounters that people had with God over the thousands of years before Jesus came to earth.

All of the most interesting stories are those in which God does something miraculous in His interactions with people. Hebrews 11 in the New Testament is specifically discussing the topic of faith, but in the process it gives snap shots of many of the miracles of those saints of the past.

These stories are compelling because they are not part of the ordinary life that we usually see from day to day. They inspire, they provoke dreams, and they have built up my confidence in the certainty that God interacts in daily life.

In today’s song by Carman, we have another Jesus story. Again, it is told from the point of view of someone in the story as he lives through it. The story is about Lazarus, one of Jesus’ friends, and his two sisters. Lazarus became ill; Jesus heard about it, but purposely chose to not come and heal Lazarus. Instead, He allowed this illness to take Lazarus’ life. And that choice made the miracle all the more miraculous, because it was not only a healing, but a resurrection from the dead.

The story, told from Lazarus’ point of view, shows his journey from life into death, and his interaction with the faithful dead saints of the past. It is told in the context of these souls having a meeting, and each sharing his or her testimony of God’s action in their life, how they knew Him. The song is a powerful reminder that God can make the difference in a life — in my life, and in your life, even today!

“I am the resurrection and the life
He that believeth in me
Though he were dead
Shall he live”

A certain man had died
In the town of Bethany
And Lazarus was his name

The Bible says he was
A man that Jesus loved
And his sisters
Thought it was a shame

Mary and Martha longed
For Jesus’ healing touch
To come and raise their brother
‘Cause they loved that boy so much
But Jesus had a plan
Not known to any man
That would soon take away their pain

They was waiting for Jesus to come and say
Oh, Lazarus,
Hey, Lazarus, come forth!

When he died he went to where
The saints of God did stay
In the holding place
They lived beyond the tomb

And there he saw Elijah, Moses and Samuel, even Ruth
And all the others, jammed up in a room
He turned around and saw Ol’ Gideon standin’ by the door
He walked up, said, “Hey, brother
Tell me, what’s this group here for?”
Well, Giddie said,
“Well, alright, this is testimony night;
Have a seat, man, ’cause the meeting’s startin’ soon!”

While Mary and Martha just wanted to see their Lazarus,
Oh, Lazarus,
When will their Lazarus, come forth?

Moses shook his stick, said,
“Now, this meeting come to order!
Can I get a witness for the Lord tonight?”

Abraham kicked it off, said,
“I want y’all know that I knew Him;
He gave a child to my barren wife!”

Isaac waved his hand, said,
“Hey, daddy, I knew Him, too!”

Jacob jumped up, says,
“Amen, Grandpa, preach it!”

Old dignified Solomon
He adjusted his robe, said,
“I knew him; He made me so smart,
I started to teach it.”

Ezekiel said, “I knew Him
As a wheel within a wheel.”

Job said, “Man, he healed me
When I was almost dead!”

Sampson said, “I knew Him
When some Philistines tried to jump me;
I took a donkey jawbone, busted a few heads!”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said,
“We knew Him in the fiery furnace.”

Jonah said, “Man, He gave me a second chance!”

Daniel cried out, “I knew Him
In a hungry den of lions”

The Holy Ghost hit King David,
He just started to dance!

Lazarus got so excited,
He shouted, “Hey, I knew Him too!”

Moses put down his stick,
Said, “Hey, who’s the new kid?”

Needless to say the room got real quiet
When Lazarus said, “But I knew Him
In a way that y’all never did.

“You see, man, I walked with Him and talked with Him;
I saw how His teachings awed the crowds.
Those famous tears of compassion, I could actually see.
Man, He used to come over to my house after church,
And my sisters would make Him dinner
Every month, I even supported his ministry.

“You see, man, I watched him confront the Pharisees
I was there when he fed the five thousand
I heard the people gasp when he healed the lame
You see, man, I even remember the littlest things;
The things that most folks would forget.
Like the simple, loving way He’d just
Call my name.”

Up at the grave, stone rolled away
With a loud voice Jesus started to say,

“You see, fellas, it just seems like yesterday,
I could hear that man saying my name…”


“As a matter of a fact it seems like today, I don’t…”


“Excuse me brothers,
I think I hear Him calling me now, what…?”

“Hey, Jesus!”

“Lazarus, come forth!
Come forth!
I command you,
Come forth!!”

Whoa, Lazarus,
Hey Lazarus,
Oh, Lazarus come forth!
Like Jesus was saying,
“Sickness be healed,
Mountain be moved”
When He said, “Lazarus come forth!”

Mary don’t weep, Martha don’t moan
Here come your boy, comin’ forth!

“He that believeth in me,
Though he were dead
Shall he live.”

Comin' On Strong, 1984, Carman
Jesus Life

Nothing Lasts

Yesterday I saw “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button“, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. I went, thinking it would be an interesting film to see how someone is born looking very old, and ages backwards as he grows older.

Unexpectedly, I sat riveted to the screen for the entire film, not wanting to miss anything.

The film is worth a watch, but sadly there are few moments in the film that align themselves to a Christian world view. One of the strongest sub-characters in the film is Queenie, a black woman who works in a old-style nursing home in 1918 New Orleans. Unlike Benjamin Button’s father, who is so horrified at the appearance of his elderly-looking newborn son that he nearly throws him in the ocean, Queenie takes the child in and cares for him. Despite a doctor’s opinion that this baby will likely not live long, she is willing to take on the task of caring for “one of the least of these”. As he grows older (and younger), she helps him to see that appearance and abilities are not important; what you are inside is what matters.

Benjamin grows up in this nursing home, seeing people come in, grow more disabled as they live out their final years, and then seeing them die and leave, to be replaced by another person. Exposed to death from a young age, he develops a mantra that he lives by, namely “nothing lasts”. He applies this to his relationships, including that with his childhood friend, Daisy. None of the people he knows last long in his life, either because he outlives them, or because he separates himself from them.

The story was absorbing because it dealt with the life themes that affect me emotionally: Death, birth, and marriage (or lack thereof) and love. Also, the film was made cinematically attractive, with memorable historical scenes from the twentieth century. But what was saddening was the nihilism; despite love, there is no hope, and love ultimately will not fulfill because it won’t be there. True, Benjamin took care of his lover and his child in a financial sense, but he made himself physicaly absent through his decision that he would himself be a burden to these that he loved. “Nothing lasts” was indeed the theme of the film.

Contrast this with the certain knowledge of the existence of God. It allows a person to deal with the losses of life by knowing that if nothing else is reliable, Jesus is faithful and true, and He provides hope during this life and hope beyond the grave.

Keith Green‘s third album, So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt from 1980 had a song that goes beyond Benjamin Button’s phrase. Grace By Which I Stand happens to include the phrase “nothing lasts”, but qualifies it by adding “except the grace of God, by which I stand, in Jesus”.

The feelings are not the same,
I guess I’m older,
I guess I’ve changed.

And how I wish it had been explained,
That as you’re growing
You must remember,

That nothing lasts,
Except the grace of God,
By which I stand,
In Jesus.

I know that I would
Surely fall away,
Except for grace,
By which I’m saved.

I remember that special way,
I vowed to serve you,
When it was brand new.
But like Peter,
I can’t even watch and pray,
One hour with you,
And I bet,
I could deny you too.

But nothing lasts,
Except the grace of God,
By which I stand,
In Jesus.

I’m sure that my whole life would waste away,
Except for grace,
By which I’m saved.

But nothing lasts,
Except the grace of God,
By which I stand,
In Jesus.

I know that I would
Surely fall away,
Except for grace,
By which I’m saved.

So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt, 1980, Keith Green

Evading peace

The primary theme of this blog is “joy”. But like so many things in life, there are two sides. With joy, there is the possibility of sorrow; with victory, there is the possibility of defeat. For all of the people who hear the message of Jesus to come to peace and escape destruction, there are still so many who hear and yet reject the lifeline thrown to them.

Bob Ayala released the album Rescued on Keith Green‘s Pretty Good Records label in 1985. This track, It’s My Dream, describes the tragedy of anyone who has heard God’s message (regardless of the source), and decides to wait “until tomorrow” to take care of “that religious stuff”.

So, returning back to the theme of this blog, where is the joy? This song describes the person who rejected their rescue, which is the antithesis of joy. The joy is in the person who decides not to wait, and who makes that decision to grab the lifeline thrown to them, to be rescued from destruction.

How many times did you hear God
Quietly walk among your thoughts?
How many times you turned away
Something inside said you should pray
But you never needed anyone
I remember when you’d sayIt’s my dream
It’s my life
It’s my loss if I don’t make it to paradise

You said the future is right now
Take what you can get all you know how
You were the captain of your soul
Now you lie shipwrecked in the cold
You never counted on this so soon
I remember when you’d say

It’s my dream
It’s my life
It’s my loss if I don’t make it to paradise
So why don’t you leave me alone!

Cause it’s my dream
It’s my dream
It’s my life
It’s my loss

Why did you wait?
You waited far too long
And now there is no second chance
To right where you went wrong

It’s my dream
It’s my life
It’s my loss

I see the hearse, the limosine
People in black, the hills of green
You slip from view without a sound
Gently they lay you in the ground
You never counted on this so soon
I remember when you said

It’s my dream
It’s my life
It’s my loss if I don’t make it to paradise
So now you can be all alone

Is this your dream?

Now you can be all alone…