Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Some songs touch us more than others. For me, one of those songs is “I Can Only Imagine.” I cannot listen to it without tearing up.
Although I do not remember when I first heard it, I do remember when it first touched me. The church I attended was doing a walk-through drama. I guided people through each scene. The last scene depicted “heaven” and“I Can Only Imagine” was playing in the background as “Jesus” spoke to each of us. This was so powerful and tears streamed down my face.
We all try to imagine what heaven will be like. The Bible is filled with references of it…streets of gold, walls adorned with precious stones, gates of pearls. Even with the description, I do not think we can fully comprehend what it will be like. I believe it is beyond our mere mortal comprehension. All we can do is imagine what it will be like.
Recently, I took my children to see the movie I Can Only Imagine. While I knew the basics of the story behind the song–the writer and lead singer of Mercy Me, Bart Milliard, wrote it due to an event in his life–I wanted to know more. So that I do not spoil the movie for anyone, I will not go into detail about the event. When we went to see the movie, I really did not know what was in store for me. It is labeled as a movie about redemption, but it was not what I expected–it is about so much more.
This powerful movie is based on Bart Milliard’s life starting at a very early age all the way up to when the song was released. He went through so much throughout his childhood and so much of the movie is just heartbreaking. The movie is very touching, and luckily, I took tissues with me (a friend warned me, and like I said, just the song itself makes me cry). As a side note: The movie was very well-made, felt like a high-budget film, and had incredible acting. It is a must-see for everyone.
We each have our own story. That story, good or bad, is what makes us who we are. It is what forms us, how we react to traumas and celebrations. We can push people away and hide within ourselves. Or, we can turn to God to get us through these things.
We all try to imagine what heaven is like. We will never realize its true magnificence until we get there.
Hello, there! I grew up as a military kid who loved adventure, so I fell in love with and married a military man right after college graduation. The two of us had adventures together as we traveled for a while, but we finally settled in cozy Southern Indiana. However the excitement is still alive, because God has given us four kiddos that I homeschool. I love nerding out on anything from school curriculum to thrift store bargain hunting, from rockin' recipes to theological debates, and pretty much any lively discussion in between. Thanks for reading!
Hello! I hope you and your family had a very happy First Coming Day last month! Or as December 25th is more commonly called, a very Merry Christmas. Yes, Happy Belated First Coming Day/Merry Christmas to you!
For the whole month of December, most of us prepare for the big day when we celebrate Jesus’ first coming to this earth and it is awesome! I delight in the decorating, buying gifts, singing carols, reading about it in the Bible, and more. In fact, there is usually so much to do, one of the most common questions I am asked as December 25th approaches is, “Are you ready for Christmas?” Or using my other name they might say, “Are you ready for First Coming Day?” Hopefully I can say ‘yes’ when asked or else I might find myself in a bit of a pickle. 🙂 But here is another question for us all, “Are we ready for Second Coming Day?”
Allow me to back pedal a bit. I’d like to share with you three things about our family’s journey with God and how He is leading us to celebrate a Second Coming Day. I’d like to tell you how the idea came about, why we find it to be so crucially important to how we walk out our everyday lives, and how we celebrate.
I once read something about Billy Graham that kinda changed my life. According to what I read, his mother would say to him every morning something like, “Look to the east, Billy. Do you see Jesus yet?” So he’d lift his eyes to the east and look for Jesus.
His mother’s question comes from Matthew 24:27 (NIV) “For as lightening that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
I read that this simple question asked by his mother each morning gave him a daily awareness to the truth that Jesus could actually come today. I read that this set in him an eternal perspective that led, among other things, to his becoming what we know of Billy Graham today: one of the greatest preachers of the gospel in our time. He wanted to spend his days before he saw Jesus coming in the east telling as many people as possible about it.
As a mom, this has resonated in my heart over and over for years. My heart cries out to God to use me to give my children the gift of this eternal perspective. So like the good Father He is, God is giving me, one of His children, the gift of a mind shift toward this eternal perspective so that I, in turn, can teach my children as He teaches me. Like I mentioned above, it has been years since this heart cry of mine to God started and honestly I’m still trying grasping the magnitude of it! Thank you God for being a patient teacher!
This is what I am learning and why keeping Jesus’ second coming in the forefront of my mind is so crucial: I know the end of the story.
Allow me to use an illustration to explain. This past year, I was reading aloud an interesting book to my children. It was suspenseful! My oldest, 12, was so invested in the characters that he couldn’t take it. It was truly bothering his heart seeing all the trouble the character was going through. He had to know what happened to the main character so he read the very last page. I am telling you, this boy of mine was so much more relaxed while I continued to read the book over the week following. He was even telling his brothers, 9 and 7, “Don’t worry. I know what happens. I read the last page. It is going to be ok.”
Friends, don’t we know the end of our story? Can’t we read the last page?
It’s called Revelation and here it is:
“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea… And I heard a loud voice saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5 (NIV)
“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:12-14 (NIV)
The above is from the last two chapters in the whole Bible. These words are the end of the story.
Jesus is coming back again.
He is going to make all things right.
Jesus wins. No questions. No close calls.
He wins and we win through Him.
I am praying right now for you who are reading this and your families (and for myself and my family!) that the truth in these last pages will produce in us the same type of reaction that it did for my son as he read the last page of our book.
That we would relax.
That we would tell others, “Don’t worry. I know what happens. I read the last page. It is going to be ok.”
This is why remembering the second coming of Jesus matters. It gives the Christian, those who have as Jesus says above in Revelation, washed our robes in His blood through His sacrifice, this proper eternal perspective that should revolutionize our entire outlook on life.
(If you are not a Christian and are interested to know why in the world you need to have your robes washed in Jesus’ blood, please, read about it here. It is crucial.)
Isn’t it easy to get caught up in the temporal stuff of earth? In things that don’t really matter? I now categorize things that don’t really matter as anything that does not have to do with the eternal souls of people. Anything that won’t last on past Jesus’ second coming in many ways isn’t really worth a second thought.
I’m not trying to trivialize the grind of struggles on earth. I am not naive to the fact that terrible and unthinkable things happen down here. But so often, especially in America, we get upset at things that don’t really matter for eternity because our minds are down here on earth instead of set on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God and in control.
Friends, in Paul’s letter to the Phillippians he says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20 (NIV)
This verse kinda wraps this point up. If you are a Christian, earth is not your home. So its no surprise that things don’t go as planned down here. No fear. We are eagerly waiting for a Savior’s second coming to bring us home.
So think about whatever difficult or troubling situation you might be dealing with at this time. Ask God to give you an eternal perspective on your struggle. Ask Him to show you what portion of your struggle is eternal and what portion is temporal. Focus on the eternal and let go of the temporal. He will help those that earnestly seek His assistance.
So what does Second Coming Day look like in our house? Over the years it has taken many forms. The first year it was full of activities like waking up to a trumpet blast (1 Thessalonians 4:16)and building our heavenly rooms (John 14:2) gingerbread house style. The year I had another baby it looked like just a talk over dinner. And this year, I think it will be somewhere in between.
The point is not to have yet another thing to do, but to create in our homes an eager anticipation to the reality that the day is coming when the trumpet call is real, any problem we have is eclipsed by His glory, sin and death are gone forever, and we are taken home.
To look forward to and celebrate the victory that is His Second Coming as much as we look back and celebrate the sacrifice of His First Coming. It really does change everything.
I’ll end with this. By far my favorite and most enduring way to celebrate is when we take the Lord’s Supper as a family. Each time we are huddled as a family over the bread and grape juice, we remind ourselves and our children not only of Jesus’ sacrifice at His first coming, but also we remember to look forward to the victory of His return.
“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:26 (NIV) emphasis mine
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’
Amen. Come Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” Revelation 22: 20-21 (NIV)
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