Let Go of Lies about Heaven:
Eight Myths Many Believe
Don’t Feel Sorry for or Fear for Your
Kids—Raise Them up to Walk in Faith
God Answers
Decades of Prayer
The Closure of Portland’s
Lovejoy Abortion Clinic
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A Grieving Mom on the
Biblical Teaching about
News from EPM
God Answers Decades of
Prayer: e Closure of
Portland's Lovejoy
Abortion Clinic
Hot Takes Are Harming Us
Trevin Wax
When Darkness Hides His
Lovely Face
Scotty Smith
Let Go of Lies about Heaven:
Eight Myths Many Believe
Randy Alcorn
Five Trends in Christian
Open Doors USA
Does God Promise His
Followers Eternal Rewards for
Bearing Heavy Burdens?
Stephanie Anderson
Don’t Feel Sorry for or Fear
for Your Kids—Raise Them
up to Walk in Faith
Alex Cravens
Copyright © 2021 by Eternal Perspective Ministries. Produced and designed by Stephanie Anderson, EPM sta.
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A Grieving Mom on
the Biblical Teaching
about Heaven:
"I Grabbed It as
Though It Were
a Life Preserver"
e—very suddenly and
unexpectedly—lost our
16-year-old son on 10/6.
He was the fourth of
our ve children. I have
struggled mightily with the “whys,” and life very
much feels akin to a marathon swim in an ocean
of pain. I do believe that God knows what is best.
It just hurts mightily.
Though night is inherently so, the rst night
without him seemed the darkest of my life. It
literally felt as though my own heart might cease
to beat. As I lay there begging God for a sliver of
comfort, I remembered a tiny booklet on Heaven
that a co-worker had given me years before. At
the time, I was a lile confused because it seemed
an odd Christmas gift for someone who had not
lost anyone. I read it, and I was delighted at the
description of eternity that was unlike anything
I had heard in my 40ish years of churchgoing. I
put it on my shelf after reading it. That rst night
without our son, I grabbed it as though it were a
life preserver and I were going under. Truthfully,
I was. The promises and hope in that tiny book
helped me breathe until the morning when my
other family members rose.
Within a week of saying our earthly goodbye
to our child, I looked you up online and
ordered the full copy of Heaven. It has saved
my life. I ordered the 50 Days version for our
other four children, another copy of the big
book for my parents, and 100 of the mini-
books. In telling much of our testimony,
people have asked for the mini books. I gave
and mailed out several at Christmas.
I also teach at my son’s school, a Christian
school, and I teach his class. I could NEVER
have returned to work to face his empty desk—
and listen to the life he left behind being lived
without him—without your book. I put together
a Christmas gift for each of his 40 classmates.
Most of them had been his friend since pre-
school, and they are hurting, too. In the gifts, I
included a mini-book for each of them, and they
found tremendous comfort as well in reading
about the real eternity that God has planned for
His children. No clouds and harps!! A life joyful,
abundant, and FAMILIAR! I can’t tell you how
many people already have been reached through
your books and the hope they share.
I still have questions about being separated from
my child, but I can say with full certainty that
Earlier this year a reader shared a
profound comment in reply to a post on
Randy's Facebook page. This is one of
the most powerful stories we’ve received
from readers of the
book. —EPM
some lives have been changed already. I vow to never again take my
sights o of eternity, and I vow to, however painful, walk this road as
faithfully as possible so that more lives will join us in that incredible
place. Psalm 119:89 says, “Forever, Oh, God, thy word is seled in
Heaven.” My tears may rain down here until I am reunited with my
child, but I do trust that my anguish already is being seled. God bless
you and your ministry, Mr. Alcorn. —P.J.
Here are some responses to her comment from other readers.
Each is a story in and of itself:
When our son left us at such a young age of 13, I wanted to read
all that I could get my hands on about the biblical Heaven! Randy
Alcorn’s book was like reading a college textbook on Heaven! So
many amazing details gleaned from God’s Word! What a hope we
have in Christ Jesus! Without this eternal hope that our Lord gives, I
would have been a heap of dust scaered in the wind!
My heart yearns for that day for my faith to be made
sight! —S.B.
…I too lost a son suddenly in 2017. I too had to dig
into biblical truths to combat the darkness that wanted
to take over. Heaven was a book that helped me keep
the eternal perspective and knowing where my son
was. —D.B.
We lost our youngest son eight years ago and are
continually reading Randy’s books. Heaven was the rst
one we read, too. …We needed Heaven to feel more
real and solid (less ethereal) after our very real, solid
boy moved there. —J.C.
After my dad died, I read the version for children (Heaven
for Kids) every evening to my boys. Such a sweet time
together to journey through the grief and help them beer
deal with their mama’s frequent tears. —J.P.
I vow to
never again
take my
sights off of
booklet has been
used to minister to many hurting
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IN 2021
eternal perspective ministries
with author Randy Alcorn
AUGUST 31, 2021
It's All About
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God Answers
Decades of Prayer
The Closure of Portland’s
Lovejoy Abortion Clinic
with special thanks to Ron Norquist for contributing the introduction
t's just a small, unassuming medical building nestled in an older residential part of Portland, Oregon.
Commuters who stopped for seconds at the blinking light on the corner of NE 25th and Lovejoy Street
barely noticed the sparsely landscaped Lovejoy SurgiCenter. But over the years, tens of thousands of
women approached the front steps to the clinic, where a pregnant woman could become “un-pregnant.”
In the past, this sleepy corner has been alive with action: people holding signs, little pockets of prayer, sidewalk
counselors asking the women to consider other options, often directing them to local pregnancy care centers.
One man, Doc Hite, would show up almost daily for many hours even into his late 90s, holding a sign and
offering help. When asked why he would do so at his age he simply said, “These are babies.”
In the late 1980s and early 90s a small ministry called Advocates for Life brought groups of volunteers to
peacefully block access to the clinic by sitting in front of the doors. Two of those volunteers were Randy Alcorn
and myself, Ron Norquist. On those days, the corner of 25th and Lovejoy was a busy one: there were police cars,
handcuffed prolifers being dragged into waiting police vans, frustrated clinic workers who wanted to get on
with their business, and women waiting for the doors to clear so they could get their abortion procedure. The
invisible ones were the pre-born children carried by their mothers into that place of death.
For years prolife advocates prayed that God would do what they couldn’t: close it down. They waited and trusted
and advocated for those who had no voice.
Then came word in January 2021 that after fty years, Lovejoy was shutting its doors, ending its business as the
largest abortion clinic in the State of Oregon. Local prolifers rejoiced, but their feelings remain mixed. Demand
still exists, and in March, an abortion facility under the name The Lilith Clinic opened in downtown Portland and
advertises abortions up to 22 weeks. Still, prolifers thank and praise the Author of Life, Jesus Christ, for hearing
His people’s prayers that the building at 25
and Lovejoy would no longer house such evil.
In this interview, Randy Alcorn and Kathy Norquist, Ron’s wife, respond to the closure.
God Answers
Decades of Prayer
Tell us about your personal history with
Lovejoy SurgiCenter.
RANDY: In 1988 I visited Lovejoy, perhaps the
world’s most ironically named abortion clinic, for
the rst time. I had never been to an abortion clinic,
and I didn’t even know where any were located.
In December of that year, I aended an Advocates
for Life meeting where I was exposed to the idea
of civil disobedience to rescue the unborn. They
had a rescue scheduled at Lovejoy in January 1989.
With some reluctance, I went to my fellow church
elders and explained why I believed God was
leading me to do this. I asked their permission, and
to their credit, while some of them didn’t really
know whether it was the right decision, they all
said that since I believed this action was biblically
right and both my conscience and the Holy Spirit
were leading me to do it, they could only support
me. I also told Ron Norquist about it and to my
surprise and great encouragement, he wanted to join
me in participating. Since I didn’t know any other
volunteers well, to have a longtime friend come was
a huge help. I no longer felt as profoundly alone.
I rescued nine times in 1989 and was arrested
seven times, each time taken to jail and placed
in a holding cell, a large room on lockdown
also occupied by others arrested for nonviolent
crimes. I had many interesting conversations
and opportunities to share the gospel. Nanci did
sidewalk counseling at Lovejoy for several years,
approaching women who came to the clinic for
abortions, and giving them one last opportunity to
see the truth and rescue their unborn children. That
was a much tougher job. It was hard for her, but I
admired her for doing what we both believed was
right. (See
In early 1990 another abortion clinic, called the
Downtown Women’s Clinic, won a court judgment
against me and several other rescuers. The court
demanded we pay the full amount for their loss
of income from the dozen or so abortions we had
prevented one day. This amount was less than
$3,000, but we were also held liable for their aorney
expenses which were nearly $20,000. Later I was
summoned to court for refusing to pay this. I told
the judge that as a maer of conscience I would
pay anybody anything I owed them, but one thing
I would never do was hand over money to people
who would use it to kill babies.
The judge sentenced me to two days (one night)
in jail for refusing to pay the ne. I was handcued
with what is called a belly chain that went around
my waist, to which my hands and ankles were
also cued, and then led out of the courtroom by
two armed police ocers who escorted me to the
county jail. That’s when photojournalists still used
ash photography, so my eyes were blinded. Local
television news was lined up to cover this spectacle
of a pastor chained to the teeth.
Since I still refused to pay the nes, on the
rst Saturday of May 1990, I was served papers
informing me that the church I pastored was
receiving a writ of garnishment demanding they
send a fourth of my wages each month to the
Downtown Clinic. In God’s providence, Saturday
was the only day of the week where no one was
present on the church grounds to receive that writ.
Since they didn’t
serve writs on
Sunday, that meant
I knew two days
before the church
did that the writ
of garnishment
would be
delivered to
them on Monday.
This was a great blessing because it allowed me
to call a special meeting of the elders on Sunday,
where I resigned as pastor to keep my church from
having to either pay an abortion clinic or defy a
court order. The church was able to disburse my
last paycheck, so they could honestly say the next
day I wasn’t their employee, and they owed me no
wages that could be garnished.
Later in 1990, shortly after we started EPM, Frank
Perei and his wife Barb spent a weekend at our
house when he was researching his next novel after
This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness. He
wanted the story to center around abortion. After
a meeting in our living room with women who
had experienced abortions and were now regularly
involved in ministry at Lovejoy, I took Frank to see
it. I told him stories as we stood across the street
from the building. There was a New-Agey “altar”
in front of one of the homes nearby, and the owners
had placed on it an oering, some kind of fresh meat
that we couldn’t identify. The spirit of darkness
surrounding this place that was so familiar to me by
then was immediately evident to Frank.
As we stood there, the clinic owner, who I had come
to know well, drove up in her luxury car and entered
the building. I won’t describe what she looked like,
but let’s just say it was evil. In his novel Prophet, Frank
used Lovejoy as the basis for the abortion clinic that is
a signicant part of his story. He portrays the web of
deception and complicity surrounding legal abortion
and its exploitation of both women and the church.
In real life and in Frank’s book, family members,
doctors, the media, and political gures all have
vested interests in covering up the dangers of
abortion. In fact, six weeks after nishing the rst
edition of my book ProLife Answers to ProChoice
Arguments, I aended the funeral of a woman
who died at a nearby hospital after “treatment” at
Lovejoy. There was no media coverage indicating
the place of her surgery or her cause of death.
In February 1991, nine months after I had to resign
from the church, we were set for a major courtroom
trial that had been looming over us for a year,
Lovejoy SurgiCenter v. Portland, Oregon ProLifers.
The time came for the judge, who had been overtly
hostile toward us during the trial, to give his last
instructions to the jury before sending them away
for deliberations. His nal words were, “You must
nd these people guilty and you must punish them
suciently to insure they’ll never do this again.” For
our totally peaceful nonviolent actions, the jury
awarded the abortion clinic $8.2 million dollars. (At
the time it was the largest court judgment in history
against a group of peaceful protestors.)
While we were in this thirty-day trial, several
amazing things happened. Three Lovejoy
employees quit. One explained to a prolife protester
outside, “I don’t know what happened. It’s like I
suddenly woke up and realized we’re killing babies
here. That’s not what I want to do with my life.”
What others intended for evil, God intended for
good (Genesis 50:20). Much of what I wrote about
the beginnings of EPM involves Lovejoy (see
(Our aorney in the month-long Lovejoy
lawsuit asked me to prepare closing arguments.
See It might speak to your heart as
a resource to reect on as our culture leaves less and
less room for the exercise of Christian convictions.)
KATHY: Ron was arrested multiple times for rescuing,
mostly at Lovejoy clinic, and spent seven months over
a one-year period in jail and lost his job as a result. He
then had a jail ministry and to this day is still good
friends with one of the guys he met in jail.
Ron was not always prolife and can remember
debating with his brother Rick about abortion when
he was in high school. But when our rstborn son
was stillborn in 1976, that solidied in his heart
the humanity of the preborn child. So years later
when Ron heard about rescuing through Randy,
he immediately wanted to join him. That decision
changed our family’s life, but God was faithful
beyond what we could have ever asked for.
I (Kathy) spent many times over the years down
at Lovejoy alongside other dear friends praying,
holding signs, and reaching out to the women and
men going into the clinic. There were numerous
opportunities to share the love of Christ and
His message of salvation. My experience at the
clinic forced me out of my comfort zone. I often
didn’t look forward to going but always left there
strengthened with a sense of privilege to stand for
Christ and be a light in the darkness. The heaviest
drive I made was to Lovejoy and the lightest drive
was away from Lovejoy. The relief in leaving was
sometimes accompanied by sadness as there was
often no one to take our place.
During the year that Ron was in and out of jail and
our family was in the news, I felt like we were living
in a shbowl. It was dicult to have people see your
husband as “the abortion guy,” as though that was
our whole life. But throughout that stressful and
trying time, God was at work. I wouldn’t trade those
years for anything because God was with us, and He
used it all for His good purposes.
What has changed in the prolife movement
in the 30+ years since you were rst
involved with rescuing and sidewalk
counseling? What is the same?
KATHY: Rescuing has become a thing of the past
for several reasons, but sidewalk counseling
has remained. I think God used rescuing and
the publicity that resulted to awaken hearts to
stand more boldly for life. There are thousands
of pregnancy resource centers as well as many
other dynamic prolife ministries so the work is still
going strong. But there is an ongoing need to have
a presence at the clinics, quietly praying and/or
holding a sign or reaching out to those going in.
RANDY: Now there are many more prolife clinics
and prolife volunteers than in those early days.
There are many more churches that support those
clinics. The political prolife arms, such as Oregon
Right to Life, continue their faithful eorts.
However, precious innocent children are still
being killed daily, men are still failing to defend
and care for the children they’ve fathered, and
women are still being deceived into believing that
abortion can solve their problems. The truth is, it
is never—absolutely never—in a mom or dad’s best
interest to kill their child.
What is missing is the regular presence at
abortion clinics in large numbers, which drew
aention to the fact that children are being killed
every day at every abortion clinic. Sidewalk
counseling done by some faithful people continues.
That’s wonderful. We rescued until the cost of
rescuing became so
high that it prevented
us from doing much
else. Ron Norquist
paid that high price
more than anyone,
and I will always
respect Ron and
Kathy deeply for that.
In my case, I could
both live with my
wife and young
daughters and do a lot
for unborn children
by speaking out
on their behalf and
writing books to equip people to defend them.
(My 1992 book ProLife Answers to ProChoice
Arguments was a surprise best-seller, and has
been used, now in an updated form, to train
prolifers for nearly thirty years. Our ministry also
gives substantial funds from my book royalties to
support the prolife cause.)
What role do you think prolife advocacy
and prayer played in the clinic’s closure?
KATHY: God truly answered the prayers of His
people! Some dear people spent several days a week
advocating at the clinic. Year after year many of us
prayed for something that seemed impossible—the
closing of Lovejoy clinic—but “with God all things
are possible.” When you are standing right next
to it, watching women go in and then come out in
wheelchairs, it is heart wrenching. I know He used
all of the advocates in ways we will never know this
side of eternity.
RANDY: Lovejoy, where such darkness prevailed,
was like the temples where children were sacriced
to Molech in ancient times. I absolutely believe the
prayers and actions of faithful people, many people
far more faithful than I, were used of God to pull
down a heathen child-killing idol.
Certainly there is great spiritual warfare associated
with the issue of abortion. It has now been years since
Nanci or I have been to that dark and demonic place. I
remember a peaceful prolife gathering there when we
and our daughters stood across the street from Lovejoy
holding up three large beautiful photographs of live
unborn children—not aborted babies—one in each
trimester of pregnancy. A limo slowly drove around the
corner, and the man in the passenger seat looked at us
with obvious scorn and made an obscene gesture.
That man, believe it or not, was immediately
recognizable as the mayor of Portland. As a dad, part
of me wanted to go after him for having done that to
my wife and lile girls. Trying to explain who he was
to our daughters put a heaviness on our hearts. How
could the most powerful and inuential person in the
city of Portland be so dedicated to the killing of unborn
children and make a vile gesture to born children? Only
under the inuence of Satan. Jesus said, “You belong to
your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your
father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning,
not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.
When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a
liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44, NIV).
What were your emotions and thoughts
when you heard about the closure?
RANDY: I cried for joy. I thought, “On this wicked
corner where tens of thousands of babies have died,
Satan will no longer be murdering children.” The single
largest abortion clinic
in the state of Oregon,
responsible for killing
more children than
anywhere else in our
state’s history, no
longer existed. If ever
seing o reworks
was warranted, that
was the occasion!
KATHY: I felt like crying my eyes out. I was
overjoyed and could hardly believe it! Just the
building itself represents so much evil. To think
that it will no longer be the place where babies are
being sucked out of their mother’s wombs, and
women are being deceived into thinking they are
no longer mothers, makes me so happy. My heart
has always been with the many women I know and
love who have had abortions and the pain they have
lived with. I didn’t want other women to have to go
through what they did, so I’m overjoyed that Lovejoy
will no longer be an option! I still can’t believe it.
What is your prayer for the city of Portland
and for the local prolife movement moving
RANDY: My prayer is that prolifers will be patient,
realizing that despite laws and the policies of a given
administration, no one can prevent us from sharing
our prolife values and helping women in need. You
can talk to the sixteen-year-old girl next door, and
you can give a book like ProChoice or ProLife?
to kids in the church youth group. You can oer
childcare and nancial aid to help moms choose life
and raise their children or place them for adoption.
KATHY: I would love to see the Lovejoy building
destroyed and a life-giving ministry take its place.
That would be incredible!
The news about the new Lilith Clinic is certainly
discouraging. Portland Monthly reports, “Its
location in a multi-use downtown oce building
could also help deter protesters; the Lovejoy
SurgiCenter was located on a highly visible corner
in Northwest Portland.”
My prayer has been that God would raise up
younger women to advocate outside of abortion
clinics. It is a last-ditch eort to save a baby’s life and
help the mom. What kept me going back to the clinic
was hearing the story of a pastor counseling a young
woman who had previously had an abortion. He
asked her what she would have done if someone was
outside the clinic standing for life when she drove up.
She said, “I told myself on the way to the clinic that
if anyone was outside, I’d keep driving and not go
through with the abortion.” Sadly, no one was there.
40 Days for Life ( is a
wonderful prolife ministry that organizes a peaceful
prayer presence at the clinics. There is a great need
for more people, and it makes a huge dierence.
What's your advice to prolife advocates today?
RANDY: Find your place and learn what your gifting
is and where you can best serve Jesus and the cause
of women in need and unborn children. Love your
fellow prolifers and respect their dierent callings.
Resist the turf-consciousness that inhibits cooperative
action and therefore contributes to the very killing
we are trying to stop. We must end needless
duplication of eorts in the same communities and
learn from the experience and expertise of others. We
must hold loosely our volunteers and donors and
not fear losing them to other groups working for the
same cause. We must set aside some of our personal
agendas and realize that we can accomplish a great
deal more if it doesn’t maer who gets the credit as
long as God gets the glory.
There are a variety of legitimate prolife activities.
The Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and their
special forces all have their role in winning a war,
but without strategy and cooperation, they would
end up wasting resources. Likewise, there’s an
important place for abortion alternative centers,
prolife education, literature distribution, sidewalk
counseling, picketing, boycos, political action,
Life Chain, and many other activities. But each
of these is to serve the whole, not as “the” prolife
eort but one working in concert with the others.
If one of us wins, we all win; if one loses, we all
lose. Without mutual respect and cooperation,
prolife organizations will get caught in each other’s
crossre, and we’ll end up ghting the wrong side.
We must work harder and smarter, ever
broadening the base of prolife activists, not just
burning out a few. All our eorts need to be
harnessed as part of a strategic long-term plan to
save the most children and women from abortion.
At the heart of this must be the mobilization of
whole churches, not just individual Christians.
Only churches can provide the numbers and
resources needed to win the bale for children’s
lives. Churches must be helped to form prolife task
forces to educate and mobilize their people and
make community impact. There are many excellent
groups and resources, including books and videos
KATHY: Never give up! Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us
not become weary in doing good, for at the proper
time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”
NIV). God is doing so many things behind the
scenes that we won’t know about until we get to
Heaven. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our
Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look
after orphans and widows in their distress" (NIV).
The unborn are true orphans when their mothers
and fathers want to abandon them.
I have great respect for those in prolife work, and
we should do all we can to encourage them with
our prayers and nancial support. There is such a
darkness and deception surrounding abortion, and it
isn’t an easy ministry. Satan is a “liar and a murderer”
and doesn’t like people standing up for life and truth.
Yet the darker it gets, the brighter the light of Jesus can
shine, and what joy that light brings!
Browse Randy's prolife books,
Pro-Choice or Pro-Life:
Examining 15 Pro-Choice Claims,
Watch an interview Randy
recorded about the closure at
It’s not easy to follow James’ command
to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow
to anger” in a world that rewards those quick to
broadcast, slow to think, and quick to express the
anger of the echo chamber.
The atmosphere of social media and the tribal
instincts of a polarized culture conspire to drive
us toward expressing ourselves online. I see the
impulse take shape through a ve-step process:
1. Something momentous has happened, usually of
a tragic nature.
2. We feel we must broadcast our sympathies, our
concerns, and our immediate reaction, lest we be
seen as aloof, out of touch, or complicit with the
3. We believe we have the power to glean
important lessons that will help us learn
something from the event.
4. Since most of these lessons t (conveniently)
within our overall framework of interpretation,
we reinforce the tribal lines and worldly
categories we’ve constructed.
5. As commentary increases and arguments rise,
we use the tragedy as a weapon in the ongoing
bales in which we’re already invested.
Here is an example of how this has worked out
in the past.
1. The Catholic Church is embroiled in scandal
due to a number of priests who have found to be
sexually abusing children.
2. Christians from other traditions express shock
and horror at the revelations and demand justice
for the victims.
3. Many of these commentators begin to draw
important lessons from the tragedy. There’s
danger in ecclesiastical hierarchy! These actions
must be related to Catholicism’s requirement of
celibacy! This is what happens when you’re part of a
patriarchal organization!
4. Protestants then rely on these lessons in order
to reinforce concerns they already have about
Catholicism. Catholics are compromised because of
the papacy and their unbiblical top-down leadership!
The emphasis on celibacy is strange and dangerous!
Women should be priests, too!
5. Over time, as debates rage on social media,
Protestants use the child-abuse scandals as a
weapon against Catholicism—ammunition for a
bale in which they’re already invested.
I’ve seen this ve-step process play out over the
course of months and years. But what shocks me
today is that for many tragedies, all ve steps take
place the same day. The news barely breaks, and we
already have a number of hot takes on social media
that use the event to reinforce a narrative.
• Ravi Zacharias is what happens when leaders don’t
belong to a church and aren’t held accountable! (As
if more church involvement would have been an
obstacle to a wolf preying on women all around
the world.)
• The horror of these police ocers being killed
in broad daylight is a direct result of “woke”
Christians who say Black Lives Maer! (As if
concerns about racial injustice or the desire for
police reform necessitates violence against law
enforcement ocers.)
Takes Are
Harming Us
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• The Atlanta mass killer is proof that the conservative
wing of the Southern Baptist Convention is discipling
young people toward violence against women! (As if a
conservative church more likely to actually engage
in church discipline toward wayward Christians is
responsible for the actions of a depraved member.)
In a society given over to shallowness and
superciality, we do not feel the weight of this
rush to judgment, and we feel no qualms about
marshaling the latest tragedy as ammo in our
ongoing debates about what is wrong about the
world and how to x it. We are blinded to our self-
righteousness, sense of superiority, and spirit of
judgment by a drive we consider to be good and
true: the desire for justice. And so we slot the latest
news into whatever our preferred “unied theory
of everything” might be: racism, “wokeness,” “the
patriarchy,” “leftism,” etc. We may be quick to
speak, and slow to listen, and quick to anger—the
opposite of the biblical admonition—but surely our
disregard of James’ command is excused by our
sincerity, right? Aren’t these hot takes justiable
because of the strong sense of justice we possess?
No. James did not qualify his words when he
told Christians to refrain from hasty speech. And
James’ words of warning here do not contradict
justice. They are its foundation. We are more likely
to treat others unjustly when we jump to rash
conclusions. We are more likely to bypass true
justice, mercy, and humility when we overlook
slander in service of a good cause. We are more
likely to harden our hearts toward true compassion
when we rush to our phones to vent our frustrations
rather than turn to God and to each other to express
our grief.
Christians today show signs of being just as
helplessly and hopelessly polarized as America’s
political tribes. In such a season of rancor and
outrage, it’s dicult to reject Twier cheap shots
and manipulative sound bites. It may be harder
than ever to extend to other Christians—brothers
and sisters with whom you may have serious
James’ instruction shouldn’t shut us up, but it
should at least slow us down. Heeding his words
would press pause on our commentary so that
we have time to look for the best in our online
opponents and not tar them with the worst possible
motives. Only then do we walk the road of grace
and truth. Only then do we have a chance at
actually persuading someone to a dierent point of
view. Only then will the embers of our commitment
to one another burn hoer than the ames of
the latest online are-up. Quick to listen, slow to
speak. Let’s make sure tragedies stir up those ancient
embers, not fan the new ames.
Trevin Wax is general editor of The Gospel
Project, Theology Advisor at LifeWay
Christian Resources, and a visiting
professor at Wheaton College. He is
the author of multiple books, including
Rethink Your Self, This Is Our Time, Eschatological
Discipleship, and Gospel Centered Teaching.
We are more likely to harden our hearts toward true compassion
when we rush to our phones to vent our frustrations rather than
turn to God and to each other to express our grief.
Hides His
Lovely Face
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet
praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 43:5, NIV)
eavenly Father, I woke up heart-heavy for those of us living somewhere
between mild melancholia and deep depression. In the past year, fears
and anxieties, inner-darkness and heart-distresses have multiplied.
Thank you for being our Father of mercies and God of all comfort.
Life between the two comings of Jesus generates plenty of reasons to
feel the normal “blues”—even deep sadness. But help us when darkness doesn’t just hide
your “lovely face,” but friends (and we) question if you’re there at all.
We pray for friends whose “downcast-ness” is COVID generated. Isolation, the “what-if’s,”
the loss of loved ones and livelihood, the stress of schooling, working, and planning… these
things add up with compound interest. Have mercy, Father.
We pray for friends with PTSD, trauma-triggers, abuse stories, and physiological reasons
for their depression. Our brains and bodies are more complex than we realize. Bring
healing, Father.
We pray for friends who live in an echo-chamber of contempt. The father of lies condemns,
blames, and shames nonstop—often through family members, bosses, and coaches. Oh,
Father, silence the meanness, by the power of the Gospel, and the love of Jesus.
Help each of us steward our struggles well. Free us from withdrawal and denial, medicating
poorly and bad theology. Lead us to proper care, the right friends, much more of You. So very
Amen we pray, in Jesus’ strong and loving name.
Scoy Smith, DMin, planted and pastored Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN, for
twenty-six years. He also served as adjunct faculty for Covenant Seminary, Westminster
(Philadelphia), RTS, Orlando, and Western Seminary in Portland, OR. He is the author
of several books, including Unveiled Hope, Objects of His Aection, Restoring
Broken Things, Everyday Prayers, and Every Season Prayers.
See Randy's blogs
on depression
EPM also highly
the resources
of the Christian
Counseling &
ig books full of Scripture, theology, and quotations from people
long dead don’t normally sell well. Yet to my surprise, and the
publisher’s, over a million copies of my 2004 book Heaven have sold.
Innumerable readers, including pastors, have told me
their views of the afterlife have radically changed.
Why? In an age when people try to make doctrines more appealing
by ignoring or twisting biblical truth, here’s the irony—the true biblical
doctrine of Heaven is far more aractive than the dull, inhuman view of
the afterlife that has long prevailed in evangelicalism.
That o-puing perspective still imprisons many believers.
Based on countless interactions I’ve had with readers of the book
and others over the past sixteen years, here are eight persistent
misconceptions about Heaven.
Myth 1: We will spend eternity in the clouds.
After the nal judgment, God will remake the universe itself and then
relocate the present Heaven to the New Earth, where He will live with His
people (Revelation 21:1–4). The promise of Heaven on earth shouldn’t surprise us,
but it’s shocking and suspicious if we’ve always believed something else.
Many throughout history understood this biblical doctrine, including more recent
Reformed theologians such as Herman Bavinck, Cornelius Venema, Anthony
Hoekema, and Albert Wolters. Sadly, the great majority of evangelicals have not
read their books. Even those who have don’t always grasp the implications.
At Bible college and seminary, my last New Testament classes ended with the
nal judgment in Revelation 20. In eschatology, we examined the pros and cons
of a mid-trib rapture, and discussed the millennium, but we never talked about
Eight Myths Many Believe
Learn more at
the New Earth, the central subject of Scripture’s
last two chapters. So we paid zero aention to
the place where we will live with Jesus and each
other forever! Pastors who have read Heaven
often contact me to share that their education was
nearly identical.
As humans, we’re no more drawn to a vague
angelic realm than we are to eating gravel. We
need to recover the biblical doctrine of Heaven,
culminating in the New Earth.
Myth 2: The Bible says very little
about Heaven.
A Christian leader once visited my oce, asking
what I was researching. “A big book on heaven,” I
answered. He replied, “First Corinthians 2:9 says,
‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has
conceived what God has prepared for those who
love him.’ So what will you write about?” I gave my
usual response: “You didn’t complete the sentence:
but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.’”
When God reveals otherwise undiscoverable
truths to us, we’d beer pay aention. “The secret
things belong to the LORD our God, but the
things that are revealed belong to us and to our
children forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29). The Bible’s
substantial information about the world to come
belongs to us—and the Bible provides far more
information than most realize (for example, Isaiah
60 is quoted twice in Revelation 22, suggesting it’s
about the New Earth).
God wants us to anticipate what awaits us. That’s
why Peter says, “According to his promise we are
waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which
righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).
Myth 3: We can learn about
Heaven from people’s claims of
going there.
A television network once called my oce
and asked, “Has Randy been to heaven?” Our
receptionist answered, “If he has, he’s never
mentioned it. But he did do years of research in the
Bible and church history.” The conversation ended
abruptly: “We want to interview people who have
actually been there.”
Too often, people view accounts of visiting
Heaven as gospel. Obviously, God can show
someone the afterlife if He so chooses. But “it is
appointed for man to die once” (Hebrews 9:27).
Since these stories are told by people who will “die
twice,” it seems likely that they did not truly die the
rst time, even if vital signs weren’t measurable. A
person’s memories under heavy sedation—and his
or her ability to distinguish dreams from reality—
aren’t reliable, but God’s word is (John 17:17).
The apostle Paul, who had been to Heaven, said,
“This man was caught up into paradise . . . and he
heard things that cannot be told, which man may
not uer” (2 Corinthians 12:3–4). Many books,
however, claim to divulge secrets that, sadly, some
readers believe instead of Scripture.
Myth 4: The Present Heaven is
just like the Future Heaven.
When Christians die, they enter the present Heaven.
“Grandma’s now in Heaven” refers to a temporary
period between life on earth and the resurrection.
Though the present Heaven is wonderful, “far
beer” than earth under the curse (Philippians 1:23),
it is not the place we’re made for. Our destiny is a
resurrected life on a resurrected earth: “Then I saw
a new heaven and a new earth. . . . I heard a loud
voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling
place of God is with man. He will dwell with them’”
(Revelation 21:1–3). Heaven is wherever God dwells
We need to recover
the biblical doctrine of
Heaven, culminating in
the New Earth.
and His throne is, and God’s dwelling place and
throne will be on the new earth (Revelation 22:3).
God’s ultimate plan is not to take us up to
live with Him in His place (which happens at
death). His plan is, rather, to come down after the
resurrection to live with us forever in our place, the
New Earth. As Jesus is God incarnate, so the New
Earth will be Heaven incarnate.
Myth 5: We’ll live forever without
a body.
Plato believed that material things, including
bodies, are evil, while immaterial things, such as
souls, are good. What I call “Christoplatonism”
infects many churches, teaching that human spirits
are beer o without bodies, and Heaven is a
disembodied realm.
Our inability to appreciate the physical nature
of the resurrection robs believers of excitement for
Heaven. God’s future plan of a renewed physical
universe means we will live, eat and drink, laugh
and play, rest and work, exercise our gifts as God’s
image-bearers, and most importantly, be with,
worship, and serve King Jesus.
Jesus spoke of the “renewal of all things”
(Mahew 19:28 NIV). Peter preached that Christ
will remain in Heaven “until the time for restoring
all the things about which God spoke by the mouth
of his holy prophets” (Acts 3:21). Yet somehow,
we’ve overlooked an entire biblical vocabulary.
Reconcile. Redeem. Restore. Recover. Return. Renew.
Resurrect. God plans to physically restore his entire
creation, including us, earth, and animals (Isaiah
11:6–9; 65:17, 25; Romans 8:19–23).
Myth 6: Heaven will be boring.
Believing that eternal life consists of endless harp
strumming furthers Satan’s strategy “to uer
blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name
and his dwelling” (Revelation 13:6).
Thinking that Heaven will be boring betrays a
heresy—that God is boring. Nonsense! God made
our taste buds, adrenaline, the nerve endings that
convey pleasure to our brains, our imaginations,
and our capacity for happiness and excitement.
“No longer will there be any curse. The throne
of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his
servants will serve him” (Revelation 22:3 NIV).
Servants have things to do, places to go, people
to see. Our most common everyday activities will
be worship, punctuated by the joy of joining the
multitudes to praise Him.
First Corinthians 10:31 will apply just as much
in eternity as it does now: “So, whether you eat
or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory
of God.” We can worship God now by working,
painting, playing, reading, writing, and enjoying
every other innocent activity. How much more on a
New Earth where righteousness reigns?
Myth 7: We won’t be us anymore
or remember our former lives.
The idea that we’ll lose our identities in Heaven
is Hindu, not Christian. Resurrection will forever
reestablish us as gloried human individuals.
Christ’s resurrection is our prototype. He
proclaimed, “It is I myself” (Luke 24:39). When
Thomas said, “My Lord and my God,” he knew
he was speaking to the same Jesus he’d lived with
for years. Job said, “After my skin has been thus
destroyed, yet in my esh I shall see God, whom I
shall see for myself” (Job 19:26–27).
You will be you in Heaven. Who else would you
be? Since we’ll give an account of our lives on earth,
we must remain us, and our memories will have to
be beer, not worse. Scripture gives no indication of
a memory wipe causing us not to recognize family
God's plan is to come down
after the resurrection to
live with us forever in our
place, the New Earth.
and friends. In fact, if we wouldn’t know our loved
ones, the comfort of an afterlife reunion, taught in
1 Thessalonians 4:14–18, would be no comfort at all.
Myth 8: Heaven will be a spiritual
realm with no human culture.
A Bible college professor took oense at my suggestion
that culture—including inventions, concerts, drama,
and sports—will likely be part of the New Earth. But if
we will be God’s resurrected image-bearers living on a
resurrected earth, why wouldn’t they be?
We’re told Heaven is a city (Hebrews 11:10;
13:14). Cities have buildings, art, music, commerce,
science, and technology. And of course, cities have
people engaged in gatherings, conversations, work,
and play. Heaven is also a country (Hebrews 11:16).
Countries have land, animals, rulers, and citizens
who are both diverse and unied. We’re told “the
kings of the earth will bring their glory into” the
New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:24).
Culture is the natural, God-intended product of
His calling for mankind to rule over creation. If we
believe Scripture’s teaching that mankind and earth
will exist in physical form, as the entire doctrine of
resurrection dictates, then culture must continue.
How could it not?
The Best Is Yet to Come (That's
NOT a Myth!)
Since the resurrection awaits God’s children, we
haven’t passed our peak happiness and never
will. There’s no need for bucket lists, because
our new universe adventures will far exceed
this life’s. We really will live happily ever after.
That’s not wishful thinking. It’s the blood-bought
promise of Jesus.
We should daily look forward to a world without
evil, suering, or death, where God will live with
us and wipe away our tears forever (Revelation
21:4). Anticipating the glorious realities of the
resurrected earth has breathtaking implications
for our present happiness and our sense of the far-
reaching scope of the gospel message.
Let’s live upon Heaven’s joys now, abandoning
unbiblical and unworthy views of Heaven, and
believing that the best truly is yet to come.
We really will live happily
ever after. That’s not wishful
thinking. It’s the blood-
bought promise of Jesus.
Browse Randy's
books on Heaven
The devastating persecution no one saw coming
The coronavirus pandemic was the event of a generation. And in addition to the pain felt by people
all over the world, it also exposed the ugliness of Christian persecution in a new way. In India (No. 10 on the
World Watch List), more than 100,000 Christians received relief aid from Open Doors partners to help them
through the pandemic. Of these believers, 80 percent reported to World Watch List researchers that they
were dismissed from food distribution points. Some walked miles and hid their Christian identity to get food
elsewhere. Another 15 percent received food aid, but reported other discrimination, such as being passed over
for employment.
And it wasn’t just India: The global pandemic made persecution more obvious than ever—simply because so
many people needed help. The clear discrimination and oppression suered by Christians in 2020 must not be
forgoen, even after the COVID-19 crisis fades into our collective memory.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the most vulnerable Christians
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the persecution of Christians. But it’s also shown how
vulnerable so many of our sisters and brothers are in the places where they live. Christians who abandon a
majority faith to follow Christ know they risk losing all support from spouses, families, tribes and communities,
as well as local and national authorities. If they lose income due to COVID-19, they can’t fall back on customary
networks for survival.
For church leaders, COVID-19 also exposed how dicult daily life is. Many are not paid salaries, but depend
on nancial support from community donations. When church services stop, donations drop—by about 40
percent, said leaders ranging from Egypt to Latin America. This also aects humanitarian assistance to their
own communities, both inside and outside churches.
5 Trends in
Open Doors’ annual World Watch List examines
the 50 countries worldwide where it’s most difcult
to be a Christian. It is the only annual in-depth
survey of its kind, and reveals several trends in how
Christians are being targeted around the world.
Lockdowns didn’t matter: The violence is astounding
In much of the world, violence against Christians actually decreased during the COVID-19
pandemic. But across sub-Saharan Africa, that wasn’t the case. Christians there faced up to 30
percent higher levels of violence than the previous year. Several hundred mostly Christian villages in Nigeria
were either occupied or ransacked by armed Hausa-Fulani Muslim militant herdsmen; sometimes, elds
and crops were destroyed as well. Boko Haram—and splinter group Islamic State of West Africa Province—
continue to plague Nigeria and northern Cameroon.
The terrifying technological reality of persecution
As China’s global inuence spreads, it exports its all-pervasive systems for
“protection” and “security”—which can be seen now to brutally oppress the
Uighur population in Xinjiang. Chinese companies are supported by the
government to supply AI surveillance technology to 63 countries, including
countries on the 2021 World Watch List like Myanmar, Laos, Iran and Saudi
Arabia. Meanwhile, in India, religious minorities fear contact-tracing apps
will have “function creep” and will be used to keep an eye on them and
their movements. Another app, already in use, can predict age, gender and
race. India’s data protection bill does not cover surveillance. Indeed, it has
provisions to allow the government to bypass protection standards and even
consent in circumstances such as national security or crime investigation.
When citizenship is tied to a faith
In countries like India and Turkey, religious identity is increasingly tied to national identity—
meaning, to be a “real” Indian or a good Turk, you must be a Hindu or a Muslim, respectively. This is often
implicitly—if not explicitly—encouraged by the ruling government. In other countries on the World Watch
List, religious identity is closely tied to national identity, and anyone who follows Jesus risks being seen—and
persecuted—as a bad citizen.
In just the last year*, there have been:
• Over 340 million Christians living in places where
they experience high levels of persecution and
• 4,761 Christians killed for their faith
• 4,488 churches and other Christian buildings
• 4,277 believers detained without trial, arrested,
sentenced or imprisoned
These numbers are heart-breaking. And yet, they do
not tell the whole story. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it
pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of
your faith produces perseverance” (NIV). That joy is what we see when we hear and work with Christians all over
the world who suer because they serve Jesus. God cares for His people, and He will never leave or forsake them.
* 2021 World Watch List reporting period:
Randy's novel
Safely Home
was originally released in
2001, but its message about
the persecuted church in
China and around the world
remains timely. Learn more
hen we read through Revelation
2-3, we see several places where
Jesus promises to reward His
followers for their trust in Him
and for their faithfulness. This theme runs throughout
Scripture and can be a great encouragement to us.
There’s hardly anyone more credible to comment
on burdens than Joni Eareckson Tada. She writes,
I love to quote 2 Corinthians chapter 4 where
it says, “… our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory that far
outweighs them all. So … x [your] eyes not on
what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what
is seen is [only] temporary, but what is unseen is
eternal” (NIV). My response to my wheelchair is
gaining me an eternal reward that far outweighs
the inconvenience of my paralysis. And that’s
true for you, too, in your trial.
The key word that Joni says is “response.” It’s
not that the burdens themselves automatically
lead to reward. It’s our heart response to them that
maers: the character-byproducts and the choice
to trust Jesus even when things don’t make sense
from our perspective.
Randy writes in his book If God Is Good:
Like James (in 1:2–3), Paul said, “We also rejoice
in our suerings, because we know that suering
produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3, BSB).
Paul and James both claim we should rejoice in
suering because of what it produces: perseverance.
Adversity itself doesn’t cause our joy. Rather, our
joy comes in the expectation of adversity’s by-
product, the development of godly character. God
doesn’t ask us to cheer because we lose our job,
or a loved one contracts cancer, or a child has an
incurable birth defect. He tells us to rejoice because
he will produce in us something
money can’t buy and ease will never
produce—the precious quality of
Christ-exalting perseverance.
Jesus said, “If you hold to my
teaching, you are really my
disciples” (John 8:31). At the end
of his life, Paul said, “I have fought
the good ght, I have nished the
race, I have kept the faith. Now
there is in store for me the crown of
righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7–8, NIV).
God gives each of us a race to run. To nish
well we must develop perseverance. The
Christian life is not a hundred-meter dash,
but a marathon. We rejoice in suering in the
same way that Olympic athletes rejoice in their
workouts—not because they nd them easy, but
because they know they will one day produce
great reward.
Does God Promise His
Followers Eternal Rewards
for Bearing Burdens in Life?
Question from a reader: Randy shared a quote from Andrew Bonar on his Facebook page that
said, “We are to be rewarded, not only for work done, but for burdens borne, and I am not sure
but that the brightest rewards will be for those who have borne burdens without murmuring.
I’m interested in this concept of rewards related to burdens. Obviously Heaven is the greatest
reward, but is there any Biblical reference to this idea?
Learn more at
Note from Randy Alcorn: Acts 17:24-27 says, “The God who made the world and everything in it—he
is Lord of heaven and earth—does not live in shrines made by hands. ...From one man he has made every
nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where
they live. He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and nd him” (CSB).
God has a perfect time and place for all of us. He knows and has planned our circumstances, and while
human choice is taken into account, God is not bound by the decisions of people. He makes His own calls, and
He truly does work all things together for good for His people (Romans 8:28).
When it comes to His children, God has determined the “times set for them” and “the exact [not just
general, but exact] places they should live.” So the One in control of the universe has His time and place
for all of us. Knowing the God of providence is sovereign, and is not taken by surprise by anything,
should help us walk by faith.
As God raised up Esther for just such a time as hers (Esther 4:14), I’m convinced He’s raised us and our
children and grandchildren up for this time, to be a witness for Christ and to bring the Good News of great
joy to those around the world.
May we be faithful to rise to the challenge of these times and point the next generation to Jesus.
Don’t Feel Sorry for or
Fear for Your Kids—
Raise Them up to
Walk in Faith
on’t feel sorry for or fear for your
kids because the world they are
going to grow up in is not what it
used to be.
God created them and called them for the exact
moment in time that they’re in. Their life wasn’t a
coincidence or an accident.
Raise them up to know the power they walk in as
children of God.
Train them up in the authority of His Word.
Teach them to walk in faith knowing that God
is in control.
Empower them to know they can change the world.
Don’t teach them to be fearful and disheartened by
the state of the world but hopeful that they can do
something about it.
Every person in all of history has been placed
in the time that they were in because of God’s
sovereign plan.
He knew Daniel could handle the lions’ den.
He knew David could handle Goliath.
He knew Esther could handle Haman.
He knew Peter could handle persecution.
He knows that your child can handle whatever challenge they face in their life. He created them specically for it!
Don’t be scared for your children, but be honored that God chose you to parent the generation that is facing the
biggest challenges of our lifetime. Rise up to the challenge.
Raise Daniels, Davids, Esthers, and Peters!
God isn’t scratching His head wondering what He’s going to do with this mess of a world.
He has an army He’s raising up to drive back the darkness and make Him known
all over the earth.
Don’t let your fear steal the greatness God placed in them. I know it’s
hard to imagine them as anything besides our sweet lile babies, and
we just want to protect them from anything that could ever be
hard on them, but they were born for such a time as this.
Alex is a husband and the dad of two little
boys, and has been a youth pastor for six
years. He serves at Butterfield Church in
Russellville, Arkansas.
eternal perspective ministries
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