Reality of Heaven

Is Heaven a real place?  “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” Genesis 1:1 “And God called the firmament Heaven” Genesis 1:8  It seems that since God chose these words to be his first must mean that they are of great importance.  For some of us the uncertainty of an after life or heaven is unnerving.  You’re not alone. I remember when I was a child in grade school I sometimes thought to myself, “where will I go when I die?” Silly as it may sound, I had a picture in my mind of coffins floating in space. It amazes me how that even as a young girl there was a sincere desire to “know.”  The good news is that later as a young woman I received the answer to my childhood question:  I came to learn about Jesus and what He did for us: Giving his own life for all mankind so that those of us who would choose to believe in him would have an eternal “home” when we leave this earth. In the following passage Jesus speaks words of comfort to the troubled, uncertain and fearful: “For God so Loved the world (humanity) that he gave his one and only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him (Jesus) will not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16.  Jesus refers to our “eternal” home as his “Fathers house” “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s house. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am…” John 14:1-4

Following the death and resurrection of Jesus he spoke to his disciples of his return to heaven, “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into Heaven and sat on the right hand of God.”  What’s comforting is that God is always “looking down from Heaven” Psalm 80:14, 102:19, and that our “help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:2

Heaven is also referred to as a place of  “Paradise” found in Luke 23:43 and also in 2Corinthians 12:4. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the Paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7

So HOW do we get to Heaven? Remember the scripture above where Jesus references heaven as his “Father’s house” and that he has gone there to “prepare” a place for us?  Well in the following scriptures he explains very clearly how we can live in this “Paradise” with him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. NO ONE can come to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME.”  As a young woman I remember reading these scriptures and after, I began to say the following prayer that would change my life forever!  “The message is very close at hand: it is on your lips and in your heart“…”If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” As the scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”  Romans 10:8-11 While sitting in my little sisters bedroom when no one was home I began to say a prayer that went something like this: “Father God I believe in you. I believe in your Son Jesus Christ, that He died for me and that you raised him from the dead. Forgive me of all I have done wrong, be my Lord and my Savior” and while I was praying, I felt what I would describe as a “blanket” of Love that came over me. I felt what I believe “heaven” feels like. I felt Peace. Jesus speaks of this Peace. He says that it cannot come from this world as we know it. His Peace can only come from God. The scriptures say that Jesus is the “Prince of Peace.”
If you’re at a place in your life, searching, looking for answers, I encourage you to follow Jesus. Just as I mentioned earlier, he says that he is “the way, the truth and the life…”  Take comfort in the amazing truth that God loves you! It does not matter what you’ve done or even what you’re involved in now, he is here for you now, he is waiting to hear from you.  The Lord has given you the freedom to choose…. I encourage you today to make the best decision you’ll ever make: Choose “Jesus” and follow him knowing that when your life here on earth is through, you will be with your heavenly Father and His Son Jesus in heaven for eternity.


Set for Life

Not long ago my husband was talking to a very wealthy man that he has known for a few years and during their conversation the man shared how hard he works and began to describe all of the hours he puts in every week to get where he is at.  How many Americans would say the same thing?   Many if not most are all working to accomplish that “American” dream.

Before my husband and I were called into ministry together we were very much a part of the American dream seekers.  While living out west we were married, had two children and during our time raising our family my husband went into business for himself.  We were on our way! Every year his business became more and more successful. Compared to most, we were rich! Before we left to go into ministry for the Lord we lived in a very well to do community. We owned a three car garage two story “builders” model mountain view home complete with four bedrooms on the 2nd level and an office on the first level. The “master” suite was quite roomy with a sitting room and fireplace. The master bath included a jacuzzi tub and a walk in shower with a mountain view. Our kitchen had a beautiful view of the pebble-tech in-ground swimming pool along with a built in water fall.  According to many we’d accomplished one of the most sought after lifestyles by men and women all over the world, and we did it well before the age of 50. But yet, something was missing.

If you’ve been led to believe that “money” makes you happy, I have some news for you: Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Don’t get me wrong, “having” money is not wrong, but the Bible does clearly say that “the LOVE of money is the ROOT of all evil” 1 Timothy 6;10.  When our goal of “making” money becomes more important than anything else that is when we find ourselves in danger of the “love” of money, it then becomes an idol.  When this happens, we are opening the door to a very unhappy and empty life. A life void of “real” happiness, joy and peace.  Loving money more than anything else can ruin a family and end a marriage.  It can even cause health issues.  So what is the “first” clue that making money is the most important goal in your life? Giving, or the lack of. You see when we “love” money we no longer see the importance of helping others we begin to be “afraid” of losing it,  so we keep it all for ourselves.  For those of us who attend church, it can keep us from obeying God when it comes to giving “Tithes” and offerings.  We begin to adopt the mindset of  “I work hard for my money!”  This same kind of thinking was recorded in the Bible even before Jesus was born: “I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy”  But God himself says to be “careful” with this kind of thinking: “But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations and decree’s that I am giving you today. For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in,  and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. …He did this so you would never say to yourself, “I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.” Remember the Lord your God. HE IS THE ONE WHO GIVES YOU POWER TO BE SUCCESSFUL in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.” Deuteronomy 8:11-18

One main point I am attempting to make here is this: It is NOT evil to make money. It is NOT evil to work hard and become rich! When we get in trouble is when we FORGET that God himself has given us that gift or talent to become wealthy! And that “wealth” is not only for you to be blessed but to bless others with it (not just your family).  God spoke to Abraham and said “I have blessed you so that you will be a blessing”  Abraham who was very wealthy paid “tithes” to Melchizedek, a priest of God recorded in Genesis 14:18-20 also in Hebrews 7:6. “And all that YOU have GIVEN me, I will surely GIVE A TENTH (tithe, meaning 10% of all you make or acquire) unto thee” is what Jacob promised to God in Genesis 28:22.  Later the Mosaic law spoke of the “tithe” in Leviticus 27:30-32.  “Honor the LORD with your substance (money, abundance) and the firstfruits of all your increase” Proverbs 3:9.

If what I’ve shared with you has gotten your attention and you’re seriously interested in learning more,  read about the “BLESSINGS” that follow those who choose to obey God recorded in Deuteronomy chapter 28.  You see there is a “law” in place. It’s very much like the laws of gravity: “What goes up, must come down” The law of “sowing and reaping” (giving and receiving) also apply: When you sow seed into the ground you will reap a harvest. When you “give” back what God has blessed you with, He makes sure that you get more.  One scripture says, “He that gives to the poor lends to the Lord and that which he has given, God will pay him back again.” Proverbs 19:17  He has not put his promises and commandments in His word to make us feel bad. He’s had them recorded for us to learn from them. To understand where our life, gifts, talents and the ability to make money come from: Him.  When we do this we will truly be “Set for Life!”
“...for then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success…” Joshua 1:8


Love My Enemies? Really?!

Believe it or not the subject of “Love your enemies” is just as much therapeutic for me as it will be for you.  Before I have ever started blogging, I have always enjoyed writing. Sometimes I would write to God about my concerns, worries, fears and even anger toward others. I have also been very good at writing people, especially if someone has hurt me, my family or church.  There have been many times in my life where I have been able to relate to Peter the disciple of Jesus. For those of you who have never heard the true story, Peter took his sword and cut off a mans ear because they were coming to take Jesus away! Folks, this was a man of God, a follower of Jesus and he was so angry and protective that he lost it! When this incident took place Jesus said to Peter, “You do not know what spirit you are of…” and proceeded to heal the mans ear.

As human beings the first thing we want to do is retaliate! Some of us are ready to rip others up one side and down the other, especially when they’re cruel, unkind and sometimes just downright ignorant.  You can probably tell by my  blog that I am dealing with an issue myself right now.  No it’s not my family,  in fact it doesn’t matter who or what it is, what matters is HOW do we do it? “How do we do what?”  How do we LOVE our enemies or those that have wronged us or offended us? Allow me to tell you how I do it:  Just today, I asked the Lord for help. I asked Him to help me love the way He loves.  Jesus himself said it’s possible, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  One particular scripture that the Lord has been speaking to me throughout the day is “Love your enemies…” as I looked it up in the Bible, I found the words of Jesus saying, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say LOVE  YOUR ENEMIES! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way (when you do this) you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven…” John 5:43-45 nlt.  Notice he provides a way out of common temptation to react. Jesus is saying that there is a better way to deal with our issues with others:  He says for us to “pray” for them.  This act immediately turns our attention from lashing back at them to “showing mercy.”  Did you know the Bible says that when we “judge” others that we will be “judged” with the same judgement we are judging others? It’s true. In another passage Jesus says, “…when you stand praying forgive, for if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your sins…” Mark 11:25-26.

Friends, we are all faced with difficult and painful situations in life. And the sad thing is, many times they occur by the same people. I have good news! Jesus has a helpful answer for this as well, “Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times? “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Mathew 18:21-22

I am a human being just like you. I have feelings like you. I get hurt just like you.  Did you know that Jesus was presented with the same circumstances as you and me? The word of God says that He was tempted in every way that we are, “yet without sin!”  Instead of retaliation, anger, unforgiveness and bitterness, Jesus chose to show mercy. He practiced what he preached! Remember the scripture I shared at the beginning when Jesus said to “pray” for those that persecute us? He lived what He taught. While he was hanging on the cross he prayed to the Father in heaven and said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do…” Luke 23:34

Even in the toughest and most painful times in my life I am always reminded of how much he loves me. How much he has forgiven me and how important it is for me to “forgive” those that have knowingly or unknowingly hurt me.  I have found that this is the only way to relieve the pain and restore peace.  But it’s a choice. I can choose to hang on to the hurt or I can love my enemies by praying for them and forgiving them. I choose the latter.


Refresh Yourself

Picture if you will a very hot and dry desert. What’s the first thing you think of? Water! For fourteen years our family lived in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona. I remember quite clearly one summer after our first child was born, our air conditioner went out because the temperatures reached 120′! YES, I said 120 degrees!  If you’ve every flown over the valley you’ll see that nearly every home has a pool because of the extreme heat.  I also remember that I never left the house without water!! Anyone who has ever lived there knows exactly what I’m talking about. I also remember taking walks. It was either EARLY in the morning or when the sun went down and even then I would literally pour water on me to keep me cool as I hit the hiking trails or the streets of my neighborhood.

Our soul is very much like that hot and dry desert. Whether we realize it or not our very being THIRSTS for God! Many people may not realize it but the truth be told, we are God’s creation, and living a life without him in it is like  living in the desert without water.

Let’s take a look at a true story of Jesus and a woman who came to get water from a well:
As Jesus was leaving Judea and returning to Galilee, he came to village in Samaria.  Jacobs well was there and because he was tired from his long walk, he sat beside the well around noontime. “Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, ‘You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?’ Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me and I would give you living water.” “But Sir, you don’t have a rope or bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will NEVER be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.John 4:4-14

Here Jesus is teaching us a comparison between the water that we drink  and the LIVING water that comes from Him.  As we can clearly see the Bible references Jesus as the “Living Water”.  The word of God also reveals that Jesus is the bread of life.  First let’s look at what Jesus says in Mathew 4:4 “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” Jesus explains in another passage of scripture what this means: “The true bread of God is the One (Jesus) who comes down from heaven” John 6:33.

What is the best way of obtaining the “true bread” which is God’s word? “So then faith comes by hearing and by hearing the word of God” Romans 10:17. In the scriptures above this the apostle Paul explains the importance of the teacher, the minister that God has sent to proclaim “His” word and in Hebrews 10:25, the word of God teaches us one very important aspect that we must be careful to not forget as Christians, His people, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” The King James version says, “Forsake not the assembling of  yourselves together, as a manner of some have…” So what is God saying here? “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith (faith comes by hearing God’s word by his ministers that he has called) and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13.

Many times we can get distracted and go through life thinking that this part of Christianity is unnecessary.  We get wrapped up in work and raising our families that we sometimes do not see the importance of going to church.  I remember going through a period in my life where I failed to see it’s importance. I went from faithfully going to hear God’s Life giving words to not. And I can honestly say that I do not ever want that to happen again. Why? Because hearing God’s word causes faith to grow.  The scriptures also say that through “faith and patience” we “inherit God’s promises”.  If we’re not being fed the “bread of life” or drinking that “living water” on a regular basis our faith that helps us conquer EVERYTHING in life will not grow. Faith my friend is the ONLY thing that can overcome doubt, fear, anxiety and worry. Hearing God’s word increases our faith to overcome anything that presents itself in life. God’s word says, “the just shall live by faith.”

I encourage you today that if you have put going to church on the back burner to rethink your decision and based on the word of God put it back on your “To-Do” list.  “Blessed are they that Hunger and Thirst after righteousness (God and His word) shall be filled” Mathew 5:6 (Jesus words)

Pastor Nina Tidwell
Ponce Church, Ponce Inlet, Florida~A Surfside Church


Life After Tsunami

Amid the rubbish stands one of the most beautiful sites anyone will ever see: Springtime Sakura, better known as “cherry blossom” trees.  While preparing for my trip to Japan, I look at the hard work our friends in Otsuchi are doing by helping the people that have been devastated by the tsunami that swept through their town, taking lives and tearing down many of the structures that once stood strong.  But with all of the pain and suffering, there is something more powerful than death and destruction: Life!

Jesus says in the ancient scriptures “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come, that you might have Life and Life more abundantly” John 10:10.  You may say, “Where is this Life? How can Life be present when there is so much sorrow? ” When God raised Jesus from the dead he sent His Spirit to live inside every person who chooses to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. This Spirit demonstrates the love of the Father (God) when we love those around us.  As the people of God his Love empowers us to help a neighbor living just down the street or thousands of miles away bringing comfort to the hurting.  This kind of Love is expressed with more than words, it is accompanied with action,  “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we must also give up our lives for our brothers and our sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but show no compassion–how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth.” 1John 3:16-18

Just like the Sakura trees showing off their display of life and beauty…the people of God are active all over the world  showing this  “Life”  through acts of love toward mankind.  “Let your lite  so shine that mankind will see your good deeds (acts of Love) and Glorify your Father which is in Heaven” Jesus words found in Mathew 5:16

Thank you for your prayers as I continue preparations for my upcoming trip to Japan. Below is Pastor Guna and Jey and members of their congregation returning from their first trip into Otsuchi.  They have recently returned with another team and are working to help clear anything damaged by the tsunami and cleaning the homes so the families (who are in shelters) can return to their homes. God bless them as they show the people of Otsuchi God’s love through their acts of kindness.

For more information regarding our call to Japan, read my blog titled, “Japan: Mission of Love” or go to our website at PonceChurch.com


He’s Alive and Well

For thousands of years the story of Jesus death and resurrection have been told in churches, meeting places and homes all over the world.  Jesus himself began to speak of his death even before they laid a hand on him. “Listen” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. They will mock him, spit on him, flog him with a whip, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again” the gospel of Mark chapter 10, verses 33 & 34.

Celebrating Easter is more than the traditional  chocolate bunnies and colored Easter eggs, it’s remembering Jesus laying down his life for all mankind and God raising him from the dead. Why? Jesus Christ the Risen One was sent to us because of God’s amazing love.  Jesus endured the beatings for you and me. He allowed them to hang him on the cross to pay for our sins.

In the old testament Adam and Eve chose to not follow God’s instructions and when they disobeyed what the Father told them sin came into the earth.  Prophets in the old testament spoke of the coming Messiah who would take away the sin of the world.  “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2Corinthians 5:21  Because of the wonderful mercy and love of God, he sent his one and only Son to die for you and me, and when God raised Jesus Christ to life again, he made it possible for us to be put back in good standing with God our heavenly Father again.  All God asks of us is to believe. Believe that he sent Jesus to us, that he went to the cross for us, died and believe that God raised him from the dead.

Jesus Christ is alive and well today. He sits at God’s right hand in Heaven and because of the power of the resurrection, he lives in his people, his followers, Christians today. How? “The Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” Romans 8:11

As you celebrate Easter this year remember God’s amazing love for you and all of mankind. Realize and accept the truth that we need our sins forgiven. Understand that with our own strength or works we cannot make that happen, forgiveness only comes through believing in Jesus Christ and that he died for us.  Open your heart to Jesus and follow Him. Once you make this decision, your life will have meaning.  “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced…Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” Romans 10:8-13

Happy Easter!

Pastor Nina Tidwell
Ponce Church, Ponce Inlet, Florida

Everyone Welcome! We’re Surfside and we’re Casual!
Sundays 10AM
4670 S. Peninsula in Ponce Inlet


Life’s True Value

Have you ever had to take inventory before? Maybe you’re a business owner or an employee of a company that requires annual inventory. If not, I’m sure you’ve taken inventory of what’s in your kitchen especially if  you are  getting ready to prepare a meal for your family or friends and so what is the first thing you do? You check your cupboards or pantry to see if you have the proper ingredients and if not, you make a list of the things you need to purchase at the grocery store or local market.

In business  we are required by law to be “honest” in our assessments during inventory. Many years ago I used to work in retail and I remember the times we were required to take inventory of “everything” in the store and I mean everything. We could not leave anything out, and we were required to be accurate in our calculations.  In life whether we are aware of it or not, we are constantly taking inventory and making assessments of the things we have or don’t have, the question is are we being accurate? Are we forgetting something? As we make assessments of our life are we leaving anything out?

In Philippians chapter 3 verses 7-9 the Apostle Paul says, “I once thought these things were ‘valuable’, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. vs 8 Yes ‘everything else’ is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as ‘garbage’ (worthless) so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.”

As I mentioned earlier we are all (knowingly or unknowingly) taking inventory of our lives: For some we look at life and how hard it is. We may be frustrated because of our financial situation. We may be jealous of what our neighbors (or family and co-workers) have. We may even be irritated by the fact that we don’t have the job or career we “really” want. What the Apostle Paul is saying here is that he has  knowingly made an honest assessment of his life. The “things” he once thought were ‘valuable’ to him are no longer that. He made an honest assessment and came to the true understanding that the infinite value in Life comes ONLY from Jesus and knowing him. You might be asking yourself “How?” “How can I stop looking at and being ‘consumed’ with the things I have or “don’t” have and carefully and honestly see the “True Value” in Jesus?  I’m glad you asked, picture if you will a “warehouse” it’s your warehouse containing  “everything” you posses, including your present circumstances whether good or bad and in this warehouse  you also have a chest full of “gold” but you overlook it because everything else in your warehouse has captured your attention which causes you to not see it.  Why? Because while we’re ‘busy’ taking inventory of our life we are failing to  make a “complete” assessment. We’re so focused on all the other stuff, that we are unable to see that right in the middle of everything else in our warehouse  is something that is MORE valuable than anything else. So how do we focus on this treasure that has been in our warehouse since day one? Take NEW inventory and “include” Jesus as being the MOST important and most VALUABLE asset in your life. What does the “value” of Jesus offer us: God’s word says that he “…works ALL things together for GOOD, to those that love God and are called according to His purpose” Another promise is “…and NOTHING shall by any means hurt you…” Another nugget of truth of knowing Jesus is, “I CAN do ALL THINGS through Christ who gives me strength” Friends, He is our Life, Purpose and Peace…everything else is “garbage” it’s worthless compared to Jesus.  Taking our eyes off of the “garbage” and putting our focus on Jesus is the most valued treasure we could ever obtain.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a TREASURE that a man/woman discovered hidden in a field…” ~ Knowing Jesus.

For more go Ponce Church website and download Pastor Rick’s newest
messages, “The Value of Jesus”