If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable conclusion is that I was made for another world.
About three years ago I got a copy of Heaven by Randy Alcorn and many of it’s 500 pages sat on my shelf unturned for that time. I occasionally thumbed through the book, as it poses and answers some great questions about a biblical perspective on the eternal Heaven, but never read it with any gusto. I’m glad I found the gumption to do this.
I love reading books that challenge ideas I’ve had, there’s this profound, sickening sense of change as you read them. When you read a truth that just compels you to alter yourself in light of it. Heaven was a book like that for me.
Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Sometimes we just accept things as true regardless of their substance, I found through the reading of this book that many of my thoughts on Heaven didn’t really have any basis in biblical truth. I don’t know where I got the idea that we would simply forget the things that happened during our lives here on Earth or that somehow eternity meant the absence of time or that we’d live in an eternal church service in an amorphous spirit state but it wasn’t the Bible. It was as though I was just “not ‘spiritual’ enough” to understand why that would be good. This book really corrected that perspective beautifully.
This book is for you if:
If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.
I’m left with a feeling of genuine excitement and reverential awe of God. I’m excited by the eternal consequences of life between Eden and Heaven, it gives an all new perspective.
It’s possible that all this time I’ve lived without actually applying much of what I believe to be true about Heaven, giving intellectual assent but never applying what I knew. I’ve lived day to day without my heart being set on eternity. With Heaven on my mind the things on Earth take on new meaning. I heard once that the Church is too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use but I’d say that a genuine appreciation of Heaven will lead to our greatest earthly use.
I feel like an athlete preparing for a race, toning my body and mind for a great physical feat, just as Paul described the Christian walk. Thoughts of Heaven stir me to actions of eternal consequence, it gets me excited about every prayer, every deed worthy of Jesus because I know that it’s leading somewhere, to some great goal which is being at home with my Heavenly Father.
Eden has been trampled, burned and savaged. Yet the stars in the sky nevertheless declare God’s glory (Psalm 19:1), as do animals, art, and music. But our vision is hampered by the same curse that infects all creation. One day both we and the universe will be forever cured of sin. In that day, we will see God.
Randy Alcorn, Heaven
I have three pairs of jeans, or I should say had three pairs of jeans. Two perished in this weeks events, one directly before the furniture auction I attended and the other while bending down to pick up scraped scraps from my carpet in my house. That’s right, my house! I’ve been a dedicated nomad for some 23 years but I have a home to call my own now and it’s in Harrisburg. We’re excited to move in but the preparation work is endless, and where work abounds procrastination abounds further, hence this blog.
So far Suzy and I have been working on fixing up the house along with other sundries, turning on gas (if we could only convince the gas guy to turn up), disposing of a couch and all its inhabitants, and ordering a recycling bin. Oh, and the visa. The visa is what I should be doing right this second, but it’s haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard. Normally with visa work you find that there is only one form to fill out, along with 20 or so satellite forms and evidence to provide from your grandmother’s inside leg measurement to my noninvolvement in the atrocities committed in Nazi Germany between 1933 and ‘45. Marrying Americans is hard. I should say here by way of disclaimer that it would probably be just as hard going the other way, so I’ll correct myself: ‘visas are hard’. She was worth it though, and still is worth it, and will always be worth it.
Pray for us, guys. Nothing draws a man out of a boy like marriage. In these unfamiliar surroundings I find myself looking for someone to take responsibility and wind up finding a mirror instead. God has been abundantly gracious, that much you can rest on, but it doesn’t stop change being difficult.
I recently went to a truly triumphant wedding, God attended, you should’ve been there if you weren’t. It was a genuine honour to be there, the happy couple were totally committed to Jesus, head over heels in love with God and each other. There was something truly unique about the experience and made me hunger for more of God. My own wedding was precious and God was every bit as much there but their commitment stirred me. ’We just decided to stop leading our selfish little lives…’ the groom talked about their future plans. I can’t do it justice with my fumbling words, typing here at my computer I just remember his conviction, to go into all the world. He echoed an ancient command, one that I’m starkly reminded was issued to me and my wife as well. I’m not sure how radically we’re supposed to live sometimes, am I an Ezekiel or an Elijah, a Paul, Peter or just one of the many that they praise for supporting them? One thing is for sure, even if you’re not called to darkest Africa, you are called to a radical relationship with Jesus. Awesome Awesome Awesome.
This past week has left me pensive and stirred. I feel like those old ripped jeans, like I’m shedding parts of myself I don’t need anymore and moving on to something brighter. Those jeans were still good, they’d been with me for a long long time, they had stains from the time I worked as a painter and a hole worn through where I sawed them by mistake (don’t ask). Maybe those jeans just weren’t any good for cleaning the floors in my house, paying bills, or clenching butt cheeks at a furniture auction. I sure will miss those jeans…
Lately I’ve been all about farming metaphors, the seasonal stuff. Is it the season for ploughing, sowing or reaping? It roughly falls in line with Ecclesiastes where Solomon talks about the times, “A time to reap, a time to sow Ecc 3:1-8” but it also lines up with a lot of harvest metaphors that Jesus uses. I think anything worth doing takes time and work, and sometimes that means struggling for a season. While walking with Jesus we sometimes hit solid sweaty ploughing seasons, where you need to really get your butt in gear. Times when you just don’t feel like reading or praying, when you are working hard on your character and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Or when you’re sowing, you’ve gotten torn up by your ploughed earth and now it’s time to plant good things in the soil, to tend it and keep it safe from weeds, and pests. But those times are what make the reaping so good!
Being happy in the moment is overrated, it only lasts for that moment, any lasting goodness in your life comes from discipline and work. I don’t mean to discount God in this, we water the plants but God makes them grow. Sometimes God gives you your needs because He’s so good, other times, God gives you a strong back and a lot of time, because He’s so good. Your faith is a bonsai tree, carefully pruned and tended to, these things take years to train but nothing looks quite so impressive when it’s done. So I’d encourage you right now, if you’re in a place that feels dry and empty, frustrated and hard, just hold on, carry on believing in the goodness of God, remember what you learned about Him when you first fell in love because YOU WILL REAP.
I don’t think there is a single soul in the Church that hasn’t been hurt by the concept of healing. Kind of ironic, huh?
I want to say first and foremost that I’m not the deeply theological sort, I’m not going to reference endless verses, just one or two at most, and I’m not attempting to build a theological stance or start a revolution. Just spur some thoughts and open conversation.
Jesus did so much healing in three short years in ministry and we’re commanded to heal the sick and cast out demons so logically we have to assume that there are sick we can heal and demons we can cast out (I’m not even touching demonic stuff here, that’s a whole ‘nother blog). The point is that God is spirit and exists supernaturally, Christians are supposed to do supernatural things, healing included. Jesus even went so far as to say we’d see greater things.
I read these verses in my friend’s children’s bible and it got me thinking.
Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
This is pretty much exactly why healing is hard. If a person is sick and God doesn’t heal them we are left wondering who sinned, whether we lacked sufficient faith, or if God is indifferent altogether. The passage above seems to indicate to me something entirely different. The man was born blind so that ‘the works of God might be displayed in him’, what does that even mean?
I saw a theologiany book on a guy’s shelf once called ‘God’s Passion for His Glory’, I didn’t read it. It sounded a little dry but I’ve been thinking about this concept for a little while and I think there’s low hanging fruit here.
God loves to be known, He loves His people to know Him and as we grow in that knowledge we can’t help but love God more. I think that’s what giving glory to God is: recognising who He is and giving the only natural response which is to bow down in praise. This is our God, this is who He is. I think what happens with this blind man is an example of God displaying His glory, in healing the man Jesus is saying, ‘this is who God is, He is a healer’. God wants to be known as a healer, His mercy and His blessings are all wrapped up in this concept of glory and it’s within our reach. When God heals, He gets the glory, we lift God up higher than anyone else and say, ‘this is our God, the Healing God’.
Some people haven’t been healed and we don’t always understand why but maybe it’s for the same reason: So the works of God might be displayed in him. Check this out. Is God displaying His glory through this guy? If you have time, check this out too. Oh, and this one. I think it’s just a reminder that God heals more than the body, I don’t think God makes people sick (that may well be another blog in itself) but I do think He redeems, it is His glory to do so. I heard once that God is a gentleman, that He comes only when He’s invited and you’d be amazed at what He can do.
I’ve been reading the Old Testament lately. It’s marvellous, reading the Bible is a discipline that keeps on giving. Not always fun when you do it, but if you keep giving it to God He’ll always come up trumps and bless you big style.
I think I read this thing in a book once, that God presents himself as a Father because there’s a shortage. I don’t think I’ve found one good one yet in The Book. Take Samuel for a second: Samuel was raised by a priest named Eli, Eli was a bad dad, his kids were rotten and he did nothing about it, God told him so. So Samuel becomes the head honcho prophet for a while and his kids are rotten and do evil. He anoints David to be king of Israel, David’s a bit of a crappy dad too if you remember the whole Absalom debacle. From here on out it seems there’s a good king and prosperity followed by his son who is (seemingly invariably) an evil dude and brings idolatry. The cycle rinses and repeats.
It seems that from the word go man decided to be passive rather than adopting responsibility. When he’s caught by God in the garden he instantly blames Eve and God saying, ‘this woman you gave me, she ate the fruit and gave me some.’ Good father’s aren’t passive, God’s not passive. I guess that’s more than anything what I want to say here, when God identifies Himself as a father I don’t think He’s trying to announce gender so much as role. God is a good dad in a world full of bad dads and failing men. In a way I think we get it mixed up and think that God is saying He’s dad so we’ll think of our human fathers and apply their characters to him. I think in calling Himself father He’s protesting our weakness and magnifying His goodness.
Have this limitless tolerance for their own. It’s amazing. I was drained today, so drained that I had no time for screaming children. I love my family and I can say for sure that I’m starting to count my family in-law-to-bes as family. I really love them, sincerely. It’s just draining getting grafted into a whole new family tree. With that said, I have these new nephews and they’re beautiful (I should drop some pictures on here), they’re wonderful and sometimes a little crazy, but I feel like I have a lot of time for them, a near infinite well of patience. It’s not the same for other kids, my fuse is very short for screamy attention-grabbing children but as screamy and attention grabby as my nephews may (very occasionally) be, I’ve just got time for them. I guess this must be a little taste of family, no matter what they do it just seems you’ve got this inexplicable love and tenderness for them, then again it’s a fallen world and I don’t have to take them home at the end of the day. I hope God feels the same way about me, only perfectly.
When Cyrus, my nephew, is naughty I know that he’s not a bad kid he’s just making dumb choices, I know that he probably didn’t mean it but even if he did I’ve got grace for him. I like feeling this way, I think maybe it’s a good way to feel about everyone. All I’m left with is a prayer to God for grace so instead of judging screamy attention-grabbing kids, I can just love them. Our power comes from God right?