Tag Archives: heaven

Let’s Get Heavy!

I want to be very heavy.

I remember when I was giving over to sexual sin all the time I felt very light.  I did not have any real direction and could be swayed any which way with the slightest push.   The last book I read was always the best book, and anything novel, or new, was king.  When talking to others I was a yes-man, eager to have their approval and liking, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with what they were saying.   The compass of my life was always spinning, pointing in whatever direction my desires for that day led.   When talking with others I was not fully present but easily distracted and lifted away by the slightest breeze.

C.S. Lewis writes in his book, Weight of Glory,

It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Another image of his comes to mind, I believe it’s from The Great Divorce, and I am sure I am not remembering it correctly but the word-picture I recall him painting of our bodies in heaven are such that they are heavy, or weighted, with holy desires and purpose.   On earth we were light and flighty, but in heaven we are solid and immovable.    We are full of the fullness of His glory.

An-Eternal-Weight-of-Glory

I believe God is preparing us to know such weightiness even now, and that we can know it in greater and greater degree, or from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18), as we pursue Christ and His holiness.   Paul writes,

So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…  (2 Cor. 4:16-17).

Like I said, I want to be heavy.  Don’t you?   I want this “eternal weight of glory” ever increasing in my inner-man, out-weighing day by day the outer-man which is wasting away.   I don’t want to be tossed to and fro by my fleshly desires which are too weak and fickle when compared to the incomparable glory of God and the treasures He has in store for those who will seek Him and His righteousness first, above all else.

The “momentary affliction” which we must all bear as our “outer-man” dies is worth it!    I pray that God will give you and I the strength we need for today to grow up in Him, and to bear the weight of His glory for the world to see.    Let’s get heavy!

 

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Unknown in Heaven and Hell

There is a fascinating story in Acts 19 about some traveling Jewish exorcists who marveled at the miraculous things Paul was doing through the name of Jesus Christ.     Such was their envy of his power that they decided to use Paul’s Lord to help them in their own ministry.    To those who were harassed by an evil spirit, these Seven Sons of Sceva commanded them to come out “by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims” (Acts 19:11-17).

For so long I said the same thing to my own demons!     For decades I trusted in the power of the Gospel that others believed in but never the one I knew for myself.    For years I preached about a Jesus who could save the world from sin….just not my own.    I would tell people as a pastor, “be healed in the name of Jesus” when in reality I was thinking, “I hope Paul’s Jesus is listening.”

Faith envy is easy to succumb to, isn’t it?    I think it’s because it is far easier to trust in the faith of another than it is to take the leap ourselves.   Unlike Peter who at least jumped out of the boat chasing after Jesus we opt instead to stay inside, where we think it’s safe.    We marvel at the faith-filled Peter’s around us, wishing we could be like that, even as we assure ourselves that it’s better this way because Peter did sink after all, right?

Thankfully there are examples out there of victory  – of walk-on-water- moments – who caused me to confront my own lack of belief.  There are few things as a Christian more troubling than knowing we should be free from the chains of our habitual sins yet having little to no experience of that in our own lives.    Seeing it happening for others gave space for the Holy Spirit to convict me that my relationship with Jesus had little to do with he and I and more to do with my riding the coat-tails of others, in the same way the Sons of Sceva rode the coat-tails of Paul.

When you try to confront the demons in your life by conjuring up the faith of others you get the response these seven sons received:

Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?

Who are you?   The devils rightly know Jesus and Paul because they are storming the gates of hell.   But who are you?   Why should the demons be concerned with you?   There came a point in my defeated Christian existence that I realized I was not even in the battle which Paul describes in Ephesians 6:10ff, but a mere spectator.  I was an unknown player in both heaven and hell.  I was still sitting in the boat, believing the lie that being around Jesus was good enough.    I was not truly “struggling” against sin in my life, as much as I might try to convince myself or others that I was.  In reality,  I was mastered by it.  

Sons-of-Sceva

When these seven sons tried to attack the demons before them through a power that was not their own they were “mastered” by these spirits, scripture tells us, and fled the scene “naked and wounded.”   When we try to defeat the sin in our lives by trying to appropriate the faith of someone else, or by calling upon the power of some program or technique, or through doubling-down on our efforts to be more religious (I’ll do, do, do, more, more, more!), then we are facing the enemy naked and alone.   Our sin will man-handle us again and again.  We will remain defeated…and unknown by either  heaven, or hell.

Eternal Rewards Matter

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied (1 Cor. 15:19).

My friend John wondered on his blog whether it was OK to be motivated in this life to do good for the purposes of being repaid in the next.   It got me thinking about how little we talk about heaven (or hell, for that matter).

A few weeks ago I was looking through one of our hymn books we use at my church and couldn’t help but notice how many of them paint pictures of our heavenly home.   Most of these hymns were written in the early 1940’s, while our country, and the world, was at war.   When hope in this life seemed so bleak the poets of the day turned the church’s attention towards life eternal.

heaven-2-_1_

My friend John is right to point out that, at least in recent times, being motivated by rewards to come seems immature.  We like to think that we do good, that we obey Christ, for more noble reasons.   It is as if so many of us who profess Christ have determined that the rewards which Christ himself promised are beneath us.

I wonder if the degree to which we scrub reward talk from our church’s vocabulary is the same degree to which our individual as well as corporate walks with God become laced with pride, and therefore become the very opposite of the good we think they are.   The Bible has far too many references to rewards – both those we should be excited to obtain and those we should hope to escape – for us to think we do good for goodness’ sake alone.

Jesus said we should become like little children because they stand the best chance of entering the kingdom of God.   Children are the most easily, and naturally, motivated by rewards.   

Jesus himself was so motivated.   It was “for the joy that was set before him” that he was able to endure the cross for you and I (Heb. 12:2).    And it was because he knew that his Father had “given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God,” (John 13:3) which motivated him to rise from his last supper and become a servant to his disciples by washing their feet.

If Jesus was so motivated by rewards – to both endure suffering and serve others – why should we think we can do without?

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up  (Gal. 6:9)

If you are struggling with doing good, find it difficult to suffer others, or find the temptations of this world becoming too enticing to refuse, then perhaps you need to remember the harvest you will reap if you do not give up.  Perhaps you need to keep before you the eternal rewards Christ has promised those who conquer.

To help aid you in turning your hearts and minds to thinking on the things which are above (Col. 3:2), here are a few reading suggestions:

Heaven by Randy Alcorn

Heaven: A World of Love by Jonathan Edwards

The New Testament  – read it with an eye towards the many rewards which await those who finish the race well.

What other suggestions do you have?

 

 

 

Stop Bothering Me! (something Daddy never says)

“Daddy, can i have 40 dollars?”

Brody, my 6 year old, needed a new video game for his DS.    The question came up at dinner last Saturday and continued to be asked until it was time for bed.

Daddy, please? Daddy, I need it!   Daddy, can I?   How can I make 40 bucks daddy? 

pester power

If you are a parent, you no doubt have experienced the incessant and persistent neediness of your children.   There are moments when it feels as though every 3 seconds they are calling your name, wanting this, needing that.    You love it, don’t you?  Or maybe you are like me, and during those moments you just want to cover your ears and lock yourself in a quiet room and eat Oreos.

Sunday morning I was enjoying my quiet time before everyone woke up, doing some dishes, when I heard the pitter-patter of feet behind me.

It was Brody.

The first words out of his mouth that morning were, of course, “Daddy, when can I have that 40 dollars?”

As my flesh reared up and prepared to tell him to go back to bed and not bother me again about that, the Spirit of the Lord spoke into my heart, saying,

You are so unlike your Daddy in heaven, Chad.

Father stopped me in my tracks.  The truth of this revelation had my full attention, then continued…

Your Father, Chad, never tires of his children’s needs.   He never grows weary of their want.  In fact, He is drawn to it.   Unlike you, He does not hide from need but runs to it.

Oh, and Chad, I want you to be more like Me.

There are times when I get lulled into thinking Jesus and I are so alike.  The world’s idolatry of self-sufficiency-as-virtue can easily lure me into loosing touch with the wholly-otherness of God, thus reducing Jesus to a peer I sometimes use to justify the life I’ve already determined to lead rather than surrendering to him as Lord, knowing my every breath hinges upon his word.

And so it is that this word that ruptured my world Sunday morning at Brody’s request is precisely what I needed, because it is through reckoning the great gulf that exists between myself and Father that I can truly appreciate and depend on His Son, who reconciled me, and us, bridging that gulf and making it possible to become like Daddy.

And the truth I am still in awe of today is that our Father in Heaven never tires of us.  He never grows weary of the needs we bring to the throne of grace.   He won’t bar the door and indulge Himself in Oreo cookies and earplugs.  His love, patience, and compassion is so unlike my own, and for this I stand amazed, and humbled.

Perhaps this is why Jesus said the kingdom belongs to children.   Children are constantly in need.  Their very lives hang in the balance of a parent who loves them.    And according to Jesus, age does not relinquish our need, despite our prideful attempts to assert otherwise.   In fact, presupposing we have no needs, that we are doing just fine, thank you very much, is an affront to God, and blocks us from receiving all that our Father desires to give us as His children (Rev. 3:17).

Pride blinds us to our greatest need which is Jesus, and we can do no better than realizing we have this need.  He has never stopped calling to any and all who would listen,

Come to me, you who are weary and heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest  (Matt. 11:28)

How awesome it is to know we have a God who does not respond to need like us earthly parents!  We must come to know this God, and trust that our requests, no matter how trivial they may seem are not annoying God but displaying our dependence upon Him.   It reflects a heart that is willing to humble itself before God as a child, and our Father is waiting for such worshipers!    Run to him with your need!

In his book, Orthodoxy, G.K Chesterton pens this beautiful description of our Daddy who, unlike you and I,  never gets tired of need.

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

It is my desire to become more like a child in the hands of my Father in heaven, needy and dependent upon Him for even the smallest details of my life.    I believe this honors God, positioning me rightly before Him and others, serving to transform and renew a mind that so easily falls prey to the pride of life.   I also desire to become more like Him in my response to need around me, to not grow weary or impatient but filled with His Spirit, abounding in grace and mercy.     In my own strength I know this is not possible, but my Daddy does the impossible!