E is for Eternity


Today, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  I am a bachelor (A big secret, I know  :P ) but for 80% of this past year, I’ve gotten away with only preparing one daily meal in my apartment where I live by myself. In the past, I’ve encountered a situation where I’d buy a loaf of bread and two weeks later, I’d still have some of it left.  This is probably more surprising to you, given my appetite’s reputation.  In any case, eventually, mold begins to grow on the remaining slices and I have to throw it out.  This is required even if it is just a tiny speck of mold because then it is unsafe.  It is ruined.

My dad makes a statement all the time that one imperfection would ruin heaven.  Imperfect people would ruin a perfect place.  I think the dilemma is even worse than that.  Temporal things cannot participate in an eternal kingdom, as 1 Cor 15:50 says, “…flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption.”  Something that decays or dies can’t be lumped together with something that lives forever.  A kingdom that is eternal must be constituted solely of things that are eternal.  Otherwise, that eternal kingdom would lose its eternal property.  So then, how can we who are dying participate in an eternal Kingdom?

The awesome thing about us is that there is a part of us that will last forever, our heart or spirit.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 states that God has put eternity in our hearts.  Moreover, in the promise of a New Covenant in Jeremiah 31, God says He will “write [My law] on their hearts and I will be their God and they will be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor and every man his brother saying, ‘know the Lord’, for they all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest of them…”  (Deut 30:6)

I find it interesting that Paul writes in Colossians to “let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”  So often, we want God’s peace in our mind, or at least I do, but I think Paul was carefully making a point.  He didn’t say “make the peace of God rule…” or even like a benediction “may the peace of God…” but rather let the peace of God.  Allow it to rule.  Give over sovereignty, mastery.  The peace of God is applied the same way a person enters the kingdom of God, through surrender to the mastery of its King, God.  This thought was revealed to me in January of 2011 during a run in the cold and at its end, my only response was “I am Your’s, master me; I am Your’s, master me.

Before I close, I want to tell you that future essays will build on the ideas I published in previous essays.  That was probably already clear when you look at the first three since they seem to overlap and build off each other.  We will revisit the topic of eternity in about a week but just as a quick teaser, eternity is a hard concept to wrap one’s mind around, especially with the limits of our experience and the language of our temporary world.  The rest of it will appear in the “N” entry, so stay with me.  :D

I close the session with this thought.  One of my favorite songwriters, Randy Stonehill, wrote a song that has a chorus that reads “There’s a rainbow somewhere. You were born to be there.  You’re just running in circles, ‘til you reach out your hand to the King of hearts.”  Life is meaningless and empty until you surrender to God, the King of hearts.  Indeed, it is no small thing for one heart to recognize His kingship.

D is for Deity


“In the beginning, God created…”

Throughout history and across cultures, religion has been a pattern of life that has captured the minds of men.  From the earliest flickers of civilization, life has revolved around the central theme of man’s relationship to higher powers.   Each city of early Mesopotamia had a different god that they worshiped and petitioned for their livelihood.  Indeed, all of the traditional hotbeds of civilization (Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China, and Greece) have a tradition of theistic religion.  Only in recent centuries have the ideas of atheism and agnosticism become major philosophical contenders for the allegiance of men.

In all of these religions, the deity has been a mad, vengeful god (except for in Egypt where their economic advantage, the Nile, precipitated a more favorable view of their gods).  By no means would a Mesopotamian stonecutter have a relationship with his god, much less a good friendship.  So just in a casual discussion of the holistic history of religion, we find a distinction we can make between the gods of the world and the God of the Bible.

Every theological myth has a creation story of some sort but does not have a god that desires a relationship with its creation.  Most are viewed as reluctant helpers rarely in a good enough mood to do so.  We see something, though, in the first five words of the Bible and then later on throughout the rest of the Bible that gives us great detail into the nature of our God.

First, in the words of the great lay theologist, C S Lewis, “He is the opaque center of all existences, the thing that simply and entirely is, the fountain of fact hood.  And yet, now that He has created, there is a sense in which we must say He is a particular Thing or even one Thing among others.  To say this is not to lessen the immeasurable difference between Him and them.  On the contrary, it is to recognize in Him a positive perfection which Pantheism has obscured; the perfection of being creative.  He is so brim-full of existence that He can give existence away, can cause things to be, and to be really other than Himself.”

I find in a lot of discussions that people forget God’s nature, attributes and character when they use the word “God”.  It is left in the abstract of our imagination instead of the verified evidence we find in scripture.  We somehow separate His creativity from His Sovereignty, His Justice from his Love, and in everything we forget that there are some attributes of God that define Him.  Without them, He wouldn’t be God nor would we trust Him.  These attributes are Faithful and True.  (2 Tim 2:13)

If God were not always truthful, we would have no reason to believe Him and if He went back on His word, we would have no reason to trust Him. The good news is that not only is God truthful but He is Truth, so to lie is to deny Himself, just as to be unfaithful is to deny Himself.  Hebrews 6:18 tells us that it is impossible for God to lie, and in fact, He is unchanging even when we are unfaithful.

In particle physics, there is a particle, the strange neutral B meson, which reverses its identity 3 million times a second.  It spontaneously transforms into its antiparticle and back 3 million times in the blink of an eye.  Yet in contrast, God stays the same no matter how many times one blinks or how many generations of men for millennia blink.  Surely, God is the same as He was before He created time and He will remain the same even after Time is no more.

“God is not a man, that he should lie, neither the son of man, that he should repent; Hath he said, and will he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and will he not make it good?” Num 23:19

“…in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,…” Tit 1:2

C is for Cross


In college, I worked at a campus dining center, scanning cards to allow my fellow students access to the facility.  While there were down times, I was able to think and write.  One afternoon, I was thinking about fairy tales, having just read a book entitled Wild at Heart.  I noticed that in every tale, the hero needs to rescue a beauty, trapped by some evil plot.  While they resonate with their listeners, these stories relate because they understand an idea ingrained in all of us.  Men, if we’re honest, are looking for a beauty to rescue and the “happily ever after” is a universal goal.

As I stared at a blank sheet of paper in front of me, I realized that these fairy tales are really parables, preserved by history to relate a great truth.  The cross is A climax to one of the biggest, greatest and most wonderful fairy tale love stories in history.  In fact, it is one that encompasses the entirety of history.  At the time, I was also working on an epic novel and this next part infiltrates the tapestry of the story.

There once was a ruler, a king, who had a son.  He was the most powerful man and ruled with righteousness and justice.  This king had an enemy who hated him, hated everything about him and sought continually to thwart him in any way he could.  Riding one day, the king’s son saw a slave girl in the house of his father’s enemy and he loved her.  His enemy would never give her up willingly, so this son made a deal, a purchase.  He would trade his life for hers.  He would become his enemy’s slave and the slave girl would go free.  The wedding was set; the bride price agreed upon.  But after the exchange, the enemy killed the son, but such was the love he had for his new bride that the payment of his life was none too great for the knowledge that she’d be safe.  This great love, this selfless sacrifice turned Death on its head.  The son returned to life and he and his bride lived happily ever after.

God created everything and rules the universe with righteousness and justice.   We, His creation, sided with His enemy in sin.  We chose to be slaves of Sin through disobedience to God.  Yet in all of that, God still loved us.  The only way to save us from our sin and to get us back was for someone to die.  If it was us who died as our sin deserved, there would be no “happily ever after’s”.   But indeed, His love for us was so great that he chose to die in our place, to make the exchange, a life for a life.  So Jesus went to the cross, as a public display of His love.  He died the death we deserved, but thankfully, the story doesn’t end there.  It can’t, or there still aren’t any “happily ever after’s”.  On the third day, Jesus was resurrected and promised to return for us, whose who have been bought with a price.

In this light, John 3:16 reads with a little different connotation.  God loved us so much that He gave His Son; that He gave up His Son to death, to the cross.  The cross was always part of the mission, even before the miraculous birth we celebrate in a few weeks.  A crucifixion is the most gruesome, most public punishment, both in its time and ever.  I believe God chose it because He needed a public declaration, an event that loudly shouted His love and would reverberate through history.  Something undeniable and unforgettable that would turn the course of events until His final Coming in Glory.

Indeed, the cross is a love story, His and ours, a tale with a fairy tale ending.  We celebrate Jesus’ birth on Christmas and His resurrection on Easter (and Sundays), but we celebrate His death every day when we live for righteousness and not as a slave to sin.  You’ve heard the love story of the cross but now the question is: do you believe it?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”