Heaven Pt. 4

 “And God called the firmament Heaven.” Ge. 1:8

God made the firmament of the heavens as a protective cover for the world He loved. Adam and Eve didn’t have to pay for it or earn it. They didn’t ask for it or even seek it. God gave it to them as a gift…as a part of the world He made for them.

“If… onlys” are perhaps the saddest part of man’s fall into sin:

“If only I hadn’t taken that first drink I wouldn’t be an alcoholic.”

“If only I hadn’t given that woman a second look, I would still be married.”

“If only Adam and Eve hadn’t eaten from the tree, our race would have reached  immortality. The firmament would still protect us and we wouldn’t die!”

But Adam and Eve did eat the fruit. The firmament did dissolve. Now we do die.

“But God” is perhaps the most hopeful phrase ever heard since the fall.

“I was a sinner but God in His mercy rescued me!”

“By Adam sin entered into the world but God sent His only son to die on a cross to break the power of sin!”

We couldn’t pay for it or earn it. We didn’t ask for it or seek it;  God gave us Heaven as a gift…part of His plan to redeem mankind.

But there is a difference between the firmament and the Heaven of Heavens. the firmament covered everyone no questions asked. The Heavens of heavens  can be an eternal covering for anyone who chooses to repent… who chooses to turn from their sin and walk towards God…who chooses to believe in Christ Jesus.  But not everyone is covered because not everyone chooses to repent… to turn towards God…to believe in Christ. So many would rather try to earn their way into the Heaven of heavens because in the economy of fallen man it is easier to attempt feats of heroism than to say your sorry. But penance will never break us through to eternity. The only way is through humble acceptance of Christ’s atoning death on the cross.

Have you received assurance of Heaven by believing in Jesus?

Heaven Pt. 3

“And God called the firmament Heaven.” Gen 1:8 NKJV

     I mentioned yesterday that the Hebrew word, “shamayim” translated “heaven” by our english translators actually refers to several different types of heaven in the Scripture. Here in Genesis 1:8 “shamayim” is used to describe the location of the “raqiya`” or what theologians refer to as the firmament.

     The firmament was a protective covering around the Earth that supported a layer of “water” above it. This layer turned back all of the sun’s harmful effects while allowing its warmth and light through to make the planet a super terrarium. This firmament made plant life to grow in abundance all over the planet and caused animal life to live long and strong. The firmament collapsed with God’s judgment in the flood (see Genesis 7:11). Without it man’s life-span was reduced to one tenth of its original length almost directly after Noah’s life; This truth brings us to the next point I want to focus on regarding Heaven. It is a place of protection.

     When man fell from grace all Earth fell with him.  As the Scripture says, “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it…” Rom. 8:20 NIV

       Earth became a vale of tears, death and pain. What was meant to be a paradise became a prison. The provision for man became his poison lending to his death.

     God’s realm of Heaven was not so affected. So while death rules in this place, it is forbidden in God’s presence. So until God judges this realm and terminates the reign of sin and death, Heaven has become the “gools”  for believers forced to play Satan’s game of “death-tag”.

    Just as the firmament soaked up all the sun’s harmful rays before the flood so the Heaven of Heavens soaks up the harmful effects that death pours out upon our flesh. For those who hold the promise of Heaven as theirs, immortality is a benefit; So death holds no fear.

     The truth I have accepted is that death is not the end of life. It is the doorway into an even more glorious life than I now live!

    Sadly not everyone has received this protection.

In Heaven part 4 we will discuss how to be sure of your place in protection.

Heaven Pt. 2

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Ge. 1:1

     Most people I have met think Heaven is up.  The word most commonly translated as Heaven is the word “Shamayim.” It comes from the root shama which means “high” or “lofty.” So I guess the idea of of Heaven’s up-ness makes sense. 

       As we start in, though, I do want to note that “shamayim” is used by God to describe several different kinds of heaven: It is used to speak of His creation of the skies where the birds fly (Ge. 1:20); And to define the void of space where the stars and planets move (Ge. 1:14); But the use of the word we are most interested in here is  shamayi h’shamayim or the Heaven of heavens. This is the place where God dwells (Deut. 10:14).

 “Look, the highest heavens (shamayi h’shamayim)and the earth and everything in it all belong to the LORD your God.” Deut. 10:14 NLT

     The first thing I notice about Heaven in this verse is not its location. My eye is drawn to the fact that it belongs to God. He is its King and in that place He calls the shots. You won’t find a voting booth there.

     To those of us living in democratic societies the idea of one king in perpetuity seems rather despotic. Truth be told, when humans have tried that here on fallen Earth, the “one guy total rule thing” has not worked well at all. Neither has any other form of government for that matter. Good kings…effective kings are historically in short supply. For every King David there are twenty King Sauls.

     But in Heaven God is King. In that place His government is effective and just! Imagine a government that runs perfectly! Now that’s “up-ness” by any definition.

What do you think living under the government of Heaven will be like?

Heaven Pt. 1

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Ge. 1:1 NLT

With all that has gone on  in the world…nation…region…city…church…family these last few years I find I am thinking more about my heavenly home than at any other time in my Christian walk.

I have a Christian brother who says, “That is part of an escapist mentality.”
He’s probably right! Some days the only positive attitude I can muster is “Not to worry soon I’ll be with Jesus and all this will seem like a distant memory.”

Don’t worry I am in no way suicidal! I’m not going anywhere until God calls. But I do acknowledge that with each passing day this world holds less and less attraction for me.

Maybe that is one of the reasons God is allowing our world to go all catywhompus on us! Perhaps by all our troubles He is letting us catch a glimpse of the real world to prepare our hearts for the REAL WORLD. To be honest, as focused as I am now on the coming Kingdom, I believe my heart is still too attached to this fading place. I let the visions of earth cloud my spiritual sight. Too often I forget what I am called to because I get too caught up in the moment.

Heaven is a fairly important topic in the Word. It pops up 558 times in the King James, 746 times in the New Living Translation, and 423 times in the NIV. For comparison’s sake: Redemption shows up 23 times in the NIV; Grace is used 170 times in the KJV; Love occurs 645 times in the NLT. As a biblical concept Heaven is right up there.

I guess this meditation comes out of a realization that I don’t spend enough time intentionally contemplating this future promise. It rises out of curiosity over what will change if I give the topic the attention it deserves. I guess now the mystery will be solved.

How often do you contemplate Heaven?


“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3 NIV

      What do you think eternal life is? It’s odd the things Jesus didn’t use to define eternal
life, things like: having a millionth birthday party, having a new body that never gets sick or injured, or having freedom from sadness and pain. It’s odd because these are the things most people value in eternal life. In fact, many people only consider the eternal part of eternal life valuable. That’s the part that we humans have anyway. Our souls are immortal regardless of  our decision to follow Jesus. But immortality apart from God will hardly be called living.

      Knowing God is what gives us life. Knowing God is what makes life worth living. When we get to Heaven it will not be the gold or the health or the length of days that will
fill us up. It will be experiencing God in all His fullness. And truly that is what it means to know God and Jesus Christ. I do not know God because I logically understand His story. I know God because I have experienced His forgiveness and His intervention in my life through prayer and living for Him.

      You know, I am not waiting for eternal  life to begin. My eternity began the day I
let Jesus get a hold of my life, the day I started trusting Him to deal with the mess I call my life. When I get to Heaven the experiences I have there will be the consummation of the knowing I have begun here.

What do you see in Jesus statement in John 17:3?

Got To…Or Get To?

          “I’ve got to do a bunch of stuff today God and it’s really gettin’ to me!”

      “What have you got to do son?”

     “I’ve got to go to prayer. I’ve got to call like 20 people. I’ve got to finish the editing project my friend sent me. I’ve got to water the gardens. I’ve got to walk the dogs. I’ve got to write to a list of missionaries a mile long. I’ve got to prepare youth group lessons and blogs and I have all this studying You said I had to do.”

     ” Do you like studying son?”

     “Yes God I do.”

     “Do you like preparing lessons and writing blogs son?”

     “It’s one of my favorite things in the whole world.”

     “Son, do you like writing letters to missionaries?”

     “I love your missionaries God. Praying for them and encouraging them is very rewarding.”

    ” I thought you loved gardening and the dogs. That’s why I gave them to you.”

   “Oh I do love them God.”

   “And prayer don’t you love praying?”

   “I do God. It’s like my breath!”

   “Then you haven’t got to do these things, J.  You  get to do them.”

   “You’re right God but there’s so many things on my list. I feel like I can never get all the things done today no matter how much I like them!”

    “Then stop living as if it all has to get done  today. Live like forever is yours son, because it is.”

Spiritual Illness

A question asked on one of the blogs I read recently got me thinking about the make-up of  human beings.

” Can you conceive of scenarios when committing suicide would be a rational act . . . rather than the product of mental illness?” (Spirit Lights the Way, Checking Out)

  The premise being brought forward was that not all suicide is the result of mental illness. Therefore if a person is not mentally ill…is sane… then suicide should be considered at times a sane, viable option not to be judged illegal, immoral, or otherwise unethical by the on-looking masses.

     Wow! Do I have a problem with that conclusion! It has so many faulty foundations I am not sure which one to deal with first!

     I guess I will start with the question itself:

“Can you conceive of scenarios when committing suicide would be a rational act . . . rather than the product of mental illness?”

    Indeed I can! I can think of at least two situations in which suicide is not the product of mental illness: when it is the result of physical illness, or when it is the result of Spiritual illness.

        It is often asserted that we are not human beings having a “spiritual experience” rather we are spiritual beings having a “human experience”.

     The truth is waaaaay muddier than that! Human beings are three-fold by nature. We are body ( what the Apostle Paul referred to as flesh). We are soul (what Paul referred to as mind encompassing also will and emotions). We are spirit ( what Paul referred to as spirit, or wind that which communicates with God).

     Our three parts are braided together in what was meant to be an unbreakable chord. The devastating part of death for the individual is that the soul and the spirit are severed from contact with the body.

 The glorious part of resurrection is that soul and spirit are reunited with the body. You see souls, spirits and bodies were never meant to be separated. Indeed, if that was an acceptable way to live out eternity there would be no need for a resurrection at all.

     Now getting back to the question of mental illness being the sole reason for suicide. I believe in mental illness. Every part of the three-fold nature of man is capable of becoming ill. I also believe mental illness is a cause for suicide. I also believe that many people who commit suicide are NOT mentally ill…are in fact perfectly sane.

     The faulty foundation here is that if a person is not mentally impaired they ought to be allowed to commit suicide.

      Some even go so far as to say that if a person is not mentally ill but physically ill that gives them a good reason to commit suicide. I believe in physical illness too. I believe that physical illness causes some people to consider suicide. But I also believe that not all suicide is caused by physical illness.

    While not all suicides indicate mental illness or physical illness I do believe they ALL indicate spiritual illness.

    From the beginning humans were meant to live lives controlled by the spirit (that which is in communication with God). Remember men were never meant to be separated from their bodies. Death was not the original plan, everlasting life was!

      The Bible tells us that, ” just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ” Romans 5:21 NLT

      It also says, ” letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.Romans 8:6

    It is spiritual illness that brings a person to the brink of suicide and often a mental illness or a physical illness will coincide. This spiritual illness is far more serious than a mental illness. I would posit that if we would require treatment for a mental illness rather than suggesting suicide we should also require treatment for the spiritual illness of being trapped in sin…That treatment of course being Jesus.

     Yes I can conceive of situations in which suicide is not the result of mental illness. That said I cannot conceive of a situation in which it is not the result of spiritual illness. At times suicide may  seem and even be rational. So was Eve’s eating of the forbidden fruit. Under the circumstances it seemed sane, logical, even rational. BUT IT WAS WRONG! AND WRONG TRUMPS RATIONAL EVERY TIME!

What do you think?

Meet The Maturing

      As a New Englander I have lived my life, as all New Englanders do, according to the rhythm of our seasons. Texas slams from summer into winter and back again with out a second glance at spring or fall.  North Carolinians start putting their pansies into beds in February. But in New England we are keenly aware that God  has made four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

       Spring is the time for preparing the ground and planting seeds. Summer is the season of growth. Autumn is the time of harvest. Winter is the time of waiting.

       All New Englanders know that autumn is a time to celebrate what has been and what will be again. It’s the time to look back on what you have accomplished and forward to what lies ahead in the cold of Christmas and New Year. New Englanders also know that this middle time of the year, this time of releasing the past and readying for the future is the brightest time of life. As the cold of winter death begins to steal over the landscape its harsh breath pulls forth the vibrant colors of life for one last explosion among the forests.                   

I am now in the autumn of my life. I have come to the realization that I have now lived on this earth probably longer than I will live upon it hence forth (particularly with my genetics). Now to some that may seem morbid. But not to me. You see this world is not my home. My Lord has promised me a place in the New Heaven and the New Earth and the time I spend here is only “training for reigning”!

     Autumn, I am coming to realize,is a time to rejoice over what has been accomplished. It is a time for rejoicing in what yet can still be.

    Understand I don’t look at my life and say its half over. I am saying that the brightest days are yet to come! Much has been done. But much has yet to be played out. There is a full half of this life yet to live and then a beginning of another life that will make this existence seem like seconds in time.

     I tell you while I love the colors of this world I cannot wait to see the colors of the one which I truly call my home!