Monthly Archives: February 2017

Winter in Heaven?

-24?!! I mean I know we’re barely through February but really?  Minus 24 this morning?  I am so ready for spring!  Of course I’ve been saying that since November.  Some people really like winter, and I used to, but I must be getting old because I’m ready for it to end earlier and earlier every year.  I still enjoy all the winter activities, but I think I could live without them if it meant no more cold.

I wonder if there will be winter in heaven.  Have you ever thought about that?  I have found myself thinking about heaven a lot more the last few years.

I’ve been challenged to re-evaluate what I’ve always understood heaven would be like in light of what scripture actually says.  Set aside everything you have always believed and read with an open mind what the Bible really says about heaven.  On the things that Scripture affirms by all means pick up those old beliefs but I think you will be pleasantly surprised by what is left behind and even more by what you discover.

For example, we usually think that heaven will be somewhere up in the sky and totally new and unfamiliar.  Scripture actually teaches that the New Jerusalem will come down to a renewed earth.  (Check out Revelation 21, especially verse 2 & 3).  This means that there will be a renewed and recognizable Alberta though it certainly will be better and even more beautiful than what we know now.

Or this: I used to think when Revelation 22:3 talked about serving God in heaven it would just be one long church service with harp music.  But if satisfying and refreshing creative work was part of Eden, does it not make sense that it will be as well on the renewed Earth? We will be active and challenged to create and build and even do business for the glory of God. (see Revelations 21:24)

And relationships.  There’s and old belief that we won’t recognize anyone in heaven because of the new bodies we will have.  But careful reading of scripture suggests that we will know and have even richer relationships with our loved ones.

All of this is a moot point though, if you are not going to be there, and here we get to the heart of the matter.  Do you know whether you will be there?  How can you know?  John 1:11-13, speaking of Jesus, says, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

Will there be snow in heaven? I don’t really know.  But I know I will be.  Will you?


Going The Extra Mile to Turn The Other Cheek

“Turn the other cheek.”  “Go the extra mile.”  These are axioms that you have heard and probably even used.  But I suspect many people would have no idea they are quotes from Jesus.  Even within church circles I don’t think there is a widespread understanding of what Jesus was really teaching.  In part it’s because these teachings were culturally based examples of how to live out the foundational teaching of “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28)

(I am indebted to one of my favorite College Profs, Werner Waitkus for opening up these cultural insights for me a long time ago.  Thank you sir!)

In the Matthew 5 account, Jesus gives us three of these examples.  Each of them were situations where someone was oppressing or unfairly treating another, robbing them of their dignity. Jesus demonstrated how to respond non-violently yet still retain dignity, not allowing the oppressor to just “walk all over you.”

The first is “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (verse 39) Pictured here is a slap, which was always done with the right hand as the left hand was used for, uh, less hygienic tasks.  So the right hand slapping the left cheek would be a backhanded slap imposing an indignity.  But if the “slappee” turns the other cheek the “slapper” has one of two choices:

  • He could slap the left cheek but to do so would require an open handed slap which would indicate the one he is slapping is his equal. Or
  • He could choose not to slap which forces him to back down, again acknowledging the other as his equal.

The second example is verse 40. “If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”  This references an Old Testament commandment that stipulated a person could not hold another’s cloak as security for a loan overnight because it was his only covering for warmth at night.  Unscrupulous lenders would get around this by demanding a person’s tunic, the undergarment.  But if the indebted person offered his cloak as well he would either force the lender to cause the borrower to be publicly naked, which in that culture brought shame on the person causing the nakedness, or the lender would be forced to deal fairly and take only the cloak.

Finally verse 41. “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” Roman soldiers could force any non-Roman citizen to carry his pack for one mile.  But if after going one mile you, of your own will, choose to carry the pack a second mile, the soldier becomes indebted to you and thereby your dignity is regained.

Our challenge now is to take Jesus’ teaching of “love your enemy” and find ways of applying it in our own culture and situations of oppression and unfair treatment.

Foundational Relationship Roles

You would think that after twenty-eight and a half years of marriage I would have gotten this relationship thing down pat and I’d know exactly what to do at exactly the right time and Wendy would respond in exactly the way I expect. The problem with that theory is that we are both growing and changing.  So the adventure continues.

We are, however, getting better and better at working through the changes.  That’s happening, in part, because as I look deeper into scripture I’m coming to a better understanding of the roles God created male and female for. (I think Wendy has always innately had a better grasp of that.)  I see two foundational roles in God’s design and I’ve put these roles in the form of questions.

Before I list those, let me say that the ways in which these roles are expressed are innumerable and will differ from person to person.  These roles do not pigeon hole a man or a woman to say you have to be this or you can’t be that.  By foundational I mean the prime purpose of human beings, relating to God and relating to each other as male and female.  This purpose is true in all of relating, but it’s most clearly expressed in the husband/wife relationship.

When our boys were younger and they’d tell us about a girl they had begun to develop an interest in the question I came to ask was “Does she inspire you to follow and love Jesus more or does she distract you from him?”  In other words does her lifestyle, her conversation, and the way in which she expresses interest in you inspire within you a greater passion for Jesus?

If we’d had girls I would have asked them this: “Does the way this guy treats you heighten your awareness of how much God loves you, or does it mostly focus you on the guy?”  In other words does he draw your attention to God in what he says, his integrity, and in how he puts your best interests ahead of his own?

God’s beautiful design is that as each relationship is deepened, our relationship to God and our relationship with our spouse, it deepens and strengthens the other.  The better my relationship is with God the better I’ll relate to my wife, and the better my relationship with my wife the better I’ll know God.

I would not be the man I am without Wendy daily inspiring me to pursue God more passionately.  Thank you my darling, I love you more than ever.  Let the adventure continue…