Category Archives: Eternity

Meaningless Sentence, Decoded

Something random that bugs me…. these days you hear a lot of people looking for a religion that fits them.  What?  So – the answer to “what is the purpose of life? and What happens when we die?” changes for each person?

I mean – you’re seriously saying that when you die, you’re going to reincarnate as a turtle – because that’s what you believe is going to happen, where Elsa will just poof into nonexistence because that’s what *she* believes will happen, and I’ll be in Heaven, because that’s what *I* believe is going to happen?

Really?

Because I’m totally good with you saying that you’re right and I’m wrong.  I’m even good with the theory that we’re both wrong – it’s logically possible, after all.  But we can’t both be right.

No, what you’re really saying is that it doesn’t matter all that much, because something nice is sure to happen and there’s no sense worrying about it.  Just do what feels good.  If that’s what you believe, please be honest and say so.  I’ll think that you’re wrong, but that’s okay.  You think that my Heaven and Hell are archaic – aka you think I’m wrong – too.

Or maybe you don’t think eternity is important.  I’m not sure how you can believe in eternity and not think it’s important.  That makes my head hurt.   Maybe you don’t reallllly believe in eternity, you believe in Heaven the way my kids used to believe in Santa Claus?  Something that would be nice if true but if not, whatever?  You’re not worried about coal in your stocking, at any rate.  Because if Santa is real, he gives gifts to all the children, even the naughty ones.  Or it wouldn’t be *Christmas*.

Erm.  God’s not Santa Claus.  He’s Justice incarnate.  Pretty much all religions believe that, although they vary about what is and is not just.

Arguing against fog is very nearly impossible.  And so that’s tonight’s random rant.  Pick a position, any position.  But please think it out and make it your own.   It *does* matter – and that’s why you have to start somewhere.  And that’s why I’m decoding the “well, just pick a religion that fits you” statement.  We pick religions because we believe that they give us the truth, not because they are comfy and fit our lifestyle.  That’s why you pick a sweatshirt, not a god.

Something is true.  I know what I believe to be true.  Do you?  Have you ever thought it through?

 

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We’ve already won

The Lord has already had the victory… we’re just hanging out until the final surrender happens.

It’s ugly down here while the enemy troops do their best to kill as many civilians as they can manage.  They’ve got many a person convinced that the King’s not coming back, that the dawn will never come.

But we know that’s all a lie.  We’ve already got our homes.  We’ve already got the victory.  And we can get as many of those civilians armored up in the Lord’s colors as will do so.  We can get those of our soldiers who have lost their swords up and moving again.  We *can* keep moving.

Sometimes *we* forget that we’ve already won.  Or if we remember, the horror of the battlefield makes it hard to rest in that truth and act like conquerors.    But ’tis true.  Remind each other, siblings.  And hold your heads up.  No matter how bad it gets, the King will be here soon!

What are we here for?

I see the meme on facebook often enough, it’s a quote that’s been around since well before social media.  It’s from Hunter Thompson. (I’ve never seen the attribution before.  Huh.)

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!””

Now, obviously as a Christian I’m not planning to show up in a cloud of smoke.  😉   Nor do I care about what kind of “ride” life is/was/will be.   But the intention to use this life well, and use it up?  Yes, please.

Sometimes we as Christians can focus too much on the temporal benefits of Christianity.  Obviously if you obey the Good Book, your life is better.   God’s law and it works most of the time.  Huh.  Who’d have thought…

But Christianity isn’t an insurance policy.  Living for Christ isn’t about living some safe, outwardly perfect life.  It’s about taking crazy chances, and seeing fruit you never imagined three generations out.  It’s about sure things falling through.  It’s about spending yourself for people who blow you off and spit in your face, picking yourself up and doing it again tomorrow.

Yeah, it works out better than the world’s way of doing things.  I have a really nice life, even if that whole “eating less sugar” thing has cut way down on the jello-salad intake.  😉  But having a nice life, having nice things, that’s not the point.  I have *everything* in Heaven.  I have more love than I can imagine – in Heaven.  I have a wonderful, beautiful new body – in Heaven.  I have an amazing place to dwell… in Heaven.

In short – I have all the riches of the universe just waiting for me when I get to Heaven, which is my real home.  So what if this life is a bit of a camping trip?  What do I want to have Jesus say about me, in the end?  “You had heaven on Earth, and now you have Heaven here too!” or “You gave Me yourself, and let Me work through you.  Look at this bushel of fruit that came from your life!”

Personally… I pick the latter.  Not that I sneeze at having a good life, don’t misunderstand.  But *that’s not the point*.  Serving God, to my last breath – that’s the point.

Set Sail

What is the point of your life?

Is it to live in comfort and safety, taking all due measures to increase security?  Making money, making friends, keeping up with the Jones’ and being nice?

Or… is it to make a radical difference in the world around you?  To take the chance of being hated and making enemies, to have your friends misunderstand and disapprove of you… to invest in people that don’t look salvageable, in being different from the folks around you?

I say it’s the second one.  We know that things are temporary, souls are eternal.  We know that *our* souls are saved and in the hands of our King. John 10: 27-29 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  We know what the great commission is:  Matthew 28: 19 -20 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Taking the circles of relationship into a marine metaphor (as has been done by CS Lewis) – one could think of your first circle of relationship as boat maintenance.  You make sure your hull is patched up, check for barnacles, make sure you have all your gear, etc.  The second circle of relationship is how you’re relating to other boats in your fleet – can you sail together for a purpose, are you staying in communication, is everyone working together?  The third circle is where you actually go out and sail.  How does your little boat manage the sea?

I feel like a lot of the time, Christians tend to sail cautiously around the harbor and maybe do some formation work, when we really ought to be getting out to sea.  The battle has been won – and I get the honor of participating anyway!  Why do I keep hovering around home base, hoping not to get dirty?  I can’t *lose*.  1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith And I am *commanded to sail*.  I am commanded to tell others about Christ.  I have been equipped for the battle… why am I sitting at home, hoping someone else will handle it?

Remember that *this* is not Heaven.  This Earth is our place of work.  It’s the place where we’re supposed to strive to the uttermost, take some chances, invest in our Master’s plan. Matthew 25:14-30 (the Parable of the talents) Playing it safe is *not* what He told us to do!  We’ve all already won.  It’s time to get in the battle and see if we can’t get a few more folks out of enemy hands before the field is cleared for all of time.

Let’s get out there and be fearless!

Worldliness sneaks in: Good things vs. God things: Marriage

I see a lot of folks getting variously worked up about marriage.  Now, a good wife is from the Lord (we can assume that a good husband is too), so saying that a good spouse is a good thing (or a blessing) is a no-brainer.  But into that desire for a good marriage has been attacked and riddled through with the World’s way of thinking about marriage these days.  The world thinks of marriage as GAME OVER – better be “game over, WIN”, but it’s GAME OVER.  Marriage has become materialistic.  It’s both a means to an end and an end in itself in the everlasting struggle for status and stuff.

I’d love to have someone disagree with me and tell me that the World doesn’t say that marriage is 1) game over and 2) supposed to be a “win”, with optional reset button if your happily ever after button isn’t shiny enough… but I don’t see it.  This mindset reveals itself in bridezillas, frivorce, it reveals itself in people getting mad because they don’t get the spouse they deserve (men AND women do this, it’s a human thing).  People get married later and later, hoping to find the best in the bunch, they … well, they act like spoilt brats.

People get married who don’t really want to be married, but they want the status of *being* married.  People try to trade up after they’re married because they don’t find the end-game sufficiently pleasing.  They think sexual pleasure is the most important thing in the world, and the having of it is a major goal in the lives of far too many.  They think that life is about status and things, and not about people.  It’s all pretty sordid.  But we can expect the World to be sordid and dark and all about getting what’s best for yourself at the expense of others.  This isn’t news.  But we are not of this world…

Thoughts for Christians.

1) You don’t have to get married.  Marriage is for those who burn.  Yes, most of us do burn, and most of us desperately want to be married.   But some of us are ticked off about the options – MGTOW, and WGTOW (I’m making that one up)… those are perfectly respectable options.  Devoting your life to serving God directly?  Honorable.   And what is our goal as Christians?  To bring glory to God.  So what if you don’t “win” by the World’s rules?  Who cares?!?

2)  Watch the whole “marriage as idol” thing.  I speak from personal experience here.  If you want marriage, if you want a happy marriage, more than you want anything else, including holiness – you have a problem.   If marriage is your god, then you’ll do anything to acquire and/or appease your spouse.  Love the Lord your God and serve Him with your heart, soul, mind and strength.  Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.

3)  Your life isn’t over, you don’t hit “win” when you get married.  So it doesn’t really matter if you have the perfect wedding or if you get every material blessing you want within 5 years of your wedding day.  Your life is over the day the Lord takes you home – so your marriage is part of your life, part of your ministry.  It might be the largest part of your ministry, particularly if you’re female – but it’s just a part of your life.  It’s not your end-game.  You’re not dead.

4)  Don’t devalue your contribution to the Kingdom if you’re female and married and having babies.  If humans > things, then making more humans = win.  If humans > things, then spending time teaching, loving, exhorting, blessing humans = win.   Likewise, submission to your husband is a gift – you get lessons in how to submit to God.  Consider it a blessing.

5)  If your spouse is a pain in the rear (or during the seasons when they *are* a pain in the rear) remember that people > status and people > emotion, and strive to bless them anyway.  Ultimately it’s all for God’s glory anyway.   You’re not going to be in this flesh tent forever.  There is no marriage or giving in marriage in heaven.  What do you have, a few decades or so?  Compared with all eternity?  C’mon, people.  Marriage comes with “in sickness and in health” – you signed up to be someone’s emergency back up system.

6) Your spouse isn’t a status symbol.  They’re the other half of a mystical union that represents Christ and the Church.  Your union is sacred.  Act like it.  Show some grace.  People are forever, things are temporary.   Remember that, in every interaction.

7)  Sex is awesome.  But sometimes you’re not going to have sex when you’re married.  Wife will have a risky pregnancy.  Husband will take some weird meds.  You’ll age and desire will wane.  Someone will have a horrible accident.  Sex is WONDERFUL – but don’t make it  your god.  Stuff happens, and you’re married for better or for worse.

I’m tired of hearing about how the other sex isn’t very nice (well, no, they aren’t.  Humans aren’t) and they aren’t worth committing to  and…. and… and…. you know, you’re not *wrong*.  People suck.  This world is getting progressively darker, so its influence is progressively nastier.  And that does attack Christians.  But the answer to that attack isn’t to concentrate on changing the form of the darkness, the way to fight darkness is with light.

Want to make your character better?  Become more godly.  Want to make your marriage better?  Become more godly.  Want to make this world a better place?  Become more godly.

What would happen if all the Christians everywhere lived up to 90% of the Biblical rules about marriage?  Not 100%, the best of us don’t do that.  But 90%.  80%.  If Christians were known for sticking by their wedding vows and acting towards their spouses with grace.   Would that glorify God?

Marriage is a wonderful institution.  But it’s not a sparkly prize at the end of an adventure.  A good marriage isn’t guaranteed to anyone.   If marriage is important in your life, there’s stuff you can do. But that stuff can’t become your god.  God is God, and anything else is idolatry.

I don’t want to hear about how “there are no good men/women”.   I don’t want to hear about how you didn’t get the spouse of your dreams.  I don’t want to hear about how your spouse isn’t doing what you wish they’d do.  I don’t want to hear how it’s unfair that you can’t be married.   This whining reveals your heart – that your will > God’s will.   Your purpose and your goal in your life is not to get married.  Your purpose and goal is to glorify God.

Yes.  Marriage is important.  And there is a lot of wisdom out there about how to have a good marriage.  Use that wisdom.  I’m *not* saying that striving for a good marriage isn’t a tremendously important thing – but I am saying that if it doesn’t happen, you aren’t *losing*.  Your existence is eternal.  This world is not your home.  This life is not all there is.  Please remember that.

Trust me.  TRUST ME.  I have lived this, and getting it straight hurt more than anything I’ve ever been through.  If you make marriage your god,  no matter what happens, your tears will be an ocean.  Make God the center of your life, trust Him.  Does He not love you more than any human ever could, no matter what?  He does.  He even loves you more than you love yourself.  Trust Him.   Get right, do right, pray, and leave the rest to Him.  Trust God.  You’ve entrusted eternity to Him, can’t you give him a decade or three?

Conviction vs. Fitting In

Elaborating a bit on the theme of the fear of others…

There is a difference between conviction and condemnation.  I’ve heard it preached on a bazillion times, and I expect you have as well.  But how do you know the difference, especially if you’re soft-hearted?

When you’re under conviction, you can feel the Holy Spirit shine a spotlight on the bit of your life that wants changing.  In my experience, the times I’ve been convicted about something (there have been plenty) it hasn’t been a gradual experience.  It’s been a “Oh.  THAT.  You want me to fix that?  Ugh.”  (Is it ever a pleasant or easy experience?)  It hasn’t been about fitting in with the clique, or doing what Betsie is doing.  It’s about something, very personal, in my life, that needs fixing.  Usually it’s something in my heart that needs fixing, far more than in my external reality.

Earlier in my walk, sometimes it was blatant sin.  There wasn’t really a big “what if” about “should I be doing X” when I knew perfectly well I shouldn’t be, and God was just going to wait me out and stare me down until I obeyed Him.  Now it’s more likely to be a word or a wall… just something I walk up to and say, “Huh.  One of these things is not like the other.  This thing here… this thing doesn’t glorify God.  It’s getting in my way.  It’s getting in God’s way.  It needs to go.”  And being human, usually I fuddle around with it a while, but … yeah, it needs to go, so it’s got to go.

Conviction tends to be private.  Sometimes you listen to a sermon or read a book, or hit a verse in your Bible that shines that Light… sometimes it *is* a friend or a church member who shines the Light and passes the Word.  But it’s straight to the heart.

Now, condemnation tends to be outside.  “I don’t fit in”.  “She’s doing it this way, and I want to be like her”.  “All the good girls….” “If I was X I would be Y”.  (Note that conviction doesn’t promise you that you’ll be “good” after you get it out of the way – it just tells you that whatever it is must go.)  “I’m a bad person because I paint my nose blue”.

It’s not like peer pressure is a bad thing.  I’ve had one of the best years of my life spiritually speaking because I’ve fallen in with a good crowd of ladies online.  BUT.  You can let it go to a bad place.  You can start fearing your friends instead of letting yourself be drawn towards God by their good examples. The only one we should fear is God.  If you’re afraid of looking bad in front of your friends, you’ve got not only fear-of-man to confess, you’ve got pride as well!

It’s not a resolution, because if you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning, you’ll know that I hit on “radical honesty” about the same time I started writing it.   I’ve been working on transparency ever since.   Being polite, being nice – they smooth things down in the short term and in the long term you find that all the little rocks you smoothed away have formed a great big wall!  

I’m a reformed “nice girl” and it is tremendously difficult to just say what I’m thinking.  But the habit I’m forming is useful in every area of life.  “My brain wants chocolate – but you know, actually I’m not all that hungry.”  “I want to get some fresh air and sunshine.  Well.  Why the heck not?”  It’s not like I wander around with horrible nasty desires that have to be beaten down – and when I do, the desire to bring glory to God comes first, so it’s not a problem.  “I want to tell that girl off soooo bad.  But I don’t want to make God look bad.  I think now would be a good time to pray”.

Surely I am not the only one whose habitual self is much smaller, much quieter, much less vibrant than the self in the heart – and the self in the heart is more joyful, more prayerful, wiser, and more fun than the woman you see.

Why play it safe?  Conviction isn’t *safe*, it’s hard and dangerous and scary.  Condemnation?  Making that condemning voice inside happy is always “safe” and invariably boring.  I don’t think our Christian life is supposed to be “safe”, I think it’s supposed to be bright and salty.   Conviction makes us more like Christ – condemnation makes us more like other people.

The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself

We spend so much time worrying about temporal happiness and temporal safety.  We have a culture of distrust – women distrust men, men distrust women, any group of people you can gather together is easily prodded to distrust the “others”.  It’s gotten a little boring for me, frankly.  What’s the point?  Other people will hurt you.  This is news?

When you stop worrying about what other people might do to you, and start worrying about how you’re going to be judged by an Almighty God for your own actions, then you can start getting somewhere with your life.  We only get one chance to glorify His name and spread the Word.  We only get this pair of hands to work with, we only get this life to live in this body, and He can take that away from us before the next breath.

But God, being just, does not judge you on what you were not given.  We, as Christians, are not accountable to other humans, and we are not found to have “won” or “lost” by human measure.  We are accountable to God Himself.   Drag me to the chopping block – I’m accountable for the manner of my death.  Lock me in a prison cell, I’m accountable for the time I spend alone with God.  Give me riches, wealth and power – and I’m accountable for how I use them.   This makes me terrifyingly free, even in chains.

If you run your life being afraid of what other people might do, you’re not doing much with your life.  Everyone in your life is a mortal, therefore everyone will fail you.  The best spouse in the world is subject to illness, accident and death.  Your family, likewise.  Dearest friends might move away.  Your environment should not determine your effectiveness in the absolute.

Modern humans have lost this sense of absolute accountability.  That’s why our judges and rulers are so horrible.  They’re not afraid of the Final Court.  No, to them the temporary court of human opinion, which is so easily swayed by displays of status and wealth… that’s all that matters.  The court of public opinion has always been fickle.  If you seek to win by its rules, may God have mercy on your soul – for the temporal court has no mercy at all.

Death before dishonor once meant something to women and men alike.  But it is only if you believe in the Final Court and the Great Judge that dishonor has meaning.

It’s not a sin to try to make life less unpleasant for yourself, and it’s not a sin to buy insurance or take appropriate measures to provide for rainy days.  It’s a sin to trust in that temporal assurance.  It’s not a sin to seek love, for every human born wants to be loved – but it’s folly to trust in love for happiness.

People *will* fail you, but God will not.  So, live for God.  What is it that He has entrusted to you?  Cherish that.  What lion’s den has He asked you to enter?  Enter that.   He doesn’t promise any one of us a life free of pain or persecution.   We are promised something far better, and we have no way of knowing when we’ll be called Home.  Let us do the best we can with this very temporary moment, trusting in Him with our riches and future.

 

 

SSM’s thread (https://sunshinemaryandthedragon.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/on-the-achievement-gap-between-modern-young-men-and-women/ ) made me think of this post, but it really doesn’t have much to do with it.  It’s an odd brain I have…