Home Sweet Home

I’ve been doing some much needed fixing up around the house lately and can be seen from time to time vanishing upstairs with a chisel in one hand and a paint brush in the other. The look of fear on Belinda and Bethany’s faces when this happens is matched only by their groans at the thought of the clearing up they have to face when I’m done; and I have notice too that Belinda will check our house insurance documents to make sure the premiums are paid up and that we’re properly covered for any damage that might result. I have always thought this a bit unfair of her, but then I do concede that there was that little hiccup with the blow torch and a downstairs carpet a couple of years ago. (Don’t ask!) But it doesn’t change the fact that I can be a useful old sausage here and there, and such am I currently being!

My limited practical skills are put to the test all the more though given that the house we live in is a bit….now how can I put this…a bit…higgledy-piggledy! It’s a council house, you see (that’s ‘government rental’ to my American friends), and was therefore constructed for practicality as opposed to any aesthetic considerations. Although we have lived here for nearly twenty years we have yet to find a proper right-angle where the walls and ceilings meet. None of the walls are actually flat and the doors don’t hang properly because the frames and lintels aren’t accurately parallel with each other. It’s all a bit of a challenge really, but although the thought of living in a better built abode one day is tantalising, this is still our home and we are nevertheless very happy in it. It is truly our home sweet home, notwithstanding the practical challenges entailed regarding ongoing maintenance.

And this is, I think, a nice little illustration of the relationship between our lives with the Lord down here and what awaits us after death. Although knowing and trusting the Lord brings us great contentment and peace, life is definitely, like our home, on the higgledy-piggledy side. Nothing fits quite as it should (sin will always cause disjointedness), and some bits, like our front door that has a gap at the bottom where the north wind pours in throughout the winter, are just downright disastrous. It’s good, yes! Even great sometimes! But man, it could be so much better! And of course the good news is that although there are no guarantees that Belinda, Bethany and I will ever live in a house with right-angles, flat walls, fully vertical doors and horizontal ceilings – oh yes, and a front door that shuts properly – we nonetheless know that, because we know the Lord, we are guaranteed that something infinitely better, in every way, awaits us after death.

The contrast for the believer between life here and life after death is the difference between living in some hovel with a roof that doesn’t even keep the rain off your head, and moving into a specially built palace on the most beautiful beach in the world in which every room has been designed, and then exquisitely crafted, just for you and for your complete personal satisfaction. There will, of course, be a 65″ 4K HDR TV in the man-cave to watch Star Trek re-runs on, and an entire rail network of full-size trains to play with and drive in the quarter of a million acre back yard

Of course, such an illustration doesn’t even begin to do justice to what I am trying to say because it’s limited entirely to material considerations, but it’s a start. Indeed, Jesus spoke promisingly of our eternal homes with Him the other side of death, so He obviously thinks the comparison is a good one too! I am therefore buoyed at having written this!

Do pray for Belinda and Bethany though. I’ve still got stuff to do and they look so worried when they see me with a blow torch in one hand, a box of matches in the other, a bow-saw between my teeth and a look of grim determination on my twitching face. But all will be well. Not necessarily because of the improvements I am making – well, I think they’re improvements – but because one day we will be with the Lord in the utter perfection of righteousness; and therefore of complete happiness and contentment. Even Star Trek and trains will fade into inconsequential oblivion in comparison!

Advertisements

Heaven…quite literally!

I have long been perplexed by the fact that just about everyone, Christians included, spell Heaven with a small h. Heaven is, if I am not very much mistaken, a place, and places, if I am not even more mistaken, are proper nouns which should always be capitalised. This fact can’t just be put down to the fact that most people don’t believe that Heaven is a real place because most people don’t believe in such places Asgard, Valhalla or Narnia either, yet such are nevertheless always capitalised. No, the presumption of a place being fictitious doesn’t change the fact that it should be still be spelt with a capital letter. Whether it be Thomas More’s Erewhon, Dylan Thomas’ Llaregub or Gene Roddenberry’s Vulcan, places, whether believed to be real or fictitious, are always started with a capital letter. So why not Heaven? And especially, why don’t Christians capitalise it?

At least most people get Paradise right, even though it’s only a part of Heaven, much as London is only a part of England. So wouldn’t it be strange if I were to capitalise London, yet spelt England with a small e? What on earth is going on?

Well, I actually have no idea, this adding to the sheer extent of my perplexity. So all I can do is put forward a tentative theory, and it is this: What if it’s part of a ploy by the enemy to minimise the reality of Heaven in people’s minds by reducing it more to a state of being than an actual place? I talk a lot about the Early Church Fathers in my teaching because their thinking has had a monumental effect on the Christian faith over two millennia, partly good, but partly too a complete disaster. And one of the more disastrous aspects was the influence they laboured under from Greek thinking and philosophy which understood the physical material universe as being inherently evil. This led, quite logically, to the idea that anything really spiritual must also be non-physical, hence the traditional Christian art that depicts Heaven as comprising non-corporeal-type beings floating around on clouds. To the modern mind such a notion quickly translates into the idea of an almost metaphorical spiritual state of being as opposed to an actual place. So what does the Bible say?

It is simply not possible for us to get our minds around the idea, in any significant way, of there being something outside of the Universe, but that is precisely what we are dealing with when we speak of Heaven. The Lord has lived there throughout eternity, the angelic realm having come into being and living there too before the creation of the actual Universe. So Heaven, this place God calls His home (it even has a garden), is therefore somewhere completely other than in the cosmos in which the rest of God’s creation exists. What we can, or at least vaguely, get our heads round though is that just as Jesus got a resurrection body which, although physical (he ate and drank in it), was so much more than that, being a vessel perfectly fitted for a human being to be able exist in God’s home outside of the Universe, so too will we, as God’s people, eventually get the same type of body. But there is just so much more!

Not only will we one day be physical beyond our comprehension, but the Lord is actually going to create a completely new Universe made from the same ‘stuff’ as Jesus’ resurrection body (I call it ‘miracle matter’), and Heaven is going to actually enter that Universe and land on the newly created Planet Earth, the Lord thus making His home with us as promised in His Word.

Let’s get this straight once and for all. Heaven is a literal place outside of this literal Universe, and should therefore, as a place, be capitalised when written. Jesus is literally God become a man, and He was literally raised from the dead in a literal physical ‘miracle matter’ body, being now literally back in the literal place outside the Universe called Heaven. Believers literally join Him there when they die; and folk who don’t believe such to be literally true, and who just laugh and scoff, are in for a terrible shock when they discover, when they die, that Hades and the Lake of Fire are literal places too!

What a wonderful salvation and eternity Jesus has won for us, and for any who will yet humble themselves, repent of their sins and simply receive it as a free gift from Him. I am literally cock-a-hoop about the whole literal thing!

In Praise of the X Files!

Over the last couple of years I have, thanks to Amazon Prime video, re-watched the entire X Files. To say I have greatly enjoyed sharing in Mulder and Scully’s ongoing paranormal adventures would be somewhat of an understatement, and I can only thank the Lord for granting even unsaved writers such amazing creativity. Bringing together the genre of global conspiracy with a virtually invisible alien invasion floats my boat no end, and I am truly grateful to it’s creator, Chris Carter, for giving such full reign to the imagination God has given him, even though it appears that he remains entirely ignorant of where it came from.

And of course the point I wish to make is that such conspiracy theories are entertaining precisely because they are not actually true. As C S Lewis once observed, the notion that there are fairies at the bottom of the garden is only fun in so far that you don’t actually believe them to be real. And so with the X Files, and every conspiracy theory that has ever entertained those of us with a fictional penchant for such. Whether it be hobgoblins, vampires,  the existence of the Illuminati, the notion that the CIA masterminded 9/11 or that the Earth is flat and the moon landings were faked, gullible people will always be taken in by the self-deceived promulgators of fantasy-mistaken-for-fact-type thinking. Failing to distinguish between fact and fiction they are taken in by nonsense and irrationality devoid of common sense, pertinent facts and reality. Not only is it sad beyond words, it brings good fiction, and especially good science fiction, into undeserved disrepute!

But of course the reason that I am such a complete and utter skeptic when it comes to conspiracy theories is because scripture not only reveals their basis to be complete nonsense, but shows us how they actually pail into insignificance when compared to the ongoing conspiracy that actually is for real, and which is truly cosmic in every sense of the word. The idea that any conspiracy could take place on a global, or even just a national level, is just too far-fetched to pass the test of even basic logic. Human beings are notoriously bad at keeping secrets, and for all kinds of reasons too. The idea, for instance, that covert forces in the US orchestrated 9/11 so as to make it look like Islamic extremists were responsible is just too ridiculous to contemplate. That everyone amongst the hundreds of individuals required to pull such a thing off could be relied upon to not break ranks in any circumstances, be it through guilt or simply selling the story for financial gain, is just too ludicrous to contemplate. No! You may rest assured that such things as the 9/11 theory, werewolves, the Illuminati and alien conspiracies remain purely in the realm of fiction.

What people do need to get their heads around, however – though they probably never will – is that the truth of the matter is that there is a conspiracy in full swing that is not merely global but actually cosmic in its scope. Indeed, a conspiracy of both divine and angelic origin that even the Chris Carters of this world wouldn’t even begin to be willing to accept as being the case. Scripture makes perfectly clear that men and women who have not repented of their sin and turned to Jesus for eternal life are fully at one with the desires and intent of Satan and his legions, and are therefore, though completely unbeknownst to them, easily manipulable pawns in his cosmic scheming and machinations. Conspiracies of sorts are a reality, though not global ones engineered by human beings or some shadowy organisation headed up by some sinister mastermind.

That the Lord will win out in this cosmic battle with humanity as the unwitting pawns isn’t in question, but in the meantime men and women nevertheless remain subject to a conspiracy and control they will never be willing to admit to. Humanity is indeed in subjugation to the demonic principalities and powers in the heavenly places! The end of the conspiracy will be a one world government based on the ultimate rejection of the Lordship of Jesus and the acceptance of a political power both originated and upheld by Satan himself; but one that will be crushed out of existence when Jesus returns to this planet in order to rule it Himself. This order of events will be followed by the creation of a completely new universe in which believers will live with the Lord and those angelic forces who have sided with Him.

Wow! How’s that for an X File, then?