On Earth as It is in Heaven

On Earth as It is in Heaven

My son asked me today if I think Heaven is a real place. I don’t know many Christians who haven’t wondered about Heaven. What will we see and hear? How will it feel and smell to be there, in God’s holy presence, reunited with those whose homecoming preceded ours? When I think of Heaven, I don’t think of the material riches. I don’t imagine abundance. I don’t expect wealth or prosperity or any other superficial reward for my return home. When I think of Heaven, I think of love. I picture the pure bliss that results from loving and being loved. My brain can’t 100% fathom the love we’ll give and receive in Heaven because I know it will be unlike anything we’ve experienced here on Earth. Yet I also know God has allowed each of us to have a glimpse into the experiences of Heaven through the lives we live here on Earth. The Lord’s prayer speaks of God’s will being done on Earth as it is in Heaven. I’ve recited this prayer countless times in my life, but I’ve only recently started to truly consider what it means, what we can glean from those few words of verse. These are just some of my revelations about God’s will being done here on Earth, just as it was, is, and will be done in Heaven. On Earth as it is in Heaven…God’s will on Earth is for each and every one of us to be restored fully back to our Creator. God longs for us sons and daughters to be brought back, regardless of how far we’ve strayed. In Heaven, we will be home, but until that time, God desires a relationship with each of his created during our time here on Earth. On Earth as it is in Heaven….There will be no separation in Heaven. There will be no segregation in Heaven. There isn’t going to be a Baptist Heaven and a Methodist Heaven. There won’t be a black area of worship and a white area of worship. There will not be an exclusive American Heaven for American Christians. Republicans and Democrats will inhabit the same space. There will be no man-made titles of separation. All of those outward signs of racial, political, geographical, and theological differences will disappear. If God’s will in Heaven is for each of us to worship as one body of Christ, we should be working in that direction here on Earth. On Earth as it is in Heaven….There will be no patriarchy in Heaven. There will be no hierarchy of spiritual power or privilege based on gender. As image bearers of our Creator, a daughter of God will stand in the same place of honor as a son. We will enter the same gates, and we will stand before the same God. We will receive the same words of commendation, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” On Earth as it is in Heaven….There will be so special authority for men in Heaven, and I truly believe God’s will was never for there to be special authority for men here on Earth. Why would our God, omniscient, infallible, and all powerful, fully capable of doing His will on Earth just as He does in Heaven, need to place human men in a place of spiritual authority over women? Some point to the fall and Genesis, but we are not living under the curse. We’ve entered fully into a new covenant with our God, one sealed with the redemptive, freeing blood of Jesus Christ, blood shed for men and women alike. A covenant much more reflective of God’s will in Heaven. On Earth as it is in Heaven….There will be no division of roles for men and women in Heaven; therefore, there should be no division of roles for the genders here on Earth. God saw fit to allow his Holy Spirit to bestow each and every one of us with gifts while we’re here on Earth, thus why they’re called the gifts of the spirit or spiritual gifts. There are no qualifications for the gifts. There isn’t a single verse of scripture which differentiates the gifts men receive from the gifts women receive; therefore, we can understand men and women alike are gifted with any of the talents and abilities of the spirit. This includes leadership and teaching. The Bible also makes it clear each gift is equal to the other in its ability to further the kingdom of God. The body metaphor is used to demonstrate this uniformity. The head is not more important than the limbs. All must function together for the body to work...

Keeping the Pen Open

Keeping the Pen Open

Just reflecting this morning on God’s word. On his commandments to love. On Jesus’ greatest acts of love. I’m thinking about all of the times we’re told to fear not. I’m remembering the words of God hidden within a popular children’s song, “this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…” Fear not. Love one another. Be a light. These are all simple tasks for believers living within the comfortable bubble of safeguarded, feel good Christianity. Going to church with the fold. Interacting with the fold. Living out the commandments with the fold. Many become nodding sheep moving within an insulated bubble of Christendom, contentedly cut off from the outside world. This is not the Christianity of Christ. Christ did not die for the righteous. Christ did not bleed for the saved. Christ did not suffer for the sinless. We’re directed to love our neighbor as ourselves, not love our Christian neighbor as ourselves. We’re directed to let our light shine before men, not shine our light before Christian men. We’re told to be like a city on a hill, a beacon which can’t be hidden from any part of the world, not a hidden city accessible only to those who know the secret location. We’re told of the senselessness of lighting a lamp only to shield it under the covering of a basket. The light, we’re reminded, is for a table, visible and accessible to ALL who are in the house. In Acts, the walking orders for believers are clear, “‘I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.'” In John 10, Jesus compares himself to a shepherd who will give up his life for his sheep. He uses the parable of the shepherd and herd to foretell his death on the cross for sinners. What often gets overlooked in the parable, however, is Jesus’ assertion that there are other sheep who are not within the pen who are his as well. “I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.” Christians, we do not exist in a pen all our own. When orders are given to ban human beings from our country because they are fleeing the savagery of extremism in their own country, and we remain silent, we are not loving our neighbors or shining a light or walking without fear. When human beings from other religions are vilified and excluded, and we remain silent, we are not loving our neighbors or shining a light or walking without fear. When children of refugees are washing up on the shores of beaches, drowned and lifeless, and we remain silent, we are not loving our neighbors or shining a light or walking without fear. When our country insulates itself within the protective pen of Christendom, turning away women and children who have survived the terrors of hate and religious extremists, and we remain silent, we are not loving our neighbors or shining a light or walking without fear. When our country removes its light from the hill and its lamp from the table, and we remain silent, we are not loving our neighbors or shining a light or walking without fear. When our country sends a message to the world that the pen is only open certain sheep, and we remain silent, we are not loving our neighbors or shining a light or walking without fear. The word of God is clear. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves and that includes our Syrian, Somalian, and Libyan neighbors. The word of God is clear. We are to shine our light to believers and unbelievers alike, witnessing to each with the same love and grace as Jesus. The word of God is clear. Just because we’ve found our way to the pen does not mean the door to the pen closes to those who are still out in the pasture. The door remains open. The light remains on. There are other sheep who are not yet part of our fold, who are in the same desperate need of hearing God’s voice, who are trying to find their way out of the same dismal darkness, and who are longing for the same life-saving love as we were when we were lost and wandering and alone. The door to the pen didn’t close to us when we finally found the pen, the light in the stable didn’t turn off when we finally walked into its warmth, the other...

Resting in Him

Resting in Him

My soul stirs when I see women arguing on behalf of a patriarchy, particularly when they do so in the name of God. Today I read this in a comment feed, “Also, ruling is hard and takes a great deal of responsibility (when done right). The women get to rest in the men just like we get to rest in Christ.” There is so much I want to say about the view this woman holds of how God sees her role here on Earth as his daughter, his image bearer, his lamb, his beloved. “…women get to rest in men just like we get to rest in Christ.” Man is not God. God does not want women to rest in men. He wants us to rest in him. “Be still and know that I am God,” and “Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest,” and “My soul finds rest in God alone,” and “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and rest.” It’s dangerous to put men in a position reserved for our God. “Ruling is hard…” Doing anything in the name of God should never be hard. Jesus says, “For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” If ruling over women is hard, then perhaps the men who view this as their role should reconsider if it is truly a directive of God’s. Women, you are no longer under the curse. You no longer need to be ruled over by man. Your freedom was secured the moment Jesus took his last breath on the cross. God has equipped each of us to lead. We may not do this in the same way as we all have unique, yet equal gifts of the spirit for this purpose. Some of us are equipped as prayer warriors, some as teachers, some as worship leaders, some as discerners, some as healers, some as counselors, and some as preachers. While different, our gifts, when used to their full capacity, keep the body of Christ functioning. “…and takes a great deal of responsibility…” Sisters, we have a responsibility to our God, not man. God longs for his sons and daughters to be brought back to him, to be restored to him. He longs for believers, women too, to lead others back to him. If women position themselves under the authority of men and wait, resting, letting the man do the “hard work” of ruling and directing and leading, we are not using our gifts to further the kingdom of God. No women, beautiful image bearers of the great Creator, you are not called to be ruled over by a man. You are not called to rest in man. “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:12-15) “Women get to rest in the men…” We don’t GET to rest in man. We have work to do, so get out from underneath man-made roles like spiritual leader, head of the house, and husband pastor, and get to doing the wonderful work of the Lord for which you were...

The Heart of Jesus

The Heart of Jesus

Reflecting on the heart of Jesus today. Jesus did not follow the rules of man but the heart of God. The world said there is not a seat for you at this table. Jesus dined with sinners, sitting among tax collectors and prostitutes. The world said lepers were filthy, unclean outcasts, shunned by society. Jesus reached out his hand and touched the leper. The world declared the bleeding woman untouchable and unacceptable. Jesus stopped the blood with just one touch of his garment. The world said Samaria was to be avoided at all costs. Jesus passed directly through Samaria. The world said Samaritans were unclean in God’s eyes, and Jews were to have nothing to do with them. Jesus, a Jewish man, spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, witnessing to her and providing her with some of the best testimony in all of the Bible. The world said Gentiles were dangerous because they did not share the same faith and religion. Jesus said otherwise, ministering to the Gentiles, recognizing them as “other sheep…who are not of this fold” and teaching them anyway. The world said condemn, punish, and cast aside the adulterous woman. Jesus said, let her alone and let me. The world said sinners are outside the law of salvation. Jesus, hanging from the cross, whispered, “It is finished.” The world of Jesus fought to protect the dominant faith and culture, keep insiders in and outsiders out, build walls, hang Keep-Out signs, cast aside, avoid, ignore, forget, punish. Jesus said bring them to me. Jesus included the rejected, women, outcasts, foreigners, sinners, the sick, and even lawbreakers. He loved the unloved during a time when the basic theme of religion was to divide, to categorize people into insiders and outsiders, clean and unclean, accepted and rejected, lawful and lawless, worthy and unworthy. Not much has changed. The challenges facing our country today are not much different than Jesus’ time. I will continue to look to Jesus’ heart for the oppressed and marginalized. I will continue to speak out against efforts to return to a time of “us” versus “them” mentality. I will heed Jesus’ words… “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John...

It’s Gonna Be Worth It

Today I woke up disheartened, disillusioned, and dumbfounded. My heart is truly broken. While some may view my reactions as typical side effects of losing, my soul knows otherwise. I watched the beginnings of the election results with my two children, cuddled up with me in bed, my husband with us in spirit as he had to be present at work. The images of their hopeful faces when I put them to bed haunted me as I turned off the television hours later. Dread replaced excited anticipation as I knew I’d be delivering the news of Trump’s win to my two precious children in mere hours. How would I look them in the eye and explain a win for the very things we vilify in our family. How do I explain a win for misogyny, bigotry, hate, slander, disrespect, and intolerance? Because here’s the thing, we placed our hope in a win for Hillary Clinton not because we placed our hope in her, an imperfect, flawed human being, but because we placed our hope in the things her platform embraces: love, unity, kindness, acceptance, tolerance, hope, and decency. We voted for the candidate whose message and conduct most reflected the value messages of our family. My husband and I parent from a place of love and grace. There’s absolutely no room for the rhetoric spewed by Trump during his campaign when you parent from a place of love. There’s no compromising on deal-breakers like unkindness, self-righteous judgement, disrespect, and entitlement in our family. We’ve worked tirelessly to instill empathy and love for others, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, economic status, or disabilities. My husband and I have both managed to break cycles of racism which existed in various degrees on both sides of our extended families by teaching our children to value diversity, to look past the outward, physical appearance of a person to his/her heart. We refused to undo the work of almost a decade by walking the tightrope of hypocrisy; teaching our children respect and decency for all humanity at home while supporting a man who showed neither during his campaign. From the first slur to the last words of mockery, we remained unwavering in our decision to vote against Donald Trump. So my feelings of disillusionment and disbelief are not a result of my candidate losing. They’re the outcome of something far more disturbing; the realization others ignored the glaring signs of bigotry and intolerance and fear-mongering which permeated the heart of an entire campaign to cling to party loyalty or single-issue promises. Promises to end abortion, promises to reduce taxes, promises to end big government, promises to kick-start a stagnant economy, promises to protect gun rights. But perhaps the most unsettling are those who voted because of the hate rhetoric. Those who showed up and placed a vote for promises which reflect the dark heart of the campaign. Promises to ban Muslims, promises to kick-out illegal rapist and murderous immigrants (with the implication that all fall into one or both of those categories), promises to build a wall, promises to reverse LGBT-rights legislation. These thoughts made for a very restless night of sleep, but then, somewhere in the early morning, lyrics from various worship songs floated in and out of my mind. And then this one. A song I haven’t really heard or listened to since my mom and dad’s passing. “I don’t understand your ways Oh but I will give you my song. I give you all of my praise. You hold on to all my pain and With it you are pulling me closer, Pulling me into your ways.. Now around every corner, And up every mountain, I’m not looking for crowns Or the water from fountains. I’m desperate in seeking, frantic believing That the sight of your face Is all that I need. I will say to you It’s gonna be worth it, It’s gonna be worth it, It’s gonna be worth it all. There it is right there. With this devastating, hurtful turn in our presidency, I have the opportunity to be pulled closer to God and His ways. This election is not an end to what we can and should be doing as believers, walking in the ways of God, it’s an opportunity to step up our game and do it with a greater fervor than ever before. I started with telling my children the election results. I told them very matter-of-factly who won, without a trace of bitterness or frustration. I told them we will not walk in fear but in trust and faith. I told them we will cling to the...

God Is Still Viable

God Is Still Viable

This article showed up on my feed today. To The “Never Trumper”- A Biblical Case For Trump The following is my response to the approach of the article, which I find more dangerous than the author’s actual support of Donald Trump. It is a faith shaming/bullying tactic I saw used during the last election, with articles surfacing and floating around social media with phrases like, “people who vote for Obama must not be hearing from God.” I found the approach divisive then, and I find similar articles with the same approach divisive today. This article and others like it are dangerous. Removing scripture, God’s holy word, from its context and loosely tying it to the context of this or any other political race is horrifying to me. Biblical teaching about justice is comprehensive and does not rest on a single verse or text. The author’s revolt over the idea of Trump running a church but his acceptance of him running our country arises from a convoluted twisting of the good word of the gospel which is a tactic used over and over again in history to perpetuate morally corrupt institutions, like slavery and segregation and to oppose women’s rights. It’s a strategy used to instill fear and to make it difficult to express an opposing view. By wrapping his views in verses and scripture and phrases like “morally right choice” and “Biblical choice,” believers are made to feel any alternative view is not Biblical or moral, and that simply IS NOT TRUE! What a sad perspective…”Trump is our only viable option for rescue.” Really? What about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God is still all powerful. God is still viable. And God still resides in each of us as believers. We, as the body of the church, its hands and feet, are viable options. A single man or woman is not. So Christians, do not fall into this trap of faith shaming and bullying. Pray without ceasing, be still and wait for the Lord, and vote your vote, trusting that God is still our only redeemer and He, not any human leader, will be exalted among nations and ultimately, among the...

Pin It on Pinterest