Heaven and Hell

Heaven_and_Hell_by_RedXen

 

If a man is united with God how could he not live forever? If a man is separated from God, how could he not wither and die? —C. S. Lewis

No argument that is founded on logic can answer those questions. Our relationship with God is our eternity.

Heaven, simply put, is a oneness with God. There is no doubting yourself, there is no questioning him. Everything is set so you can be the person you were meant to be. You also get a relationship with the maker of the universe, so, there’s that, too.

Hell is the opposite. Hell is life with no God. For real. You aren’t pretending there’s no God, God just is not there. It is chaos, it is disorder, it is pain, it is suffering. It’s everything we were not meant to be. All with no hope.

Heaven isn’t a place we earn. Heaven is a place we “inherit” because of a relationship with God. It follows our bond with him. It is the natural course. If you love him, you are bound through eternity to the one who created eternity and you. We don’t inherit it by friending God as if he were on facebook, keeping him in your contacts in case you need him. You need a real relationship founded on trust, and love. It’s not required by rule, but by law. The law of this world. If you’re not united with God, what is keeping you from withering and dying?

Hell is not a place that God sends us. It is a place we send ourselves. When God created us, he gave us the freedom of choice, because otherwise it wouldn’t be an honest relationship if he created us to naturally love him.

Neither Heaven, nor Hell, can be used as a coercive bludgeon in an honest relationship. God doesn’t hold anything over our heads, he simply presents information and allows us to make an informed decision.

We play games with ourselves, though. Our fears of hell drive us to falsify a relationship with God, and our desire for Heaven, without a loving relationship with God, does the same.

Leave it to us to screw up the relationship, right?

Thank God for Jesus, because he’s so much wider than our narrow-mindedness. He’s so much longer than our short-sighted views. So much taller than our shortcomings.

He’s so much more than our less.

Chaos is in the Eye of the Beholder

I realized something: I’m sorta afraid of death.

It made me wonder why. Death is the doorway to heaven. It’s the end of pain, and hardships, the end of imperfections. For those who know they need God (and earnestly seek him) it’s a one-way ticket to eternal happiness.

On the other side of the coin, it’s the end. It’s the dark sucking hole that is impossibly empty. For those who don’t believe, it’s just the end of existence. That doesn’t seem so very bad. You do what you can while you’re here, and when you die, you don’t care, you’re dead.

(Plus there’s Hell, that’s scary, but that’s another article.)

But I realized why it’s scary to us people. Here’s what I think:

I’ve been reading about people and God, more specifically the intimate relationships between individual people and God. In his book The Normal Christian Life, Watchman Nee talks about how living for God is absolute. You don’t act upon your own ambitions any more. You either do, or you don’t.

In a world where your career, or what you’re going to do when you grow up, or how you’re going to support yourself (let alone a family!), are questions weighing down most jobless people, it’s very hard for us to trust in God. Especially because God’s rewards aren’t often physical rewards. His rewards come in spiritual formatting, more regularly. And that software doesn’t compute with our hardware: the physical.

All that to say, people have a hard time surrendering themselves to God, more so when they’re pressured by whatever problem is directly in front of them. They can be forced into having tunnel vision, where they can’t see God and the spiritual aspects of life, because what’s happening in front of their physical being is seemingly more pressing.

When this happens, it becomes even more difficult to let go.

Imagine you’re holding your infant child, and you are going to hand it to your most-trusted friend. You can judge the distance with your eyes. With your arms and hands you can feel their arms wrapping around your child. You reach out slowly, transferring the child into your most-trusted friend’s arms. Piece of cake.

Now imagine your most-trusted friend is invisible. Not only that, you can’t feel him. You cannot sense him. Would you trust yourself to hand over that newborn baby?

I know I wouldn’t. Because, when I let go, I can’t control what happens.

Control is something that we people think we can have. We can’t. Even if you don’t believe in God, you know that each individual has their own choices. They’re all going to choose something. You may be able coordinate large groups of people, maybe even whole countries, but you’ll never be able to control each individual.

When planning a summer BBQ, Sharon can’t make sure Lisa brings the potato salad, that’s up to Lisa, to put in the car and drive the car to Sharon’s. And that’s not to say that it’s up to Lisa entirely, her husband Frank may decide he doesn’t want to share the deliciousness his wife made, or their dog Dennis may not be able to resist the aroma. As you can (hopefully) see, control is impossible. But we like to think it’s not.

This element of chaos, the fact that we don’t have any control, is obvious in trusting God, because he may lead you one way, and then slam the door in your face, in order for you to find the other doorway. His methods aren’t chaotic, they just appear that way to those who are only capable of seeing one side of the story.

For me, personally, it is very hard to trust God. Whether he is asking me to respect my siblings or my parents, or he’s showing me something I’m not sure I want to happen, or even trusting him in the things I do want to happen, that he allows to happen. All these things are difficult, because if they’re out of my hands, I am not sure I’ll get the result that I want.

His will, not ours. That is the hardest part, I believe. What he wants, not what I want.

I think that when you allow the Holy Spirit to be with your spirit, you can be in concordance with God. It is then, and only then. We all act outside of the Spirit, it’s nearly impossible not to, but if we could get to the point where we trust God enough to do all that he says, then we’ll be at a point where the consequences are always for the best, regardless of the immediate affect.

When we can trust God that deeply, death isn’t something to worry about. It’s not something to even think about, because we can’t control it (or anything), and we trust God to know that when he chooses to take us will be for the best.

It’s easy for our spirit to reach this level of trust, but difficult for our soul, our body, to reach this level. And that comes back to my point about the physical being more obvious to us, thus hindering our perception of, and willingness to trust, God.

I don’t think I’m scared anymore. Now, I’m anxious to reach that level of intimacy.

Body of Christ

I’d like to pose this metaphorical comparison to you.

In our world society is seen on many levels. America is built (was built) on a societal format like this: 1. God 2. Family 3. Town, city, state, federal government. You see society (defined roughly as organized interaction/living with other people) on every level. From the family (Parents to siblings, siblings to siblings, spouse to spouse) to the entire world (nation to nation), there is a society for people.

But, society isn’t just skin deep.body

When you look at the human body, you can see a Society of Organs, the Board of Muscles, and the Imperial Nervous System all working together from the main organ to the products of the organs. Bones and Co. (llc) are responsible for supporting the muscles. That’s the same as Coca-Cola being dependent on a plastic company for bottles. It’s a society. Without Blood Management Inc. the whole body would die. Just like the lack of water management would kill people in “real” society.

There’s more, though. On a smaller level, there are cells. Cells can vary but they are all living things that make up our human body. (Wow, big picture for a little cell.stem_cells

But even this society is made up of smaller society. Look closer at the cells. They’re always described as small cities and the like. With each piece doing it’s part at an impossibly small scale.

But even this society is made up of even smaller society. What makes up those cells? Individual atoms that merge their businesses to form new opportunities (e.g hydrogen to helium).Atom-1

But I didn’t come here to tell you that.best_space_hd_wallpaper

You, no doubt, have heard of constellations; incredible designs made up of stars. I do not personally know how evolutionists disprove that show of organization, but  to me, they’re… okay, I’ve got nothing I just wanted a segway to space. (Note to self: Make flying Segway)

In space you see an incredible amount of precision. It’s nearly perfect. There’s still decay and whatnot, but everything stays the same. Scientists know that the Earth will be Y in X amount of Hrs. and ~ #^&% + )(+ ** = 🙂 because they know the pattern.

Pattern? Society has patterns, doesn’t it? Yes, and in space, it’s the most primitive form of society. Traffic-like society. You’ve got an asteroid in the southbound lane, should he take Transit? No that’ll take him downtown… but in reality, as a inanimate object, he’s got no say in the matter. Gravity, or God (That sounds like an article in the making), keeps the asteroid in it’s path. The planets orbit, and gyrate. The galaxies be galactic. It’s all guns and roses. Um, Sunshine and… whatever people say.

Fact is, society is absolutely everywhere. The pixels on your screen. The words that I’m writing. Think about it. The pixels work together to form a picture, while the words form sentences. Which turn into paragraphs, and then finally an article, a book, a lot of words.

Back to the Bodily Society, what does God say about Christians? We’re the body of Christ. So with all of this society in mind, think back to the atoms. They make up stuff. They are things. Remember that they have mini societies with electrons and protons that orbit and such, just like, on a much, much larger scale planets orbit around stars, and stars orbit the center of their galaxy, and… I don’t know what galaxies do. Google says they gather in clusters. So, galaxies huddle.

So, in light of the society, and the body. What if (best two-word combination ever!) the universe is God.

Boom. Mushroom cloud in brain. Mind blowing. Mind blown.

Now, before you start to say, “Well, wait a minute… what about all of the sin, and the imperfection, and the death, why’s that happening if the universe is God?” let me say, “I’m not stating a fact, just a theory,” and, “Let me explain.”

When Jesus was put on the cross, he was a martyr for all of our sins. He took away God’s wrath in order to save our sorry hides. In the beginning, the universe was broken, when sin came into play. Just like Jesus was broken to pay for our sins.

Also, the bible is very interpretable leaving so much to the imagination, but there are times when it states simply what is true. Could be that it was stating a fact. Why waste time with metaphors when something is actually factual but it sounds like a metaphor.

Not only that, I’ve always thought that God was a whole lot more real that we give him credit for. He doesn’t have to be physical (and he’s not really) but he can interact with us on a physical level I’m sure (he is, ahem, God after all).

I can’t think of any specific reasons why it couldn’t be true, except the imperfection. Even if this isn’t true, it’s fun to see all of the similarities in the world, and universe we live in.

(Now I must solve the conundrum posed by the lyrics “He holds the whole wide world in his hand”. Does “world” refer to earth? Is the “whole wide world” the Milky Way? Does God even have hands?)

Empowering or Depressing?

I (not so recently) finished the book Empires of Light (by Jill Jonnes). The book is about the struggle for the monopoly on light. It delves into the complex relationship that Thomas Alva Edison, Nikola Tesla, and George Westinghouse had with the element known as electricity.

A relationship built with Edison’s hard-nosed, bull-headed work ethic discovering the lightbulb, Tesla’s dreamy imagination, um, dreaming up his AC engine, and George Westinghouse closing the deal with his business skills. These three men are to be credited with the finalization of the enlightening of the world, as far as electricity is considered.

The previous paragraph purposes to politely place a falsehood in prettier packaging. As opposed to the feel of the paragraph above, Edison, Tesla, and Westinghouse weren’t friends, not really.

Most people think of Thomas Edison as a man of character: a true american with that lovable can-do spirit. Not so. Once Edison created his famed lightbulb, he proceeded to try to electrify the U.S. (and eventually desiring to light up the world) with his Direct Current power grids. The grids would have need to be located every square mile, in order to work, thus forcing many people in the US to not have anywhere to move, let alone live.

Edison didn’t adapt as his adoring fans would think. No, instead, when Nikola Tesla brought Alternating Current to the scientific community’s table, Edison trashed it horribly. He published an article titled WARNING! (I couldn’t find a page to link to.) which basically condemns AC as a horribly powerful, and terribly dangerous current, that would never be safe to use. Edison stayed grounded in his old ways as Tesla blew past him.

Tesla eventually got hooked up with Westinghouse, who was invested in the business after already being successful in the railroad business. With his business like mind, and Tesla’s creative genius, the pair moved AC along quite nicely.

When it came time for the world fair in 1893, it was the perfect opportunity to display AC and clear it’s smeared name. First Westinghouse would have to get the contract with the fair, which J.P. Morgan was also striving for.

The dogfight that ensued was all but bloody. Two acclaimed businessman going toe to proverbial toe over the most promising asset in the world at that time.

It got me thinking: Why is peace not desired? Why didn’t Edison try to have a civil discussion with Tesla about their respective electrical currents of choice? They could’ve seen each others points, and moved on from there. Instead when they talked, Edison abused Tesla, and mocked him.

Why did Westinghouse have to fight to gain the contract to light the fair? Why couldn’t Morgan and Westinghouse join forces to show off some pretty awesome American technology?

Money is obviously the reason. Edison fought the idea of Alternating Current because it would blow apart his corner on the electrical market, thus lowering his monetary claim on the element of electricity. It did. But look where electricity is today? Wouldn’t you say it was better that we found AC? Edison was only concerned with money, not advancement of the world. Morgan was the same.

In a world where money is necessary to regulate society, money rules. It is the be-all end-all (however that goes), because it is the medium of value. So then when people try to use there scientifically (or otherwise) brilliant minds for good, there’s always someone who wants monetary gain. Profitable application of a concept is something I enjoy as much as the next guy, but I wish sometimes scientists, businessmen, and others who have opportunities to oppose, would join forces instead, and see the power of teamwork succeed, and better society, and the world!

But I don’t want utopia. Don’t even get me started there.

I thought “empowering” would be the word to title this article, because the knowledge of  how to work together. Unfortunately, I do not have a solution for the desires of the flesh (otherwise I’d be rich beyond my wildest dreams! HAHAHA, ahem, ahem), but I think now the title is more apt. Does the knowledge that money rules the world empower you to give it away more freely? Or to combine efforts to better the situation, thinking of money secondarily?

Being a great book about an interesting story Empires of Light gave me some interesting thoughts.

Life and Death

Life and Death are inseparable.

Life is the beginning of struggles to find truth, to live truth. Life is a constant battle between our hearts and our greedy flesh. Life is also the time when we get to experience God’s love.

Death is the end of struggles to find truth, and the end of our constant battle with our flesh. It’s also a beginning. It’s doorway to the choice to live with God, in his unshackled glory, or to live without God, supposedly unshackled to be as we may.

On Earth, Life is judged with certainty. “Life is good,” they say. They say it because Life seems like something we can control. Reality tells us different.

On Earth, Death is judged a certainty. It’s the end from this vantage point, and it’s a sad, evil thing. It’s scary because we know we can’t control it.

From the Other Side, Life is a hardship to be borne. It’s cold, hard, and uncomfortable. It’s scary because we can’t control it.

From the Other Side, Death is a new beginning. There’s a decision which we can control, either on Earth, or on the Other Side. To live with God, or without. Without struggle, or with. With peace, or with pain, without strife, or without calm.

Life is Good.

Life is Hard.

Death is Hard.

Death is Good.

Darkened

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I’ve recently been able to reflect upon myself, my writing, and I. I just pulled up some old files that held my  books and stories from years gone by. By no means am I old, but I do have a history, and in that history I wrote several small books, some complete, some incomplete, some lost in the cyber-abyss.

I re-read a few with a happy smile at the lack of punctuation and clarity. I struggle to remind myself what I was saying in certain sentences, but I laugh at my silly style of humor. I recollect the books that I was reading at the time, and I see the themes and phrases reflecting some of them. I grin when the story goes through the plot twists I vaguely remember installing. Then in the end I sigh and wish everything was so happy.

I dug around the bank of old computer files for another story. Sadly I only had half of the original draft. It was still entertaining because of the lack of quality. The plot was humorously flawed, and also hilariously complex. I can’t remember the half of it (and not just because the half of it was missing), but I loved seeing the difference from the previous book. In comparison I could see darker themes creeping in, and more complex characters evolving.

I saw growing. Just as I, a person, am growing, my stories are growing. For better or worse we’re both changing.

Then I compared the older stories to the work of fiction I’m currently writing. The contrast was stark. Firstly my plots were much more complex, but also coherent and cohesive. Secondly, my characters show life of their own, and also have real problems and real solutions. The stories have become real, and they convey the themes I find myself conveying. The theme that is currently being conveyed, wether I like it or not, is really just failure. Failure.

I’m not entirely sure why, but with the story I was writing I’ve not been able to find a happy ending. When I play around with the endings they always come full circle and fall back to the original ending of failure. It’s a spectacular ending (though not written in its entirety), but I did notice that’s not the ending Ian of 11 years would write. Or even Ian of 12 years.

Through a little virtual retrospection, I discovered that everything was a little darker. My stories, I realized, were slowly becoming darker and darker. I guess reality does that. Living life in a broken world is hard, crushing, and depressing. Everything–everything–is broken beyond earthly repair. Through exposure to “real” life a process of darkening occurs. Seasoning, as someone put it.

It’s sad, yes, but part of life. The devil broke the world with sin. Our own sinful nature feeds the brokenness, and lets it manifest. But that’s not the end.

Jesus died on a cross–a brutal death of a person who had done something wrong. He died while he was perfect. Not a blemish. Nails were driven through his wrists and ankles. He was murdered, willingly, to save our sinful souls. Our broken souls. Our darkened souls.

While I may be darkened, I’m still beautiful to him, and this life is not for keeps. I’m just a traveler passing through this earth. I’m thankful that someone gives me a chance at light. Something happy is still to come.

I  have the hope that like the flowers in the spring I will be renewed.

The Wisdom of Emma

Emma's Eyes

Last night was an OK Night with Emma (“One Kid Night”). Those are always a source of fantastic verbal “gems”. Here are a couple for your enjoyment:

The Funnest Words

After sharing a bit of her wisdom with me, I said to Emma, “Emma, you are so clever!” In response, almost to herself, with a happy, satisfied giggle, she said, “I get the funnest words.”

Good At Rhyming

At Emma’s request we found some music on the radio, and turned it up as to play as loudly as our ears could stand. Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock ‘n Roll To Me” was playing when from the back, in a loud, confident, quite sincere voice, Emma asserts, “This boy is good at rhyming!!”

🙂