Chutes and Ladders

On hearing about hundreds of lawyers being deployed by both major political parties to hopefully assure a fair election, I thought of my fourteen year old granddaughter. Thinking of her reminds me of how silly, wicked [a New England word] proud I am of her. Even now, instead of spending time on electronic tablets or smart phones, I would always catch her reading a book. But I shout the loudest about the time we played “Chutes and Ladders” with grandma. How does this relate to hundreds of lawyers? I’ll tell you.

She was 4 and losing the game. For those who do not know the game because they weren’t blessed with children that needed to keep babysitters busy, a “chute” is a slide. If you spin the wheel and your next move lands you there, you have to slide all the way to the bottom of the chute. If you are lucky to land on the bottom rung of a ladder, you climb all the way to the top.

87 is the beginning of a long chute to the bottom!

Our 4 year old granddaughter was winning with a loud smile when a spin eventually put her on square 87, the top end of a chute! If memory serves (at least it is an exciting thought) she went from 28 to 84 and then on her next spin, the arrow said move 3 spaces. And I could see tears peeking out from behind those baby blues. She wanted to change the rules but grandma and I encouraged her to keep them. Win or lose, following the rules is a principle worth cultivating. (We didn’t quite say it that way, but you get the point.)

When she was four. The old man is me! If you think her cute, she only gets lovlier—inside as well as outside.

Eyes wet, saddened by the realization grandma or I could win since she had to negotiate, the entire board (again), our adorable (in many ways) young granddaughter reluctantly consented. (She was simply brought up to obey the adults even though grandma and I were and are pushovers.)

She started over following the rules … AND SHE WON!!!!


Why can’t grownups be like my granddaughter!? We wouldn’t need to worry about someone rigging an election—either party.

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Sexual Preference

In the early nineties, as a pastor, I was pressed to declare my position on a number of, then, new social postulates that required the church’s response. We were burying young adults that succumbed to the Aids virus—often the result of promiscuity or engaging in gay relations. This alone sought from christianity a more merciful voice than the fire and brimstone message of earlier days that preached an absolute holiness or else. For me, at the time, the issue that overwhelmed belief was “abortion.” I read a symposium on the subject made up of brilliant, scholarly, religious minds who came to no biblical conclusion worth hanging a theological position on.

Now the matter of gayness has revisited the privacy of our convictions and it seems impossible for the “pastor” to avoid the discussion. A recent Washington Post article alerts our catholic friends, “Pope Francis has called in a new documentary for the creation of civil union laws, giving his clearest support to date for the rights of same-sex couples while breaking from the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.⁠1

LGBTQ concerns have invaded the pulpit and at least in innuendo the homily or sermon must address it. Some churches have openly accepted gay marriage as a modern social model. The nuclear family defined as “one man and one woman” plus the kids, is now politically incorrect. Family includes all types of relations including gay couples, with or without adopted little ones. Most preachers will probably pick and choose their Sunday text carefully avoiding any biblical reference to homosexuality hoping to avoid what now cannot be avoided. For reasons this blog cannot go into—it takes a book—LGBTQ is part of social life now in the civilized northern hemisphere and silence is consent! If that’s what the church wants to say to its world, they should say it openly.

Well, I was happy contenting myself with the theory that although the bible only references the religious practice of homosexuality and not “marriage” relations, per se, I could still maintain that the only biblically endorsed formula for familial relations was and is “one Adam and one Eve.”⁠2 But a recent interrogation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett by Senator Hirono of Hawaii gave me pause. The Washington Post article headlines, “Sen. Hirono grills Amy Coney Barrett for describing sexual orientation as a ‘preference’⁠3 It appears now generally accepted that because hormones are involved in sexual attractions (and they are) that homosexuality—and all LGBTQ behavior—must be genetic, not a preference or choice but a biologically driven impulse, and therefore cannot be subject to religious moral judgment.

Scientists,” reads wiki,⁠4 “do not know the exact cause of sexual orientation, but they theorize that it is caused by a complex interplay of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. Although no single theory on the cause of sexual orientation has yet gained widespread support,” the article continues, “scientists favor biologically-based theories.”⁠5 Homosexual orientation—not preference—cannot be a sin since it is part of nature and not choice.

I don’t believe God agrees.

So now, I must declare myself. I have counseled, befriended, and worked with gay men and have found some genuinely interested in and hungry for all Jesus offers, which pulls on my natural inclination to empathize. I know what a draw hormones cause. Just ask my wife! (No, don’t.) But what God does in all of this is a question for His grace which we should not presume to know in full. When it comes to the bema, though, behind which we are privileged to speak as divine oracles,⁠6 we must not preach social norms. We must prayerfully represent His Word to the best of our calling or vocation. If there are consequences—and there will be, if I read my Bible right, let us count it as a badge of honor to faithfully represent Him.

2 Mark 10:7-9 [ESV] ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother [and hold fast to his wife, missing in some manuscripts] and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Frankowski BL; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adolescence (June 2004). “Sexual orientation and adolescents”. Pediatrics. 113
6 Exodus 18:15 [KJV] “the people come unto me to enquire of God.
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Will He Find Faith?

Rod Dreher, senior editor and blogger at The American Conservative 1 in his book, “The Benedict Option” wrote:

“…faithful … Christians—… theological conservatives within the three main branches of historic Christianity—…know that if believers don’t come out … and be separate, 2 …, their faith will not survive for another generation …in this culture…. They recognize an unpopular truth: politics will not save us. … they have recognized that the kingdom of which they are citizens is not of this world 3 and have decided not to compromise that citizenship. What these … Christians are doing now …a strategy that draws on the authority of Scripture …[is] “exile in place 4 [embolden for personal emphasis]

This is not the rhetoric of the street corner prophet inspiring fear in an election year. This is not the outcry of an enraged citizenry whose political and religious zeal have welded together reaching a crescendo in an all or nothing election scenario. This is not using Scripture to explain or endorse or discredit—whatever—what we feel in this time of heated political dialog. This is not the voice of christian disaffection trying to buttress a dying church by discrediting the very government for which Paul admonished prayer. 5 This is about survival as a church!

Dreher argues: “This is not just about our own survival. If we are going to be for the world as Christ meant for us to be, we are going to have to spend more time away from the world, in deep prayer and … spiritual training—just as Jesus (did). We cannot give the world what we do not have.” 6

In a letter to soldiers in 1798, John Adams, a Founding Father … remarked:

“We had no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. …Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” 7

We, as christians, need to live with eyes wide open in a world 8 we are not part of. We need to become “street-wise” to the cultural and social change all around us, a change that is predictably going to see us more and more as outliers. As a civilization we have moved away from a faith in a transcendent God who communicates His love to His creation …to a deistic or even vague definition of a god who has wound the clock of the universe and left science in charge …to no god at all. A generation of millennials whose faith in the christian God has eroded away—some to an agnostic or even atheistic point of view—are not aware that their mindset is a product of the postmodern age we live in. Sociologist Christian Smith 9 used the term “secular revolution. 10 No god, no absolute code of morality, no sin. Whatever makes you happy. Sociologist Philip Rieff, the great interpreter of Freud, described the shift in Western consciousness like this: “Religious man was born to be saved. Psychological man is born to be pleased. 11

Don’t fret the outcome of the election—any election—that understandably you have a patriotic interest in. Go, vote!! For a believer, whose trust is founded in a God that will direct our paths, there is really only one vote that counts—His!

Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? ” Luke 18:8 CSB

Be mindful instead of the outcome of the faith of our children and grandchildren if we fail to live out our faith in front of them. Above all, put prayer back on the schedule. If it’s there already, make sure it is a priority.

2 2 Corinthians 6:17 CSB “come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord
3 Philippians 3:20 CSB “our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ
4 Dreher, Rod. The Benedict Option (p. 18). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
5 1 Timothy 2:1-2 “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
6 Dreher, Rod. The Benedict Option (p. 19).
Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
7 John Adams, Letter to the Massachusetts Militia, 11 October 1798, U.S. National Archives,
8 John 17:15-16 ““I am not praying that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world
9 Christian Stephen Smith is an American sociologist, currently the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. Smith’s research focuses primarily on religion in modernity,” -wiki
10 Dreher, Rod. The Benedict Option (p. 39). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
11 Philip Rieff, The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith After Freud, 40th anniversary ed. (Wilmington, DE:
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Hosea 1-3

As part of a men’s Bible study on the minor prophets, Hosea is first, I have started enjoying the Hebrew text in Hosea 1-3. We will have guide books to direct discussion (my copy of the 2 book series on the minor prophets is on order). But below might be something that will most likely not be discussed. I am not totally comfortable with any translation but here’s the CSB, Christian Standard Bible:

Then the LORD said to me, “Go again; show love to a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, just as the LORD loves the Israelites though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.” Hosea 3:1

Go again

It is interesting that the word “again” is not translated as part of the first clause [The KJV missed it altogether]: “Then the Lord AGAIN said to me…” The reason is the accent or tone (The prepositive disjunctive tonal יְחיִב). The word order is “And the Lord said unto me again Go…”. Prepositive means we flip the 2 words: GO AGAIN. Which means the Masoretes that came up with the accents read this: “And the Lord said unto me ‘Go again…’.” The accents or tones are NOT inspired but I think most translators are comfortable with their understanding …and so am I. The Contemporary English Version  is incorrect:

Once again the Lord spoke to me. And this time he said, “Hosea, fall in love with an unfaithful woman[a] who has a lover. Hosea 3:1 [CEV]

Is there a difference?  If God were to instruct Hosea a second time to marry Gomer, this would suggest his reluctance, even repulsion, with the idea as something sinful since he knew of her past.

If the word again belongs with the word “Go” we are led to interpret this to mean Hosea took her back after they were wed and had 3 children together, and that she left him again (Hosea 1:2) for her paramours.

Woman or Wife

But should the word “woman” be translated “wife”? Hebrew has one word for both! The NIV suggests: “Go, show your love to your wife again…”

A Hint-A Friend

Here’s a hint: the word “friend,” is translated (I think incorrectly) in the CSB “another man.” The word more correctly means “husband” because it references an intimate friendship. This can only be her husband or paramour—not just “another man.”

Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend,… [KJV]

But the next word ‘AND’ by some scholars is saying that Gomer has two intimates, her husband AND her paramour.

If so, the phrase in the CSB which reads “woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress,” might better translate “a woman who is both beloved by her husband and [yet – KJV] an adulteress.” And since this whole lesson for Hosea is a lesson in God’s burden for unfaithful Israel this fits best.

God’s heart ached beyond our ability to describe it …let alone feel it …that is everyone but one man, Hosea, whom God instructed to reunite with his unfaithful spouse and live the trauma the Divine heart was living.

Raison Cakes

Oh, “raison cakes”? Is this for real!! Yes, in our culture it might be caviar. She was living the life giving herself to rich dudes that lavished attention on her. But was this Hosea’s wife or Israel or both?

Husband vs Master

Hosea 2:16 [NIV] reads “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’” The difference between master and husband in the Jewish culture of the time is pivotal to an understanding of the message of this prophecy for our time.  Ask any married woman what this means!  But looking into the culture brings us to a sacred promise: betrothal.


A man betroths (takes) a woman in Ancient Israel, Jezreel—never the reverse.  ..And there is a reason.  The word carries an old nuance meaning to pay for or take possession of.

Then David sent messengers to say to Ish-bosheth son of Saul, “Give me back my wife, Michal. I was engaged to her for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.” 2 Samuel 3:14

Thus Baali or my master takes on a double meaning.  Israel worshipped Baal but this brought Israel, like Gomer, into bondage, the sole possession of a cruel master.  God’s betrothal meant He purchased Israel as Hosea purchased Gomer back for a price.

I will take you to be my wife forever. I will take you to be my wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. Hosea 2:19

The price of justice and love was Calvary!


P.S. Oh, I think the word “declares” instead of “saith” or “says” is contextually significant as well. No one will agree with me but the Hebrew word is warm and private, personal and secretive.  It is a message to the heart not front page news script.  Take this for what it seems worth to you, but it fits Hosea 2:19.  Our betrothal to Christ is a revelation of His compassion given to us individually in the secrecy of a faith that hears that still small voice of love.

But then I will win her back once again.I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly there to her [Hebrew: to her heart]. Hosea 2:14 NLT

Hosea’s marriage becomes a tale of God’s romance with Israel—and dare I say, the Church. It was a rocky and emotionally painful relationship for both because, in psychological terms, Gomer and Israel—and dare I say the Church—is searching for love without a self identity that accepts it. They have lost their way, spiritually.

A relationship with Baal as her master—and Baal must have a modern interpretation for the Church (Matthew 6:24; Revelation 3:17-18)—was temptingly attractive despite the fact she knew (in her words: Hosea 2:7), “ I will go back to my husband…, for then I was better off than now.”

There is much here to research about the heart of God and the relationship He longs for with us. These first three chapters are but the introduction….

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A Lesson in Truth

[Yet you desired faithfulness [truth] even in the womb (inward parts, i.e. the heart and mind); you taught me wisdom in that secret place (my thoughts). Psalm 51:6]

You Desired Faithfulness [Truthfulness]

This one verse should have been expanded—if not already—into countless sermons on salvation as well as texts on counseling. David arrives here after a winding journey through self-justification to self-condemnation to blaming his mother for giving him birth. Off the record, I little doubt, he could have rationalized a way of blaming even Uriah; for, had he not neglected his wife that fateful night, David wouldn’t be in this state of mind now. Perhaps, some time elapsed while he tried in his own way to assuage the pain, to sleep through the nightmare. To be factual: the Ammonites killed Uriah.

This is an all to familiar dialog between counselor and counselee. Blaming everyone else first seems to be a recognizable mile marker on the road to recovery for us in finding our way back to the right path.

God is not listening yet, when we are not honest within ourselves. Maybe we do not really know ourselves well enough, we don’t know why we did what we did. Maybe we are unprepared to give an account of our behavior. Nonetheless, without truthfulness, there is nothing here of any therapeutic value. There is no opportunity for God to restore David’s joy or heal his conscience because he has not yet decided to be truthful in prayer. David murdered an innocent man in order to be legally free to covet his wife, just because she was too beautiful to resist. Self-deception has a name and it is “David.”

David’s humanity cannot absorb murder and keep its identity. So David needs God desperately to touch his life and get him back to a time before this indefensible act of a numbed conscience. He would not be the young David again, whose innocence sought the Lord’s prayerful presence, until he confessed. Confession meant—and always means—admitting truthfully the sin that separated him from God.

Here is the preacher’s sermon on salvation or repentance or revival or whatever topic he wishes. Here is the message of the Cross. You shall confess the truth and it will set you free!⁠1

You Taught Me Wisdom…In … Secret

The Lord taught Me Wisdom,” David testified, “in secret.” The secret place he spoke of, the heart physically hidden from literal sight, was an analogy of the soul or the seat of deep feelings and thoughts where what we do and say originates. These feelings and thoughts might be deeply buried under the debris of years of fun and amusement designed to cover over painful experiences. We may have been living a lie, an intentional neglect of what discipline once tried to drum into us, and now whatever we once heard or knew as wisdom is not wisdom anymore to us.

David was tortured by the memory of his crime against God in committing murder and adultery. God had to send Nathan, though, to entrap him and push him forward into reconsidering what he had done. How much time had gone by might be estimated by how long the joy of his salvation was not part of his experience. Kings go to war each Spring and David was in the habit of getting God’s counsel.⁠2 It might have been a while since this was true.⁠3 His Psalms are a diary of his prayer life which must have been on pause.

Yet, David’s heart was still a heart after God’s own heart. This had not changed, but his sin contradicted this truth and disrupted the relationship. Here is where David discovered something kind about the God he served: “In my guiltiness, You taught me, Lord, to be truthful to myself. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts [heart], And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.⁠4

C. H. Spurgeon interprets, “God is teaching him truth concerning his nature, which he had not before perceived.⁠5

If I may: God reads the heart,⁠6 not the outward perception of things. Truthfulness pleases Him; so, an honest prayer of repentance, a prayer for God’s mercy, waits on the breakthrough when all self-justification ceases. While we fault others on our knees, expect God to use the time—as Spurgeon correctly interpreted this verse—to “teach … [us] truth concerning …[our true] nature, which …[we] had not before perceived.⁠5 Blaming a spouse or a friend or a congregation or the world has no therapeutic value if we ultimately want God to restore our joy.

Faithfulness, Lord, you desire in the heart⁠7In the closed chamber of the heart.”⁠8

Who would have guessed that one benefit of true confession before God is a lesson in Truth!?

1 John 8:32
2 1 Samuel 23:2, 4; 30:8; 2 Samuel 2:1 David enquired of the LORD
3 Psalm 51:8-12 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
4 verse 6 הֵן־֭אֱמֶת חָפַ֣צְתָּ בַטֻּחֹ֑ות וּ֝בְסָתֻ֗ם חָכְמָ֥ה תֹודִיעֵֽנִי׃
cp. Job 38:36 מִי־֭שָׁת בַּטֻּחֹ֣ות חָכְמָ֑ה אֹ֤ו מִֽי־נָתַ֖ן לַשֶּׂ֣כְוִי בִינָֽה
NKJV Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart?
LXX τίς δὲ ἔδωκεν γυναιξὶν ὑφάσματος σοφίαν ἢ ποικιλτικὴν ἐπιστήμην. Who has given to women skill in weaving or knowledge of embroidery?
Vulgate: quis posuit in visceribus hominis sapientiam vel quis dedit gallo intellegentiam. Who hath put wisdom in the heart of man? or who gave the rooster understanding?
5 C. H. Spurgeon. p. 936
6 Hebrews 4:12 discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.; 1 Samuel 16:7 The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
7 cp BDB p. 377
8 BDB. p. 711 cp Psalm 25:5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
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I Did An Evil Thing!

The language of Scripture is full of passion and inspiration.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. [Thou art pure in Thy judging. YLT] Psalm 51:4

You are Right, Lord, I Did An Evil Thing!

This is the true definition of confession; it is agreeing with God! All self-justification, all rationalization, has ceased. When David confessed that he knew his transgressions, it wasn’t just admitting what he did—and he probably couldn’t say why—it was a confession of his wrong against God.

What I have done,” David admitted, “was evil.” The word evil has an emphasis on the consequence⁠1 of David’s unconscionable act.

The world might not agree. Cultural evolution is slowly eroding any bible-based foundation of morality discarding any definition of “sin”, redefining the nuclear family unit in terms of any and all social contracts, explaining away conviction as a self-inflicted guilt, and arguing against the reality of a God of mercy which makes everything else seem reasonable. Today’s world might contend that: this psalm is merely the unfortunate state of a man whose conscience misdirected him into thinking he needed to make amends.

But David knew God and knew God to be consistently wise, truthful, and merciful. In God’s eyes, in His judgment, what David did was evil! After a year went by (according to one scholar) and after Nathan cornered him, David, finally, agreed. The misery he felt may have helped drive him there.

So-In View of Which, On This Account

If God punishes him, David feels that, it is earned. He doesn’t appear, though, to be particularly anxious about this possibility.⁠2 Judgments is what judges make; so, God might intend at this point in relationship with David to make this a lesson in the painful consequence of doing evil.⁠3 (Thus the use of the word “so.”)

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. [A man dare not turn his nose up at God!] A man reaps what he sows.⁠4

David emotionally exposes his own back to the lash because he knows he is in the wrong but he also knows the love of God.

God is in the Right

God is in the right whatever His judgment! …to quote Abraham, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?⁠5 ”God’s judgment is pure, clean. (“Beyond all controversy.”)⁠6 If I may say it: unlike us, God’s decisions, conclusions, evaluations, judgments, perspective—call it what you will—is never based on a bias toward us much less a hidden, self-seeking motive, as if greedy for power. God’s judgment is based on covenant and the one we are under now was written in the Savior’s blood on Calvary.

1 This is the word used by Samuel when Israel asked for a king in lieu God’s leadership, cp. 1 Samuel 12:19. The consequences of sin.
2 In a cursory review of the Hebrew terms that might suggest some form of punishment I have yet to read David’s thoughts on the subject.
3 But I might add quickly that David knows God to be merciful. Punishment seems reserved for the proud not the humble who confess. But we will let this point rest here for a while.
4 Galatians 6:7
5 Genesis 18:25
6 C. H. Spurgeon. p. 935
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Psalm 51

If I were teaching an advanced course in the Classical Hebrew, the language of our Old Testament (The Jews call it “The Bible”), I would ask the students to translate Psalm 51. The language is not the poetic verbiage we have come to expect in poetic script. Psalm 51 is straight forward and simple words but selected by an inspired pen. The four words used for sin selected from among seven (I know of) are filled with meaning, spiritual and psychological—and they are correctly placed in David’s confession, in the narrative of his heart, that speaks not only to David’s adultery but all sin.

Scholars like to see this as a message of the Cross, a salvation call for the sinner to come to Christ for forgiveness. It most certainly is! But it is also written to Christians who need to find their way back to the Cross and reclaim what they may have left there, experiencing the forgiveness of Calvary. A closer look at the words of David’s prayer—words David knew well—is a revelation of God’s great heart and His desire toward His people. A cry for forgiveness is often accompanied with a remorse that reminds us how often we are prone to slip backward into sin, but may it never be because we mistakenly assume God’s heart of mercy is exhausted with us.

Beware, also, theological distancing. I refer to the ability to interpret David’s words academically but avoid any emotional contact or personal application of its inspiring message. Theological distancing is the art of extracting the theology from the text without owning its truth as a life-changing force, without discovering how the words apply to our faith. Theological distancing is an intellectual exercise which might allow us to pass a written seminary exam but fail at faithful living for Christ.

When David repented of His night of pleasure, he renewed His friendship with a God Who never really left him. David was, even with his human frailty and occasional waywardness, “a man after God’s own heart.

God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ Acts 13:22

There is more to this Psalm than a record of remorse. This Psalm reveals the secret to enjoying a friendship with God. This Psalm is in essence the revival of the soul, a restoration of faithful beginnings in service to God, a clear confirmation of real faith.

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[Taken from “Inheriting the Kingdom of Light:Essays on Heaven“]

I like to imagine a heaven similar to my Bible school experience: lots of Bible study, fellowship and evening worship. Oh, and I met my wife there. Maybe there’s the drawback: current human relationships. There is no marriage in heaven. My wife of 52 plus years (at the time of this writing) will be an “ordinary” and “other” child of God in His kingdom. The marriage, the special love relation we shared, is not anticipated there. She will be like all the other “women.” No! No women ….all the other children of God. I am already missing her!

now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.⁠1


Romance has been an integral part of my adult life. Heck! My interest in girls goes back to 5th grade and my first kiss. And now a major part of my emotional life no longer has relevance in heaven or will we, as the Bride of Christ, have a new collective passion for, a love relationship with, Christ alone?

There have been a couple special relationships in my earthly sojourn that I already miss. Will there be no opportunity to renew these in glory? In heaven, will these relations no longer be a part of who we are!?

I had only four loves in my adult experience and one of these still lingers in the heart. From time to time over the decades, she has unannounced intruded on my memory. I took opportunity to pray for her well-being. I would pause in deep thought to wonder how life was working out for her. It all became a pleasant recollection mingled gently with a longing to find her in heaven’s crowd—if just for a moment. But now I am thinking this is all unimportant in a heaven where the focus is understandably on God.


Throughout this work we have maintained that a bodily resurrection keeps alive the persons (personalities, personhood) we have become in Christ during this life. But does this mean that heaven will necessitate drastic and new relational changes? My passionate love relation with my wife—very much a part of me—will no longer exist!? Or might it be transformed into another and deeper level of closeness? I will have 2 arms? So, I will give my love of over half-a-century a christian hug but not a romantic one?


Our personalities are defined in part by memories, good and bad. These memories represent who we have become, the person our life’s experiences helped form. The only plus for a believer is that God is the Potter. So, what about memories? Might heaven provide me with a quickened memory, a complete memory, of all the good things God did for me, all the moments in life when He graciously intervened to keep me on track for His will in my life. Will I be able to look back on this life and make sense out of circumstances that now seem spiritually irrelevant or worse—out of His will! And can I share those memories in fellowship with the woman who experienced much of them with me while she does the same in return! In a word: will heaven provide opportunity to all God’s children to share the rich testimony of the Lord’s involvement in our lives during our pilgrimage here?


God will wipe away all tears but what about tears of joy? Tears of joy have played an important role in an emotional release when we were overjoyed or we were surprised with something we thought would never be. Heaven is a different place; so, our glorified body might not have this feature. We only know that in the Bible “tears” are tears of sorrow and grief—and these are wiped away! But discussing tears leads me to think that our new body will come with a panoply of new feelings—and intense ones—which we could not have handled in this life.

The question I ask is: What happens to the “old” feelings? I already mentioned ”romance.” Someone once listed 104 great feelings⁠2 that support our interests in this life. Our new body might come with thousands! We don’t know. Perhaps, the new emotions—and all the sights and sounds of heaven— will cause me to forget about my old life that I currently ponder.

Bible School Days

I want to return to my school days and relive memories of indulging in all things Bible. I had no television set. The radio I brought with me in my sophomore year was never turned on. [I don’t recall where I left it.]

Prayer was always a welcomed opportunity to let the Lord know how my day was going. I enjoyed talking to Him.

Men students used to discuss theology into the night draped like so many lifeless forms about the chairs and couches in the dorm lounge. [Some, I was told, welcomed the morning sun.] Across the dinner table, after a meal, discussions continued—sometimes with a comedic twist because teachers often strolled by.

And then there was the spontaneous worship, the a cappella harmony, among the kitchen staff that silenced an entire dining room of students. I also recall the exceptional Friday night missions services where we learned God’s Spirit from time to time takes worship in a different direction—and faculty leaders needed to discern the change and encourage us, as students, to submit to whatever the Lord had in mind. How real God was to us!!

These spiritual experiences took place in a quiet, partly hidden, glade which opened up to us only after walking the lane through the trees that lined it. Will the Lord return us to campus but in a more exciting experience in heaven? Or does another life await us?

All Things New

My wife, Joyce, and I took a walk out the lane that circles our condo. Upon hearing the birds chirping in the nearby trees and smelling the fragrances we past, I thought to engage her in conversation about heaven. “Will there be birds in heaven? “ I asked. And what about the fragrances that in this life excite fond memories.

She shut me down in her classical woman-of-a-few-words way, “Hon, everything will be new!”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”⁠3

New! There are 2 words for new: something new in time or recently having been made or born, like a “newborn.” >New also in quality. New wine [in time] is a new batch. New wine in quality might be a sweet after dinner red compared to the usual white wine.

The new you and new me are both:⁠4 We are born again, newborn in Christ [new in time at salvation] and we are new inside, [new in quality] new in nature, not a repeat of the person we were but a brand new “creature” or life in Christ.

“All things new” regarding heaven means all things new in quality. A brand new earth speaks of an earth [not newly created, though God might]. This speaks of an earth not yet experienced. It is not a replay of this life. A new earth means a new experience! This we have been saying throughout this work.

I still do not know about the birds on my walk, though.
I can hardly wait to find out!

1 1 John 3:2
3 Revelation 21:5
4 Ephesians 4:24 and to put on the new self [in quality], created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new self [in time] which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
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Christian Unity, The Bond of Peace

There is a level of unity anticipated in Pauline theology that is unheard of in human society.  It is the unity which characterizes our coming relations in heaven. The secret to that unity is oneness and the result is peace.  A study of heaven, therefore, must include a study of a united sainthood which should enthuse even the most complacent of believers.  

We live in a divided world—a reality that is indisputable—and believers should find this condition painfully unharmonious, even within our own relationships.  Families are fractured; political parties explode with opposition and the world seems always on the verge of the next global conflagration.  

In contrast, the unity of heaven should be the desire of every child of God.  We should begin in this life to allow peace to reign in our hearts.⁠1 The bond of peace, which is the result of christian unity, is Paul’s interpretation of Jesus’s promise that “Peacemakers … shall be called the Children of God.⁠2

Paul envisioned 7 levels of oneness that characterize a unity that guarantees the bond of peace. 

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.⁠3

Why shouldn’t God wait until we reach His kingdom to unite us.  Why the hurry to provide for us a new life we can and should walk together?⁠4 

Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?⁠5

The simple answer is to bring us to a unity that empowers our witness to our world.  A divided church promotes an ineffective message or no message at all!⁠6   

that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.⁠7

The world likes to label us “hypocrites” and, sadly, not without cause.  We might imagine—and not without reason—that Satan has attacked the church’s unity by offering us a sense of oneness based only on the inner circle of friends we tend to frequent. One clergyman boasted that his church was united because he booted out all the dissenters.  This mindset is all too easy for us to find reasonable but a heavenly unity is discarded in the process.  Any child of God is my brother or sister in Christ. Absolutely! Doctrinal differences notwithstanding. Style of worship notwithstanding. Political leanings  a none issue.  God has no favorites and neither aught we. How sad if we wait until heaven to embrace our brothers and sisters in Christ that were unwelcome in this life in our inner circle of fellowship. The scripture is more emphatic on this point than we tend to think:

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.⁠8  For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.⁠9  Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.⁠10 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.⁠11 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.⁠12

1 Romans 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace
2 Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
3 Ephesians 4:3-6
4 Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
5 Amos 3:3
6 Interesting:  The 7 letters to the 7 churches in Revelation 2-3 do not mention disunity as reason for removing a church’s witness.  The Revelation is focused on each individual church rather than collectively on “the Church” as a whole.
7 John 17:21
8 Romans 14:19
9 1 Corinthians 14:33
10 2 Corinthians 13:11
11 Colossians 3:15
12 Hebrews 12:14
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Earthly Governments

Earthly governments are led by men which represent a morally weak and self-interested humanity. During the Gilded Age of the American industrial revolution, there was very little government control imposed on the unchecked ambitions of a few industrial giants. This bread a spirit of anarchism which fought the wealthy industrialists the only way they could, with bombs and guns. Two presidents, Garfield and McKinley, were assassinated. Industry needed government control, but how much?

At best, the people can expect a perennial tension between industry, now known as a free market society or capitalism,  and those who promote a more dominant government involvement which some see as a form of democratic socialism. Either side ruling without the pushback of the other side would be at liberty to imposed unlimited restrictions on personal freedoms—greed unleashed on the right or a power hungry left. 

In the USA there is even the ongoing debate over the constitution.  Should it be interpreted as it was originally understood—almost like a national bible—or can we be more active and see the need to change or expand it without necessarily amending it. The 10th Amendment recognizes those powers enumerated in the constitution for the Federal government and, retains all other  powers to the states.  This is affectionately known as a federation of states or federalism.  But the U.S. federal government has been growing by adding “agencies” empowered to write and enforce laws in place of congressional legislation (EPA, IRS, FDA, DEA etc.), something never thought of by the founding fathers.  

And little is said about the internet by which private industry has been financially enriched.  It was in its beginnings a government project since the research and development expense was beyond the humble resources of individual entrepreneurs.  The same is true of GPS!  In such government projects, the federal government went way beyond any constitutional prerogative or sanction.

The question being asked in the USA is: are personal freedoms better guaranteed and administrated by a democracy like in Athens of old invested in the people’s “popular” vote for a central government or by a federalist form of government using the electoral college to level the playing field among the states (more power to the states)? 

I know: Over half the world is under a communistic rule putting the USA in the envious place here, in their minds, of simply reaching for the stars.  Whatever we choose we are better off?

There is also a necessary tension between nationalism and globalization.  Nationalism, a form of populism, is embraced by a people who want to favor their own well being, their own social progress and economic prosperity, without prioritizing an interest in any other nation.  Two world wars were begun with the American people wanting to stay neutral—stay out of them. Both Presidents Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt needed to find a political way around this national attitude in order to help Great Britain and enter the war on the side of the allies.  An extreme nationalism is fascism but short of an authoritarian form of government nationalism only puts one’s own country first or foremost.

Globalization was an ideology in modern times (since the end of the Vietnam war or President Carter’s Administration in America)⁠1 to address global poverty and human rights globally. Trade agreements in modern times were set up to benefit underdeveloped countries. America went into debt encouraging economic growth around the globe.

But international trade goes back to the First Presidency. Then the interest was national.  We needed to sell to other nations to build up a national treasury against national financial interests—like war.  Charity, too, is clearly, another thing. Fighting epidemics in Africa or feeding starving children around the world must be carried on regardless the ideology a true democracy adopts for global social reform.

The purpose behind globalization is to lift another country economically out of poverty.  Globalization isn’t targeting the individual need but the national need of an impoverished nation. Globalization pushes a democratic form of government, overturning dictators, and pushing for equality for all peoples. Supporting global women’s rights has been part of this movement. 

To effectively encourage such a united effort on the part of participating countries certain governing rights were relinquished, empowering another world-wide organization to govern that effort.  The World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization and the Paris Accords are three such organizations to which the USA signed off on—giving up its right to each organization to decide globally for us how best to address the global need the said organization was targeting.  A growing nationalism now regrets this.

No nation is an island.  Globalization as a tool against global poverty deserves a voice. When Jesus observed, “You will always have the poor among you⁠2  He was not resigned in disinterest to walk on by.  Especially a nation claiming to be christian must continue to care in substantial and practical ways.

For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’⁠3

But globalism must never speak out so loudly that it drowns out the voice of member nations.  It must not demand so much of the resources of member nations to drive them into deep national debt. Strong and healthy nations, economically, are the only nations that have the means to address global poverty.  I suppose it should be said somewhere that taxing an individual nation in the name of global reform should never be a blank check. Governmental redistribution of funds will never grow a healthy economy. 

Whether as a nation (nationalism) or as a world in need (globalism) humankind is seeking a better form of government, a level of freedom, and ultimately a social utopia, but why does it still elude us? 

I am writing this during a pandemic in which government involvement and medical necessity get all tangled up in political objectives which stresses even more the point that God needs to be in charge if we are to live in a utopian world. Evolutionary theory, so popular in our time, looks toward that manmade progress when through science they will see an end to injustice and poverty toward an economic and socially healthy world.  But this is falsely imagined without God! 

A glance at our own world should convince us that evolutionary social theory is an unreachable dream. If biblical prophecy is correct, we are actually heading toward dystopia and ultimately the apocalypse of Scripture before God ushers in His new world, God’s Kingdom, which  believers should anticipate joyfully. 

A utopian dream is nothing believers need to concern themselves with. Meanwhile, whatever government we find ourselves in, we need to accept— as Paul admonished.

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would – Hebrews 13:17

And Peter

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. – 1 Peter 2:13-16

None of this is forever. Take heart; for, we look forward to inheriting the kingdom of light.⁠4

1 President Carter “…wanted the United States to take the lead in promoting universal human rights.” –
Human rights, not anticommunism, would be the organizing principle of Carter’s approach to the world in the post-Vietnam era.” – Alan Brinkley, et al., “The American Presidency,” 461
2 John 12:8
3 Deuteronomy 15:11
4 Colossians 1:12
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