Have you ever had a difficult time envisioning heaven? Or maybe find that the vague descriptions in the Bible lack the vibrancy that some lesser experiences on earth can bring?
C. S. Lewis writes an essay entitled "Transposition" in the book Weight of Glory. It is about why we often view heaven in negative terms. We know through Scripture that there will be no marriage, no family, no tears; but since these things are fundamental to human experience, we struggle to envision a world without them. We know that in heaven we will be with God, so there is no question it will be very good; but sometimes we just lack the terms to think of it properly.
Lewis explains why this is a case and provides a helpful illustration: Imagine there is a woman who has been thrown into a dungeon. The dungeon is dark, the walls are damp; and apart from a small grate in the ceiling there is no other access to the world outside. Other than the blue sky that sometimes shines through that grate, everythin…

Loving the World

Travelling is a great time to do some soul searching. My wife and I recently had the opportunity to get a way for almost two weeks, to go off the grid. To read, think, and do some self-examination. What I found in myself is something I had felt for a while but had failed to recognize: something called morbidness.

I do not mean morbidness in this instance to mean a fixation on death, or a fetish for strange, Halloween trinkets. What I do mean is an unhealthy pessimism: a skeptical escapism that cares little for people, and just wants to get away. The times that we live in do not do us any favors, and I wonder if anyone else can relate.

Looking at the world, scrolling through social media, observing family and friends--it is hard not to get discouraged. I have seen myself grow somewhat calloused and cold. Bitter. Selfishly waiting for the millennium. My recurring day dream is to go far away on a whale boat like Ishmael in Moby Dick or some isolated fortress in Idaho where I can live out m…

Book in Review: "Moby Dick"

After reading Herman Melville's renown classic "Moby Dick" for the first time, this book has become one of my favorites. Melville writes with incredible skill as sentences are saturated with adverbs and adjectives; colorful metaphors are laden throughout. And while many today might find such meandrous writing painstakingly laborious (Just get to the point, Melville), I found it rather refreshing. In an instant gratification age where media looks to provide entertainment at the expense of meaning, there is nothing like a book that requires some thinking to accompany it.

It is with such writing that Melville makes whaling seem a most desirable career path (never mind it is currently illegal by international law!). The serenity of standing aloft the mainmast, is so brilliantly described that I, someone who has no real desire for sea-crafting, found myself longing to quit my day job for the escape of the infinite space of the sea. The work required in the industry gives the r…

Unlikeness in Sufferers

Several weeks ago, I ran across this quote in the beginning portion of the City of God:

"For even in the likeness of the sufferings, there remains an unlikeness in the sufferers; and though exposed to the same anguish, virtue and vice are not the same thing. For as the same fire causes gold to glow brightly, and chaff to smoke; and under the same flail the straw is beaten small, while the grain is cleansed; and as the lees are not mixed with the oil, though squeezed out of the vat by the same pressure, so the same violence of affliction proves, purges, clarifies the good, but damns, ruins, exterminates the wicked. And thus it is the same affliction the wicked detest God and blaspheme, while the good pray and praise. So a material difference does it make, not what ills are suffered, but what kind of man suffers them." St Augustine, The City of God.
Suffering does not discriminate. The rain falls on both the righteous and the wicked (Matthew 5:45). That is not to say that there …

Can you go too far?

I have been confronted by a couple of literary dialogues that have forced me to answer the question, "can you go too far?" Can someone fall too deep in the mire of sin and self that they are no longer salvageable?
Evangelicalism tell us no. The gospel tells us no, does it not? The classical story of the prodigal son follows many of our own journeys from darkness to light. The younger son demands his inheritance while his father is alive (which is the equivalent of wishing him dead). He goes off into the world and squanders the inheritance in profligate living: partying, drunkenness, and prostitutes. But the sensual lifestyle is short lived; a famine enters the land and the Prodigal is forced into poverty status. He is starving, and is employed as pig feeder--desiring even the "pods the pigs were eating" to fill his empty stomach.
The Prodigal is gone. Pretty far gone I might add--but he is not too far gone. It is in this lowly, impoverished state that the text says…

Book in Review: Conversion

A friend of mine is a pretty big proponent of the 9marks model of church. While I am somewhat unfamiliar, he gave me this little book entitled “Conversion” for me to wrestle with both the issues and solutions raised within.
Author Michael Lawrence immediately hooked me with the introduction of this book as he writes of an all too familiar occurrence. He tells of a Christian family who had raised Christian children, each growing up in the church and each making individual confessions of faith. The children however, now that they are fully grown, have continued to live a moral lifestyle. They continue to be upstanding citizens and model individuals, and they continue to call themselves Christians. But what they lack speaks volumes: they don't go to church, they don't proclaim the gospel, and they aren't devoted to Christ. It seems that although they have acquired a very utilitarian moralism, they have missed Christ entirely.

I have seen examples like this occur ad nauseam. Ch…

Resting and Restless

"Simul justus et peccator"
These words were spoken by Martin Luther to explain one of the strongest tensions in Christianity. "Simul" is the Latin word that we get our English word "simultaneous". "Justus" is the word that we get our word "just" or "righteous". And "Peccator" is the word that we get peccadillo from--or sin. The total translation is: "At the same time righteous and sinner." For Luther this accurately described the paradox that we experience as Christians. We are at the same time clothed in the righteousness of Christ, blameless before God--not of works that we have done, but according to His great mercies; and we are at the same time sinners. Paul explains this tension personally when he says in Romans 7:21-23: "So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging wa…