Like Heaven?

Just recently I finished the very controversial book LOVE WINS by Rob Bell. Lee Anne had read the book and mentioned things that got me intrigued. Took me a while to start the book and even longer to actually finish it. In the book Bell seeks to open a discussion for anyone interested on the often misunderstood and heated topic of heaven and hell. My struggle with these ideas started early in life, largely due to my tendency toward using stories to understand life. Our understanding of these “places” and the stories they create in our hearts do a lot to arrange the way we live.

Heaven and Hell: these two words bring to mind everything from babies with wings to large hairy biker guya.

Is this heaven or hell?

When driving the other day (ok I drive a lot every day) a song came on and for some reason I got this vision of humanity having a HUGE dance party with singing and music. A wedding cake style stage was rotating with children of all colors, nationalities and ages singing with the kind of enthusiasm that kids have when they love the person they are singing about. Circle upon circle of break dancers and pop-lockers surrounded the stage, all doing the kind of moves reserved for the Red Bull final rounds. Then instruments from saxophone to guitar marched around the whole event, hitting every note to the rhythm of the dancers. From out of view, came old men running into consecutive hand springs and flips across the front and back of this dancebration.

Without reason I turned, in my mind, to the right and caught the Messiah watching this whole thing with me.

He was smiling.
I was crying.

Then it struck me, this whole thing. All of humanity celebrating and creating this blend of musical dance party was the ONLY appropriate response to what He did for us. And He loved every moment, His smile was like seeing all the best moments of your life – only much, much better.

Could this be like Heaven?

Giving thought to heaven and what it means that our Savior said the Kingdom of Heaven is here makes a HUGE difference in the way everyday life is lived.

Romantic love fail – John on Marriage

Romance is a shaky foundation for marriage

Romantic love is the foundation upon which most relationships are built in our culture. Just turn on the TV and watch any show. The love stories always begin with two people looking to satisfy their emotional and physical and social urges through the opposite sex. We were brought up on boy meets girl and they fall into emotion/lust then want to keep feeling “this way” so they make small adjustments to stay together.

Listened to this series on Love and Marriage recently and it really challenged me that a different way is not only possible but necessary for us to have the healthy, stabile and ultimately satisfying marriages we long for. In this series, Voddie talks about the myth of romantic love and he is right on when saying that we have a very Greco-Roman approach to marriage, its about feelings and desires and not about the purposes of expanding His Kingdom through family.

Marriage must be built with purpose

Marriage must have a purpose. In Genesis we see our Creator making man and woman then giving them a reason to exist beyond just relatedness. Adam was to name the animals and expand the garden over the whole earth. This expantion was to be his work directly as well as the work of his children, which is where Eve comes in. She is the helpmate in both his creative task (naming the animals) and his practical task (expanding the garden, having children). Our purpose is to bring the Way of the Messiah, the good news of the freedom He offers, the design for His creation to the whole earth.

Where are the stories of man meets woman, man and woman assess each others character traits and readiness for marriage, man prepares his house (because he was already prepared emotionally and spiritually) then pursues woman into marriage? Where are the stories of man meets woman, man judges woman based on her ability to expand the mission man has for the Kingdom of Heaven, man pursues or abandons relationship based on her ability?

Now this is not even close to any relationship I have had, so don’t stop and spit in my blog face. My relationships were always the stumbling, selfish messes the kind that make for great celebrity headlines. Yet I hope. My daughter will likely be married (unless she is gifted with singleness for the Kingdom) and my longing for her to have a healthy marriage leads me to raise her expectations instead of lower them.

My marriage and my hope

My wife met me when I was broken yet somehow extremely arrogant (even though I moved home because I couldn’t afford rent). Still, my daughter can love a broken man without going through the pain I put my wife through time and again. Any boy that wants her hand needs to know I will hold him to the highest standard. The difference between me and some over-protective fathers? I will help him reach this standard, if he shows me that he understands that she is worth a lifetime of servant leadership. My standard isn’t perfection but a clinging to the Savior. If a potencial spouse is being changed, both in heart and action, toward being the image of Christ, then I am open to helping him (or her for any boys we might have) figure out and overcome any rough areas, like a mountain of debt.

 

Oh and romance? Plenty of romance once rings are on fingers AND without the baggage that we brought to our wedding day.

John and Lee Anne drinking wine
First date, still amazing that she wanted that mess