"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

A Promise about Kingdom Giving Worth Pondering

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)

When Jesus speaks of time, it’s usually with the language of “this present age” and “the age to come,” or “this present age” and “in the resurrection” (see Luke 20:34-35). 

The resurrection, the central tenet of Christian faith, separates “this present age” from “the age to come.” 

In this present age, when you and I are willing to give up assets, family, and income - for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s sake - He promises that we will receive a hundred times as much assets, family and income in this present age.  

I do not believe I have ever noticed this promise before. Typically, I have thought (and taught) that what a person gives in this age may only redound in blessing in the age to come. 

That’s not what Jesus says. 

Jesus promises that whatever you give in this age for the Kingdom will come back to you 100 fold in this age. Lest you think He’s thinking that what comes back your way is a “spiritual” blessing and not a “material” blessing, Jesus repeats the exact same nouns - houses, family, farms - in the 100 fold blessings you receive. 

Those who read my writings know that I have little sympathy for what is commonly known as the prosperity gospel and no patience for prosperity preachers. Their problem is the desire to “get rich” on the backs of the poor. Jesus condemns religious leaders who want riches for riches sake. 

However, I am a biblicist.  I believe what Jesus says.  So I am not going to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. 

Next time you feel impressed to give something for the Kingdom’s sake (to a person, a ministry, a church, etc.) consider this promise from Jesus. Give. Don’t worry about having enough to live. Give for the Kingdom and He’ll give you 100 fold in return.  

In other words, don’t worry about material or familial blessings “in this age.” Seek first His Kingdom and all these other things (home, family, income, etc...) are given to you by Him who promised a 100 fold blessing. Consider the lilies of the field, they neither toil nor worry, yet they are clothed in splendor more than Solomon was in his day. How much more does Jesus care for you.

Give to the Kingdom in this age and worry not about a thing in this age. 

He’s got your back.

Even in the persecutions that come your way for His sake. 

The Tube of Time and Eternity Outside the Tube

We are creatures of time.

We plan for the future, reflect on the past, and live in the present.

But what if time is created by the Creator and exists for only a season? What if there is a "beginning" to time and an "ending" to time? What if one could live "outside of time" (eternity) and from eternity actually enter the tube of time at different places at the will of the Creator?

Sound ridiculous?

It may not be as wild a thought as one might initially think.

A scientist named Albert Einstein (1879-1955) thought about time, space, and eternity entirely different than others before him. All except for Spirit-inspired biblical writers (as we shall see).

Albert Einstein wasn't as big a genius as many believe. But Einstein had a very curious mind. He thought about things that others rarely considered. Einstein took time to imagine. And, most importantly, Einstein wasn't afraid to think differently about things that others firmly believed.

As an example,  Einstein began imagining a person flying in space at the speed of light (e.g. Superman). Einstein asked himself a question:
"If a man flew at the speed of light with his arm fully outstretched and his hand holding a mirror in front of his face, would the flying person be able to see himself in the mirror?"
Strange question? Not to Einstein's curious mind. It was a difficult question to answer because the hypothetical flying man would be flying at the speed of light. So what about the speed of the light traveling from the man's eye to the mirror and back? How does the man's flying speed alter the speed of the light bouncing between the man's pupil and the mirror? Would the flying man be able to see himself flying?

For a decade (1895-1905), Einstein imagined possible answers to his hypothetical question. Again, Einstein imagined the answers. He used his mind, not his laboratory. Or maybe even better, his mind became his laboratory.

Einstein thought through whether the man would be able to see anything since he was flying at the speed the light, the same speed as the light traveling from the man's pupil to the mirror. He also considered whether the man's flying speed change the speed of light coming toward his eye from the mirror and distort the image? Einstein then pondered whether the man would see his face bigger or smaller than it actually was. Einstein also reflected in his mind what observers on the ground would see or not see looking at the flying man at the speed of light.

A Famous Formula

After a decade of thought, Einstein concluded that the speed of light was constant. In other words,  Einstein speculated that light never changed speed, regardless of the observer's movement toward or away from the source of light.  

So out popped Einstein famous formula E=mc² (energy equals mass times the constant speed of light

Up until Einstein's time, everyone thought that time and distance were constants, but the speed of light, like the speed of everything else in the universe, was variable. 

But Einstein was willing to think about the speed of light in ways different than everyone else. After making the assumption that the speed of light was constant, Einstein returned to the mathematical and electromagnetic equations that had already been worked out years before and plugged in the letter "C" (a constant) to represent the fixed speed of light (whatever it might be) and out came the formula E=mc².

Here is where it get's crazy.

IF the speed of light is constant, Einstein knew from math that time and distance had to be relative.

That means time and distance are not fixed. Hypothetically, someone would be able to advance in time or go back in time, as well as jump to long distances by folding time. That seemed crazy and unscientific, and actually, it was, because Einstein thought it rather than proved it.

Even so, in 1905, Einstein publicized his formula in a three-page paper entitled Does The Inertia Of A Body Depend On It's Energy Content?" The paper had no footnotes and not one single reference to support it.

The scientific establishment went nuts. Einstein, they said, was insane.

Twenty years later, when technology had advanced sufficiently for science to prove or disprove Einstein's theory of relativity, the science proved that Einstein's guess was correct.

The speed of light is constant.

Time and distance are relative.

I'll put this in another way that is consistent with the teaching of Scripture. People created by God in the universe are living in a tube of time that God created, with the Creator and His Kingdom both inside and outside this tube of time.
"And God said, "Light!" (Genesis 1:3). 
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." (Revelation 22:13)
"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." (Psalm 90:2)
"Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality." (I Corinthians 15:51-52)
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16). 
Time is linear. But eternity is outside of time. Therefore, anything eternal must be thought about differently than how we think of time. Outside of time doesn't mean "at the end of time." Outside of time means "outside the tube of time."

An Illustration of the Tube of Time

Imagine a tube of your creation. Suppose you are the One outside that tube. You determine to allow two ants to crawl into one end of the tube. Then, since you are outside the tube, you may choose to seal both ends of the ant tube. Inside, the ants begin their linear journey to the other end of the tube. Along the way, the ants procreate and other ants are born. After a season, the first two ants die, but a colony of ants now exists in the tube. As far as the ants are concerned, nothing exists outside the dimension of their tube, but they hear stories in their ant language passed down from the first two ants who had seen the One outside the tube.  The One outside the tube (you) knows the beginning from the end (of the tube). The One outside the tube is from everlasting (from before the beginning of the tube) to everlasting (form long after the end of the tube), completely outside the tube of ant time.

That's an illustration of a tube of time.

In the tube of time known by man, God created time and placed those He created "in His image, male and female" (Genesis 5:1-2) inside time.

The Creator exists outside of time.

But in "the fullness of time," (as measured inside the tube, and according to God's plan), the Creator entered the tube of time, coming as Man, to communicate eternity with us (see Galatians 4:4-7).

Humans live and die in the tube of time.

But the Creator raises from death those who die in time.

Some raised from the dead by the power of God will be given immortal life and live in His Kingdom for eternity (outside of time). Others will be raised to judgment and will be sentenced to die a "second death" (Revelation 20:14) which the Bible calls eternal death, to separate this second death from the ordinary death that occurred in the tube of time (see II Thessalonians 1:7-9 and Romans 6:23).

From the perspective of the one who dies in the tube of time, the resurrection is immediate. But since the resurrection takes one "outside of time" (see I Corinthians 15 and Luke 20:27-40), the resurrection marks the beginning of the eternity, literally called "age upon age" (Hebrews 1:8). Life immortal after the resurrection is lived in a dimension with which we are unaccustomed.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.
A Couple of Thoughts About Eternity

If resurrection to immortal life begins a life lived outside the tube of time, it might be interesting to consider a couple of questions:
1. Is it possible for those who've experienced the "ressurection to immortal life" to  live in the eternal Kingdom of Christ (heaven) outside of time but come back through a portal into the tube of time?
The Scriptures may give a "Yes" to that question.

Moses and Elijah appeared in time on the Mountain of Transfiguration (see Matthew 17) from their homes outside of time.

Certain Old Testament men and women of faith who'd been raised to immortal life at the general resurrection came back into the tube of time when Christ was raised from the dead (see Matthew 27:52).  Jesus is the Firstfruits of resurrection, and the general resurrection is "yet to come" - that is from our perspective "in time." However, the resurrection takes God's people "outside of time" - above the "tube of time" if you will. So it seems that God determined to confirm His Son's resurrection by allowing "saints of old" (Matthew 27:52) to enter time from their eternal homes to confirm Christ and His eternal Kingdom to the early disciples.

The Scriptures also teach that we are likely to entertain "messengers unawares" in this life (Hebrews 13:2).  These messengers from eternity can be angelic who come into our sphere of space-time as guardians and protectors to those who've been ordained to "eternal life" (Hebrews 1:14), but it is also possible that since the word translated "angels" is actually "messengers," God could send a message to this world from those "in the resurrection."

So it may be wise to consider this world as a multi-dimensional epoch movie with both script and orchestration written and conducted by the Creator. God knows the end from the beginning. And as the eternal and immortal Creator who exists both inside and outside the tube of His creation, He can send "in time" His people who've been gifted with immortality. The resurrection takes His people "outside of time." It could be possible that some might be allowed - at the discretion of their heavenly Father -  to go back in time into this world's events to accomplish His purposes for the glory of God and the good of His people in "the tube of time."

Sound crazy? Not if time and distance (space) are relative and Light is constant.
2. Is it possible that death is called "sleep" in the Scriptures because the resurrection is the fountainhead of the eternal?
We lean toward thinking of eternity linearly and have difficulty considering eternal things existing outside the tube of time. If the Creator and His Kingdom are immortal and eternal, it means that Christ's Kingdom is outside the tube of time.
"The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His Kingdom rules over all" (Psalm 103:19). 
Yet, for our sakes, He enters time. His Kingdom culminates for us (at least from our perspective) outside of time (e.g. "forever and ever") when He raises us from the dead and gives us eternal life. The Bible teaches that the resurrection is when  "man's last enemy (death) is destroyed" (I Corinthians 15:26).

We are told Jesus Christ "waits for His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet" (Hebrews 10:13).

"Waiting" is something that only occurs in the tube of time. Jesus conquered death in His resurrection. But before He ascended He said, "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear My voice and come out - some to the resurrection of life and some to the resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28).

Jesus waits - in terms of the tube of time - for the general resurrection. He's the firstfruits. His people are the full harvest. The general resurrection is coming "in the tube of time."

But time is shattered at the general resurrection. All are raised by God to His Kingdom outside of time. Those in Christ are gifted with immortal life to live forever outside of the dimension of space and time as we know it. Those apart from Christ are sentenced at the judgment to an eternal death.

There are some practical implications of seeing the resurrection to immortal life as an event in "the tube of time" which inaugurates immortal life "outside of time" (John 5:28). 

One implication is how we think about "heaven" inside the tube of time.

Often we think of loved ones who are in heaven "now" (thinking as one in the tube of time). But if we all wait for the general resurrection, then when we think of heaven we must always consider ourselves with our loved ones outside the tube of time (in eternity). There's nothing wrong with thinking of your loved ones in eternity now - outside of time - but you must imagine yourself with them, for you are!

The resurrection is the transition from inside the tube of time into the eternal. From our perspective, it happens "in time," but from an eternal perspective, it is outside the tube of time.

Obviously, it is impossible to "prove" anything I've said in this post. I'm just thinking through and imagining - like Einstein did from 1895-1905.

God's Word is the science of eternity.

Because we are not yet experiencing life outside of time, our minds must become the laboratory until God takes us to the lab. 

Speaking Freely, Boldly, and Confidently of Jesus

If you've ever thought about telling others what Jesus has done for you or explaining to others what Jesus can do for them, you've probably felt inner hesitancy. "What will they think?" "Should I not say anything?"

Speaking freely, boldly, and confidently of Jesus is like lighting a fuse. What follows will always be transformative. Jesus either rebuilds the broken or crushes the proud.  If you want to make a difference in this world for the Kingdom, speak of Jesus freely.
Here's an example:
Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
Peter and John had been going throughout Jerusalem after Pentecost, speaking freely to the people, priests, Temple guards, and Sadducees who came up to them "greatly disturbed because they (Peter and John) were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead" (Acts 4:2). Jews were believing Peter and John's Good News about Jesus Christ because they were seeing miracles happen throughout the city, including Peter and John healing a 40-year-old lame man who'd been crippled from birth (Acts 3).  Peter and John were transformative people. They were changing lives through their proclamation of Jesus Christ.

The Jewish religious leaders had them arrested.
"By what power, or in what name, have you done this?”
 Peter stands before the Sanhedrin in defense of his and John's actions and declares:
"Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. Jesus is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief Corner Stone.  And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:8-12).
Read Peter's proclamation carefully again.

It's not politically correct. Though the messengers loved all people, their message was not embracing of all faiths. On the contrary, Peter and John declared an exclusive message. All other faiths but faith in Jesus will not deliver people from their broken condition; all other faiths but faith in Jesus will not bring people to right standing before the Creator; all other faiths but faith in Jesus will not lead to immortal life.
"By this name (Jesus) this man stands... Jesus is the stone rejected by you, but has become the chief Corner Stone...And there is salvation in no one else but Jesus; for there is no other name under heaven but the name of Jesus by which we must be saved." 
That's bold speech. That's free speech. That's confidence in the message.

And that is exactly what the Jewish religious said about Peter's proclamation of Jesus:
"Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
The word translated confidence in Acts 4:13 is the Greek word parrésia. This word - translated into English as freedom, boldness or confidence - means the power of freedom in speech. This Greek word refers to a speech or talk given with so much resolve, confidence, and freedom that the hearer remembers the message because the messenger's bold delivery makes the message memorable.

Could it be that what is missing in our Kingdom message is the parrĂ©sia that characterized the speeches of Peter and John?

When it comes to Jesus, don't worry about political correctness. Speak freely, boldly, and confidently. The Savior transforms by both the content of the message  (the Gospel) as well as the character of the messenger (boldness).

OU/OSU Bedlam Nothing Compared to Bethlehem

Rachelle and I are headed to the Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State football game in Stillwater, Oklahoma. This game has Heisman Trophy, Big 12 Championship, and even National Championship implications. Living in northwest Oklahoma, people are either avid Oklahoma fans or Oklahoma State fans, seldom both.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have played football every year since the late 1890’s. The series is called “Bedlam.”

Bedlam means "a scene of mad confusion.”

Bedlam definitely characterizes this football series. The word was first used to describe an OU/OSU football game exactly 100 years ago (1917). A reporter for the Daily Oklahoman wrote about the response in Stillwater to OSU’s surprising victory over OU in 1917:
"So surprised were students, faculty members and citizens when they first heard the 9 to 0 victory story from Oklahoma City that confirmation was necessary. Then bedlam broke loose. Nine long shrieks of the college power plant whistle told the score. Guns were fired. The antique, dust-covered bell in old Central building belfry chimed for the first time in years. Literally the town was painted white. On buildings, sidewalks, windows and other places, the score was painted. A huge figure nine and a tiny naught." - 1917 The Daily Oklahoman
Most people know what bedlam means, but few know the etymology (origin) of the word. 

Bedlam is the colloquial way English speaking people pronounced Bethlehem since the 10th century.  By A.D. 1418 even the spelling of Bethlehem became Bedlam among the English.

Yes, that’s right. Bedlam is actually the word Bethlehem. 

The place where Jesus the Messiah was born is the word used to describe the football series between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. 

But why does bedlam mean “a scene of mad confusion” or pandemonium or chaos?

Here’s why. 

The most famous insane asylum for 500 years was Saint Marys of Bethlehem in London, simply called “Bedlam” Hospital by the English. Again, Bedlam was the way Middle English folks (A.D. 500 - A.D. 1500) pronounced Bethlehem. Founded in A.D. 1247 as a priory, Bethlehem was first mentioned as a hospital in A.D. 1330 and became a lunatic hospital A.D. 1402.  Eventually Bethlehem (Bedlam) was converted to a civic lunatic asylum on dissolution of the monasteries in A.D. 1547. 

Everyone in the English speaking world knew Bedlam Hospital was a place of confusion. The word Bedlam eventually became synonymous for “a place of confusion, chaos or pandemonium.” 

And everyone knows the OU vs. OSU Bedlam football series means chaos and confusion as well.

I’m writing this before we leave for the game. When it’s all over, some Oklahomans will be disappointed and depressed, while others will be exuberant and excited. This game means so much to so many. 

But let me take a moment to remind us all that the real confusion in life comes from ignoring the One born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. 

Football games and seasons come and go. 

The real bedlam comes from missing the significance of Bethlehem.