The Bible’s First Inning

Genesis 1 is the story of God’s homeruns.  Every time God is up to bat, He creates ex nihlo (out of nothing), and what He creates is very good.

The crowd is almost too shocked to keep cheering.  Surely there must be a catch somewhere.  Surely there is something that God cannot do.  Don’t all stories have a problem?  What problem will God have to overcome?

And yet, there is nothing in Genesis 1 that would bring us to conclude God has any sort of problem at all, or that He needs any sort of problem at all.  His creative processes are so marvelous that they need no mistake to make them exciting.  In fact, any such error from God would ruin His perfect inning, prohibiting the perfect creation that we find our hearts so longing for.

Will God actually succeed?  Will He be able to smash homeruns on every single pitch?

The unquestionable answer Genesis 1 leaves us with is yes.  Yes, God will get homeruns every single time.  Usually, we long for variety in a game, but we find ourselves here (as our hearts fall in love with a God who acknowledges us on His first time up to bat–waves to us even!), filling with deeper and deeper joy each time the ball flies out of the stadium.  There is something deeply personal about God’s homeruns, and we intuitively know He is doing this for us.

We have the astonishing inkling, so uncanny we’re almost sure it can’t be true, that we are actually going to find ourselves stepping up to the mound very soon.  But why?  Why would God share His field with us?  As Genesis 1 unfolds, He proves time and time again that He can do everything well–alone.  Why would He want us?

Could it be that God delights in giving away adventure, creativity, and the choice and power to love . . . as free gifts . . . because His very nature is to be good?

He has hit the biggest homerun of the inning.

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! (Genesis 1:31, NLT)

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Habits and rabbits

Rabbit competition, something like Best in Show.

I’ve had a lot of habits over the years that were habits just because they were habits.

A rabbit is a rabbit because it’s a rabbit, but a habit doesn’t have to be a habit because it’s a habit.

Christ holds the power to break any habit in our lives, no matter how habitual it’s been.

through love make it your habit to serve one another. (Galatians 5:13c, ISV)

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Photograph by Mike Coghlan, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/mikecogh/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Lumpy Malt-O-Meal and the real best

cookingI crave lumpy Malt-O-Meal.  It is a severe character flaw I blame totally on my father.

Growing up, Dad made Saturday morning breakfast for me and him.  He usually made Malt-O-Meal.  I never knew Malt-O-Meal was not supposed to have lumps in it until my mom made it one morning.

“You made it wrong,” I informed her (critically).  “There are no lumps.”

Ever after, whenever I was sick and Dad was at work, Mom would try, very hard, to make lumpy Malt-O-Meal for me.  I am sad to say she never learned how.  She thought the trick was to not stir the Malt-O-Meal going into the microwave, but apparently there was way more culinary skill to it than that.  The secret of lumpy Malt-O-Meal stays with my father because, even today, I cannot make it.  And I don’t know any cooking school that would teach me how to do it.

Sometimes I believe something is the best just because it’s the most familiar.

But that doesn’t mean it’s the true best.

An unlikely woman gave up belief in what she had believed her whole life was best . . . so she could receive the true best.

So [Jesus] came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:5-15, NASB)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.


State of Depression

I used to live in the state of Depression.  I didn’t want to move from there because, after all, that was where I lived.  It was home.  It was most familiar.   Self-help did not work because I just grew more interested in depression the more I studied it and more sympathetic to myself.  If anything, self-help meant I helped myself build a bigger house in the state of Depression.

(State boundaries are fiercely fought over and subject to change.)

Even when I really wanted to move, I didn’t know where to go.  I’d always end up driving to some place worse.  Don’t ever drive to the eastern border of Depression, because you end up right in Anger and you have to pay a big toll to boot.

And don’t ever go west, because you’ll run right into the state of Self-Indulgence and probably live in the city of Debt.

And don’t go north, whatever you do, because there’s a fork in the road and you’ll either wind up in Confusion or Hypocrisy.

But whatever you do, whatever you do, don’t drive south or you’ll be sure to hit the terrible traffic in the state of Panic and you’ll never find your way back out.

What I needed was a plane ride right out of the state of Depression, right out of the country of Misery, as a matter of fact.

And that is just what I got through Jesus Christ.

“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” –Jesus

Matthew 11:28, CEB

Genesis 1:17

And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth. (Genesis 1:17, ESV)

Outside my high, arched window is a giant street light.  I love it.  It reminds me of my Glo-Worm buddy I used to have, except my Glo-Worm was about a foot long and this light is probably like 40 Glo-Worms stacked on top of each other.

My Glo-Worm doesn’t work anymore and it’s very sad.  I just loved the glow in his sweet, sleepy little face.  And when his face lit up, it was actually warm.  Light and warmth are irrevocably melded.

I don’t think usually of God creating a cosmic nightlight, but that’s just exactly what He did.  He totally changes our ceiling from day to night, giving us new beauty and wonder to look up at and know He is there.  Almost as if, if we could have doubted there was God when we just had the sun, we can’t when He adds the moon and stars, and, even if we can still write that off as astronomical chance, He gives us the sunset.

But the greatest gift of the skies, I have no doubt, is the sunrise.

These celestial gifts that

give light on the earth

are just unbelievable if we would stop to think about them because they tell, as best as nature possibly can, the story of Christ’s death and resurrection.  Without even the Bible, a child can understand death and resurrection through the rising and setting of the sun.  And every day, every single day (except for one miraculous time in the Bible), the sun has risen and set . . . giving the story, thousands of years ago, of what Christ would come to earth to do. . . and giving the story, today, of what Christ has done.

The moon can only reflect the light of the sun.  To me, the moon is like the old covenant of the Old Testament.  Animal sacrifices and living by the ten commandments were only possible because One was coming who would fulfill sin’s need for sacrifice and fully live out the ten commandments.

The sun rises, and that reminds me how Christ was born on earth.  Before, the world was living in darkness, with hope in the reflection of who Christ would be.  Now, the world had Jesus and no longer needed a reflection of Him.

The sun is the light of the day, as Christ is the Light of the world.  Light is hope, clarity, and right thinking.  When Christ was on the earth, He revealed the Kingdom of Heaven, revealed Himself as the Son of God, revealed how to please God by following the Son of God, and revealed His right to heal, judge, forgive, and command.

The sun sets at night, as Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world.  The stars appear after the sun has set, and the stars represent the people who will receive Jesus’ atonement through the cross.

The moon rises again and every Old Testament prophesy is reflected in light of the life of Jesus Christ.  The Old Testament shines with the fulfillment of the promise as it has never shined before.  Now we can see that the moon was only ever possible because of the sun!  The sun was where the moon got its light, just as Jesus’ New Covenant is where the Old Covenant got its life!  As if the sun was killed by the very people who thought they were hoping for its light, Jesus was killed by the very people who thought they were looking forward to His coming!

And here is the best, best, best part of all: the sunrise.  As the sun rises in the sky, so did Christ rise from the grave.  Sin is defeated, once for all, and the Light reigns forever.

And every day, the story is told over, because God wants all to look to His Son and find life forever.  You can’t find salvation through only looking at the sunset and sunrise.  But you can find a reminder of the greatest mystery and victory of all time.

And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth. (Genesis 1:17, ESV)

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Photograph by Elvert Barnes, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/perspective/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.