Only two parents

There are only two parents we can run to: God or Satan.

“You are doing the things your own father does.” [Jesus said]

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” (John 8:41:47, NIV)

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Published in: on July 28, 2012 at 3:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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What’s the deal with stars?

For centuries, stars have been gems of controversy.  They’ve been worshiped, tagged by evolutionists, interpreted by astrologers, analyzed by astronomers, and veiled by big cities.  We’re even told now by some that our bodies are made from star dust.

So what are stars, really?  What are their purpose?

All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. (Isaiah 47:13, NIV)

I don’t want to put my hope in a group of stars that, when you play connect-the-dots, might resemble a man with a club . .  or the Jetson’s robot, so far as I can tell.

Do stars tell the course of the future?  If God has placed messages within them, they must be for angels or for His people when they get to Heaven, because astrologists make as accurate of predictions with the stars as I would if I used Cute Yellow Bunny who is VERY cute but has absolutely no fortune telling ability.

“I am really, really cute. But I do not predict the future.”

Why would God have revealed in Genesis that He made the stars “also”?  If we are so inclined towards star-worship, and stars are presented as only an “also” by the Creator God . . what does that tell us about the Creator God who made them?
   
Adam, it turns out, was not made from the dust of stars but from a dust God thought was better, dust from a place, in fact, God values more than all the stars: earth
    
There is, however, something marvelous that God gave to a little band of astrologers consumed by the stars, a group that had probably been raised their whole lives to worship the celestial lights.
   
He gave the star of Bethlehem.
   
. . . Something happened to the astrologers when they saw that star.  Something that no astrologer could ever have predicted.  Because, when they saw that star . . rather than bowing down in worship to it . . they realized the star was itself worshiping.
   
And so those astrologers set out to find who the star revealed as worthy of worship.
   
And who they found was Christ.

And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. (Matthew 2:9b-11a, NLT)

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Cute Yellow Bunny had no idea he was going to be in this blog.  Neither did I. For anyone wondering where my aunt got this adorable little critter at, it was on Etsy.  The store is pinkTopic, Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Published in: on July 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Genesis 1:20a

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” (Genesis 1:20, ESV)

Precious.

Intricate.

Soft.

Hydro-acrobats.

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” (Genesis 1:20, ESV)

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Photograph of dolphin by Semi Sweet, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/23150942@N04/

Photograph of leafy sea dragon by Shezamm, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/shezamm/

Photograph of starfish by Josh Berglund, profile onhttp://www.flickr.com/people/tyrian123/

Photograph of sea turtle by Kathryn McGrath, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/kathrynmcg/

Photographs are under Creative Commons License.
See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.
Published in: on July 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Gift of God

I got to see the little girl I sponsor through Compassion in Guatemala last week, Helen.  I was surprised to find that Helen is very much like I was as a kid.  She pulled me around like a tugboat and we went up and down the bouncy house slide (nearly) a trillion times.  She crawled through every possible space of the play centers, whether they were intended to be crawled through or not–again, reminding me of myself–hid underneath the ball pit to spring up in surprise, wanted to win every single goal in air hockey, climbed the wrong way up the slide, nibbled on her lunch so she could have more time to play, kicked the soccer ball about 30 degrees off from the goal–so hard that our translator had to keep fetching it–and hit people with the ping pong ball as much as she hit the other side of the net.  She was like a bazooka of confetti.

But at gift-giving time, she dissolved into a shy, stiff statuesque little girl.  From time to time, she would give a faint, “Gracias.”  It was as if the gifts scared her.  And I think that’s pretty close to the truth.

I gave her an American girl doll, Hello Kitty backpack, candy necklace, and Beanie Baby in the morning.  We sat at a table.  Helen replied by giving me all the barrettes out of her hair.

In the afternoon, I gave her a rolling suitcase with pencils & colored pencils, shampoo, little toys, a jump rope, stickers, Hello Kitty t-shirts, hair brushes, a mirror, a little Hello Kitty playset, soap, a game, kids’ jewelery, and lots of hair bows, ties, barrettes, and some soft headbands.  I could never have gotten all these things without my mom, who sprung for most of it.  I knew this might be the only time I ever get to see Helen in this life.

Helen didn’t have any more barrettes to give me.  In fact, she didn’t have anything left to give me.  She didn’t have a necklace or bracelets.  Her little coat wouldn’t have fit me.  She’d given all she’d had away.  She became almost frozen in intimidation.  Grandma did most of the thanking.  Helen looked at me intently, but never asked any questions about the gifts, and never said anything but the perfunctory, “Gracias.”  In short, she was overwhelmed.

The one thing she did do in the gift giving time was one of the sweetest moments of the entire day–in fact, for me I think it was actually the very sweetest.  I was sitting on the bench and she was sitting on the bench, and there was a gap in between us.  With no translation needed, Helen patted the bench right beside her.  I slid over closer.

It was just exactly what I wanted her to offer.

I could not have imagined a more perfect analogy from my life for how we are to respond to the gifts of God (although it is an imperfect analogy in the sense that I actually did very little for Helen).

If you are a believer in Jesus, you have for sure and certain felt overwhelmed at some point by the gifts of God.  The gifts get bigger and more overwhelming the longer we know Him.  We find things in the suitcase He’s packed for us like grace, peace, forgiveness, restoration, redemption, freedom, endurance, patience, intimacy, thoughtfulness, protection, and love.  It seems like way more than we can handle.

In the morning of our lives, God opens a backpack and we find ourselves with lungs that breathe, a heart that beats, fingers that touch, a mouth that laughs.  We see a world around us, first through our mother’s cradling arms–the mother God especially gave us–and then through our toddling legs, and then streaming by us as we run through open fields.  We pet kitty cats and wade in oceans and stare at the sun at sunset until our parents tell us not to.  We gawk at zoo animals and wonder at earthworms and nearly faint the first time we see a train.  All around us is God’s wonder–and we don’t know how to respond.

We try to respond with our talents, our gifts.  We might not be giving them to God, but we are giving them in response to what we see around us.  We paint galaxies on heavy canvas and try to sell them for big dollars.  That will somehow pay back the cosmic blessing we got the first time we saw a star.  We write novels on relationships.  That will somehow pay back the feeling we got the first time we blew a kiss at someone we had a crush for.  We produce movies made from footage of rainforests.  That will somehow pay back the excitement of watching a leopard prowl its way through the underbrush for the first time.

But we never even get close.  We never can pay it back.  We see this world of wonder around us–yes, with suffering from sin, but let us not forget the overwhelming gifts from God–and we wonder, What can I do in reaction to all this?  We could earn 10’s on a diving board to bring a gold medal home for our country.  We could bake the best apple pie anyone ever tasted.  We could find the perfect sofa to match our living room, the best composition ever written for the feeling you get when you stand on the edge of a canyon, the keenest photograph of a father penguin shielding an egg.  But it still wouldn’t be enough.

And then the afternoon comes, and God comes up to us with a rolling suitcase.  And we think, What on earth is this?

He opens up His suitcase and we see, for the first time, the love of Christ.  It hits us like tropical sunlight in Antarctica or a sea in the middle of a desert or an underground hideaway on a volcanic mountain.  It is overwhelming, it is beyond human understanding, it seems, in actuality, insane.  Insane that God would care enough about us to give His Son for us.  Insane that He would be willing to forgive all our sins, every single one.  Insane that He would ask to be our Father.

The feeling is something like being drowned in grace.  Some swim away screaming, spitting out mouthfuls of grace as they make their escape.  Others float carefully on the surface, keeping away from the grace that would change them if they ever went under.  And then there are those who plunge in, drinking down lung fulls of grace, choking on love, suffocating on mercy.

It is a crazy feeling.  And when you’ve experienced it, when you realize you’re forgiven, you’re loved, that God is giving you gift after gift from His eternal Kingdom, and most of all, when you understand that Christ wants to live in your heart and protect you from Hell . .

You know there is nothing you can ever, ever do to pay it back.  You have nothing left to give.  You spent your barrettes–your talents, your gifts–just celebrating creation.  But what is this?  How can you ever repay God’s Son?

I can’t.  I know I can’t.

And so I pat the seat next to me for God to come closer.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:18, NLT)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23, NLT)

On clouds & God’s hand

If you read my blog, On mortality, planes, railroad tracks, and bakeries, you probably remember that I am afraid of flying.  Round trip to Guatemala and back, I had to make 6 flights.

On my last flight back, the moon was placing twilight on the sun’s shoulders like a familiar petticoat.  I had already overcome my fear of the window seat and even looked down on Mexico and Guatemala and the surreal blue ocean as we had flown into Guatemala.  I’d gazed at every rooftop as we’d made our descent, trying to lock every house in my mind.  The houses in Guatemala are unexpectedly beautiful: old, stone-looking, wild flowers spilling out of slightly crumbling walls and gaps in the rooftop, colors not found on the usual American rainbow spectrum.  The house colors somehow remind you of the sea, the Hispanic culture, the warmish weather, the gregarious hospitality, and the striking olive skin, coffee brown eyes, and silky black hair of the Guatemalans all at once.

But even the hills sprouting with trees and slightly wavy rows of houses on our way to landing in Guatemala hadn’t been enough to get me to look thousands of feet below from my airplane window, but the courage God gave me was.  Once I’d looked, I’d found I didn’t need to keep the window shut on the aerial world anymore.  So on my 7:40 flight home, after a short nap, I opened the window enough to see the falling sunset, but not enough to disturb the woman next to me reading a paperback novel.

The sky took my breath away.  The clouds were like their own secret world, and I was among them.  If I didn’t absolutely, positively know they were only air, I would be convinced I could leap out of the plane and land among the cottony fields.

The sunset seemed to encourage such daring, with its streaming streak of sun-licked light.  The world outside was like a new planet, somewhere a very tired person could rest and a very hyper person could burn off energy.  I could have been both at once.  I’d been up since 4 that morning for the first flight . . and, having entered into my third time zone for the day, I was, in a way, ready to lie upon the sheepy beds.  But then, in another way, I was ready to run, run, run, barefoot across the dandelion puff fields.

The sun was totally enchanting as it said goodbye, as if trying to make sure we would miss it when it disappeared for the night, and wait expectantly for its tomorrow return.

And as I sat looking out on this fragile aerial world, I could every once in a while catch a glimpse, and sometimes a bigger glimpse, of the gasping reality of the world below.  It reminded me of how C.S. Lewis described Jill looking down upon the world of Narnia from a cliff of Aslan’s country.  Looking down, imagining the depth of free-falling air, was enough impossibility to cause me to wonder if I could really be so high up.

As I gazed at my cloud world, and the waving-goodbye sun, I thought something like, If I didn’t know any better about the clouds (that is, that they’re air), and I could only trust one, Would I pick God’s hand for protection . . or the clouds?

Right away, I knew the obvious answer: The clouds.

They looked so thick, so secure, so safe, so soft, so trustworthy.  I would certainly want to trust the visible clouds to catch our plane over the invisible, very surreal God’s hand.  After all, God the Father does not really have a hand.  I’ve heard of anthropomorphism before.  God’s hand is a literary term to try to understand God’s protection in my life.  That certainly doesn’t seem as safe as big, fluffy mounds of fields so gentle you are almost positive they could never possibly dream of hurting you.

And it’s true enough–clouds won’t hurt you.

But they also won’t protect you.

As inviting as they look, as secure, as stately, as friendly . . they will simply let you drop through.

Everything around us is like that.  Places, yes, but things and people, too.  A television won’t save your life from a robber.  A friend can’t protect you from cancer.  Your favorite tree won’t shelter you from a hurricane.  All around us, all the time, life always falls through for us.  It’s like grasping at clouds.  We reach out with frantic hands for a social network, new countries we haven’t visited, a paid off mortgage, the newest restaurants, the greatest hobbies, the best of friends, the sweetest of marriages, the most successful children, the greatest schools, the finest investment, the most scandalous news, the fastest-growing industries, the cheapest gas prices, the easiest way to pay off our credit cards, the newest movies, the most powerful pharmaceuticals, the most attractive models, the most clever new idea, the highest quality product, the fastest lane at the grocery store, the shortest customer service wait, the quickest retirement, the slowest way to age.  We grasp and we grasp and we grasp and we grasp.  We reach to overcome fears, find new highs, explore new lows, fixate on evil, magnify ‘good luck’, avoid trouble, hurry through pain, overpower sadness, win the most wealth.  In short, we overwhelm ourselves running from the hand of God.  We flee from His hand for any cloud we can possibly find.

But God’s hand is still out.

Holding the plane, yes . . and far nearer.  God is pushing air into our nostrils, filling our lungs with air . . enabling the digestion of every bit of food to ever reach our blood stream . . carrying every thought from our natural brain to our supernatural mind . . working in our pancreas, kidneys, liver, intestines . . moving our fingers and toes when we want them to . . creating the first heartbeat, keeping the heart awake to the last beat . . holding every cell, every atom, every electron, every tiniest bit of the physical world imaginable together . . . . .

If we could only look with our souls instead of our eyes, we would see that God is insignificant in nothing in our lives.  We would see that all the times we pick to hold onto cloud, God is holding onto the plane.

I used to think the first real time God showed His love to humanity was at the cross.  I now see that the first time God showed His love to humanity was when He reached into the dust and formed the first of us, the first magnificent mystery of a body-and-soul.  The angels are like souls.  The animals are like bodies.  But don’t miss that when God made us, He wove together body and soul, a masterpiece of physical and spiritual paints on a canvas of dust in what He called mankind.

If I had only seen.  This alone was enough to call every soul of the world to Him.  But we didn’t see.  None of us did.  We were blinded by the very real presence of time–the consequence of sin.

Time, in and of itself, can’t hurt you.  It’s simply a cloud.  It can’t hurt you.  But it can’t protect you.

It can’t protect you from death.

You, like me, and everyone else in the world, fall through time.

We can’t hold onto it.  We can’t even slow ourselves down on our journey through it.  We can grasp for it all our lives, but we’ll never catch grip of it.  We are falling.

God, and God alone, slows our fall.  He does not stop our fall, or we would imagine we were gods.  But He holds us in His hand, delaying instant death (and revealing Himself even to those who never take a single breath out of the womb), dropping us slow enough that we have time to find Him, but fast enough that we realize we need to find Him.

The only thing that separates us from everlasting death is the hand of God.  And yet most of us will spend our lives struggling to release ourselves from His grip, kicking at His palm, biting at His fingers, fighting His grip to try to reach clouds or the hard ground of the consequence of our sin, far below.

The Son of God on the cross is the most visible way God could ever have revealed His hand.  His hand could not protect us more than from eternal death.  Christ, the Son of God, gave Himself up to be dropped from the hand of God, held onto no clouds along the way, reached for no sin . . but paid for every single second of fall we deserved for our sin.

Eternity has long since slipped through our fingers.

But not through Christ’s.

He has held on, by the power of God-perfection.

And He is ready to hold us.

. . . Flying just doesn’t scare me much anymore.  Neither does spending time in my house.  Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, whoever I am or am not with, God is with me.  Holding me up.

And the greatest joy of my life is knowing that I have asked Him to do just that for all of eternity.

“The only one who has ever gone up to heaven is the One who came down from heaven—the Son of Man.

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, the Son of Man must also be lifted up. So that everyone who believes can have eternal life in him.

“God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him. People who believe in God’s Son are not judged guilty. Those who do not believe have already been judged guilty, because they have not believed in God’s one and only Son.”

(Jesus, John 3:13-18, NCV)

The favorite thing about my trip to Guatemala . . .

Meeting my sponsored child in Guatemala. The one & only Helen.

Favorite thing about my trip, hands down: falling in deeper love with God.  (Jesus, You rock.)

On mortality, planes, railroad tracks, and bakeries

I do not like flying.  I know that flying is supposed to be safer than driving.  But when I sit on the plane and smell those stale, blue-smelling carpeted seats and feel the stagnant air and see people all around me who don’t look like they can fly a plane anymore than me, and when the people sitting in the emergency exits don’t look like they are listening to how to open the emergency exits . . and when the plan takes off and the wheels buzz and the plane lurches up in the air with far less grace than even a tiny, fragile hummingbird . . and when I’m thousands of feet in the air with a) no parachute b) no parachute available c) no way to get through the teeny windows even if there were parachutes available and d) garbled messages from the pilot and attendants that could be saying our engine is going out or that pretzels are about to be served . . . . . . I think of my mortality.

It’s true that, when standing in Build-a-Bear workshop, I don’t think of my mortality.  It’s true that, when sitting under the arbor of a patisserie in our city that serves salted caramel ice cream, I don’t think much of my mortality, either.  It’s true that, when I’m checking facebook to see how many people “liked” something I said and who they were, I am not usually thinking of my mortality at that time either.  But when I am on a plane, way up high where I don’t like to be, I think of my mortality.

I am like a cat in a swimming pool when I fly.

I don’t like it.

Other than when I get sick, it’s the one time I drink tomato juice.  It makes the flight feel kinda like . . having the flu.  I notice how stiff the airline napkins are.  I keep an eye on the seatbelt sign.  If it’s lit, there might be turbulence.  I notice the little headphone jack in the arm of the seat that I don’t suppose works anymore because no one uses the airline radios anymore.  I like to seat away from the window.  And I like the window to be closed.

I worry about bad things that could happen.

At take-off, I look around to see if people are using their cell phones when they are supposed to be off, possibly interfering with air traffic control.  I want security to take them down.  I think about a scene I saw in a movie where the oxygen masks were released, the power flicked on and off, and how scary that was.  I think about the bathroom somewhere on the plane that, to me, should have a toxic danger sign up and a high-wall fence around it.  I think about how I could possibly use my foam seat as a floatation device, and how that wouldn’t do any good at all if the plane was locked shut.

Most of all, though, I think of falling.  I am so afraid of falling.  I think of the plane going down, down, down, and how long it would take to hit the earth.  I think about that drop feeling in my stomach.

It’s true that I think about my mortality when I’m on a plane.  The funny thing is, I am really not in any greater or less danger than when I’m stuffing a bear at Build-a-Bear workshop or sampling an ice cream cone on a sunny evening or surfing facebook for approval.

See, God holds my life in His hands.  All the time.  There isn’t any force bigger than God.  God, and only God, will decide when my life is over.  No one can give me more time than God gives, and no one can give me less than God allows, either.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:27, NIV)

One way of looking at this is that I’m totally at His mercy.  That’s true.  Another way of looking at this is that God won’t let anything happen to me until He’s finished His purpose in me, because I believe in Him.  That’s true, too.

I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return. (2 Timothy 1:12b, NLT)

I remember years ago my mom & I in the car, following my dad’s car.  I don’t remember where we were headed, but it was getting dark.  We came to this railroad track that is pretty hidden away, without the robotic arm that comes down or flashing lights.  It is one of those tracks you could miss if you weren’t paying attention.

Dad didn’t look both ways before he crossed the tracks–he just drove through.

From our view in the car behind him, he came close to being killed.  A train was soon streaming through.  He didn’t see it.  We did.

My mom could not believe it.  In a second, my dad’s life could have been taken–from our perspective.

Fast forward a dozen or so years, and, talking about a Dr. Seuss book while we were in Washington D.C. on vacation, my mom realized something I didn’t.  Dad’s slurred words were one of the first signs of ALS, the disease that would take his life.  I still remember standing on that subway in D.C., holding onto the don’t-fall pole, my dad talking about how he wanted to buy that Dr. Seuss book for me to remember the trip . . and never thinking for a second that his life was in danger.

Crossing the railroad tracks, I had thought I’d seen my dad almost taken away from me.  I hadn’t.  Standing on the train, I was seeing my dad taken away from me, and I didn’t know it.

Mortality . . isn’t something you can predict.  A “deathbed” can be gotten up from to live another fifty years.  And, in a normal moment, you can be in the last fifty seconds of your life.

–Just knowing I am totally at God’s mercy isn’t enough.  I remember watching Disney’s Hercules many years ago, and the mean women who were goddesses or something just waiting to cut people’s “life threads”–a thread that represented that person’s life–with a pair of scissors.

Hey, that isn’t God.  God wants us to have life–lots of life.

If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (Jesus, quoted in John 10:9b-10, ESV)

We can’t have all the life we’d like in this world, because this world has been wrecked by our sin.  All of us are going to have to die, sooner or later, unless Jesus comes back first.

I might die on the plane tomorrow, that’s true–but I could also die in my sleep tonight of a condition I didn’t even know I had.  I could be killed in a car wreck on the way to the airport.  Or I could find myself at the end of a long flight safely on the ground.  All those things could happen.

But because I trust in God, I don’t have to worry about which one is going to happen.  I know God loves me.  I don’t have to worry about when He decides my time here is up.  Because I know He loves me.

It would be something like this.  Suppose that there is a bakery in town that I go to every day to pick up breakfast.  The bakery has more baked goods on the menu than I could ever try.  The baker always hands me a brown paper sack when I come in, but I never know what I’m getting.  It could be a chocolate croissant or a whole wheat bagel or a orange muffin.

It could also be something I’m afraid to try, something I’ve never even had before.

I could spend every morning in wild anxiety about what will be in the sack today.  I could dread opening the sack, grit my teeth, and nearly pass out from the suspense.  But if I know the baker’s heart is good, and I know the baker treasures me even more than I treasure myself . . I don’t have to worry.  I can open each sack with the joy of wondering what I get to try today.

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32, NIV)

There are sometimes “railroad tracks” in our lives–close calls that seem to almost take our lives, or things we worry could take our lives.  But if we know Jesus, we don’t have to worry about those railroad tracks, because they aren’t close calls.  God knows exactly when our time is up, and He will give us exactly the time He has set.

The question is whether I will go through life shaking in my boots and screaming over bagels and muffins, or whether I’ll just trust Jesus that, when it’s my time to go see Him, it’s my time to go see Him.

I think that instead of wrapping my arms around my chest as my plane takes off tomorrow, I’ll cup my hands out on my lap to say, Whatever You have for me here, Jesus, I’ll take it.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” (Jesus, quoted in John 14:1, NIV)

Genesis 1:20b

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” (Genesis 1:20, ESV)

Exquisite.

Sublime.

Effortlessly spectacular.

Designed.

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” (Genesis 1:20, ESV)

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A huge thanks to the following photographers, whose photographs are available through the Creative Commons License on flickr:

Photograph of hummingbird nest by Travis Hornung, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/awfulshot/

Photograph of swan by Holly Occhipinti, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/pinti1/

Photograph of rainbow lorikeet by Karen Hull, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/32972667@N07/

Photograph of peacock by Rupert Ganzer, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/loop_oh/

Photographs are under Creative Commons License.
See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.
Published in: on July 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Genesis 1:17-19

And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. (Genesis 1:17-19, ESV)

Up until the point God created the sun, moon, and stars, we have the presence of a mysterious light.  This is the light God spoke into existence in His first words of the universe’s creation.  How unusual for the light to be created before the sun, moon, and stars.  It is nothing we would expect–or at least not me, anyway.

It has become a point of difficulty for some Christians.  The question directed at the Christian goes something like this, “You mean you actually believe there was light before there were stars?”

We’ve been embarrassed at times and actually backed down.  We’ve tried to shuffle the order God gives in Genesis like a deck of cards, explaining it as a metaphor, or something of that nature.  We actually run the danger of looking like we’re saying the God we believe created the universe can’t remember the order He created the universe in!  That is way more far-fetched than believing there could be light before the stars, sun, and moon.  (By the way, the moon does give light to the earth, as a reflector.)

Of all the things there are to be troubled about, one of mine isn’t how God could have created light before the stars and sun.  Here is the logic I would offer:

  • I believe God created the Heavens and the earth.
  • To believe God created the Heavens and the earth, I have to believe God has awesome supernatural power.
  • Since I believe God has awesome supernatural power, the appearance of light before the sun or stars is no big deal.

I understand why someone who doesn’t believe God created the Heavens and the earth would have a problem with how God created the Heavens and the earth!  That makes sense.  What I don’t understand is why someone who does believe God created the Heavens and the earth would have a problem with how He did it!

And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. (Genesis 1:17-19, ESV)

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Photograph by Zolt Levay, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/zoltlevay/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Why did God allow Satan to tempt Eve?

The first man and woman chose evil over good, but only when Satan approached Eve (and Eve offered the sin to Adam, which he took on for himself).  But why did God let Satan approach them?  Why didn’t He strike Satan dead?  He could have.

Have you ever seen a parent whose goal in life seems to be to keep their child away from all dangers?  Don’t use a knife, because you might cut yourself.  Don’t use the stove, because you might burn yourself.  Don’t use the car, because you might get in a wreck.  But there comes an age when a child needs to use a knife, stove, and car.  It would be pretty hard for a twenty-year-old to get around without these skills.

The knife, stove, and car aren’t bad.  Bad choices can be made with them, but good choices can be made, too.

God doesn’t keep Adam and Eve away from all possibility of danger.  He gives them choice.  Isn’t that interesting?  The same God we sometimes worry about not giving us choice actually gives choice to Adam and Eve right away–and to us.

Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 7:24-25a, NLT)