Thank You for the NO.

“God must often seem to us to be playing fast and loose with us.  The adult must seem to mislead the child, and the Master the dog.  They misread the signs.  Their ignorance and wishes twist everything.”  (C.S. Lewis)

I am such a small creature with such limited understanding.  One of eight billion – 8,000,000,000!  And some demographers estimate we are half of the total population that has ever lived since Adam and Eve, 16,000,000,000 in all.

News reporters should not be allowed to use words to describe such large numbers.  Does it not seem easier to accept that our national debt is $31.12 trillion than to read our national debt is $31,120,000.000,000.00!?  And it is growing by over $2,000,000,000,000.00, two trillion, per year or $5,480,000,000.00 per day!  When you see $5.48 billion it just seems to not bother us so much as seeing the numbers stretching across the page.

However, I am writing about people today, not money.  Eight BILLION is still a lot of people.  Think of the crowds in which you have been numbered.  You may have been one of 50 or 100 at a church or social club.  If your church is a mega-one, maybe you were one of 5,000.  You could recognize your children across the large auditorium and even see them wave to you.

Then you went to a concert with 25,000 attendees, and suddenly you could not find anyone you knew beyond those within earshot, maybe 20 feet (3.5 metres) away.  A large crowd gathered in Washington, D.C. for a special occasion and the news outlets estimated your “group” was over 500,000 or maybe a million (1,000,000).  All you could see was a “sea of faces” bobbing up and down, looking literally more like a lake than a mass of human beings. 

So eight billion (8,000,000,000) are LOTs of faces!!  And each one has his or her story; each one is troubled by a relationship or blessed by a colleague or family member; each one has had physical and emotional pains, and each has had offers of peace if he or she would take them.  Each ONE.

Thus, when we ask God for a parking space and one suddenly opens up, do we accurately conclude the Creator of the Horsehead Nebula actually paid attention to our desire for a few minutes’ convenience?  Or could it have been coincidence?  Does the One who designed your DNA and spangled the universe with galaxies really care if your bird or lizard or dog dies?  Would He not have more important things which require His attention?

When the apostle John encountered The Son of Man in Revelation 1, he was so overwhelmed by this Person that he totally blacked out and had to be revived.  This revelation of Jesus continues through chapters 4, 5, 7, 13 and 19 to 21 and HE is amazing!  He is beyond our full comprehension!  The difference between us and an insect seems less than the difference between us and HIM!!  He is more than our small minds can digest, and then we wonder why He sometimes does not jump when we say, “Do what I tell you to do.”

Yet, Jesus, Himself said that Father numbers the hairs of our heads!  Such a mind with such vast power and yet such perception of the details!!  So when we do not get the “answer” we demand from this Creator, we should not be dismayed, and conclude, “See, God does not exist because He did not do what I want.”

He knows; He understands; He cares more than we can grasp and loves you and me, us two out of 8,000,000,000 (or 16,000,000,000 depending on who you are counting).  He knows and loves YOU more than you can imagine.  So trust Him.  Though he seems to be playing fast and loose with us, simply trust Him, believe in Him and receive His gift of eternal life.  Then, someday, we will know fully even as we have been fully known.  And thank Him for all things, even when He says, “No.”

(almost) Wordless Wednesday. Can You Imagine a Watch Without a Watchmaker?

2022-07-20 WatchmakerThe Astronomia Bucherer Blue valued at $1,100,000 ($1.1 Million!), is shown here in a composite with Hubble Space Telescope photos.

“The heavens declare the glory of God,and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.Psalm 19:1
“[God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”
Romans 1:20

Wordless Wednesday – Life Found!

Can you imagine the excitement if scientists find one living cell on Mars?
The headlines would shout out, LIFE FOUND!
A baby begins with two living cells, a sperm and ovum.

2022-07-13 Baby's Development

Lexington Sun Rise and Sun Up – Wordless Wednesday

Used to be asleep at sunrise, but now that I’m working part time and we are back on “normal” time, I decided to continue to get up at the same time as before, even though during DST we called it something different. Reeeally need to ditch Daylight Saving Time!

Boring Christianity? – Wordless Wednesday

2021-09-15 WW - Is It Boring Being a Christian

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

Guest Blog – Alabastersky and Shades of Grey

A blogger presented this on July 15, 2021, and wrote in much clearer fashion than I probably write.  I have not been down all the rabbit-holes she went into, but investigated many of them including extensive reading of Vedic Literature, the Book of Mormon, prophecies of Zoroaster, the Quran, writings of Mary Baker Eddy, and others.

Altogether, the Bible is the only book (or library of books) that really tells the Truth about The God Who Is, how He has revealed Himself throughout history, and finally in Jesus, called The Christ.  Read on for valuable insights.
Thanx, Alabastersky.
_______________________________________

In the 1990’s, in spite of the good little church goer that I was, there was about a 4 or 5 year period where I used to be attracted to anything new-age, from music to books and everything in between. Back then, to me, everything was a shade of grey. There was no black and white, and although you would hear me say that God and scripture were true and that I believed in absolutes, I had no clear understanding of what that really meant.

I was fascinated by Nostradamus and end-of-the-world prophecies, but if you told me I should study the book of Revelation, I likely would have rolled my eyes in the belief that (at least at that time) I was not a theologian nor even a book worm, so none of that would likely make sense to me anyway. The sad truth was that angels clothed in light, things written through trans-channeling (or auto-writing), and anything that focused on a better me and learning to love myself through my own independence and “woman had more of an attraction to me than anything “holy”.

One of the books I actually do remember reading at the time was titled Conversations with God. I found it interesting that the author claimed there was no right or wrong, there was only functional and dysfunctional. Sounds somewhat logical, right? Especially when wrong and right appear so black and white, so unloving and hateful! But let me tell you why all of that is deception dressed in light – taking what is truth, twisting it, and then repackaged it in a way that is always palatable and yet never powerful.

First of all I want to say that God is so much more than just sentience (or feeling) as new-age spiritualism would have us believe. That He is “more of a feeling” and is “everywhere and in everyone and everything” is a twist on the truth that He is omniscient and omnipresent. He is, in fact, an actual living, breathing, person, and His Word is not only truth but really IS ABSOLUTE truth, and very powerful!

Featured Image -- 20182After both of my parents passed away, I learned that grief is love that has no where to go, and because love never dies, grief may subside but it always remains under the surface. So imagine when it dawned on me that I had been grieving the Holy Spirit, because at that time I was so absorbed into all of this, His love for me also had no place to go. I didn’t realize I was actively resisting Him. If you were to ask me back then, I was in such a confused state that I would have even debated that God approved of that form of spiritualism, because I didn’t understand the difference between an “angel clothed in light” and an “angel of the Light“.

Only in Jesus Christ can I find freedom to live the life I was created to live – my purpose in this life. That was a game changer for me, because all of the sudden I saw sin (which is ANYTHING that separates me from Him) as slavery (black), and righteousness in Him as freedom (white).

“Oh but Lisa”, you might say, “there IS grey! Take for example the grey lines between male and female”! Yes, the male/female thing can be a big debate and a lot to unpack for some, but I have to tell you that the black and white in me no longer sees it as a debate. Once I aligned myself with scripture, passages like Psalms 139 (He formed me in my mother’s womb, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, all the days ordained for me were written in His book…) and Jeremiah 1 (before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…) came alive with meaning! I began to realize that if I choose to become anything outside of what He has created me to be (and this goes beyond just LBGTQ, it applies to anything and everyone) – if WE, any of us, choose any other path outside of the one He has created and ordained for us, then we set ourselves up for a life focused on temporary pleasures, and in the end are left not only unsatisfied and unfulfilled, but also in a deadly deception.

True science, in the end, always aligns with scripture (whether intended or not). Why? Because Jesus Christ, God Almighty, the Creator of this universe and everything in it, is immutable. We align with Him, He doesn’t align with us. He doesn’t sanction the sin, He sanctions the sinner. Once I recognize His authority in my life, I am the one who changes as I come under it. Anything less is expecting Him to change and bend to my will instead of me bending to His – and that in itself is saying that I do not believe He is God, because I do not value Him enough to bend my will to His. Truth: the fact that He sanctions the sinner and not the sin has nothing to do with Him not loving me, quite the opposite. It has everything to do with Him loving me so much that He takes delight in me as I discover what I was created for.

I’m just glad He caught my attention enough at the time for me to allow Him to stop the soul-sucking practices, habits, and bad theology I was mixed up in and allow Him to begin healing me instead. His Spirit was continuously wooing me back to Him. As I began to respond and desire conversations with the Living God Himself rather than with just His creation, I knew more and more that He really is immutable (the same yesterday, today, forever), and that scripture really is His holy word.

So that’s where I am with holiness on my end.  It is what I call the journey of shades of grey into a solid state of black and white, because that’s what holiness does. Only those who allow His holiness to be imparted to them realize what a beautiful thing it really is to be set apart in this way. It is incredibly comforting in the chaos of this world, and touches the human spirit in a way that is far more than anything sensual this world has to offer!

Link to original blog: https://alabastersky.wordpress.com/2021/07/15/shades-of-grey/

If Adam Had Not Sinned

“Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all peopleRomans 5:12

But what if Adam had not sinned?  Would that have guaranteed freedom from sin for the whole human race?  Would each of us been sinless for all eternity?  There are no clear answers to these questions, but here I posit some possible considerations.

TemptationAdam was made in the image of God, i.e. experiencing time, having personality, emotions, volition, intelligence, masculinity and femininity, i.e. a living soul.  But we know what happened: he ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil which Eve gave to him when she was deceived.  The only tree in the Garden from which they were forbidden.  So why did God put that tree there in the first place?  He gave them everything that was good, “very good,” in fact.  Why mess it up with a tree that posed a potential problem?

God did not want automatons who had to serve Him because there was no other choice.  By creating man with volition, i.e. will that was free, He was creating someone with whom He could relate; someone with whom He could enjoy fellowship.  He did not, nor does He now, need us or our fellowship.  Existing as the Triune One, He already had and maintains perfect fellowship within Himself: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  It is simply in His nature to share the love and holiness He enjoys, so here we are!  Created in His image, not as though He has hands and feet, but in our spirits sharing in a very small temporal way the grand and eternal characteristics that identify Him as God.

By creating man with volition, there always is a possibility of disobedience. (Keep this in mind.)  However, all Adam and Eve knew experientially was what was good.  The only thing they could learn from the forbidden tree was what was evil.  It all came down to trust, that experience God did not even know until He came to earth as the God-Man, Jesus, and had to trust His Father and the Holy Spirit in ways the Triune God had not experienced.

Garden of Eden ExpulsionWe know what happened to Adam and Eve, and each of us has experienced the inclination toward sin that originated with their disobedience.  We know to do good, but we find in ourselves an impotence to do it.  We know to avoid sin, but we find our sin nature pulls us inexorably into it.  We have no power to resist evil and do good within ourselves.  It is only through the redemption that Jesus provides that our once dead spirits are made alive by the Holy Spirit so that we no longer obey the world, the flesh nor the devil.  We are freed from sin’s power.

Back the original question: what if Adam had not sinned?  Imagine for a minute having parents who nurtured you perfectly, trained you in your growing years without unfruitful anger or selfishness, guided you with wisdom in making decisions until you were able to imitate them perfectly.  Imagine not being inclined to be selfish, yourself!  Seeing another child with a toy would not evoke jealousy or envy, because from birth you knew that if something was good for you, your parents would provide it.  Where would be the impetus to sin?  Why would you doubt the integrity of the God who walked with your parents and you every day and provided everything, not just good, but very good!?  Someone born into such a kingdom would be inclined to do the right thing, just as now we are bent to do the wrong thing.

However, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil would still be in Eden!  The tempter may have been vanquished with Adam’s and Eve’s obedience.  Perhaps the serpent, that liar and murderer, would not even have been allowed back into the Garden after Adam and Eve had children.  But the Tree would still be there  . . . and you and I would still have volition, free will.

Without the pull of someone evil trying to mess up our relationship with a loving God, we might never have touched that forbidden tree, as Eve would have taught us to obey.  Eating from the Tree of Life in the center of the Garden would have provided us with eternal life.  But free will would still be free.  Someone could decide to eat of that forbidden tree.  Through the thousands of years and billions of people on the earth, one of us may have decided to go our own way and try the forbidden fruit.

Satans fallINSANITY, we cry!  Of course.  All sin is insanity in one measure or another.  Why would someone inject dangerous chemicals into his arms at risk of death just for a good feeling that will pass?  Why would someone steal what is not his just to gain a very small and temporary advantage over another?  Why would someone lie to save a moment’s embarrassment?  Why would an angel try to steal God’s glory and make himself God!?  Yet, Lucifer, living in the presence of all the love and holiness of God that he could experience, made just that decision!

I suspect God, infinite in wisdom, would recognize a “problem child” before he became a problem and protect the rest of humanity and the rest of the universe from one sinner’s sin, but He would not stop the exercise of free will.  So someone, even after Adam’s and Eve’s passage into faithfulness, could still decide to try life without God’s guidance.  Any one of us could have still sinned in the Garden and our path would have taken us and our progeny on the same road that we are now on, thanks to Adam’s and Eve’s choice.

So we are now faced with that same choice Adam and Eve faced: Will we trust The God Who Is There or will we trust our own perceptions and doubts about His goodness?  What if Adam had not sinned?  We would still face this choice: to do life our own way or to do life His way.  Even though Adam sinned, it is still our choice, the same as if he had not sinned.

 

What in the World is God? Part 6 – In the Image of God: Personhood

“Humans explaining the nature of God is like an ant trying to explain who dropped the sugar.” Trish O’Connor

Doodle GodAttributes of God can be enumerated in many ways and different lists come from scholars of various stripes.  Some of the lists, such as mine, are pretty basic and others include almost any activity of God.  My view leans toward looking at His essential nature rather than the way He interacts with us; e.g. mercy or mercifulness is included in many lists as one of His attributes where I consider it more an expression of His attributes of holiness and love, discussed in last week’s blog, June 25, 2018.

Besides this, there are likely attributes, that is, essential characteristics that are inherent in being God, that we will not nor cannot understand at our level of development and may never fully grasp even in the eons of eternity.  Remember always, He IS God, the Uncreated, and we are merely His creatures, created for His pleasure and glory (Revelation 4:11).

Consider Genesis 1:26: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”  So a clue to understanding what we are able to about God is found in looking at humankind and considering what we “look like.”  Clearly, as we have shown from Scripture (see June 17, 2018), God is a Spirit so this reference does not refer to hands or feet or body shape.  Yet He is not an impersonal spirit as some would construe, but He is a Person, with personality and intention to know and love and guide us.  Personhood is often overlooked as one of His attributes, and though He goes far beyond mere personality, our understanding of Him begins there.

We, too, are spirits as much as we are physical bodies.  A human is not one or the other, but as created in God’s image, our bodies carry in them the image of God in our spirits.  Our spirits consist mainly of mind, emotion and volition, and this gives us our reference for understanding that God is intelligent, emotional and willful.  As He is the designer and Creator of all that exists, we recognize that when we pray we are addressing a mind that encompasses the entire universe down to the detail of quarks and DNA and more.  Thus His omniscience is more than simply an awareness of existence, but a personal knowledge of each individual in His creation.

When we think of who we know, our minds can easily grasp the dozen or so close friends of our inner circles.  If we expand our view, we can think of hundreds of people we know by name and to whom we would say “Hello” in passing.  Further out, we can grasp the identities of perhaps a couple thousand people in an auditorium, but we cannot “know” them all.  Beyond this, the individuals become “lost in a sea of faces,” unidentifiable and unknowable to our small minds.  Yet, He knows each one, from the formation of the embryo in its mother’s womb to the old man resting down into his coffin (Psalm 139:13).

Very importantly, He feels.  Even before He came down into His creation in the form of Jesus, the God-Man, He felt the pains and longings of His people and wanted to develop a relationship with every man and woman. (Psalm 67; Ezekiel 18:23).  When God came to walk with Adam and Eve after they had disobeyed His simple command, He asked, “Where are you?”  When Adam identified his location, God then asked, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Genesis 3:8-11)  He was not lacking in knowledge, but rather giving opportunity for Adam and Eve to confess and turn from their disobedience, because He loved them and knew the only way to build the relationship was to be open and communicate.

He still desires that relationship that is more than just a formality.  He takes no joy in our subservient obedience to duty or regulation.  In fact, most of Jesus’ conflicts were with those who followed all the rules!  He feels love for His creation, both man and beast, both living creatures and the environment.

His emotions also extend to anger, disgust, grief and sorrow, but also to joy, delight, anticipation, calmness, and pity.  His experience of these emotions is something we can barely begin to understand, but each of these is mentioned at various times throughout Scripture.  We who are created in His image bear this emotional stamp and feel as well, although our emotions are often warped somewhat by the sin in our lives or in the world.

Most importantly, He is volitional.  He makes a decision and acts on it!  When the Bible says He never changes (James 1:17) it is referring to His character, not His activity.  At some point in time past, He said within the Trinity, “Let us make man in our image,” and He acted on it.  Adam and Eve, faced with a choice of trusting their Creator or the tempter who questioned His simple command, made their choice and acted on it.

Every day, you are faced with a myriad of decisions from what time to get out of bed to how to respond to others’ treatment of you.  Sometimes you must cooperate in decisions to act by voting, sometimes you must act alone, but you and I act!  We are volitional, willful, and express something of the attribute of God when we make decisions.  Again, many of our decisions are warped by sin, but it remains a reflection of His divine Spirit in us, that we are made in His image.

So when you consider What in the World is God, look for His interactions with you!  You matter to Him as much as Jesus, His own son does!  His holiness and love, expressing through His omnipotence and omniscience and omnipresence, offering guidance to us to let His Spirit lead us in our thoughts, emotions and wills, brings us into communion with The God Who Is There.

Keep in mind that my short list, barely begins to dust the snow off the top of this iceberg.  “He is great and greatly to be praised.” (Psalm 145)

 

 

 

 

 

In a couple of weeks, , we will again look at how God loves us.

What in the World is God? Part 3 – Eternality and Omnipotence

 

“Humans explaining the nature of God is like an ant trying to explain who dropped the sugar.” Trish O’Connor

Doodle God“YAHWEH our God, YAHWEH is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) The I AM revealed Himself to Israel as a unique God in a time of religious pluralism when people around the fledgling nation had changed the idea of God to something more manageable to their minds and acquiescent to their desires.  They had gods for the sea, mountains, and plains; gods for their crops, food, and sex.  Lots of gods, none of whom was very powerful; often many of them in contention with each other.

So when God revealed Himself to Moses and Israel, He wanted to establish that He was not an invention of man, but to take them back to the beginning.  When asked for His name, this nameless one communicated to us with language we could understand, and He called Himself, the “I AM WHO I AM.” (Exodus 3:14)

Each of us had a beginning, a cause that made us.  Our parents at some time had conjugal relations and thus we came into existence.  Going back in history through grandparents, great-grands, etc., to ancestors in ancient time, every person could say “I am because of my parents,” all the way back to Adam and Eve.  In fact, everything in the universe had and has a “cause” which brought it into being.  Even the “gods” around Israel had their beginnings in ideas men had and the statues men had made.

In Part 2 of this series, I referred to God as “the First Cause.”  This is a term used first by Aristotle to describe the initiation of all other phenomena in the observable world (“Don’t be impressed, you can look it up!” Steve Elliott 😉).  The alternative to First Cause is that “causes” extend back into eternity past, negating a “need” for God.  However, within just a few centuries we can see a progression in the events on Earth that suggests a starting point and an ending point.  This lines up with the Bible that tells us directly, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)  Furthermore the Bible teaches that history on this earth has a terminal point, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” (Revelation 21:1)

The issue for us is whether to believe the Bible or not, and I have addressed its reliability in several previous blogs (beginning with June 28, 2015) with the conclusion that there is no book in history that has been more reliably preserved and translated than the Bible.  Central to the question of believing the Bible is whether Jesus arose from the dead, also a subject of several blogs (April 19, 2015, August 16, 2015 to name a couple) and that conclusion is that there is more historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus than for George Washington being the first president of the United States.

If we begin with these assumptions, that the Bible is true, and that Jesus arose from the dead, the identity of the First Cause becomes very important to our lives, not as a theological question for intellectual debate, but as a practical consideration of how we are going to live day to day in our short time spent here.

Attributes of God are not parts of who He is.  They are facets of His unity.  He is not at one time, judgmental and just, then changing to be kind and merciful at another.  His justice and love, truth and grace, judgments and mercy, all flow from one fountain of One Who Is.  We will explore a couple of these attributes and others in the next couple weeks.

The First Cause argument for the existence of God carries with it several ideas that become important for the foundation of our lives.  When we look back in time and find that He was already there, we conclude that He was always there, i.e. eternally existent, a necessary condition for a First Cause.  As Eternality is an attribute of God, it is not something that He can lose, thus He will always exist into eternity in the future.

If He is First Cause, He is unique and alone in this status.  There cannot be two First Causes.  And as the First Cause of the universe, He is all powerful, or Omnipotent.  He created all that exists, spangling the sky with stars and galaxies, exploding them outward to catch up with the light He had created (Genesis 1:3-5; 14-19).  He formed the earth from His ideas and sat it in the cosmos at the precise location to support the lives He would go on to create here.

His Eternality and Omnipotence go hand in hand in that one who was not eternal could not be omnipotent.  Conversely, one who was not omnipotent would not be able to guarantee his eternality.  Like facets on a sculpted jewel we see these characteristics of what He is.  And we will see in the next few weeks other facets that all blend together to reveal what we are able to grasp of The I AM.

There may be attributes of God that we cannot know about until we see Him “face-to-face” (1 Corinthians 13:12), and even then, there may be characteristics of the Divine that will continue to elude us through all eternity.  I note again, He is God, and we will never be what He is, nor able to fully comprehend Him.

This begins a frightening prospect for the person who does not know The God Who Is There.  To realize there is Someone who lives in eternity and holds all power in His hands creates in the untrained heart a great fear as we come into His presence.  But in the heart of one who has become acquainted with I AM, this fear is mingled with adoration for One in whom we can have complete confidence that He will always be there, or rather here, for us (Psalm 16:8) and there is nothing too hard for Him. (Jeremiah 32:27)

Next week, , we will look at additional characteristics of God.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jP2nz6PG8KM