Tag Archives: Creation


Down in the back roads of West Virginia, I met a man who had once known an old guy who fought in the Civil War.  He showed me the house where that guy had been born and had died in the same bed, with his Sharps rifle hanging on the wall.  Although it is unlikely, that guy could have met Abraham Lincoln.  Think about it: Who is your closest connection to antiquity, the person you know who goes back the furthest?

When John “sings his song” to the ones who have followed Jesus the longest, he calls them “fathers” and says this:

I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.  (1 John 2:13a )

When John “sings” to the newest Christians, he has a couple of different things to say.  Same thing with the “adolescent” believers.  But to the “fathers,” to the mature believers, John repeats this same reminder, word for word:

I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.  (1 John 2:14a )

What does he mean?  Jesus is the One “who is from the beginning.”   In his Gospel, John opens with these words about Jesus:

In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.  (John 1:1-2)

If you could go back in time and meet just one person, who would it be?  Can you imagine having a chat with one of the Wright brothers, about what it was like to be there for the beginning of flight?   It would be cool to meet Ben Franklin, because he was there at the beginning of this country.  But how about getting to meet Someone Who was “there” at the beginning of everything?  He was not just an observer, but the Creator!

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:3)

John says that He was, that He existed, from the beginning!  He is eternal – timeless.  He is the One, Who “became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” (John 1:14b)

Try to wrap your mind around the enormity of what John is asserting here.  John doesn’t say, “You got to meet him.”  He says, “You fathers have known Him.”   Chances are pretty good that you have met someone famous.  There is a big difference between meeting someone and knowing him.   Knowing means having a deep and intimate relationship with someone.

John reminds those who have followed Jesus for a long time, “Don’t forget, don’t lose touch with this amazing reality, this great privilege.  Since the moment you surrendered by faith to Jesus, He has welcomed you into an authentic relationship.  And He is the One Who has always been.   Imagine!”

Talk about connections…

Basic Faith

Perhaps if I gave it a chance, I might get into Downton Abbey, but something about watching stuffy aristocrats having tea just makes me restless. Give me heart-pounding, thriller action. Maybe that is why I’m drawn to Hebrews 11. It is about giants of faith who resolutely held on to what they believed was true, in the face of painful and life-threatening coercion. Some of those guys (and gals) were sawed in two and thrown to the lions because they would not deny their beliefs. Dozens of jaw-dropping acts of faith are attributed to sixteen individuals by name. But the first act of faith listed isn’t specific to any one of them; it was shared by all of them – and, hopefully, you too. After first explaining what faith is (See: Loud and Clear), the author of Hebrews gives examples of faith, beginning with this one:

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:3)

Since that was written, we’ve advanced quite a lot, from swords to drones, from parchment to the cloud. But how the universe came about is still being actively debated. Faith understands that God formed it, by commanding it to be. That sounds old and religious. But, more contemporary and mind-bending, it says faith knows that the tangible universe was formed out of something invisible. Scientists in the field of quantum mechanics talk like that.Notice, please, that the quote from Hebrews didn’t say faith knows when God did it, but that He did. The understanding that God made everything out of nothing (or at least out of something intangible) is a foundation stone for faith. Why start there? Perhaps because, with that understanding and perspective, everything else we do in life is colored by deep respect and reverence for God. We live with a profound awareness that this is His place, He made it.

The antique tea cart in our living room was hand-made by my wife’s great grandfather. It is a thing of old beauty, adorned by hand-carved, swirling trim, and slender, wood-spoked wheels. It is a visible expression of great skill and passion. We don’t put cans of paint on it, don’t use it as a workbench. Sometimes I gaze at it, losing myself in the details of its construction. I imagine the man I never knew, hunched over in his shop, wiping sawdust off his glasses and leaning in to get just the right cut from his old, but carefully sharpened gouge.

That type of humility and reverence (greatly multiplied), in the midst of God’s awesome creation, is foundational for the faith that connects us to Him in a living relationship. Conversely, the arrogant attitude that dismisses such awe and humility disconnects us from that relationship with God. With tragic consequences. As the Apostle Paul said, it’s not that people don’t know that God created the tangible universe, but that they suppress this truth.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:20-21)

Looking for faith, real faith? Open your heart and mind and take a good look around at all that God has crafted so intricately and beautifully.

Stay tuned; there’s more…

God’s Hot Buttons

If you want to know what makes God mad, there is a pretty clear list in the 5th chapter of Isaiah. Each one is marked by the word, Woe! That’s Biblespeak for “Beware! Bad, bad things are coming unless big, big changes are made. When God says “Woe,” He’s upset about something.  God is angered by human behavior that, if left unchecked, will destroy His Creation. He says “woe!” with the same tone of voice that a homeowner uses when he sees termites destroying his home.  And for the same reason.

The first “woe!” in Isaiah 5 had to do with unchecked greed (See: “What Kind of Termites Anger God?”.)  The next one reads like this:

Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. They have harps and lyres at their banquets, tambourines and flutes and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD, no respect for the work of his hands.  (Isaiah 5:11-12)

Perhaps you are thinking, “It’s official: God is a killjoy and hates it when people party.”   No way!  If that’s what you think, you will be surprised as you read through the Bible.  God loves celebrations. Jesus provided the wine for one.  No, the problem here is that this drunkenness is constant (from early in the morning until late at night), it has become the new normal.  Beyond that, it has obliterated their capacity to appreciate and respect God and the wonderful oasis He created and provided.  

Imagine that you had inherited a beautiful mountain cabin that was carefully and lovingly built by your great-grandfather. It is nestled among pine trees, alongside a crystal clear, spring-fed lake. From childhood, you have forged deep and satisfying memories at his cabin and you consider it to be a precious and sacred refuge. Can you picture it?  Now, how would you feel if your kids hold a party up there, inviting their friends, who proceed to get drunk and wreck the place?  They break the windows, smash the plates and park their old and leaky pickup in the garden. Mad yet?  That’s how God feels when He sees insensitive, drunken louts trashing His garden.

But let’s look at the nature and extent of the damage:

Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; their men of rank will die of hunger and their masses will be parched with thirst.Therefore the grave enlarges its appetite and opens its mouth without limit; into it will descend their nobles and masses with all their brawlers and revelers. (Isaiah 5:13-14)

This warning was written to a people God had given special, privileged treatment.  He intended to use as the Jewish nation as a model, to show others how much better life could be if you loved God and lived according to His design and principles. He had set them up with their own land, and promised to provide for them and protect them.  But these privileges would only continue if they cooperated.  Their irresponsible behavior wrecked the place.  Consequently, instead of being protected in their own place, they were exiled to a foreign land. Instead of being physically and spiritually satisfied in God’s presence, they drank to find satisfaction and wound up with an unquenchable thirst.  Instead of finding life, they fell into death. Woe!

This warning, specifically written to the people of Israel and Judah, was tragically fulfilled in their history.  But it contains a principle that pertains to us all.  You and I live amid God’s amazing and beautiful Creation.  The more you pay attention, the more you seek to appreciate it and harmonize with the One Who gave us all this, the more wonderful life will be.  The key to living like that is given to us by Jesus.  Find Him and find real life.

Or, you could just get drunk and miss it.  Woe!

Why Does God Seem So Angry?

For some reason, it seemed like a good idea at the time: get a few of my toys together and spread them out to play with them – – – in the middle of an intersection near my home. Who knows why? For that matter, who knows why toddlers do most of the strange stuff they do? As you can imagine, my mother was pretty upset when she discovered me, happily sitting and playing out there. Probably heard the squeal of brakes before she saw what was going on. Can you understand why she might have hollered and screamed at me, might have sounded pretty angry? But at the time, it was a mystery to me. Why would a good mother get so furious?

When you first start reading Isaiah, God seems pretty cranky. He sounds pretty worked up:

Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. (Isaiah 1:4)

Whoa… This sounds like fodder for the angry, pinch-faced, bony-fingered, fire and brimstone preacher, thundering and screaming with flecks of spittle flying off his beard. Why would a good God get so furious? People make the mistake of thinking that God has changed. The God of the New Testament is pretty nice, but back in the old days, He needed some anger management counseling. Not true. God is not bipolar. God was angry for the same reason my mother was. Continue reading:

Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil. (Isaiah 1:5-6)

God hates it when He sees us doing things that endanger or hurt ourselves. Think about it: He originally created a perfect garden for us humans to live in. That is His desire for us. Unfortunately, gardens degenerate pretty quickly if you don’t what you are doing, if you don’t follow the rules. I’ve had some gardening experiences that would have frightened Maurice Sendak.

We humans turned away from God and tried to run His garden by our own ideas. We wrecked the garden and wound up hurting ourselves. But God yearns for His people (that’s us…) to turn back to Him and do things the way they work best. He hates it when we keep getting hurt. God’s plan is to ultimately restore the garden, making it available to everyone who will learn from Him and live in it peacefully and productively – and safely.

If you keep that understanding fully in mind, Isaiah is a fascinating and wonderful read. God loves to see us playing – just not in the middle of the street.