January 2019 Archives


Creation

Creation

I have been described by some friends and family as peaceful, patient, and Zen-like. Others have said my “still waters run deep” when referring to my calm demeanor. My response to these observations is, “you have no idea what’s going on inside my head!”

Such was the case Sunday morning while listening to an inspiring message about the image of God (using the Biblical text from Genesis, chapter one), when a gentleman turned to me and said “He’s preaching creationism.”

I thought to myself, “who gives a flying rat’s …” Oops.

Let me rephrase, what difference does it make how the world was made?

What is the purpose of this argument? Is it so either side can demonstrate a sophisticated knowledge of theological and scientific principles? Is it so one side can declare there is a God and one side can deny Him? Or perhaps by trying to reconcile these arguments there will be peace on earth? Does this argument solve the problems of world hunger, world poverty, wars, famine, sex trafficking, and so on? Does the winning or losing of this argument make a difference to the least, the last, the lost and the lonely? Do the widows and orphans really care about this debate?

Perhaps it is a question of “what will we teach the children?” My own sons may have been confused about the answer as my own belief on the subject at the time waffled back and forth. The issue was one that never caused us not to believe in God, but I was curious. Because of this, a book wound its way into my lap—The Case for a Creator—by Lee Stroebel (which I highly recommend, if you too are curious).

As a sixth grade Science teacher for many years, I had an intuition every day that I was talking about God, and I found my suspicion confirmed.

Even so, I am still content to trust the One whose ways are not my ways and whose thoughts are not my thoughts; “as high as the sky is above the earth are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

My intent here is not to offend; if I have done so, please forgive me. I understand that this is a deal breaker issue for many people.  But this is only to share my frustration over a comment about a message that seemed to be so clearly pointing to something much deeper and profound than Creationism—what is the image of God?

In fact, that was our homework assignment—to ponder, research, and pray about the answer to that question. We, as a congregation, and he, had many great answers and he promised to unpack it more next week (I for one can’t wait).

What brings me to my knees in awe is His Love.

First Corinthians chapter 13 in the Bible is known by many as the Love Chapter. I’d like to suggest that the true Love Chapter is Genesis chapter one—God in intimate relationship with Himself and His creation and declaring it all in harmony, “it was very good.”

Radical Love

Radical Love

In his frustration over the government shutdown, a friend on Facebook made a case for Jesus’s support of anarchism. To which I responded with the following:

“Jesus was not calling into question the governmental system. Jesus was calling into question the religious system with radical love. Radical Love can put one in opposition to a governmental system and cost one his or her life as it did for Jesus, as it did and does for martyrs worldwide.

But when Jesus stood before Pilate, he submitted saying, “You would have no power over me if it hadn’t been given to you from above; this is why the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” He could have called down legions of angels to rescue Him and overthrow the government, but he didn’t because it wasn’t the government he was protesting.

Radical Love can cost me my life. Radical Love can cause me to be persecuted “for His name’s sake.”

Loving as Jesus loved, being Light in the darkness, this is the calling. This isn’t to say that I am for this shutdown, on the contrary, I’m as frustrated as anyone. But it is an opportunity for anyone to help those in need because of it.”

This isn’t meant as a political post. Hopefully we can agree that we are living in a time of great turmoil which is painful, disorderly and chaotic; making it all the more reason to consider Radical Love–what it looks like and how it can be demonstrated.

When I read through the gospels and several epistles, I found that much of what Jesus, Paul, Peter and James said can be noted in two words: action and attitude–show mercy, make peace, turn the other cheek, give over and beyond abundance, love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, live in harmony, don’t judge, take care of widows and orphans, be compassionate, be humble, be quick to listen-slow to speak-slow to get angry.

In Matthew 7:12 Jesus said, “Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that sums up the teaching of the Torah and the Prophets.”

This is reflected in Hinduism as, “Knowing how painful it is to himself, a person should never do to others what he dislikes when done to him by others.” “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor,” in Judaism. Or in Islam, “None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”

Radical Love eliminates our differences and unites us in our caring for one another.

Radical Love isn’t just random acts of kindness. Radical Love is intentional acts of kindness that ask for nothing in return. St. Francis of Assisi is given credit for saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” My interpretation is, Love Radically, use words as needed.

You may not identify as Christian, you may not identify as believing in God; whatever your belief system, what is the harm in loving Radically?

Even if it isn’t easy or doesn’t change this crazy world, could it not lessen even one human being’s suffering? Could it not bring peace to your heart, mind and soul?

I am not a rose-colored-glasses optimist, but as a child of the 70’s there was a song (by The Seekers) in a Coke commercial that, to this day, I still find heartening and with it I will close.

I’d like to build the world a home, and furnish it with love;
grow apple trees and honey bees, and snow white turtle doves.
I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,
I’d like to hold it in my arms and keep it company.
I’d like to see the world for once all standing hand in hand
and hear them echo through the hills for peace throughout the land.

Letters

Letters

I just finished reading Betty White’s 2011 book entitled If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won’t). In the last chapter “I’m Eighty-Nine?” she writes about aging, death and dying. One sentence on the page imaginatively captured my attention.

“If you’ve ever lost a loved one or witnessed it, you can’t help but see that the body is an envelope for the letter.  WOW, “the body is an envelope for the letter.”

Curiously and with apprehension I began to wonder “what kind of letter am I writing?”

But before I thought about the answer, I pondered the many different letter formats—for which the internet has a host of answers. Among them were: Formal and Informal; Business and Professional; and Personal.

Broken down in those categories are (in no particular order): Sales Letters, Complaint Letters, Inquiry Letters, Letters of Recommendation, Acknowledgement Letters, Information Letters, Cover Letters, Job Offer Letters, Letters of Resignation, Thank You Letters, Reference Letters, Introduction Letters, Sales Letters, Letters of Invitation, Letters of Support, Good-Bye Letters, just to name a few (sounds a bit like a Dr. Seuss book).

Thinking back on my life I remember many of the letters I’ve written.

My mother told me, when I was a child, she would give my gifts away if I didn’t write Thank You notes. To this day I continue to write Thank You Letters, although not because I have to but because I want to sincerely express my appreciation and gratitude. When I retired, I wrote a Letter of Resignation—with my own words, not a format letter. Unfortunately, I have written my fair share of Apology Letters–my emotions overwhelm me and I speak or act without thinking; a friend in high school use to say “open foot, insert mouth.” I’m surprised I don’t have “athlete’s tongue.” I have written several Letters of Recommendations for beloveds seeking employment or much deserved awards.

There are others on the list I have written and some that are not such as Letters of Judgement, written with a bad attitude; Letters of Complaint written in my journal to God; Letters of Lies written with poor choices.

The internet even gives advice on how to write a letter, “If you need to write some formal letter, you should follow the pattern” (Zain Agu) of which many are scripted and outlined on any of a thousand (more?) sites. Of personal letters, one website advised “the writer is free to express his or her thoughts or feelings in any manner.”

This advice took my train of thought to Saul of Tarsus also known as Paul the Apostle and his Letters of Instruction to the Churches of Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, and Thessalonica; and his personal letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon.

Did he follow a pattern or freely express his thoughts and emotions? I’m inclined to think both or neither depending on the interpretation of 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting of faults and training in right living.” (That in itself could be the subject of a future posting.)

And yet, here I am still wondering what kind of letter my life is writing.

My pastor, in a recent sermon, said we are all a work in progress. I’ve heard this before and find it very comforting and encouraging especially in light of the drafts and sloppy copies my life has written.

I hope–in spite of incorrect spelling and punctuation, poor grammar, run-on sentences and sentence fragments—in the end when the envelope is sealed and ready to mail, mine is a Love Letter–a Grace-filled Love letter, to and from and for His glory.

Until then, my letter is a work in progress.