In the Beginning – So What?
In the beginning

Talking about beginnings seems especially appropriate during the month of January. A new month. A new year. And in this case, a new decade.

The Bible also starts with “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1). “In the beginning, God created….” We’ve heard those words so many times, they may have lost much of their impact.

Take a moment to think about it. God created the universe and everything in it, including the planets and the stars. And the way we think about those stars influences our perspective of the nature of God.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Problem is, many of us are not as impressed by the magnitude of the natural world as we once were. We live at a time in which humanity decides which planets meet the minimum standards to be called planets and which should be downgraded (think Pluto).

We teach children how to cut out paper stars, or maybe we recall doing that way back in kindergarten. And we’ve grown up on nursery rhymes such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Remember the sweet words from this poem by Jane Taylor?

Here’s the first verse:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

“Little star” and “Like a diamond.” No wonder we’re not impressed when we read that God made the stars and hung them in place (Job 9:9). Somewhere in the back of our mind is the image of a jeweler using tweezers to place a little diamond in its setting.

And because we’ve minimized stars in our thinking, the natural, although unintended, consequence is that we’ve minimized their Creator.

The Power of the Sun…and the God Who Created It

Time for a reality check. Consider the following statistics regarding the star at the center of our own solar system, otherwise known as the sun.

According to Wikipedia, “a star shines due to thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium in its core, releasing energy that…radiates into outer space.” Our own sun has a diameter of 864,000 miles of hot plasma and accounts for “99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System….converting 4 million tons of matter into energy every second.”

And all those other twinkling little stars in our night sky? Each one is a similar fireball in its own right. There’s nothing little about these stars and there’s nothing little about the God who created them in the beginning.

So what fireball are you facing in your life today? And even if you’re not facing a crisis now, what awaits you and me in this new year? Will you join me in committing to trust the One who hung the fireballs—aka stars—in space? If He can do that, He can certainly handle whatever we’ll be facing!


 
Creation: Fact or Fairy Tale?

creation

One of my favorite memories is that of my mother reading to me from a book of fairy tales. Cinderella, Ali Baba, Sleeping Beauty, and other characters came to life through the sound of her voice. As I listened to their adventures, each character seemed as real as any person I’d met.

I soon graduated to reading those tales, and others, myself. Then I moved on to more stories. Grand tales of love and adventure, of courage and sacrifice. Stories set in exotic locales with characters much more interesting than the people I talked to each day.

Trouble is, that’s how some people view all or part of the Bible: interesting stories set in exotic times and places. Stories that have a moral, but aren’t really true.

Even in some Christian circles today, it’s popular to teach that the Bible is true when it speaks of Jesus as our Savior, but that other passages, such as the book of Genesis, are merely grand stories meant to teach a lesson. For example, the creation account in Genesis couldn’t be true since “everyone” knows the universe could not have been created in six days, Noah could never have fit all the animals on the ark, and Jonah could not have been swallowed by a big fish.

Why not? As Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis is fond of saying, “How do you know? Were you there?”

While science has proposed a variety of theories to disprove biblical accounts, including creation, there has not yet been one scientific law that proves the Bible wrong. Not one. In fact, the theory of evolution contradicts the Second Law of Thermodynamics: left on its own, entropy (disorder) will increase, not decrease.

So why are many Christians reluctant to take a stand for the validity of the entire Biblical record, from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22?

Some people seem to think we simply need to teach others about Jesus Christthat discussions about creation are unimportant. After all, whether it took six days or six million years, we’re here, aren’t we?

But it is important. If we can’t trust the literal, biblical account of creation, how can we trust the biblical accounts of anything else? If we teach others to choose the passages they want to believe in the Bible, how is that different from belief systems that combine bits and pieces of various religions to create something they are comfortable with?

The book of Genesis is as important as the gospel accounts in the Bible because it is foundational to everything else the Bible mentions. It provides detailed explanations for the basis for marriage and for the development of different people groups and cultures. It even provides a scientific explanation for the fossil record discovered by archaeologists in recent years.

Most of all, Genesis explains the reason we need a Savior. If the account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is not true, then why should we believe the rest of the Bible is true?

Some Christians try to find a happy compromise between creation and evolution. They offer a third theory for consideration: God created the world, and He used evolution as the means by which He created.

But this option slides down a slippery slope. For one thing, it can’t be reconciled with what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:12 (NIV):

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”

If man was created through evolution, then variations of humanity would have died millions of times before sin entered the world through Adam and Eve.

And if death did not enter due to sin, then why do we need a Savior?

Denying the creation account does more than offer alternate theories. It rejects humanity’s need for a Savior and it rejects humanity’s accountability to its Creator.

If we are ashamed of the biblical account—the whole biblical account—then we are not correctly handling “the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).

I love reading fairy tales and I love reading the Bible…but they are not the same.

What do you believe about creation…and why do you believe it?


 
Seasons of Life, Jumping to Conclusions, and Worry

When we relocated from the northeast to Florida, one of the things we missed most was the change of seasons. Native Floridians quickly advised us that instead of winter, spring, summer, and fall, our seasons are snowbird, love bug, summer, and hurricane.

While the calendar tells us the first day of spring was March 20th, our weather didn’t appear to get the message. Still, we’re not complaining about the cooler temperatures this week. We just look for signs of spring in other ways.

One of those ways appeared in my own backyard a few days ago.

Last month, I wrote a blog post titled, “Mate for Life.” In that post, I described a pair of sandhill cranes that had frequented our backyard for the past year. I also expressed my sadness at the apparent loss of half the pair. I hoped the missing crane might simply be tending her nest and would soon reappear.

WorryShe did. This week, we watched the whole family foraging for food: daddy, mommy and two precious sandhill crane chicks.

When I first noticed the single crane, I had assumed the worst: his mate had died and he would be alone for the rest of his life.

Why do we do that? Why do we jump to conclusions and assume terrible things before gathering all the facts? We allow ourselves to become anxious over what appears to have occurred, only to discover it has not happened. In the end, we prove the adage, “Worry is the interest paid in advance on a debt you may never owe.”

Worry

I know better, yet I can fall back into old patterns of behavior. Uncertainty is an opportunity to trust my heavenly Father. But my actions don’t always reflect what I claim to believe. I need to remember rock-solid truth when the future appears to be sinking sand.

The Bible has much to say on this subject. Perhaps these verses will be as helpful to you as they are to me…

  • “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:25-30 ESV).

 

  • “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:33-34 ESV).

 

  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).

 

  • “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 ESV).

 

Good words. But if these words are to help me, I must do more than just read them. I need to own them. Remind myself of them daily. Process them so my understanding and application is more than a mere academic exercise.

I need to live them.

It’s not always easy. And I expect there will continue to be occasions when I’ll regress. Still, I’m grateful my heavenly Father does not give up on me. He provides reminders that during seasons of change I don’t need to jump to conclusions or expect the worst. His Holy Spirit encourages me so that I don’t have to yield to worry.

And, occasionally, He sends me a family of sandhill cranes to remind me that He’s still in control.

How do you handle uncertainty?


 
Hurricanes, Trust, and the Sovereignty of God

hurricanesHurricane Irma is coming. The most powerful storm ever in the Atlantic basin is aiming for Florida and tracking to travel up the east coast.

Where. I. Live.

Granted, by the time it reaches our area, it’s predicted to downgrade from a Category 5 to a Category 4. Not much comfort when you consider the winds of a Cat 4 hurricane move at 130 – 150 miles per hour.

So we prepare. And we pray. And we trust God.

Can He send Irma away, back out to the ocean where it won’t harm anyone? Of course.

Will He? I don’t know. But at the moment, it doesn’t appear that He will.

hurricanesHe didn’t with Hurricane Harvey. Or Hurricane Sandy. Or Katrina or Andrew, or the many other storms that have taken lives and left turmoil in their wakes.

But don’t blame God for our broken world. For a world spiraling out of control physically, emotionally, and spiritually. For hurricanes and terrorists. For corruption and despair.

They’re all the natural consequences of thousands of years of humanity—us—wanting to do life apart from our Creator.

Still, God didn’t abandon us to our choices. He sent His Son, Jesus, to restore that broken relationship. And while each of us can decide to trust Him individually for that restoration, we still live in a damaged world that awaits full redemption. A world “groaning” as it waits for the culmination of God’s restoration (Romans 8:21-22).

So what do we do now?

We watch. We pray. We pray for mercy before the storm hits. For mercy in the midst of the storm. And, if necessary, mercy in the aftermath.

And as we pray and receive His mercy, let’s remember one thing when this is over:

Don’t put God back in the closet until the next hurricane.


 
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