Archive for August, 2015

What is Faith

August 22, 2015

Genesis 15:6 says:  “And Abram believed God; then God considered him righteous on account of his faith.”

What is faith?  Here is the answer in the same sentence.  It is believing what God says.  It is trusting God to do what He says.  It implies several beliefs:  First, one must believe God exists; Second, one must believe God is good;  Third, one must believe God communicates with the humans He has created; Fourth, God must care for the humans He created; Fifth, God must be powerful enough to do what He promises; and Sixth, God can be trusted to do what He says.  That is a lot of beliefs about God summarized in this one statement–a lot about our opinions of God and attitudes toward Him.  God was pleased with Abrams beliefs about Him.  So much so, that God looked at Abram’s faith when forgiving Abram’s sins. He considered Abram righteous on account of his faith.

A monument to Self

August 22, 2015

The tower of babel was a proverbial “last straw” for the Lord, who confused the people’s language and caused them to become scattered.  People often wonder what that was really all about–the people were unified and working together.  Isn’t that sort of peace just what God would find pleasing?  Well, it wasn’t the peace that concerned God, it was something else.  One translation says it this way:  “The people who lived there began to talk about building a great city, with a temple-tower reaching to the skies–a proud, eternal monument to themselves”  (Genesis 11:4)

It wasn’t the unity of the people, and certainly  not peace, but it was their pride in their own accomplishments–a pride that found no place for God.  Human pride soon leads to catastrophic ends.  Humans who believe themselves to be utterly wise, soon undertake things they know too little about–to the detriment of humanity.  We have seen endless medical catastrophes undertaken by those who have too little understanding of the long term effects of what they are doing. The courts are full of malpractice cases, particularly against drug companies and medical supply companies.  What about the unleashing of atomic energy–what a double edged sword!  Endless examples exist not only from medicine and science, but social science experiments as well.  Look at what the “one child” policy has created in China, for example.

No, human pride in self apart from God is rebellion.  We need ask ourselves more than “why does God intervene?”  We need to ask ourselves how much of that human pride exists in our world, our country, and in ourselves.  We have decided we will determine for ourselves the meaning of everything–personhood (abortion), marriage (alternative marriage), life (euthanasia), gender ( politically correct gender bending, including 13 gender possibilities), rights (the silencing of anyone who offends anyone)  and on and on we go.  Does anyone care what God thinks?  Anyone??

Planned Parenthood and the Media

August 20, 2015

I found it interesting that as a student we were taught that the German people were complicit in the crimes of the Nazi regime because they failed to speak up against the atrocities.  What I now find interesting is that Americans fail to speak up about the atrocities of  Planned Parenthood.  In Germany, the people at least had fear of the secret police as an excuse.  In this country the most we can claim is fear of bullying and name calling.  However, one excuse that may be legitimate is that the mainstream news media is barely covering the Planned Parenthood scandal, possible crimes and atrocities.  You almost can’t fault the average busy American who just scans the headlines of their chosen news outlet.  They possibly haven’t even yet heard about the Planned Parenthood news.  Our mainstream media is a propaganda machine in the sense that it determines what Americans need to know about and what they do not need to hear.  Yesterday CNN spent over half an hour on the fall of the Subway former spokesperson.  Nothing of real national concern was mentioned during that half hour–not the possible threats to national security, nothing about possible government corruption, nothing about serious federal lawbreaking–just something they chose to be the subject of national debate.

God’s Promise and the Rainbow

August 17, 2015

After God destroyed the earth with a flood, He was pleased with Noah, and said:  “I will never do it again–I will never again curse the earth, destroying all living things, even though man’s bent is always toward evil from his earliest youth, and even though he does such wicked things.  As long as the earth remains, there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.”  (Genesis 8 21-22)

God also told Noah he would seal this promise with a sign, a rainbow.  “For I will see the rainbow in the cloud and remember my eternal promise to every living being on the earth.”  (Genesis 9:16-17)

Today the rainbow has become a symbol for alternative sexuality–something invented by man, not by God.  Man has co-opted God’s sign for his own purpose.  Yet God’s promise remains, and the rainbow is God’s sign that God keeps His promises.

Made in God’s image

August 17, 2015

“To kill a man is to kill one made like God”  Genesis 9:6

Why is abortion wrong?  Some would try to justify the practice by saying the fetus is not a person yet, or if women are going to do this anyway, we should provide a safe venue.  That is a very weak argument–akin to saying if someone is going to do evil, we should make it safe for them.  No, the reason abortion is wrong goes deep.  It goes right to the heart of God.  God made us, and made us in His Image.  This means each of us is very precious to God, made by Him, and with the likeness of Himself ingrained into us.  We belong to Him.  Therefore, no one could possibly have a “right” to abortion, because no human or institution can confer that right.  Each human life belongs to God, and no human can destroy what is God’s.  Just as no one has the right to kill our children, no one has the right to kill God’s children.

It Broke God’s Heart

August 17, 2015

“When the Lord God saw the extent of human wickedness, and the trend and direction of men’s lives were only towards evil, he was sorry he had made them.  It broke his heart.”  Genesis 6:5-6

When I first saw these verses in this translation, I was so startled by them.  “It broke his heart”  just really hit me.  I guess I saw God as more distant than this.  Like many parents, I have poured myself, emotion, treasure and time into my children.  I gave them the best I had.  But when, after all that, a child goes wrong, or turns on the parent, it is truly heartbreaking.  I know that feeling, and I recognize it in the lives of other parents I know, but seeing it applied to God was emotionally wrenching for me.  I guess I thought God was somehow above having feelings for us.  I know intellectually that He loves us and cares for us, but I guess I never thought about God being so like a parent, so tender and so vulnerable that we could break His heart.  It makes me go back and look at my own life, giving me real sorrow for my sins, knowing I broke God’s heart when I went against Him.

The Holy Trinity

August 15, 2015

I was thinking about my recent post on God being one, yet a community.  That would be called in theology the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.  Many religions reject the trinity as illogical and not understandable.  Well, it is a mystery, yet I kept thinking whether there was some clue that God has left us to help us understand it.  If it is His Truth, then He does want us to believe.  Why is it so hard.  I had a dream, and in my dream I saw a bonsai tree.  I instantly realized in my dream that this was my analogy.  A tree has three parts–a root ball, a trunk (even a bonsai tree has a trunk) and foliage.  The function of each is separate, yet the tree is one, can’t exist permanently without all three parts, and it is all the same DNA.  Now I may have heard this analogy years ago and forgotten it, but I indeed do not remember ever having heard this before.  While it doesn’t explain everything about “God in three persons”, it does show another “three in one” in God’s creation and I thought it was quite good.

Why was Cain’s offering unaccepted by God?

August 12, 2015

In Genesis chapter 4 the story is told of two brothers, Cain and Abel.  Both made sacrifices to God.  Abel sacrificed the best of his lambs, while Cain brought a gift of his farm produce.  It is recorded that the Lord accepted Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s.  I have heard different commentary on this.  One theory is that lambs were more acceptable than farm produce.  I don’t think so, because God had not yet revealed what He wanted as an offering.  Another theory is that Abel brought the best of what he had while Cain brought “a gift of his farm produce”, not necessarily the best of what he had.  Thats a theory, but nowhere is that stated.  I think the answer is in the next paragraph.  The Lord asks Cain why he is so angry.  He could be full of joy if he would do what he should.  “But if you refuse to obey, watch out.  Sin is waiting to attack you, longing to destroy you.  But you can conquer it!”   I believe this is key.  It is showing that Cain was in some way disobedient to God, and it may have been in his attitude.  God never accepts our gifts in lieu of our obedience, or gifts given from a wrong motive.  Jesus taught much about motives and also about getting our relationships right before offering gifts at the altar.

I am further intrigued by the statement:  “Sin in waiting to attack you, longing to destroy you.  But you can conquer it!”  This would seem to say we have no excuse no matter how strong the temptations we face, nor the particular weaknesses we deal with.  We can conquer our sinful habits if we come before God in prayer with repentance and ask His help.  Cain was refusing to obey God.

Let us make man in our image Man and maid He made them.

August 11, 2015

God is one.  Yet the mysterious comment “Let us” gives us pause.  What does it mean?  Could it mean God and the angels?  I don’t think it does, for nowhere does it say the angels helped God create.  Later in the scripture it says Jesus was present at the creation as well as the Spirit.  It certainly appears that God is one, yet a community of one.  God lives in community in some mysterious way, and theologians have tried to explain it in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.  What is most interesting though, is that God should desire to live in community.  He who said “It is not good for man to be alone”, doesn’t live alone either.  It is also a mystery that God said man is made in God’s image.  Many have speculated on what is meant by that–is it our ability to reason, or our ability to create?  From these short two verses–Genesis 1:26 and 27, it would seem that the image God has in mind is the image of relationship–deep relationship that has the quality of creating out of plural a unity.   The male and female come together to create a unity.  Indeed it says in chapter 2 of Genesis that “the two become one flesh”.  God made male and female to complete one another for the purpose of not only companionship and helping one another, but He told them, “Multiply”.  The two are different, yet a singular entity, with the purpose of re-creating human life and extending relationship.  God did that too–in creating humans and desiring relationship with them.  In fact, in God’s picture of his relationship with Israel, He uses the bridal metaphor. He is the groom–Israel, was his bride.  Perhaps that is why God was so insistent on the purity of marriage–only the two for a lifetime.  Two whose oneness  could only be broken by death.  The violation of marital purity defaces the image of God which the couple represents.

In the Beginning

August 9, 2015

“In the beginning, God…” The bible opens with these four words, and they are infinitely appropriate. They separate the bible account from other beliefs or philosophies humans have followed. “In the beginning” assumes there was a beginning. Evolution doesn’t assume that. It assumes atoms were on earth, but it never explains where they came from. It assumes laws of chemistry, but can’t explain where they came from either. There is no beginning, but some things simply exist–i.e., atoms, molecules, laws of chemistry, energy etc. The word “God” assumes God existed at the beginning. Not all belief systems assume that, either. Some assume many gods, spirits, aliens, or simply nothing. These four simple words set up the framework for all that will follow.

“…God created…” This sets God as the creator of everything, from light, earth, heaven, Sun, moon and stars, earth and water, and all that is present on the earth, including all living things. Nothing happened by chance, nor did anything evolve. For those who feel they must try to work evolution into this, I would ask “why?” As a professor once said to me “Evolution doesn’t answer everything, but it is simply the best explanation we have if we can’t accept a creator. And Science can’t accept a creator because it is outside the realm of science, which must be able to see and measure what it studies.” Well, ok, but evolution can’t be seen, measured or replicated either. We can only conjecture what happened, and a lot remains to be answered there as well. It is a faith-based philosophy when it can’t answer the questions either of its own statistical impossibility or the problem of irreducibility. I heard another professor say “We believe all the questions about how evolution is possible will someday be answered when we have discovered more.” Thats faith.