Friday, April 25, 2008

Breakfast with the ducks

God and I had breakfast this AM with some ducks out on Ralston Creek, not too far from my apartment. Bright sunshine, peaceful scenery, new grass and flowers -- beauty all around.

Some ppl don't get it that God permeates this creation. Sometimes I get busy trying to get from A to B and forget to notice what he's doing out there. But the Bible, his word, says he is actively involved in keeping it going. In fact, it's not just "God" in the generic sense, but Jesus himself, who once walked this earth and still is intimately involved in it:

"Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven." (Hebrews 1:1-3)

So, what this is saying is, the one who created the whole universe billions of years ago, came to the earth and brought the whole thing -- including the people -- back from our disastrous self-will detour, and is asking us to walk alongside him as we learn to take care of the place and each other. And he still holds it all together himself, because he likes it that way. He's still involved and he's not going away.

Even if we get busy and don't notice him. Or don't believe in him. Or don't want to go along for the trip.

But he's busy, continuing the work he sent his Son to do. He's got projects going on all over the world -- and all over Arvada, or wherever you live. He asks us to be involved with what he's doing, showing his love toward his children everywhere we meet them -- whether they're 'wayward' or not.

Join me and God for breakfast sometime? He'll refresh you with real food and real energy for the job he's about to give you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Real Food

The Lovely Joanne is out of town this week on a business trip, and I must cook for myself, so I'm looking in the refrigerator for what there might be to eat. Since we cooked several large meals last week, there were leftovers that I've been eating to save time cooking. Of course, I have to sniff the food first, since some of it has been around awhile and might be spoiled.

Jesus didn't have a refrigerator, so he understood about food spoilage. In fact, he said at one point, "Don't work for the food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you." (John 6:27, if you want to look it up.) So, was he talking ptomaine, or pushing antioxidants, or what?

Well, Jesus had just fed 5,000 people with a few biscuits and some pickled sardines. That must have wowed the crowd, because they followed him around the next couple of days hoping he'd repeat the feat. They wouldn't listen to what he said about eternity, but they did want him to start up the manna-from-heaven miracle again, so they wouldn't have to work for food any more.

So he tells them not to spin their wheels working for physical food, because it will just spoil anyway. Why was that? Could have been several reasons, I suppose. But basically, he was working on people to stop looking at merely physical things and begin looking at the spiritual. He did that a lot, because people back then were, in the main, looking for just the physical and didn't realize there was more to life.

Oooooops, I do that sometimes too, and so do lots of people I know. Maybe even you...well, okay, not you, but somebody you know. Really well...

So, is there a cure for not seeing the spiritual? I think it's the same way you get to Carnegie Hall -- practice, man, practice. But it takes spiritual eyes; you have to ask God to help you see the big lesson behind the little one in front of you, the spiritual thing that the physical thing stands for. He's created a lot of physical stuff that gives us windows into the spiritual world; so why not use them to understand him better?

'scuse me, there's something boiling over on the stove....

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Light of the World

Tonight is the spring equinox: the day and night are of equal length, and as the sun sets, the full moon rises. Lots of cool astronomics all at once.

On a night like this, but at or near the fall equinox, Jesus stood in the temple courtyard and said "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Now, the Jews of that time had said that light was a symbol of the presence of God. They had created some large menorahs (candlesticks, or lamps for use with olive oil, with seven branches) that they kept lit during the Feast of Tabernacles to illustrate that symbol. And then here came this upstart teacher from Galilee saying that he was the one to whom that symbol pointed. He said that he was the presence of God in the world -- not the light from the menorahs, not the light from the full moon that combined with the oil lamps to cast a brilliant light over Jerusalem.

They didn't like it. That was just one more excuse for them to call him a false prophet.

The next week, the light from those lamps was extinguished. Jesus still shone. He still does.

Can you see where you're going? Or do you need his light in you?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Halfway up a hill

I was biking the other day with The Amazing Joanne, and we faced this oh-my-goodness hill. It was one of those hills that gets steeper all the way up, and not even 24 gears were enough to keep me moving. About halfway up that monster, my legs finally turned completely to rubber, and I had to jump off the bike before I fell off and hurt more than my pride and ambition.

Sooner or later, we all get knocked down by those hills in life. We start thinking we can't do the next task, or keep up with all the chores life requires, or aren't smart enough to handle it, or will never have the money we need, or can't make the career work, or -- well, you can fill in the blank with your own private hell.

Ignoring it, or just hoping it will change, won't get me through the day. Neither will thinking I need to try harder. It's like, trying my own way is what got me into this place of discouragement. Hello, if I could fix it, would I feel like this?

Good news! We don't have to fix it all ourselves, and we don't have to stay in that pit of discouragement. There's another way.

Romans chapter 8 is one of those places I go when I'm feeling 'stopped halfway up a hill.' The writer gives a ton of ways to think about the way we live -- but get this, it's all based on the fact that we are "in Christ." So, he says, now that we are "in Christ" then all this stuff applies.

One of the high points in the argument is this: "If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but offered him up for us all, how will he not also with him grant us everything?"

God gives, just by his nature. He's already given us the 'big thing' -- the free gift of absolute forgiveness, adoption and inclusion through his Son. How could he possibly not be willing and able to give us the 'easy thing' -- help for our other daily struggles too? He doesn't make them evaporate, but he will encourage us, and he will do what is impossible for us. I've seen him do that many, many times.

So, why not get back on the bike, and instead of pedaling like mad, ask him to pull you to the top of the hill. It's a great view!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


The Hebrew Scriptures, known to Christians as the Old Testament, describe a God who was sometimes in contact with humans but more often was unapproachable. Abraham talked with God, but only occasionally. Moses wanted to see God's glory, but he only got to see a tiny bit -- and that part changed him physically (Exodus 33 - 34). God was basically unknowable, terrifying, and distant.

That all changed with the arrival of the Son of God in the flesh. In Jesus, God was with us (Emmanu-el) and we got to watch him work and ask him questions. Theology writers like Michael Jinkins and Baxter Krueger tell us that Jesus is the perfect revelation of the Father to us -- so now, we finally know what the Father is like, because of Jesus. He said himself once, "if you've seen me, you've seen the Father." (John 14:9).

After he was resurrected, Jesus said, "Go to my brothers and tell them 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' " (John 20:17)

Now we have access to the Father through jesus (Romans 5:2, Ephesians 2:18). Now we can call God our own Father. Or as Jesus said, "Papa" ("Abba" in Aramaic) in Mark 14:36. And Paul tells us in two places, Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6, that through the Holy Spirit's speaking for us, we now use the same familiar term. Wow! What a dramatic change from the remote, inaccessible God of old!

"Papa." All those warm connotations of closeness and tenderness are now available to everyday, average people. Really -- to all people -- all we have to do is start talking to him in the name of Jesus.

Have you talked to Papa today? How about right now?