Ch-ch-ch-changes


I hate change! Hate it! I’m guessing my reaction comes from my growing-up years when we were moving on an average of every two years. New houses, new schools, new friends, new churches, new neighbors, new everything.

I assumed life would be like that. After teaching in one place for three years, I moved. Then another three years passed, and I moved again. Since then, I’ve stayed put. I like it like that. Same church, same apartment, same … well, I changed jobs, friends moved, so did my neighbors … so changes are still happening. I’m not happy! 😦

Guess what my aversion to change means when it comes to the world of communication! First there was email—what a great way to communicate with people, even those living across the world! Then there were message boards, and we could have discussions with complete strangers over issues we all had some interest in. Then there were blogs, which allows me to introduce content. Then Facebook and Twitter, text messaging, Instagram, Pinterest, Snap Chat, Google Hangouts, Goodreads, LinkedIn and …

Give me a break!

The book business is in great flux too. Indie publishers are everywhere. E-books and e-readers are common, whereas brick and mortar bookstores are struggling to hold on.

Whether I like it or not, the world changes. No one asks my permission. They just upset my world by “upgrading” or moving or inventing or wearing out or breaking. And truth be told, I can’t keep up with all the changes. Some of them cost too much. Some are too time consuming. Some don’t work for me, and some I can’t find—where, oh, where is the nearest bookstore now?!

Change? Honestly, I think chaos is a better word at times. Or upheaval. Maybe mayhem, bedlam, havoc. OK, now I might be exaggerating a teensy bit.

But here’s the cool thing. We have an unchangeable God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is loving today, merciful, forgiving, just, kind, and omniscient. And I can count on the fact that He will be all those same things tomorrow and the day after and the day after that.

What’s more, because He’s sovereign and holds all creation in place, what looks chaotic to me, isn’t. Life has a purpose, and all the parts of life have a purpose—even the moves and changes, including the ones I like the least.

For one thing, none of those changes catches God off guard. He’s not scratching His head in wonder at all that’s going on, as if some of it has gotten away from Him. It hasn’t. Not the economy, politics, or those messy, messy, uncooperative relationships.

God knows what He is about. He’s got it under control. So even when I have to endure all those changes, it’s OK, because God has also got me. And without a doubt, He can do a much better job of orchestrating events than I ever could.

You see, there’s one thing I don’t always like to admit, but here it is: without change, there is no growth. So if I want to grow into the image of Jesus Christ, I can’t stand pat. God knows this, and He leads, prods, pulls, pushes, coaxes, carries, so that I get where He knows I need to go. Because one more of His unchanging qualities is that He is good.

A good, unchanging God. Now we’re talking my language! 😉

This post is an edited version of an article that appeared here in February, 2012.

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Published in: on February 7, 2019 at 4:46 pm  Comments (2)  
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Looking For Water


According to Wikimedia “a cistern is a tank for storing water, usually covered. It may be as small as a toilet cistern or large enough to be essentially a covered reservoir.”

God, through the prophet Jeremiah used cisterns as a metaphor to show His people’s relationship with Him.

For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)

696415_mountain_waterfallI don’t know about you, but if I were in need of water and had to choose between “living water”–the kind that flows freely, abundantly, cleanly–and water stored in a cistern, I’d take the former every time.

But God didn’t just accuse His people of choosing cistern water over living water. They were making for themselves broken cisterns—ones that couldn’t hold water at all. In other words, since we need water to live, they were abandoning the source of life in favor of their own empty effort.

What a great picture of Humankind’s attempts to make it without God. We dig and work and build and produce and save, but in the end we go out like we came in—alone.

Our own efforts to provide the love, security, purpose, sense of belonging that we all need, net us muddy ground. Furthermore, one person’s attempt to do religion is no better than another person’s rejection of religion.

Water isn’t found in man-made activities. We can’t give up enough for Lent or fast often enough or serve in homeless shelters frequently enough to get the water we need.

The Jews who Jeremiah was talking to had left worship of the LORD their God and were serving false gods, made with their own hands. They couldn’t see how silly it was for them to pray to a statue that they had carved from a block of wood, one that could not walk or talk, and certainly could not give them Living Water.

But people in contemporary Western society aren’t any smarter. We think happiness will come if we just have enough money, just get the right job, just marry the right person, just have freedom or protection or safety or health. We go all in on things that are temporary, ephemeral, over which we have little control.

God tells us that He’ll provide. But like little children we say, No, no, let me, I want to do it myself. So we’re hacking away to dig out these systems we think will make life make sense or fill up our loneliness or at least get us through to the weekend. It’s a sad way to live, trying to squeeze water out of the muddy mess we make.

Especially when we can turn and enjoy Living Water in abundance.

This post is an edited version of one that appeared here in April, 2013.

Published in: on January 14, 2019 at 4:49 pm  Comments Off on Looking For Water  
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Is Salvation A “Loophole”?


At the Facebook atheist/theist group in which I participate, one of the atheists has said on more than one occasion, “god sacrificed himself, to himself, in order to have a loophole for the rules he created.” Is salvation a loophole?

The Oxford-American Dictionary defines loophole as “an ambiguity or inadequacy in the law or a set of rule.” In order for salvation to be a loophole, then God’s law would have to be ambiguous or inadequate.

Except sin entered into the world when there was just one commandment: don’t eat from this fruit or you’ll die. Nothing ambiguous there. Is it inadequate? Inadequate for what? What was the purpose of that commandment?

I have to admit, I’ve never really thought this out before. The fruit was of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but I wonder if it could have been any old fruit. Clearly eating what God had prohibited did open Adam and Eve’s eyes, but to what? The first indication Scripture gives is their awareness that they were naked. And they wanted to cover up. They hadn’t cared that they were naked before. So something changed. Their sense of morality was altered.

But Adam’s sin had already occurred. Knowing full well that he was doing what God told him not to do, Adam ate of the forbidden fruit.

I think there’s really only one explanation for this action. Adam decided he would do what he wanted to do, not what God told him to do. In short, Adam placed himself as a higher authority than God. And that’s the thing that separates humans from God to this day.

The issue, then, isn’t actually a particular rule and certainly not a set of laws, but the question, Who’s in charge?

When God told Adam and Eve what they could and could not enjoy in the garden, He also revealed to them the consequences of going their own way. They would die.

The natural order of things broke when Adam sinned. God, who upholds all things by the word of His power, was now cut off from the people He had made. They had cut themselves off. Just as surely as they wanted to cover their bodies with leaves, they also wanted to hide themselves from His presence.

In addition, they faced death—something that came about as God said it would. But not only their own death. The death of people they loved, too. Children and animals, which I suspect they became fond of as any of us do with our pets. They now died, too.

Obviously being cut off from friendship with God was the greatest penalty they could pay. When did they realize how bad it would be? When Cain became a law unto himself and killed his brother? When God kicked them out of the garden? When work became hard? When they no longer enjoyed regular personal conversations with God? I don’t know.

The bottom line is that God is the only One wise enough, good enough, strong enough, to make the decisions, to direct the world, to keep the universe in place. It’s nothing but hubris for humans to say, No, we don’t need God. But in one act of disobedience, that’s exactly what Adam said.

But back to salvation. Did God come up with a loophole to fix a flaw in His plan? No, He didn’t. Scripture makes it clear that Christ was part of the plan all along.

For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:20-21)

He was the free gift God intended from eternity past to give to us as a demonstration of His love.

Of course there is some truth in what the atheist guy says; God did sacrifice Himself to Himself. But that’s not a negative.

I remember when I was a kid, my dad would give us money to buy Christmas presents. His money, to buy him (and others) presents. Did that make the gifts meaningless? Not at all. The money came from him and the money went to him, in the form of the presents. Why would he do this? Because he loved us, wanted to teach us, wanted us to experience the joy of giving, and because we in turn had the opportunity to express our love for him and the others in our family.

God isn’t selfishly wanting sacrifice, nor is He trying to fix a broken plan. I know sometimes we believers when explaining it, because we’re limited to our linear, finite thinking, can make it sound as if that’s the case, but in truth God knew what was best, what would be the best way for people made in His image, and therefore with free will, to actually come to Him and submit to Him. That’s what makes for the best relationships. When I say, God, You’re in charge and I am not, He showers me with His love.

So, no, salvation is not a loophole!

Published in: on August 30, 2018 at 6:00 pm  Comments (8)  
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