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Posts Tagged ‘Creator’

Painting by Will RainierApparently, this is a verse the academics love to tear apart and put back together again. A quick Google search threw me into all kinds of didactic sermons and instruction. Even Wikipedia took me beyond my desire to pursue all the ins and outs of the genealogies and implications of Jesus as the branch and fulfillment of the promises of God. What is left then?

The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill my gracious promise with the people of Israel and Judah. In those days and at that time, I will raise up a righteous branch from David’s line, who will do what is just and right in the land. In those days, Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is what he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness. [Jeremiah 33:14-16, CEB]

Simplicity is my choice. If I had to melt it all down into one tidbit, then it would be this: Jehovah Tsidkenu, The Lord our Righteousness. And yes, the discussion could amble about the meanings of righteousness but in the end I am at peace with my understanding that God knows best and all is within the working out of what is best. I have a belief in ultimate good whose source is God. And so, if God loves humanity as I believe God does (for the Creator loves creation), then all will be well.

It’s hard to look at the details to see the big picture because we interpret those details using our own limited framework. If my mind’s architecture believes that the peace of Jerusalem or Judah or Israel should have been played out by now, then I will be disappointed in God’s apparent unfulfilled promise. If I am looking for proof positive that Jesus is really in David’s line, scholarship may break my conviction. And so I say again, Jehovah Tsidkenu.

When bad things happen to good people, there are no explanations that can do justice to the sorrow except for our faith in Jehovah Tsidkenu. People die, children are hurt, families struggle, evil manifests, the earth groans.

Jehovah Tsidkenu.

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Painted by Hans Baldung Grien
16th Century

In a previous post, I spent some time thinking about the idea of choices and boundaries for human in the Garden of Eden (a decidedly perfect environment) and yet, within that garden stood a tree with forbidden fruit. Human had to choose whether to honor God’s boundary (“do not eat”) or not. Now, it appears another kind of choice was there as well, whether or not to believe the “crafty serpent.”

Genesis 3:1aNow the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman . . .

Another thing occurred to me today. Why are so few people concerned with the concept of a serpent that could a) talk and b) interact with human? Some might reason that this was possible because it was really Satan in the guise of a serpent, but still, a talking critter is talking critter. And apparently, human (Adam or Eve) was not particularly surprised by this talking faculty either. Is it possible then that other animals or creatures in the Garden could communicate? I know, that sounds fantastic. (Is that any more fantastic than the idea of a Garden with only two people who named all the animals and walked around naked?) After all, the Garden is not supposed to be Dr. Doolittle’s domain. And yet, isn’t it fun to consider? Perhaps this ability to communicate with other species was lost to us in the “fall.” In some ways, it makes perfect sense that we make up so many stories about talking animals in our children’s stories, fairy tales, and movies. If only, we think, if only my dog could tell me what he really wants. If only my cat would explain why she is so angry with me. And so on.

A few years ago, Carolyn Parkhurst wrote a novel called The Dogs of Babel, in which a man’s wife dies after falling from a tree and the only witness was their dog. The man, a linguistics professor, is so embroiled in grief that his only hope for recovery is to get the truth about his wife’s death from the dog . . .  by teaching him how to talk. To me, that story captured the longing of inter-species relationships.

But, enough about talking animals. What I really wanted to investigate was the logic of the serpent for challenging humans. I believe he really wanted to undermine God’s authority and the best way to do that was by usurping the human role in Eden. The serpent, as a creature of the Garden, had been placed under the authority of human (see Genesis 1:28) just like all the other animals and creatures. To me, this is the reason the serpent was so crafty. He had a bone to pick with Creator and for this reason, he tricked humans, those most beloved of God. Otherwise, why bother?

This breakdown of the chain of command works in today’s world too. What better way to break things up than to hit the “middle manager.” In this way, the organization (or the church) suffers both up and down the ladder. Those below the middle manager begin to distrust that person’s reliability while the administrator above is seen as a poor leader, unworthy of respect. By encouraging human Adam and human Eve to break the boundaries of the Creator, the serpent broke himself free as well. The serpent’s goal was and still is bigger than human.

Evil has an agenda that is beyond mere “search and destroy” missions of human beings. Ephesians 6:12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Same for them.

What is my role then today? See the big picture. Believe in the boundaries of God. Believe in the reality of a secret agenda of evil. Trust the sovereignty of God.

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God Did This

God is a parent for human and all of creation. God is light and energy; God is quarks and God is Ceres, quasar OJ287, and IC1101 super galaxy, some of the largest things in the Universe. Have we noticed?

Acts 17:27-28a
God did this [creation] so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’

We are no different. We build houses and gardens, cities and parks for our society and our world. But mostly, we create a life, an environment for our loved ones. We get jobs to make enough money to provide for them. And if we have a little extra, we do more: we decorate the playroom, we buy a flat screen, we create a deck, we buy a nicer car. And so on.

Does anyone notice? This is one of our biggest complaints as parents, isn’t it?

In my own house, I know, I’ve created little monsters by spoiling my children, determined to give them more than I had growing up. And yet, it never seems to be enough: the clothes are the wrong brand, the car is the wrong color, the food isn’t made to order. On occasion, I’ll get a genuine thank you for a meal or a purchase or a surprise. But generally, it all runs together for them.

But am I any different really? How often do I notice the gifts of God? It’s not like God needs my “high fives” for a job well done, but a little acknowledgment would be appropriate.

God, help me see your handiwork today with a mindfulness toward thanksgiving.

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Painting by N.S.G.

It takes a lot of courage, actually, to continue to hope in something or someone, both unseen and yet promised for a time in a future we cannot know. There must be persistence too, but often, it takes plain courage and a type of audacity to believe despite it all.

Hebrews 3:6
But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.
[NIV 1984]

For some people, this tenacity has to have something more substantial to sustain it and so they latch on to a concrete idea still in the future to uphold their courage. Like a date. Apparently, there is a groundswell of believers who are putting their hope and their courage into May 21, 2011 as “judgment day” and the end of the world. These folks are the antithesis of Rob Bell’s stance in Love Wins. Where Bell’s hell is already manifesting here on earth and our battle is in the now for the power of the Kingdom to take hold; these folks are predicting the great rapture for the enlightened and a fiery hell for everyone else; the only winners in their minds are “people like them.”

Of course, this isn’t just in the Christian world; there’s still 2012 to face as well. With the “end” of the Mayan calendar, some people believe and predict, the end of the world as we know it is next year.

To what or in what do these eschatological folks hope? Mostly, it’s “hope nothin’ bad happens to me” and “just in case,” let’s look into some “fire” insurance . . . or assurance, and join this or that bandwagon.

Here’s the rub: hope implies a good end. And it takes courage to hold onto this kind of hope because our world is full of dark things, dark people, dark rulers and “principalities.” [For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12]

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. . . . ” Matthew 10:28a

Courage cannot be built on a 3D world; there are no guarantees here. Courage and hope can only be built on our faith in the truth of a Christ whose Holy Spirit defies logic and protects the Human Spirit from eternal death and separation from the Creator. Nothing more.

To become a believer in the Christ is a statement of hope. For the words of Christ promise that all will turn out for the best. Courage is the ability to face a different world that mocks hope, questions the supernatural, and defies paradox with proofs and logic. To stand. That’s the key. Whether it’s May 21st or 2012, whether it’s sickness or sorrow or disappointment that have been meted out in large doses, we are called to stand on the solid rock of faith.

And if I fall off that rock because my faith was too small or my fears too great? There is still grace.

“But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.” [Acts 27:22]

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Do we still honor the builder? I think not. I am as guilty as anyone else. Sometimes, I can’t remember the author of a book, much less an architect. I was terrible at “music memory” in grammar school and worse at signers of the declaration of independence.

Hebrews 3:2b-4
. . . just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

Instead, I get absorbed by the end result, the “house,” the object.

This morning, a friend and I spent a couple of hours at Panera Church over latte and coffee discussing how differently she looks at humanity than she did five years ago. For so long, she said, it was still about “us and them”–the believers and the non-believers. “Thems” were a shadow of humanity: they were out and we were in. They were a house without rooms. They were a shell. But now, she finds herself within the teeming masses of people, all built by the hand of God, all sacred in a way that only God can create. She sees the builder behind the human.

There are people who are still building and using their creativity. There are inventors struggling to find a place for their inventions (they even have their own reality show now); creative artists abound, longing for ways to get their work out to the general public, to share their creations. For these people, they are giving out a part of themselves. Painters, writers, composers, craftsmen, architects, and many more creators, are trying to tell us: this is how I see the world, come with me.

God is a creator too. The earth is one aspect of God’s message to humanity. And more, living things are another, animals, fish, and people included.

Today is Mother’s Day in the U.S. and we celebrate the women who carried us within their bodies and nurtured us as best they were able. Together, a female and male parent came together to create another human, endowed with a personal spirit, unique to the world in which we live.

Let us give thanks to the Builder today, the Creator, the Mother/Father of us all. Let us look at everything and everyone and remember the source of that idea, that word, that color, that shape, that sound. Amen.

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I confess, I don’t like this idea in general, that God’s supernatural creativity might be, in some way, self-serving. Instead, I would like to ponder his generosity, his love, his willingness to create . . . for me!

Colossians 1:16
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

Aren’t my own prayers ultimately self-serving? Help me be a better parent (for my kids is it? or for my success vs. failure as a mother?); give me favor at my work (so that the business will grow or people will love and congratulate me?); help resolve our financial situation (to show God’s power in this area or help me get out of debt so I can buy something else?).

I need to get over any kind of surprise that God, all God, all knowing, powerful and present in all things, can operate in His will and not only will it please himself, it will please me as well . . . if I let it. If I trust God, if I go with the flow of God’s spirit in and through both my invisible and visible life.

There is a story of a human who questioned God’s right to do as God wishes. His name is Job and it takes 42 chapters to get to the essence of it. God is sovereign. God is God. That’s just how it is.

I can either fight God and walk against the wind or row upstream or I can yield to God. Pretty simple really.

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The term, access, is such a contemporary word. We think of computer access and Internet access and it’s clear that there is a direct way to get or use these services. And yet, here we have a promise for direct access to God by the Christ. This is really the gospel (good news) for me.

Ephesians 2:18-19a
For through him [Jesus Christ] we both [gentiles and Jews] have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household . . .

It’s funny. If someone said to me, in order to meet or talk with Bill Gates, I’d have to go through a particular secretary, I wouldn’t bat an eye. That would make sense. Or, in order to meet with the President, I’d have to go through a series of requests to various intermediaries before I could get that prized meeting. Or, if I wanted to have an audience with the Pope, I’d have to have very good reasons and very good contacts.

And yet, if I say that the Christ is the access point to God, there is much push back. “God is available to anyone,” they say. And in some ways, that is true. Certainly, all of creation is within God’s purview and if God, as Spirit [John 4:24], wants to communicate or connect with anyone, anywhere or any how, who am I to belittle the idea.

But scriptures are clear that this mysterious “work” (or sacrifice) of Jesus, the long awaited Messiah, is the planned gateway to God. It’s a direct path: easy, loving, and dependable.

For me, the question is not so much about accepting Jesus but whether or not a person really wants to be in relationship with God, big God, Spirit God, Universe God? Do I, as a grain of sand (or even smaller) in relationship to the suns and planets want access to the Creator? Do I have any questions . . . fears . . . hopes? Do I want to know about my place, my role, my meaning?

I do. And I thank this same God for giving me the access code in Jesus.

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