Compliance or submission

The story is told of a father who brings his oldest son to settle on a homestead. The father lays out the plans for his son: where to build the house and barn, where to lay out the fields for planting, and where to dig the well. The father then leaves this work to his son while he goes to collect his wife and younger children.

After many months the father returns and the son happily shows off his hard work. The house, barn, and fields are all in line with the father’s desires, but the well is in a different location. When asked why, the son replied, “Father, the house, the barn, and the fields were all in the right place. I agreed with your direction. But I did not agree with where we should dig the well. So I placed it here.” Continue reading “Compliance or submission”

The mind and imago Dei

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26, 27 ESV).

After speaking into existence all that we see and all that we cannot, the Ultimate Being spoke into existence his ultimate creation. But we were not just to be the last in a line of similar living things. God elevated humanity by making us in his image.

As priests under the Law of Moses were to bridge the gap between man and God (Hebrews 5:1, 2), humans bridge the gap between the rest of creation and the Creator. We are caretakers of the world, not just inhabitants (Genesis 1:28). We were elevated in value, not of our own virtue but of the volition of the Divine. Continue reading “The mind and imago Dei”

Ready or not

We were awakened by the blaring of the tornado siren. We grabbed clothes, kids, and our emergency box and made our way to the shelter. The storm passed while we were underground. We were relieved.

After emerging from the shelter and getting our children situated in bed, another emotion emerged which might be described as discomfiture. I had never been so caught off guard with a severe storm as I was that Tuesday night.

I am a low-level weather enthusiast. With proper training I probably would have chased tornadoes. While I enjoy the weather, I pay attention to it so my family doesn’t have to worry. But that night I let my guard and my family down. Continue reading “Ready or not”

We are the times

I was confused. My fifth grade class was not on schedule. Instead of our normal routine, we were about to watch something on television. As my eleven-year-old mind tried to make sense of the pictures I saw, this much became clear: someone had hurt many people. A building was torn in half from bottom to top. Could it be that this was Oklahoma City?

171 lives ended that day. The memorial honors the victims with 168 empty chairs (149 adults and 19 children), plus the names of three preborn children who died with their mothers. It was, until 9/11, the deadliest terror attack in the United States.

In the days that followed my eyes saw the helpers. I saw rescue workers fighting through exhaustion to help pull people from the wreckage. I saw thousands lined up to donate blood. I saw compassion. I saw love. Continue reading “We are the times”

From why to what now

When disaster strikes, when sorrow overwhelms, when hardship envelops our lives, the first question we often ask is, “Why?”

We wonder why we or the ones we love have to endure pain. We question if God loves us or if we deserve it. We might even demand an answer from God.

Wanting to know why is understandable. Knowing why promises us satisfaction. But does God always tell us why? Continue reading “From why to what now”

Discipline in the midst of disaster

But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Timothy 4:7, 8 NASB).

While teaching preaching students, Edwin Jones would say, “Your life is always full, choose carefully how you fill it.” We fill every moment with something. We may be productive or fruitless, contemplative or ignorant, but our time is never empty.

An interesting consequence of social distancing is that the amount of “free time” many people have has risen considerably. What do we do with that time we have? We will fill each available minute. With what will we fill it? Continue reading “Discipline in the midst of disaster”

When the levee breaks

It began to rain and it seemed that it would never stop. The tributaries rose steadily and without abatement for months. Slowly, the disaster began to take shape. Finally, in the spring of 1927, the levees along the great Mississippi River began to fail. Tens of thousands of square miles were inundated. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes and their jobs. The waters did not fully recede for months.

Many songs were written in the aftermath of the flood, including “When the Levee Breaks” by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie. It detailed the sorrow of the inevitable. Where do you go when your protection fails and the flood waters surge? Continue reading “When the levee breaks”

Never changing, forever changed

“Two things you need to carry with you all your life: God is, and God loves you. No matter where you are or what you are doing, these two things will always remain true.” This was advice I gave my oldest two weeks ago in some precious one-on-one time. He repeated it back to me today without prompt, and told me he was trying to work to remember it.

I share this to remind us all that there are things that will never change. Over the history of the universe the one constant is God.

The great psalm of the law-giver speaks of God’s never changing nature: Continue reading “Never changing, forever changed”

Let your light shine

Life is different here today than it was one week ago. I suspect that it is for you as well. Tomorrow, life will be different than today. Trying to imagine what life will be like in a month seems a fool’s errand.

When life moves so swiftly it is easy to become insecure. As the unknown advances, darkness fills people’s hearts. Jesus told his disciples to let their light shine before men. What does that mean during a time like this? How can we shine the light of Jesus into this world of dread? Continue reading “Let your light shine”