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God Spoke

By |2022-10-17T02:33:03-04:00October 17th, 2022|

In 1876, inventor Alexander Graham Bell spoke the very first words on a telephone. He called his assistant, Thomas Watson, saying, “Watson, come here. I want to see you.” Cackly and indistinct, but intelligible, Watson heard what Bell had said. The first words spoken by Bell over a phone line proved that a new day for human communication had dawned.

Establishing the dawn of the first day, Into the “formless and empty” earth (Genesis 1:2), God spoke His first words recorded in Scripture: “Let there be light” (v. 3). These words were filled with creative power. He spoke and what He declared came into existence (Psalm 33:6, 9). God said, “let there be light” and so it was. His words produced immediate victory as darkness and chaos gave way to the brilliance of light and order. Light was God’s answer to the dominance of darkness. And when He had created the light, He said it “was good” (Genesis 1:3).  

God’s first words continue to be powerful in the lives of believers in Jesus. With the dawning of each new day, it’s as if God is restating His spoken words in our lives. When darkness—literally and metaphorically—gives way to the brilliance of His light, may we praise Him and acknowledge that He’s called out to us and truly sees us.

Imaginative Faith

By |2022-09-19T02:33:10-04:00September 19th, 2022|

“Look, Papa! Those trees are waving at God!” As we watched young birches bending in the wind before an oncoming storm, my grandson’s excited observation made me smile. It also made me ask myself, Do I have that kind of imaginative faith?

Reflecting on the story of Moses and the burning bush, the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote that “Earth’s crammed with heaven, / And every common bush afire with God; / But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.” God’s handiwork is evident all around us in the wonders of what He has made, and one day, when the earth is made new, we’ll see it unlike ever before.

God tells us about this day when He proclaims through the prophet Isaiah, “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12). Singing mountains? Clapping trees? Why not? Paul noted that “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

Jesus once spoke of stones crying out (Luke 19:40), and His words echo Isaiah’s prophecy about what lies ahead for those who come to Him for salvation. When we look to Him with faith that imagines what only God can do, we will see His wonders continue forever!

Monkeying with the Cosmos

By |2022-05-15T09:06:05-04:00May 15th, 2022|

In the early 1980s, a prominent astronomer who didn’t believe in God wrote, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology.” To this scientist’s eye, the evidence showed that something had designed everything we observe in the cosmos. He added, “There are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.” In other words, everything we see looks as if it was planned by Someone. And yet, the astronomer remained an atheist.

Three thousand years ago, another intelligent man looked at the skies and drew a different conclusion. “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” wondered David (Psalm 8:3–4).

Yet God cares for us deeply. The universe tells the story of its Intelligent Designer, the “Super Intellect” who made our minds and put us here to ponder His work. Through Jesus and His creation, God can be known. Paul wrote, “[Christ] existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth” (Colossians 1:15–16, nlt).

The cosmos has indeed been “monkeyed with.” The identity of the Intelligent Designer is there to be discovered by anyone willing to seek.

God’s Good Glue

By |2022-03-23T09:06:03-04:00March 23rd, 2022|

Scientists from Penn State University recently engineered a new kind of glue that’s both extremely strong and also removable. Their design is inspired by a snail whose slime hardens in dry conditions and loosens again when wet. The reversible nature of the snail’s slime allows it to move freely in more humid conditions—safer for the snail—while keeping it securely planted in its environment when movement would be hazardous.

The researchers’ approach of mimicking an adhesive found in nature calls to mind scientist Johannes Kepler’s description of his discoveries. He said he was “merely thinking God’s thoughts after him.” The Bible tells us that God created the earth and all that’s in it: the vegetation on the land (Genesis 1:12); the “creatures of the sea” and “every winged bird” (v. 21); “the creatures that move along the ground” (v. 25); and “mankind in his own image” (v. 27). When humankind discovers or identifies a special attribute of a plant or animal, we’re simply following in God’s creative footsteps, having our eyes opened to the way He designed them.

At the end of each day in the creation account, God surveyed the fruit of His work and described it as “good.” As we learn and discover more about God’s creation, may we too recognize His magnificent work, care for it well, and proclaim how very good it is!

God’s Amazing Creation

By |2021-11-16T12:09:58-05:00November 12th, 2021|

What began as a simple spring nature walk turned into something special as my wife and I trekked along our hometown’s Grand River. We noticed some familiar “friends” on a log in the rippling water—five or six large turtles basking in the sun. Sue and I smiled at the amazing sight of these reptiles, which we hadn’t seen for many months. We were delighted that they were back, and we celebrated a moment of joy in God’s magnificent creation.

God took Job on quite a nature walk (see Job 38). The troubled man needed an answer from his Creator about his situation (v. 1). And what he saw on his journey with God through His creation provided the encouragement he needed.

Imagine Job’s amazement as God reminded him of His grand design of the world. Job got a firsthand explanation of the natural world: “Who laid its cornerstone while morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” (vv. 6–7). He got a geography lesson regarding God’s imposed limitations of the seas (v. 11).

The Creator continued to inform Job about the light He created, snow He produces, and rain He provides to make things grow (vv. 22–28). Job even heard about the constellations from the one who flung them into space (vv. 31–32).

Finally, Job responds: “I know that you can do all things” (42:2). As we experience the natural world, may we stand in awe of our wise and wonderful Creator.

Noticing Nature

By |2021-05-09T09:06:02-04:00May 9th, 2021|

A friend and I recently visited a favorite walking spot of mine. Climbing a windswept hill, we crossed a field of wildflowers into a forest of towering pines, then descended into a valley where we paused a moment. Clouds floated softly above us. A stream trickled nearby. The only sounds were birdsongs. Jason and I stood there silently for fifteen minutes, taking it all in.

As it turns out, our actions that day were deeply therapeutic. According to research from the University of Derby, people who stop to contemplate nature experience higher levels of happiness, lower levels of anxiety, and a greater desire to care for the earth. Walking through the forest isn’t enough, though. You have to watch the clouds, listen to the birds. The key isn’t being in nature, but noticing it.

Could there be a spiritual reason for nature’s benefits? Paul said that creation reveals God’s power and nature (Romans 1:20). God told Job to look at the sea, sky, and stars for evidence of His presence (Job 38–39). Jesus said that contemplating the “birds of the air” and “flowers of the field” could reveal God’s care and reduce anxiety (Matthew 6:25–30). In Scripture, noticing nature is a spiritual practice.

Scientists wonder why nature affects us so positively. Maybe one reason is that by noticing nature we catch a glimpse of the God who created it and who notices us.

A Strong Heart

By |2021-03-18T12:00:04-04:00March 16th, 2021|

In his book Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, co-authored with Philip Yancey, Dr. Paul Brand observed, “A hummingbird heart weighs a fraction of an ounce and beats eight hundred times a minute; a blue whale’s heart weighs half a ton, beats only ten times per minute, and can be heard two miles away. In contrast to either, the human heart seems dully functional, yet it does its job, beating 100,000 times a day [65–70 times a minute] with no time off for rest, to get most of us through seventy years or more.”

The amazing heart so thoroughly powers us through life that it has become a metaphor for our overall inner well-being. Yet, both our literal and metaphorical hearts are prone to failure. What can we do?

The psalmist Asaph, a worship leader of Israel, acknowledged in Psalm 73 that true strength comes from somewhere—Someone—else. He wrote, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (v. 26). Asaph was right. The living God is our ultimate and eternal strength. As the Maker of heaven and earth, He knows no such limitations to His perfect power.

In our times of difficulty and challenge, may we discover what Asaph learned through his own struggles: the Lord is the true strength of our hearts. We can rest in that strength every day.

Snow Muse

By |2021-03-18T12:10:25-04:00March 9th, 2021|

Named for a tough blue-collar neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio, the grassroots musical group Over the Rhine sings about a transformation that takes place each year in the city. “Whenever we’d get our first real snowfall of the year, it felt like something sacred was happening,” explains band co-founder Linford Detweiler. “Like a little bit of a fresh start. The city would slow down and grow quiet.”

If you’ve experienced a heavy snowfall, you understand how it can inspire a song. A magical quietness drapes the world as snow conceals grime and grayness. For a few moments, winter’s bleakness brightens, inviting our reflection and delight.

 Elihu, the one friend of Job’s who may have had a helpful view of God, noted how creation commands our attention. “God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways,” he said (37:5). “He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’” Such splendor can interrupt our lives, demanding a sacred pause. “So that everyone he has made may know his work, he stops all people from their labor,” Elihu observed (vv. 6–7).

Nature sometimes seizes our attention in ways we don’t like. Regardless of what happens to us or what we observe around us, each moment magnificent, menacing, or mundane can inspire our worship. The poet’s heart within us craves the holy hush.

 

God’s Footprints

By |2021-01-21T16:24:52-05:00January 20th, 2021|

“I know where God lives,” our four-year-old grandson told my wife, Cari. “Where is that?” she asked, her curiosity piqued. “He lives in the woods beside your house,” he answered.

When Cari told me about their conversation, she wondered what prompted his thinking. “I know,” I responded. “When we went for a walk in the woods during his last visit, I told him that even though we can’t see God, we can see the things He’s done.” “Do you see the footprints I’m making?” I had asked my grandson as we stepped through a sandy place by a river. “The animals and the trees and the river are like God’s footprints. We know that He’s been here because we can see the things He’s made.”

The writer of Psalm 104 also pointed to the evidence for God in creation, exclaiming “How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (v. 24). The Hebrew word for wisdom found here is often used in the Bible to describe skillful craftsmanship. God’s handiwork in nature proclaims His presence and makes us want to praise Him.

Psalm 104 begins and ends with the words: “Praise the Lord” (v.1, 35). From a baby’s hand to an eagle’s eye, our Creator’s artistry all around us speaks of His consummate skill. May we take it all in with wonder today—and praise Him for it!

The Maker of the Moon

By |2020-05-21T13:26:22-04:00May 29th, 2020|

After astronauts set the Eagle down in the Sea of Tranquility, Neil Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” He was the first human to walk on the surface of the moon. Other space travelers followed, including the commander of the last Apollo mission, Gene Cernan. “There I was, and there you are, the Earth—dynamic, overwhelming, and I felt . . . it was just too beautiful to happen by accident...

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