Category Archives: creation

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 513 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

07/06/16 – 513 – The Creation Story

Gen 2:1-4

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

 4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. NIV

I usually read several references before writing a devotion, just to get a good overall take on what I’m writing without ‘borrowing’ too much from any one source. Usually, I don’t have to. But today, I found some material in the Bible Exposition Commentary that was just too good not too share (although I’ll paraphrase).

The words “seventh day” that appear 3 times in verses 2 & 3 come from the Hebrew Shabbat, where we get our word Sabbath. It’s the only day where there is no mention of evening and morning, suggesting that it was never meant to end. Maybe it was just supposed to be an eternal day of R&R with us and God enjoying each other’s company in the garden!

Second, this is the only day that “God blessed”. In blessing it, He made it a blessing for us. Yet, how many of us treat it as a burden instead?

Third, He made it holy, which means set apart for His own purposes. Again, it should be the same for us. Yet, we seem to have either become legalistic about it or ignore that aspect completely.

In Jesus’ day, there was a long list of laws for the Sabbath, and He was accused several times (that we know of) of breaking them. When I was a child, we had a long list of rules for the Sabbath. As I grew older many of those relaxed in the church as we tried to accommodate this new culture with Sunday morning soccer practices and the like.

But the Bible is not legalistic. It simply sets these guidelines for the Sabbath. And by the way, we don’t know any more what day of the week this was, really. So it could have been Sunday, or Friday – Sat (as the Jews think). What matters is that we take a Sabbath.

Take one day a week, and set it apart for God’s purposes. Make it holy. Let Him bless it. How do I do that, you ask? Go to church (there are many services on days other than Sundays now). Pray. Study the Word. Do service for others. Work on relationships that need it. That should be enough to start with.

In fact, why not make that your prayer for today? Ask God what day he wants you to set aside for a Sabbath – a holy day. Let Him bless it, and use it for Him and only Him. See what happens.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 512 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

07/05/16 – 512 – The Creation Story

Had enough of Darwin? I thought so. I know I have. If you’re still not convinced, let me know and we can have a looong conversation about it. But for Pastor John’s Bible Stories, we’ll assume that the theory of evolution is not true and move on, OK?

Genesis 1:29-30

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground — everything that has the breath of life in it — I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day. NIV

I can’t help but notice that God gave Adam & Eve all the fruit they could want for food. It was more than enough to satisfy their needs, and my guess is that it was the most delicious, juiciest, sweetest fruit around. No having to walk around a grocery store and sniff it or squeeze it, or wonder how fresh that stuff was, right?

The animals got all the vegetation for their food. So their was no need for the spilling of blood – at any level! Every living thing had all that they needed.

But notice what was not mentioned. That’s right – vegetables! I’m guessing the kids are right – Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are part of our punisjment for the fall! No, before you vegetarians get upset, I’m kidding. Although, you do notice that there is no mention of anything that they had to work for as far as digging, tilling, weeding and such. That didn’t become necessary until after the fall, as part of the:

Gen 3:17

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’

 “Cursed is the ground because of you;

through painful toil you will eat of it

all the days of your life. NIV

 

So, maybe I wasn’t so far off after all, eh?

There is also no mention of eating animals. Apparently at this point even the wild animals coexisted with man, not even afraid of us. Of course, they had no rason to be. We didn’t hunt them. God didn’t give man permission to eat animals until much later, after the flood in Genesis 9 – and then with a stipulation:

Gen 9:2-5

The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

 4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. NIV

What we need to take away from this today is what we see when we read verse 31. God had finished His creation and called it “very good”. We had everything we needed. But not, apparently, everything we wanted. And for the first time, our wants outstripped our needs, and dissatisfaction reigned, upsetting the balance of all creation.

What power God gave us! Is it any wonder then, that our dissatisfaction (in the form of lust, greed, etc) can destroy a family, a church, a business, a nation? Those things are nothing compared to a universe! All because we want more.

We simply will not be happy with what we are given, and don’t care about the consequences as long as we get our immediate needs fulfilled. We are like babies who get a warm bottle even if it means the house burns down later. Don’t know or care.

You’d think we’d learn. Why? Because God also gave us minds! We don’t need to be that way. We can live the way Christ taught us to. Will everyone? No. Will it still make a difference? Absolutely. Let’s make that our prayer for today. That the Holy Spirit would give us a sense of gratitude and satisfaction with what God has given. It’s not that we shouldn’t want to be better, but that we should count the costs.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 511 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

07/04/16 – 511 – The Creation Story

27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” NIV

We still haven’t answered the one big question of creation versus evolution, have we, and that is whether man and/or animals could have evolved as a long, slow process, or appeared suddenly on the earth.

In his book The Origin of Species, Darwin wrote, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.

In 1996 a professor named Michael Behe wrote a book called Darwin’s Black Box, a work that addresses pretty much only this argument against Darwin’s theory, which he calls irreducible complexity. He likes to use a standard mousetrap as his example. It has 5 parts:

  1. A flat wooden platform
  2. A metal hammer
  3. A spring
  4. A catch
  5. A metal bar

If you took away any one of those components the mousetrap simply wouldn’t work – it wouldn’t be a mousetrap. He uses the analogy to show that certain parts of our bodies (most, actually) can be reduced to irreducibly complex systems that, if we removed parts or internal systems, wouldn’t function. The retina of the eye is one example, the workings of the opposing thumb another.

What Behe is saying is that there is no way that an intermediate partially developed organ could have functioned. Therefore the greater organism couldn’t have survived. Could a race of blind men have hunted?

Opposing arguments are weak at best, really a lot of smoke & mirrors that I don’t have time to address here. But I want to show you something. Remember I said that Darwin had no idea about basic cell structure, let alone processes and reproduction when he came up with his theory?

This is what he thought a cell looked like in 1859 – a microscope image from Walter Flemming, the first man to stain a cell so you could see it. I don’t know that he had access, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

This is what we know today. This is an animation of some of the things that happen in a single red blood cell in a matter of seconds. https://youtu.be/wJyUtbn0O5Y. (This is the 3 minute short version, I highly recommend the 8 minute narrated version if you have time.)

Now, what was that you were saying? Darwin who?

Seriously, It’s beyond me how we can be so arrogant as to fight so hard to get people to accept such ridiculous arguments – until I remember what it’s really all about. It’s about drawing people away from the true God, the Creator, Lord of the universe.

If seeds can be planted and, let’s face it – most people will believe their favorite actor before they’ll look it up for themselves – Satan will have them until its too late. The saddest part is, they won’t even realize it.

2 Cor 4:4

Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. NLT

And they’ve happily allowed it. Let’s pray today that their eyes would be opened to the truth, that the light of Christ would find its way in somehow, and expose Satan’s lies wherever people are being deceived.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 510 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

07/03/16 – 510 – The Creation Story

You know, as we come to another Sunday, I notice that there’s one aspect of the creation of man we haven’t looked at yet. That’s the question of ‘why’? Why did God do it, when He knew all the trouble we’d be? Surely He didn’t have to, right? I mean, no one forced Him to, right? The answer would be – right!

Then why? I believe that if you look ahead a little you’ll have the answer, although maybe not wrapped up nicely in a single verse. It comes more in the context of the story of God and man. It comes in the context of the relationship between God and man. Remember, we’ve spoken many times about relationship and how the deepest ones are covenantal – like marriage. Well, there are 7 – 7 covenants in scripture between God and man, beginning with what we know as the Adamic covenant, which includes the following verses:

Gen 1:26-31 (which we are in the process of studying)

Gen 2:16-17 (God’s one command)

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

Gen 3:15 (God’s provision – His grace)

15 And I will put enmity

between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and hers;

he will crush your head,

and you will strike his heel.”

NIV

Have you ever known someone who married the same person twice? How about 3 times? Whet did you think? Must have really loved the person, right? Well, what do you think of a God who made a covenant with us seven times?!

Here’s the deal. I don’t think He needed us at all. After all, He had the angels for company, and to carry out his every wish. I think he wanted someone with whom He could have a relationship much more intimate and close than He had even with the best of the angelic beings. I think he wanted a friend. A family.

Here’s the rest. You don’t get to have that kind of relationship without getting to know them deeply. When you first fell in love, isn’t that what you wanted – for that special person to know you better than anyone, and love you anyway?

That’s why I don’t buy into all the ‘junk theology’, when people say things like “Well, it’s a mystery” or “You have to have blind faith”. Someday someone is going to have to show me where it says that in the Bible.

Not that I think we’re as smart as God, but I don’t think He meant it to be all that mysterious. I think that’s why He gave us that big thick book and all the extra stuff just so we could understand Him better. So we could know Him more intimately.

As you prepare yourself for worship today, remember that. That’s the God you are going to see. To assign value to. The One Who thought you would be so worth it, despite all the troubles, even before He created you, that He gave you life anyway. That’s the One.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 509 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

07/02/16 – 509 – The Creation Story

Just in case you didn’t pick up on it yesterday, God’s instruction to us to “rule over” the earth never meant that we should use and abuse it. Instead He mant that we should care for it and nurture it, in much the same way as a man ‘rules over’ his household.

Today we’ll move back to (back up to?) verse 27 for one more look at it before we forge ahead.

Genesis 1:27

27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. NIV

And, in this one little sentence, a can of worms is opened like none other we’ve ever seen! First off, what exactly is the ‘image of God’? Second, (and what seems to be the question of the day) did they suddenly appear, or did they evolve? Why do I get the feeling that there will be other questions as we go along?

First things first. I don’t know why, but it seems that this is one of those weeks for fighting really bad, old school theology. When I was growing up, I was taught that being made in God’s image meant that we were made in the exact physical image of God.

I had a tough time with this, as we all looked so different. How could we all be made to look like the same God if there were so many differences between us? As it turned out, there was a really simple answer. “It’s a mystery…”, I was told.

Somehow, that one never worked for me. The truth is, the root word used here for ‘image’ does not mean ‘exact copy. It means, according to Strong’s:

OT:6754 tselem (tseh’-lem); from an unused root meaning to shade; a phantom, i.e. (figuratively) illusion, resemblance; hence, a representative figure, especially an idol:

So in reality, mankind is figuratively a facsimile, containing elements of God’s personality, emotions, etc., not a physical reproduction.

This allows for our individual differences, personal foibles and traits, while still leaving us with the same basic set of emotions and foundational personality traits that make us human – set us apart from the animals. Basically, these are those characteristics that stem from our having individual souls.

At the same time, it allows for our similarities – those things we have in common even across cultural barriers and the like. For instance, I believe that we all have a basic need to love and be loved. We all need to feel valued or significant in some way. We all need to feel a sense of belonging. We all need to feel secure – a sense of safety within our own circle.

We learn these needs at a very young age, and most of us don’t hesitate to demand them very loudly! But how heartwarming it is when we hear a story of a very young child sensing one of those needs in another person, and doing what he/she can to fill the void.

Unfortunately, by the time we grow up, many of us become fearful or otherwise jaded, and have learned to ignore the silent cries of others. As Christians, made in the likeness of God, does that sound right to you? Shouldn’t we be the ones to talk when no one else will, to listen when no one else will hear, to help when no one else will lend a hand?

I know, it’s hard to overcome a lifetime of training to do otherwise, to insulate yourself from the needs of others. But ask yourself this. Can you continue to do that, and truly consider yourself ‘Christlike’? I’ve read my Bible a time or two. I don’t recall Him ever passing by a person in need. I don’t recall Him ever failing to help or comfort.

He never had 2 nickels to rub together, but somehow He managed to bring something to everyone. Maybe we should stop thinking of help in terms of money. Maybe that’s the easy way out, in fact. Giving of yourself – now that might actually take a little more effort.

Let’s pray for 2 things today. First, that the Holy Spirit in us would fill us so strongly that we would be able to sense those most basic needs of others – to see beyond to ‘easy’ fixes.

Second, that He would also move us – give us the willingness – to make those change in people’s lives.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 508 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

07/01/16 – 508 – The Creation Story

Yesterday we studied Gen 1:26-27, in which God created man and gave them dominion over the earth and everything in it. They’re worth a bit more time, I think, so I’d like to look at them one at a time.

Genesis 1:26

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

I wrote about how we, as people, always seem to mess things up when we try to “rule over” nature, using our attempts to bring the rising deer population under control by introducing coyotes into people-populated areas as examples. Our efforts to control nature aren’t just limited to the animal world, either.

We do things like place bans on plastic grocery bags because paper bags are ‘killing too many trees’ (a renewable resource), and now after years of decorating the city street with empty plastic bags that don’t deteriorate, we want to switch back. Who could have predicted that? Anyone who looked in a vacant lot next to a grocery store, I think.

So, why? Why are we so arrogant as to think we can control the environment of the entire earth better than the God who created it? Why are we in such frenzy, it seems, to be in control? The answer is, I can’t say for sure.

I can’t read minds. But I can make a few educated guesses.

  1. Greed – There’s usually a lot of money involved. If you wanted to start a new industry, and could convince the government to place a ban on all your existing competition, wouldn’t that be great?
  2. Self-centeredness – that same old sin nature. We think w know better than God. It’s Satan telling us we can be like God, in the same way he tod Eve to take that bite.
  3. Ignorance – people blindly accept what others tell them, without questioning the logic of it, because it’s easier than thinking it out. You want me to wash my garbage? Sure, OK.
  4. Pride – even believers think that because God gave them this verse, they have the POWER to rule, just like a king or queen rules over their kingdom.

The problem is that there are endless examples of what a bad ruler can do to his/her kingdom. In the Bible and in history, pick a monarchy, look at one with a good king, look at one with a bad one and see what happened.

So why would God give us so much control if He knew we were going to mess it up? The answer to that one is this: He didn’t. It goes back to that lazy reading again. I tend to agree with those who believe that the words ‘rule over’ in this verse (and the closely related “subdue it” in verse 28) are not a license for us to take over and use it as we please, to waste its resources for our convenience and pleasure until there are no more.

Instead, I believe that they point us to Genesis 2:15 which says:

Gen 2:15

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. NIV

We could go on, but I hope by now you get the idea. Tomorrow we’ll take one more peek at verse 27 before moving on. Today, let’s continue to pray that God will open our eye to the truth.

By the way, thanks again for your prayers. We buried my friend yesterday, and I was given the honor of delivering his eulogy. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but he was one of the best men I’ve ever known. RIP Donny.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 507 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

06/30/16 – 507 – The Creation Story

Genesis 1:26-27

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. NIV

Before we address Darwin again, let’s take a moment to re-read these verses and marvel at this God who creates all that we’ve been reading about, then a species to “rule over” the whole thing! But, before you pop any buttons puffing your chest out in pride (I’m assuming there are no cows or chimps reading this), think about the enormous responsibility that carries with it.

In the last few days, I’ve had much opportunity to rehash some old philosophical debates about leadership (to rule over), especially in the fire service in the wake of my friend’s death. There are those in positions of authority (officers, chiefs) that do exactly that – rule – as though they were kings or queens. Then there are those who believe that their ‘power’ is given them so that they can make sure that all the people over whom they have authority are enabled to do their jobs the best they can.

In other words, they don’t just give orders, micro-manage. They provide the best possible equipment and training, they encourage their people, make sure that their families are cared for even as they take care of others. They protect their people.

They aren’t afraid to use discipline, but only when there is no other way, and they make sure that it is appropriate. They treat their people the way they want to be treated. And they are respected and loved for it.

Those that don’t do these things, well, their people follow their orders only because they have to. Their performance is minimal because that’s all they are willing to give. If they feel the need to do something that they know won’t be approved of, say, stay home to care for a suddenly sick child, they will lie rather than start the inevitable chain of events that being truthful would cause. They gain no respect.

We (people) often treat God that way through the way we “rule over” His creation. Ever think about that? I’m not only talking about littering and pollution and such, although that is a part of it. By the way, I wouldn’t call myself an environmentalist by any stretch, but I do agree with a quote I heard some time ago (don’t ask me who said it) that said something like “Christians should be the best caretakers of the environment.”

These 2 verses are the reason why.

You’d think we’d learn. We really have messed it up. We have wiped up species, and are close to eradicating more. Some, like the bees, we don’t even know why. Yet in our arrogance we always seem to think we can fix it.

In our area, as the population has increased, the government has set aside forest preservation land. That’s good. There are many deer that have been forced into shrinking forest and farming areas because of population density, and because we can’t let people hunt so close to residential land, the deer population just keeps increasing.

To counter that, someone had the great idea to re-introduce one of the deer’s natural predators to balance things out, so enter the coyote. Never mind that predators always go for the easiest prey – somehow we thought they’d go after the one we pointed them at – like hairy rifles.

The result is that while the deer population is flourishing, the bunny and poodle population have been well controlled, and half-starved coyotes are seen on a regular basis prompting area alerts to keep small children and pets indoors.

My point is that every time we think we know better than God… we don’t. We need to leave our egos at the door (or altar) and trust in Him. He didn’t make it complicated. As complex as things can be when you look at cells and molecules, etc., taking care of things is really pretty simple. Plus, He gave us an instruction manual!

Let’s pray today for the Spirit to open our eyes to those areas in our lives where we’ve taken over. Where we’ve wrested control from Him and are trying to do it ourselves. Ask Him to show us if this has hurt anyone else and if it has – go make it right. Life is too short.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 506 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

06/29/16 – 506 – The Creation Story

Genesis 1:24-25

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

This brings us to another sticking point of the Theory of Evolution – the ‘transmutation of species’. Although we all know that many species have changed over time to adapt to their environment or because of selective breeding, that’s adaptation not evolution. Evolution would mean that one species changed into a completely different one.

Darwin himself said that evolutionary change would have to be very slow, one tiny mutation at a time. Yet with all the fossil record and DNA mapping we’ve discovered thus far, there is still no evidence of this process. In humans, we’ve always heard about ‘the missing link’, for example.

We’ve all seen the pictures of so-called ‘early man’, the cave men with the sloped foreheads and such. Except that every one of them (except for the Neanderthal man) has either been found to be either a non-human species or a fraud of some sort.

The Neanderthal man example that we’ve all got the picture from, stooped over, carrying a club etc comes from the skeleton of a man that we now know suffered from rickets, a disease caused by severe vitamin D deficiency that causes bones to soften and become malformed.

Just because 2 living things share similar characteristics doesn’t mean they are the same species. There are many kinds of trees, for instance, but a pine and a maple growing next to each other don’t seed little ‘papel trees’. Here’s another rub. The earliest known fossil record of a footprint of modern man, was found in rock dated by evolutionists themselves to be about 250 million years old! This would put humans as we know them on the earth far earlier than the dinosaurs.

In fact, this is true of every modern animal, pretty much. There has been no fossil evidence of any kind found to prove the intermediate forms of life that would have had to exist for this theory to be true. Yet again, we not only hold on to it, we militantly enforce it. It is taught in our schools as absolute truth and as proof that God and religion are false, even as at the same time we are not allowed by law to go into schools and talk about the other side.

Make no mistake, we are fighting a war – a war predicted in scripture. And the worst of it isn’t directed at you and I. It’s directed at our children and grandchildren. As we quietly and rely on a ½ hour Sunday school class a week to teach them about God while never even talking about it with them at home, you can be sure that 5 days a week their brains are being pounded with propaganda that goes against the Word and the teachings of Christ.

Think back, if you’re old enough, to where this world was a generation ago. Look at where we are now. Try to imagine where we’ll be in 20 years.

Ephesians 6:12

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

 Today, let’s not only pray and ask for guidance, but actually look for ways we can begin to fight this battle. Read Bible stories to your kids. Pray with them. Take them to VBS. Anything. Just get started.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 505 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

06/28/16 – 505 – The Creation Story

So on the 4th day God filled space with all the celestial bodies. On the 5th day He filled the waters.

Genesis 1:20-23

20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning — the fifth day

This is the part where we can really get into it, right? Say it with me…. D-A-R-W-I-N! This is the part where the rubber meets the road – where the next set of battle lines is drawn. Let me ask you something.

You know that Darwin lived in the last half of the 1800’s, correct? That when he wrote his famous book he didn’t even know about basic cell structure – because the knowledge simply wasn’t there at the time? OK. Let’s say you have a heart problem, and you need a doctor. There are 2 of them to choose from, you happen to see them having lunch together.

Doctor Smith is reading the latest issue of Cardiology Today. Doctor Jones is poring over a musty old book with a beautifully printed cover that says “Advanced Heart Surgery – 1860 Edition”. Which one do you want for your doctor?

Exactly. Yet so many people hang their hat on a scientist whose speculation in the 1850s suits their purpose now. Did you know that Darwin’s work was completely rejected by the scientific community for decades? It actually came into favor not in the scientific world but the philosophic world, as a justification for eugenics in the United States and elsewhere.

 

Eugenics was the practice of mandatory sterilization and even euthanasia for those considered unfit to reproduce, and yes folks, it happened here. That’s how Planned Parenthood got its start. Darwin’s work found great favor with a guy in Germany named Adolf Hitler, and he took things a step farther.

The idea of natural selection gave him enough ‘scientific evidence’ that some human races were inferior or underdeveloped and should be eradicated to convince the German people. Somehow Darwin’s theory made the leap from philosophy to science, and now is in the process of moving from a ‘theory’ to a ‘law’.

This is a battle that isn’t likely to end any time soon. Avid supporters on both sides of the fray are often under informed to say the least, even about their own chosen position. There is too much misinformation given as truth also, propaganda on both parts until you don’t know whom to trust anymore. So, my suggestion is that you stick with the one source that never changes. God’s Word.

Textbooks are being rewritten. History belongs to the people who write the books. That’s a study for another day. But God’s Word never changes.

And one more thing about this big battle of evolution versus creation. There are no battle lines!

Jesus didn’t send an army to fight to prove His existence, or even to prove the truth of His Word. He only sent us to love people in His name. They get to accept His grace, or walk away. No fight. No battles. The truth in love to those who are willing to hear.

If you’ve been fighting a battle like this in Jesus’ name, you need to stop. You’re not representing Him well. Read about Him – see how He acted in the face of adversity. That’s your model. Today, pray for a spirit of peace when others challenge you to those fights. Remember, it’s only a trick of Satan to draw you into ungodly behavior.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 504 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

06/27/16 – 504 – The Creation Story

Good morning, everyone. Thank you all for your prayers, and in advance as you continue to lift me up throughout the week.

I like what the Bible Exposition Commentary says about the next section, Genesis 1:14-2:7. It says, “God has now created three special “spaces”: the land, the seas, and the expanse of the sky. During the next three creative days, He will fill these spaces.” That’s a good way of looking at it. So what’s the first space God filled? Space, of course!

Gen 1:14

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning — the fourth day.

In my background reading to prepare this devotional, I’ve looked at some great scientific material that explains the expanding universe theory. This is the one that, taken backwards, brings us to the ‘Big Bang’. If the universe is constantly expanding, it must have started from a central point and all celestial bodies must be moving in the same direction – away from the center point.

If you turn it around (like running the movie backwards) all the expansion from the explosion must come back to a central point at a given time. All that material from the Point of Origen spontaneously formed atoms, which became molecules, some of which became the gases that became stars, others became dirt and rock and formed planets, still others somehow came to life as we know it.

More than a few holes in the theories, but as long as we keep giving out those Nobel prizes I guess we’re good. The problem is that even if you stipulate that all these things are true (which would take some stretching – nothing even close to spontaneous formation of an atom or anything of the sort has ever been more than speculation), we still come down to the question – where did it all come from in the first place?

Friday we read about Hawking’s statement that all the known laws of physics didn’t apply until right after the Big Bang, after which they took effect. Yet now we are to believe that under those laws, a very hot soup of atomic particles kept bumping into each other until, as it cooled, they formed atoms and molecules etc, planets and stars and galaxies. By very hot we’re talking around 5500 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s about half the surface temperature of the sun.

The question for us is this- and it’s important, because our children and grandchildren are being taught these things (questions left out) as absolute truth from the time they are little. Why do people seem so willing to believe things like this – to bend over backwards to accept explanations that simply leave God out?

I’m afraid the answer isn’t nearly as complex as the theories we’ve been reading about. It’s because somehow we think that if we leave God out, He doesn’t exist. If He doesn’t exist, there is no accountability. The only morality is dictated by culture, and we see where that’s going.

We accept these scientific ‘proofs’, and think that somehow puts the burden of proof on God to show us that He is real. Only we are the jury – we get to choose what evidence we accept, or simply cover our eyes and stick our fingers in our ears and sing ‘La-La-La’ if we don’t like what we hear.

But that’s a trap. God has already proven Himself over and over. You’re here, aren’t you? Look at a star chart, pictures from the Hubble telescope, open an anatomy book and look at the structure of your eye or hand. He has nothing more to prove.

If anything, it is we who should have to prove our worthiness to Him. Yet He doesn’t even ask or demand that of us. He only extends His arms, and offers His love.

We can accept or reject. We are free to walk away. He doesn’t fight us. Then why the big battle to disprove Him? That’s all from within. To soothe our own consciences. Because he has put in each of us the seed – the knowledge that draws is to Him. What’s your prayer to be today?

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 503 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

06/26/16 – 503 – The Creation Story

Well, here we are at another Sunday, time to take a break from our story. Too bad it didn’t time out with the 7th day of the creation story but I guess that’s the way it goes.

I’d love to make a joke or a pun this morning, or come up with some energetic ‘pep talk’ sort of think to help prepare you for worship this morning. But to be honest, I don’t know that I have it in me today. Oh, I’ll worship this morning, there’s no other way I can get through. But some days we go to Him for the joy of it, some for the comfort and peace. This is one of those days.

Late Friday night, I got a phone call that a dear friend and brother firefighter had died. I had known him for more than 30 years, worked with him for most of that, and was his Lieutenant for the last 6 years or so of my career. That means we lived and worked together for 1/3 of our lives for that time.

I won’t go into detail, but the circumstances were exceptionally difficult on many levels. Unfortunately, it’s a problem all too common to firefighters.

The world is poorer today for Donny’s absence, but heaven is richer. On the other hand, I wish that I could gather all the people whose lives were touched – people who are literally here today alive and well because of Donny’s work. I’d love to call those whose lives were made brighter because of his personality. I’d love gather all those he encouraged and befriended when they started out on a new, sometimes intimidating career. I’d like to bring every one of those people together for a tribute. But I suspect we’d need to rent Soldier’s Field.

No, this morning my heart doesn’t feel light at all. Pretty heavy, in fact. But I know that we worship the God of all comfort, the God who takes care of those who are sick rather than condemn them. The God of healing.

This morning the words of Habakkuk hit home more than any others:

Habakkuk 3:17-19

17

Though the fig tree does not bud

and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen

and no cattle in the stalls,

18 

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

he enables me to tread on the heights.

 

It’s not just getting through worship – it’s actually rejoicing. My brother is home today and finally at peace. We grieve for his loved ones left behind that hurt, that don’t understand. We pray that this might open the door for some to know Christ.

But we cannot give God less than our best because we’re feeling less. It’s hard to put into words, but if our worship (the demonstration of how much we value God) is dependent on our feelings at the moment, we must not value Him very much at all.

0505Show God How much He is worth to you (worth – worship come from the same root word meaning value). See what He shows you in return. How much He values you, comforts and heals you.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 502 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

06/25/16 – 502 – The Creation Story

Gen 1:6-10

6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning — the second day.

 9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning — the third day. NIV

There is surprisingly little commentary on these verses. I say ‘surprisingly’ because people seem to be able to find points to argue on everything in scripture and then some! Then again, maybe it’s because most of the Biblical commentators on these verses simply take it for granted that they are true, and don’t question the way they happened or the timing.

Besides, the BIG arguments intellectual debates don’t usually start until we get to the part about us being related to apes. But let me give you a heads-up. When someone makes a statement like that, they’re letting you know right off that they don’t know their Darwin, so….

Darwin’s theory doesn’t say that we’re related to apes, as in we’re close cousins. It says that all life is descended from a common ancestor – that very first cell that found itself spontaneously alive in the soup. As it split and divided, reproducing itself, there were mutations which caused it to develop into all forms of life that we see today. Trees and elephants, petunias and people. And monkeys.

So to even look at that, you’d have to start where life began, which is in verse 11. Now, there are those that try to reconcile the creation story with the evolution theory, it’s called theistic evolution. Basically, if the ‘day’ in our story was not a 24-hour day, the God could have used evolution as His method of creating life as we know it.

Here’s the problem. Anytime we try to God’s Word or what He has done in order to make people more comfortable with it, we’re headed toward spiritual disaster. In my experience, once people are made comfortable, they tend to want to stay that way. Then we get people who come to church every Sunday, sit in the same spot for decades, do nothing more, show no spiritual fruit in their lives, yet have no doubt that everything is fine between them and God.

You see, our job isn’t to make people feel comfortable about the message. In fact, most often the Word of God contrasted with our lives makes us pretty uncomfortable – until we surrender and repent – receive that forgiveness and healing we know as grace. Our job is to tell the truth – in love – but without softening it or changing it to make it jive with what the secular world wants to believe. Look at it this way – mixing truth with lies doesn’t make the lies more truthful. It just takes away from the credibility of the truth.

Let’s pray today that the Spirit would prepare us for those questions and challenges when they come. That He would help us to know how to answer, or where to go for the right responses, and that He would help us to bring His truth boldly, lovingly, and purely to all who need it.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 501 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

06/24/16 – 501 – The Creation Story

This is where we left off yesterday:

Gen 1:5

God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning — the first day. NIV

I think it’s worth lingering here for a few moments longer. After all, we’ve got all day! (Yes, I am glad no one can reach through the computer and slap me for bad jokes – doesn’t mean I’ll stop.)

Seriously, one of the most often-asked questions about creation begins right here – was each of the next 6 days a literal 24-hour day, or could they have been longer, as in:

2 Peter 3:8-9

 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. NIV?

The next question is – what difference does it make? Well, it really doesn’t in one way. What happened, happened. It makes a difference in that it becomes a sticking point for people’s acceptance or rejection of the scripture. Or maybe an excuse? Sadly, I’ve seen people on both sides of the fence use arguments that are just as ignorant as the other. That is not how we are supposed to win people to Christ.

In another way, it does make a difference in our understanding of God. Who He is, what He can do. What He did for us even before He created us. And don’t even start that business of ‘we can never understand God, etc’. I’m not claiming that we can ever understand everything He does, why does it and so on.

But I fervently believe that the reason He created man was to have a relationship that was deeper and more intimate than He ever had, even with His angels. That’s why He walked in the garden with Adam & Eve. That’s why He entered into so many covenants with man. That’s why He gave us this big ole’ book with hundreds of pages of His own inspired Word. That’s why He came to live and die as one of us.

All that so we could know Him more. You see, you don’t have a relationship like that with someone unless you know one another intimately. He already knows our every thought, every need, every desire. It only remains then, for us to get to know Him.

So along that vein, we need to see the concept of time (day & night) from His perspective – and ours. This was the point at which He invented time. He was still not restricted by even the best Rolex watch. He could have made a day last for months or minutes. He could have suspended time if He wanted to, or sped it up. To me, it just doesn’t matter. What matters is what He did – not how long it took Him to do it.

There’s another thing. Time is a construct that God invented for us, for whatever reason. Maybe it was to give us a sense of urgency – that we’re only here for a limited time, and in that time there are decisions that must be made and things that must happen in our lives.

But whatever the reason, time as we know it is an earthly concept, or at least a ‘physical universe’ one. It is marked by planetary movement, the aging of our bodies etc. In other words, it is for us.

I maintain that although God is here, He is not limited to the physical universe He created for us. If He were, He could not have created it. So for Him, time is not a factor. The movement of the planets is something He designed. He Who has no beginning or End will see no gray hair or wrinkles, no matter what the artists paint. A day is like a thousand years, a thousand years is like a day.

If you want to know more about why I believe what I do about this, just ask. Not enough time here (wink). For now, remember this: what matters is what He did – not how long it took Him to do it.

I would not only thank God today for what He did, but for wanting that kind of intimacy with us that He was willing to take on the pain and heartache that it would bring. Sometimes love is like that, isn’t it?

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 500 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

06/23/16 – 500 – The Creation Story

Hey, did you notice? This is number 500!!!! I feel like we should be having a party or something! Is it too early in the morning for cake? OK, Maybe we’ll save that for the 1000th installment. Start planning now, though!

Yesterday we talked about Stephen Hawking and his theory of how the universe got started. There’s actually so much more to it, I wish we had space and time to discuss it all, but we don’t. Or wait – maybe we do! Or maybe some will create itself out of nothing. Why? Because it wants to. Seriously.

But, until that happens (again;-) we’ll assume that we have limits, and most of us have to get to work. So, where were we? Oh yes, darkness. Very deep, horrifying, chaotic darkness. By the way, do you know what darkness is, really? It is “the partial or total absence of light”. In other words, It is not a thing, in and of itself. It is the absence of something. But God knew.

Gen 1:3-5

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. NIV

When Jesus, the Spirit of God Who had been hovering over the dark waters was allowed to shine into this new world, the darkness was dispelled, at least in part. Wherever He was, the darkness could not be. Why? Because darkness is the absence of light. Think about how this applies to your everyday life.

If you walk in the light (stay as close to Jesus as possible every day, in every way), the darkness cannot touch you. If you choose to walk away from the light, stay in the shadowy ‘gray areas’, or even venture into the dark places because you know that they are against the teachings of Christ, you have voluntarily put yourself in a place where you can get lost in the darkness and thereby expose yourself to every danger, every evil that lives and lurks there.

The light and the darkness cannot coexist. One of our greatest mistakes is to convince ourselves that they can – that we can live in the shadows, enjoying those ‘little sins’ of the darkness as long as we come out on Sundays or some such thing. What did God do with the light?

Gen 1:5

5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning — the first day. NIV

Now, does this mean that part of the time it’s OK for us to live in the darkness, because in the morning we can come out into the light? I don’t think so. I do think, however, that it is for us a sign of hope. Remember King David? He wrote this:

Psalm 30:5

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. NLT

You may have heard of the serious mental/emotional problems that many people who live in places like Alaska or far northern Canada have when they don’t see the sunrise for months on end. Many suffer serious depression. In essence, they lose hope.

Our God is truly a God of hope. He wants us to know it. So He gave us a sign that we can see every morning. Even when it’s cloudy like today (as I write), the light comes through. We never have to live in darkness – unless we choose to.

That sounds like a good thing to pray about today. If you have been living in the shadows or venturing into the dark, it’s time to stop, don’t you think? He is there to help you. Just ask. If you have bee living in the light, stay as close to Him as you can. Thank Him today for the love and mercy that allowed you to even make that choice. Then instead of taking it for granted, show your appreciation for your salvation by serving others as He did. Be a light.

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 499 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

06/22/16 – 499 – The Creation Story

Before we get ahead of ourselves, I’ve had a request to address the Big Bang theory. I’ll try, just a bit in a few sentences. Let me start by saying that I disagree with the whole ‘science versus religion’ thing – that phrase assumes that science and faith are incompatible, which is not true at all. If they were, we would have a huge problem, especially in a Wesleyan church such as the Church of the Nazarene. John Wesley said that your faith must be ‘reasonable’ – meaning that it must stand up to reason. It should make sense.

Stephen Hawking, purportedly the “smartest man in the world”, noted author, theoretical physicist and atheist has told the world that there is no God. He has, in fact, figured out how the universe came to be – how the ‘Big Bang’ happened. Of course, He admits that every law of physics as we now know them had to have been suspended in order for such an event to take place. He also says that we have no idea what sort of conditions led up to it, although there must have been “something”.

However, (paraphrasing) because we can never know – those conditions do not matter. Because the laws of physics were obviously not in place during that time, we do not need to consider them as factors. Huh? We don’t know, so it doesn’t matter?

To top things off, he uses the Bible (that he doesn’t believe in) as evidence that he is right, because by his calculations of the expanding universe the point of origin must have been much earlier than the literal 4000 some years counted by some in scripture. Including 6 literal 24-hour days of creation.

You see, to me, it makes much more sense to believe in an ancient book that would explain these things, although not in the detail of an advanced theoretical physics textbook, I grant you. But consider this – the author of the creation story (Moses) knew nothing of any of this, nor would he have had to debate the issue.

He was the liaison between a visible God who sent plagues, parted seas, sent mannah and water from rocks, a God Who led by a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. Moses’ first thought was not ‘I better make up a story so these people will believe in God! It was all about obedience and faith in what God would do, not whether He existed.

Now, the question is this: is our world today really any different? I don’t understand how one so smart can make an argument like this and call it truth, pretty much based on the premise ‘because I’m so smart’. It makes no sense. It’s nor reasonable. Yet it’s what many have chosen as their religion. Yes, look the word up in a dictionary.

Why? Only guessing here, but I believe in many cases because they believe that removing God takes away accountability. If there is nothing beyond this life, there is no such thing as sin. Live as you like. If you want to do nice things for people, go right ahead. If you want to do whatever it takes to become rich and famous, do that. Anyway, I want to give you my creation theory. Think about it in a new light, Don’t be afraid to question, compare and contrast it. Ask yourself – it it reasonable?

Gen 1:1-2

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. NIV

One more thing. I have to give Hawking credit. Reading verse 2 again, it sort of does sound like the laws of physics are not all there – yet. But maybe, just maybe, it’s because the God who was still in the process of creating them hadn’t yet finished His work.

I think my prayer today will be for understanding, and thanks for a God Who makes sense. How about you?

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 498 – The Creation Story

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups

06/21/16 – 498 – The Creation Story

Yesterday we simply read the first 2 verses of the Bible in 4 different versions. It reminds me of the old joke where the scientist told God, “We don’t need you anymore.”

God said, “Really? How is that?”

The scientist replied, “We figured out how to do it – how to create life from nothing.”

God said, “Really? I’d like to see that. Show me.”

The scientist reached down and scooped up a handful of dirt.

God stopped him, saying, “No, no, no. Get your own.”

Verse 2, no matter which version you like best, describes the earth after God’s version of the ‘Big Bang’ – it existed, but that’s about all you could say. Except for one thing. From the very beginning, Jesus was there. Before the earth had a shape, He was there. Not yet in physical form, of course, but the reference to God’s Spirit moving over that chaotic, terrifying, inky blackness is certainly to our Lord Jesus Christ. Now read this familiar passage in this new context.

John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. NIV

For a time, I believe back in 70s, some psychologists decided it would be a good idea to put people in isolation tanks for short periods for therapy. These tanks were designed for complete sensory deprivation, meaning the person inside could feel, hear, see, smell, or taste nothing.

They were suspended in water at body temperature so as to feel weightless. This was supposed to provide the equivalent of hours of rest in something like 15 minutes of therapy. The problem turned out to be that many of them had horrible experiences, including hallucinations, memory loss and loss of ability to perform even simple tasks. It has since been used as a torture technigue to interrogate prisoners, right up there with waterboarding.

Anyway, my point was that without the light, this would be the fate of man – assuming that man ever came to exist in the first place. Without the light, we could not exist in the darkness. But watch what happens next:

Gen 1:3-5

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. NIV

Here’s another scary thought. God didn’t banish the darkness! He merely separated the light from it. He could have removed it completely, couldn’t He, yet He chose not to do so. Why, do you suppose?

Of course we can’t know for sure, but we can make a good guess. I believe that this earth, this world, is still a work in progress. I believe he designed it in a way that we could see the contrast between good and evil, between the light and the darkness.

How else can we be held accountable for our choices? I think that separating the light and dark was only the first step toward giving us our freedom to choose Him (“the light of men”, according to John) or to choose sin over Him. Light and dark. Black and white.

Are there ‘gray areas’? Sure there are. Many of us like to hang out in those shadowy areas, because we think that we can’t be held accountable for our ‘mistakes’ there. Yet if we bring what we’re doing out into the light (the light of Christ’s teaching or the light of scripture), it’s surprising how clear those things become. Black and white. Your choice.

Live in the light. Live in the darkness. I don’t know about you. Some of you may just happen upon this, and choose the darkness anyway. You know what? It’s cold! It’s lonely! It’s frightening! Why wait?

You can come into the light of Christ right now, wherever you are. You don’t need a priest or any special tools or rituals. Just prayer and a willingness to surrender your life to Him. Probably a Christian friend or mentor to guide you. We call it ‘discipling’. You know – like Jesus did.

If you’re already a Christian, pray today for that peron to come out of the darkness and find you today. And when they do – remember where they came from. No wonder we call them ‘the lost’. Help them to never return- won’t you?

Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grownups – 497 – The Creation Story

06/20/16 – 497 – The Creation Story

Well, I told you the Holy Spirit always comes through. This time was no exception. He has been working in me for quite a while to go back to the beginning – all the way back. I just needed confirmation, which He provided Saturday morning in the form of my good friend Dan (one of your fellow readers, by the way). So, if you don’t like this story, it’s his fault.

(Just kidding, but his address is….)

Really, there’s a lot of merit in going back to the very beginning of scripture. It sets the stage for everything, obviously. It (hopefully) puts our relationship with God into its proper and very realistic perspective. We may even take a little walk down the path of evolution versus creation, and see where it takes us.

The book of Genesis was written by Moses, as were the next 4 books. These are called the Torah, the Jewish ‘Books of the Law’. These were the original books of the law handed down to Moses from God while the Jews were wandering around in the desert for 40 years.

After the whole Mount Sinai/throwing down the stone tablets/golden calf incident, Moses would meet with God every day in the tabernacle, in the Holy of Holies. God would give Him more laws for His people, many very specific. Examples of these would be dietary laws about clean and unclean foods, laws regarding holy days and celebrations, etc.

Moses wrote these all these things down as told to him by God (sort of necessary, especially for the first part of the story) and they became the Torah. Most Jewish males children would have these books memorized by the time they were 10 years old. Yes, really. The whole thing. No, I’m not kidding again. How? Not sure, but I think their parents took away their X-boxes until their homework was done.

Anyway, let’s get started. Here’s what we’re used to, I think:

Gen 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. NIV

Or maybe this if you’re old school:

Gen 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth.

 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. KJV

(Hey, I always say to the King James people – if it was good enough for Jesus and the apostles it should be good enough for us, right? The scary thing is how many agree with me!)

Anyway, this gives us a good picture of nothingness, except for God’s Spirit. But I want to share with you these thought-for-thought translations of the text (as opposed to word-for-word) and see what happens to that picture:

Gen 1:1-2 First this: God created the Heavens and Earth — all you see, all you don’t see. 2 Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss. (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

Or this one from The Living Bible (a personal favorite)

Gen 1:1-2 When God began creating the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a shapeless, chaotic mass, with the Spirit of God brooding over the dark vapors. TLB

You may remember me borrowing the old rabbinic saying that the Word of God is like a precious gem, cut with many facets, and as you hold it up to different lights and turn it, there are always new beauties to be seen. This is why I love to look at things in multiple versions (different lights), there are indeed always new things to be seen. We’ll talk more about this tomorrow.

For today, think about these verses. Think about the state the universe was in (pre-existence), and the state we could easily have gone back to if God had decided that it just wasn’t worth the trouble. Instead, He did what He did to save us – because He loved us so much even before we were born.

Let’s just thank Him for that today. Also, start to get in the habit of looking for Jesus Christ in everything we read on scripture – because He is there! Did you see Him in these 2 verses?