Monday, February 6, 2023

The Simulation

People who don't want to believe in God, sometimes only because it's what their parents and the church taught them, will believe anything else. They'll believe that something can come from nothing even though it's a scientific principle that is impossible. They'll believe in life forces and affirmations and magic rocks and a myriad of other things which come without a standard of behavior. Not having any higher authority to tell them where they have gone wrong seems to be the main point of searching for something else. The latest version of this thinking is The Simulation.

I listen to a lot of different podcasts from a wide variety of people with divergent thoughts and ideas and this theory is becoming prevalent. It goes roughly like this: 

We're in the matrix. Or a matrix or computer game or some other version of a simulated world. In this world there's an intelligent being running things. We can  affect things about our own lives by choices we make in the simulation though the jury is out on whether or not free will exists. Sometimes something coincidental or strange happens. "That's the simulation winking at us." They say. Whoever is running the whole thing is wildly and unimaginably intelligent and we are nothing by comparison.

Let's translate. We live in a created world. A mind with infinitely superior knowledge created this world and us. This intelligence orders events and affects things in this created world. This being influences us and tries to communicate. Compared to the creator we are inferior to the point of total dependence. 

That sounds vaguely familiar. Almost like we live in a created world that God created. He also created us and desires to know us and have a relationship with us. He speaks directly to us through His word, nature, our conscience, and if we are believers through the Holy Spirit. We cannot live or exist or have our being without him. 

A belief in the Christian God comes with an added benefit. The God of the universe loves each us and wants what's best for us.  Our lives have purpose in a cosmic battle of good and evil. There's redemption. 

Let's set aside actual belief in God for a moment. You just can't bring yourself to believe for whatever reason. That's fine. But compare these two ways of framing reality. If you wanted to choose a lens to filter your life through which one would bring the most comfort? Which one would alleviate your deepest fears in the middle of a dark and lonely night? Which one would give you hope that your life is not just a meaningless bundle of experiences? 

Which one touches your heart and soul?

 Even if all we are doing is choosing a way of looking at the world belief in the Christian God comes with the added benefit of feeling loved and cared for by a creator. It's also the only one that comes with a self sacrificing hero who showed up to save us all. It comes complete with a set of rules for living. It offers the hope that even the worst things can be used in the grand scheme and good can come out of our despair. It says there is evil in the world but it will be overcome with good. 

It says you have a Father and a Friend. 



Monday, January 30, 2023

What Standard Are We Navigating By?


 

A few days ago I took a walk after dark with the dog. The moon was full and the weather was unusually pleasant for this time of year though windy. The thing about walking the dog is that there's a lot of stopping and waiting, looking around. He thinks his job is to prevent cardio of any kind. Whatever, dog. 

I love to look at the night sky and while I was scanning it during one of our many stops, through the clouds I noticed a light that looked like a star. But it seemed to be moving so I thought maybe it was an airplane but it was far too distant to be a jet. A satellite maybe? Whatever it was it was moving rapidly. I stared at it for a long time trying to reckon its strange velocity in my mind. The ghostly gray clouds were drifting across the sky. I fixed my eyes on the light to see what direction it was moving. It was moving, right? 

It suddenly dawned on me. The light was stationary and the clouds were being blown by the wind and I'd been using them as my reference point. The light was a star that likely hadn't moved much in thousands of years. 

How often do we do this? We look around at events, or culture, or our own emotions and make judgments based on shifting vapors.  But the plumb line of truth remains unmoved and unwavering. We try to adjust the standard to the shifting thinking and beliefs of our day. In our culture truth has become a dirty word, something to mock and question instead of something to rally to. Many rail against the fixed point holding its place outside of time, civilizations, and empires. A fruitless battle that leads to nothing and nowhere. A fight that leads to exhausted delusion and eventually the inability to even see that the shifting is a vaporous lie confused for truth. 

We cannot navigate by clouds. They are too easily tossed about by swirling winds and the change of season. Our hearts and minds are created to search for that which is decidedly fixed. We are imprinted with the desire for what is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. But our world is corrupted and fallen and easily led astray and we are often invited to step onto the shifting sand of popular opinion. 

It's when the furious swirling is at its most intense that we should take a reading of where we are in relation to the unchangeable truths of life. While many people delight in confusion and take daily readings of the situation to determine who they are and what they think. Let us fix our beliefs, behavior, and values to the unchanged and stand firm whatever the clouds may do.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Planting in the Harsh Winter


When we think about spring some pretty cheerful ideas come to mind especially for gardeners but all the planting doesn't take place on beautiful spring days. That works if you want cucumbers and zinnias in July but if you want a lovely spring garden you must plant it months ahead in the fall of the previous year. I hardly ever get around to it because that's when I'm usually busy finishing up the honey chores. So for me the tulip and daffodil bulbs are often planted in the worst weather. This isn't ideal and they should be planted a few weeks sooner though living in the south gives me a bit more leeway. Still I've been out in a sleeting snow before trying to get them in the ground before Christmas. Somehow I always seem to end up planting them in the freezing cold with a wind blowing, my nose running and the cold seeping through my clothes. 

Isn't that just like life? The future beautiful harvest that will be a joy to you is often planted in a merciless cold season. Perhaps you are raising children and struggling with finances or relationships. It could be you are helping a friend when you are feeling depleted and as if you need help yourself. In the harshest seasons of life hopelessness lurks around the door and you lay awake nights wondering what to do.

I encourage you not to despair because it might just be that hanging on through whatever dark and cold season you are in is going to result in a beautiful harvest you haven't had the glimmer of hope to imagine yet. Persistence, courage, and faith are fruits that seem to be planted in the harshest winters. 

Something happens in the cold. There are plants who need a season of cold to become their most beautiful when it's time to bloom. We all crave comfortable circumstances and easy lives, but there is little growth there. Growth is a forceful determined thing, a struggle. The relentlessness of growth is what leads to the beautiful blooms that brighten the world and cheer the heart. If you are struggling through a cold season do not give up. The breakthrough you're waiting for may need a quiet time in the dark for nourishment you don't understand yet. Often further down the road the purpose of the bleak periods is made clear and it always gives you the ability to encourage someone who is in their own dark night. How are we going to know how much someone needs warmth and shelter if we've never felt a cold wind?

Let's pray that our growth is relentless no matter the circumstances. Remember the blossom of your beautiful endurance will give hope to others. 



Monday, January 16, 2023

New Year, New Direction

 



Have you seen people posting New Year, New Me! If only. Right? 

Some people go the opposite direction, New Year same me. Well that's defeatist as well as impossible. Also, do any of us really think we're all that great the way we are? 

New Year, new direction. That might be the Goldilocks resolution. 

We can't make over our entire personalities in one year or ever for that matter yet lots of people behave as if they can Cinderella the change at midnight. Staying the same isn't possible either. It's equally impossible. Life is about change. Everything alive is changing all the time. Every leaf. Every animal. Every human being. Even every cell. 

We are at all times either going forward or backward. There is no standing still so we might want to develop some kind of plan for that. 

Here's a hopeful goal. 

We can change direction. We can stop going along the same old road in ruts put down by habit or the influence of others and go a different way. 

Imagine yourself as a car. You don't magically become a Lamborghini because you pass a particular mile marker. But we can note the marker and ask ourselves how long have we been driving mindlessly on this road? How long have we been in low gear? How did all this trash get into the car? 

We can take notes and correct. We can choose another road going slowly at once because it's unfamiliar then gaining speed as we move along. Did we get lost somewhere along the way? Do we need to consult the GPS? We can always decide to wake up and pay attention, work on driving the car better and marking our progress. 

This is where I find myself at the start of this new year. Changing my focus and looking around to see where I am. I'm taking a new road. God is at work in unfathomable ways and as he loves doing new things I'm excited to see what the year holds. I'm not sure what that means but I'll be showing up here regularly to offer some encouragement and share something hopeful. 

If that sounds good to you then grab your coffee and join me here on Monday mornings throughout the year to navigate together. 

Happy New Year, here's to a new road!