Monday, February 27, 2023

A Light to See By

 I have an ornate ceramic lamp from the sixties that I inherited. It's quite old and the switch might give out any day. Since it's in the upstairs hallway and only needs to be on in the mornings and evenings I have it on a timer to save wear and tear on the switch. 

It comes on at 5:15 in the morning. If I wake up and light is seeping in around my closed door I know it's time to get up. I can step out into a bright cheerful space instead of fumbling around in the dark for the switch. 

Depending on how tired I am or how hard I've slept I may lay there a while with my eyes closed. This morning I was doing this in that early morning brain fog and wondering if the light was on or if it was the middle of the night. Finally I had the thought "I could open my eyes and find out."  

I wiped the sleep away to see that the hallway was brightly lit. 

 The lamp could have been on for hours but how would I know if I didn't open my eyes? It could have been on forever but unless I chose to see it that wouldn't matter.  It's possible that I could have stayed in bed in the dark, maybe even cursing the darkness, because I refused to see.  

Our spiritual view of the world is like this.  In our postmodern culture it's considered enlightened to think if there is a light it's one that comes from within. We are our own little gods, our own personal centers of the universe, and of course we all conveniently have our own truth.  What we really do have is the choice to open our eyes and see the light that is shining

It lights our way and keeps us from stumbling in the night. Imagine being in a store or restaurant and seeing people willfully keeping their eyes closed not only putting themselves in danger but creating chaos in a public space. We'd shake them and demand that they simply open their eyes and look around. But we see many surrounded by brightness clenching their eyes shut as hard as possible, the bright truth glowing all around them as they grope and trip along their way through life. 

What is needed is a great awakening. As the days grow darker the Light of God's love and the person of Jesus is shining ever brighter. Let's pray that they will "open their eyes to their true condition that they would turn from darkness to light." 

Many are standing at the edge of a great precipice unaware that they are in danger feeling perfectly safe in their chosen darkness. The blind take others by the hand, "don't look at the light," they say. "shut your eyes and ignore all that you've been taught by the church or your parents. No one ever knew anything until now. After thousands of years we finally have arrived at truth." While they stumble and fall down scrambling to make their way in their chosen darkness anyone may come and take their hand and lead them into ever increasing danger and they will follow them as long as they too curse the light. 

It's in this world that we are called as Christians to be salt and light. There is hope for the world and for mankind, his name is Jesus. In his name delusions are broken and people can be released from mental and spiritual bondage. Love and pray for the willfully blind. 

Monday, February 13, 2023

Swerve and Keep Going


Isn't it strange how things you see every day become invisible? Like that important piece of paper you tack on the bulletin board and then fail to see when you actually need it. It's so common for us to overlook things unless there is some kind of change involved. Our human brains need to create a lot of shortcuts for thinking in order to keep functioning in our ever increasingly complex world, we tune out a lot of information we've already seen. 

This truth struck me recently.  During a blast of winter weather while walking with one of our dogs I noticed a "swerve right" or "keep right" sign that I've seen hundreds of thousands of times over the past 30 years. 

Later by the fire with a cup of tea and a now warm dog on the sofa next to me I was struck with the thought that this sign which technically means "keep right" seemed to be saying swerve and move on. Avoid the obstacle and keep going. And even if you take the literal meaning, keep right isn't bad advice either based on the definition of right: what is good, proper, and just.

 Do you want to be in accordance with what is bad, improper, and unjust? I'm guessing no. 

Beehives that are doing well are known as queen right. I know you were up all night wondering about that. 

 There are times to stick to our guns but lots of situations call for us to be able to wisely maneuver instead of plowing ahead. Very often we can swerve to avoid disaster. We can adjust the sail to chart a new course. Charting a new course when things have gone sideways is a valuable life skill. One thing we have learned in the three years is that moving forward no matter how haltingly you are doing it is important. Two steps forward and one step back is still progress. 

Knowing when to hold on tight and barrel through and when to pivot and recalculate takes wisdom, not knowledge.  Fortunately, we can ask for that. 

James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  



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.