but even if…

Faith

Cat-Poop Pies or Golden Nuggets?

When I was a kid, we had a giant sandbox. It was more of a sand pile, actually – leftover builder’s grade sand with lots of big pebbles in it. Some sparkled in the sun, which made for some pretty good treasure hunting. My little brother and I spent hours prospecting for gold with plastic sifters, sometimes instead finding mysterious squishy presents left behind by our cats – felines are such givers.

We soon learned that these moldable clumps made excellent mud pies. I’m not sure if I realized we were actually making cat-poop pies, or whether I would have cared. I was a barefoot, outdoor-loving, creek-tromping six-year-old who’d just moved from the city to the country. As long as I wasn’t eating the pies, all ingredients were fair game.

With this backstory in mind, you might understand why this C.S. Lewis quote has always struck a chord with me:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Now that I’m older and hopefully wiser, I steer clear of making mud pies out of anything that could be found in our cat’s litter box. But I do have to ask myself – what kind of mud pies am I making these days? What worldly distractions or fleshly desires tempt me? And what should I do about it?

Are You Broken or Bent?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about brokenness.

There was a pop song awhile back (by Pink & Nate Ruess) that contained the lyric “we’re not broken, just bent…” I found that idea so intriguing, but wasn’t sure what the Lord was saying to me through it.

Sometimes Christianese terms like “brokenness” start to feel trite after a while and it’s good to step back and reexamine. Typically, we tend to equate brokenness with being a mess of some sort – steeped in sin, beaten down by life, etc.

There are even some who have built churches around this theme… “Come, be broken with us.” Somehow this doesn’t sit quite right with me. Not that we can’t admit we’re messed up… I agree we need to recognize our need. But I feel that we get stuck there.

Perhaps our idea of brokenness is bent.

Before You Scratch That Itch…

This morning on the way to school, the kids asked me why God created poison ivy. Not so good at thinking on my feet, and since we were in the car and I couldn’t Google the answer, I fell back on the tried and true (or tired and presumably true) response to these sorts of questions. “Well, kids… it’s a fallen world,” I said, using the prescribed mix of sadness and acceptance in my voice.

The kids said little in response, probably unsatisfied by the stock answer, and I think we changed the subject. I wasn’t sure if I liked my answer, either. I mean, it just leaves you with sort of a slump. And, left incomplete, it doesn’t paint God as the hero He is, which is something I always want to help highlight for my kids.

So as I drove home and made my morning coffee, I asked God more about it. And that’s how I found out that God can speak through anything. Even poison ivy. (Spoiler alert: I don’t mean in the burning bush sense, so if you’re picturing a talking plant vine, it wasn’t quite like that.)

Genesis 1:2 – A surprising revelation

I am no scientist. While all of this is fascinating to me, it begins to hurt my brain a little. And this is when I pull back and ask God if it matters that I understand. Sometimes the only value in seeking these answers is that it shows a heart that wants to better know God and His ways. If we are trying to answer these questions merely to satisfy ourselves, it may be better to abort mission. To be honest, I’ve been considering doing just that with this study of Genesis. I’m feeling that I’m getting so bogged down in dissection, that I’m missing the bigger picture. There has to be a balance of the tension between truth and humble awe. I believe it is at the crux of the two that we experience revelation.

And so I sit at His feet and ask, “Lord, what do You want me to know about Genesis 1:2?” His answer is often the same when I pose a question like this. It somehow always comes as a surprise, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face.

Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning…

Welcome to Genesis 1… the perfect place to start, don’t you think? I should say at the outset, this is the first written Bible study I’ve shared. I don’t have a theology degree or any human credentials to speak of, just a heart for God and extracting layers of truth from His Word. I fully acknowledge that I may not always get it right. But being as though brilliant Bible scholars and teachers through the years have often disagreed and no human mind can fully comprehend the ways of God and always be correct, I’d say we’re in fine company. So if you’re studying along, this is your study too. Don’t be shy… feel free to post ideas and thoughts; I welcome respectful critique, challenges, corrections and questions. I do ask, however, that we do so in a way that honors God and each other. :)

All that said… maps on our laps and away we go!

Transition

Why is it that I always try to make it about me? The verse doesn’t say, “The horse prepares itself,” it says, “the horse is prepared.” In other words, the Lord prepares us for battle…a battle He has already won, by the way. So if you’re like me, that leaves you feeling a little humph… asking the Lord, “So what exactly is it that you want from me again?”

Whaddaya Get the Guy Who’s Got the World?

Even better than a membership to the Jelly-of-the-Month Club, Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving the whole year. And I’ve let too many years go by in the spirit of Clark W. Griswold, not appreciating what I’ve been given, having already spent more than I can afford. Yes, Jesus probably already has everything He needs… but so do I. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

Fight or Flight

Typically I drive around town without thinking too much about my speed. I follow the rhythms of traffic and obey the natural laws of the road (curves, hills, obstacles, terrain) that govern how fast I can safely travel. But occasionally, I’ll pass a police officer and glance down to see that my instinctive speed-o-meter is in direct violation of the signpost law. I’m surprised how reliably this triggers an adrenaline release–heart races, stomach turns, fingers and toes go numb, breath shortens, antiperspirant fails. I’m actually experiencing this physiological response right now, just by thinking about it. Weird.

Nothing More to Want

Shall not want? Is this possible? In our culture? Flesh wants. It wants approval and food and decadence and material things and, and, and… a list a mile long. It has a lot of things it has no business wanting. But…