but even if…

Believing God

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.

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!

Genesis ::: An Overview

The Ultimate Map vs. Jenny Garmin

Call me old-school, but I miss maps. Maps are clear (assuming you can trust the designer). You can see where you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go. Are they cumbersome and bulky? Yes. Do they possibly require you to pull over and take a moment to reconsider your route? Yes. But I’m willing to put up with a bit of inconvenience in the short run to save frustration in the long-run. Being lost sucks.

Enter, the GPS. We call ours Jenny Garmin (she just sounds like a Jenny somehow). I’m sure Jenny is a lovely gal and all, but she’s not so good at her job, kind of a slacker. She not only gets me lost, but I usually end up having several near-miss accidents when trying to navigate busy highways through cities. She understands in theory where I need to be, but doesn’t always pick the best way to get me there. She often doesn’t know about roadblocks and detours and doesn’t always communicate clearly. One way or another, I usually end up stressed out when I rely on her.

What do maps and Jenny Garmin have to with Genesis? I’m so glad you asked.

Le Pain & Whine Transformed (Part 1 of 2)

I remember thinking the French spelling for bread (my favorite guilty pleasure) was quite appropriate—le pain. Caught up in the woe-is-me culture of the nineties, I also indulged in whine, that is, wine (and its many bar-mates). I’d unknowingly created a warped version of the modern communion meal: Le pain dipped in whine. But Jesus wasn’t even on my radar— my eyes were on myself. Worse yet, I was looking at a caricature of myself that I’d created by imagining what everyone else thought of me.

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…

But That Is Not All…

Jesus, the worthy Lamb, was made like us “in every way.” He gets how hard it is to be human. He gets you. When you lose your temper, He understands. When you’re scared, He knows that emotion. When you’re tempted, He’s lived through that too. God could have sat on His throne and condemned us for not living up to His standards, but instead He went to great lengths to reach out to us, to know us, and to make Himself known more intimately than ever before. Jesus is our bridge over troubled waters—our ladder between this life and the next. He is the Alpha-Omega, A-Z, Root and Vine, Author and Word, Divine Warrior and Prince of Peace—King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Be-all and End-all.