Friday, September 9, 2011

God and Science

David Berlinski is one interesting dude. And I think I've found a book I want very much to read (Berlinski's The Devil's Delusion). This 11 minute video is, I'll promise you, the most interesting reflection on the interaction between science and faith that you will watch today. Watch the whole thing, as they say.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

God and Small Things

Last Sunday morning, I preached through Genesis 24, about Abraham sending his servant to get a wife for Isaac. I emphasized the fact that there is no miracle, no prophetic word, no vision of God. God doesn't even repeat and re-state the Abrahamic Covenant, as He had done at many points in Abraham's past. No, what you see is Abraham's confidence that God will go before his servant and give him success on his mission, based on his confidence that God will keep His covenant. And since fulfilling it requires that there be another generation after Isaac, then God will surely provide a wife for him.

I brought all this out because I think the text is teaching us that there are no coincidences and that God is in even the small details of our lives. It was surely not simply coincidence that the servant just "happened" to find right spot to meet Rebekah, that she just happened to be the first girl he met, or that she just happened to pass the test through which the servant had prayed for the right girl to be revealed. Neither was it simple coincidence that she was willing to go with the servant to marry a man she had not met because she believed in God's promises to him, nor that her family was willing to have her leave. God was in these circumstances, leading, guiding, and showing his steadfast love and faithfulness to Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, and the servant.

I had opportunity to remind myself of these things when I came home from the service and found this awaiting me:

Well actually, it looked a little different. When I found it, there was  portable basketball leaning against the windshield. I've had that goal up and the base filled with water for about 4 years with no problems. The previous night there were 70 mph winds and the truck was parked six feet left of it. No problem then. But the next morning, when I moved the truck in front of it, that's when it decided it had enough. Coincidence? I don't believe it was. I believe that God was showing me that He was in this too. Not just in the good things that happen, but also in things like having your windshield broken by your hoop. "The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord."

Morning Boys

One of the joys of my mornings has been being able to be there to see the boys off to school. They are so excited to get on that big bus, they literally run down the driveway to meet it each morning. Here they are, looking ready to go:

Why Do I Want To Be Good?

We all know that we are supposed to be good, supposed to make moral improvement in our lives. We all know that we are not supposed to be immoral wretches who enjoy our wretchedness. But often, I don't think that we really ever stop to ask ourselves "Why?" Why do I want to be good? Why do I want to stop behaving in a particular, sinful way?

What I find is that our motivations are often varied. Sometimes, we want to stop sinning in some fashion because continuing down that road is causing pain in a relationship. So we want to change because we want our friends, spouses, or family members to stop bugging us about this thing we do (or have done, again!). We want peace, so we change. In our better moments, we may even do so in repentant fashion, because we see the hurt we've caused and want to change because we love the person more than we love being the person that we are. Change on these bases is good. It contributes to harmony, and even, at times, personal holiness.

Sometimes we want to change because it will increase our level of social acceptability and help us "fit in." So we stop cussing because that's not cool in our social circles, stop getting drunk because that's frowned upon, and stop running around because that's simply not what nice people do and we want to be viewed as one of the "nice people." And again, that's not worthless change. Who doesn't think that restoring some of our culture's former taboos and recovering the stigma attached to certain behaviors would be a good thing and to the benefit of our culture?

And for me sometimes, I even find that I want to change because I want to be less in need of grace. My theology tells me that I must have grace, because without it, I am completely unacceptable before God. But my pride tells me that needing it is a terrible shame and so I want, sometimes, to change simply so I can feel more worthy and less needy when I come before God.

But the best motivation for change is because we want to glorify God rather than ourselves, please Him rather than our companions, conform to Christ rather than culture, and stand holy before Him because of His grace rather than pridefully working to not need it (an impossible task, since we ar still sinfully prideful). I cannot get out of my head the thought, probably planted there by John Piper or maybe Westminster, that my chief purpose (and yours too) is that we bring glory to God. And He is not glorified by us working harder, but by our allowing His Spirit to transform us, by His grace. He is glorified when we recognize that we need to seek tranformation not so we can feel or look or act better, but because God in Christ has come to save us from our sinfulness so that He can work in us and conform us to the image of the Son and so become, not just better versions of ourselves, but partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). He is glorified when we seek transformation not to better ourselves, but to better glorify Him.

Istanbul, not Constantinople

A friend of mine is in this ancient city today. So in her honor, enjoy this song. It's now an oldie (as am I, I guess), but it always makes me laugh. Enjoy!

They Might Be Giants - Istanbul (Not Constantinople) from They Might Be Giants on Vimeo.