…But The Lord Was Not In The Wind

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The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. – I Kings 19:11-12

My prayers are with the families of those who have lost property, and more, who have lost family and friends, in the devastating storms that tore through Oklahoma yesterday.

But I am also reminded of this passage from I Kings. A great wind tears a mountain apart, but God was not in the wind. He was not in the earthquake. He was not in the fire. “And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” In the King James, “And after the fire a still small voice.”

Often after a natural disaster such as yesterday’s tornadoes, people tend to blame God, or to ask “Where was God when all of this devastation happened?” Even if the disaster is not natural, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, these questions abound.

I have an answer that not everyone will like.

God was in the rescue workers who, just minutes after the tornado passed, were tearing through walls and rubble to seek for total strangers.

God was in the teacher who stretched out her body to shield several young elementary school students as stone and debris rained down on them from the ensuing damage caused by the tornado.

God was even in the utter joy expressed by an elderly woman who, during an on-camera interview, discovered her dog, alive and well, digging itself out of the rubble of her home.

Does God cause destruction? The Bible makes it clear that God is in control.

The Lord kills and brings to life. He brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich. He brings low and He exalts. – I Samuel 2:6-7

One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? – Romans 9:19-21

But doesn’t that make God a monster? Why did 24 people have to die? Why did so many people have to lose their houses? Why didn’t God just stop the tornadoes?

I have an answer for that not everyone will like.

The answer is “I don’t know.” I mean, I know that everyone dies, and I know that death was introduced because Adam and Eve were disobedient and ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But I don’t know why those 24 people had to die in the storms. I don’t know why those 26 people had to die at Sandy Hook.

Then again, I’m not God.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

If you’ve read my previous posts, particularly the post about Genesis 1 and 2 and the “30,000-foot view,” this passage starts to make sense. The thing is, God has the 30,000-foot view AND He has the one-inch view of all of us, at all times.

We don’t know God’s plan, but the Bible makes clear that He has one. God’s plan is perfect, and it will come to pass. There is a reason that those tornadoes destroyed those homes, schools, and businesses in Oklahoma yesterday. And while God may (or may not) have caused the storm, He will use this tragedy, as He does every other, to reveal His plan. and His plan will always be one of desiring relationship with humanity.

For my readers in the Oklahoma City area, if you are looking for practical ways to help those who have been affected by this disaster, you can volunteer through an organization called Samaritan’s Purse, which is an internation relief and evangelism organization. You can contact them at www.spvolunteernetwork.org/. And even if you don’t live in the area, you can send a donation to Samaritan’s Purse through this web link: www.samaritanspurse.org/donation-items/us-disaster-relief-donation/.

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The Creation Story: The Close-Up

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Wheel in the Wheel GENESIS
Click here for today’s reading: Genesis 2:4-25

It’s always fascinated me how a story comes together, whether it’s a play, a movie, a book…whatever. The direction that a story takes as it unfolds for the audience can make it an incredible journey! In any great story-work, you set the stage by establishing the scene, and you introduce the characters whose lives you are “invading.”

Filmmakers often use what is called an “establishing shot” or a “wide shot” to set the scene. In many films, this will be a high-level view of something…mountains, cities, underwater panoramas. Sometimes it’s a collage of shots that mean something to the story…a sweeping shot of a room, individual objects, or some other details.

But without the rest of the movie to give you the context of these “establishing shots,” it’s just a bunch of pictures up on a screen, or a bunch of words in a book or in a script. It’s a “30,000-foot view” of the story. In order to make the story meaningful, the storyteller needs to zoom in; to focus on what the story is about, and who is involved.

And so it is with Genesis 2.

Many non-believers use Genesis 2 to “prove” that Christianity is a sham, because it appears to them that the Creation story in Genesis 2 is vastly different from the one in Genesis 1. But is it? Or is Genesis 1 simply the “establishing shot” of the Creation? Genesis 1: the scene is set, literally. We see God building the scenery for the story, and teasing us with the appearance of the main characters.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

And God said, “Let there be…” and there was…

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

Genesis 2 zooms in from establishing that God is the Creator of “all that we see, and all that we don’t see,” and focuses on those main characters: God, and the man and woman.

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (verse 7)

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. (verse 8)

 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. (verse 18)

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.  (verses 21-22)

The story itself has finally begun! In Genesis 1, God says “Let us make man in our own image.” In Genesis 2, we see the detail put into creating man and woman: forming the man from dust; breathing into him the Breath of Life; creating a partner for him.

It’s interesting to note God’s words in verse 18: “It is not good for man to be alone….” God created man in His own image and likeness, but He did not create a god. He created a new being, and even in the beginning, God proved that relationship is of utmost importance to this new being. Relationship with God, yes, but also relationship with fellow-beings.

Finally, in the last verse of chapter 2…

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. (verse 25)

Man and woman, in the state in which God made them, living and working in the Garden God planted for them. Creation the way it was supposed to be…the way God made it. In chapter 3 we see God “walking in the Garden in the cool of the day.”

We don’t know how much time passed between Genesis 2:25 and Genesis 3:1, but I think it’s safe to assume that, until Genesis 3:1, God did walk in the Garden, His presence known by Adam and his wife.

Perhaps that is why Genesis 3 is even more heart-wrenching. Man is living in the presence of God on earth, and still chooses disobedience.

Genesis 2:1-3 – The Sabbath (redux)

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As you see, I posted an entry earlier today that had nothing but the title of the post and the Scripture for the post.

As I went through the rest of my day, I was kicking myself for prematurely posting this entry. I was using my Android phone to create the post, and I inadvertently hit the wrong button.

However, while eating dinner and then running my son around to a couple of things he had going on tonight, I got to thinking about the subject of the post…”The Sabbath.” And I couldn’t help but thinking, “God, did you do that on purpose?” I had entered only the Scripture about the Sabbath, and then “accidentally” hit post.

Or did I?

The more I reflected, the more I thought it actually pretty fitting that the only thing in the post was the description of God’s establishment of the Day of Rest.

So, I leave the post as-is. We’ll move on to the rest of Genesis 2 tomorrow night, but for now, let’s just take some time for personal reflection on the meaning of the Sabbath, the Day of Rest, established and blessed by our Father. We’ll talk about the Sabbath sometime in the future.

See you tomorrow!

Welcome to The Wheel In The Wheel

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Wheel in the Wheel

In reflecting on what the Bible is about, I was overwhelmed by the idea that the entire Book, from Genesis through Revelation, is God’s description of His desire for relationship with man. From Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” to Revelation 22:21, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen,” I believe the whole of the Bible tells us one simple thing: God wants to be in relationship with us, and He shows us in His Word how He proves that desire.

And now, a disclaimer…I am not a pastor, nor have I attended any seminary. I studied Communications at Messiah College from 1986 to 1990, and earned an MBA from the University of Phoenix. However, I have a deep desire for God, and for teaching His word as a layman. My goal for this blog is to share what God lays on my heart as I study the Bible with the central idea that God desires relationship with us.

Eventually, I’d love to create a long-term Bible study that I (and others) can use in churches, home groups, and anywhere else where God is working among His Church.

I hope you enjoy the blog, and that God might speak through the Holy Spirit to guide your paths. And remember, God often lights our paths with a flickering flame…rarely with a halogen spotlight.

May God richly bless you as you seek His guidance, and as you seek to develop your relationship with Him.