Matthew 16:20b

Dr. Who had an impossible girl, but do you have an impossible situation in your life? A loved one so far from God, so deceived or entrenched in sin that you cannot possibly imagine them coming to faith in Jesus–a situation so far beyond anything you could ever hope to fix that you are tempted to despair? Good! Because God is God of the impossible!

“I assure you that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Go from here to there,’ and it will go. There will be nothing that you can’t do.” (Matthew‬ ‭17:20‬b CEB‬‬)

I don’t know about you, but I never really comprehended the full extent of God’s love for me. Sure, I knew the Bible says He loves me enough for Christ to have died for me, but it never sank in–it never quite hit home, because while I understood God so loved “the world,” I kind of subliminally felt that maybe He loves the rest of that world a bit more than me, because, after all–who am I? I’m not really that important.

And sure, in the grand scheme of things I’m probably not really that significant, but that’s missing the whole point of God’s greatness–of the full extent of His capacity to love! God is so great that His ability to love me or you isn’t impacted by His loving others–the amount of His love available isn’t finite like ours. Human beings may want to love everyone, but if we spend our energy or time or money helping one person, there’s just less of it left over for someone else. God isn’t like that–He can love me totally, fully, and to the exact degree of my need and beyond–and yet, simultaneously be able to love every other human being with just as overwhelming a love! Isn’t that amazing?! Absolutely!! But why is this so important?

It is important because it means God isn’t lying when He says He love you. And that love isn’t a communal residual kind of love–that because He loves everyone and I’m obviously part of everyone some of it also dribbles down to me. No; He actively, fully and completely loves ME! He’s relating to me specifically!! Two verses are significant here.

If you’re not a Christian–if you don’t quite trust Him yet, know that:

“…[God] doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change [their hearts and minds, and ultimately how they live].” (2 Peter‬ ‭3:8-9‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

God sincerely–from the bottom of His heart–does not want any human being separated from Him for eternity; it was never His plan for us, and He’s reaching out to you and giving you the time and space to see you can trust Him completely!

And if you already follow Him, “We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭CEB‬‬)

Either way, it all dovetails into a heavy-duty seriously real and personal, incredible love: if you don’t really know Him yet, He’s doing everything to love you over to Himself; if you do, He’s weaving together the diverse–and sometimes seemingly downright discouraging–facets of your life with the greatest of love for your greatest good–for the best possible outcome for you.

To put it another way–don’t quite know Him yet? His goal is for you to know Him. Already know Him? His goal is for you to know Him much more fully and completely! But what does God’s incredibly powerful love for us have to do with the impossible situations in our lives? With the really bad things so messed up you can’t figure out how to possibly fix them–the ones you can’t ever truthfully see being set right?

What the incredible love God has for us has to do with the genuinely impossible situations in our life is that these aren’t an accident. You may be a victim—perhaps the misery in your life may not have been your fault at all. Or perhaps you think it’s your fault, that your life went wrong and you somehow caused it (and maybe you did contribute in some intentional or unintentional way), but believe me, whatever it is–whether you had anything to do with it or not—God not only saw it coming, He allowed it to happen to show you exactly what He’s capable of; to give you faith–or a much stronger faith–in Him! He placed it in your life to show Himself strong on your behalf, and to reveal more of Himself to you! Because–“This is eternal life: to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You sent.” (John 17:3 CEB)

You see, we have a hard time believing ordinary blessings are from God–when, for example, we get up every morning and go to work, we don’t see God’s hand very clearly in our paycheck. But when it’s painfully obvious the situation is dire and we can do nothing to change it–that’s when we are driven to greater intimacy with Him in prayer.

No, He won’t give everything, just as a loving parent won’t indulge their child’s every whim–and sometimes He says no and we can’t understand why it has to be so, and we have to content ourselves knowing that just as the little child doesn’t always understand why the parent says no, so there are times we just have to trust in our Father’s great and amazing love for us–and that it is good, because He is good.

Yet so many other times–if it’s important enough to us to keep asking persistently and with importunity–He gives–because He planned it all along and merely He wanted us to learn to pray fervently, believe He’ll give, strengthen our faith in Him, and experience the genuine magnitude of His love for us!

Some years ago, an older mentor’s husband came to faith in Christ. It really was a miracle; it hadn’t seemed he ever would, and it had taken a lifetime. I was so happy for her because I identified with her and was hopeful for my own husband. Yet, as the years passed and rather than coming to faith in Jesus my own husband seemed even more hardened against Him, I began to believe nothing would ever change–that we would go to our graves like this. Then God’s love surprised and overwhelmed me!

My husband, the man I thought would never come to faith, accepted Jesus after thirty-one years–God did a work in his heart! Granted, he’s still my husband, but something is different. And its not perfect–there are years of resistance and bad habits, like the grave clothes dead Lazarus was wrapped in, that Jesus will be working on peeling off of His no longer dead spirit, and He, like all new Christians, needs to understand that unless he gets into the Word, he won’t grow in his new faith and in the knowledge of his Savior. But the new birth, tiny though it be, has definitely occurred; he is a new creation in Christ! God most certainly is God of impossible situations!

What do I want you to walk away with? Simply that God loves someone else and allowed them something amazing? As wonderful as that is–no. What I want to leave you with is the conviction that whatever impossible situation it is you are going through–whether a lack of faith or obstinance against God or whatever–He loves you too! He can and will work all things together for good for you if you love Him. “I am the LORD, the God of all living things! Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah‬ ‭32:27‬ ‭CEB‬‬) And if you haven’t ever trusted Him–He’s calling you; will you respond? Won’t you come to Him, and be overwhelmed by His great love for you?

Dear Lord God,

Please show Yourself strong and do what “cannot” be done; please do the impossible in my life and make things right! Amen.

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Proverbs 24:27

She was going to be a doctor, and we were all rooting for her–as a matter of fact, we still are! She’s a bright and personable young woman, who I think will be phenomenal as the first in our extended family to become a physician. And while I think she’ll still make it, it’s beginning to look like some of the choices she made–coupled with circumstances completely beyond her control–are making it more challenging for her to stay the course.

“Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.” (Proverbs‬ ‭24:27‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

When our oldest was a high school senior, his friend set him up with a date for prom. It clicked even though he homeschooled and she went to a local high school, and afterward she started calling to invite him out. For better or worse that was when he and I had “the talk”–probably not the one you’re thinking of, but one all parents should have with their children.

I told him he had a long road ahead of him, and that if he started dating now, he’d want a car to take her out in, which would mean he’d need at least a part-time job for the car and the insurance and the gas, as well as money for a nicer wardrobe, and to pay for the actual going out; the shows or restaurants and what-not. In other words, his mind would become pre-occupied with living in the here-and-now rather than with preparing for the future. I explained that if he started dating now there was also a chance he might at some point in the not-too-distant future decide to marry, and have to stop working toward his degree altogether to go to work to support himself and his new family–that this would be the end of his education. I’m grateful that he took it to heart, stopped seeing her, and went on to earn his master’s degree and begin a career in architecture. Yet many young people fall short of their goals because they don’t understand that you need to first acquire the tools for financing your life before you start living your life. That’s what today’s verse is teaching us.

The reality is that there is a certain limited time period in a person’s very early adulthood during which he or she can extend childhood–figuratively speaking–and squeeze in an education before they become distracted with living. Certainly college students “live,” but I’m referring to engaging in the behaviors of those who have their future means of survival–the skills with which they will finance their lifestyle–dealt with and out of the way.

These days few of us derive our livelihood from farming, so we’re not literally going to prepare fields for sowing crops, but we do need to acquire the education and training required to properly support ourselves and our family before we become distracted with actually finding a spouse and having children–before we begin life in ernest. Yet far too many young people get this paradigm backward; they begin living too early–dating, working, spending and getting into debt–jeopardizing their commitment to the difficulties inherent in acquiring a higher education.

What do I mean by living? Simply becoming distracted–getting a job that takes up too much of you in terms of time and energy; taking on debt such as a car note or a financial obligation like an apartment that will require you to focus more and more on work rather than your education; getting into a personal relationship that will take your focus away from your studies.

I believe that’s what happened here. She started out great, but she got a job in retail–which, unlike most college work-study campus jobs, demands much in terms of time and energy. She actually did really well and earned enough to buy a car and get her own apartment, and even started dating a guy who worked with her; then, she ended up needing a surgery which set her back a semester behind the others who started with her. She had absolutely no control over that, yet it is the things we can control through the decisions we make, coupled with those we can’t that God allows into our life, that can make it challenging for us to persevere and threaten to overwhelm us.

So what should we do? How should we structure our lives so we have the greatest chance of success at completing our education? I’m still hopeful for this young lady–I know she can do it if she sets her mind to it–but the way we need to handle our teen and young adult years is by recognizing that they will determine the remainder of our life; our place in the world–who we are, how much we will earn, the experiences we will go through, whether we will be in a position to help others less fortunate or whether we ourselves will be among those less fortunate. It is difficult for young people to wait beginning their lives in ernest, but it has to be done–the payoff of setting your personal life on snooze for a couple of years now, during the potentially sixty or more years of the remainder of your life, will be more than worth it!

Dear Lord God,

Help me be wise and prepare my source of livelihood first before beginning my life in ernest. Amen.

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Ephesians 1:3-6

Are you one of the cool people in life, or one of the ones who alternately wants to be cool or resents the ones who are? You know who I’m talking about–the ones at the top of the social ladder in whatever circle it is you travel in–whether school or the real world. They’re usually the best dressed, most confident and most athletic; the ones who drive the nicest cars, live in the nicest homes, and have the best jobs–or their parents do. Yet these are the people who also frequently look down on others. Why is that? And why do some people you’d think would, not look down on others?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians‬ ‭1:3-6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

When someone snubs you, the natural response is to assume they’re right and feel somewhat shaken in our sense of self or confidence, rather than try to understand why they said what they did–but it helps to recognize that unkindness or arrogance from others is more frequently a reflection of their own weakness than of ours. What do I mean? Simply that those who are confident in their own sense of self do not typically feel the need to belittle others.

Have you ever noticed the difference between how the owner of the company you work for speaks to you, and how your immediate supervisor does? You’d think the owner would be exponentially more arrogant than your supervisor, but frequently the truth is that the owner is unexpectedly down to earth and relatable, while your supervisor might take every opportunity possible to emphasize his or her superiority over you. Why is this?

Simply because the owner knows they’re the owner. There’s no doubt in his mind as to his position, and he’s secure enough to not feel threatened by you. Why would he be? He owns the company–you’re not going to take his job away from him. Your immediate supervisor, on the other hand, is in a different position. You might not realize it, but he probably understands that there is pitifully little difference between him and you, and consciously or not, feels the need to keep asserting his superiority over you. He is not particularly secure in his position.

It’s the same socially. Granted, some people are simply mean and enjoy harassing others merely for fun, but most people feel a subconscious need to emphasize their superiority only when they don’t actually feel that much superior. So how does knowing this help us? Simply that the next time someone makes you feel bad about yourself, don’t be so quick to assume they’re right and become deflated or defensive. Instead, recognize it’s not you; it’s them–yes, your clothes or car or whatever else might not measure up to their particular arbitrary standard, but what’s really going on is that they’re unintentionally revealing the fact that they’re insecure in who they themselves are and feel the need to artificially elevate their status by unfairly lowering yours. It really is them.

But we’ve all also known people who buck the system, who defy our expectations by not acting the way we expect them to–cool people who are actually also genuinely nice to others. Why aren’t they as arrogant to those beneath them as everyone else?

Again, it has to do with security in who you are–in being well grounded enough in your own sense of self so you don’t feel threatened by others. How do you get to be that way? By understanding well who you are and knowing it can’t be taken away from you.

Not everyone who is nice is a Christian, but I believe the strongest sense of self we can have isn’t actually rooted in ourselves, but in Jesus. Regardless of how good we are at something–how talented, how beautiful, how competent–there is always the risk, the possibility, that someone can show up who is better, or someone can get better–hence the petty jealousy and rivalries we frequently see. There’s never the assurance that if you’re at the top you’ll stay there–there’s always insecurity.

But if your sense of self, who you are, your identity, is rooted in Christ and the position you have with God through who He is–well, that’ll never change and no one can take it away from you. No one can take away or usurp your position as a child of God; as forgiven, loved and accepted by your Father in heaven. Who we are in Christ Jesus will never change; we are genuinely secure in Him.

That’s why it’s frequently the genuinely Christian people–not those who just say they’re Christian but who actually know they belong to Jesus and love Him with their whole heart–who are secure enough to step outside of themselves and reach out to others to show kindness and acceptance to people you wouldn’t think they would. They’re the kind of people who motivate others to want to be like them, because, well, God’s character is beautiful and good, and they constantly radiate it out to those around them.

So, are you one of the cool people–one of the many who find their deepest and truest identity in personal accomplishments and characteristics which can be bettered by others, in a position which can be taken away? Or is your sense of self–regardless of who you otherwise are or what your characteristics, abilities, and accomplishments are–rooted in the knowledge that Jesus Christ died for you so you would forever be accepted into God’s heart through Him?

Dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Thank You that I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in You; that I was chosen in You before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in love; that I was predestined to adoption by the Father Himself through You; that I am fully loved and accepted by Him through You, His beloved. Amen!

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Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

Are you happy? Regardless of whether you have much or not much at all, are you enjoying your life? As you are busy doing whatever it is God has given you to do, as you do so, being ever cognizant of all the blessings He allows you daily to experience? Do you even realize that He wants you to have an attitude of joy?

“This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” (Ecclesiastes‬ ‭5:18-20‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Some people have a very distorted concept of what God wants for us. They see life’s difficulties, perhaps experiencing firsthand scarcity which precipitates the necessity of a seemingly nonstop cycle of work merely to pay the bills. Perhaps their physical needs are met but they are in a difficult relationship or they have no relationship at all and are lonely; perhaps their bodies are encumbered with debility or pain–there are so many situations which can affect our mental and emotional well-being and threaten to deprive us of joy. Yet we do not have to have an attitude of unhappiness or misery!

For some reason Christians seem to think the word “fun” is a bad word. They get being diligent–but not necessarily enjoying ourselves as we go about doing whatever it is God has given us to do. And while I understand where this kind of attitude comes from, it is misguided, because enjoying our life is not a sin.

Perhaps because Satan appropriates fun by attempting to deceive us into running after fun or believing sin is fun, Christians tend to associate any kind of fun with sin. Yet innocent fun–an enjoyment of our lives and the blessings God fills them with–is not sin; it is a blessing from God and an attitude that can help us get through the more difficult parts of our lives!

Think about your work. Perhaps you enjoy it, and it’s wonderful if you do. But maybe, like many, you do it because it pays the bills and you have to–not because you love it. But have you ever asked God to make it more pleasant for you? I realize that might sound like an absurd or even frivolous request, but think about it–God loves us, and He cares even about our daily experiences! He is not above causing us to see our work in a different light, or helping us change something which makes us physically healthier and thus better able to enjoy our experiences–such as getting more sleep or adopting a better diet or exercising a bit. He is capable of helping us get better at whatever it is we do, which in turn makes our work more pleasant, because it’s fun to be good at what you do. Ultimately, He can even adjust our actual environment if He so chooses.

I suspect many of us remember the “old man and the fish” story, about a magic fish which grants a fisherman favors until his wife prods him to ask for too much and all is taken away. We are hesitant to use up our “favors” asking God for that which we feel frivolous, such as actually enjoying our work. Yet asking for a good day is not wrong, because God takes no delight in our unnecessary or senseless misery.

James 4:3, the verse some of us might be thinking of, actually teaches us, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James‬ ‭4:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬) Yet the pleasures it refers to are sinful ones, such as greed or lust or pride–sinful requests like winning the lottery–not for the ability to appreciate fully the blessings God gives. Remember what Jesus said? “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy [that’s what sin and ignorance and foolishness does in our life]. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬) God’s heart is for us to have an abundant life!

Yet this is not the prosperity doctrine. God is not saying that you will be wealthy, or illness-free, or never suffer–to the contrary, it is through suffering that God typically conforms us to the image of Christ, and His people are called to deny the desires that are at odds with His desires for us, pick up our cross, and follow Christ Jesus our Lord. But we need not have an attitude of misery as we do so, and it doesn’t have to be as hard as we frequently make it out to be!

So, are you happy? Do you recognize all the blessings God showers on you daily–a new morning, perhaps even with the absence of pain, or good medicine? The ability to walk, to climb stairs, to breathe? To study, to work, to create or compose or draw? Nourishment for your body? Clean water to drink? A roof over our head, warmth in cold weather, cool in the warm? Other individuals who cross our path with whom we might interact and bless? And this is just for starters–most of us have so much incredibly more! And while He has already given so much, don’t be afraid to ask Him for help with your daily life. He can fully provide you “the ability to enjoy…[what He has given]” and for you to “be happy…[as you do your work]!”

Dear Lord God,

Help me appreciate and enjoy all You give, and

be happy! Amen.

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Matthew 13:44

Are you able to do the really hard things? I’m not talking about getting yourself to church on Sunday morning–although depending on who you are, that may be hard for you. What I’m referring to are life choices that cost you in palpable terms–behaviors you know are right in God’s eyes and what you should be doing, but which will hurt you in some very real way.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that somebody hid in a field, which someone else found and covered up. Full of joy, the finder sold everything and bought that field.” (Matthew‬ ‭13:44‬ ‭CEB‬‬)

Actions have consequences–real ones, not just theoretical or hypothetical ones. If you notice something dishonest going on at work, you might be praised or–depending on who it was and what was actually going on–you might be fired. If you call in criminal activity in your neighborhood, something bad might happen to you, your property or your family. If you begin reporting your income honestly, you might owe more in taxes and not be able to afford something you otherwise would have been able to. Yes, actions have very tangible consequences.

Doing right frequently costs us, financially, emotionally, mentally, maybe even physically. So how do we actually get ourselves to do that which is right–yet which might cost us highly? How do we bring ourselves to the point where we act like Corrie ten Boom, whose family suffered extensively in concentration camps, ultimately loosing two of its three members to death–because they sheltered Jews during the Nazi Occupation? Or like the missionary Nate Saint and his group, who gave their own lives rather than defend themselves with the rifles they had when attacked by the Auca Indians they were witnessing to–because they recognized they were eternally safe in Christ while their attackers were not yet so? Or like pastors and missionaries in countries like Turkey or Afghanistan or Iran and others, who are imprisoned and even killed for spreading the Gospel as their and (our) Lord commands? Or the many individuals who “come out” with their Christian faith in countries where Jesus’ own are persecuted? These are the difficult life choices–the ones that cost much.

Going to church here in the U.S. will probably not cost us too much–some effort and preplanning, perhaps some ridicule from family, but probably not our lives. Elsewhere it can be a life-risking endeavor–yet we are frequently oblivious to the incredible privilege of being able to safely gather with other followers of Jesus, or at least take it for granted. But Jesus demands so much more of us than just getting ourselves to church. Remember His caution to those who considered following Him?

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out…” (Luke‬ ‭14:26-35‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

What’s He saying? Simply that following Him will cost you, and that if you are going to follow Him you have to recognize you may be asked to give up everything else for that privilege. Yet far too many of us don’t comprehend exactly how great a privilege Christ is. But it is exactly that–recognizing that “gain[ing] Christ and be[ing] found in Him” (Philippians 3:8-9) is much more precious than anything else in life–that gets us to do the really hard things.

You see, when confronted with a difficult decision you intuitively make a immediate mental calculation. Make no mistake–human beings aren’t stupid: we recognize what’s about to happen and what we’d be giving up. We may not understand the full ramifications, but we know there will be consequences that will hurt.

So we place our options on a mental scale. On the one side we place whatever it is we would lose if we make the right choice–money, the favor of others, prestige, fame, success, our own physical safety or that of our family; perhaps, even our lives. On the other side we place Jesus Christ. And we weigh them against each other.

If we happen to know Jesus well enough–if we know Him intimately in prayer, if we love Him more than life itself, if we have personally seen and experienced and come to the conviction that compared to anything else in this physical world, including our material blessings, spouse, children, health or even life itself, losing fellowship with Him is by far worse than anything else that could happen to us–then, we will hold our ground and do the right thing rather than lose that intimacy with Christ.

But if we don’t know Him that well–if we don’t yet understand that nothing in this world can or will ever replace actively having and feeling His presence in our life–then we won’t do the hard thing; we will back down, give in, and sin. This is the choice–Jesus, versus anything else in life.

So, how precious is Jesus to you? Does intimate fellowship with God mean more to you than anything else? Have you understood that, “This is eternal life: to know…the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom…[He] sent” (John 17:3 CEB)? Have you ever perhaps personally experienced the pain of being separated from Christ because of some sin, great or small, in your life, and understand that it is, “…your sins that…cut you off from God. [That] because of your sins, He…[turns] away and…[will] not listen anymore”? (Isaiah 59:2 NLT) Would you rather suffer any other loss or pain than losing that fellowship with Him? If so, you will do the hard things in life that cost you much!

Dear Lord Jesus,

Help me rather suffer anything else other than lose You! Amen.

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Exodus 20:11

What do I have against evolution? Increasingly our world is accepting what I believe is a preposterous concept: that all living things have gradually changed, over millions of years, from the equivalent of primordial bacteria to the complex reality of today–to the extent that if you refuse to accept this you are even excluded from the conversation. And while I don’t challenge scientifically evidencable mutations or genetic alteration–for that matter, any reproducible or verifiable legitimate research–I refuse to place the unprovable conjecture of man over the revealed Word of God–even if this makes me seem ignorant and backward.

“…the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them in six days…” (Exodus‬ ‭20:11‬ ‭CEB‬‬)

I have been asked why I have such a problem with evolution. Why indeed? As multiple successive generations have been indoctrinated in its tenats, belief in what I believe is absurd is now the norm, and most people no longer have a problem with it. Even Christians have increasingly resolved the conflict between their faith and “science” by asserting that God created, but via the vehicle of evolution. And while this sounds like a happy compromise, I feel it’s untenable. Why?

The reason I cannot accept that God created in millions of years is because He clearly said otherwise. The Bible–the Divinely revealed utterance of the real and only true Supreme Being, the holy God–says that He “made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them in six days…” Did you get that?

Of course, I understand that the word translated into our English “day” is the Hebrew word “yom,” of which a more obscure translation could be “a period of time.” Yet as the author of The Complete Word Study Old Testament notes, “The day-age theory claims that the word yom, which is the Hebrew word for “day,” is used to refer to periods of indefinite length, not to literal days. While this is a viable meaning of the word (Lev. 14:2, 9, 10) it is not the common meaning, nor is the meaning of the word sufficient foundation for the theory.” (Spiros Zodhiates)

So if God, who was there and was the One who did it all, says it was done in six days; and I, who was not there and had nothing to do with its origin, postulate otherwise–whose opinion should take precedence? How can I ever, in my ignorance or pride, assert that it happened any differently than He says it did?

Now, the problem is that some Christians today are putting the cart before the horse. Perhaps in an effort to woo back those who have been alienated away from faith in Christ and Scripture through its seeming irreconcilability with “science,” we are conjecturing, hypothesizing, postulating theories, and trying to make God’s account fit into a made-made outline–instead of taking the parameters of God’s outline in His Word, the Bible, and fitting observable science into it. It’s backward, and I simply don’t believe it works–it doesn’t seem to fit, no matter how hard you try to squeeze it in.

Dr. John Walton of Wheaton College has, for example, postulated that the literal six days of Genesis 1 are an account of a “functional” creation (an imbuing with purpose, if I understand correctly), as opposed to a “material” creation–which, he says, is not Scripturally addressed and could, thus, have taken millions of years. The contention is that the readers of the time would have understood this, and that there is, therefore, no conflict between current evolutionary science and the Scriptural account. Yet it seems to me that if I have to contort my mind to try to grasp a concept as I must with this idea, perhaps it wasn’t God’s intent because, after all, God gave His Word for everyone–even the most uneducated and simple, for whom a straightforward literal interpretation would have been most obvious.

Ultimately, I believe what happens when you try to reconcile Scripture to culture is that your faith is eventually challenged. Over time, perhaps, but nonetheless, a thinking person comes to sense that evolution and the Bible are, perhaps, genuinely at odds, and instead of rejecting the fallacy of man’s philosophies (which we have already by that time accepted bit by bit), we can instead end up simply falling away from our pure and unadultered faith in the truth of God’s Word, and eventually perhaps–though, God forbid–trusting in what He says altogether.

Because, honestly, if we can’t believe any part of what He has told us–if we can’t take it at face value and accept it for what He tells us it is–why should we accept any other part of the Bible we disagree with or wish wasn’t so? We can’t. Once we give ourselves permission to reject what doesn’t make sense to us–to pick and choose what we will accept as from God and what we won’t, we’ve placed ourselves in a terrible place–we’ve reversed our roles in our own minds and made ourselves His judge!

Better to face this head-on; to be proactive in our confrontation of any philosophy of man that is at odds with what God has said is true–to call it what it truly is: error. Anything that deviates from what the Bible genuinely says is wrong, regardless of how strongly culture asserts otherwise, and regardless of how it responds to the remnant of us who cling to it. Remember that the weapons God has provided us with–His Word, faith in Him and in the truthfulness and reliability of what He has told us, His Spirit in us, and everything else He gives–are “…mighty…for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” (II Corinthians‬ ‭10:4-5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

So, what do I–and, I hope, you too–have against evolution? Merely that God really truly does appear to say otherwise!

Dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Help me reject every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bring my every thought into captivity to obedience to You. Amen.

(Having said all of this, I acknowledge that I do not possess perfect knowledge. If ever there is a conflict between a correct interpretation of Scripture and my own opinion as to what it says, I stand to be corrected–human beings can be wrong, but God never is.)

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2 Corinthians 11:13-15

Do you want to do good? Do you want to be on the right side of history on issues that matter? Do you sympathize with the wronged, the downtrodden, the underprivileged, those who have no voice? Good! And so you should, as loving others is how those who do not care will see we really follow Christ. Yet how do we do good? Do we work for good results using good means, or have we crossed over to the camp that says the end justifies the means and anything goes, as long as we achieve our desired result?

“…they are no more than false apostles and dishonest workers. They only pretend to be apostles of Christ. And it is no wonder. Even Satan tries to make himself look like an angel of light. So why does it seem strange for Satan’s servants to pretend to do what is right? Someday they will get exactly what they deserve.” (2 Corinthians‬ ‭11:13-15‬ ‭CEV‬‬)

Let me be clear: not all who are concerned about right and wrong, about social justice and issues that concern the underprivileged, have submitted themselves to the authority of Christ and are right with God. There are scores of people active on social issues who see themselves as caring, concerned, good people but reject Christ altogether, as well as His authority in their life. They think they can be good people apart from any religion; they genuinely believe there is an objective standard of right and wrong they can attain to apart from the power and influence of the Holy Spirit in their lives–but they are misguided.

This is not to say that you can’t do anything good–anything that helps another person–if you’re not a Christian. Of course you can; many philanthropists have been secularists. What you can’t do apart from the influence and guidance of God’s Spirit is see straight. What do I mean by that?

The problem with facing life apart from the influence of God is that we are vulnerable to deception–look at Eve. What happened there? She wanted to be wise, but is that in itself bad? Is it wrong to want to know more, to understand things you didn’t, to be better at something? Of course not! Wanting wisdom wasn’t wrong; trying to get it by disobeying God was. And that’s what happens when we reject God’s influence in our life–we don’t see how the good we are about to do is actually really bad.

Take the issue of abortion. Those on the pro side may be genuinely well-intentioned individuals who want good for girls and young women finding themselves in a difficult situation that threatens to alter the trajectory of their lives. They see the scraping out of the living being–the cells that comprise a growing child in their bodies–as doing these women a service, not the egregious injury it is to both mother and child. Yet they have been deceived, because you cannot achieve good by doing wrong, and killing an unborn child’s life is wrong–regardless of the means of conception or the strain it will bring upon the life of the mother.

Satan is a real being. Not a pitchfork-wielding tailed character from a child’s storybook, but a powerful spiritual force of evil who seeks to interfere in and destroy the lives of human beings–our lives: “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

What do we know about him? Well, he’s a murderer, and has been from the beginning. He has absolutely no truth in himself–he is a liar, and therefore, he lies–sometimes outrightly, sometimes by interspersing bits of truth so the lie is more palatable. He blinds the eyes of those who want no part of Jesus Christ so they really can’t see truth anymore. He is scheming, deceitful and fully evil. Yet, he is also capable of making himself look like an angel of light–and can cause those whom he’s using to look genuinely good too, so we fall for whatever he’s trying to accomplish.

Make no mistake, we’re up against deception, against forces far more powerful than what we can resist independently, because we simply don’t have enough wherewithal to be able to separate out truth from error, lies from deception, on our own. But we don’t have to–God has given us the tools we need to not fall for this stuff. The Message paraphrase explains well:

“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over…you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (Ephesians‬ ‭6:13-18‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

What we have to understand is that rather than making us mindless automatons with no will of our own, trusting in God through Christ, and then studying the Bible and living according to its dictates, fills us with the Holy Spirit–with the ability, the tools, we need to not fall for the onslaught of deception that gets slung at us daily.

We may not think it is, but our vision is not clear–it’s clouded, distorted by our sin nature. Our capacity to make an objective evaluation of right and wrong is skewed, and without the plumb line of God’s input into the situation, we will probably err–all the while believing we are doing good. This is why more often than not, when we try to fix a situation apart from God we just make it worse. Jesus explained, “I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to Me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without Me.” (John‬ ‭15:5‬ ‭CEV‬‬)

Certainly we can do stuff, but in light of whether it’s really effective for true good–apart from God it’ll just be us stirring the pot, trying to do something but not really helping; maybe even causing harm. Anything of genuine good and eternal significance needs to be done through Christ, and the means–how we do what we’re doing–is as important as the results. But if we’re sticking with Jesus, we already know that and won’t make that mistake.

If we stick with Him we won’t, as a matter of fact, make any of the mistakes that people make when they’re deceived into veering away from doing life God’s way. Because ultimately, the things that look right are good only if they genuinely are good–and when we stay with Him, God gives us the ability to see clearly to make that determination.

So, do you want to do good? Do you want to be on the right side of history on issues that matter? Stick with what God says in His Word, because apart from Him you can do nothing of genuine significance!

Dear Jesus,

Help me “stay joined to…[You], so I “will produce lots of fruit,” because I “cannot do anything [of significance] without…[You].” Amen.

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