Category Archives: God

Fingers of God

tornado funnels

I am sort of a weather junkie and in the course of following the tornado outbreak in Oklahoma last Friday came across this video showing multi-vortices in the tornado. They form within minutes as you can see, come down, touch the ground, then dissipate. Watching it made me think of the fingers of God… how they can come down and touch something spot on… not random, but, as with all else under His wise and loving control.

The story that broke today about the three very experienced weather chasers who were killed on the same day and in the same area where this tornado was filmed, just reinforced the fact that none of us can ever have all the bases covered when it comes to knowing what’s going to happen. Two of the three men were renowned among the meteorological community, having appeared in Discovery Channel and National Geographic presentations on their work.

Tim Samaras worked out of Colorado and his first interest was research —  getting information needed to figure out how tornadoes are formed and behaved. Colleagues described him as “a veteran researcher not a thrill seeker” and a stickler for safety above all else. Yet even he, after 30 years of tracking tornadoes, found himself caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Apparently he and his team were  heading east on a side road along I-40 following the El Reno tornado some ways to the south as it plowed eastward  as well, following a straight track as it did so. Then suddenly it took a sharp turn northward  to I-40 itself, then it jogged east again to follow the interstate. When that happens the tornado can strengthen in power and size and, as one colleague put it, “you find yourself part of the tornado” and there’s no way to avoid it.

Anyway, to see Funnels Drop from Cloud near El Reno click on the link below:

http://bcove.me/nspje3up

Addendum to the Eric Liddell Story

Last Sunday I blogged about Eric Liddell, the Olympic runner and Scottish missionary featured in the movie Chariots of Fire. I told about how when he learned that the heats of the race that was his strongest were to be held on a Sunday, he made a decision not to enter it. He did enter the 400 meter race, whose heats were not held on Sunday. That was a race he was not expected to win, based on previous times.

I don’t recall if this was shown in Chariots of Fire — it may have been, but if it was, it hit me harder when reading through his story this time than previously. A day or so after the 100 meter had already been run, as he was getting ready to compete in the 400 meter, an American Olympic team masseuse handed him a slip of paper on which had been written,

“In the old book it says, ‘He that honours me I will honour.’ Wishing you the best of success always.” (Source: The Eric Liddell Centre – Quotations )

The phrase mentioned is from 1 Samuel 2:30, “…for those who honor Me, I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed.

The timing was exquisite.

Because shortly thereafter Liddell won the race that he was not expected to win. Everyone thought he had given up his chance at Olympic gold and God gave him one anyway. I love that.

Although, as I said in the previous post, he’s going to get a lot more than a gold medal in eternity!

For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? ~ 1 Th 2:19

Can You Bind the Pleiades?

Then the Lord Answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge.
Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth!
Tell Me if you have understanding,
Who set its measurements, since you know?

 

Or who streteched the line on it?
On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When all the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades,
Or loose the cords of Orion?

Can you lead forth a constellation in its season.
And guide the Bear with her satellites?


Do you know the ordinances of the heavens or fix their rule over
the earth?

Job 38:1-7; 31-33

ΩΩΩ

Data for Nebula photo provided by NASA and
the National Space Scienc Data Center

God is Amazing

Last week a group from my husband’s workplace had a meeting where they invited Adam Block, a world renowned astrophotographer from our local Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, to give a presentation.

The bulk of the presentation was about how he and others produced the amazing photos of various objects in space — galaxies, nebulae, stars, planets, etc.  — using filters and computer programs to select from the voluminous amounts of data the telescopes collected. He had many amazing, beautiful and awe-inspiring pictures to show us.

Unfortunately, being a world-renowned astrophotographer, all the photos he showed us are copyrighted, so I can’t use them here. You can see them at the SkyCenter’s website, however.

Throughout the presentation I marveled at the beauty and the enormity of it all — the great spaces, the immense numbers of stars or galaxies, the wonderful formations of the gaseous clouds of the nebulae (which it turns out are actually star factories.)

It amused me, as well, to consider the fact that one day, in my resurrection body, I will get to take a real space tour, flying right through those immense clouds.

Even more mind-boggling, though, was that it brings to mind just how big God is.

Block showed us a picture of the galaxies similar to the one below ( which NASA and the National Space Science Data Center supplied the data for) …

This isn’t quite as clear as the photograph he showed us, but each of those bright spots is an entire galaxy.

Then there was the revelation that our galaxy and the Andromeda galaxy are headed toward a collision with each other. Not surprisingly, this topic spurred some questions.

“What will happen when they collide?

Block provided computer simulations of the two galaxies moving into one another,  their distinctive shapes distorting and warping as they did so, producing elements that looked sort of like wings.

“Will the stars of Andromeda collide with the sun during all this?” another man asked.

“Oh, no,” Block replied. “The spaces between all the stars are too large for them to collide.” He said their gravitational fields work off each other in different ways that would also prevent that.

Even so, people  seemed uneasy. Finally someone asked, “When is this going to occur?”

And Block’s reply: “In about 300 billion years.”

300 billion years.

I started laughing. So did a number of other people.

God is SO big, it really does boggle the mind. Not only in “size” but in time… 300 billion years!

What’s really funny is the fact that — as my husband observed afterward — all that stuff Block showed us, all the things we’re observing through our telescopes today are not even what is actually out there any more. That stuff’s all ancient history, since the light we’re receiving now, left ‘out there’ billions of light years ago and is only just arriving….

In any case, we don’t have to worry because I think it won’t be much longer before the Lord comes. Once He does, it’ll only be 1007 years before the new heavens and the new earth are created…

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat and the earth and its works will be burned up (or investigated, referring to the Last Judgment)… But according the His promise we are looking forward to new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells…      2 Pe 3:10;13

Amazing Love

This is my Easter Greeting for for my readers.

I found it on You Tube, uploaded by on Apr 17, 2008. Video from The Passion of the Christ, the song You are My King, written by Chris Tomlin,  the singer, Candi Pearson.

This presentation makes me think of all that He did, and just how amazing His love is. I cannot watch it without crying.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dooif2-yAoI&feature=related

I Know the Plans That I Have for You

Well, I’m not sure why I haven’t been posting. Off the top of my head I’m not sure what all I’ve been doing. Working some on Sky, doing Morning Routines, making cards (I have a lot of friends and family with events in March), walking Quigley, going to the Y, doing Bible Class, thinking about Bible Class and writing in my journal…

I got my surgery date two days after I saw the GYN oncologist (see last blog post). It was for three weeks off (a little less than two weeks now as I write this), the only spot the doctor had open at my hospital of choice and with my regular gynecologist to assist. Even if I took the latter two out of the picture, the most I could have gained was four days earlier. So I was looking at much longer wait than I was anticipating.

During this time, Pastor John has been teaching about patience. About how patience is part of our calling, and part of our bringing glory to God — when we trust Him and wait patiently, without anxiety, tension or frustration, and then He comes through for us… that brings Him glory.

So it was pretty clear to me the moment the surgery scheduler told me it was going to be three weeks, that this was part of God’s training in developing patience. 

 The next day, after all the carrying on about cancer and talk of how this was going to be resolved quickly, I was a bit unnerved at the prospect that now I was going to have to wait three weeks. But I assured myself that the oncologist had my best interests in mind, and is an expert in this area. He’d looked at my charts and the tests and the ultrasound, and surely if he thought three weeks would lead to a major downturn in my status,  he’d not allow this to go that long. In fact, it’s likely he knew his schedule was full when we met, because when I suggested the possibility of surgery  “next week” he did NOT say it would be then. He said nothing. I started to take comfort in that…

And then realized how ridiculous I was being. Putting my trust in a mere man? What was I thinking? Yes, the doc probably does have my best interests in mind, more or less, but God absolutely and positively does, far more than any man ever could.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love him, to those who are called according to His purpose.”   ~ Romans 8:28

“I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not for evil to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 33:3

He sent His Son to die for me. Of course He has my best interests in mind.

“If God is for us, who against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”  ~ Romans 8:31b-32

What’s more, the doc might be able to make a good guess as to what’s going on in my uterus from the tests… but that’s all it is right now: a guess. He even said as much, adding we won’t really know what’s there until he does the surgery.

God, on the other hand, knows exactly what’s going on in there — now and in three weeks. God’s expertise — Omniscience — buries any paltry insights the doc may have gained over his years in the field.

Moreover, God could have provided a spot in the schedule far earlier, if that was the best thing; He could provide a cancellation, could have popped up a red flag, if there was trouble and we needed to get to the surgery sooner. He did not.

Because this is not about my physical condition. This is about teaching me to trust Him, to know Him, to wait in Him. To be at peace in Him.

Oh! But what if His will for me is to go through (fill in the most horrible outcome possible for the situation)?!

That morning as I had this thought… as this wretched thought wormed its way into my consciousness to torment me… I realized it was an old enemy. One that’s been a peace-killer for me my entire Christian life.

So I decided not to go down the path it was suggesting I take. Instead I told myself, “Why not wait until the event happens and then you can say, ‘This is horrible, but I know God wants me to go through it for my highest and best.’ That way I’d at least gain peace from it instead of giving myself the heebie-jeebies with something that is purely speculative.

It’s an evil arrogant thought, really. I presume to guess God’s will for me and I always malign Him when I do so, because it’s always something horrible. For example, I hear a noise when I’m home alone. And I think, Oh, no! Is that a burglar? And then, being a novelist and well versed in such things, I concoct an entire story wherein the burglar/rapist breaks in, attempts to assault me, I shoot him dead and then have to go to jail for murder where I am tormented by my fellow inmates so I can show the power of God in my strength and peace and joy.

Wow, it looks even more stupid and arrogant when I set it down like that than when I just think it. And how ironic that I’m scaring myself silly with a potential scenario I’m conjuring up as an avenue for me to bring God glory with my great strength and trust in Him. Something is not computing here.

And furthermore,  look how mean I’m making God out to be. Here we’ve been studying the fruit of the Spirit as a manifestation of who God is — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control — yet when I get in these situations the God I conjure up is stern, cruel, tight-lipped, legalistic.

“This is for your own good,” my imaginary God says. “All this stuff you don’t want to do, that’s what I have for you to do. And the things you love, and like to do — none of that. It’s only going to be hardness and sorrow and suffering for you.”

No room in that thinking for God wanting me to have an abundant life full of blessing. Or wanting to fill me with power and joy and peace.

So instead of trying to guess what awful thing this phony God I’ve created may have planned for me, I decided to concentrate instead on His goodness,  His grace and His kindness. On His faithfulness, and gentleness and love.

I’ll concentrate on the fact that He’s my loving Father who has everything under control. He knows exactly what’s going on in my body right now. He could speed it up or slow it down. He could take it all away in an instant. His timing is perfect.

In 2 Timothy 3:10, 11 Paul is talking to Timothy about all the trials and persecutions he’s gone through, and ends with, “and out of them all the Lord delivered me.”

Pastor John has recently spent a number of lessons on this verse. It’s one, says he, that applies to all of us as believers. And that’s to be the focus of my thinking, not my lame what-ifs.

Spiritual Growth is a Neverending Process

In the natural realm we are born, we grow up, we reach physical maturity, some time around age 14 – 20, then we spend time perfecting skills and abilities that go with physical maturity and finally we begin to decline.  In the mental or character realm, maybe we continue to understand new things and even change our behavior accordingly for many years, but inevitably those aspects also begin to decline.

In the natural realm then, growth is finite.  It begins, continues for a time and then, reaching maturity, stops.

Our school systems and job training programs follow the same pattern. The child enters, learns the subject matter — say reading, writing, basic math, a bit of history and science — and then he “graduates”.  He has now been declared proficient and a master at the subjects he began to learn years ago. And in those basic realms there is really no more left to learn, the skills learned in childhood and youth serving many people well for the rest of their lives.

Of course institutions of alleged higher learning exist for the purpose of enabling people to continue to learn about a subject beyond the basics, (though sadly many of those institutions no longer offer courses of study that are truly profitable to their students, though that’s a subject for another day)  but I wonder how many people, even college graduates eventually come to a point where they believe they have “learned enough” and now  know everything they need to know about a particular subject.

I’d guess a lot of them. Rush Limbaugh likes to say that in general people think that history began the day of their birth, and as a result they know little of anything that happened before their arrival.

George Santayana  said,  “Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”   While Friedrich Hegel observed, “The only thing we learn from history that we learn nothing from history!”

I’m not convinced that knowing more history would solve our problems, because I believe our problems arise from the fact that we are fallen people living in a fallen world, that is administered by fallen creatures who have no ability to administer anything very well… but that’s another matter, too.

But at least some of our problems as a nation certainly arise out of too many people just not knowing enough about the right kinds of things to be able to make the kinds of decisions they need to make. To have the discernment they need to have.

And the most important lack of knowledge, I think, is spiritual.

How many Christians, I wonder, reach a point where they think they’ve learned all they need to know about God and the spiritual life? Or, all they need to know about the Bible?

People who’ve believed in Christ, who know they are eternally secure in their salvation, know some basic rules for correct “Christian” or “moral” behavior, and some basic promises for times of trial — and with that think they’re set.

They have only to go about living their Christian lives in accordance with those parameters. This is who I am, this is who God is, this is what the Christian life is about and what I am to do, and I have it down pat. If X happens, I do Y. If I want A to happen, I do B. The spiritual formula: if I just make the right applications everything will go well.

On some level I  used to think like this. God is disabusing me of this notion. The more I learn it seems, the more I realize I don’t know. The more I read the Bible, the more I see things I never saw before — the same passages, only now there is a new light, a different angle, sometimes subtle, sometimes profound and shocking. How could I have not seen that before?! It’s right there.

I’m finding that going back over the same ground, whether in Bible class or just in my thinking, brings increasing light. I may grapple with the same issues time and again. Wrestle with a concept, come to a conclusion, a new way of thinking or doing, go off to practice it and then, some time later, be back at it again. Well, what I’d thought was sorta right, but not entirely. And now I have to rethink it. Or maybe God has to retell me, in a slightly different way, because I’ve come maybe a baby step along the path toward true understanding, and now it’s time to take another baby step.

It’s funny to think you can just study it and get it down like you might history or biology. This is God we’re talking about. Creator of the Universe. The one who has no beginning or end. The one who holds all things together in His mind, whose thoughts are not like our thoughts and ways are not like our ways.

We take that so blithely. Oh yeah. God’s thoughts aren’t like ours. His ways aren’t like ours… and then we just go on, as if it didn’t matter. As if we can still understand Him as easily as we understand our friends or the people next door (which should be a clue since I’d guess in most cases we probably don’t. Shoot, we don’t really even understand ourselves, let alone other people).

We — or, maybe I should just say “I” here — treat Him as if He’s just a big, very smart, very old, very clever man. When He’s not! 

People will pour out their lives studying some element of His creation ( finger work on His part) and yet scrimp on studying the Word He’s given us to tell us who He is. And we think we can just read it through once or twice and get it. Would we think we could come to a practical understanding of neuroscience by reading a textbook now and then? Select the most technical,learning-intensive, difficult-to-comprehend subject you can think of and then realize it can’t even come close to God.

No. I’ve come to believe it’s not only a lifelong journey toward understanding God and how we’re to serve Him, a very slow, crawling, micro-incremental, struggle to grasp and hold kind of journey, but one worthy of devoting our entire lives to. One that we will never reach the end of in this life and, I’m pretty sure, not even in eternity.

Rush Identifies Mother Nature

A week or so ago Rush Limbaugh was commenting on the prevailing story of the day, which was that no one seems to be able to find the oil that has spewed into the Gulf. Ed Overton, a professor of environmental studies at Louisiana State University, had said that, “Mother Nature is doing what she’s supposed to do and we’re losing most of [the oil] to microbial degradation in the ocean.”

Regarding which Rush had this to say:

“The earth, Mother Nature — and to me, by the way, when I say Mother Nature’s taken care of it, who’s Mother Nature? Mother Nature — listen to me on the left, listen to me on the left, Mother Nature, you know who it is? God. You spell it G-o-d. Mother Nature is God. Mother Nature is not a tree trunk. Mother Nature is not some forest somewhere in the Amazon. Mother Nature is the God of the Bible, the God of creation, and the God of creation taking care of all this despite our folly ’cause God loves us.”

Pretty cool.

Tornado Destructive Beauty

Okay, I admit, I’m weird. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in the midwest because I’d be one of those tornado chasers. I just find them fascinating. I feel the same way about thunderstorms. I think what I like about them both, in addition to the beauty and hypnotic grace in the images, is the fact that they show God’s power. I can’t speak for personally watching a tornado, but I’ve watched scores of thunderstorms and even been out in them, lightning cracking around on every side (that was not by choice… the worst part is how hard the rain pelts you — so hard you can’t open your eyes).  They are such awesome demonstrations of the power of God. Because His power goes way beyond a wimpy thunderstorm or tornado. That’s the cool part… here’s this manifestation of weather that completely humbles us. We can do nothing about it, nothing to stop it, nothing to control it… just get out of the way and pray.

And controlling a tornado is less than fingerwork for the one who actually holds all the universe together, keeps the sun in order, the planets, the galaxies, etc. I love considering those aspects of God. Because when you do, how can you worry about anything in life? He’s got it ALL under His control, everything chosen and incorporated into a plan that is not only holy and sovereign but wise and loving…

Anyway, all that to introduce this cool video of a tornado I just found:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0jYi6TTR7A]

And if you want to see some really still pictures of storms (accompanying an article on some British storm chasers in our own Tornado Alley) click here.