Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Beauty Detector

Experiment — I sat and stared at a bowl of water. Nothing. Totally unmoved. In fact, it was an effort to keep staring, So, I put a rock in it, just so a bit of the rock broke the surface of the water in the bowl. Still, I was uninspired by the sight. Even the edges of the bowl did nothing for me.
A few days ago, for over an hour, I stared at different water, hypnotized, almost unable to shift my gaze away. There was a rock protruding just above the surface where the water crashed and catapulted in the air. And the edges. Oh, the edges! Crooked, craggy hills falling effortlessly down to the water’s steady rhythm of splash upon the sand — the majestic Pacific Ocean.
And so I sat — mesmerized by the awesome beauty of the view before me. But why was this water so beautiful to me?
The answer, of course, lies with the Maker. The One who formed this water and that rock and those edges is the One Who formed me. What a gift He has given to the human mind and eye by instilling in us an appreciation of His creation.
This scene, or a flower, autumn leaves, mountains, deserts, snow, a baby — all are beautiful because He is the arbiter of beauty and somewhere in us He made a “beauty detector.”
And it’s not that He thought of everything. Rather, what He thought of is everything.
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen!”

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Psa. 139:6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

Dr. Donohue: “Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency causes emphysema, but it is a rare cause of it. Emphysema is a disruption of the air sacs through which oxygen passes into the blood, and carbon dioxide — a waste product of body metabolism — passes out of it to be exhaled. Cigarette smoking is the No. 1 cause of emphysema. The antitrypsin enzyme deficiency is responsible for, at most, 2 percent of all emphysema patients.
Trypsin is an enzyme that keeps air sacs clean. It's the lungs' janitorial service. Trypsin keeps scrubbing the air sacs even when there's no need to do so. The exuberant scrubbing damages the sacs. Antitrypsin rushes in to turn off trypsin's scouring to prevent air sac destruction.
Although the lung is the primary target of antitrypsin deficiency, the liver can also be affected. It's the organ that makes antitrypsin. In this illness, the antitrypsin doesn't leave the liver. Retention of the enzyme damages the liver and can eventually produce cirrhosis. However, severe liver damage occurs in only one-quarter of those with the defect.” (Riverside Press-Enterprise)

As I read these words in our local newspaper, I was humbled with awe at the glory of God. Air sacs, trypsin, antitrypsin—is it truly possible to imagine a Being Who thought up minute enzymes and organs like this? I don’t know. Not that I am in any way a skeptic. It’s just that I wonder if the human mind is truly capable of conceiving of an infinite, all-wise, all knowing, all-powerful, creator God. Yes, we can believe in Him but can we really comprehend Him? No, I don’t think so. The song declares He is “too wonderful for comprehension.” Elihu tells Job, “God thunders with His voice wondrously, doing great things which we cannot comprehend.” (37:5)

But let’s go back to God thinking up all this wonder-inducing creation. My finite mind tends to marvel, when I read of things like trypsin and antitrypsin, at a God who could know all that. As if He surpasses us in greatness because He is able to know, or comprehend, all the facts, realities, truths, data, etc. of all creation. My human brain tends toward reducing the knowledge of God to the perfect expression of the knowledge of man.

However, God’s knowledge is not like our knowledge. His knowledge is creative knowledge. Our knowledge is discovered knowledge. Oh, it may come to us in many ways, including our own search for it. But we also know things by revelation, intuition, inherently, as well as seeking for it through study and learning. Yet it is still discovered knowledge because the thing that we are knowing was already there for us to know it.

With God it is exactly the opposite. Again, Elihu indicates this to Job, “Do you know about the layers of the thick clouds, The wonders of one perfect in knowledge?” (37:16) God’s knowledge is not that He learned about the layers of the clouds. Rather, His knowledge created the layers of the clouds. As a former seminary professor and dear friend of mine often says, “if God knows it then nothing else can be!” The knowledge of God establishes something as reality. If He does not know it, then it does not exist.

Thus, we are left to wonder, in awe, amazement and adoration, of One who could “think up” trypsin and antitrypsin and air sacs and enzymes and livers, ad infinitum. Such knowledge truly is too wonderful for me.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thank God for Deacons…….REAL Deacons!

I am so blessed. As a pastor, it is very obvious that the job of doing everything that needs doing at a church is simply overwhelming. If one man, or even a few pastors on a staff, tried to do it all the work would never be accomplished.

That’s why I’m so thankful for deacons……real deacons! Not the type who only want to come to meetings and exercise authority and try to run things; or the type who only want the title but never have a notion to do anything. No, I’ve known a few of those types in my life. They’re not deacons at all. No, the Biblical word means servant. And when one encounters folks with the true heart of a deacon, whose desire is to serve God in anyway they can and who will always respond with a smile and sincerity, “Sure, pastor, we’ll take care of that. Don’t worry”……..well……to say it’s a blessing is a gross understatement.

I often am reminded of how blessed I am to have folks like that in our church. This week was just another reminder to me. I hesitate to name names for fear of omitting someone. They know who they are. Each deserves a special place in God’s kingdom for the selflessness and cheerful hearts of service they display. Our church would not be half as effective as we are without the countless hours these folks put in.

So, thank You, God, for giving us these wonderful servants. Thank you, deacons, for being the people of God you are. Your reward in heaven is great. (Just so you’ll know, the group includes some who don't have the official title, and, yes, there are some women. A deacon is made by God, not human voting.)

Be steadfast, ya’ll.