The creation story humbles me

I have been trying to immerse myself in the creation story for my message next Sunday.

I am grateful for amazing scholars like Walter Brueggemann and John Walton who take me away from the petty “Science vs. Faith” arguments and draw me once again to the story.

As I work through these verses again I am so humbled. How GREAT is our God! And how GREAT is the work to which HE has called US.

Humanity is SO SIGNIFICANT in God’s story. Who you are matters. 

God has this great story started. And I belong in that story.

As I consider it all, I truly fall to my knees in worship. I can’t wait to get this message finished and try to give it out!



The Pharisee in all of us

The incredible danger in my life is the lurking of the Pharisee. Reading the Common English Bible helps me identify that ugliness a bit better.

Jesus told this parable to certain people who had convinced themselves that they were righteous and who looked on everyone else with disgust… (Luke 18:9)

I am tempted in this way. It’s that attitude I need serious help on when it comes to how I gauge others and their opinions.

We all have that Pharisee attitude of spiritual arrogance lurking. In any argument, from the “Ham on Nye” debate on creationism to political debates on social justice… the gamut is full of temptation to look at the other side with disgust.

When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, the order of asking forgiveness is important. We ask the Lord to forgive us first. It is a necessary step to understand our true position before God. What we think of ourselves in relationship to others is muted severely at the presence of Jesus.

Forgive us our debts… 


Anchored in the Creation Story

This week I will begin a sermon series tentatively called “Anchor in God.” It has morphed into several forms, but all of them begin in Genesis. At this point, it may only be a series out of Genesis to take us to Lent.

The more I teach the Old Testament as an adjunct the more I am deeply aware of the necessity of the Genesis story. The basic understanding of humanity and the story of God is rooted here. The stories and the characters should anchor us in God.

So I will begin with the creation story this week.

One paper I have read on the creation story (and this thought I have picked up from Goldingay as well, I believe) is focusing on the theological implications of the creation story. It’s not just these two sources, but I am looking at these sources currently. The thought that has captivated me from this paper is this:

We are not only created in the image of God, but created as the image of God.

It’s a powerful, beautiful thought.

All of our wrestling over the “literal” days of creation has taken us away from some very beautiful thoughts that really go to the core of why this story is in our Scriptures at all.

When we can grasp who we are as his creation we can possibly reach a place where we quit struggling and actually rest in God. We have an anchor. We have a deep worth to the Father. Tie yourself to that anchor.


Made to reflect God’s Glory

One of the powerful reminders I have every time I begin to teach Old Testament survey is the creation and the thought God gave to creation of humanity. We need a solid understanding of just who we are in creation. We don’t need to be overly “fond” of ourselves, but we don’t need any false humility, either.

Robin Routledge in Old Testament Theology: A Thematic Approach says this:

Linked with this special calling, the psalmist describes humankind as a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned… with glory and honor (Ps. 8:5). God made human beings as the pinnacle of his creative work and has given them a unique place within the natural order. This contrasts sharply with myths such as the Atrahasis Epic and the Enuma Elish, where people are created as little more than the slaves of the gods.

We are made to reflect God’s glory. We are in his image. We have incredible dignity and status.

Look! A Barth Post!

Finally, I have braved the thought of trying to pick up Barth again. About every 300 pages I find something I understand… or I think I understand.

I don’t know why I’m trying to pick up Barth again. My life is so crammed full of stuff, this isn’t exactly devotional reading.

But for today, I try to look a bit Barthian, much to the chagrin of certain Lutheran friends of mine who have no time for the man… and you know who you are! 😉

The beauty of what I am reading today in Vol. II.1 (The Doctrine of God) is the realization that God indeed desires to reveal himself to us. We need to push past our misconceptions, and, quite frankly, our own desires to not know God. He longs to reveal himself to us.

Barth has an excursus on creation. In comparing the biblical creation story with the Babylonian creation story, there is a glaring contrast. In the Babylonian story the relation between the gods and humanity is fluid. Man acts, the gods respond. The gods act, man responds.

But in the biblical creation account we find that “God stands out from the very first line as sovereign in relation to everything which is not Himself, as the One who acts not only in and with, but first and foremost towards the world.

Creation is about God acting first. God made the first move. And in his sight and judgment it was good.

“It is not only created by God but upheld in its created existence and nature by His grace.

Now, off to the next 300 pages before I can understand something else.

I give thanks today for God who acted toward me first. It is his world, and I’m living in it!

The Broken Promises of Humanity and the Majesty of Our God

Today’s reading was once again out of the Deuterocanonical Books. I have found the Common English Bible to be a great help in reading a portion of text I am unfamiliar with in my tradition. It keeps me aware of the importance of good translations that are easier to read.

Sirach 43 is a tribute to the incredible majesty of God. And it should be a sobering reminder to our frailty as humans.

While we are called to “creation care” in our world, nothing is more full of human pride than to have some politician, or even scientist, stand in some place like New Orleans or New Jersey after a hurricane and declare something foolish like, “We need to make sure something like this (wait for it)… never happens again.”

Oh… really? So you’re going to move the city of New Orleans to above sea level finally?

I am not denying the effects of climate change and I make no claims in that particular argument as to exactly what should be done. But this I know: our actions are important, but they are not the final authority. And we need to stop acting like we’re the be all and end all of this planet.

Climate change, economic change, healthcare change… whatever it is… we need to work hard to do what is best as we see it, but let’s get over ourselves!

Hurricanes will come again. If New Orleans insists on staying below sea level, there will still be threats and more empty promises from foolish politicians as to how this will never happen again.

YES, we need to be responsible.

NO, we do not get to ultimately have the final say in what nature does as the Creator calls for its actions. And Sirach 43 is a powerful reminder.

19 He pours frost, like salt, upon the earth,
and when it freezes it has pointy thorns.
20 A cold north wind will blow,
and ice will freeze on the water;
it will settle on every pool of water,
and the water will put it on like armor.
21 He will consume mountains,
burn up the wilderness,
and extinguish grass like a fire.
22 A mist hastens the healing of all things;
the dew that appears
will give relief from the heat. (Sir. 43:19-22, CEB)

And this:

27 We could say many things
and never say enough.
The final word is: The Lord is “the All.” (CEB)

The final word belongs to the Lord. Not to us.

We can try and promise new things. We should indeed work to make things better. But we are not the final word.

That’s not to say we give up. It is a call to say, “Worship the One who does make the call when it comes to his creation.”

Our eyes need not be on humanity for final solutions. Our eyes need to be UP… and our lives need to be worshiping.

Holy Creation!

Last year this time the word was “hell.” Rob Bell, Mark Galli, Francis Chan… all got in on hell.

Now… the buzzword is CREATION. CREATIONISM. DARWINISM. All kinds of things flying around. Must be some new books flying off the presses in the next few months…

Have fun.

Is the Creation Account Our New “Shibboleth”?

“Shibboleth” comes from a story in Judges. When one tribe was asked how to pronounce the word, they would miss the “h”, thus the enemy tribe could pick out their enemy and kill them when asking them that word.

We look for those places of differentiation and we choose places to “make our stand.”

I am wondering if we are doing that with the Creation account as evangelicals and conservatives. This story on NPR is interesting. (I love these stores in the media. They always treat it like “breaking news,” when it’s something that’s been discussed for a LONG time.)

This quote is interesting:

“From my viewpoint, a historical Adam and Eve is absolutely central to the truth claims of the Christian faith,” says Fazale Rana, vice president of Reasons To Believe, an evangelical think tank that questions evolution.

So, the question is this: Is belief in a historical Adam and Eve absolutely central to the truth claims of the Christian faith? What IS essential? If Creation IS essential, why?

Let me hear from you. And be nice.