God’s Sense Of Humor

Twice now in the past few years I’ve had God answer prayer requests with the exact same sense of humor that I often respond to coworkers’ requests with: one prayer request was for our car to make it through the holidays without breaking down. It broke down on January 2, while driving to work. More recently, I had a prayer request that God would make an upcoming job change apparent for his choice for me — and I have never experienced so many technical glitches, calendar conflicts, and dropped meetings as when interviewing the last few months.

I love that God not only cares about me, but relates to me with a personal touch that shows he knows me through and through.

Seeing God In The Current Political Situation

I don’t want this blog to be about politics, so I’m not intending for this post to be political – but it is going to venture close to that edge. And especially in light of how perilous I think it is to misrepresent God in a matter, note that these are thoughts I hold lightly – theories of what I think I’ve observed, not to be taken as true without weighing and testing.

Relatively early on in the 2016 election season, I believe I got a word from God from the Book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk’s story is of crying out to God about how awful the Babylonians are, and God not only agrees, he says they’re even worse than Habakkuk knows – oh, and God is using them to bring judgement to Israel. It’s definitely not the answer that Habakkuk is expecting from God. Coming back to now, the word I got wasn’t so much about destruction as much as change – God was very much actively at work in the world and going to shake things up quite a bit. And watching the 2016 election season and the early years of the Trump presidency, there are events and aspects of what I saw that I very much believe was God at work. Please understand, I’m NOT saying anything about whether Trump and his policies were good or bad, but that God had decided to put Trump in place precisely as a foil to expose issues and elements of our society to deal with. This seemed especially apparent with things like the #MeToo movement getting created specifically to try and take out Trump, and ending up exposing a whole bunch of people close to the creation of the movement. Interestingly, one of my pastors a few years later admitted that he got a very similar word of God regarding Trump during the 2016 election.

In this direction, I think the biggest way that God used this entire period is almost like that old Latin saying, “Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad.” I see this as somewhat true on both sides of the political aisle, but especially most apparent with the incredible insanity of how far from reality many with Trump Derangement Syndrome have gotten. Certainly not everyone who opposes Trump has TDS, but his very presence somehow broke many of his opponents (although I would say it also broke some of his more fervent supporters, too). On top of that, he caused such polarization that the Democrat party has pushed to its extreme and radical fringes. The previous big-tent party that could have disagreement on issues is gone, and has kicked out almost everyone with a moderate voice (such as Tulsi Gabbard). What is left are the politicians who embrace the policies on the left (and yes, there are policies on the right that would meet this criteria as well, but they’re not in power right now) that are the most evil and demonic. Dismissal and disdain of God, late-term (or even post birth!) abortion, freeing felons from prisons (while locking up people for failing for follow COVID protocols) and removing punishment and penalties from theft and rioting, the wink-and-nod that causes floods of illegal immigration, or the blatant embrace of false narratives that deliberately seeks to divide people, specifically as a bid for political power. There are a lot of policies and positions on all sides that I’m perfectly willing to debate what’s best, what’s moral, etc…but the policies leading the way with Democrats right now are demonstrating just how malicious and evil they (the policies) are by the absolute human misery they’re causing in the real world, right now: Incredible crime spikes in our cities, and rape, misery, and death at the border up almost 10x. And here’s where I see God: those evil, fringe positions are now front and center. And here’s the other place I see God: everywhere I look, Christians are now realizing they need to step up in society. They can’t try and live a quiet Christian life on their own, but need to engage in their communities, at all levels. Finally, the last year has upset so many things in our world – I can’t help but see that, just from the opportunities for change available, God’s hand is everywhere.

Life Lessons From A Lizard

For the past 10 years we’ve had an Australian water dragon as a pet. He passed away this week, and the resulting sadness has left me with some reflective thoughts about various spiritual topics that I decided to capture here.

  • It’s amazing the personality even a small creature can have. The grief we have of the loss of his individuality must be similar to what God feels when, as Jesus says, God knows every sparrow that falls to the ground. He’s simultaneously feeling the joy and excitement of each of the living creatures in his garden, and the loss when it goes, and that’s part of the beauty of his creation that he’s decided is good. Not that the loss is good, but he’s decided the loss is worth the joy.
  • The main thing our pet meant to us most of the time was a sort of comfortable companionship. He would sit out with us, happy to enjoy our company as we enjoyed his. Neither us nor him wanting or needing extra attention from the other, just contentment with being present with the other. I think there are times when God enjoys the same from us – when we’re comfortable and happy just to be aware of his presence.
  • One of the most exciting and happiest days of all of our time with him was a few years ago. We had always paid attention to his behaviors, and would happily give him some of his favorite treats whenever he seemed to be in the mood, and we’d gotten him comfortable with eating those treats out of our hands. He’d developed a particular behavior involving opening his mouth in a certain way, which we’ve never found mentioned on any reptile forums or anywhere else. This one day, as he was out and I passed him, he opened his mouth in this way and I gave him a treat – and he suddenly realized that, yes, we were watching him and could understand his signals. From that very moment on he was constantly signaling us, about all sorts of things – he would run up to us and ask for a treat, he would ask to be let out of his cage, he would just signal that he was happy, or thankful. Nothing had changed regarding our behavior toward him, but he now understood that we did pay attention to him and could “hear” him. In many ways, I think this is what prayer is like, with us towards God. He’s always there and is paying attention to us, but we don’t often understand that until we see God answer our prayers in the most obvious ways.

Christianity’s Take On The Cosmology Of The Universe

One of the things I’ve been thinking about for a while is the perspective of how Christianity puts the universe together – what’s the grand cosmological view of the universe that Christianity takes? Here’s my attempt at summarizing:

Before the universe existed there was God – and he’s a God with several notable qualities to this view: He’s perfect, and he fully embodies both love and justice. Also, he’s a community of beings. And he desired/desires a people who will fully love him, who can enter into his community. Here’s the catch though: axiomatic to love is free will, and the capability to choose something or someone else. Love without free will is not a thing – that’s like The Stepford Wives. And even more complicated is that, because he is perfect, giving people the choice to choose to love something other than him requires giving them the choice and chance to be less than perfect, and to do less than perfect things, including to each other, which will also require that they face the justice due for their actions.

So this is what God did: he created a universe that could be a neutral, imperfect stage to allow humans the free choice to learn to love him or not. And then, to resolve the issue that humans would not be perfect, he chose for one of the beings in his community to come down and live as one of us, and volunteer for the punishment due to each of us for the wrongs we commit. It not only fills the justice requirement, but it allows him to express his perfect love, and overcomes our inevitable imperfections that separate us from him.

There are several items I like about this lens on Christianity and the universe. For one thing, the attributes of God that are fundamental to this worldview are very different than the attributes that different religions try and claim to God, which sets Christianity as clearly apart from other religions, and puts to rest the argument that “all religions are basically the same”. Also, it clearly calls out and explains one of the main questions people typically struggle with: how could God let evil and natural disasters happen? Perhaps the thing I like the most, however, is the extent to which it informs worldview about individual purpose as well as the shape of society – when God created the universe he specifically wanted so many things (such as marriage or the justice system, for example) within it to serve as metaphors for us to learn to understand the relationship he wanted us to have with him. I find there’s a feedback loop of understanding how these systems should be idealized through the Bible as well as understanding aspects of the Bible through these systems.

In The Image Of God

Genesis 1:27 says that humanity was created in God’s image.

For me, the key revelation here is in which definition is used for “man”. Just like in English, “man” can be the singular, the species, the male gender, or the collective members of any of those other definitions. But the reading I find epiphanous is “man” referring to the collective members of the group. The scripture isn’t informing us so much that God has 10 fingers and toes and all that so he made us that way (i.e. the “species” reading, although I’m sure that reading is also valid), but that God is a community of beings working together in perfect harmony, and so he always intended for mankind to be the same way.