Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy New Year!

No, I haven't lost it. I'll explain in a minute. Let me first say that I hope you have an incredible Thanksgiving, filled with a deep, deep realization that it is impossible for sin to give good, since God alone is good . . . and therefore every good thing in your life is a gift from God. Every good gift, every smile, every laugh, every bit of love, every meal, every piece of clothing, every night in a warm home, every breath of air, every beat of your heart—it is all God's grace intervening against the death and decay of a sin-cursed world and giving you goodness.

Getting ready to open the jar!
Happy New Year? For our family, the last three years (including this one) we have done our Thanksgiving on Wednesday and then spent Thursday morning delivering meals to shut-ins for Thanksgiving for Paso Robles, and then going to my folks for the afternoon meal. That means that today, as the turkey cooked, we spent some hours sitting by the wood stove with coffee and hot chocolate, going through the praises in our Praise Jar. I've posted about this in years past, but in a nutshell it is a jar with a lid I made that we put praises in during the year and then spend Thanksgiving opening and reading. It is amazing how many times God has moved in our life in big and small ways that we, at the time, thought we'd never forget, but that when we read about on Thanksgiving morning we realize we'd forgotten. It is actually overwhelming to be reminded in one few hour period of the stunning number of times we have been aware of God's and others love for us. This tradition developed about 10 years ago from Mary Ann and my trying to find a way to make Thanksgiving more than a meal and truly a day focusing on God's hand in our life. It is a tradition we have come to treasure, and what is wonderful is that one day I'll be able to copy all these praises and put them in a book and give to my daughters as they start their own families a recorded testimony of God's hand and movement and love and power in their family's life. Hopefully they'll continue the tradition in their own homes as well.
At the end . . . and we were actually really bad about
recording praises this year!

As we opened them this morning I shared something I'd thought about with the family, and Mary Ann said she'd been feeling the same way. It was that Thanksgiving felt more like New Years to us than New Years Day. That day on a calendar has never meant much to me, but when we spend Thanksgiving reviewing the year of praises and emptying the jar, to start filling it again the day after Thanksgiving, we've found our year more naturally grouped from November to November. So, for us, Thanksgiving is like the dawn of a new year of praises and God's movement in our lives, and so, in fun, I wish you not just a wonderful Thanksgiving, but a Happy New Year!

God bless all of you. You are loved by the One who breathes out stars. Never let that reality grown numb or casual to you.

He Did it First

I have been often struck how it seems that anything God asks of us He first Himself did for us. He says to love others, but frequently reminds us that we were first loved by Him. He tells us to forgive others, and we are reminded He first forgave us. He tells us to present our bodies as living sacrifices, and we remember that He first presented Himself as a sacrifice. He tells us to invest eternally, and then we remember that He invested in us for eternity, and anything we have to invest is something He's first given us. He calls us to humble ourselves and lay down our rights and to serve others; and we read how He humbled Himself and didn't hold to His rights as God, how He loved the unlovable and touched the rejected and washed the filthy feet.

Last night I was studying the word "peace" in my ongoing study/teaching on different words God uses that often don't have the same meaning we might take on the surface. I was looking at how we were, as sinners, not just cut off from God but God says we were hostile to Him and enemies of Him. This passage really struck me:
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.    Romans 5:10–11 (ESV)
I think the reason that it struck me so is that I had done a word search for "enemies" and it came after multiple verses saying to love our enemies. Suddenly I thought, "I have gotten used to the word 'sinner' to describe my state before Christ, but it wasn't just 'sin'—in my sin He says I was an enemy of God. And He says to love our enemies. And He loved me first when I was His enemy."

It was just another moment when I realized how everything God asks of me He did first for me. Wow. We truly have an amazing God that He would love us that much, and humble Himself that much! What an example He has given us that the Creator of the universe would first do for me what He would then ask me to do for Him and others. A love like that is incomprehensible.

May you have a wonderful, joyous, God-filled Thanksgiving reflecting on all He has done for you and given you. Thanks for sharing in my life as well.   —Erick

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving . . . A Scope Beyond Imagination

Lately I have been reflecting a lot on what is "good" or what makes something "good." More and more I am coming to realize that things are not inherently good on their own, but it is God who gives something its "goodness." Many times in the Bible God says He has no part of things that would appear to us to be "good" or "religious" or even "Christian"—enough times for me to realize that things don't have inherent goodness in themselves, to realize that good doesn't exist on its own in a vacuum.

When the rich young ruler calls Jesus "good teacher" Jesus confronts him with the question, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone" (Mark 10:18). There is a direct forcing of a point here that we can't afford to miss as we, on our own standards and definitions, label things and acts and people "good." I believe Jesus is cutting through our loose usage of that word and asking the young ruler, "Are you prepared to call me God, because God alone is good? If I am not God, then don't call me good."

James captures to me the danger and possibility of our separating good from God when it says, "Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (James 1:16-17) There is such a clear warning here and message that we can be deceived, we can be wrong, we can fall into the trap of believing that good can come outside of God

The implications of these thoughts are huge and I'll try and summarize two of them as best as I can because I believe that they are essential to our understanding (and they'll make our Thanksgiving really special!).

First: In sin we are separated from God who is, Himself, life and light and good. We are cut off from He who is the very source and essence of these things and though we walk and talk and stand in bright sunlight the Bible says that we are dead and in the dark in the ways that matter and are eternal. We are cut off from God, and if God is the only source of good then we are cut off from the possibility of doing good—because good doesn't exist apart from God. Carry this out a bit and we realize why God says there are none righteous or good, and why it is impossible for us to approach God or produce goodness on our own. We can't produce what we don't have. God is good and He gives things their "goodness" and so, separated from Him by sin, we dwell under sin and Satan's dominion or rule—and it is a realm of death and decay and deception and disease and hurt and lies and broken relationships and cruel words and jealousy and lust and covetousness and . . .

This really drives home to me the heart of why Christ came. Apart from Christ I am in a situation that is hopeless because it is impossible to save myself because good doesn't exist outside of God. I can't go find and collect enough of it because it is only found in God and I am separated from Him. As a non-Christian, thinking myself "good" by some societal standard, I chaffed against that idea that I wasn't "good" because I didn't realize that at the core "good" can't be separated from God, or defined apart from God. It is not something inherent in things or acts, it is inherent in God . . . He gives it that which makes it good. Understanding this now I understand how desperately in need of a Savior I was, One who could do for me what I could not do alone.

Second: I realize in this understanding of good that in this world turned over to sin and Satan's dominion, there is no good found on its own. Sin and Satan have no good in them because they have no partnership with God . . . and, again, good is found only in God. Remember Jesus' words in John 15 where He says He is the vine and we are the branches—abiding or remaining in Him we produce much fruit, but apart from Him we can do nothing. It is His life flowing through us that produces good from us. Apart from Him, though active and "productive," I can do nothing. Nothing. Nothing that is of value or eternal life.

Sin is death. It is separation from God and from good. It is the root of all pain and decay. And it is under sin's weight that our world groans. It is impossible for it to produce good because it has no good and so, as I approach Thanksgiving, I do so realizing that EVERY bit of good in my life is a direct result of God intervening in my life with His grace and glory and power and shielding me from sin's effect and curse.

Much of what people blame on God causing I think is simply God not intervening. Of God allowing sin and the Fall to have their natural effect. When there is good in my life it is because God has put it there. Every meal I eat. Every time my cells do what they are supposed to, or my lungs open for air. Every bit of clothing I wear. Every time I smile or am smiled at. I love or am loved. Every laugh. Every beautiful view. Sin can't produce good and so I realize that everyone of those, from the smallest cellular level, is God at work in my life.

God, the star breather, at work in my life personally and intimately at the smallest level of detail. God noticing me and acting on my behalf. God caring and moving. It leaves me in awe that He would be that involved in my life, but I often haven't recognized how active He is in my life because I've not given Him credit for the tiniest level of good.

If every bit of good in my life is God at work in my life, then, wow, I have a lot to be thankful for!

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Vast Gap and A Vast Difference

Mary Ann and the girls looking down a tributary canyon
at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Our family was recently blessed in being able to take a homeschool trip to Great Basin National Park in Nevada, plus Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks in Utah, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. We camped most of the nights we were on the road, and even were able to search for flood evidence at two trilobite fossil sites, as well as visit Fossil Mountain and find some shell fossils there. Typical of the Reinstedts, our van came back very heavy with rocks!

Along the journey we were so uplifted and encouraged to be able to read from Creation guidebooks we had bought from the same people who had done the Yellowstone one we used last year.* It is absolutely incredible to be able to read about the sites you are seeing from a young earth, flood geology perspective. It is like scales being pulled from your eyes as you see the land through those lenses. And, it is in resources like that where you find that at the Grand Canyon there are no known water sources for the tributary canyons that feed the main canyon off of the north rim. Facts like that are stunning when you stand at the head of these tributary canyons and stare down them into the main canyon and then look behind you on the plateau and realize there are no rivers or water sources that can explain the canyon you are looking down! Suddenly you go, "Wow! That is crazy! There truly is no other explanation for this canyon than a massive water event!"

Interestingly, a sign at one of the pullouts on the North Rim says, "Ancient Indians knew the Canyon well. Their legends say the awesome gorge was formed suddenly by great floods. It had deep religious meaning." The, a little below that on the sign it says, "A century of scientific study indicates natural forces of erosion slowly cut the Canyon while the land was gradually uplifted. The process has taken several million years and is still going on."

Hmmm. A century of scientific study. And yet those closest to the time of origin of the canyon have it right all along, and we, in our desperate efforts to find any explanation that doesn't include God, only get farther and farther from the truth (and we pull people away with us) as we undermine what God has clearly said from the start, and what cultures around the world have conveyed in their histories—that a massive, global flood shaped the topography of this earth!

Mary Ann and me in the Narrows at Zion.
I found that contrast on the same sign to be so stark I wanted to share it. It really made me shake my head. Man is so eager to find explanations for life, its meaning, values, etc., that don't force them to have to deal with the reality of a Creator who is very present in this life that they will come up with any explanation, no matter how ridiculous, to avoid Him. And our idolization of college degrees means we trust what they say, and in so doing often drift farther and farther from truth, thinking we are getting closer and closer to it.

I praise God for resources like those guidebooks, and like the Jonathan Park audio dramas our family listens to often on road trips. We so enjoy them, and are so blessed by them, that I want to write more about them in another post. But, in a nutshell, these audio dramas take you all over the world, and into all sorts of adventures following two families, while teaching you so much about Creation Science, the geology of the flood, the history of the collapse of the church on this issue, etc. I can't begin to tell you how many things I've learned from them that I've shared in teachings, this blog, etc.—and how many things I've first heard of from them that I've further studied on my own.

We were first loaned Volume One of Jonathan Park some years back, and after listening to only the first couple episodes we knew we had to get it for our family. There are currently nine volumes with a tenth one on the way next month, and more in production (plus they have study guides for some of the volumes and they are top-notch in the way they are done). If you like adventure (no matter your age), have or know kids or grandkids, or want to learn more about Creation Science in a fun way, I highly encourage you to check them out. The web site is: Our family so enjoys these that it is almost a running joke in it that as soon as we hit the road, or the girls finish some school in the car, the question comes . . . "Can we listen to a Jonathan Park?"

Anyway, I wanted to share those resources with you as we have been so blessed by them, and we are always so grateful when others share with us tested and true resources they've discovered. God bless all of you and, as always, thanks for sharing in my life!   —Erick


* These guidebooks are published by New Leaf Publishing Group and all three are by the same four authors (Dennis Bokovoy, John Hergenrather, Michael Oard, Tom Vail). The titles are:
   Your Guide to the Grand Canyon
   Your Guide to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks
   Your Guide to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks

If you are ever traveling to any of these four locations I highly recommend buying these in advance. They are top quality, with beautiful photography, and filled with rich information that will strengthen and equip your faith in Genesis.

Monday, September 1, 2014

What is the Story we Tell?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.   Ephesians 1:3–10 (ESV)
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.   Colossians 1:16–20 (ESV)
Last Memorial Day our region hosted a major festival at a nearby lake which, it is my understanding, moved from its previous venue because of problems between it and the community. If you watch the promo video for this festival, and talk to people about it, then it becomes readily apparent that it is filled with New Age talk about our mother the sun, our being related to life on other planets, a heavy emphasis on environmentalism, yoga, native American influences, etc. At a recent community meeting to after action the event as they consider entering a contract with it the praises for the event gushed forth, and it was very apparent that the people involved with it were wonderfully friendly, the boost the local economy was very good, and other than some problems with the loud bass music throughout the night, it was pretty much fawned over. One man stood and testified that basically his life had been without purpose before and the festival had changed his life and now he dreamed about big things for his life.

My heart broke.

People are supposed to say those things about Jesus. About a relationship with God. About discovering their identity and purpose in their Creator—who is a very defined God, the God of the Bible.

If you haven't read my recent post entitled "Preeminent" I really encourage you to. Another post that came out this morning worth reading is one by Randy Alcorn called "We Need a Fresh Appreciation of the Gospel's Magnificience." I think it is always good for us to be reminded of the story and news we have been given custodianship of to share. It is stunning, awe and worship-inspiring, amazing, purpose and life-giving. It is truth, and in it is found the only good and true meaning to be found.

The reality is that God, and God alone, is Good. Therefore anything that is good will be found in and through Him. Think, even, of the people who have done "good" works in His name but whom He says He doesn't know and will be told to depart from Him (Matthew 7:21–23). The works are not good in a vacuum. He is the source of good and life, and anything good and of true life will have Him flowing in and through it, and will spring forth from Him.

As I said in the Preeminent post, we too often begin our story with Genesis 3, how man is separated from God. We somehow manage to take God's story and make even it about us. But it begins with Genesis 1:1 which tells us that in the beginning God already was. And Ephesians tells us that before the foundation of the world God had the plan of the cross in place to reconcile all things back to Him—all things that Colossians tells us were made by Him, and FOR Him.

He is the Beginning, and the End. In Him we live and move and have our being. He is the source of life and of good. Outside of Him there is no true meaning or purpose because we are outside of He who Created us for Him. We are outside of our created purpose when we are outside of Him. His story is more amazing and grand and stunning then any we could ever write. It is not bounded by time, or constrained by the word "impossible." He is God, and we use that word too frequently too casually. God. And God loves us. And God created us for Him, for His good pleasure. We are His, created for Him, and when we discover that we find our purpose in life.

And that is the story that should be changing lives.

What story are we telling?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

"In the Sight of the Lord . . ."

I have been teaching in recent Sundays on ways we can evaluate who our audience is—whether we are living in the big picture (and in individual moments) for an Audience of One, or for an audience of someone(s) else. Maybe that is why this morning in my reading through the Bible it jumped out to me so much when I came to Judges 13:1 which says, "And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years" (ESV).

I thought, "in the sight of the Lord—that says it all. That is what (and all) that matters." I did a quick search in the ESV for that exact expression and found it occurs 71 times. My guess is that if you looked for slight variations you'd find that concept expressed many, many more times. Of the 71 it included many instance of doing what was wicked or evil in the sight of the Lord, as well as examples of things being "precious" in the sight of the Lord (a very appropriate one for today's news is Psalm 116:15 which says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints"), and multiple verses similar to Deuteronomy 6:18–19 which says:
And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers by thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has promised.
The common theme of all these is, ". . . in the sight of the Lord" and it takes me back to a theme I have blogged on repeatedly. If there is not some uniform absolute for right and wrong (or true or false) we will live in a moral quagmire of relativism in which "truth" has no meaning, in which what is right for some is not for others, in which values and good and bad change with the times. Absent of some absolute standard for right and wrong there is no moral basis that carries any weight for saying one person's actions are right and another's wrong.

I was struck that it didn't matter if the people of Israel thought what they were doing was fine. What mattered is how it was received in the sight of the Lord.

Evil in the sight of the Lord. Precious in the sight of the Lord. Good and right in the sight of the Lord. It should be very encouraging to us on many levels:
  1. It must mean God is watching us! He is present with us. He sees and knows our life! He is not a distant, deistic God who set it in motion then sits back uninvolved. He is active and involved in our lives. Praise Him for that! "I will never leave you or forsake you."
  2. When we realize only one audience matters it helps us realize the futility and foolishness of living for other audiences.
  3. Here is a huge one for Christians in this culture today: When we declare something right or wrong (or true or false) we are not the ones judging it, we are declaring what something is in the sight of the Lord. We can be encouraged when we start to feel beat up and doubt ourselves. We are not putting ourselves in the place of judge, we are witnesses to our holy and mighty God and what He declares. What we personally believe is irrelevant. It doesn't matter. Your opinion is as valid as mine. But what HE believes . . . that is everything, and by declaring it and standing for it we are being the most loving we can to others. Because whether or not they realize it, only One audience matters in the end, and only One definition of right and wrong and true and false is actually right and wrong, true and false. The rest will fall away, but He alone will stand.

May we live this week secure in the love of our Father in Heaven, deeply aware of the Holy Spirit's presence with us, and living for an Audience of One. Blessings to all of you. Thanks for sharing in my life.   —Erick

Friday, August 22, 2014

Building "Memorials"

The Bible, especially the Old Testament, is strong on the theme of building memorials so as not to forget the mighty works of God. It repeatedly talks about teaching His works to our children, and it repeatedly displays the danger (and propensity) of turning from Him when generations pass that remember His works and new generations arise that don't.

I believe the flood of Noah is one of the greatest acts recorded in the Bible for us to never forget. I believe this for many reasons, a few of which are:
1. It is a reminder that God is holy and will not tolerate sin.
2. It is a foreshadowing of Christ, our ark of refuge.
3. It is the dominate geological vehicle by which we can explain topography around us and show there is no need to run from believing Genesis means what it clearly says in its young earth, six-day Creation account. (This is the primary area the Bible is being undermined in our culture, and from there natural doubt in the trustworthiness of the rest of the Bible often follows.)
4. Peter makes it clear in 2 Peter 3 that those who doubt the initial flood will be those who scoff at coming judgment (hence at a need for a Savior).
5. Jesus and other Bible authors refer to Genesis and the flood as literal and true and if they are wrong in that area we have basis to doubt them in other areas.

Along these lines our family is experiencing a growing passion for finding evidence for the flood, and we are stunned by how much is out there. Once we start looking and asking around we are seeing overwhelming evidence for catastrophic water movement, coverage, and force around the world. This is seen in planation surfaces that are not forming today but which display tremendous evidence of massive water presence and flow, folded sedimentary layers revealed in road cuts, and the billions of marine fossils found all over the world—from sea level to the tops of our highest mountains.

So . . . the other day, lest we forget the mighty works of God, we took advantage of our blessed privilege of homeschooling and taught the girls the basic of woodshop, tool uses and safety, etc., and then we built a shelf to display a few of the fossils and similar things we have that we have either found or purchased. I hope you enjoy the photographic display and share the day with us!

Blessings to all of you, and thanks for sharing in our life.   —Erick

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Thought Provoking Read

If you've read my blog, or known me, any length of time you know I stand strongly on the inerrancy of the Bible, and believe strongly that the reliability of Genesis (without any twisting) is a critical place to begin the defense of it. With that being my strong heart, I found a recent blog post I received to be very valuable and I wanted to share it with you in case you are interested. These two links are regarding the inerrancy of the Bible, its importance, and attempts to "redefine" the word "inerrancy." The second link is to the article (and a petition) that the first article refers to. Bill Holdridge, who wrote the first article, was tremendously influential in my life. He was the pastor who we went to for pre-marital counseling who recognized, and had the courage to address, that I wasn't a Christian. His strength and the leading of the Holy Spirit in Him put us on the path we are on today.

Bill's Blog Post

Article and Petition on Inerrancy of the Bible he refers to

I ended up signing the petition, and if you do it gives you ways to share that with others. Blessings to all of you.   —Erick

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Taking nothing from other blog posts I've done, I feel that this may be the most important blog post I've ever written, or will ever write . . .
He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.  (Colossians 1:15–18, ESV)
for, "In him we live and move and have our being . . ." (Acts 17:28a, ESV)
One time I was talking with someone about a relationship that seemed hopeless. I told them, basically, that I didn't need to know anything about them to know fully that the relationship could succeed—and not just "make it," but be amazing. I could say this without knowing them because I know God, and I know what He can do. The key is, were they willing to elevate God in their hearts to the place He deserves?* I'll explain this in a moment.

Ephesians and Colossians are probably two of my favorite books in the Bible. One of the main reasons is the exaltation of God and His mighty plans and His mystery that pervades them. As one author pointed out, so many of us tend to treat the story of God as if it began in Genesis 3 with the Fall . . . as if it began with us. That is the message we share, the story we tell. We begin with how man is separated from God, etc. But, God's story the world needs to hear begins even before Genesis 1, "In the beginning, God . . ." God is the beginning of the story. In the beginning He already was. Ephesians tells us that before even the foundation of the world the cross was in His plan. His story doesn't begin with Christmas, or even the Garden. Before the foundation of the world . . . He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is outside of time itself. The story begins with God, not with man. It is far, far bigger than us.

In the Colossians passage above it says that, "For by him all things were created . . . all things were created through him and for him." He created all things, and He created them for Himself. We were created by Christ, and for Christ. And that is the basis of His claim on our life. I have no claim on your life. No pastor or person has a claim on your life. But, your Creator does. He made you and I. And He made us for Himself. That is the claim He has on our life, and in that context we can easily see the rebellion in us when we make a claim on our own life. We are His—by Him, and for Him.

The passage then goes on to say, "And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." How does a marriage hold together? In Christ. How does a family hold together? In Christ. How is the earth itself, and everything in it held together? In Christ. How do we find our purpose and meaning in life? In Christ. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. That is why I don't need to even know a person's background to know that in Christ they can be whole, in Christ a marriage can flourish, in Christ people can be set free, in Christ any life—no matter its past—can be rich with meaning and purpose. Because in Christ all things hold together. That isn't to say there aren't challenges, and oftentimes a lot of healing, etc., but in Christ all is possible because in Christ all things hold together.

The Acts passage above comes from Paul, explaining to the learned men of Athens the "unknown God" they'd made an altar to, among their other gods. He told them, ". . . what therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth . . ." (Acts 17:23b–26a, ESV) He then went on to say of God, "In him we live and move and have our being . . ." In Christ, all things hold together. In Him we live and move and have our being.

The Colossians passage I quoted above ends with, "And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent." He is the head of the body, the church. That is us. Believers. Why? That in everything He might be preeminent. First. Above all. The highest.

He is Christ. All things were created by Him. All things were created for Him. In Him we live and move and have our being. All things hold together in Him. That in all things He might be preeminent. That is the exaltation of Christ. That is His place. Preeminent.

No matter what situation we are in. No matter what obstacles we face in relationships, etc. If Christ is preeminent in the hearts of the people involved I believe that we can have great hope of great things. The limitations are in us, not in Him (and the exciting part is that His Word promises that He is at work in us, bringing His work to completion!). In Him all things hold together. The question is if we are willing to give Him preeminence. To kneel before Him. To lay aside our claim on our life and give Him His rightful claim as our Creator and Lord. To surrender. To step off the throne of our life and let Him have that place. To give up our rights to be "right," to be apologize to, to be loved back, to make our own plans, to dictate our own terms, etc. To give to Christ our rights.

The most amazing part is that while, as Creator, He has every right to sit in Heaven and make those claims on us, He didn't. Before the foundation of the earth He had the plan in place to surrender His rights as God, to humble Himself, to love us before we loved Him, to meet us 100% of the way before we traveled 1% of the way. Everything He asks of us He did before us, for us. And He did it as our Creator!

He then steps back and waits. He quietly asks, "Will you let me be preeminent?" It is His rightful place—and He is preeminent in the big picture regardless of our decision—but He lets us choose that for each of our lives.

* This comment/belief is not an excuse to not invest heavily in another's life. Too often we throw a few verses at people because we are unwilling to get "dirty" and invested, or because we are uncomfortable and don't know what to say or do. I believe we are called to invest deeply and long term in other's lives, but I have also found that if the issue of the preeminence of  Christ is not settled in a couple's heart, or anyone else's heart, then rarely are the changes long term. All I have to offer anyone, really, is Christ. Once Christ is preeminent in a life then I can offer a lot of love, support, and help in determining Christ's heart for them and His counsel and Words. But, in the end I can only say, "You need to do this (or not do this) because Christ says it." Ultimately it is our surrender to Him that will be that which moves us.

Monday, August 4, 2014

It IS Very Important

Here is a good article that captures some of the many reasons why our belief in Genesis is far more important than many Christians realize. I have done a study on many atheists quotes about our faith and they often seem to get it better then we do that the foundation of the Gospel almost collapses when Genesis collapses. Obviously an article this short can't cover even close to all of the reasons why this matters, but it might give some good food for thought if you don't agree with a young earth interpretation of Genesis, and encourage and strengthen you if you do. It truly is not a periphery issue, not if we want to be able to share with others a true and consistent reason why they can trust other parts of Scripture (and hence trust the God who breathed it out). Anyway, I was blessed by it and thought I'd share it. Blessings to all of you, whether or not you agree with me :)   —Erick

Friday, August 1, 2014

Oh My . . .

Well, the distinction between the atheist and Christian world views has taken on even more clarity. Check out this article:

IRS Strikes Deal with Atheists to Monitor Churches

Churches aren't supposed to endorse candidates . . . but now we can't talk about abortion or gay marriage? There are a lot of articles out there on this agreement, and I've only read this one, but even if it doesn't cover the whole story what it does cover is scary enough. Here's a quote from the article:
A lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) asserted that the Internal Revenue Service ignored complaints about churches' violating their tax-exempt status by routinely promoting political issues, legislation and candidates from the pulpit. The FFRF has temporarily withdrawn its suit in return for the IRS's agreement to monitor sermons and homilies for proscribed speech that the foundation believes includes things like condemnation of gay marriage and criticism of ObamaCare for its contraceptive mandate.
Here's the thing. This is about something far bigger than politics. It is about the moral fabric of our nation. If there is no God then there are not absolutes. Nobody has any right to say anyone else is right or wrong. And everything about any issue is simply "politics." But . . . if there is a God, then there are absolutes. We can choose to ignore them, but it doesn't make us right. God defines right and wrong, good and bad, truth and lies.

This is at the core of it all. Again, it is world view. The issue transcends politics. It is not political. It is an issue of supreme truth. If God is real then we are fools to ignore Him or what He says. If we put ourselves or politics above allegiance and submission to God we have become fools. When we speak against something God speaks against, or stand for something God stands for (providing we are Spirit-led), we are not being "political," we are putting God forth as supreme. But to someone who doesn't recognize then we are, inherently, being political. It comes down to who we recognize and who we are serving in the action and words.

That is the ultimate question our nation faces. We can say nobody can be discriminated against for their religious or non-religious views, and that is fine (see next paragraph for caveat), but if we don't submit to some higher standard of right and wrong we will crumble in the decay of society as we inherently seek our own selfish good. The only other alternatives to determining right or wrong are things like a dictatorship, or majority rule, or simply saying that the strongest/biggest/baddest will prevail. All of these have been tried and are scary.

At some point we must decide, "What is discrimination?" This is a huge question, far bigger then we might realize. The reality is we all—even atheists—advocate discrimination at some level. We discriminate against people who want to murder and rape. We discriminate against people who want to steal. The issue isn't discrimination, it is what is right and wrong. Then, in the realm of right we don't discriminate, but in the realm of wrong we all do by forbidding that action. Where those realms divide is the question of the ages, but all the "tolerance" people are being hypocrites. They all have things they don't tolerate, they just have a different line then others do. The key question is who, or what, draws the line? That is at the heart of it all. For those who see homosexuality as OK then it is discrimination against them to forbid marriage. To those who see it as sin in God's eyes, it is legislation against a wrong (and everyone legislates against wrongs—the real issue is, "What is wrong?"). The same for abortion causing contraceptives. If you see the baby as simply a fetus then you see it as discriminating against women and their choices. If you see the baby as a life then you see it as legislating against wrong and sin and protecting the defenseless.

Atheists are ticked because churches have tax exempt status and can then talk about, in their eyes, politics. Well, can you imagine the pressure the government could bring on churches if they could tax them? Especially this government in this era? They could drive them out of existence as recognized organizations. But are we, as they see it, talking about politics when we talk about a candidate or issue in terms of God's laws and heart? Or are we, as we see it, talking about God and bringing His views into the issues we face? It is a key, pivotal question that there is no way to come together on with such divergent world views. No way. Period.

What kind of pastor could truly lead and equip a fellowship if he didn't talk about the issues that we face and how God sees them? If our faith is simply for stained glass windows and seminaries and funerals then we've missed the faith Jesus brought. He came into this world, into its pain and brokenness, into its people, and He brought the Father's heart and words and life into it. Our faith can—and it must—impact every area of our lives or we are not being true to it and our world view. If we compartmentalize God into the "proper" boxes then we've missed the God who breathes out stars and speaks life. My God can't be boxed, and He is interested in and involved in every issue of my life.

Who is right, or who is wrong, in this issue? It is a question that will define our nation and our future.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Topic Worth Following

If you've not been following the findings of different matter in fossilized dinosaur bones that couldn't possibly be as old as old earth scientists claim then it is something to watch closely. Here is a link to a very recent (and ongoing) part of that battle. It is well, well worth reading! The link is from FOX news, but it is written about in many other places as well. It is:

Scientist Claims California University Fired Him Over Creationist Beliefs

As you read the article it should be a strong reminder of something that I've talked about a lot—our worldview matters! We will begin our study, our processing of new information and events, etc., from the starting point of our world view. This world view is made up of the presuppositions we hold—those things we presuppose or assume or believe to be true. At the core they begin with what we believe about God. (Is He real? What is His character and nature? Is He active in our life? Etc.). They move to what we believe to be true about truth. (Is there absolute truth? What is its source? What do we believe about the Bible? Etc.) Then onward from there . . .

It is imperative that we begin with an accurate world view. If, for example, we don't recognize a spiritual realm that interacts with us then, based on what the Bible says (which I believe to be true) we will miss our real enemy, we will not recognize some things that the enemy is doing as works of the enemy, etc. For example, imagine how someone without room to recognize demonization would have treated the man in the tombs with the legion of demons that Jesus encountered. They'd medicate him into a stupor when his issue wasn't medical.

We can't help but process our world from the starting point of our world view, because we process our world from what we believe to be true about it. So, if you begin with a "no God" belief, or the belief that the earth must be vast ages of time old, then you are going to stretch and twist evidence to the contrary to fit your belief. That is one of the reasons that geology for so many decades practically labeled heretical any reference to catastrophes in nature (because it hit too close to the "flood" issue). But now, finally, geology is recognizing the major role of catastrophes in shaping the earth as we know it today.

That is also the reason that these finds of things in dino bones that couldn't last the ages of time they are claimed to be are causing such a ruckus. Because . . . if we are finding things in bones that could only be a few thousand years old . . . and we can't embrace a young earth . . . then we are going to desperately fight to find some other explanation. And, if you vehemently oppose God being a part of anything, then you will vehemently oppose anyone who might bring news that might include God. The result is that we force the evidence to fit our world view rather then draw our world view from the evidence.

Do young earth Creationists like myself do the same thing? At some level, absolutely. We start with a world view that the Bible is true, literal, etc. We look at the genealogies and other dates and date ranges and we determine that the Bible says the earth is around 6,000+ years old. Then, from this world view, we look at the evidence around us and see that for the most part it fits our world view nicely (much better, we believe, then the evidence supports an old earth). Do we have all the answers? No. Does everything fit our model perfectly? No. But it is impossible to escape a world view as the dominate influence on our perceptions.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When I Don't Understand . . .

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.    Deuteronomy 29:29 (ESV)
Recently I performed a service for a man who was killed in his early 50s in an accident. Ironically, he was a recent cancer survivor. I shared at the service that while it is tempting for Christians (especially if we are uncomfortable investing in someone) to throw some well-intentioned verses toward someone and expect (hope?) it makes it all OK, the reality is that short of a direct revelation from God this side of Heaven we won't understand things like that which happen all too often in this painful, broken world.

As I was in my reading through the Bible this morning I came across Deuteronomy 29:29. It comes after the people have been reminded of the blessings and curses of obedience and disobedience, and have renewed their covenant with God. I thought it captured so much of our life so well. The secret things belong to God. Those things we don't and won't understand. His ways are not our ways. He knows things we don't know. But, that we might stay in faith and not stumble, the things revealed (the things we DO know) belong to us are intended to keep us in faith and obedience.

I am reminded of Matthew 11:4–6. John the Baptist is in prison and he sends his disciples to Jesus to ask, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?" Jesus replies, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me" (ESV). The ASV version says, "And blessed is he, whosoever shall find no occasion of stumbling in me."

Keeping in mind that John declared who Jesus was, was there when the Father spoke about His Son, etc., it is an amazing (and confusing) moment, that John would then question if He was the One. Equally perplexing to me when I would read it was the last part of Jesus' response to him. But then one day a pastor I was listening to taught on how Jesus was the one supposed to set captives free, and here John was in jail and rightfully confused. He said Jesus was telling John, "Don't be caused to stumble because of what about Me you aren't understanding—what about Me doesn't match your expectations." That really spoke to me and I believe there has to be some truth in that interpretation.

I shared at the service that while I didn't understand a cancer survivor then dying in an accident a short time later, there were some things I did understand, and that it is those we must hold to and stand on. When I look to the cross I understand that God loves me. Because He loves me I understand that I can trust Him. When I look to the cross I understand that He wants to be with me, and I understand that He understands suffering and loss. And when I look to the empty tomb I understand that He is bigger than death.

"The secret things belong to the Lord our God . . ." Yes, there is much I don't understand. And God has revealed so much of Himself that I don't think it is wrong to seek to understand. Even Jesus, talking to Nicodemus, expressed that we must be born again as we can't understand the things of Heaven if we aren't. ("If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?" John 3:12)

". . . , but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." But not understanding must not cause me to stumble in my faith. My faith is anchored in what I do understand: He loves me; I can trust Him; He wants to be with me; He understands suffering and loss; He is bigger than death. Whenever I doubt these the cross and the empty tomb stand there reminding me I don't need to doubt them.

I believe that we, as Christians, must be OK with saying we don't understand something. It is so much better than trying to hide behind verses. And, when I am honest, while I'd love to understand everything, the reality is that if I could understand everything about God He'd be too small for me to trust Him with my life. He is God. He is holy. He breathes out stars and by His power not one is missing. He knows every hair on my head, and He has assured me I am more precious to Him than Creation. This I do understand and on this I must stand.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.   1 Corinthians 13:12
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.   Isaiah 55:8–9
All of this is not to say that we miss an attack of the enemy, or accept everything as God's will. Things do happen as a result of spiritual warfare, and of poor choices. We must be ready to recognize those things and take action when that is the case. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that our choices do matter—or else God would have no place to be angry with Israel for their choices, or to warn us about the consequences of certain choices, if everything happened by His doing. I am not saying we shouldn't examine things, or that we shouldn't be open to the Holy Spirit teaching us or showing us things, but I am saying that, when all that is said and done, and we find we still don't understand something, we need to be OK with the mystery of God and to not stumble because of it. We need to stand on (and trust in) what we do understand: He loves me; I can trust Him; He wants to be with me; He understands suffering and loss; He is bigger than death.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

More Golf Cart Thoughts . . .

In my last post (Food for Thought . . . ) I used the example of a child driving a golf cart ten feet when told not to as a way to illustrate to ourselves our own heart toward God. I'm not going to repeat it here, but I'll assume you've read it (or you can read it by clicking on its link above).

I had another thought about it that was helpful to me. In that thought I could picture the same kid who disobeyed. But this time, instead of just being told not to drive the cart, he is told something like, "Don't drive the cart because it is out of oil and the engine will burn up (if it was a gas engine)." Or, "Don't move the cart because I discovered a sink hole under the dirt in front of it."

In any of these type of examples, what if the child, who would have otherwise driven the cart when told not to, now says, "Oh! OK," and doesn't drive the cart because they now understand the reason why not to (and, implicit in this, they agree with the reason why not to)? This further reinforces the pride and arrogance and rebellion of the child, even though they obeyed! Why? Because they obeyed because THEY understood and agreed. If they hadn't, they wouldn't have.

In the golf cart example I gave in the previous post it was clear to me that a reaction of, "Wow! He punished you like that for only driving it ten feet! That's harsh!" was a reaction that puts the person being given instruction in the place of "god" and judge. The true heart that understands authority would say, "Wow! I can't believe you drove the cart when he told you not to!"

In this example of obedience because of agreement there is nothing different. If we say, "Good boy. He didn't drive the cart," we are again focusing on the action and not the heart because he would have if he didn't agree with the reasons! He is still rebellious and proud and arrogant!

Again taking this back to us and God, it is a fair question to ask, "Do I obey when I understand why God is telling/asking something, but I don't if it doesn't make sense to me?" This is something we actually often cultivate when we say things like, "God says not to XX, and it makes sense because if we do there is a risk of YY or ZZ." This isn't to say that it is bad to explain how wise God is as a witness to His greatness, but it is dangerous if understanding is made a portion of obedience.

God is holy. He is set apart. He is the Creator. Far be it from the Creation to have the arrogance and pride and foolishness and rebelliousness to demand more before we obey than to simply know God said it.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Food for Thought . . .

In my last post (Just a Bunch of Sticks?) I shared some thoughts I'd had about an Old Testament account of a man being killed for collecting wood on the Sabbath. I shared how my first reaction had been to assess the severity of the crime in terms of the action of the man, and not the heart. I first thought of it as a severe punishment for simply collecting sticks, until I believe God showed me that the true sin wasn't picking up sticks, it was the rebellion against God that was at the heart of the man who would pick up sticks when God expressly told them in the Ten Commandments not to work on the Sabbath, on the day He'd set apart as holy.

Last night at Men's Group we were talking about this and how casual we can become with God and our understanding of His holiness, and I felt like God gave me an example that spoke to all of our hearts there, and helped a lot. I wanted to share it in case it helps you as well:
Some people we know have a golf cart that grandchildren and visiting kids are taught safety points about and how to drive. They are then given a driving test for it, and if they pass they are approved to drive around the property. It is pretty slow and safe, but the people take it seriously and the kids are taught to as well. The example that I felt God gave me was of the man telling a child not to drive the golf cart. The child goes out and drives it ten feet. The man then punishes the child in some hypothetical way—say takes his license for a month and maybe something else.
In this situation someone might easily say, "He did all that to you for driving the cart ten feet?!" The proper answer is, "No, he did all that because I disobeyed." That is the heart of it. Five feet. Ten feet. A mile. The distance doesn't matter. What matters is that he was told not to do something and he did it anyway. It is revealing of a much deeper sin than driving ten feet. It is revealing of a heart of pride and rebellion and self-focus.

We can learn a lot about ourselves by putting ourselves in the position of someone the child comes and complains to. Would we feel like, "That is harsh! I can't believe he did that to you for driving it ten feet!"? Or, would we feel like, "I can't believe you went out and drove it when he told you not to!"?

Once we answer which one of those responses would be ours we then can ask ourselves if we are consistent in that application. When God says something, do we weigh the action (putting ourselves in the place of god and judge), or do we say, "My God said it and that is enough for me."

The question is not if the action seems big or small to us. The true measure of our heart is whether the fact that God said it is big or small to us. That reveals it all.

Collecting wood. Eating fruit. Driving a cart ten slow feet. Murdering someone. Adultery. In our minds, when we look at them, we can easily rate them as small or big. But rebelling against God? That should always be huge to us, and if it isn't I think it should be a warning sign. And that is truly what is at the core of it all.


Another Morsel: Tonight we wanted to surprise our girls and borrow a DVD from someone that they'd been wanting to watch, but after some emails and phone calls it didn't work out and we didn't tell them. I wonder how many times in our life it seems to us like God isn't moving, but in reality He is doing all sorts of things on our behalf. Can we trust His love and heart for us when we can't see His hand at work?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Just a Bunch of Sticks?

In my reading through the Bible this morning I came to Numbers 15:32–36 which says:
While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation. They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him. And the Lord said to Moses, "The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp." And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the Lord commanded Moses. ESV
I read something like this and there is this reaction in me that says, "Wow! He was just picking up sticks! It wasn't even something bad!" And . . . that reaction tells me more about my view of God than I like to admit.

As much as I can teach about God's holiness, and how He breathes out stars, and how amazing and worthy of our awe and worship He is, etc., a reaction like that reveals to me how much of that knowledge of God is in my head and hasn't captivated my heart.

Why not, instead, would I have had the reaction, "Oh, man! This man has such a wicked heart to rebel against God! To do things His way and not God's!" A failure to react that way gives me insight into the heart of why I can, at times, be so casual with the "little" sins. I am seeing it as an issue of degrees and about the action, and not about the rebellion—not about the incredible pride and arrogance of thinking I can do what I want when God—the holy Creator of all—has said something different about it. In reality, I think I can judge what is truly OK and what isn't. I may not say that is my reality, but my actions reveal it is.

It is similar to Adam and Eve—"so you're telling me that they and all mankind to follow got a death sentence and cut off from God for eating fruit!?" No. That isn't the reason. It is for the pride and rebellion of the heart that thinks it can do things its own way and that it is OK to do so. It is for the heart that thinks it, better then God, can define what is OK and what isn't. It is about a trust—a faith!—that is greater in myself then it is in Him.

We must never forget, God loves our faith and without it Hebrews tells us it is impossible to please Him. When the Israelites came to the promised land it was GOD that told them to send in the spies! He didn't sucker them into the land and then have them realize what they were surrounded by so they had no choice to rely on Him. He had them spy it out and see exactly what they were up against so then they could choose—sight (what they saw in front of them), or faith in God who had promised them both the land and His presence. They didn't trust Him and He says of them (in different places throughout the Bible) that they were in unbelief, not following Him, disobedient, stiff-necked, hardened hearts, not mindful of the works He had performed among them, faithless. And, though they would have been the first to say they believed in God's existence, HE said of them that they didn't believe in Him.

God is looking for so much more than simply our acknowledgement that He exists (even the demons believe, and tremble the Bible says). He is looking for us to believe in Him in the way that commits our life to Him, to trust in Him, to follow Him.

Eve's sin is similar. Before she ever saw the tree as good for food, pleasing to the eye, or desirable to make one wise she first had doubt about God and His love and His Word and His trustworthiness. Then, after entertaining those doubts about God, she came to the place where she believed she could better take care of her needs, pleasure, and wisdom apart from God and His ways then doing it God's way. She walked out of trust of God, and trusted more in herself. She walked out of faith in God.

When we assess sin by the action ("he was just picking up sticks!), instead of realize it is a heart of rebellion and disobedience to God, we can tend to water down what sin really is and lose the reverence of the the holiness of God. I am reminded of when David was bringing the ark back to Jerusalem. It is found in 2 Sam 6:5–7
And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. ESV
Did Uzzah die because he steadied himself or the ark when the oxen stumbled. Is that really worthy of a death sentence? No. Uzzah died because, first and foremost, David decided to do something his way and blew off a holy God's commands about how the ark would be handled (even "religious" things can be sin). Then Uzzah died because a holy God said the ark would not be touched and he touched it. As long as we say he died simply for touching the ark we have missed the point. He died for the rebellion and haughtiness that said, "Even though God said one thing I can do it my way" (sorry Frank Sinatra).

It is an important lesson for us to learn (and relearn, and relearn . . .). Whenever we assess sin by the action instead of seeing it as rebellion we have lost our grip on God's holiness and who He is. We do things "our way" because we are looking left and right, instead of up. Left and right we can always find some reason, or someone else's life, that will justify us. Looking up into His holiness, and across the gap to the blood-stained cross, will remind us of what sin really is. It is not an action, it is a heart.

May I never lose sight of the fact that my sin, my "casual choices," are rebellion against God no matter how insignificant they seem. May I fear my heart, and may I embrace faith—a complete trusting of my life to Him and His ways because I have complete trust of Him and His Word and His love and His faithfulness.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Free Book

Hi Again. A minute after I posted my other post tonight I got a message from Rosemary Hines. She is an author I've blogged about multiple times (see below) whose novels have really blessed me. She is giving away, between now and Monday, the first book in her series in e-book from. It is called Out of a Dream.

The link is:

If you haven't read it, I really recommend that you do. She writes fiction based on life she's experienced and this first novel deals with the seductiveness of the New Age—a huge issue among adults and youth in our area, and I am sure in yours!

The two posts I've done on her books are:

Blessings.   —Erick

Just a Relative?

I just read a line in a blog by a man named Samuel Clough that really struck me. It says, "We are called to be the bride and I am afraid that most of us are more content with being relatives of God rather than a bride."

I had to stop and think about that. And I realize I can approach it in two ways, both valid and both powerful, and each having their time and place.

Approach One: This approach uses the quote to evaluate my walk and relationship with Him from my position, and toward Him. It includes questions like:
Is that me? Do I prefer the relationship with Him where I can invite Him over (or go visit) when it is convenient, with the boundaries I want to set, etc.? Am I content to know I have a more special relationship with Him then non-relatives do, but to not really be joined to Him inseparably as one flesh? Am I OK with being aware of burdens of His heart and kind of picking which ones I should address, or am I bound to Him as one flesh with His burdens as my own? Do I feel like I have an option of stepping back when I need to take care of my "own stuff," or do I feel like I have nothing that is not His stuff as well?

In this context the quote is a powerful line that brings forth powerful questions and introspection!

Approach Two: This one uses the quote to evaluate my walk and relationship with Him from His position, toward me. It includes questions like:
Do I realize He doesn't just get "related" to me (which could mean many different levels of attachment, not all very deep)—He chooses me as a bride?! Am I living like He is "just" a relative, interested in much of my stuff but with His own stuff too—or do I realize He has joined Himself to me in a relationship without separate compartments . . . a relationship He describes in earthly terms as two becoming "one flesh"?! Am I living like He wants to see me now and then when it works out, or do I realize He wants to be (and is) with me always, no matter what, with no created thing able to separate me from His love?
Mary Ann and I recently celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. I love her so much! She is my best friend! There is no one I'd rather be with, and even when we go to visit others our heart is to be joined in the same conversation rather then "guy talk" outside and "girl talk" inside (not to say there isn't a time and place for that, but too often it seems the norm or even preference). If I experience something wonderful and Mary Ann isn't there to share it with then something feels missing to me. She is my bride. My one flesh. My best friend. My pal.

Do I realize, and live like, God feels that way about me? The question goes two ways. 1) Have I believed a lie that He feels otherwise? 2) Am I content with something otherwise?

God uses two very powerful relationship in the Bible to describe our intended relationship with Him as born again believers—a Father/child, and this one, a Bridegroom/Bride. Both are relationships where, if lived correctly, there is a union far deeper than simply being "related." They are both unions that transcend that to a tie that is stunning in its depth. I can use the model of those two relationships to evaluate my relationship with Him to help me see areas I am not walking with Him as I should. And . . . I can use them to remind myself of just how much He loves me and I am joined with Him and how vested and interested He is in my life!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I am the Lord

In my current reading through the Bible I am in Leviticus 22, and this morning I made a note in the margin about how many times God ends a command, statement of His Holiness, etc., with the words, "I am the Lord." Then, I looked across the page to the facing page and saw where I had made an almost identical comment my last time through Leviticus, probably two years ago.

I am struck by the utter simplicity of it. He speaks. He commands (usually something related to being separate, holy, set apart, etc.) and He simply ends with, "I am the Lord." And, really, what more needs to be said?

So many of those commands are things which a violation of results in death, being cut off, etc. They are serious. God is holy—separate, set apart. Holy. Lord. Have those words lost anything to us? Only four letters each, but they define man's condition and eternity.

God is holy. By the very definition of it He is separate from us. It is in His holiness that we find the very reason we are cut off, separated from God, by our sin. He is holy. A consuming fire. A star breather. The One who holds and decides all of eternity. God.

God. There's a three letter word. The shortest of all and yet the most powerful. God. How often do we use these words so casually: God, holy, Lord?

Sometimes I'll simply slowly repeat the word "God" multiple times softly out loud to myself. And each time it grows in power until the word I can so flippantly throw out in conversation and advice starts to have a reverence and awe return around it. God. Holy. Lord.

"Be still and know that I am God." He says that in His Psalms. Slow down. Know I am GOD! That word is supposed to mean everything, just like, "I am the Lord" is supposed to. Everything! And, what more is needed?

And the most stunning thing of all? As born again Christians we are holy unto God. Set apart by God. His own special people and nation (not America, but the Kingdom of God). That is how complete Christ's work on our behalf is. That God could take us—sinful, self-centered, lustful, faithless, proud people—and do something to or for us that is so complete that He can bring us into His holiness! That the HOLY Spirit could in fact live in us!

But . . . saved, forgiven, reconciled to God, united with God, indwelt by God, eternally alive to God . . . does the word "Lord" really mean to me what it should? "I am the Lord." That is all. And it should be enough. Because if it isn't enough for me to give Him my everything (from obedience, to resources, to love and to trust), what more, possibly, could I be waiting for?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I Am in Awe . . .

Jon nailed this one! A rose.
We have been having fun photographing for, and managing our family's new Facebook page, "Just a Closer Look" ( We'd love to say hundreds of people are having a blast trying to guess what the images are, but that isn't the case and it is probably good! (See my note under "Remember" below.) Jon Guenther, one of this blog's readers and one of the two authors I blogged about on April 10th in Great Reads, Great Deals, actually guessed the first one correctly down to the type of flower! Wow! No wonder he is such a good author if he notices detail like that!
Abigail "on assignment."

Our great hope with this Facebook page is that people would (besides having fun!), find themselves starting to slow down and notice things in God's Creation that they maybe would have walked past before. Ultimately that will point us to God and remind us that He is interested in the tiniest of details in Creation—which to me means He must be interested in the tiniest details of our lives. Jesus used Creation to illustrate this incredible and reassuring truth:
And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. (Luke 12:22-31, ESV—underlines mine)
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29–31, ESV—underline mine)
Genesis 1 makes it clear that God made everything, and Hebrews 11:3 makes it clear that a primary component of faith is believing that He made it all from nothing. Therefore, what we see is the result of God's creative hand and word. Imagine! If it is this stunning in the tiniest details of earth what it will be like for us in Heaven free of sin's corruption!

Bethany examining a picture.
I can tell you that after spending fifteen to twenty minutes in a garden looking for things that I normally walk past but that are stunning in macro detail, I am in awe each time. There are even times that, after we put the pictures on a big screen, we see things we hadn't even noticed. God is so absolutely incredible!

Romans 1:18-20 says: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

The more I study Creation and the more I take time to stand under the stars, or stare into a flower's center, the more I realize how it should be impossible for us to be in Creation and deny a Creator. God says it is impossible—that we know the truth but suppress it. He says that because of Creation we are without excuse before Him for denying Him. I am in awe, and I feel the fool, to think I spent so many years of my life arrogantly denying Him in my intellect when His evidence is all around me. May this homeschool project of our family help someone who once walked where I walk recognize God sooner, and may it encourage those who do know God to worship Him more, to be encouraged that He knows their details and cares, and to slow down.
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" (Psalm 46:10, ESV—underline mine)

This one currently has people stumped! We'll put the
answer on Facebook later today or tomorrow.
Remember: You don't have to have a Facebook account to see the page, only to guess and comment on it. If you do have a Facebook page and "Like" the "Just a Closer Look" page I'd encourage you to share it with anyone you know who you think:

1. Might be encouraged to slow down and notice God's Creation, and to realize how God is interested in the tiniest of details. I believe it might be just what someone needs right now who is feeling overwhelmed or forgotten.

2. Can handle being drawn into Facebook (online media, etc.). Not everyone should be encouraged to plug into something like this as Facebook and other online media can easily, if not guarded, suck us into hours we never intended. I see youth in our youth group who can't be away from their online stuff for any length of time, and I know adults who've had to make the hard decisions to step back because they were getting drawn into their online world at the cost of their world around them. Everything has a time and place and I know people for whom Facebook is a true ministry, but it needs to be something someone can handle in God's leading and balance. So, for you or someone else, if you can't participate without wisdom then please stay away from the page. Go out in the garden and see the real things instead!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Just a Closer Look

Our family enjoys photography, and sometimes we'll zoom into a picture we've taken and be amazed at the intricacy of some tiny part of a flower or plant or piece of wood or a bug or ??? that we could have so easily just glanced at or even simply passed by. We've felt like others would be amazed at it as well, and maybe even encouraged to know that God cares about such tiny details in nature—because it stands to reason that He would be even more concerned about, and attentive to, the tiniest of details in our lives as well. We also find such a closer look leaves us in awe of God, and praising Him, so we wanted to share some of it.

We've come up with what we hope will be a fun Facebook page called "Just a Closer Look." It can be found at:

Our intention is to post a zoomed in portion of a picture and give people a few days to have fun trying to guess what it is. Then we'll post the "big picture" and a new zoom to guess about. Our hope is that it will:
1. Glorify God
2. Cause people to slow down and take notice of the tiny details in Creation around them
3. Encourage people's faith
4. Challenge the unsaved to question if they really can believe such intricacy is all by chance
We also hope to post encouraging thoughts and scriptures that are relevant to the theme of the page.

If that interests you feel free to "like" the page and spread the link to your friends who'd be blessed by it. I will be monitoring the comments pretty closely as it is a page our whole family will be working on. As a teaser I am posting our first "What is it?" picture here . . .

(By the way. If you are on Facebook and haven't "friended" me, send me a Friend Request at:
As a forewarning, I don't spend much time on Facebook at all other than updating events and photos on our church's page, but I do find value in being able to add that as one more way to try and stay in touch.

Blessings! And may you have an amazing Easter!   —Erick

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Great Reads, Great Deals

I have blogged in the past about an author, Rosemary Hines, who has written a fiction trilogy that really blessed me. Her three books in the series cover a multitude of topics, beginning with the New Age movement and how it can subtly creep in and grab us. To share her own words:
The novels in this series are very message-driven. For example, if you've seen or heard about the movie God's Not Dead, the topic of how university professors seek to destroy the faith of their students is woven as a secondary theme in the novel, Through the Tears. Other topics like our broken foster care system, teen pregnancy, the heartache of abortion, the prevalence and seductive nature of New Age beliefs in our culture, as well as the devastating impact of suicide are among the issues explored in the pages of these books. These books are my offering back to God for His loving redemption of the years the locusts ate away in my life. So, being able to get more books into the hands of readers has been my goal from the start.
I have really enjoyed, and grown from her books. I wanted to share that they have been recently updated and are available in e-book on Amazon for a very good price (I make nothing from this, I just believe in her and her writing and how it can bless others). The links for the books, in order of the series, are:
You can read more about her and her blog and books at:
She also has a Facebook page at:

I first heard about Rosemary from a lady we know who Rosemary played an important part in her life, and since reading her books we have corresponded in email a lot and I can tell you she is the real deal!

While talking about Christian fiction author's I have enjoyed (which in Christian fiction means to me—enjoyed and challenged and strengthened and equipped by all at the same time!) I wanted to share that another author I've "met" over the internet after reading his books is Jon Guenther. His novel Soul Runner: A Novel of High Adventure was a real joy to read and it blessed me in that it was good writing that encompassed the full Christian experience as described in the Bible (not just a book with a Christian character that has good morals). It included the miraculous and God's power at work and that, to me, is an important part of the Christian life as described by God. I would recommend reading Soul Runner, and I wanted to share that he has a new Christian novel which I am looking forward to reading, Finding Faith. (Note: not all of Jon's novels are Christian so if that is what you want to read research before ordering others. But the two I've mentioned are, and having read Soul Runner I can recommend it with great pleasure.)
I have corresponded via email with Jon as well over the last few years since reading Soul Runner and I can tell you his love for God and others is awesome! You can't go wrong supporting either of these authors in their journey and efforts to honor God with the giftings He's given them. For these authors who seek to honor God often the publishing industry is hard to crack and they do it on their own, with their own resources. The best thing you can do for them besides praying is to recommend their books and write a review on Amazon, etc., after you've read their book(s).
If you are a fan of reading fiction then Christian fiction can't be beat. God says to meditate (fill our thoughts) with things lovely and pure and praiseworthy—things of virtue—and good Christian fiction not only "takes us away" for a bit, but it encourages and challenges and strengthens us in the process. There is so much junk out there filling people's minds that I love to share when I find things that are God-honoring and glorifying.
Blessings.   —Erick

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"Dream" Homeschooling . . .

Watcha Doin'?
Can I write too?
Good book?
I like the cover. Read to me.
Where's my snack?
This morning our horse, Dream, joined the girls for homeschool. I thought that you might enjoy a few pictures of it!

Also, if you can afford to, and God gives you that permission, I would really recommend going to see the movie God's Not Dead while it is still in a theater! A couple in our church saw it and wanted us to see it and paid for our family to go yesterday. We were so blessed! It is a movie that you might want to take a friend, neighbor, loved one to see. It may not convince them of God, but it will certainly plant seeds, and it will tremendously encourage Christians. I have been watching trailers for it, and getting email updates on it, for over a year and it lived up to my expectations! It is exciting to see a faith-based film like that in a major theater and to know that the word is out there that faith-based films will be supported! One line from the film, as best as I can remember it, that affected me came when a young man was struggling with a call God put on his life that would be costly to him. The pastor said about knowing what to do, "It is not easy. But it is simple."

Blessings to you all. If I don't blog before, have an amazing, joyous Easter as you reflect on the cross as an eternal testimony of how much God loves you, and the empty tomb as an eternal testimony of His power and Jesus' authenticity . . . and of all of our hope being founded on truth!

God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good. (See the movie. It will make sense.)


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