Thursday, January 26, 2023

40 Years Ago- Remembering Coach Bryant


Today marks the 40th anniversary of the passing of Coach Bryant. (January 26, 1983)

I was coaching in Nashville in 2008 when the Tennessean asked me to contribute to a story they were doing to commemorate the 25 year anniversary. That led to a project that I began in 2010 of publishing some memories of Coach Bryant on Jan 26. Then I wrote a series of posts about my time at Alabama which soon culminated in a Wordpress page that I have kept regularly now for 10 years.

Even the greatest of icons fade into the heritage of the  forgotten.

Early in January of each year I have two immediate calendar reminders: my youngest daughter’s birthday on Jan.  25th and my annual post on Coach Bryant on the 26th.

And I struggle with what to write every year. I have used guest writers and read countless articles and books.

This year, I watched the ESPN 100 years of College Football program they did on Coach Bryant and it was actually pretty good and fair. He was a great man, but like all men had his flaws.

I heard the quote “the veneer of civilization” recently and realized that is true of all of us. We clean up pretty well and the stories often hide the things that lie in shadows of sin and shame.

My next stop was an article in the Arkansas historical society about his early development, including a reminder on how he got the name “Bear”

‘For a little school like Fordyce we had terrific football teams my three years there. I played offensive end and defensive tackle, just an ordinary player, but I was in hog’s heaven. I could run pretty fast and I loved to play. I loved to practice. And I was a big kid, so I played regularly.’  Coach Paul Bear Bryant

Here is a little of that well written article:

Football was important in Fordyce, a town where Arkansas’s first football program was started in 1904 when New York native Tom Meddick organized a high school team at the Clary Training School preparatory school. By 1909, Fordyce High School also fielded a team. The original playing field was located behind the high school, but in the mid-1920s it had to be relocated to accommodate a street-widening project. Fordyce Lumber Company donated the land for the new field, but workers clearing the land and preparing the ballfield were tormented by chiggers, leading Willard Clary, a Fordyce resident who covered football games for the Arkansas Gazette, to suggest making the “redbug” the team’s mascot. The name stuck, and Fordyce remains the only U.S. football team with that particular mascot.

Eventually, Dora Bryant bought a boarding house in Fordyce and the family moved there, and it was as an eighth-grader that Paul Bryant was first introduced to football at Redbug Field. As Bryant recounted:

“One day I was walking past the field where the high school team was practicing football. I was in the eighth grade and had never even seen a football. The coach naturally noticed a great big boy like me (Bryant stood 6’1” tall) and he asked if I wanted to play. I said “Yessir, I guess I do. How do you play?” He said, “Well, you see that fellow catching the ball down there?” “Yeah.” “Well, whenever he catches it, you go down there and try to kill him.” … The following Friday I played on the team, and I didn’t know an end zone from an end run.”

Paul Bryant enrolled in Fordyce High School, and in 1927 he earned the nickname by which he would be known for the rest of his life. A man was offering one dollar per minute to anyone who would wrestle his pet bear at Fordyce’s Lyric Theater, and Bryant accepted the challenge. 

The future coach grappled with the bruin and, he remembered:

…the bear worked loose and I got him again, and he got loose again, and he started acting pretty ornery. And when I looked up his muzzle was off. I felt this burning on the back of my ear, and when I touched it I got a handful of blood. I was being eaten alive. I jumped off that stage and nearly killed myself hitting the empty front seats with my shins. I still have the marks on my legs where I crashed into those seats.

After the show was over I went around to get my money, but the man with the bear had flown the coop. All I got out of the whole thing was a nickname.

Bryant took to football – a natural outlet for his aggressive tendencies – and was a key player on the Fordyce Redbug team, but was a poor student who would ultimately not graduate with the rest of his class after failing a language class. Despite that, he was a key member of the team under Coach Dave Cowan that had a perfect season in 1930-31 and took the 1931 Arkansas High School State Championship. 

A scout for the University of Alabama came to Fordyce to try to recruit two students who ultimately played for the University of Arkansas, but ended up signing Bryant to play for Alabama. He excelled on that team, playing right offensive end and helping Alabama win the inaugural championship for the Southeast Conference in 1933. He would play in the Rose Bowl and help Alabama win the national championship before graduating in 1936.

He also met Mary Harmon Black at Alabama, and they married in 1935. They would have two children, Mae Martin and Paul Jr.

After graduating, Bryant coached at Union College and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and was heading to Arkansas, where he was being considered for head coach, when he learned that World War II had started. Bryant enlisted in the Navy and served through the war, after which he coached at Maryland, Kentucky and Texas A&M. It was at the latter school where Bryant’s Aggies won a legendary victory: the team was losing 12-0 with two minutes left when Bryant told them they would win if they believed they could, and they then scored 20 unanswered points.

But it was at the University of Alabama that Bryant would achieve his greatest fame. He became head coach of the Crimson Tide in 1958 and served in that capacity for 25 years, winning national titles in 1961, 1964, 1965, 1978 and 1979 – the last one being a perfect season culminating in a victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks at the Sugar Bowl. “Bear” Bryant was voted Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year 10 times, and National Coach of the Year four times. He retired in 1982 with a record of 323 wins, 46 losses and 9 ties and 24 consecutive postseason bowl games.

Bryant’s final victory was a win at the 1982 Liberty Bowl, and the 69-year-old coach died of a heart attack less than one month later, on January 26, 1983. He is buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham, Alabama, and President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom shortly after his death.

On September 7, 2012, Paul W. Bryant, Jr., came to Fordyce to dedicate the high school football field as “Redbug Field and Coach Paul W. ‘Bear’ Bryant Stadium.”

Though he was famous, “Bear” Bryant never forgot his roots and would often return to Fordyce to visit friends and family and the old familiar ground at Redbug Field. Fordyce is the destination for pilgrimages of Alabama fans who come to visit the place where their idol learned to play football, and sometimes to take a little soil from Redbug Field.

Redbug Field remains the playing field for the Fordyce High School football team, whose members are perhaps inspired by thoughts of their most-famous alumnus. While the surrounding bleachers and facilities have been modernized over the years, the field remains the same hard ground that Paul W. “Bear” Bryant played on as a teen-ager, learning the skills that he would bring to world renown. 

So here I am, now 40 years since my time with him. Close enough to see his last season as an eye witness but far enough to know that my one year with his team wasn’t enough of a picture to capture the apex of his glory years.

Coach Bryant had an impact on me and so many others. So it is my honor to keep his memory alive as long as the Lord allows.


Bryant, Paul W., and John Underwood. Bear: The Hard Life and Good Times of Alabama’s Coach Bryant (Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1974)

Dunavant, Keith. Coach: The Life of Paul “Bear” Bryant (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996)

Hendricks, Nancy. “Bear” Bryant (1913-1983) Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, found at Accessed May 13, 2014.

Magee, Mary. Red: Beyond Football: The Legacy of Coach Jimmy “Red Parker (Tulsa: Hawk Publishing, 2007).

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Wells, Water, Reconciliation- Genesis 26

In all of my years reading Genesis, I find it interesting that I skip over the life of Isaac. He is like a forgotten patriarch, a mere player in the sacrifice story of the Abraham narrative and a foolish old man being played by Jacob's deceit.

And it was pointed out in my study recently that the narrative of Issac seems to be  a parallel and, in some cases, a  reversal of patterns in  Abraham's story. Again, a theme of Genesis is presented as 'parallel patterns with a twist or change'- this theme seems to catch my eye quite frequently.

Let's pull some observations and applications from this chapter in Genesis that I often just read quickly and move on.....

Genesis 26

[1] Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. 

Rain is blessing.... drought is a curse. In that climate and region, water was necessary for all of life and without it, everything begins to deteriorate in a vicious cycle of suffering. The same is true of the spiritual water we so desperately need.

And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. 

This is the same name, Abimilech, that is also mentioned in Genesis 20- the name means 'my father is king" so this later Abimelech is likely a son... but again- the tactics of saying "she is my sister" is a parallel like father, like son.... but with noted  differences. 

[2] And the LORD appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. [3] Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. 

Over and over.... when a crisis comes to God's people, there is a tendency to trust Egypt- and God continually calls us "out of Egypt".... this culminates ultimately in Christ Himself used as a fulfillment both physically and figuratively in Matthew 2:13-15

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Genesis 26 continues....

[4] I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, [5] because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

When I was reading this passage, I became rather crestfallen when I read the testimony that God has of Abraham and how little that resembles me:(

Sadly, my trend is NOT obeying His voice and NOT keeping His charge, commandments, statutes, or laws. It makes me thankful for grace, but it also can be a clue to some of the consequences I suffer when I should be reaping bountiful blessings.

Issac does as the Lord commands and stays in the land.....

[6] So Isaac settled in Gerar. [7] When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” because she was attractive in appearance. [8] When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife. [9] So Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac said to him, “Because I thought, ‘Lest I die because of her.’” [10] Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.” 

Here again a parallel account to Abraham- but Abimelech is wiser.... he has seen this catastrophe before!

[11] So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, “Whoever touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”

Why does Abraham and Isaac keep doing this foolish thing? Well..... it works. Sometimes our conventions are not palatable but employed purely for survival.

The Bible does not condone any behavior that violates the moral and right thing to do. But it does record truthfully the nature and habits of man.

In Luke 16, regarding the parable Jesus taught regarding the unjust steward:

The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. [9] And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. (Luke 16:8-9)

Always has been food for thought! Abraham went to Egypt and prospered, Isaac stays in the land and prospers as well. And it can be argued that Isaac had much less difficulty.... though the curse in Genesis 3 never leaves us.

[12] And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The LORD blessed him, [13] and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. [14] He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. [15] (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.) [16] And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.”

Sadly, human nature of compare and compete, jealousy and misunderstanding prevails.... men will destroy the work of others just out of spite!

In Isaac's  departure, we have this strange account of digging, covering, and re-digging wells. The arguing with herdsmen is also a parallel back to Abraham.

[17] So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. [18] And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them. [19] But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, [20] the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek (strife and contention), because they contended with him. [21] Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also, so he called its name Sitnah (enmity). [22] And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth (broad places- room enough for all), saying, “For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”

Let's start with the pure pain of this exercise. How exhausting! Digging, covering, re-digging, arguing, contention- such is a lot of our life today. Exercises in vanity... the vanity of pride and the vanity of emptiness.

A lot of my job is just trying to mitigate problems in relationships. It wears on me to be quite honest. 

I credit Isaac for the only possible response to allow reconciliation... he just keeps digging. And when prospering, he is willing to share. He doesn't hold grudges... he lets bygones be bygones.

What kind of man is the Lord looking for? I am reminded about what Paul said about Timothy:

"I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. [20] For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. [21] For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. [22] But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. (Philippians 2:19–22 ESV)"

It takes great mercy and great patience to keep digging and naming those wells- but the drought demands we keep at it. For a time, it looks like it is getting worse.... strife turns to enmity... but in time the Lord honors obedience, love, and hospitality... and soon there is enough for all!

We have a beautiful picture below:

[23] From there he went up to Beersheba. [24] And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” [25] So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the LORD and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac’s servants dug a well.

[26] When Abimelech went to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army, [27] Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?” [28] They said, “We see plainly that the LORD has been with you. So we said, let there be a sworn pact between us, between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, [29] that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the LORD.” [30] So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. [31] In the morning they rose early and exchanged oaths. And Isaac sent them on their way, and they departed from him in peace. [32] That same day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well that they had dug and said to him, “We have found water.” [33] He called it Shibah (oath); therefore the name of the city is Beersheba (7 wells of Oath) to this day.

We need to keep digging as servants. Over time, we find altars of praise, oaths of promise, water of blessing, celebrations of food and drink, and finally a legacy of peace. Lord, may Your Kingdom come!

The last verse of this amazing chapter ends with a hint though that life is a struggle to the bitter end... even for the patriarchs of God. And the apathetic, godless son of Isaac continues to inflict pain

[34] When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, [35] and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah. 

Regardless- keep digging, keep loving, keep serving and pray for mercy to be extended to all.... most of all to me because I need it!

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Life Better Than We Hope- Genesis 24/25

Genesis 24:1 Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. 

(14)  "By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”

[15] Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her water jar on her shoulder. 

[21] The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the LORD had prospered his journey or not.

 [26] The man bowed his head and worshiped the LORD [27] and said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. 

 [31] He said, “Come in, O blessed of the LORD. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.”

[34] So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. [35] The LORD has greatly blessed my master, and he has become great. He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male servants and female servants, camels and donkeys. [36] And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old, and to him he has given all that he has. 

[52] When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the earth before the LORD. 

Genesis 25:[7] These are the days of the years of Abraham’s life, 175 years. [8] Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. (ESV)

I have pulled just a few selected verses from these chapters with a goal of putting a lifetime in perspective. Our journey on earth is very common. Births, marriages, daily employments, projects, and of course death.

The challenge is to worship and see the blessings God bestows on us.

Do we really understand "Blessing"?

In 2004, after some prayer and discussion we decided to move our young family from Birmingham to Nashville. We were there for seven seasons and we all have some amazing friends and memories from our time there.

But it was also much harder than we anticipated. The cost of living was about double from where were had been, and it wasn't long before we burned through about 4 years of savings. It just was tough in a number of areas.

After about 2 years, Lisa and I hit rock bottom about the same time.

She was driving one day in prayer and kind of had it out with the Lord. Did we accurately hear His call? Were our prayers a mistake? Where was the blessing?!

And quietly, the Lord impressed on her- "Open your eyes and see it". She still talks about that to this day. She had mistakingly thought of blessings as tangible or material. She now saw it to be the relationships and bonds we had made as a family. Instead of looking at life in terms of what we didn't have.... she started seeing all that we DID have. And the list is too long to count!

My meltdown happened in a very similar way.

I remember waking up on a cold morning and the darkness was nothing compared to the inner depression that pushed deep down in the cracks of my heart.

Most of my professional life has been involved with coaching and part of the darkness was still feeling the pain of an early end of the football season. It has always intrigued me how symbolic football is -  a snapshot of real life. The summer freshness, the youthful expectations, the time change - the season change - all pointing to a narrative of life to death.

But this was deeper and darker- On Tuesday Nov 1, 2005 I posted a blog called "Hurt"- and later on Nov 11, I posted these words in a blog called "Laboring in Vain":

I confess to You O Lord that I am powerless to do even 1 good thing. I cannot change a heart, I cannot build a family or a program- I desperately need You.

I am under some questioning now and results are not seen- Father- You must protect me, I cannot protect myself. I have stepped out and made decisions- these are mine and represent me.

In my deepest heart of hearts, I know I am doing right- I am willing to stand firm- but Lord- only You can change the hearts of parents and students in our school. I want to be Your man to stand for right- even if the whole world fights against me- If You are on my side- I will win.

It is dark- a winter of discontent- Lord I need the sunshine of Your smile- Only You can grant victory!
Sometime after that I was up and dressed for work- hurting, sad, lonely, doubting..... I got in my old Mercedes station wagon and drove in fog and darkness to work.

On the way to the school, I finally asked the darkest question out loud- "Father, what are you doing? I have moved my whole family and working as hard as a human can- but it seems so fruitless right now. I need help- I need to see you- I NEED to see you THIS MORNING"

The fog was thick- my radio was broken- it was bone chilling cold- the sun had just come up but was hidden in gray- I was in a crisis of faith.

I pulled around the front of our school and turned down to the football field house. I pulled up just in front of the garage entrance to our weight room. Turned off the key.. and.... I saw God.

We had a black chain link fence that went around the football stadium. And inside each of the cells of the chain link were hundreds of little spider webs. The fog had condensed in such a way that the invisible became visible.

I got out of the car and stared deeply into one of the webs. It was a perfect design. As was the next one... and the next one. These had been there for a long time- but the gray background and the dew covered silk threads were brilliantly outlined in complex, strong, and mosaic designs. There were several hundred small, beautiful little spider webs in each part of the chain link fence!

Then- a deep voice, unspoken, warmed a deep core in my being.

"I am here"

"I am always here- just as the webs have been here for weeks and weeks- you just don't see ME sometimes- but you need to walk by faith and not by sight."

It is one of the more palpable experiences with God I have ever had. I still remember the intensity of it 17 years later.

Looking back to those days are now special to me. I see all of the good ways God was with me. Indeed, He blessed us in ALL THINGS!

I imagine Abraham must have wondered about his encounters with God every 25 years or so in his life. Yes, God was vividly powerful at times.... but there were also just long decades of normal life when God seemed to be silent and absent.

But in the end, when it comes to the end of our days... we have to learn to see 'blessing' as God defines it.

Lord, let us SEE IT!

Genesis has been a blessing so far this year.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Patterns, Problems and Promises in Genesis

This series on Genesis is going to be a little different because I am making some observations detached from specific passages. If you are wanting to stay with my line of thinking, it would be good to spend a few days reading and re-reading sections and ask the Lord to let you see things fresh and new. So far I am in Chapter 23 in 2023 (that was unexpected but cool).

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, (John 5:39 ESV)

I have explored this idea before, but I wanted to re-emphasize that Genesis gives us great insight to the cultural patterns of the ancient middle east and how God parallels the patterns for the sake of ultimately showing how different He is.

He lines up common shared human experience, including our expectations and desires, and then, in startling fashion, cuts contrary to those presuppositions.

In the generations after Eden, the downward spiral of man is predictable. And after a scattering of language and people, the true God gets lost in the shuffle.

Those left in the void only have shadows of what God was like and soon ritualism corrupts religion. Error creeps in and our desire to cover up mistakes takes full root. The natural course of man is to hide from God and sew fig leaves for justification.

These early generations didn't understand what they saw, didn't remember the true God,  and lived in great fear and hardship from the harsh elements nature has in the aftermath of the curse.

God never abandons humans. He works in a totally different realm and reality. We will see it clearly one day. His call to us right now is to walk by faith.

God works on a different calendar, a different timeline, and culminates in a sphere of eternity.

Though He seems absent- He is not. 

And while human time continues, cultures develop practices in the shadow of past things forgotten and in the problems of sin and shame of the present. I find it interesting that violence seems to be the ultimate fruit of this darkness. The more men run from God, the more innocent blood flows through the city of man.

In the midst of this cultural soup of curse and futility- common human patterns emerge. Peace is only held together by covenants where pain is promised. Power is hard to hold on to and trust in gods is more superstition than reality. It is truly an existence of tooth, club, and fang!

The original readers of Genesis already had many structure in place: laws, customs, written language, art, myth, food, drink, war... it was all in place and evolving. 

And the horizon was bleak for the most part- diseases ravaged, war decimated, drought destroyed...

The story of man sadly contains too much desertion, betrayal, abandonment, and isolation. But there was music and laughter as well. Men enjoyed the warm sunshine, wine, and the taste of cooked lamb.

God's story parallels these patterns, He is the original author of life and all that is good. So He patiently walks in these patterns (I believe for the sake of common ground) and then dramatically interrupts the pattern to show that there is NO GOD but this GOD. Everything else is a counterfeit and worthless idol.

Let me illustrate this in light of the Genesis account of Abraham and Isaac.

2400 years ago,  a Punic warrior named Hamilcar had his 9 year old son put his hand on a sacrifice and vow a lifelong hatred of the Romans. His son was named ;"Blessed by Baal". It can't be proven, but it is possible that this was a child sacrifice to the mountain god of fire and thunderbolts. Based on urns dug up in the Valley of Tophet, sacrifice of a first born to Baal was done by the thousands. This young boy could have been a surrogate, being offered in his stead.
This boy was the warrior Hannibal- who may have been motivated in his travel over the Alps to invoke the blessing of Baal in his quest to carry out his vow to his father.

Sad to say it- but child sacrifice was a common cultural practice.

Compare this to Abraham, as Jehovah called him to take his only son- the miracle child of promise- up the mountain for a sacrifice. And the God of Israel showed a counter way. God himself would provide the sacrifice.

We read this story and shudder. But this was a known practice of the ancient world. I have also been interested in the parallel of Genesis 21:8-21 and Genesis 22:1-19. 

This God is different. And He has proven His love for you and me by the ultimate Son sacrifice! The pattern provided the promise!

So as we read Genesis- see the reality of human existence as it has been recorded by Moses who is relaying activities and stories some 3000 years before Christ.

And as we walk in new experiences 5000 years later- new technology, better understandings, the light of history, the remnants of archaeology, and the daily patterns of unique cultures... don't forget His basic promise.

"I will be your God and you will be MY people".

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Time and Human Nature- Readings in Genesis

Here I am, reading once again the Book of Genesis along with physical commentaries, podcasts, and online sources. But I am older now. The land I live in feels darker and colder to me. I was reminded recently about the Shakesperean lines-"The 7 Ages of Man"

We find this amazing piece in  William Shakespeare’s "As You Like It", the sad Jacques delivers these lines as a monologue in Act II, Scene vii. The monologue is centered on a conceit comparing life to a play. Jacques uses a brief remark from Duke Senior, who uses the pieces of a play as an illustration of life

Jacques, renowned for his cynical wit, immediately responds by extrapolating all of life to a play.

It is where we get the idea that "All the world's a stage".

Jaques: All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. 

At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.

And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. 

And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. 

Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. 

And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. 

The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon, (old fool)
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. 

Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans (without) teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

I first read this monologue in my early 20's. And as a football coach, it was easy to see me as the soldier "seeking the bubble reputation".

I asked high school students where they were- and usually they understood the "lover" at that point.

And where am I now? Struggling to live as a justice I guess... but realizing that "the clueless old fool" presses in all the time. And if the Lord allows, I too will experience the "second childishness"- man once, baby twice.

What does this have to do with Genesis?

Two important things, I believe.

One is that the age I was when I read Genesis can impact HOW I read Genesis.

When I read it as a kid- it is just stories without context. Noah's Ark is a sweet Jewish zoo. 

When reading as the lover.... you tend to dismiss it as an interesting story you have heard for too long, you  think that the forbidden fruit is sexual in nature, but time doesn't demand my attention, like it should.

When reading as the soldier, I am ready to fight for my hermeneutics and viewpoint. "No way the chapters are symbols, no death before sin", and  I'm ready to shred to pieces anyone who objects to my 14 points of proof.

The Justice? You just get there-life beats you to a pulp, and though you keep swinging back, you find inconsistencies in your life and in this strange world. I'm not as smart as I thought I was and that actually makes me a little wiser. And I read the text now a little more carefully. The problems are no longer things that worry me. God finally got through to me that He doesn't need me to defend Him, He can do it all by Himself. 

As I dig into the problems, they unlock treasures of depth that go deep into the wells of my soul. That is why I sat the text of Genesis is BEYOND literature. It reads as narrative with enough "Holy hints" that we know there is infinitely more here than I could ever comprehend.

And one day, I hope I am humble enough to let others read it to me as I dig into the hope of the gospel with all soul and little physical ability left. It is then that I expect to meet the unheralded mighty servants of God and praise Him for the provision.

But there is a SECOND reason, I have referenced this monologue.

Do you see it?

Throughout the centuries, across time, land, language, culture.... human nature has not changed.

Technology has changed.... planes fly, there is space travel, we peer into black holes, we unlock molecules for good and for ill, we stream movies..... but our nature and interactions remain unchanged.

If you took a man's goat in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago, you had a high probability of pain coming your way. And those same complex desires, fears, anxieties, and violent responses exist today if you steal his car.

We have the same dreams, fears, tears, laughter ... we see the sun rise and set, we see birth and death, we see the stars, contemplate our place in its vast display. We understand upset stomachs and suffer bouts of insomnia.

So now, I read the stories of Adam, Cain, Noah, Abraham and get a glimpse of who God is. What He likes and what He doesn't like.

I also see that God drove man out of the garden to the East... and man kept moving East of Eden... away from God who is in the opposite direction.

And then Abraham went west, embracing the promise of this God of the Covenant.

Genesis proves to me over and over that He is there and He cares.

And that message is ultimately my only hope as I live these roles that I play on a daily basis.

And God makes them all so cool... in fact, this grandpa thing is awesome right now. 

Genesis- if I know where I came from, I have a better map to where I am going!

So allow me the opportunity to record thoughts as I read once again through this beautiful book with great expectations to what I am supposed to see THIS time through in 2023.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

What a Fool Believes- Genesis (2022- Last One)

This is the last of my original posting on Readings/Observations in Genesis right before Covid hit in 2020.After this, there will be new content as I have finished reviewing old notes and I am now into new readings and content. It is a fascinating book!

There is no limit in this culture of people who mock or ridicule people of faith. Some are downright nasty while others bemuse themselves with jabs at the religions for humor or entertainment. Bill Maher is a combination of both. Here is one of his few quotes I would feel comfortable quoting in this blog post: "It worries me that people are running my country who think - who believe in a talking snake."

I guess it would be snarky to say that some may find him to be a talking snake, and a more irenic response would be to say, "I'm sure you could easily find people who think that both of us are talking snakes."

But the skeptical (mocking with sarcastic tone) question remains...."Do you believe in that brain dead story!?"

Not just Genesis... Here is how Bill Maher ridicules the entire gospel:

'What if there was a religion which an all-powerful god from outer space decided to send his unborn son on a suicide mission to planet Earth? So this space-god impregnates a human female in some mystical, not-quite-physical fashion, and she gives birth to a baby who is both a human being and a divine incarnation, simultaneously the space god's spawn and the space god himself. (Oh, space god also has a third manifestation, one that's totally invisible.) So space-god junior is born on Earth destined to be killed, even though he's a space god and therefore immortal. " Bill Maher at the Vatican City in his documentary, "Religulous"

That is a 'throw down the gauntlet challenge'.... right?

The title of this particular post is straight from the mesmerizing notes and beat of the famous Doobie Brothers song, What A fool Believes..... it is playing in the back of my brain right now

He came from somewhere back in her long ago.....

Tryin' hard to recreate, What had yet to be created....

She musters a smile for his nostalgic tale, Never coming near what he wanted to say
Only to realize it never really was....

As he rises to her apology....Anybody else would surely know...
He's watching her go

But what a fool believes, he sees

No wise man has the power.... to reason away
What seems...... to be
Is always better than nothing, Than nothing at all

Am I a fool for believing?.... Do I stand in front of all educated elites and hear the echo of bombastic laughter and finger pointing shame?

Not at all..... what I believe is the very essence of faith, but it is not incredulous.

And the attack from both sides of the spectrum show up when you write about Genesis.

I have been very encouraged and persuaded regarding Genesis in the last few years by C. John "Jack" Collins, a professor of Old Testament and Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Collins has an excellent background for tackling Genesis... he has a love for science (former MIT engineer), a love of language, a love for literature, and a love for the Lord and His scriptures.

Dr. Collins has written several books and can be found on you tube lectures. I have enjoyed his view of 'periscopes' in Genesis, theories regarding analogical days, and excellent analysis regarding authorship, Hebrew consistencies, plain reading analysis, and commentary about original reader understanding and intent. He does so while keeping a high view of a God inspired Bible and a robust, traditional gospel.

But leave it to the Creation Institute writers to call Dr. Collins book, Science and Faith as 'Sloppy, lazy, and dishonest'..... wow, with friends like that, who cares what our enemies think!

I also have recently become interested in Jewish Rabbis views on Genesis. Their perspective helps me, especially in light of the Hebrew language and culture.

But let's go back to Genesis... back to creation, back to the garden, back to the talking snake in the garden....

I read it, and there is room for analogy and interpretation....I read it differently now, but it still rings true.... and if you accept the one line "In the beginning, God" .... the rest isn't hard to accept on face value.

What a fool believes?

I think I could put the shoe on the other foot....

What else explains life? our understanding of good? dark? seasons? weeks?
How am I able to internally meditate and debate value and purpose?
Why do I wrangle over words?
Can I explain death or zeal for life without some knowledge of the divine?

Who is the bigger fool? One who joins others in a shared belief in a Judeo-Christian cosmology? Or the one who looks at the uncanny nature of the fine tuning of the universe as one cosmic accident?

The Bible actually takes sides here:
Psalm 14:1 "The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” (ESV)

What has helped me most in reading Genesis as an older person of faith, is that I see Genesis as a beautiful explanation from the Creator Who, in His mercy, teaches us in an accommodating way.

It is how we teach children. A 3 year old will not find any common ground when it comes to physics and algebra. It takes time and it is loving for us to be patient and build the foundations for that future expedition.

God seems to also be fond of the path of discovery.  I experience that joy as well. Every time I read Genesis, I am always surprised about NEW discoveries and thoughts.

But the new things never cancel out the reality that I see clearly the heart, mind, and nature of a God that I otherwise could not even remotely comprehend on my own.

Questions do not cancel out my belief, in fact God invites them. As we encounter so called 'problems' in these accounts it actually opens us up to the reality that there is infinitely more here than meets the eye.

I don't think a fool believes..... I worry more about the fool who doesn't believe. 
And it is a tragedy for those who think that the end of earthly life is just an end.... please don't do that. Lewis told us well: Hell is a prison that is actually locked from the inside!

So what do I believe?

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
      creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
      who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
      and born of the virgin Mary.
      He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
      was crucified, died, and was buried;
      he descended to hell.
      The third day he rose again from the dead.
      He ascended to heaven
      and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
      From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
      the holy catholic church,
      the communion of saints,
      the forgiveness of sins,
      the resurrection of the body,
      and the life everlasting. Amen.

And my only prayer for those who reject this, don't double down on your pride.... all Creation is full of the glory of the Lord, and every heart beat is proof of His grace...

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

We Know Sin Too Well and Grace Too Little- Genesis (2022)

Genesis is Beginnings, and 'Origin' is a more accurate term.

I love origin stories..... any reading or video series that tells me how things came to be captures my attention. These stories often pull together distant details and end up in the fabric of a grand narrative that deepens our understanding on where we are and possibly where we are headed.

And these aren't always 'happy tales'.... some origin stories are dark and are unknown. Time covers tragedy and though we may know the surface story, we have no inkling of past shame.

 Humans are really good at forgetting.... and we sometimes purposely forget as a type of cover-up. Deep shadows in the past, regrets that press with force and  tension like the fault lines of broken continents, that tremor and strain below the crust.

Every now and then I shudder when I think of actions I took in my early life that I am ashamed of. It isn't fun to remember them, and without the gospel there would be no remedy or hope!

God had Moses write about the truthful, sinful ways of mankind.  Because this is the question that always demands an answer. The question of evil is a fishhook that cuts to the very marrow of existence. Indeed, the very understanding of sin and consequences is real .... we all know the dark very well. What we demand to know is 'whence did it come from'?

On May 24, 1844 Samuel Morse was being carefully watched by members of congress as he was set to send the very first commercial message by the single wire mass communication that he had so cleverly invented.  The message was going to be sent by a series of taps and pings that was going to be transcribed by a partner in a Baltimore train station 40 miles to the north.

It was a very short sentence, a process that is an ultra-cosmic distance from what we know today in a world of texts and tweets that travel the globe in seconds (actually they travel to space and back in micro-seconds). 

The irony is what Morse sent.... the message also from the hand of Moses. A quote lifted straight from Numbers 23:23.  Morse's assistant, Alfred Vail transcribed the short 'telegraph onto a piece of paper':  What hath God wrought?

And now we know a lot more about what was brought about.... the 'genesis' of mass communication technologies... on first glance a neutral tool that transmits information, but also admittedly has been used for evil and destruction.... as well as for healing and good.

Most parents first response to mass communication is negative, and for good reason. We do evil too easily, we know evil too well.... it takes work to keep it wholesome and positive.

That is what we tend to focus on as we read Genesis - the seeds of sin and rebellion that will rip apart Paradise.

We all know the account (though few read it carefully)... In Genesis 2:15 God puts man in the garden to 'work and to keep it' and He does it with a privilege and a command:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, [17] but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16–17 ESV)

Who knows how many trees were given in the privilege.... man was permitted FREELY to enjoy hundreds? Thousands? Tens of thousands? “What hath God wrought?

Herein lies the greatest distinction of the creature and Creator. In this first 'prohibition', the framework was laid for not only the possibility of evil, but actually the probability of it.

God knew the type of being He had made.

And there is something else here.... He already knew of the rebellion of a powerful, created being. He already had experienced 1/3 of His creation shake their fists and follow a leader into direct confrontation. Such a mystery.... freedom and sovereignty.

Back to Genesis 2:15.... Eve was not yet in the picture.

I read liberal and conservative textual commentaries and criticism. As a reader, I have to admit there seems to be on the surface differing creation accounts... perspectives... timelines. 

I have spent time pondering the possibilities.... and each possibility has a resulting consequence. Our choice is exactly what Adam had to understand. We are free to choose, but not free to choose the results of our choosing.

Every time I whittle the creation account down to symbol, I unleash human propensity of speculation and manipulation. 

God is telling me something very complex is a very simple way. And in my rebellious nature, I miss the forest for the trees.

As we move from Genesis 2:15 to the first gospel promise in Genesis 3:15.... we are left without a good many details.... and as a reader, I have to accept the storyteller's motive and purpose. 

Moses was never afraid to ask God hard things. Moses saw God in a way that no other man ever would again. Moses got real with God and both communicated real feelings, including anger and discouragement.

But we get a clue to things going wrong.... and one important clue was that Adam had added to the Lord's prohibition. 

When the crafty serpent floated the question... "Did God actually say?"

She had already gotten it wrong.... 

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may (missing 'surely') eat of  (missing 'every') the fruit of the trees in the garden, [3] but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden (missing the name - 'tree of knowledge of good and evil'), neither shall you touch it (added something God did not say), lest you die (missing 'you shall SURELY die')’” (Genesis 3:2–3 ESV)

And we know the sin and consequences... the pain and the shame. Innocence gone and paradise lost.

Human propensity, not trusting, a lack of gratitude, the nature of temptation, and the subtle slide to destruction and death.

And in just a few short paragraphs, we have all of human misery and the full impact of the curse. The origin of why our nature is full of sin and shame.

lying, cover-up, blame, shame, running from God, regret, hatred, violence, strife, pain, discontentment, false teaching, hunger, thorns, bloodshed, death, exile, separation, rivalry, seduction, failure, murder, rebellion, bigamy, genocide.....

But as we shudder at the reading and understand these terms too well.... what do we miss? 

We miss God's grace... all the way through each tragic event.

God's Grace to Adam and Eve

Even in the consequences required by God's holiness- His grace shines, and I miss it ALL the time.

In the curses, there is grace:

The very first one is the promise of the gospel in Genesis 3:15

There will be a warrior from the woman- an 'offspring' who will prevail in the battle

But there are MANY more gracious provisions:
The Lord God clothes them
He protects them from the Tree of Life- I believe this keeps them from being forever stranded in their condition
Blesses them with children
Allows worship and maintains contact

God's Grace to Cain

This is the one that took me by surprise recently.... look how the Lord tried to counsel and how he protected Cain in spite of his horrendous sin...

God counsels with Cain- approaching him over his fallen countenance
He warns him about sin's crouching- and commands him to fight it
He creates a sign to protect him after he gives the consequences of Cain's actions
Allows Cain to live
Allows prosperity and even allows rebellion

What do we make of this?

I still think we make the Bible out to be the story of man and sin.... but we still miss that this is actually the glory of GOD. His love and long suffering, His goodness and sacrifice.

And His consistent call is to leave the forsaken things and fall on Him. We are designed to live in the security of His kingdom. Over and over, man chooses to go down to Egypt or longs to live in Babylon. And the problem is not getting us out of Babylon, the problem is getting Babylon out of us! We bear the scars of sin and shame.  His arms are open still.

Don't be a SCOFFER....

[4] They (The Scoffers) will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” [5] For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, [6] and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. [7] But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

[8] But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. [9] The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. [10] But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:4–10 ESV)

As we read Genesis... notice how easily Peter references it without debate or consternation. He knew the story well and He walked with the Word of creation!

Lord, depart from me, I am a sinful man..... “What hath God wrought?
More grace and love than we can comprehend.

Monday, January 09, 2023

It Was All Very Good- Genesis (2022)


I won’t publish all of Genesis in these writings, but take some time to read this section as a whole.

In reading blog posts, I sometimes skip over the Scripture.... don't do is the only good stuff here!

Genesis 1

[1] In the beginningGod created the heavens and the earth. [2] The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

[3] And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. [4] And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. [5] God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

[6] And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” [7] And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. [8] And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

[9] And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. [10] God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

[11] And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. [12] The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. [13] And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

[14] And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, [15] and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. [16] And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. [17] And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, [18] to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. [19] And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

[20] And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” [21] So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. [22] And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” [23] And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

[24] And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. [25] And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

[26] Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

[27] So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

[28] And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” [29] And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. [30] And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. [31] And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very goodAnd there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (ESV)
Genesis 2:1–3

[1] Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. [2] And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. [3] So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (ESV)

According to Genesis 1 and 2, it was God Himself that brought into being not only good things, but things that He named. He was the first to name- “Day”, “Night”, “Land”, “Seas”, “Heaven”, “Earth”

He was active… He said, He saw, He created, He made, He blessed, … also early it was written that He ‘hovered’ which has a reference to wind. I sometimes think of the rushing wind of God’s spirit that blows over a dark, empty, soul that is void.

It was His idea to mark seasons, days, and years.

He was also, somewhat passive- some things happened out of the motions He put is place…. He didn’t stop the earth from sprouting or fish from swarming. He saw and blessed.

He allowed for a division called ‘livestock’- domesticated animals for man’s good. This was apart from ‘wild animals’ and ‘small animals’.

He is a God of lavish blessings- the sea ‘swarmed’ with fish, the skies “filled” with birds. A once ‘formless mass cloaked in darkness’ now overflows with light and life- good bounty and great harvest!

He then patterned people after Himself (actually "Us"which I believe is a reference to the triune Godhead). We reason, emote, contemplate, choose, and communicate.

It was all excellent and good and He rested, and He designated that rest as 'holy'- set apart for His glory.

I want to address a few other concepts here. It is interesting that we have light and dark on day 1 and the ordination/placement of the sun and moon on day 4.

There is some great commentary about the parallels found in 6 days:

Day 1 light separated from dark compared to Day 4- filled with luminaries
Day 2 water separated from sky compared to Day 5- filled with fish and birds
Day 3- land separated from sea compared to Day 6- filled with animals and man.

For this post, I want to explore LIGHT:

We can’t ignore light…. When it comes to God.

LIGHT– is one of those things that cry out to the existence and glory of God.

If you did not have the Bible- LIGHT would still be enough to cause the human mind to contemplate a Creator. Why?

Well, it is so unique… it has been discovered that light is a particle AND light is a ray. Einstein sums up this interesting scientific observation of light being particle and ray at the same time:

“It seems as though we must use sometimes the one theory and sometimes the other, while at times we may use either. We are faced with a new kind of difficulty. We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do” Albert Einstein

Also, when Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards were outlining their case for Intelligent Design, they were suddenly grasped by a reality that seemed to ‘reveal’ more evidence than just the ‘fine tuning of the universe’ properties that seemed to suggest prior intelligence in the formation of our planet and the environment most favorable to life. Not only were the basic laws understandable.. they were discoverable.. and not only that, we live at a particular platform where these things are OBSERVABLE!

And, observation leads to discovery!

In their mind, the fact that light was available and we had an atmosphere to SEE beyond our planet was too ‘coincidental’ to not be ‘suspicious’. The slot machine of the lottery wheel seemed to be rigged….

I have always been intrigued by the way Jesus says in Luke, Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. And again in Matthew: If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

I don’t know about you.. but having DARK LIGHT in me sounds serious and heavy!

Recently, I have become enamored with black holes and how the dense gravity pulls everything beyond the event horizon... talk about utter darkness!

As great as light is in the physical world… the dynamic of spiritual light and darkness is even more so!

The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD,

searching all his innermost parts. (Proverbs 20:27 ESV)

The NLT says it like this:

The LORD’s searchlight penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.


The fundamental difference in the Christian worldview and predominate spirit of this age is in determining man as evil or good. The world says, “Man is good, but he sometimes does bad things.” This view believes man’s intentions and motives are for universal good. If educated and free, man will choose to help others and end evil.

BUT…the Scripture says, “Man is evil”. Born into a depraved condition. Whose motives are greedy and malicious. When he does good, it is usually tainted. He speaks lies and defends immorality. Good only exists because of the common grace of God.

Early in Genesis we get this very dark news: 

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5 ESV)

This is the paradoxical dichotomy of man. He builds hospitals. He sells illegal drugs. He gives to the poor. He brutalizes children. He gives to charity. He robs from the poor. What explains this?

‘Man is good and does bad things’? or ‘Man is evil and is good only by God’s common grace’?

The Bible’s answer is most likely correct. It fits the either/or reality in a more correct way. Modern man rejects original sin and blows it off as myth. I accept it because it defines me according to the reality of my nature.

Without God, how low would I go? I tremble at the thought.

When the searchlight of God hits my motives, I stand before the world guilty and condemned. Who is my advocate? Who can cleanse me? Who can forgive? “Therefore now, there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)” I don’t have to cover up my sin problem, I give it to my Savior.


Job 24:13,15,17 (NIV) “There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths… The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk; he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’ and he keeps his face concealed… For all of them, deep darkness is their morning; they make friends with the terrors of darkness.”

Isa 29:15-16 (NIV) Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!… Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing?”

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,”

even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you.

(Psalm 139:11-12 ESV)


And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
(John 3:19-21 ESV)


He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
(Colossians 1:13-14 ESV)

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.(2 Corinthians 4:5-7 ESV)


Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:11-14 ESV)


And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
(Revelation 21:22-27 ESV)

SO HOW ABOUT IT…do you want the dark light or the light of salvation?

Physical light has a speed.. the speed of light is:

299,792,458 miles per second!

The Speed of Spiritual light is FASTER… it responds to the cry of the sinner to the Savior….

Indeed- HE is ALL VERY GOOD!

In my next post, you will become breathless when you see his grace on display in His dealings with Cain.