Would you agree that the most powerful communication tool we have is story?
Would you agree that Jesus communicated spiritual truth to us in story more than any other format?
Would you agree that any curriculum for Christ-likeness for children must begin with a strong foundation in the Biblical Narrative? In other words, is the God Story, presented in chronological order, fundamental to spiritual formation in children?
If so, you may be interested in what I have to say.
Lectio Divina is a classical Benedictine practice attributed to Brother Lawrence, a Benedictine monk from the 17th Century. It is a method for studying the Bible used to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s Word. Far from mystical, it is a practical and time proven method of study and learning that consists of four simple steps:
Over the last ten years, I have worked with teachers and mentors who use this model of Bible study and I have ‘come along side’ to practice it as a spiritual discipline in my own life.
Recently, I realized that even before I knew this method existed, I was using it in my design for children’s ministry curriculum at the church where I served as children’s pastor.
My curriculum was designed as a story-centric model that taught Bible stories in chronological order with the intention of reinforcing the God Narrative from beginning to end each calendar year. At each successive grade level, the story thread went deeper into the story, but they were always taught in chronological order from year to year. So each grade level was on the same story each week; just at a deeper level or different part of the same story.
Both models are inductive in their approach to Bible engagement. They are Spirit led rather than a subjective design element that manufactures what the Bible story or scripture text is saying. In other words, it asks the question: “What is the Holy Spirit saying to you in this story?” Remember that when we open the Word of God, we open the mouth of God and it is “living and active”. (Hebrews 4:12)
The paradigm shift for you and your volunteers is a tricky one. It requires you to stop teaching and start guiding. My story-centric model for children’s ministry curriculum asks volunteers to be storytellers instead of teachers. While there is much to be made of this, suffice it to say for now that Jesus communicated through stories as his PRIMARY model for teaching. Still, it is a transition for your volunteers to make.
None-the-less, I would like to pursue the model with you as a way to introduce a concept and not a product. Unfortunately, there is no publisher that I know that has a curriculum like this. (That however, does not make it wrong.) Still, once you have the idea, you can easily duplicate it in a curriculum model, even if you don’t add the chronological Bible story element with it.
a.When working with children, it is important to read (outloud) from the Bible the first time. It helps to read well and to read from a version that best relates to children.
b.The story is then retold as a paraphrase. Always resist the urge to teach. Your goal here is to “Tell the Story in a Way that it can be Retold.” So how do you do that? My favorite idea here is a “Cue and Respond” model. The notion is a prompt, which helps remind the listener of that part of the story. As you retell the story, you introduce the prompt, cue, or token. Then you gather the cues together and present them again in order. But this time, the audience tells YOU the story. Take the following fabric prints for example:
i.Loaves of bread
iii.Sheaves of wheat
iv.Flannel pattern (soft)
Do you recognize the story? It’s Ruth and Naomi. For the sake of brevity, I won’t explain it. But these are all fabric panels I found in the store and used to tell the story from Ruth. Once I told the story using the ‘cues’, I gathered them together and reset them out one at a time while the kids recounted the story to me. Powerful! Cue and Response is just one simple way to paraphrase a story.
a.This is an active reflection. Here, I want children to experience the story. The simplest way to do this is……Act it out!.
b.I believe that Bible is play anthology, which means it was meant to be shown, not just told. After hearing a story read and then paraphrased through Cue and Response, it isn’t hard to act it out. Assign parts and let it go. If you want to script it in advance, you can but that isn’t necessary. If there aren’t enough speaking parts, assign kids to play props and set pieces. Let them play the part of a tree or a pig. Lead the story as a “narrator” if necessary. You may have to give them a line or two. Have some fun costume pieces to add. Does this sound like more than your pay grade? You’re not giving yourself enough credit!
a.Here comes the leap of faith. (Trust me. It’s good for you.) Ask the question, “What did you learn from our story today?” “What does this story mean to you?” This is the part where you and Carrie Underwood sing, “Jesus, take the wheel!” It is this question that makes the model inductive rather than the deductive model you buy from a publisher. As in the Lectio model, the question is “What does this text mean to you?” “What is the Holy Spirit saying to YOU?”
b.You have plenty of other places in your programming to talk about the fruit of the spirit or the armor of God, etc. But a graded curriculum is the perfect place to fit in a model that teaches children the biblical narrative in chronological order and how to engage the Word of God through an age-old Bible study method.
c.Lead the conversation with questions and observations. Don’t teach. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead. As Dr. Seuss would say, ‘Oh, the places you’ll go!”
a.In the classical model, this step is more an application to your everyday life. What are you going to do with the Word of God in your life this week? How are you going to respond to the story? Faith without obedience isn’t faith at all. So, here’s what I suggest:
i.Make some suggestions on how to apply the Word for that week.
ii.Connect the story to Jesus. He is the WORD made flesh and we know that Scripture always points to Jesus. Teaching kids this valuable truth on a weekly basis will help them to properly engage God’s Word forever.
iii.End with a prayer of THANKSGIVING to God for speaking through His WORD.
iv.If you need more time, it never hurts to have a couple of activity sheets available.
Did you survive? As I mentioned in my opening, I’m not here to sell a product, just a concept. So, my suggestion is that you try the model without the chronological storytelling element. (At least until I finish my curriculum for publication!) See how it works. Like Lectio, it’s not rocket science and I believe that you’ll find it helpful and stimulating. Got questions? Need some more help? Contact me at email@example.com.
Sometimes, the Spirit gnaws; like a persistent, pestering gnat or fly.
I had a thought over the recent holidays that made me think about the Spirit of the Age. Now, before I go on, you should know that I support President Trump. But, my observations are not meant to be political. They are just observations.
I wrote a dramatic piece several years ago about Simeon, spoken about in Luke 2: 25-35. He was a devout Jew who was patiently waiting to see the Messiah. The account of his encounter with the baby Jesus in the temple is a glorious record of God’s faithfulness to this man. Verses 34 and 35 read, “Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Certainly this prophetic word would affirm what Mary and Joseph already knew. I wonder if it made them smile; or at least up until the last sentence, right? Jesus would grow up in obscurity to become the center of every day life; not just for Jews but for everyone. His influence certainly included the realm of politics and governments. While the Jewish religious leaders put a political spin on their venom against Jesus, they were clearly more concerned about how he was affecting their base of power even though they would disguise it as protecting the people from false teaching. It was a swamp and Jesus was an outsider. His rise to prominence through the signs and wonders that followed his ministry clearly pointed to his divine authority. Yet, the ‘fake news’ against him dogged the good news of his message.
Jesus wasn’t divisive. Even in Matthew 10: 34-36, I don’t believe Jesus is saying that HE is dividing families. That would go against everything we know about the Bible AND Jesus. But, everyone must do something with Jesus. “He is a sign that is spoken against so that the hearts of many are revealed.” There are certainly times where those disagreements over Jesus turn sharp and divide families. So, Jesus is not dividing people. But people are divided over Jesus. He just reveals the division that already existed.
President Trump’s policies are:
-Pro America (nationalism vs globalism)
He is a D.C. outsider who has brought common sense back into the SWAMP and he is getting CRUCIFIED. Please don’t get me wrong. He’s no Jesus! He’s no Messiah. And yet, I believe we are seeing a shadow of the Spirit of the Age we are living in. People who infer that he is dividing this country are misinformed. He is revealing the deep division that already exists. It is being moved along by the Spirit is Lawlessness and it will be the preeminent characteristic of the Antichrist as shared in 2 Thess 2: 1-12.
We are moving towards globalism. There is no way to prevent it because the Bible clearly indicates a one-world order in the last days. This will be the final throne of the Anti-Christ before Jesus’ returns. President Trump is standing (mostly) alone trying to stem the tide of the inevitable tsunami that is going to wipe out the world. I admire his courage and I support him. But I’m afraid we’re fighting a losing battle apart from a soul-awakening revival, which we should all continue to pray for along with the salvation of Israel.
As a Christian, we are commanded to pray for our leaders, whether we like them or not. (Romans 13:1; 1 Tim 2: 1,2) I encourage you to pray Psalm 140 over our President and Vice President. And remember that our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, and principalities in high places." Ephesians 6:12.
Sometimes, when you hear an idea, you have to write it down before you forget it. I’ve often thought of journals and blogs as small jail cells that holds your prisoner safe until they are ready for release.
Tonight I joined with some old, young friends who I worked with in another life when I was young. Our connection was mysterious and spiritual. They were teenagers then and I was very young in the ministry. But 25 years later, here we were gathered around a table marveling at the fact that I was ministering to their children at a kid’s crusade. Sometimes, it’s worth getting older just to have these serendipitous encounters like this.
But, I digress….
One of the girls is a prosecutor for a local district attorney’s office. She was lamenting her role a prosecutor because of the inherent nature of the job to convict people. She talked about how she much more preferred the role of defense attorney because it’s more towards her tendancy to show grace and mercy. She recounted a story where she was feeling especially ‘guilty’ about sending a college student to jail for a convicted crime. In the parking lot, she bumped into another old(er) friend of ours, Dave Dunn, the pastor of the same church where all these kids grew up together. In that moment he spoke the most profound truth to her.
He recounted the story of Jonah. Do you remember what happened when the sailors pulled lots to see who among them was causing the storm? They tried to throw everything overboard EXCEPT Jonah. They didn’t want to have to send him to a watery grave. Even after Jonah insisted they throw him overboard, they hesitated. But, in fact, they were keeping Jonah from his own redemption; not to mention that of the people of Ninevah too. What they thought was mercy was actually injustice. The parallel is that in doing her job, this young lawyer may have had a part in God’s purpose for this young college student that might change his life forever. Sometimes your break down is your break through.
Such wisdom. I think this is a truism in many ways, but none more so than how we try and protect our children from failure. How often do we step in and thwart the will of God for our loved ones when we ‘bail them out’? I’ve always said the hardest part of parenting is letting your children fail. The lessons must be learned and sometimes they must be learned the hard way.
Isaiah 55: 8,9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts
Tempted to step in and save the day? Step back, take a breath and let God be the hero.
June 7, 2018 on the steps of the capital building in Charleston, WV. This was Paula's story. She showed up without really expecting to be part of the performance ministry. I'm not sure how we talked to her 'into' doing it, but she did. I loved her comment: "This is out of my comfort zone." EXACTLY. That's the definition of faith, isn't it? God is continually trying to pull us out of comfort zone...which is our routine. The very nature of practicing spiritual disciplines is the idea of shaking up our routine so we 'unlearn' how to live in the kingdoms of this world and live in the Kingdom above...HERE. So, good for you Paula. You stepped out in faith today and we're all reminded what it is to live in the Kingdom of God. My thanks also to Elkview Baptist Church for showing up so I didn't have to go alone. You're my PEEPS!!!!
Stop #2: Frankfort, KY, June 5, 2018. An absolutely GLORIOUS day: Blue skies; no humidity; 75 degrees. My purpose is single-minded: I want to bless God for his faithfulness over 30 years of ministry. As the kids and adults gathered from 4-5 churches across KY, I had the opportunity to share my faith story and invite them to join me in a performance of "Arise My Love" to an audience of ONE. Of course, people on their way stop and watch as we perform. How could they not? "What are these people doing with sticks?" I hope they enjoy it. They seem to. But, it is not for them. Under a perfect sky on a perfect day with about 20 youth and adults and 20 more chaperones and parents, we did "Arise My Love" on the steps of the KY capital building in Frankfort, KY. Then, we gathered together to pray for the elected officials from KY that serve in the Federal government and our leaders in Washington. It's not political. We just ask that God would give them wisdom in governing. All in all, a perfect day. "IN God whose Word I praise. In God I trust and am not afraid." Thanks to all my 'stickers' who showed up. By the way, this is an excellent ministry opportunity for your teams. I would encourage you to add a heritage tour through the capital grounds. Next up: Charleston, WV.
May 31, 1988. I resigned my commission in the U.S. Army and started following the "Wild Goose" in full time ministry. It has been a wild ride. But as I've preached, "You'll never know the faithfulness of God until you walk in faith." Only faith moves God and somehow, the lack of faith in our lives, limits or even binds the LIVING GOD from moving in our life. My story has been one of God's continual faithfulness. Being in this type of ministry, I've had to trust God for 30 years. Why would I suppose that God, who has shown himself faithful again and again, would for any reason, abandon us now? This was the life of every man and woman in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. But they were no different than us in so many ways. Even the great John the Baptist had doubts. But, in the end, GOD IS FAITHFUL and our testimony is one of HIS great faithfulness.
In celebration of this journey, I am traveling to every state capital (except Alaska and Hawaii unless someone provides the way!) to perform our signature piece, "Arise My Love" with the God Rods and pray for the state and national leaders of our day. On the 30th anniversary of Salt and Light, we began the tour in Richmond, VA, the place where it all began. Six of us performed including my son, Samuel. Hank and Peggy Graser, Melissa Oliver, and CHAOS from Lawrenceville UMC in Lawrenceville, VA joined in. As we performed, I offered God my thanks for his UNFAILING love, his UNWAIVERING favor, and his UNMERITED grace.
Do you TRUST God? Would you continue to TRUST Him if the stock market crashed? Would you continue to TRUST Him if you lost someone very dear to you in tragedy? If your only HOPE was in HIM, would it be enough? You probably can't answer those questions without having an experience that requires you to do so, for which I pray you don't have to. And yet, I would pray that you would come to know that you can. For to KNOW God is to TRUST Him. Proverbs 3: 5,6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge HIM and HE will direct your paths."
I recently was asked to speak at the memorial service for my brother-in-law. Steve was a great guy who was genuinely concerned about friends and family. One of the ways I described him was by showing a glass half-filled. I mentioned how Steve was a guy who always seemed to see the glass half-full.
To listen to him talk, you would never know that he struggled with depression. He was the eternal optimist. There was always a job to do or a place to go. There was always tomorrow. The sun would come up tomorrow. Although he struggled with the darkness, when you were around him, you always felt like you were walking in light. At the center of who he was, there seemed to be light.
As I considered this more closely, I was drawn to the idea of the line on the glass formed by the water. So often, the difference between the glass half full and half-empty is HOPE. How you view the present stands on this one thing, “HOPE”. Hope is future. Hope isn’t found in the past or the present. No one HOPES for something that has already happened. It is about tomorrow.
We’re built to hope to because we were made by God IN his image. We’re not what we appear to be. We’re spirit beings and future is our DNA. That’s another reason that “Happily Ever After” resonates with us in books and stories. 1 Cor 13:12 says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
Hope is such a powerful thing. But unless the thing we hope for is utterly certain, we can be easily disappointed.
As for me…
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand.
The Bible has much to say about hope:
Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.
Psalm 42:11, “Why so downcast oh my soul and why so disturbed within me. Put your hope in God for I will ever praise him, my Savior and my God.
Is 40:31, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings of EAGLES; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.
When all else is gone and the end of all things has come, the Bible says there will still be three things that remain: Faith, Hope, and Love
Hebrews 11:1, brings two of these three everlasting qualities into one verse: “Faith is the promise of things hoped for. The evidence of things unseen.
Hope is the essence of my faith, which is the center of who I am. Because of FAITH, I am assured of my HOPE and that always lets me see everything in light of the glass half full.
Romans 15:13, “May the God of all HOPE fill you with joy and peace as you trust in HIM so that you may overflow with HOPE in the power of His Holy Spirit?
Several years ago, I went through a difficult season where I experience panic attacks. Being in faith-based ministry, it was hard to recognize and understand. It took me to the depths of despair and almost overwhelmed me. But, I was very fortunate to have friends, family, counsellors, and a God who longed to help me. The experience brought me into a deeper place of faith than I had ever been before. Since then, God has used that experience to give me insights and help other people going through similar problems. Recently, I wrote a letter to a friend who was struggling with some depression and it captured an 'overview' of a few things I learned in my story. I'm posting it here to help you or someone you may know that is struggling with these issues. They are NOT alone.
Wanted to share a few more things with you regarding the anxiety, panic attacks, depression or whatever else you’re going through in that vein.
First of all, as we discussed, get some medical help. Let me know how that goes. I was given a more deliberate dosage of a anti-anxiety med to get me back on track. After about 1 month, I was put on a low-dosage medicine, which I still use today even though the doctor said I probably don’t need it. Look at this way: If you had strep throat, you would get medicine. If you had a fever, you would get medicine. Your mind is a physical entity and if it’s causing you physical problems, you should get medical help. There’s nothing weak or faithless about that; no shame in getting medical advice and assistance. It’s your first step in this healing process. The reason I know that there was a chemical imbalance in my situation was that the medicine immediately cured my physical symptoms; There really was a simple chemical imbalance in my brain. Things start to break down when you get older and I was given to a familial history of anxiety and worry, which I didn’t really recognize until now. But, I’ve never struggled with anxiety or depression until now. That’s why I didn’t know what to do with it. I can’t believe no one told me to go and see a doctor!
Then, I went into counseling with a Christian Counselor. I also have an excellent friend who meets with me weekly to disciple me and work through scripture. It’s a blessing. Do you have an older/wiser person in your life that is a mentor? This guy has been a real gift from God to me…especially with not having great male role models growing up. He’s shown me how to be a better minister, man, husband and father. Although, I have to say, I’ve been a pretty good Dad. That came easy for some reason.
I have a journal of our meetings together over the course of 18 months. I met with her every week initially. She was helpful in several areas:
-Spiritual: There is a spiritual dimension of depression and anxiety that you want to get into. I’m not really sure what books to recommend here. I didn’t really find one book that was helpful. You’re looking for material on the mind as a battleground. Joyce Meyer has a book called “The Battleground of the Mind.” The foundational truth here is learning the lies you believe and where they came from so that you can get to the root of wrong thinking. First of all, the mind and your patterns of thinking are very much involved in this issue. For me, fear gripped me because I started looking to the future and feeling hopeless about my financial situation. After 25 years of faith ministry, I suddenly felt that I had to take control of things because financially, we were not going to make it. Now, why would I start thinking that after 25 years of seeing God move faithfully in my life, would I believe he would suddenly stop being faithful? Honestly, I had to unlearn-relearn about God and who HE is.
The "sin in our members” is there because of our long history living outside the “Kingdom Among Us.” By the way, I strongly recommend ANY Dallas Willard. His book, “The Divine Conspiracy” broke me. I’ve been studying it for almost 2 years with my mentor. Also, a books by James Bryant Smith were helpful; especially, “The Good and Beautiful God”. It’s part of series. The other two books are “The Good and Beautiful Life” and “The Good and Beautiful Community.” Those books is based on this very premise. How do we see God and why??? What are the lies we believe and where do they come from? Anyway, that sin in our members is strong and generates automatic responses in us that have been cultivated from years of living outside the kingdom…OR living inside the kingdom but not knowing or understand it’s power for THIS LIFE. Remember, Jesus said, “I have come so that they may have LIFE (THIS LIFE) and life abundantly.” (John 10:10) WOW. I had to rethink my automatic responses. AND that took me into the dark places!!!
Here’s a key point: God wants to use this very situation in your life to bring you into a greater understanding of HIS nature. That’s why you need to faithfully embrace what you’re going through and wrestle with it. YOU WILL BE OKAY. It’s just going to be season where you need to go through it. NOT around it. If you want the full measure of God’s blessing in your life, you will embrace this ordeal and walk through it. I can tell you for REAL, the deeper waters are life giving. A friend said to me, “Jeff, you’ve always been able to rearrange the furniture in this room. This time, God is destroying the room. He’s completely rebuilding this room from the ground up.”
In my life, pretty much everything goes back to my childhood. (This is Psychology 101, right? Everything goes back to our parents!) I had automatic responses that i used to survive back then. It was a difficult situation and my only coping mechanisms led to issues that I still carry around. But this season in my life forced me to recognize them and how it affected my relationship with God and how I viewed Him. Discipleship and spiritual disciplines are the way to disrupt the automatic responses in our lives.
(By the way, Willard’s book, “Renovation of the Heart” is the go-to book on the ideas of discipleship.)
You need someone to help you through that. I pray that you can find the right person who won’t let you sneak away with answers that you know they want to hear. Start praying for that person in YOUR life. God wants to help you through this season more than you want to help yourself.
There are other things too:
Lastly, my wife gave me the most beautiful prayer when I was struggling so much. I’ve kept and have it on my desk even today. You may want to copy it down and put it somewhere where you can pray it regularly:
Teach me to trust you when I don now know where you are going.
Help me to surrender and not turn inward into myself out of fear.
The storms and winds of life blow strongly all around me.
I cannot see in front of me.
Sometimes, I feel like I am going to drown, Lord.
But you are CENTERED. Utterly at rest and peace.
Open my eyes that I might see you are with me in the boat. I AM SAFE.
Awaken me, Jesus, to your presence within me, around me, above me, and below me.
Grant me grace to follow you into the unknown, into the next place in my journey with you.
In JESUS name. Amen.
The counselor used to ask me what I was afraid of. When she tried to get me to be as specific as possible, I said, “I’m afraid I’m going to lose my house.” Her response: “Then your house is an idol.”
Wow. What are you afraid of right now? (Verbalize that.) What is it that you are most worried about? (Verbalize that.) The answers to those questions are important to your healing. Get to that because they reveal something about how you view God and your relationship with Him.
You’re NOT alone.
Today, my son and his wife gave birth to my first grandchild, Koen Rayner Smith. Last week, I sat down with him and presented him with a list of things I wanted him to hear from me about becoming a father. It is the most important job he will ever have in this life and I wanted to share what I've learned. Perhaps, it is something you may want to use as a tool for your boys, too....when the time is PERFECT.
Children are a heritage from the Lord,
Your offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
Psalm 127: 3-5a
Father. It’s the greatest title you’ll eve know. It’s been my highest reward and achievement and joy. No one can prepare you for it. But I’d like to share with you the things I learned (so far):
We are spirit beings learning to live in a spirit world that will exist forever. That’s generally my theory of everything.
Stephen Hawking died recently. He had, by all accounts, a brilliant mind and was deeply respected and loved by many. He was also an atheist who worshipped science over God, believing that science eliminated the need for a god.
I saw a movie called “The Theory of Everything” which was his biopic. I had an uncle who died of the same disease and it was excruciating to watch. I can’t imagine what it was like to live through it. In a comment today, his first wife said that death was a welcome relief for him. After having watched the disease ravage my uncle’s body over a period of ten years, I can’t imagine what it was like to live with the disability for almost fifty.
But, I’m not here to comment on his life, but his death. I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like when he slipped into the next life and in a moment discovered the truth that he had been searching for. Stephen Hawking wanted to know the origins of the universe. Now, you have to understand that I have a biblical world-view and yes, it is my interpretation that I have diligently worked on for 50-plus years. And so, my worldview says that God created the universe. I believe that whether or not God met Stephen Hawking after his death, he knew immediately that God created the heavens and the earth. There was no big bang or if there was God made the explosion that caused the big bang.
All I know is that this man was an avowed atheist until he died. He isn’t anymore. But, it’s too late to make choices now. My best hope for him is that as death approached, he saw the truth in time and repented. For God’s mercy is wide and his justice is fair.
Does that sound harsh? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through the son.” (John 14:6) “You must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:1) “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven. Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10: 33, 34) I could go on and on. I’m sure that Stephen Hawking knew at least some of these verses. But he chose to believe in science instead of God.
Therein lies my one point in writing this: We forget that we are spiritual beings in a spiritual universe that can not be ‘seen’ by science but only through faith. Paul referred to is as ‘seeing through a glass darkly…” (1 Cor 13:12). We feed our mind and our flesh in this life and pay little or no attention our spirit. We seek knowledge and power and refuse to strengthen our soul. But in the end, we are spirit beings in a spiritual world and there isn’t a science book around that explains how that works. And by the way….that’s forever. Everyone who has ever gone before and everyone who comes after us will go the same way. They died. We will die. They will die.
I suppose Stephen Hawking would consider my faith a placebo to placate my lack of enlightenment. My faith is anything but a placebo. It is my HOPE. There is a powerful image of this very theme in Luke 16: 19-31. It’s the story of a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus. Lazarus dies and goes to ‘Abraham’s Bosom’, or a place like heaven. The rich man dies and goes to a place like hell. Here, he can see Lazarus sitting at Abraham’s side. In hell, the rich man is tormented and begs Abraham for a little water to cool the tip of his tongue. But, Abraham replies that there’s a chasm between them that can’t be crossed any longer. The rich man begs Abraham to send someone from the dead to warn his brothers who are still alive. Abraham replies that they have prophets and the Word of God and they won’t change their minds even if someone rises from the dead. What an alarming reality. We are and will continue to always be spirit living in a matrix where what we see and know is only a partial reality.
Many people would consider it cruel and narrow minded to say that unless Stephen Hawking accepted Christ as his Savior, he is now separated eternally from God and without hope. But, I think the mere fact that God allowed Stephen Hawking to live fifty more years than the two he was given by doctors is a clear sign of the love of God. I’m sure that God reached out to Mr. Hawking many times during those fifty years. I’m sure God spoke to him over and over again through the universe he explored. And I’m certain God was at the center of the very questions Mr. Hawking wrestled with during his career. For fifty extra years, God wooed him. That sounds like love to me. But in the end, he probably refused to accept God’s invitation to explore the universe and all of its origins for eternity.
I saw a bumper sticker once. It looked the humanist bumper sticker supporting evolution as the origins of man. But after the image of the man there was another picture of a grave. Which begs the question: What happens when you die? Do you KNOW? Can you be SURE? Science can’t answer that because they don’t understand spirit. Then, does your theory of everything address death? I would ask, “How is that working for you?”
“ For know whom I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto HIM until that day.” Tim 1:12b