How It All Started

Part 1 – “Route 66” (a series with a message from each of the 66 books of the Bible)
Genesis 3; 12:1-3; 15:1-6

Genesis demonstrates how God’s right to rule through man is challenged by the sin of man. So God, in His grace, chose to bless the whole of mankind through one man’s descendants. The problem of sin is met with the promise of gracious redemption.

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(c) 2008 Wayne Stiles

Jealousy Made Our “Companion” Go “Evil”

Our Labrador’s name, Rayah, in Hebrew means, “companion.” (Pronounced “ray-uh.”) But a slight alteration of the Hebrew vowels renders her name, Ro-ah, meaning “evil.”

Our “Companion” Gone “Evil”—How Jealousy Works

(Rayah and Carly)

As it turned out, all it took to alter the vowels was to bring home a puppy to keep Rayah company.

Bad idea.

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Tomorrow, Today, and the Priorities of Someday

Years ago I heard about an odd work of modern art. The artist attached a chair to a loaded shotgun—with the barrel pointing at the chair. The gun had a timer set to discharge at some undetermined point within the next 100 years.

Tomorrow, Today, and the Priorities of Someday

(Photo: iofoto, via Vivozoom)

Believe it or not, droves of thrill-seekers viewed the exhibit by sitting in the chair and staring point-blank range into the gun barrel for sixty seconds. They knew the gun could fire at any moment, but they wanted a thrilling minute in the chair.

(What I would have given to sneak up and poke them in the ribs and yell, “BOOM!”)

Most of us would never dream of taking such a foolish gamble. And yet, how often will we toy with the future by counting on a future that may never happen?

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Staring Death in the Faith

Sometimes you hear crazy stuff at funerals. I heard of one set of parents who tragically lost a child, and the minister told them not to weep—but to rejoice in faith. After all, their son was in heaven.

It sounds so right—so spiritual. But it was only half right. Therefore, half wrong.

Staring death in the faith.

(Photo: by Ralf Lotys, Sicherlich, CC-BY-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Bible reveals that when someone dies, the most natural and right thing to do—even in a life of great faith—is to weep. After Abraham’s wife died, we read:

Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.—Genesis 23:2

Even Jesus wept at the results of physical death (John 11:35). So, that makes it okay for us too.

Why is weeping right, even if our loved one is in a “better place”?

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The Garden Tomb— Contemplating the Resurrection of Jesus

Beside a busy street and noisy bus station in Jerusalem, a tall rock wall encircles a garden. An oasis of sanctity and cessation in a city that feeds on frenzied tourists.

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

(Photo: The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem)

After entering, I felt the tension of my hurried pace leave me. I traded the noisy city and dirty streets for flowers, butterflies, gravel pathways, and stone steps. Everything lovely about a garden filled my view.

It’s no wonder many believe the Garden Tomb to be the tomb of Jesus. Like the tomb described in the gospel accounts, the Garden Tomb lay outside the city walls and along a road. It is hewn out of the stone and has a rolling stone entrance. A garden surrounds it.

Based on its tranquil setting, it has a lot going for it. But then there are the rest of the facts.

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How to Trust God with Your Children

One of my daughters used to come to me as a toddler and say, “In the air, Daddy, in the air!” She wanted me to hurl her up and catch her. I did so to her utter delight. My other daughter saw this and asked me to toss her too. Yet as she leveled off, her face contorted into sheer terror.

Do you trust God to catch your children?

(Photo: Design Pics, via Vivozoom)

When I caught her, she clung to me with all four limbs and begged, “No, not again!”

Later I considered why the same flight gave joy to one and terrorized the other.

  • One focused on my ability to catch her.
  • The other focused on her inability to control the flight.

We do the same thing with God.

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Impatience at God’s Drive-Through Window

I hate drive-through windows. There’s just something so incongruent with “fast-food” that’s not fast. Once with my family in the car, I got so frustrated with the individual behind the unintelligible speaker who couldn’t understand me when I ordered, “pickles and cheese.”

So I repeated it with passion: “I want chickles and peas!”

Impatience at the drive through window.

(Photo: by Derek Jensen. Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

After I realized what I said, I turned to my wife and daughters. They burst in laughter. For them, it was better than the meal.

I’m not sure what  “chickles” are, but I ordered some, and the cashier gave me a price.

Since that day a question has nagged me: Why do we treat God like the cashier at the drive-through window?

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Humility Would be Easy, if Not for My Pride

I pulled up behind a line of cars at a stoplight, and a guy on a skateboard whizzed past me. Like fast.

He held his arms above his head and swayed back and forth, leaning into each turn and showing his skills to those of us stopped at the light.

Pride before a fall.

(Photo: by Globeskater (Album photo voyage perso), via Wikimedia Commons)

As he approached the intersection, he leaned to turn in the direction of the oncoming traffic but his skateboard fell out from under him. He and his skateboard (and his skills) flew into the middle of the intersection where the traffic zoomed both directions—toward him!

A large van swerved to miss the guy and hit his skateboard, bending it and sending it spiraling twenty feet in the air. After ten seconds of screeching tires, scrambling feet, and lots of yelling, Mr. Center-of-Attention grabbed his skateboard and limped off to hide somewhere.

It was the most entertainment I ever had at a stoplight.

And it made me think of life in general.

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The Problem of Evil and a God of Love

In a forgotten corner of the Hebrew Scriptures we find hope.

We live in a world where it seems God turns a deaf ear to pain and evil. Children hunger, immorality runs rampant, injustice occurs in the courts, and our loved ones die of cancer. All under the nose of an all-powerful God of love.

See no evil. Speak no evil. Hear no evil.

(Photo: See no evil. Speak no evil. Hear no evil.)

It feels as if He were a God of love and justice and power, He would and could remove all evil. As it is, evil remains. So do our feelings of confusion.

In a forgotten corner of the Hebrew Scriptures we catch a glimpse of this seeming contradiction with the problem of evil.

We also see its resolution.

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