The Beginning

The “Big Bang Theory” did not come from people putting their heads together to come up with a viable explanation for the existence of the universe.  It came from a desperate need to explain this universe apart from a creator.

Nothing exploding to create everything is the best they could come up with.

Measuring God

I stuffed god into a box I found lying around. I have him contained there…

I am going to measure him with my twelve inch ruler. I measure his power and it’s big, the full twelve inches. Impressive, but it’s only a third of a yard. His goodness also reached to the end of my ruler. I measured my own goodness at seven inches. That means god is not even twice as good as me, but still, he is pretty good.  


I turn my box to get a better angle to measure his love; twelve inches. That’s a lot of love, three times as much as me. Love is not my strongsuit.

Let’s see, mercy – twelve inches, faithfulness – twelve inches. Perfect score so far, good job god. Patience – twelve, intelligence – twelve. I think god is pretty smart.  I turn the ruler sideways and rotate the box a bit more so I can measure the grace god gives out. End of ruler again, very good.


So, I total it up and it’s a perfect score. The god in my box is an excellent god. I doubt if any human could get a perfect score, even me. Out of a possible 96, I only scored 44 inches. That goose egg on patience really killed my score. I need to work on that—but there is no time.

 

So I study the results and I wonder:
Is twelve inches of power enough to create everything, the entire universe and everything in it, including me? That doesn’t quite add up.
And, if he knows everything, wouldn’t he be smarter than twelve inches? I measured myself at six inches, and, if I am honest, I don’t know half of everything there is to know.
Is twelve inches of love enough to forgive me? He suffered horribly to pay the debt I owe. Surely that is more than twelve inches of love. And the grace… really–twelve inches? No way.  I look at my ruler and wonder if it is defective somehow.

Wait… Something is happening. The box is growing; my box. It is growing exponentially and suddenly I seem to be floating in space alongside it, in my pajamas.
It is enormous now and I cannot see the ends of it but it is my box. I can still read the corner of it; CONTAINS 24 12-OZ. BOTTLES. Those once tiny letters are thousands of miles high and growing.
But, how can I see that far?
Then I know. He has given me His eyes to see. I can see across infinity and the box fills the space as far as I can see with His eyes.
Disgusted with myself, I thrust my ruler away. As it floats off, I look back at the box, endless and still growing, as it tries to contain the uncontainable God.
With His eyes and a little of His wisdom–I finally see what the Almighty in “Almighty God” stands for. It means… IMMEASURABLE and INCONTAINABLE.

Be kind. I wrote that long ago. A.J.arti-kh-777924-unsplash

 

What We Deserve

 

 

You might roll your eyes and think I am a drama-queen, but I am pretty sure a serial killer considered murdering me.  No kidding…

I have mentioned before that I do not sit behind a desk. I am a skilled machinery operator in a plant where some of the jobs are entry level or minimally experienced positions.  In these positions there has been a high rate of turnover and management has not been picky about who they hire.

I have worked with all kinds of rough characters in my time on the job, many of them criminals. This list will look like an exaggeration, but weirdly, it is not. I have punched the clock with petty thieves, gang members, drug users, drug dealers, robbers, a con man, at least one child molester, and two wife beaters (that I know of). One of the guys(apparently a drug dealer) was cuffed and taken away in the middle of our workday.  On another day, my assistant showed up around his normal starting time without a shirt. He told me he caught a guy with his wife and beat him up. I threw him an old shirt and told him to leave.  The cops came looking for him a few hours later.  Turns out it was his wife he beat up!  Yeah.  And I gave him a shirt!  Not my greatest moment.

Another time, a different assistant of mine was not working out at all.  After he was relegated back to his old duties, he told one of my bosses he should 2×4 me.  Now, I had not heard of this expression before but I am pretty sure being 2x4ed would not go well for me.  He was fired that day, but inexplicably, they hired him back a few months later when they were in a bind.  You think I am making this up, don’t you?

The worst by far was a man named Richard Paul White who murdered six people in the 2,000s.  He worked in our shop for about three months, and if we figured it right, two of his victims were murdered during that time span.

He confronted me one day after I had mentioned to the bosses that one of the machine operators he was supposed to be helping was not getting the assistance he required, which was affecting our production.  He was supposed to assist on two machines.  It was not really a slam on RP, as he was called (he was actually a hard worker), just an observation that he favored one machine over the other.  The bosses had a talk with him to straighten that out but RP was definitely mad.

He was an intelligent man and when he confronted me he was not volatile at all.  He didn’t raise his voice.  He just asked me directly, with a touch of anger in his eyes, what had happened.  I calmly told him.  He listened, then walked away, obviously not sure what to do or say.  A year or so later, after we heard he had been arrested for murdering six people, I wondered if he had considered killing me the day we had that stand-off.  Considering he was in the middle of a streak of murders at the time, it seems likely to me.

Sometimes the owners would know of an applicants crimes before they were hired.  One of the owners would often tell me that he thinks everyone deserves a second chance.  I don’t believe that is true, though.  Everyone does not deserve a second chance, not that we shouldn’t offer one to people anyway.

I want to be very careful with that word, “deserve”.  It belongs to God.  It is up to Him and Him alone to decide what we deserve, and it appears that His judgement is that we deserve what Jesus got.  Wife beaters and us, child molesters and us, serial killers and us; we all deserve what Jesus got.

Does it offend you that I lumped you in with the worst of humanity?  There is a giant difference between their heinous crimes and our sins, right?  Not according to Jesus.  He said anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has committed adultery with her in his heart.  He said that men who are angry with their brother are just as much under judgement as those who kill him.

The truth is, working with and getting to know such a wide assortment of people has given me a different perspective than most.  Not that the crimes of these awful men don’t sadden me to my core, and anger me just as deeply, but I don’t look at criminals as soul-less anymore.  They too are people, and, no matter how much I may want it to be untrue, I can’t get away from the knowledge that God loves these people enough to send His son to pay the penalty for their detestable crimes.

But God decides what is detestable and my lust, jealousy, and anger qualify.  Which means we are all in the same boat.  Billy Graham and Mother Theresa on one side, Jack the Ripper on the other, with me in the middle.  All of us need saving.th49NK3OC7

A.J.

 

In the fighting pit, we have a Lion in one corner and a Lamb in the other. Which one are you betting on? Which is more powerful?

You want the lion? Good, I’ll take the lamb. Are you counting your winnings already? Well, don’t go booking your Hawaiian vacation just yet?

What takes more power: to smite your enemies–or to die for them? Which displays more strength?

I am gonna love Hawaii.

The truth is, Jesus is both the Lion of Judah, and the Lamb of God. Roaring with POWER, yet willing to die for me… and you. I don’t believe the Lion Jesus and the Lamb Jesus are on opposite ends of His personality. They would both fall under the headings of strength and power and might.

So let’s call our little wager a draw. You thought it would be easy money, didn’t you?

A.J.

Christianity is not about good people getting better. It is good news for bad people coping with their failure to be good. –Tullian Tchividjian.

You may have heard of the disgraced former pastor, Tullian Tchividjian. He is a grandson of Billy Graham and author of several books. After having an extramarital affair with a woman, he was fired by the Presbyterian Church. His sin told them that he was unfit to tell people of God’s grace.
I am in no way excusing this man’s sin, nor am I saying the church should not have cut ties with him. But, if sinners aren’t qualified to tell of the grace they received from God through Jesus, who is?

Why?

I had a buddy who was drinking himself to death, or so we thought.  He has died but it was cancer that took him out, and it took him quick.
 
Not long before he died, he and I bought some takeout and drove out to this lake I know with an incredible view.  We sat and ate and soaked in the view for awhile and eventually the conversation turned to God.  He was not a Christian but he enjoyed talking about God, or his version of God anyway.
 
I took some time and told my pard what I believe about God’s love for us, for him in particular.  He listened carefully and when I was done he thought for a moment. Then he looked me in the eye and said, “But A.J., why?”  I tried to explain that he was God’s child, but he blew off that answer and only repeated; “Why?”
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Allow me to paraphrase a long passage from Luke:
 
A rich man had two sons, and the younger couldn’t wait to get his hands on his inheritance.  He coldly asked his father for his share of the estate.  For reasons known only to the father, he gave the ungrateful son what he asked for.  The spoiled young man then left his father and brother and went and completely squandered the fortune “on wild living.”  Poor and starving for the first time in his life, and realizing what a fool he had been, he tucked his tail between his legs and returned home to the family that he had spurned, just hoping that his father might give him a job. 
When he arrived, though, his father was overjoyed and welcomed his boy home with open arms and he could not be kept from celebrating.  The older brother was mad as could be and would not join the party, so the father went to explain to his older son why they had to celebrate…“because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found.”
For years that parable has touched my soul in a special way.  I have seen that disrespectful, unloving, hard-partying younger son in myself, and I have been that son when he ended up broken, starving, full of regrets, lost.
For some reason it is easier for me to admit to identifying with the younger son, but to be honest I have seen that older son in myself as well: proud, self-righteous, judgmental, jealous, resentful… a Pharisee.
It is because I see so much of the two sons in myself that the father stands out in such stark contrast, like a mid-autumn stand of aspen trees in a sea of dark pines. The father had been treated like dirt by his son, yet he never stopped searching the horizon, waiting and hoping that his boy would return to him.  The son had a speech prepared, but he could scarcely get out a word of it before he was engulfed in the embrace of his joyous father, a kiss planted on his cheek and the best robe put across his shoulders.  If all that wasn’t enough, the father then staged a great party to celebrate the homecoming of this son who was lost.
Jesus was using the most extreme example of disrespect to show us that no matter what we’ve done, we are loved so much by God that he would jump off his throne to run and embrace us with tears of joy in his eyes, if we would just turn to him.  You would be led home and heaven would have a great celebration in your honor.
This is the kind of love that Christians believe God has for each one of us, a love that wishes to forgive all and bring us home to him, to a place of eternal joy, eternal peace, Heaven.  Why? Because God’s love “surpasses all knowledge”.  Our love is the size of a mountain, but God’s love for us is the size of all mountains on every planet in His infinite universe!!!
What a difference it would make if we could only believe that.
A.J.