Right now you are thinking three times faster than you are reading. Your brain’s 100 billion nerve cells are linked with trillions of connections, called synapses, transmitting up to 1,000 signals per second.
This, say the deep thinkers at M.I.T., produces thoughts. As fast as one thought every 1.2 seconds. This, in large part, is what makes us human. But are thoughts merely electro-chemical reactions? Are we slaves to neuroscience, or can we control our mental activity?
The Bible’s writers have a few thoughts about this:
“Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants—what is good, pleasing and perfect.”
“Keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable or commendable.”
“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”
Winter here in the northwest corner of the Lower 48 trumpets its return with strong, prevailing southerlies arriving in impolite, unwelcome belches. The well-behaved summer zephyrs carry seeds and spores that produce our plants, flowers and magnificent forests of evergreens.
Recently Hurricane Harvey howled through Houston, leaving scores dead and $180 billion in damages. The Category 4 beast is America’s costliest natural disaster.
Long ago God wrapped the earth in a blanket of wind after Noah’s flood, forcing the waters to recede and dry land to reappear. Then there’s Jonah who resisted God’s assignment to go to Nineveh by hopping a ship bound for Spain. The Lord caused a whale of a wind to churn up the Mediterranean, jeopardizing the vessel, prompting the crew to feed Jonah to the fish.
Some 2,000 years later Jesus was approached one night by one of Israel’s religious leaders. In explaining the necessity to be “born again,” Jesus likened the Holy Spirit’s life-saving activity to the wind. We can’t see it. We can only see how it affects its surroundings.
Does what’s visible about your life resemble the sinful toll of a tornado or the soothing breeze of God’s forgiveness? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.
Too bad November comes but once a year, leaving us only one Thanksgiving. That’s music to turkey ears. But for drumstick lovers, it’s as welcome as having the Sonics abducted to a state whose shape resembles a saucepan. That was not OK, see?
Truth told, we need more than one Thanksgiving Day to say “Thanks” to all who’ve helped and loved us along the way. Actually, it’ll take an eternity to express our gratitude to whoever introduced us to the Christ of Christmas. And even longer to recover from the speechless shock of thanking Jesus in person.
“Unmasking” is currently having its 15 minutes of fame. Until recent news stories revealed names of political operatives having supposedly secure conversations, the only unmasking many knew of was when bad hombres tried to rip the one from the Lone Ranger’s face.
We’re drawn to a speaker who knows infinitely more than he’s saying..
Bible writer Paul confesses, “God sent me to tell the Good News without using the language of human wisdom in order to make sure that Christ’s death on the cross is not robbed of its power. …For God in His wisdom made it impossible for people to know Him by means of their own wisdom. Instead, by means of the so-called ‘foolish’ message we preach, God decided to save those who believe.”
What’s Paul saying? Maybe something like … “If God were to unmask everything He wants us to see and know, it would take forever. So, He opens the hood just enough to prove that there’s an engine, thereby giving us enough to go on so that, by faith, we can trust His power to take us where there will be no more masks.
October 1st is the anniversary of Yosemite National Park, Stanford University, Ford’s Model T, People’s Republic of China, Disney World and the first CD player.
Sadly, it will also be remembered for the deadliest-ever mass shooting in modern U.S. history. At this writing some 60 lives were snuffed out by a lone lunatic who showered a concert crowd with a blizzard of bullets. More than 500 are hospitalized, many of whom may never make it home again.
Couldn’t an all-powerful God have prevented this? What kind of sinister monster or twisted worldview inflicted this horror?
One of God’s chief spokespeople, Paul, put it this way. “We’re not fighting against human beings but against wicked, spiritual forces.” Namely, Satan and his demonic angels. That said, Paul advises us to put on the armor that only an all-wise, loving God gives us to ward off the enemy’s attacks.
October 1st is also the day in 1957 when “In God We Trust” first appeared on our U.S. currency. Because what happened in Las Vegas won’t stay in Las Vegas, in whom or what are you placing your trust?
Millions of Americans are heartbroken, trying to rebuild their lives after being ravaged by hurricanes and flooding. Meanwhile, Seattle just ended a 55-day dry spell. If only it could’ve given Texas, Louisiana and Florida a few of those days. But there must have been a different plan.
Just as a loving, mature parent does not shield his/her child from every painful experience, the God who loves us and gave us the gift of making our own choices will sometimes, in His wisdom, allow what He, with His power, could prevent.
Some 4,500 years ago, after rain had fallen for 40 days with no let up, causing a worldwide flood that lasted 12 months and 11 days, God told an ancient mariner named Noah, “Never again will all living beings be destroyed by a flood … As a sign of this everlasting promise, I’m putting my rainbow in the clouds.”
Despite hurricane-caused calamities, many who felt their blows have now chosen to trust Jesus Christ who promised to walk with His followers through every valley. He who turns heaven’s faucets on and off truly is our only Hope. He knows your name, has crazy-love for you and wants to have an intimate relationship with you forever!
Just think, before we had words to represent things, people had to sit out in front of their caves at night and dream them up.
FRED: “Hey, Wilma, what’s a word for those round things on my footmobile?
WILMA: Fred, if you wouldn’t spend so much time with your crossword puzzles, we’d have more words to help us talk to each other.”
As a word, automne crossed the Channel from France, coming ashore ‘neath Dover’s cliffs where it changed its spelling to autumn. Fall is shorthand for “the fall of the leaf.” The Old English feallan meant “to fall” or “to die.”
This is the season when, if we’ve planned wisely, we’ll enjoy a plentiful harvest. Our Creator said you must plant a seed in the ground and let it die if you want to produce many new kernels. If you don’t, it will end up as one, lonely, dead seed. He should know. He chose to die in your place. Do you know the word for that?
From Vancouver Island to California, this captivating evergreen is easily identified by its silky-smooth, luxuriant, orange-red bark. The no-two-alike, curvaceous madrona sprouts bell-like flowers in spring. In autumn its red berries tantalize birds, bears and Beatles.
Wrapped in papery bark that peels and dangles in long, curling strips, madronas hug the shores of the Strait of Georgia, the San Juans and the untamed coastline of Washington, Oregon and California. This gnarly but elegant specimen appears poised to leap from rocky outcroppings, brazenly daring Pacific storms to wrench it from its roots.
History’s most famous songwriter promised that those who take time to know God are like trees that bear fruit, prosper in life and never wither. Exercising their personal freedom, those who do not choose this path, he says, are like chaff, scattered by the wind.
Is this really such a difficult choice: to be a healthy, fruitful tree or one whose roots are perilously not anchored to its Creator?
It’s the season for sun and fun … top down, radio cranked, wind in your face, one-arming the steering wheel, doing your best “Lovin’ Spoonful” to the twangs of “Hot town, summer in the city, back of my neck gettin’ dirty ‘n’ gritty.” The only cool relief nearby is the chilly waters of the lake. Slip into your ski. Grab a John Deere inner tube. Ahhh, that was “the life.”
King Solomon tells us, “As cold waters for a weary soul, so is a good report from a far country.” The cold facts are, today we get few good reports from anywhere.
An ancient hymn writer described a desirable mindset: “He is not afraid of receiving bad news; his faith is strong, and he trusts in the Lord.” Solomon adds, “You will not be afraid when you go to bed, and you will sleep soundly through the night.”
To sleep soundly tonight, will you rely on Mr. Pillow, a cooling swim, or will you be trusting in the Lord?