Does the age of the earth really matter to Christians?

How old is our planet?

I have come to a turn in the road of my life that expands my vision far beyond the homes that we tend for ourselves to the home that God created and sustains for all humanity. Fortunately the title “Grammas’ Guide to the Universe” is broad enough to cover a shift from houses and gardens in the here and now to the very beginning of all matter, energy, and space-time.

What enlarged my focus?  It actually started in January 2009.  At that time I entered a quasi-serious study of science to better understand the impossible logistics of deep space travel for my novel about an unfallen planet.

To make a very long story extremely short—in the process I picked up my tent and moved from the Young Earth Creationism camp to the portion of the Old Earth Creationism camp staked out by the ministry of Reasons to Believe.  In discussing my change in perspective with friends and family, I have been repeatedly asked, “What difference does it make what anyone believes about the age of the earth?”  That’s the question I want to answer in the following series of posts.

All the Young Earth Creationists I know personally are obviously saved, clearly love the Lord, and definitely honor God’s word.  My ultimate goal is not to convince them that they are wrong or even to fully present the case that caused me to become OEC. Instead, I want to open a discussion of a needless controversy that divides members in the body of Christ.

As part of that discussion, I will share some things I have learned over the past four years because it’s a delight to see the heavens continuously reveal the glory of God through the amazing instruments that probe outer space. But more than anything, I want to encourage everyone who loves and honors the Lord to call a “cease-fire” in the battle over the age of the earth. Then Christians can work together in the unity of our faith for the glory of God in every field of science.

Since people are more likely to read short posts, I’ll end this one now with a list of five points I plan to cover in Grammas’ Guide.

  1. All Old Earth positions are NOT created equal!
  2. The words of the Bible and our interpretations of the words of the Bible can be two very different things.
  3. God speaks truthfully to sinful man through both His word and His world.
  4. The Big Bang is not at all analogous to an explosion in a junkyard producing a Boeing 747.
  5. Young Earth Creationism (by definition) can never be subjected to the scientific method.

I pray that my Young Earth brothers and sisters will see that even if we continue to disagree about the age of the earth, we are still one in both our love for the Lord and in our respect for His word.

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Grammas’ Guide to Talking to God Together

For the past several weeks I’ve neglected Grammas’ Guide to the Universe while I explored cyberspace.  I’ve learned about blogging, using social media, and building websites, and soon I will use that knowledge to promote In His Hand Ministries. But today I am compelled to write.

My cancer treatments in Texas from January 2009 to July 2011 held many valuable lessons, some I understand well, some I still wonder about. But one lesson was unmistakably clear. God called me to write, and I am only at peace when I do what He called me to do.

My burden today tells me that God wants me to write about prayer until He lifts that burden. Writing, however, is no more than a tool to accomplish a far greater goal. God isn’t just calling me to write about prayer, He is calling me to pray with you. He is calling all His children to talk to Him together.

I am primarily addressing my family, friends, neighbors—the women and men who already support In His Hand Ministries, the people I can meet face to face throughout the week to seek the Lord’s direction for His work in our community.  But I made a wonderful discovery in cyberspace: God uses Twitter to connect intercessors around the world. That means that so friends I can only meet electronically are welcome to continue reading.

Building In His Hand’s website gave me a much-needed review of our six ministries. Together Gramma’s House, Wisdom Walk, Hurt Not the Earth, First Love, Perfect in One, and Mountain by Mountain weave a tapestry to cover our lives. On paper IHH succeeds in describing a community where the church is faithful in all things.

But it’s a long, long way from describing our ministries to seeing them manifest in reality.

Our vision is totally audacious:

  • In His Hand envisions the local church working together in the unity of our faith to show the world the love of God for His children. We see all our routine activities of daily living transformed by that love so that even eating and drinking glorify God.

Our mission is absolutely colossal:

  • In His Hand exists to promote the spiritual well-being and physical health of everyone in the local community by aiding individuals, families, and voluntary associations to develop, establish, and network any resource, business, ministry, or cooperative organization that contributes to that goal.

I feel overwhelmed by the scope of the ministry until I remember that our Lord specializes in the impossible.  The impossible is simply His normal part in each assignment He gives. Our part is to obey, do the possible, and trust Him for all else. And our trust begins in prayer.

This post is an open invitation for you to join Grammas’ Guide to Talking to God Together. If you look at the menu under “Talking with God” you will see that I’ve already started collecting resources for a community adventure in prayer. I will add create a page just for books, links, videos etc. that you want to recommend as well.

My the next post will offer specific requests so we can immediately begin to pray in one accord. If there is anything you want me to add, tell me, and I’ll be happy to do it.

I look forward to watching the Lord move among in power and love as we learn to take every opportunity to meet together at His throne of grace.

 

 

Gramma’s long journey into cyberspace

Last year at this time, I would have thought I was more likely to swim the English Channel than to open a Twitter account.   But God does indeed move in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. Recently I realized that the Lord has been relentlessly leading me into cyberspace for the past twenty-five years.

It started one day in the 80s.  I was just thinking about Adam and Eve, wondering how they would have understood God’s warning: “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Since the first humans did not know any other persons who had actually died, what would “die” have meant to them?

From that point, I continued to think how completely our vocabulary has been ravaged by sin.  It seemed to me that words like death, pain, sorrow, and even words like remember and forget would have no meaning for perfect people in a perfect world. My mental exercise did not disturb me until I realized that sinless people could never understand mercy, forgiveness, or salvation.

These ideas came to me about the same time I abandoned my own books for other women’s brooms, so I spent many hours vacuuming, dusting, scouring, and visiting the unfallen planet in the universe of my imagination. I actually talked to several friends about turning my fantasy into a novel, and they were unanimously encouraging. But, as the reigning Queen of the Procrasti-nation, I just planned to start writing tomorrow for over two decades.

Then in January of 2009, I found myself in Lubbock, Texas. What I thought would be a six- week visit with my sisters turned into two and a half years of disabling cancer treatments.  I was far from home, unable to work, and equipped with a laptop.  Tomorrow had arrived with a vengeance, and I began the hard labor of translating fleeting ideas into a story on a printed page.

In the fall of 2010, I finished World Without Mercy, and I immediately started to look for a publisher. (What else can one do with a completed manuscript?)  It was then that I learned of the Catch 22 in 21st century publishing: editors only look at books represented by agents, and agents only accept authors who have already published.

It is true that many small publishers will accept proposals directly from the author.  Alas, with the notable exception of Marcher Lord Press, it seems that small Christian publishing houses have very little interest in science fiction. To tell you the truth, I’m not much interested in science fiction myself, but my story about life on another planet fits in no other genre.

During those first few months of publisher/agent hunting, I also learned that it is my duty as a 21st century author to attend writer’s conferences, establish a website, create a Facebook page, and fully exploit the social media to build a platform that will impress agents, editors, and/or publishers whenever I describe it in a book proposal. In other words, I had to line up potential buyers for my book before I could ever convince anyone that it might be worth publishing.

I attended my first writer’s workshop in Amarillo in April, joined Facebook in May, and started this blog (on Blogspot) in June of 2011. But absolutely nothing could motivate me to begin deliberate self-promotion of a book that only one of my eight siblings had taken the time to read.  (Just to be accurate, even if they all had read it and loved it, I still would never have promoted it online because I would have been dead from shock.)

In July of 2011, I came home to Pennsylvania and attended the Montrose Christian Writers Conference. There I met media expert and avid gardener Daniel Gasteiger.  He told us that Twitter was at the top of his list of social media tools, but…..and this is a wonderful but….it would be very annoying if all we did was tweet about our books.  He encouraged us all to go online to meet like-minded people and have fun. He gave us three rules: be yourself, be kind, and be helpful.   I thought, “I can do that!  I can go online to promote the ministry that I helped to incorporate in 2008.”

So in November of 2011, I finally set up a Twitter account, but it wasn’t until a few short weeks ago when I found #mkbiblechat that I really began to enjoy myself.  A whole new range of retweets began to appear in my home stream by way of #mkbiblechat (ters) that I happily follow.  I quickly discovered that many profiles were dedicated entirely to sharing Bible verses, prayer requests, and quotes from the saints both living and dead.

I’ve placed those accounts on my “Retweetable” list, where I now go for quick inspiration.  It was just that type of account that inspired me to begin my own “TIP” (Twitter Intercession Project).  On March 6, I started daily tweeting from Andrew Murray’s “Helps to Intercession” with the hashtag #amintercessionhelp.

I pray that God will use this post (and the next one) to connect me with intercessors to join in daily prayer in one accord.  Now that I have blogged about my TIP, I will switch to #amhti to conserve thirteen precious characters.

May the Lord abundantly bless my effort to tweet for His glory.

Whenever I read OMG, I silently sing ITIT!

In my last post I wondered how often people who write LOL have literally done so. I confessed that I don’t use the term because, for me, it would be dishonest when I don’t LOL reading chats, tweets, and email.  However, the conviction that I would feel if I used LOL  when it is not literally true pales in comparison to the guilt that would stab me if I ever typed OMG as a casual exclamation.

I am blessed beyond measure that the vast majority of my friends hold the name of the Lord to be just as sacred as I do.  I praise that precious name that I rarely see those three letters in a way that offends in any text or email. Alas, since I joined the wonderful world of Twitter in November, all too often I see them flow by in my home stream.

I dedicate this post to Charles Monroe and his sweet praise song “Unto Thee O Lord.” I learned it years ago, and now the simple words come back to comfort me each time I read OMG in a tweet.  First, I mentally echo “O my God,” and then I automatically add “I Trust In Thee.”  Sometimes I continue with “Let me not be ashamed, let not my enemies triumph over me!”

And instead of taking offense I offer prayer and praise. OMG is just one more opportunity to do what mankind was created to do: worship and enjoy the Creator whose name is blessed forever! OMG is a cry from my heart to the Savior who died to set me free from the bondage of sin. OMG is an introduction to a song that lifts me to the throne of grace where I find mercy and help in my time of need.

OMG also is my prompt to intercede for the person behind the tweet. Just think of the influence we will have in the spiritual realm, if all of us who do not use OMG frivolously begin to consistently pray for those who do:

OMG! We long for You to touch every heart that banters Your name in a careless acronym.  We want each one to know You and love You so much that it becomes impossible to use Your name without thinking of You.

When I finished the fourth entry in Grammas’ Guide to the Universe, I was looking for a way to move naturally toward a series of posts on prayer, because I believe that talking to God is the secret of successful homemaking.  But then, I was suddenly distracted by a tweet that greatly amused me but didn’t cause me to LOL, and I wrote my previous post. Now I rejoice to see that God has used what I saw as only a distraction to lead me exactly where He wants me to be. Next time I will share the joy I have found in tweeting to the Lord.

TIF but I didn’t LOL

I suppose this post could be categorized under “Gramma’s Guide to Textese,” since I want to address two terms commonly used in texting that make me uncomfortable.

The first term is LOL. So far I’ve never actually had an occasion to use it.  While I am frequently amused by things I read in email, in a chat, or on Twitter, they never make me laugh out loud, and it just seems dishonest to acknowledge the humor with LOL.  Whenever I read that familiar trio of letters in response to something I have posted, I am tempted to reply, “Really? It didn’t seem that funny to me.”

I would genuinely like to know how often LOL expresses a literal truth.  Through my intimate acquaintance with Lynette, Kelly, Bob, and others, I have learned that there are many people who do indeed LOL over almost anything.  Those are the people who stand-up comics want in the audience.  I, on the other hand, identify with the scowling curmudgeon I saw years ago in a New Yorker cartoon.  He answered two bewildered people with the caption, “Just because I’m not laughing, it doesn’t mean that I don’t get it!”  And in my case, a failure to laugh doesn’t necessarily mean that I am not amused.  I just don’t LOL easily, and I never do so when I am alone reading–whether from a book, magazine, or computer screen.

In solitude I might smile, perhaps even broadly.  In company the degree of my amusement is directly proportional to the depth of the curve in my smile, but more often than not that amusement is silent.  For me, laughing out loud is a special communal experience that requires two elements: excessive amusement and someone I trust.  In the company of the beloved, the silliest joke can suddenly explode into an irresistible wave of laughter that grows and crests and finally breaks, leaving in its wake helpless victims holding sides and wiping eyes. Then with just a look or a word the flow can start all over again.

That is LOL to me.  I can’t use it lightly. Still, I need some way to communicate via social media that I appreciate humor whenever I see it.  So I have decided to introduce my own acronym: TIF for That Is Funny.  Sometimes I may even think “very” and make it TIVF.

It is important to respond appropriately because behind every email, behind every line in a chat, and behind every tweet is a real person with feelings.  And the relationships we develop with other people have eternal value and eternal consequences. The ability to form relationships and share humor is part of the image of God that all humans carry whether they recognize it or not.

It is because I do recognize that I bear God’s image, and because He has made it possible for me to have a relationship with Him that I am uncomfortable with the second texting term.  Each time I see OMG, I am compelled to mentally add ITIT to relieve my distress. But that is the subject for another post.

Biologically Not a Gramma

I must begin with a confession: I am not a grandmother or even a mother. I am a never-been-married woman who came of age on a college campus in the 70s waving banners (metaphorically) that proclaimed, “Adam was a rough draft!” and “God isn’t dead, He just doesn’t care!”

Forty years later, I realize that only two-thirds of my early philosophy was true: Adam was a rough draft (but then so was Eve) and God certainly isn’t dead. By His compassionate grace, He corrected my deadly error through the transforming light that came with the understanding that God does indeed care very much about everything in His creation. The Lord cares for the grass and the birds (Matthew 6:25-33). He counts the hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7) and knows how often we stand up and sit down (Psalm 139:2). So we can be assured that He cares about lost keys, faulty plumbing, and unpaid bills.

Grammas’ Guide to the Universe is meant to serve as a perpetual reminder that in the harried moments of life we can always reach out to the God who cares. It may seem like standing in front of a clogged toilet is not the time or place for systematic theology, but I believe that is sometimes when we need it the most.

I first learned that lesson from A.W. Tozer. In chapter one of The Knowledge of the Holy, he says that “the man who comes to a right belief about God is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems.” I am not saying that thinking true thoughts about God will miraculously change our circumstances, but rather that it can miraculously adjust our hearts to make it possible for us to rejoice in Him when we face trials of any kind (James1:2).

If that is the way you would like to live your life, I invite you to become part of Grammas’ Guide.