A Collision of Visions (Part 1)

tb street view

Tony’s Small Engine Repair, 245 Franklin Street in Clymer

Habakkuk 2: 2-3 is one of the first scriptures I claimed as my own.

Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
 For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.

I started this blog in 2011 to write the vision of the homemaking ministry that has been nurtured in the hearts of many women in our rural Appalachian community for nearly twenty years.  But those who know me best realize that my vision of a building, for ministry beyond the walls of our numerous church buildings, reaches back more than twice that long.

In my early teens, I began to imagine a beautiful building where everyone is always welcome and always finds comfort and support.  My first thoughts centered on a dream house for my mother where all her children, and all their yet-to-be chosen spouses, and all her yet-to-be-born grandchildren could stay overnight at the same time.  But when my grandmother died in 1974, I began to think of something more like a super great room, a kitchen-dining-recreation room combo where the growing families of the 26 cousins who grew up on Prosperity Hill could all gather to share meals and visit comfortably on special occasions.

My mind has constructed countless buildings over the past 50 years, but since 1977 when I rededicated my life to Christ, those fantasy buildings all had one thing in common: every house, every complex, every campus in my imagination has been a tangible expression of the unity of the body of Christ in our community. The many and varied buildings of my mind are always used for the many and varied works God wants to work outside the walls of our places of worship.

When Gramma’s House became a legally established ministry of In His Hand, it seemed as though it was finally the appointed time for the vision to speak to our community.  We looked at real buildings in Hillsdale, Purchase Line, Commodore, and Cookport.  But the vision tarried.  Our meetings ended, I went to Texas for cancer treatment, and In His Hand lost incorporation status through a legal technicality.   It was not God’s time to grant Gramma’s House a place and a name in our community.

Though it tarries, wait for it.

During those years, while God burdened my heart with a longing to see the body of Christ united in service beyond the boundaries of our church programs, He was also working in another heart.  Joy was just a child when she first felt the pain of broken relationships in congregations where her father pastored.  As she matured, her desire to see Christians experience the healing of God’s love led her into counseling.  Through her marriage, her motherhood, and her work as a therapist, Joy gained an ever deepening understanding of how God uses relationships to transform us into the image of His Son.  She longed to share the healing power of life-giving relationships with others, especially those in the body of Christ.

In 2013 God brought Joy, Natalie, Jenn, and Lorraine together.  Having bonded at a weekend retreat, they began gathering together weekly.  Through these informal get-togethers, they discovered firsthand how transparent friendships can encourage, heal, and inspire.   With the support of her life-giving friends, Joy’s vision focused clearly into Heart Working Women, a platform to tell other women how God uses relationships in His work to make us whole.  It was the appointed time!

While Joy was bonding with her friends, the vision of Gramma’s House faded into the background of my life.  In January of 2015, I learned that cancer had metastasized to my liver and lungs, and I focused on the rapidly approaching portal of the world to come.  Then last year, totally unexpectedly, Joy’s pastor husband received an invitation to serve in our little congregation miles away from her precious CORE of friends.  She was certain that abandoning the newly launched Heart Working Women ministry and her CORE support would not match up with God’s character, yet it seemed that God was mysteriously working His plan to move her and her family to the tiny village in the center of the Appalachian range.

And our visions collided!

Joy found heart working women in the hearts and faces of women in Purchase Line, and surrendered to God’s evident plan to extend her tent pegs.

I will stand my watch
And set myself on the rampart,
And watch to see what He will say to me —Habakkuk 2:1 

Now we are watching, and waiting, and praying and together about a very real building in Clymer (pictured above) where Heart Working Women can glorify God in Gramma’s House.

We invite you to watch and wait with us as our visions continue to collide.

Advertisements

Dr. Jason Lisle cracked my young earth foundation

Young earth alternatives to the big bang

I started writing my sci-fi novel in 2009 believing that the earth is young. I never doubted the dimensions in the description of the universe I got from Alex Filippenko in his Introduction to Astronomy, but Jason Lisle’s DVD–Distant Starlight: Not a Problem for a Young Universe–had given me the impression that most astrophysicists just ignore any evidence that doesn’t fit a big bang scenario.  Three years ago when I listened to Dr. Lisle talking about Gravitational Time Dilation (GTD), Speed of Light Decay (CDK), and Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC), I  believed that he offered legitimate alternatives to Big Bang Cosmology.

Although I know much more about outer space now than I did the first time I heard Dr. Lisle, I’m still not prepared to critique the science of an astrophysicist.  (You can find that here, here, and here if you are interested.)  And besides, Dr. Lisle’s science is not what cracked the foundation of my young earth view.

After weeks of using the resources of Reasons To Believe, I again watched Distant Starlight: Not a Problem for a Young Universe.  I immediately realized that Dr. Lisle does not  present Old Earth Creationism honestly because he never examines the scripture that supports it.  After listening to podcasts and reading books and articles from RTB, this omission seemed glaring to me because, in contrast, all Reason To Believe scholars take every opportunity to openly engage the arguments, discuss the evidence, and examine the biblical interpretation of YEC.  As a result, I have actually learned more about the history and development of Young Earth Creationism through RTB than through YEC resources.

In Distant Starlight, Dr.Lisle builds a case against evolution and a godless big bang theory, but he dismisses out of hand any alternative biblical interpretation.  He talks extensively about the science (that many of us will never understand completely), but he takes no time to evaluate the case for an old earth made directly from the word of God (that every believer can understand with the light of God’s Spirit).

Dr. Lisle states “The big bang cannot be harmonized with the Bible.  It doesn’t work.  They are mutually incompatible.  You can’t make them mix.”  Thanks to Reasons To Believe, I know that statement is simply false.  I don’t understand all the scientific data, but I have no problem understanding RTB’s literal interpretation of the creation account that can harmonize the big bang with the Bible.  I see how it does work. I see how the two are completely compatible.  I see how the big bang and the Bible can be made to mix quite easily.

Does that prove that the big bang is true?  No, it doesn’t.  But God calls us to test all things and hold fast to the good (1Thessalonians 5:21), and He promises to generously give us wisdom whenever we ask (James 1:5,6).   Like the Bereans, those of us who love the Lord and want to obey all He says are obligated to search His word and allow the Spirit to lead us in all truth rather than to blindly accept the teaching of men.

It was not science that first caused me to doubt the Young Earth position.  It was the failure of Young Earth leaders like Jason Lisle and Ken Ham to honestly discuss the scriptural case for an Old Earth.  I still wonder why people who love the Lord, honor His word, and trust His Spirit refuse to encourage all creationists to search the scriptures together regardless of what they believe about the age of the earth.

Because I know the Lord blesses us whenever we seek Him in His word, that’s what I’m inviting you to do with me in Grammas’ Guide to the Universe.

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.

Gramma fights on her knees

In the sixth chapter of his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul uses a soldier dressed for battle to teach a very important spiritual lesson.  During his lifetime, Roman legions patrolled the empire, so Paul knew wherever believers gathered the image would be familiar to all who heard his letter read.

Today the Roman soldier is ubiquitous in Sunday School material far beyond the lands where the Caesars once reigned. And he still makes an effective teaching aid on a poster with his armor labeled from Ephesians 6:13-17.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

There is even a plastic version of the full armor of God available as a child’s costume. However, the day I saw seven-year-old Tim use the sword of the Spirit to pound on the shield of faith held by four-year-old Nathan, I knew something was missing in their lesson on spiritual warfare.

Unfortunately, the same thing is too often true for adults as well. Too often we isolate those four verses as though simply describing the armor accurately can keep us safe. And I think that like Tim and Nathan we might even use the armor fighting our allies instead of our enemy.

Very early in my walk with the Lord, I memorized all the pieces of the full armor of God. I knew that rema, not logos was the Greek word for “word” in the passage. I understood from that fine distinction that I was to have precise portions of scripture hidden in my heart and ready to apply as needed.

However, it was much later that I finally realized that the battle I was preparing to fight took place on my knees.  Ephesians 6:18 tells us exactly what to do once we have our armor in place:

praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints —

If we move back in the passage to verses 10-12, we see that Paul had reached a conclusion of some kind when he introduces the concept of spiritual warfare:

 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

One day as I was reading my Bible, I had one of those utterly transcendent moments of enlightenment: FINALLY! Finally, my sisters, I made the connection between Paul’s warning about the spiritual nature of our battle and everything he had said from Ephesians 5:22 to 6:10. He tells us that our battle is not with our husbands, wives, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, employees, employers or any of the other people who are most likely to annoy or disappoint us in life. He tells us that we must live armed and praying so that we are always warring against God’s enemies and not against God’s children. He tells us that the evil day we must withstand is any day that saints allow the enemy to disturb the unity of the body of Christ.

And that is why Gramma must constantly fight on her knees.