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April 6, 2018 / Pastor George Fike

Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly

Eleventh in the series From Adam to Abraham

And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.”  So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.  God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. Genesis 1:20-23

Day Five

Just as on Day Four God revealed the “kings” of the sky – the Sun to rule the Day, the Moon to rule the Night, on Day Five he populates the sea and sky. The activity is described as “teeming” and “moving” in the image of their great Creator and His Word that is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). “For in Him we live and move and have our existence.” (Acts 17:28)

“All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.”
Cecil Frances Alexander

God began filling this world with the living creatures we would need for food, companionship, labor, and – yes, believe it or not – fuel. Many species proliferated for a time, then went extinct, adding to the biomass that has enriched our healthy planet. God continually replaced the old with new as he continued engineering this planet for the maximum benefit of those He was to create in His own image and likeness.

With great diversity and often hilarity, God created these lifeforms, enjoying each in its season. When their times ended, they returned to dust as new lifeforms were created to replace them. The kings of the sea and sky arose, soon to be joined by the kings of forest and field; but all would bow to the crown of God’s creation – the ones created in the image of God’s own Son.

There before me lies the mighty ocean, teeming with life of every kind, both great and small.  And look! See the ships! And over there, the whale you (God) made to play in the sea. Psalm 104:25, 26 (The Living Bible) 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

 

 

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March 28, 2018 / Pastor George Fike

Come before winter

I just received a very good job review.  It was specific and affirmed my gifting and leadership in my position at our store and company. It came from my supervisor who has very demanding standards. It set a path for my future success. It attached to a significant pay increase. Everything you could hope for in an evaluation.

But as I celebrated quietly with my wife, I could not escape a feeling of melancholy. As much as I enjoy my job, it is an unfortunate second career which came to me in the late autumn of my life. I had to start over after being “let go” from the ministry.

It remains one of the greatest disappointments in my life that at the time of my unjustified termination, no one stood up for me. It was sad enough that my firing came at the hand of someone I thought to be my friend but who chose to support his action with demonstrable lies. But the greatest ache is that those who knew me best said nothing.

I can relate to the way Paul felt as he penned what we believe to be his last letter to his young protege:

2 Timothy 4:9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world,has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia,and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.

14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.

16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

21 Do your best to get here before winter.

In a modern-day Christianity that tells us to withhold our negative feelings, to keep things upbeat, to not show the grittier side of faith, Paul pours out his feelings of loneliness, betrayal, and desire for retribution. And just as David laments in so many of his Psalms, Paul still places his hope and trust for deliverance in God alone.

Did Timothy make it to Paul before winter? We don’t know. Did he die sad and alone, or did he have the comfort of someone he loved before the end? Do you know someone who has been wounded in the fight that needs someone to come before winter?

“There, she poured out her words of grief, tearfully, in faint tones, in harmony with sadness, just as the swan sings once, in dying, its own funeral song.”  Ovid, “The Story of Picus and Canens” (Metamorphoses, book XIV:320–396)

November 14, 2017 / Pastor George Fike

Twinkle, twinkle

Tenth in the series Adam to Abraham

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day. Genesis 1:14-19

Day 4

What the hey!? The sun not there until 3 days after the light? What’s going on here?

OK. Here it is in a nutshell…

  • Cosmologically, despite the appearance of light on Day One, it was not until Day Four that the earth’s atmosphere finally condensed the right amount of water from vapor to liquid so that the atmosphere cleared enough to be able to see the sun by day and the moon and stars by night. This is a scientifically satisfactory explanation. It matches up with observable physics.
  • Allegorically, it begins a poetic narrative that makes sense as well.  In the first four days, God prepared the kingdoms: sky, sea, land; and in the second two, He established the kings of those domains. Here, on Day Four, He crowned the sun to rule the day and the moon to rule the night. Like so:
    • Day 1                                        Day 4
      • Day and Night                       Sun and Moon
    • Day 2                                        Day 5
      • Sky and Sea                           Sea Creatures and Birds
    • Day 3                                         Day 6
      • Land and Plant life              Beasts and Man

Please understand me: an assertion that Genesis 1 might be an allegory does not dismiss its place as literal history. After all, much of the Old Testament’s prophesies regarding the coming of Christ and the establishment of the new covenant were rooted in the history of the Exodus. God’s deliverance in the time of Moses was instructive to the prophets of old.  We only understand Jesus “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” in remembering the sacrifice of the lambs at the original Passover.  As a child, I learned a poem that started “In fourteen hundred and ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue…” It was a poem, but not simply a poem; it taught me an accurate historical fact. Sometimes we get caught up in our limited viewpoints that we cannot see the validity of other perspectives. Genesis 1 can be seen as poem that presents an historical sequence of events. It’s a poem, it’s an allegory, it’s an historical narrative… it’s 100% truth.

You can see them as happening in 24-hour days. I don’t care. I see them as long periods of preparatory activity. I hope you don’t care. The point is: NO ONE WAS AROUND TO SEE THE MIRACLES OF CREATION! Who cares how much time God took? Seriously.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9

I will rant about God’s timing in a future post, so I’ll leave it with you for now. Suffice it to say, God planted us in a home with a beautiful view of this massive universe, specially designed so that we would have plenty of time and evidence to come to know and trust His provision and enter a relationship with our Creator.

…What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made… Romans 1:19-20

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them? Psalm 8:3-4

“To whom will you compare me?
    Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
    Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
    and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
    not one of them is missing.

Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:25-31

Despite the inaccuracies and fictional fantasies of the movie Noah, I still love the creation narrative from this scene. See you next time.

Speaking of the “sun that rules our day,” check out this new discovery.

November 7, 2017 / Pastor George Fike

Land, Ho!

Ninth in the series From Adam to Abraham

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.  God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day. Genesis 1:9-13

Day Three

Remember on the first day “darkness covered the face of the deep”? The initial condition of the earth was totally covered by water.  Today, water still covers 71 percent of the surface. Even as the earth began to cool from its incredibly hot state, as the atmosphere began to dissipate and condense so that light could finally slip through, plate tectonics began to lift the solid mass of the earth to the surface. And miraculously – supernaturally really – plant life began to grow. In fact, recent studies have uncovered evidence for the early appearance of vegetation.  It seems as though God began to introduce life as quickly as possible to prepare the earth to be home for His children to come. We’ll get into just how quickly in a later post.

The carbon-silicate cycle (the continual renewal of the earth’s chemical balance through eruption and erosion) makes biological life possible. It is all evidence of the great care God took in the design of our temporary home. In His patient workmanship, we see the patience of eternity.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11

Recommended reading:

improbable planet

November 2, 2017 / Pastor George Fike

Sky and Sea

Eighth in the series  From Adam to Abraham

And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day. – Genesis 1:6-8

Day Two

God, in His wisdom, put into place the second essential system necessary to prepare the earth for life –  the Water Cycle – whereby the earth would be properly supplied with water in all of its three forms – solid, liquid, and vapor – necessary for life as we know it.  Apparently, H2O is the most common molecule in the universe, yet difficult to find in all three states within the same environment.  Here are a few interesting facts about water:

  • Most solids expand up to 10 % of their volume when they melt. Water expands by the same amount when it freezes!
  • Most solids are more dense than the liquid phase. However, ice has a density of 0.917 g/cm3 while liquid water has a density of 0.998 g/cm3. Lakes freeze from the top down, insulating the liquid water below. If the density of the solid were greater than that of water, lakes would freeze from the bottom up and all the animal and plant life in the aquatic environment would die.
  • Water has a melting point which is 100 degrees C higher than expected for its group of hydides.
  • Water has a boiling point 200 degrees C higher than expected for its group of hydides.
  • Water is a liquid at room temperature. The hydrogen compounds around oxygen are all toxic gases, CH4, NH3, H2S, HF.
  • Water has the highest surface tension of any liquid except mercury. High surface tension helps plants move water from the earth surface up into the tree limbs and leaves.
  • Water is an excellent solvent, dissolving many ionic compounds which are insoluble in other compounds.

A large component of NASA’s search for extraterrestrial life is the principle “Follow the water.” Yet this is another area where earth has been seen to be quite remarkable in its ready abundance. Scripture makes it clear that this is part of the painstaking care God put into His plan for Planet Earth, unique in the universe.

And His promise is to always provide that for which we thirst. Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

“He draws up the drops of water,
    which distill as rain to the streams;
the clouds pour down their moisture
    and abundant showers fall on mankind.
Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
    how he thunders from his pavilion?
See how he scatters his lightning about him,
    bathing the depths of the sea.
This is the way he… provides food in abundance.

Job 36:27-31

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:9-11

Interestingly, this chapter in Isaiah begins: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters…” I invite you to come to the spring of life – Jesus.

 

For further reading on God’s provision for life on planet earth, I recommend the following resource:

book of job

November 1, 2017 / Pastor George Fike

Darkness and Light

Seventh in the series Adam to Abraham

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good,and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. Genesis 1:3-5

Day One

Out of the chaos that was the cooling, coalescing earth, the  Potter began working the clay. The setting was no longer the “heavens”; God commenced His systematic shaping of the future childhood home of mankind. The perspective changed in verse 2 (see last post) from the entire Big Bang universe to the surface of the pale blue dot we call Earth. And the first thing necessary for life to exist here was light.

The universe was not created in the dark. There were already billions, really trillions, of stars far brighter and larger than the one we see in our daytime sky. But for the first time its rays penetrated the shroud of dust and vapor swirling around our atmosphere and arrived at the surface of our watery world. From this point the narrative will ensue from our earthly vantage point. And we see the cycle of night and day. The biblical day begins with dusk and continues until the next dusk. “There was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

God’s greatest works emerge from darkness. Jesus’ miracles occurred before anyone could see the possibilities. Our salvation was realized only after we emerged from the dark moments of our lives.  He does His greatest work in us when we can’t even see Him in operation.

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me;
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.
Sometimes He weaveth sorrow
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.

Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver’s skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

Attributed to Florence M. Alt, 1892

  • Psalm 30:5 – Weeping may stay for the night,
        but rejoicing comes in the morning.
  • Psalm 143:8 – Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
        for I have put my trust in you.
  • John 1:4-5 – In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Do not fear the dark, the Light will always rise on us!

October 3, 2017 / Pastor George Fike

Formless and Void

Sixth in the series Adam to Abraham

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:2)

Tohu va bohu  תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ

This is a rare construction – a play on words, found elsewhere only in Isaiah 34, where it speaks of God’s prophesied destruction of Israel’s enemy, Edom.

He shall stretch the line of confusion over it, and the plumb line of emptiness. (Isaiah 34:11 ESV)

Some have seen this language on chaotic emptiness and presumed that after God created the universe, the angelic rebellion took place and God’s earth was collateral damage.  They read it as “the earth BECAME formless and void.” In what is referred to as the “Gap Theory,” they place this widespread destruction between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 – therefore a period of countless time BEFORE the creation week – a convenient gap in which to insert all the dinosaurs and fallen angels, so that God could clean it up in a week before the new tenants – Adam and Eve – arrived. I see this as an unnecessary and unwarranted construct popularized by the Scofield Reference Bible et al to refute fossil evidence of a prehistoric world.

The simplest explanation is also one backed by science. The primal earth was uninhabitable. It awaited the hand of the Creator to prepare it for its function – the proving ground of humanity.

The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters…

Here we have the first introduction to the Holy Spirit, joining the Father and Son in creation.  We don’t know exactly what He is doing in this scene. The Amplified Bible says: The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters. Eugene Peterson in The Message paraphrased it: God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss. I tend to prefer this sense of it. It reminds me of Jesus’ words as he approached Jerusalem the week before his crucifixion: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)

The Spirit was no doubt foreseeing what would come, preparing to administrate God’s perfect plan for the problematic people he would painstakingly place in this mess of a world. He knew the pain that would ensue – that we sometimes decry as unfair and unnecessary – but God sees as birth pangs before His children are born into a better world. Please read here.

We often cry out:

“This is not what I thought my life would look like. I honestly don’t recognize me anymore. What a wreck I’ve made of it! I just feel so empty.”

Yet the Spirit of God still hovers over the vast floodwaters of my shipwrecked soul. He knows there is solid ground deep beneath its troubled surface. He patiently rests on us until the solidity of God’s purpose emerges from our chaotic emptiness. But He never leaves us unattended.

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

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