The Practices of Love

Love is:

PATIENT: puts up with other's quirks
KIND: goes out of its way to serve
NOT ENVIOUS: rejoices in other's triumphs
NOT PROUD: associates with the lowly
NOT INDECENT: pure in all circumstances
NOT SELF-SEEKING: thinks of other's needs and desires
NOT PROVOKED: brushes off insults or annoyances
FORGIVING: forgets wrongs done to self
OPENLY SUPPORTIVE OF TRUTH: holds tenaciously to convictions
BEARING: gladly shares other's burdens
BELIEVING: looks forward to eternity
ENDURING: holds out through discomfort
UNFAILING: persists--through everything

(from First Corinthians 13:4-8)

Sunrise and Sunset

The Master's Plan

Presented in the Kansas State Capitol, January 2006


My father owns a fossil watch. In spite of its deceptive name, he purchased it several years ago at Dillard’s for a substantial sum of money. If someone were to find this watch, lying neglected in an out of the way place, they would likely make the assumption that someone had designed that watch. As they observed the hands, moving in perfect timing they might be tempted to open the back and see the intricately formed gears that keep the watch ticking. The thought would never enter their head that the watch came by chance—unless they wanted to believe that the watch was owned by no one.

Someone Made the World

Our entire universe runs on the same system as that watch: sunrise, sunsets, days, weeks, seasons and years, all in perfect order and continual repetition.
In good science, a hypothesis is an educated guess at an explanation and can be tested for truth. A theory is a tested and proven hypothesis, and once a theory has been sufficiently proven, it becomes a scientific law. The Law of Gravity can be proven time and again—if I toss a watch into the air, it will fall to the ground again. Anything that cannot be scientifically replicated moves into the realm of faith. And any faith that contradicts scientific law is on shaky ground.
As I studied chemistry in high school, I came across two scientific laws—known as the laws of thermodynamics, that knock a hole in the belief that the world happened by chance. The first law states that “matter cannot be created or destroyed”—that means what is here in the world is all we’ve ever had and all we are ever going to get. The second law states that “without the addition of energy, the entropy (or disorder) of the universe must always either increase or remain the same—it can never decrease.” The world doesn’t get more orderly, unless energy is added from outside the system. These two scientific laws make two facts clear—you don’t get something from nothing, and world conditions do not improve with time.
We see these laws at work all the time. If you want to make a watch, you have to start with the rough materials for a watch—you can’t just wish it into being. And as soon as you finish making that watch, it will slowly begin to fall apart. It doesn’t get more reliable and durable with use—it runs down, just like the universe.
It doesn’t take a stretch of faith or an assault to intelligence to believe that someone made my watch. Nor is it a blind leap of faith to believe in a Creator of the world—all good science points to an intelligent designer for any useful design.

Someone Owns the World

The issue is simple: if someone made the world, then someone owns it—just like the watch. Most creations are made to fulfill the purpose of the designer. The only reason to believe that anything is unintentionally created, is if you do not wish to acknowledge the creator. After all, if someone made the watch, you owe him praise for his workmanship as well as acknowledging that only he knows how it should properly be used. And if you find a watch lying neglected on the road, it was created by someone, belongs to someone and must be returned.
Complex manufactured items usually come with an owner’s manual, written by the creator of the item, detailing proper use and care. Humans also come with an owner’s manual, filled with useful history about our origins, and directions on how to live a life that will be pleasing to the One who made us. The Bible also contains prophecies about the future, some of which have already come true. And just like He made scientific laws to govern the universe, so the Creator made moral laws to govern our lives—“You shall have no other Gods before Me,”, “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

We Don’t Want to be Accountable

God has a plan. He’s had a plan from before the first day of creation, and nothing that has ever happened through history has had Him over a barrel. The issue is that we are so desperately rebellious, so driven by the desire to live apart from Him, that we are willing to delude ourselves with the belief that He does not exist. We try to tell ourselves that we are self-made men and women, subject to no one’s rules but our own. Unfortunately, it is not only possible, but also easy to whole-heartedly and sincerely believe a lie.
The state of Kansas built Highway 400 and endowed it with certain laws to govern the traffic. I may not want to obey these laws—it’s not always convenient to drive 65 miles per hour—and I may even convince myself that no one made the highway, and that no one owns it, so that I can drive as fast as I want, but that belief will not save me from punishment. When I stand before a judge in a court of law, faced with a speeding fine, I will find out very quickly who owns that Highway. My belief didn’t change the facts, and by the time I am faced with the undeniable truth, it will be too late, and I will have to pay the penalty.
Beliefs don’t shape facts—but the facts should certainly shape our beliefs. Even if everyone driving Highway 400 decided that the highway had come by chance, and drove as they chose, it wouldn’t change the history of that highway.
And the Highway is clearly marked with signs that say “US 400”. There should be no doubt to anyone with eyes wired directly to their brain who owns that highway.
The same is true of the world. God built His universe, and posted signs pointing toward Himself—all of creation points to Him—He also placed scientific rules that can’t be broken, and moral rules that can be, to show His ownership of the world. And when His laws are broken, and His truth is denied, there are penalties.
In the book of Romans, He details the laws that we witness today. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, His divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen!” (Romans 1:18-25)
God says He made it obvious within us—only those who don’t want to live by His laws engage in futile speculations about the origin of the earth. Only those with foolish hearts exchange the knowledge that they are made in God’s image for the lie that they came from animals.
Satan hates our bodies, made in God’s image, and hates to see us worship and adore God, because he is the ultimate rebel. The goal of evolution is the goal this devil has had from the beginning—to do away with God and therefore accountability to a creator. Even Satan has deluded himself, hoping that he will not be punished for his sin of rebellion to God.
But just like disbelief in the law does not make you exempt from it, so denial of God does not set you free from accountability to your Maker.

Conclusion: Surrender or Surrealism

Everything we see today was made by Someone—including man, one of the most complex creations in the universe. We marvel at a watch, and admire the designer, why do we look at ourselves and deny a Maker?
Because God created and owns the universe, He is the only one who can break the laws—that’s how He proves His deity. If we choose to obey the moral laws He has laid out for us, He will reverse the downward cycle, and make our lives increasingly more orderly and eventually give us eternal life.
Some day, the Bible says that God will roll up this universe like the worn-out garment that it is, and He will create a new heaven and a new earth with new laws—no more death and decay, the lion will lie down with the lamb, and He Himself shall be our Sun.
Today, you have two choices: you can choose to surrender to the Master’s plan, or you can continue on in surrealism—blindly living in your own little world, making your own rules—headed straight for destruction. God warns you that your little world is still a part of God’s creation and therefore subject to His laws.
Which will you choose? Delusional surrealism, trying to deny a God who made you in His image, or surrender to an Intelligent Designer who has everything under control.

You’re a Temple

I don’t know what to do to change your mind
Your body is not a gift for all mankind

You’re a temple of the Living God
Your heart should be His altar stone
Your life should be the sacrifice
Offered to God alone

The beauty God gives is not meant to be shared
By a roving eye or the outfits that you wear

God clothed His whole temple
In linen and hangings of blue
In velvet and scarlet
You should be covered too

The figure you have is not your light to share
You will not turn eyes to God by tempting stares

Your body is a sacred thing
Holy vessels are covered
In reverence and honor
Because they are beloved

Keep the abode of God unstained by sin
So the glory of God it may contain within

You’re a temple of the Living God
Your heart should be His altar stone
Your life should be the sacrifice
Offered to God alone

The Grace of the Lord

The grace of the Lord must be your own.
You're not saved by the faith that another has shown.
But if you should wander so far from home
The grace of the Lord can still find you.

So seek the Lord while He may be found.
Call His name while He might be near.
The humble sinner, who falls to the ground
Will find that the Lord of grace will hear.

Grace is greater than all our sin.
Grace will teach us to enter in
To the way of faith that the humble have trod.
God's grace will lead us to God.

So if you have chosen to humbly implore
God's grace and His mercy to open the door
That you might enter His rest ever more,
May the grace of our Lord be with you.

Romans 7:19

This is a day of bitter repentance;
For I have sinned!
And every day is the same.

“For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.” ~Romans 7:19

Sunset in Kansas

Romans 12:1-2

“In light of God’s mercy
I plead with you, my brethren,
To lay yourselves on the altar of sacrifice
Set apart to live devoted to God
Which is how He desires to be worshiped
Not in the methods of this world
But in a spirit of truth
Rendering your minds
Transforming your lives
To prove that God has decided to accept you
As perfect.

~Sparrow, Tell Me~

Sparrow, tell me how you live
Each day upon your song
For though you do not gather wood
Or build a fire to cook your food
You are not hungry long

Sparrow, tell me why you sing
When winter-time is near
Do you not fear the winds that blow
With no warm house in which to go
At this cold time of year?

Sparrow, tell me why you fly
When you, in flight, might fall
Is it no worry to your mind
That, struck from heaven, danger finds
Yet you fear not at all.

Sparrow, teach me how you trust
Upon the God above
For it is He that feeds your young
And fills your little heart with song
To show me He is love.