Painting the Stars

“When I have a terrible need of—shall I say the word—religion—then I go out and paint the stars.” —Vincent Van Gogh

In a turbulent world, a turbulent man had it right. Before he painted, Vincent was a failed preacher who remembered that the heavens still declared the glory of God. In Alex Haley’s novel Roots, Kunte Kinte’s ancestor held his newborn son heavenward, declaring, “Behold, the only thing greater than you!” Carole King wrote in her song Up On a Roof, “At night, the stars, they put on a show for free…”

Turbulence drowns in a sea of peace when we take time to go outside and just look up. The Heavens still declare God’s Glory—He made them, you know, and He is bigger than all of it. Best of all, He loves you.

Rest well.

—j

Bottom Layer of Ice

“Only God has the love we need—yet we’ve turned away from him, except to demand convenient instructions and cooperative help. So we manage every relational encounter with self-need as our ultimate value. We talk about topics we can handle. We try to build our mate’s self-esteem so we can feel good about ourselves. We pout so friends will ask what’s wrong. We tell jokes to keep from revealing loneliness. Self-need plus self-management—a spirit of entitlement and an attitude of independence—become the foundation of our lives, the bottom layer of ice. We become hopelessly religious.” —Larry Crabb

Go to church—but not for the music, the coffee, self-help sermons or bragging rights to how great the place makes you feel—pageantry that covers up wicked hearts never impressed Him. Go for Him. He’s there and He’s waiting, because He loves you more than you can know. We have no Christian entitlements—everything is blood-bought by Him before whom every knee shall bow. Go to church—revel in His love and majesty and bow your knee. But go. It’s not religion—it’s just Him.

See you Sunday.

—j

 

Beyond the Reach of Darkness

“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tower high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

There are some things ‘Mordor’ can’t touch—all darkness is fleeting. From everlasting to everlasting the star will shine in all its beauty. And us with Him.

His love endures forever.

Now that’s hope.

—j

Sometimes There Are No Roads

Had supper yet? Feast on this…

“I have learned…to let God be the mystery that He is and, with eyes wide open, to pursue Him, not with the precision of a crossword puzzle fanatic but with the reckless passion of a pilot flying into the Bermuda Triangle. Following Christ is a wild adventure full of risk, frustration, excitement and setbacks. It is not an evening stroll in a planned community along a well-manicured path…” —Larry Crabb

Let the adventure begin.

Have a great weekend…!

—j

In the Headlines: What Have Astronomers Really Discovered?

I love the universe. I was an astronomy minor at university, and like a bug to light I’m drawn to all the latest star-science. And as you can guess, this is a dilemma. I’m a follower of Jesus—I love cosmology and believe in the most grandiose terms that God made the universe to declare His glory to anyone who can perceive it.

But astronomy is also a desperate science—one that seeks the eternal origin and fate of everything temporal. And that’s a room with no doors. God is an affront to science, but kill him and the only solution to the problem of “life, the universe and everything” is that it all burst from nothing and is hurtling into infinite discontinuity. From nothing to nothingness. At least for the moment we have ashes and dust. In the end, science says, there won’t even be dust. That dark conclusion means humanity is far more meaningless than it ever imagined.

But the show must go on, because humanity, scientists tell us, must discover life off the earth, and the non-science of God interferes with their enormous view of the universe. So they turn their desperate search toward new, potentially habitable worlds in the hope of staving off inevitable extinction, validating humanity’s existence and pinpointing our true bio-evolutionary origin. And perhaps along the way they will even meet intelligent life, which, if discovered, they believe, will render Jesus and the Bible obsolete. Happy day. There’s just one question left: And then?

No doors.

With the discovery of yet another “earth-like” planet in the habitable zone of a neighboring star, another journalist has hailed the death-knell of Christianity (other religions seem to be meritless targets to critics).

But no one found a habitable planet. What we’re hearing is common, frequent, journalistic embellishment based on wishful thinking. A planet was detected—in the habitable zone—of a star so distant it would take several hundred thousand years to travel there at our best achievable speed (aside from the innumerable and deadly challenges of theoretical interstellar space travel).

Are our telescopes that good? Yes. So is it possible the planet is earth-like? Yes. Are scientists sure of this? No. It’s a heavy world, meaning rocky like earth, not gaseous like Jupiter, and it’s in the “habitable zone”, orbiting its parent star about the same distance as earth does from the sun. Does it have oceans, an atmosphere or life? No one knows. Everything outside the mass of the planet and the orbital location is a best guess. Is it possible they found another earth? Yes. Is it probable? No. Just because Carl Sagan mused that if no other life existed in the universe it would amount to “an awful waste of space” doesn’t make it so. That was his wish, not his understanding.

The data tells us there are innumerable planets out there; it can even tell us their approximate mass, size and makeup—but little else—including the possibility of life. In the scientific community there’s a gross assumption that the biological evolution presumed to have occurred on earth also occurred elsewhere by the same mechanisms and for the same reasons. But in fact they have no idea—and until they can discern bugs or structures on a distant world, they have no way of knowing (aside from radio signals, which are so far entirely absent).

Journalistic embellishment is designed to sell news, and journalists also know that headlines alone can indoctrinate the masses, especially those who take no time to read the article (which is most people).

Is life “out there” possible? Why not. Is it probable? Who knows. And don’t forget—the same questions confront those who declare new evolutionary discoveries as though they had completely nailed down a nearly opaque past. While reported as fact, they are only expressing a best guess. Possible? Within the realm of scientific theory, yes. Probable? Impossible to say. Destructive to faith? Not at all—in fact there’s an almost comical irony here: to search for human meaning in a doomed universe is to demonstrate greater faith and hope than the religious people who offend their scientific sensibilities with their faith and hope.

Those people say there is a door—that the Landlord installed it a while back, and though most have tried to ignore it or block it up, and though few use it, it remains stubbornly wedged open.

Hope will not vanish as long as there’s a Door in the universe.

Which is why I love the Landlord.

—j