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Posts Tagged ‘attributes of god’

I kept wanting to go to the mountains but people, responsibility, and other priorities kept preventing it. Seeing my repeatedly frustrated efforts my wife said that I should go tomorrow. I wasn’t going to second guess the cessation of chores and her encouragement to go. Besides, after taking a walk with her early on this August 1st I knew that it was an exceptionally clear, low humidity, and cool day. (65 degrees was enough for several people to say it felt like the first Fall day- wishful thinking with August and September ahead.) So a hasty breakfast and quicker packing job and I was gone. I like solitude but I like company, too, but the whole reason I was going alone was because I couldn’t find anyone and one had even backed out. 

I even enjoy the drive up on a very curvy rode in a small, good cornering car with a clutch and adequate power. The air was crisp, the sky totally blue, and my heart was light. Bouldering by yourself is considered to be quite risky by some, but I have observed others doing it with care. You only attempt climbs that are straight up over the pad with no barn door potential. The weather meant exceptional friction, almost unheard of in the humid South in the summer. I was climbing well, but I can’t say if I was climbing exceptionally well because I couldn’t try anything really hard because of the ground rules for climbing alone I’d set down. During rest breaks I took pictures of fern and tree leaves.

Rockcap Fern (Polypodium virginianum) I believe

Rockcap Fern (Polypodium virginianum) I believe

Frazier Magnolia

Frazier Magnolia

I set up several videos of me climbing (I just admitted to a selfie! I will not let this become a regular event and certainly not an addiction. I must keep this under control.) You may check them out by clicking on the names below. It will be immediately obvious that I’m no rockstar, but I enjoy the challenge, nonetheless:

Disc and Throw

Chainsawleft

Trillium fruiting

Trillium fruiting

American Chestnut "bush"

American Chestnut “bush”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After bouldering around until my forearms were quite tired, I walked up to the top of the ridge, sat down, took in the view, ate lunch, and read my Bible. Actually, when I first arrived up top I lay down on the bouldering pad a prayed for awhile. There was such a rest in telling my Father all my burdens about work, family, and internal stress. I have been enjoying, not just tolerating reading Leviticus and Numbers. Numbers 2 and 3 seem like lists of camp arrangement and numbers of fighting men, and numbering religious servants, but they reveal several things about God’s character. He is orderly and efficient and given to detail.  The arrangement of Levites reveals His concern for His holiness among the people and grace to not destroy them with His fierce justice. The taking of the Levites in place of the firstborn and the redemption of 273 additional Israelites by a gift of five shekels each reminds us of the depth of our sin problem and the gloriousness of God’s solution in salvation. The more I read the Pentateuch (Genesis to Deuteronomy) the more I feel like Jesus is repeating Himself when He points to God’s holiness and the Law. As a man did He have “aha!” moments of learning the Word from His parents or the synagogue teachers, moments when He said, “I remember saying that.”? All of His Word speaks of His character and what is important to Him. Are we bored with it because we have little passion for knowing Him and what He cares about? Knowledge of Him is our ultimate goal here. Beautiful days in the mountains and hard days of difficulty or frustration are profitable and meaningful if we allow them to direct us to knowing Him more. Yeah, I prefer one over the other but I am slowly learning to muse, “Hmm, I wander how this situation may draw me closer to Him?”

House Fly

House Fly

 

Evergreen groundcover

Shining Clubmoss (or Shining Firmoss) Huperizia lucidula (Thanks for the ID help Sister L)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view up top increased my enjoyment of my time concentrating on God. He created all of the beauty around us to remind us of His beauty and the enjoyment we may have from these gifts from His good hand.

Left to Right: Table Rock, Hawksbill, Gingercake

Left to Right: Table Rock, Hawksbill, Gingercake

Exceptionally Beautiful August Day

Exceptionally Beautiful August Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In the late afternoon the bus labored up the steep, windy streets out of Cusco onto a highway and through a gap into a increasingly rural setting. The highway wound from there ever down through a steep-sided valley with occasional leveler spots where villages cling to the side of hills. Chencheros is one such village with walled adobe courtyards along both sides of its streets and no appearance of significant prosperity or poverty. The bus stopped at an open gate in one of the 7 to 8 feet walls. Here is a tourist market for the woven goods of the village, a village where the real things are made. A short distance beyond the gate are pens for llama and Guinea Pigs, the latter having come over from Africa many centuries ago are now a food delicacy and a source for fine wool. Further in young and old Quechua women were weaving various textiles and a pavilion was setup for the demonstration of cutting, washing, carding, spinning, dying, and drying yarn. Leaves and roots provide for many colors but the most fascinating is the Cochineal insect that inhabits cacti of Latin America that provides deep, crimson red colors. The woman demonstrating crushed the white remains of one she had dug out of a prickly pear cactus fruit between her thumb and forefinger. Swirling the contents into her palm revealed the deepest, purplish red. Boiled in water with the yarn these produce a very permanent dye.

Leaving Cusco

Leaving Cusco

Moving Upward

Moving Upward

Wool on Hoof

Wool on Hoof

Cutting, washing, carding, spinning, dying, drying

Cutting, washing, carding, spinning, dying, drying

Weaving Alpaca Wool

Weaving Alpaca Wool

Sacred Valley Downstream of Temple Site above Ollantaytamba

Sacred Valley Downstream of Temple Site above Ollantaytamba

  Dusk was upon us as we left Chencheros.

   It was time to head down to Urubamba.

I saw a most beautiful sight as the bus cruised across the upper reaches of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. A high, rugged peak to the west combed the rays of the setting Sun into golden strands while a sliver of the Moon looked on from the deeply violet background. A picture would have trouble doing the scene justice even if I could have stopped and attempted a time exposure, much less my words, for it was profoundly beautiful. By upper reaches of the valley I mean that it is much higher than the part down by the Urubamba River. As the twilight dimmed we came to a set of switchbacks 1000 feet above the provincial capital of Urubamba, shining by electric lights in the dark valley below, while the snow capped peaks loomed darkly above pressing down on the small village below.

Peaks 'feel heavy' on the small valley below

Peaks ‘feel heavy’ on the small valley below

Peaks to Comb the Sun's Rays

Peaks to Comb the Sun’s Rays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning we headed further downstream to the village and temple site at Ollantaytamba. The temple site has pottery and stonework evidence of pre-Inca terraces and temples. The Incas never finished their temple site here because the Spanish interrupted their 100 year empire and building spree. This fact actually left abundant evidence for how it was being built. Boulders of the acceptable type to the builders (gray basalt) were quarried several thousand feet upslope on the other side of the valley and rolled down. The Urubamba River was divided into two channels by a central levee and half at a time blocked off so the blocks could be pulled across half the river at a time. A ramp on the near side of the valley provided the route up to the temple site. It was perhaps a 9% (~5 degree) slope. We were told that experiments with a 1 ton block required 180 men to drag across smooth, rounded stones lubricated with wet clay up such an incline. The estimate was that 2000 men would have been needed to pull some of the blocks resident to the site!

Ollantaytamba Temple site, terraces, and village

Ollantaytamba Temple site, terraces, and village

Temple of the Sun at Ollantaytamba with quarry site in the background

Temple of the Sun at Ollantaytamba with quarry site in the background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we were at the temple site the local tour guide was telling us about the various foci of Inca worship: sun, moon, stars, earth, water, the underworld, fertility of land, animals, and wives, and more. Solstices, equinoxes, planetary conjunctions, and the like were times for worship. In their pantheon of gods and means of worship they recognized the invisible god who created all things. At this temple site they believed that this god had left them a representation of himself in the rock formations across the valley. They built a small, four parapet structure on top of this formation as a crown. Why with all of their worship of created things did they recognize an invisible god, utterly different from all of their other objects of worship? But remember what Paul said to the men at Lystra who tried to worship Barnabas and him: “We…preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:15-17) What was this witness that He left? What the text lists is the very things that the Inca culture worshipped, physical sources of life. And God left further witness: “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” (Psalm 19:1-6) All that those priests were worshipping in the ridge top temples were witnesses to the very God they acknowledged exists but did not worship. How could they have known of His existence? Was it a long forgotten tradition? Perhaps it was but it need not be. They may have figured out the evidence: “…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 and 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.” (Romans 1:19-23) Wow! The object of their worship became the snare that prevented them from worshipping the true God that all of those things clearly pointed to. This perspective on their knowledge and lack of worshipful acknowledgement of God helped to inform my understanding of all that I saw of Inca culture in Peru.

Unfinished Entryway

Unfinished Entryway

A Block left just short of its destination

A Block left just short of its destination

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ancient way still practiced

The ancient way still practiced

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No cement, no gaps, highly earthquake resistant, not eternal

No cement, no gaps, highly earthquake resistant, not eternal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you care to come along I will explore another strand of this thought in the next Peru entry on Machu Picchu. Until then, blessed truth hunting.

 

 

 

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A blog titled this way could take many paths through Scripture and personal experience. This entry will only be an abbreviated sequence of thinking that occurred to me while reading about anointing oil and incense for the tent of meeting in Exodus 30 expanded with Scripture references.

God has appeared in the cloud and spoken to the sons of Israel from Mt. Sinai, scaring them sufficiently for them to plead with Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.” Exodus 20:19  But it did not scare them enough to serve the purpose for which Moses said that God spoke for: “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” Exodus 20:20 The evidence of course is Exodus 32 when Moses is up on the mountain: He [Aaron] took this [gold] from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” (v.4) The rapidity with which the Israelites turned away from God is both amazing and frightening, but it pales in comparison to what Aaron, the recently consecrated and anointed High Priest, did by way of directing and encouraging their sinful passions. There is much warning to be taken from this scene. Rather than a rabbit trail about our sinfulness, I see this as the fuller context for the comments I want to make about God.

God knew their tendencies and even warned them to watch out for them by giving them a scare at Mt. Sinai.

So what is God saying to us about worship of Him?

Is He ‘pleading’ with us to worship Him as though He will be lacking and sad without it. No, God is not in need of anything we possess or can give, as Psalm 50 says,“Hear, O My people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you; I am God, your God. I do not reprove you for your sacrifices, and your burnt offerings are continually before Me. I shall take no young bull out of your house nor male goats out of your folds.
For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is Mine, and all it contains. Shall I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of male goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and pay your vows to the Most High; call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.” (v.7-15)

Is He ‘expecting’ us to worship Him? In the sense of an expectation placed upon us I would say yes, but in the sense of surprised if we don’t, I think not.“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.” Acts 7:51 “Nothing really changes; everything remains the same. We are what we are ’til the day that we die,” sang Larry Norman. God knows the true nature of our hearts. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” John 2:24-25

Is God “demanding” that we worship Him? No, He has left us with free will to the extent that we do what we always want to do, namely turn away from Him, for “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.: Isaiah 53:6

Instead, I think the Scripture is saying that God is ‘commanding’ us to worship Him. He is worthy of worship, as Psalm 29:2 says, “ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name”. Worship of God is also beneficial to the worshipper: “Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; praise is becoming to the upright.” Psalm 33:1 “‘I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners, creating the praise of the lips.
Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near,’
Says the Lord, ‘and I will heal him.’” Isaiah 57:18-19 Worship trains the next generation for worship of God: “We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strngth and His wondrous wondrous works that He has done.” Psalm 78:4

Give praise to God for Who He is; praise Him for the glory and efficacy of His name; praise God for His wonderful works in creation and beneficial works in salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.

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I break the present silence with trepidation because as always I feel compelled to be honest and that is hard when you have also been foolish in the eyes of others. So, I will start off slowly and get around to several points in a circuitous way.

At 4 AM on New Years Day, my precious wife awoke with what I now know to be “having a stroke”. She rubbed her head both front and back, complaining of it hurting and could not recognize me speaking to her. There is so much I am not saying because it is too hard to say, and there have  been many doubts and tears. We finally arrived at the hospital for a 3 night stay. Thankfully the stroke did not effect her motor skills other than a general, temporary weakness. She walked into the ER, spoke in a limited way without slurred speech, grasp numerous nurses and doctors hands and pushed against their resistance. Instead, her language center was arrested. She could not say names, mine, her own, and to her, most notably, her children. She could not understand many instructions which led one doctor to conclude she had motor skill deficiencies because she could not follow his instructions to apply pressure against his push.

I am going to post several poems that came 2 weeks after the events described above that reveal some of my reactions to all that I saw and experienced during this time as a result of seeing my wife’s debilitation and having family push me this way and that. The reflections are obviously focused around my thoughts and struggles concerning the stroke my wife had and are therefore skewed away from the events to my feelings about the events. No one is truly objective afterall though that does not mean untruthful. My first poem is a short one that deals with the immediate “why” question, to which there is no answer other than “He is good”:

I know in my heart that God is good
His Word declares it so
From His works to show
How His providence and care
The abundance He does share
Reveal that He is kind
And powerful and involved and good

If you have not yet concluded by faith that He is good you will probably ask endlessly “Why”, or perhaps, accuse Him, when it is sin in the world that is the cause of so much pain and suffering. Oh, so its sin and not Him. Why didn’t you say so? It is because all good and ill is filtered through His providential hands, otherwise He is not truly God: “I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.” (Isaiah 46:9-11) Here it is, pay careful attention, those of you who want to soften God down, “who are stagnant in spirit, who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good or evil'” (Zephaniah 1:12): “I am the Lord, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.” (Isaiah45:6-7) Wow what a tangent! But it is not a false one because His goodness is based on His sovereignty- He is not fickle; He has purpose, much of which He has made known and yet is inscrutable by man. He is good and there is purpose in difficulty and harm we experience.

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By clicking on Trinity Day 2 Answers you can see the answers I promised to the Bible Study on manifestation of God’s character in His trinity in God ordained social institutions. We could avoid much of the heart-ache and problems we sustain if we would follow God’s plan for how the social interactions are supposed to work. Government, for instance, is involved far beyond its God ordain sphere of influence so that it mettles in the church and family spheres. Avenging evil and defense of the citizenry is all it is supposed to do. As a result of the many other things it forces on us, we lose freedom by each one.

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Having reviewed the biblical doctrine of the Trinity I now turn to its application by God to all God-ordained social institutions. Because we have refused to understand how God’s character is expressed in what He has created and ordained we try to re-invent social institutions apart from God, effectively destroying them.  I will allow several days for study before I fill in the blanks. (Lest I be called for plagiarism, I must acknowledge the ideas of Del Tackett in “The Truth Project”. I have digested and added my own study and organization to his framework.)  Click on Outworking of the Trinity to start the study.

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About a month ago I was leading our Sunday School class in a quick discussion of what the the Bible says about the Trinity and what it doesn’t. Confusion about God’s triune nature is not merely a theological blunder. It effects how you live because theology has consequences. Misunderstandings and refusals to believe the basics of God’s character and intra-relationship of His persons result in more than difference of conviction. It results in heresy. We cannot fully understand the Trinity because it our logical ability to resolve the interplay of the three Scriptural declarations about who the triune God is. Read my attempt at clarifying the issues involved by clicking on Trinity

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We are drawn to strength and power. Whether it incites fear because of its wildness and antagonism or security because of its protection and deterrent, we are curious and awestruck and enamored by the sight and use of power and strength. Strength is the shear magnitude of force that may be brought to bear on an object whereas power is how fast that strength may be utilized to move or deflect an object. But how do we account for all powerful, omnipotent. Is it just a hypothetical construct? Or perhaps it is a “my dad is bigger than your dad” scenario invented by Christians trying to justify their puny conception of reality. Is it necessary to God’s character and is it true? Does the Bible teach that God is omnipotent?

Having previously discussed God’s infinite character in “Omniscience”, Omnipresence”, and “To Infinity and Beyond”, I submit that omnipotence is indeed a necessary part of God’s nature in order for Him to be infinite any respect and infinite in knowledge and presence in particular. How can He know all things if He is not everywhere at once? And how can He be all places at once if He is not all powerful? Or else on the latter question He is but a background noise in the universe that influences nothing and no one. But He is active. We know that He is because we observe it in nature; we observe it in changed lives; we observe it in answers to prayer. His influence reaches throughout all of Creation and into all spheres (physical and spiritual). So if God is omnipotent, what is possible for Him to do?

God can save to the uttermost. “And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?”  And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”” (Matthew 19:23-26)  In fact, Isaiah 63:1 says that He is “mighty to save”. ‘

This power of His makes Him the only Sovereign: “Why should the nations say,“Where, now, is their God?” But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” Psalm 115:2-3  

He is so powerful that nothing He does may be changed, for it says, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89)  Having seen His power to bring down and rise up, to produce wind and lightning and storm Job declared, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:1-2)  

He spoke the Creation into existence out of nothing, for II Peter 3:5 says, “it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago”. His judgments have been and will be with great and unassailable power. He will form the new heavens and new earth to stand fast forever.

But there are things that God cannot do, or more accurately, will not do. Anything contrary to His nature He will not do. Titus 1:2 gives to us who are trusting His promises great encouragement when Paul reports on our salvation, “the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago”. And James 1:13 proclaims, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” Since there is no evil in God, none proceeds from Him nor influences Him. Another discussion seems outside what the Bible proclaims about God. There is a hypothetical argument in Physics that pits an immovable object against an unstoppable force. But if the adjectives both hold true, then these two items have infinite inertia and strength, respectively, making them strictly speaking gods. But the Bible is clear on this point when it teaches that there is but one God (Deuteronomy 6:4). There are several ways out of this problem, but saying there is no God is not acceptable on either logical (look around you man) or biblical grounds (Romans 1:19-20). Perhaps neither of the objects exist (it is hypothetical afterall), or perhaps only one of them exists, or perhaps they describe the same object, namely God. The argument reminds me of another one that the skeptic likes to bring up to throw the believer off kilter and off subject (You need Jesus!). Can God make a boulder so big that He cannot lift it? If the boulder were that big it would be infinite. If it were infinite then it would be god. Then there would be two gods and not one as the Bible declares. And in reality there would be no gods because neither is fully sovereign, so no, God will not make a boulder too big that He cannot lift it.

For the Christian there are a number of daily applications to this concept of God’s omnipotence. We may feel secure. This security is a great gift from God, but this is not the reason we are here. How does God’s power enable us to fulfill His mission, which is our mission? His mission is glory to Himself through our spreading of the Gospel. His omnipotence enables us to defeat spiritual forces through prayer when witnessing and during spiritual opposition. His power enables us through the Holy Spirit’s work to overcome the sin and temptation in our own lives. Witnessing is the hardest thing to be involved in because of resistance from the world, the flesh, and the devil. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)  And we are speaking life to dead people who don’t even know that they are spiritually dead, separated from God. Their non-response, or conversely their antagonism, proceeds from this separation from God. We are in every sense in spiritual battle and need God’s power to overcome darkness in the form of hatred, apathy, skepticism, and our own faltering tendencies.

May God’s omnipotence be pleased to include us in His mission for His purposes and glory and our growth and joy. Amen.

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Over the next several blog entries I want to consider the three omni-attributes of God: omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. By their very quality I can not hope to touch their grandeur, that is the grandeur of their owner, but it is always appropriate to explore and praise the glories of our God. 

As I begin to consider these facets of the most perfect jewel it seems to me that these facets are three perspectives on one characteristic of God. Afterall, He cannot do all things if He does not know all things. And He cannot know all things if He is not everywhere at once. And He cannot be everywhere at once if His power is limited. To what one characteristic do I refer? God is infinite. He is without limit or boundary. “…Who is like the Lord our God…?”   Psalm 113:5a

But is it true? Do we exaggerate who God is for our own comfort or to ward off the claims of opposing viewpoints or other gods? We Christians are a people of the Book. Does the Bible reveal God as infinite in these three ways: all knowing, all present, all powerful?

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