Melting snow on spider webs

I’m always amazed at what there is to see on my hikes in the Weaselhead. Very grey morning and last night’s snow was clinging to and melting on the spider webs everywhere. The images were hard to capture on a macro because of the wind blowing the webs and causing them to spin, accelerated melting as soon as I drew the camera near, and the fact that it’s snow/ice/water, which is always hard to capture… but take enough shots…  (plus I took a few shots of sap again… just so interesting).

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Losing your mother tongue

Korean_PeninsulaI just read this headline, “North and South Koreans are speaking increasingly different languages; After a 70 year divide, scholars say about a third of everyday words used in the two countries is different.”

As I read these words I thought about how people of faith have lost their ability to hear what God is saying through creation/nature/culture. This of course has been a problem ever since the ‘divide'; humanity’s separation from God via the fall, and the ‘walling off’ that’s happened in much of present day Christianity where the bible has been increasingly understood as the only language God speaks.

Over the past ten years there have been many times where I’ve felt that I’m learning a new language, or moreso, reclaiming an old language that I’d long forgotten. When I preached on mathematics I came across Galileo’s five point perspective on how nature speaks; “ ‘(1) God has written the book of nature … in the language of mathematics. (2) Man can learn this language.’ (3) Man can ‘apply it to the study of nature’ due to its logical structure. ‘(4) [H]andled with care, this language cannot err or go astray.’ (5) This language is ‘not only the most certain epistemological tool, but’ in fact is ‘the most perfect one capable of elevating the mind to divine knowledge.’” (page 23, Mathematics through Eyes of Faith)

Leave it to a mathematician to say that math is the ‘most certain epistemological tool’. But I’m sure the artist of faith would say the same – ‘art is the most beautiful language'; as would the biologist, dancer, psychologist, athlete, etc…  God speaks 10,000 languages, and for many of us, most of them of foreign. If 70 years can lead to 1/3 of the North and South Korean language loss … imagine the linguistic cost that would come with centuries of division.

(image – “Korean Peninsula”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Korean_Peninsula.jpg#/media/File:Korean_Peninsula.jpg)

Compiling my best photos

I’m thinking of submitting some of my photos to istockphoto.com and seeing if they think they’re worth selling on their site (talk about feeling insecure!). It’s one thing to post pics on Facebook or on your blog and quite another to expose them professional review. But I’ve heard that they’re always looking for stuff with ‘lot’s of empty space’ for graphic designers to use… which I shoot a lot (for sermon power points).

So… last week I looked at every image I had and culled the group down to 500 images. Then I chose what I thought were the top 50. Here are a random few from that final cut;

fiddlehead macro young pensive mountain sheep reaching white flowers at night pussy willows birds fighting optical illusion plant stems magnifying dew drop on leaf grey dead seed pod ghost bird dying leaf covered with ice distorted building reflection dead flower in late day sun bald headed eagle launching abstract triangle

 

Lichen and sap

There is nothing more restorative for my soul than getting lost taking macros while lost in the Weaselhead Conservation Area for two hours. Birds doing flybys, songs all around and so many surprising colors in the dead of winter. In the rustling grass I heard him pass, he spoke to me everywhere…

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Listening to God in utero

Pregnancy_ultrasound_110328150032_1501330“Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb, you taught me wisdom in that secret place.” Psalm 51:6

In the bible wisdom has a lot to do with the ‘way of things'; God’s right way of ordering and doing things. There’s a structure to the universe and a way for a human to be, even in utero.

Which makes me wonder about the kind of the wisdom God teaches us there. I suppose most of what he’s whispering is creational in nature – image bearing, biological truth that he’s woven into the fabric of our being. Deep within the womb a sucking reflex is developed, preparing us to be fed. Long before we’re born a yearning for sweetness, security, comfort and warmth is ‘taught’. For nine months we learn that to ‘be’ is to be completely held, sustained and grown by another – by one who loves us. In our mother’s wombs God speaks words of wisdom through the formation of limbs, internal organs and neural patterns; foundational words that will one day help us run to him, embrace him and cognitively understand what he means when he says, ‘Love God and love your neighbor as yourself’.

Before we were born, God taught us wisdom, without really saying a word. His pedagogy was physiological, his lessons ingrained. I suppose faithfulness, in that place, was to just ‘be’ who God made us to be.

IMAGE CREDIT – © Nevit Dilmen [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Preaching Evolution as a text

image_1986_1-Metaspriggina-walcottiA month ago I had lunch with Calvin College science professor Dr. Loren Haarsma and I told him that when I finally find the time (and courage) to properly research and preach evolution, I want to approach it as a text that gives us more to know and love God with. Surely evolution’s magnificent ways reveal profound truths about the mind of of our Maker. Surely ‘the way things came to be’ gives us more to glorify God with!

Yesterday I read a fascinating Globe and Mail article on the new discoveries that are pouring out of a mountainside two hours west here; 500 million year old fossils from the Cambrian era; a time before insects or dinosaurs. The article ends on an existential note, revealing the heart of the project’s lead researcher, Dr. Jean-Bernard Caron (and G&M science reporter Ivan Semenuik).

“Dr. Caron turned 40 while working at the Marble Canyon site last summer. Bespectacled and soft-spoken, he conveys less the image of an Indiana Jones than that of a librarian of nature tending to sacred volumes of fine-grained rock.

It is in these geological tomes that Dr. Caron is seeking the deeper patterns that underlie life in all its forms. It’s a scientific quest, certainly, but one with an existential dimension. “In the end” Dr. Caron says, “it’s a fundamental question that most human beings will ask at some point: Where do I come from?”

Standing beside him at the rock face, holding a piece of a fossilized animal in the palm of my hand, I can feel the weight of the past. It is like an anchor, hidden beneath the primordial waters of the Cambrian, but tied to my own identity with an unbroken strand of DNA. The creatures of Marble Canyon are strange in appearance, but in their struggles to survive they are eminently recognizable.”

If all things hold together in Christ, then he is the “deeper pattern”, the one who holds all of “life in all its forms” for all of time. He is the “anchor”. So when we read the rocks and ask, “Where to I come from?”, we’re really searching for Christ. The “unbroken strand of DNA” that we’re following ultimately leads back to Him.

Image credit: M. Collins – Reconstruction of Metaspriggina walcotti.

Books and talks Dr. Haarsma recommended;

1. George Murphy’s, Theology of the Cross

2. This talk by Robert Bishop.

3. A talk by Dr. Brian Madison (which I’ve yet to locate)

 

New Facility Search

logoLast night we had a leadership team meeting to discuss all that’s going on at New Hope. I can honestly say that for the past three months, more things have been up in the air at our church than ever before. Right now I can’t see how it will all work out.  As our meeting played out last night, that same sense spread over the whole team. And it was a good thing. One leader commented that we are now in a place where we have no choice but to rely on God in faith.

And so we trust.

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling a bit stressed about our facility options. The one and only  location with some potential seemed to be going soft. But then, after my morning devotions, I got a call from my contact at that site, “It looks like we will be leasing the space (and not selling the building). Why don’t you come out and take a more thorough look at its potential and tell us how much space you think you’ll need. Then we can run the numbers and see if there’s a deal to be done.”

This morning I’m heading out with one of our staffers to take that more detailed look. It’s a complex building, tight space-wise, but doable (I think), some parking issues to work out and service timing concerns, but worth looking at.

So, the two of us will take a look… and prayerfully try to discern if this is where God wants us to be…  in faith.

The Word of God in a Mummy

mummy-mask-150118 livescienceLiterally!

I just read a news story in Christian Courier relaying a Livescience report on the recent discovery of the oldest known fragment from the Gospel of Mark (90 CE they think) found in the papyrus that made up an Egyptian mummy mask.

How cool is that? Apparently Egyptians who could not afford gold would be buried with papyrus masks. And because papyrus was expensive, they’d often recycle old materials – in this case a gospel fragment.

Which means that the gospel was probably written decades before this fragment made its way to Egypt, fell out of use and got re-purposed. All of which makes me smile at God’s mysterious providential ways; that the oldest known fragment of the Gospel of Mark was preserved in a ‘not-as-non-Christian-as-we-thought’ Egyptian burial mask.

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