God in the Rocks: Seeing the God Who is There

I love to travel. I especially love to drive through open countryside, and recently got to drive from Fort Collins to Seattle with my wife Carol.

I've learned enough about geology and biology that there is always something making me think about the work and actions of God in the history of our world. This trip was no exception. And my wife is always graciously patient as I explain what I think I'm seeing in rock formations around me, or stopping occasionally to take pictures of some interesting road cut on a highway. 

On one stretch I was thinking about the reality of the Mind that exists all around us: how immense and staggering that intelligence is, and how all that I see is a product, directly or indirectly, of that Mind. Then I remembered that many people would consider my Christian faith to be an anti-intellectual position, and I quietly smiled to myself. How strange to label a viewpoint that places a Mind as the Source of all things as an anti-intellectual view. No idea could so exalt and honor the place of the intellectual as that which roots everything in the mind and thoughts of God. There is a reason that the vast majority of the world's greatest thinkers have at least been theists.

The God who is there is Mind and Heart and Relationship, and everything we will ever see of His work is meant to teach us something about Him, or about us. The communication written into the creation is an important, God-designed part of our faith. If we don't see God in the world around us, then our view of the Bible becomes merely academic, compartmentalized and divorced from the real events of our day-to-day lives. When that happens, true, whole-life faith morphs into what is only a religious slice of our life, shared in a religious sub-culture of people who schedule meetings and events together to give the slice a place in their lives.

Connecting the Bible with science and history has helped me some in the struggle against that.  Perhaps the most powerful specific instance of connection for me in the past 10 years has been reflecting on the tremendous implications of the flood of Noah, and then finding evidence for it in our world. The claim of a worldwide flood not that long ago has tremendous implications for both science and history. The fossil record, the age of civilization, the age of the earth, as well as the gene pool for both animals and man are some of the things that would be determined by such a flood.

But the Flood's biggest visible impact in our world would be the surface of the earth. A worldwide water cataclysm covering the earth for a year would leave unmistakable marks everywhere. Which means it shouldn't be very hard for an open-minded observer to find evidence for such a flood if the Bible has its history right. One of the highlights of my last 10 years has been discovering, marveling at, and sharing that information with others. I have discovered in a new way that God has been here and has acted in our world, just as the Bible describes. And in the flood, that engagement was judgment. God judged us for sin. Finding physical evidence in the world that speaks of such a near and profound judgment is a sobering thing. God is not just a character in a book. God is a Person who is here: a Mind and Heart that is engaging with us, and that will engage each of us at the end of our life. We live in God's world. 

Monday’s this fall I have the privilege of teaching for a second time a class called “God's Word, God's World.” It is a six-week course that includes a local field trip and an optional three-day trip to Moab, Utah. Many people who took the class last year say they will never see the world the same way again. And that makes me smile, because that is exactly what has happened to me. I even stop at roadbeds now to take pictures. 

Dear Christian, no one has a better basis for an intellectual worldview that you do. You believe Mind is the source of all things. And if you want training to strengthen your connection between the Bible, science and history, many good resources are out there. You could even consider joining us this Monday, September 10, to learn about the Flood. You can find more information about the class at http://summitview.com/resources/classes/gwgw.

God of My Seasons

“To everything, turn, turn, turn.” True in the 1970s and in the 970s B.C.

Life in the here and now is really exciting, and tiring. I usually go through a cycle of getting really excited and amped up for something big, or so I’m told to think that it’s big. And then it comes. The moment. And a surprise I wasn’t ready for -- it ends. And Father Time keeps ticking. 

The reality that the immediate isn’t forever is simple enough for the most elementary of us, yet the temptations are just too overwhelming sometimes to ignore. In the here and now, acclaim, significance, happiness and influence are always just around the corner. Just about to be mine. 

Sometimes we’re like David after Dentist, wondering, “Is this going to be forever?” not realizing we’re on some drug that wears off in four hours. 

As I’ve gone from a season of being in Nepal and a daily life that is considerably more simple, slow-paced, and relationally deeper and back to the land of instantaneous “likes,” retweets, and the Next Big Thing (a phone made similarly to other phones apparently can be classified as that), circumstances have changed dramatically for me and my family. We’ve entered seasons of calm and predictability. We’ve also entered more time zones than we seem to have time for. God always faithfully brings us in and out of seasons that we can never control.

Seasons where you are lying on your back because of heart pain. Seasons where you are on a deserted island with thousands of other people. Seasons where you see every prayer answered “Yes!” Seasons where you exert, sweat, and have the sword stick to your hand. Seasons where you cry harder and sing louder than ever before. Seasons where you are okay becoming addicted to coffee for its affects.

Jesus had a season where he was constantly hungry. He was on that relational island, no one to help or support him. He seemingly had his prayers answered when Lucifer tempted him three times with things that he could legitimately ask for – food, protection, kingdoms. What Jesus needed in that season was to trust his Father and the Spirit who had led him there (Matthew 4:1), not some change in circumstances or the situation. Our seasons aren’t defined by our circumstances. They’re defined by our faith in God’s goodness and grace towards us.

In training our daughter, my wife and I need to constantly remind ourselves that whatever phase we’re in won’t last forever. She won’t always struggle to sleep through the night. She won’t always want to put everything in her mouth. God knows this. And it’s up to me to trust him – as a good and caring Father – that my daughter won’t always want to eat flowers and dirt.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9)

My faith – your faith – is more precious, more valuable, more cherished than the gold that could change the situation we find ourselves in. Money may buy you the particulars you are looking for, but not the faith that God is drawing out of you. Seasons bring about what God is after – new life. 

Cry out to the God of your seasons, ask for the new life to be borne in you through tears, and prep yourself for the moment of inexpressible and glorious joy – salvation – that he will deliver. 

Pastor-to-Pastor with John Piper: "What Work Has He Prepared for Me?"

This is the second installment in a series of interviews Mitch Majeski did with John Piper. The videos will be posted here every Tuesday through October 23. Read more about the "Pastor-to-Pastor" series here.

Extra! Extra! Uttam's Family and Church Receive Positive Press in Australia

Look who made the papers! Our Nepali brother Uttam and his family were featured in an article in their local newspaper. This is an encouraging look into their life in Australia. The entire clip is below.

Single Mothers Find Shelter, and Clothes for their Kids, at Summitview's FFH Rotation

Editor’s note: Summitview partners with a handful of churches in Fort Collins as a host site for Faith Family Hospitality. For three weeks out of the year, we host four homeless families in our building, providing them with meals and a safe place to sleep. Our most recent rotation was July 22-28. One of our members, Melissa Kraus, helped out with the rotation and wrote the following account of her time with the FFH families.

By Melissa Kraus

July 22-28 marked Summitview’s second week this year of hosting homeless families as part of the Faith Family Hospitality (FFH) program. Four families stayed at our church that week, all led by single parents. We gave them room and board each for the whole week.

I had offered to help the evening of Friday, July 27. I mentor an 8 year-old girl from our church, Delaney, and thought that this would be a great opportunity to introduce her to an important part of the Christian life: serving others.

Our job was to help with the dinner cleanup. As Delaney and I arrived at Summitview, the D-Team I was serving with had already cooked a nice meal and was waiting for the families to come into the Gathering Place to eat. I noticed that as the families came in for dinner, two of the families seemed very comfortable with the FFH system and were chatting amongst themselves.

But there were two other families led by single women who seemed to keep to themselves a little more. After everyone had been served their meal, Delaney and I grabbed our dinner and sat at the same table as one of the women. The other mother was sitting at the table next to us. I introduced myself to both of them. They were fairly new to FFH, having only been in the program for less than two weeks. As I talked with them, I discovered that both of these women had fled tough situations at home with their children in tow. They were both from other states.

Guessing that there may be some unmet needs, I asked if they had enough clothing for their children. One of the mothers had explained that because of the situation she had been in, she had to flee from her home with only two outfits per child. She had many children with her and was pregnant with one more. The other gal had two children. I took down a list of their clothing needs.

My mother works at the Vineyard Church in their Resource Center, which provides clothing, toiletries, and food to the needy in our community. Early the next week, my mom and I gathered as many items as we could from the Resource Center. We were able to find multiple outfits for every child on the list as well as winter coats. A few days later, I delivered the items to the families at the next church in the FFH rotation where they were staying. The mothers were overwhelmed with gratitude, and their children were excited to have new clothes. 

While this was my second time helping out with the FFH program, this was my first time interacting with the families. Seeing first hand the struggles these families were facing, I had a wonderful first impression of FFH and the true needs that were being met through this program. I am really excited to help out the next time Summitview hosts families for FFH. Perhaps I will be able to connect with the same women, or perhaps there will be new families to love.

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