Nature’s Way

via Instinct

When you hear, “Once upon a time…,” what immediately comes to mind?  Fairy Tells? Mythology? A television show?  Children’s stories?  What about this phrase, “In the beginning…”?  So often I’ve heard people say the origins of our earth and universe were creations of chance, without logic or reason, or a Creator… it was just a Big Bang.  Yet there is this document that having stood the test of time continues to be one of the best selling books of all time.  In it is found the narrative of creation, including the universe, the atmosphere surrounding the earth, the water and the mountains, all plant life, the fish and the birds, and every living animal or creature, including the human species. While there are those who continue to proclaim this document’s narrative is no truer than the average fairy tale, children’s story, or epic mythological account of time, what exactly determines the veracity of this story over the others?  There is no other tale, story, or myth that goes on to explain the meaning of life in such vivid detail, with such historical accuracy, or with such future promise as does the Bible. In fact, in the Bible is found the explanation for all the other narratives.

Romans 1:18-23
For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them.For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.

So here’s the thing.  You can’t ask a tree if the tree believes in the Creator, because the only “voice” the tree has is it’s instinctive knowledge of the seasonal changes the Creator instituted, and the tree’s own presence to demonstrate this truth.  So every season the tree’s leaves change color, the tree goes to sleep, then bears new leaves or fruit in it’s time of new life.  It’s wired this way.  It’s instinctive.  But if the trees, or the rivers, or the mountains and the hills did have a voice…

Isaiah 55:12
You will indeed go out with joy and be peacefully guided; the mountains and the hills will break into singing before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

All of nature makes its way to glorify the Creator within itself.  Animals, birds, fish, plants, trees, the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars of the universe, all point to the Creator and say, “what a great God we serve!”  They all act on instinct – that innate, fixed pattern of behavior with which they were created to act.  But NOT the human species.  We are different.  While the Roman’s passage above tells us that we are capable of recognizing God’s handiwork, in the sense that we “instinctively” know God exists, we humans get to choose to worship and bring Him glory.  Or not.  Choice, that’s the difference.  We are not hard-wired in our DNA to specific actions or reactions based on certain stimuli, without reason or deduction.  Our minds think, then choose, then act.  It’s nature’s way.  It’s how the Creator made us different from every other creature on earth.


If we understand this difference between choice and instinct, we are better equipped then to accept that humans are responsible for their own choices.  No animal raises its eyes to heaven and says, “Why did you make me this way?”  Yet, it might be the very question more people should be asking their Creator.  His answer will be simple.  I believe the Creator would say to every person that asks (honestly – without a preconceived answer), “You are you, so you can know how much I love you, and how I want to show My glory through you.”  You get to choose whether this answer rings true to you or not.  Let these last verses guide you in that process.

John 3:16
For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

Psalm 115:1
Not to us, Yahweh, not to us, but to Your name give glory because of Your faithful love, because of Your truth.

Psalm 33:6-12
The heavens were made by the word of the LORD, and all the stars, by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into a heap; He puts the depths into storehouses. Let the whole earth tremble before the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it came into being; He commanded, and it came into existence. The LORD frustrates the counsel of the nations; He thwarts the plans of the peoples.  The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.  Happy is the nation whose God is Yahweh– the people He has chosen to be His own possession!






Automatic – I am not a Robot


via Automatic

When I think “automatic-responder” I immediately think about emails I’ve received from people who are going to be out of their office for a week, who set up their servers to automatically send reply emails to their contacts.  These auto responder emails inform the contact they’ll have to wait for a personal response.  This got me to thinking about how many things we do automatically, and whether this a good thing or a bad thing.

Many people I know are entirely like robots, with quick automatic responses.  As a pastor I would often tell people, “I love you,” because I did love them as the people in my congregation.  It didn’t mean anything beyond, I love you as a person.  But more often than not, the auto-response was, “I love you too Pastor.”  As humans we do this a lot.  When you greet someone with “How are you doing today,” 90-99% of the time you’ll get the response: “Fine, great, wonderful, or ok.”  The programming in our brains, and the culture we’ve grown up in, cause us to respond without thinking.  These simplistic (and I know they are simplistic) examples lead me to my theory.  I posit that human creatures often listen to “RESPOND” rather than listening for understanding.

In the movie iRobot, Del Spooner (Will Smith) is a Chicago police detective, who is sent to investigate the death of Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell), the co-founder of U.S. Robotics (USR) and its main roboticist.  Lanning shows up in a holographic projector who instructs Spooner that the “real question” is “why” he would commit suicide.  The hologram is only programmed to answer specific questions, and constantly responds with “you’re not asking the right question.” Again, humans are not robots, and we are not programmed to only respond to the right questions, but we are limitless in our ability to carry on an in-depth dialogue with other humans.  Yet, we often sacrifice this ability, because we do not listen to understand. Rather, we listen to respond, like an automaton programmed to only react to certain “either-or” questions.

Which brings me to another unique feature of being human.  Not only do we communicate with each other, we also have the ability to communicate with our Creator.  This was also a theme in the movie, sentient thought from a robot.  Sonny – the iRobot – was programmed differently from every other robot of his kind, giving him the ability to think and dream and make choices outside the normal programming rules.  As Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies improve, the world awaits the reality of a “Sonny”-like robot that approaches human normalcy.  Sonny apparently in the fictional world of the future could talk and interact with Dr. Lanning (his creator).  This imagery, while unsettling to some, give us context for our relationship with God.

However, God did not create us as robots, but in His image.  The primary attribute of God with which humans are endowed is: Choice.  I choose to shower and shave daily, or not. It brings humor to the post I saw on FaceBook today: “Clean and sober means: I’ve showered and shaved, and I’m on the way to the Liquor store.”  Choice is a unique and inherent attribute of human existence.  Therefore, we can choose to know God, talk with God, hear from God, but in a spiritual sense, not physical.  So, I’ll wrap it up this way…

I am not a robot.  As such, I have a choice to listen to respond, or to listen to understand. Whether I’m talking to another person, or talking to God.  Interpersonal communications is so much more satisfying when I listen to understand.  Understanding brings context, and if I filter my responses to the people around me, or to God, through understanding, all our lives would be enriched.  I challenge my readers today to make the choice: quit listening to respond, and start listening to understand. You are not a robot either.