Category Archives: 2015

Did God Make That?

In 1974, just three years after I was born, my parents bought a 400 acre farm in southeast Kansas. I am told that for the next few years I asked one question over and over as I discovered new things around the farm. Did God make that or did Percy? The question stemmed from the fact that we bought the farm from a man named Percy Rowan, who built the house and some of the barns and fences. Running through the pasture was a large creek that I liked to walk around in when it was dry. Behind the house there was a large shale hill covered with fossils and arrowheads. When I inquired about these types of things my parents told me, “God made those.”

At three years old I’m not sure what I did with that information, but apparently it was important to me to know how the different things on our farm were made and who made them. As I look around the world we live in today, I wonder, does it matter how the universe was formed, and by whom?

There are basically two schools of thought regarding the origin of the universe. Either God created the universe and everything in it, or the universe was created by Percy Rowan. (I’m kidding.) Most people believe that either God created it or the universe somehow created itself.

Before I go further, let me expand on both of these theories.

Over the last century, the majority of scientists have accepted the theory that the universe started with a big bang. The basic idea behind the big bang theory is that billion years ago (anywhere from 10 to 30 billion) all the matter in the universe was concentrated into a single point or dot. At some point in history that dot exploded and the universe began to expand from that point. After this explosion random chance took over. Molecules came together to form the various heavenly bodies. Non-living molecules came together to form simple life on earth. Then, over millions of years, things evolved into the complex life we see today. And, according to the theory, the universe is still expanding.

Since the beginning of man, people have held to the belief that God created the universe and everything in it through a series of spoken commands. From the Biblical account of creation found in Genesis Chapter 1, almost like a refrain, we read, “And God said…and it was so…”

Verse 3: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”
Verse 6: “Then God said, ‘Let there be an expanse…,’ and,” end of verse 7, “it was so.”
Verse 9: “Then God said, ‘…let the dry land appear;’ and it was so.
Verse 11: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation…;’ and it was so.
Verse 14: “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse…,’ and,” verse 15, “it was so.”
Verse 20: “Then God said, ‘Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of heavens,’ and, verse 21, “God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves…and every winged bird after its kind.”
Verse 24: “Then God said,” and the beasts of the earth were created.
And finally verse 26: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our own image…’ And, verse 27, “God created man in His own image.”

What I hope you will first understand about any theory that deals with the origin of the universe is that it cannot be studied or proven scientifically. The experimental scientific method calls for testing a hypothesis. The beginning of the universe can neither be tested experimentally nor repeated. In addition, no human observer was present to witness the beginning. This leaves lingering questions from both theories unanswered.

For example, even though I believe God created the world, I have no idea how to explain to someone how God was there in the beginning, where He came from, or anything of that nature. It is beyond my understanding. It is beyond the capabilities of even the smartest scientists. I can only look around at the universe surrounding me, make observations about what I see and hear, read what has been written about creation, and then choose to formulate beliefs about how the universe was formed and by whom. According to the Bible, in Hebrews 11:3, this is a matter of faith. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

Like the people who believe God created the world, those who hold firm to the Big Bang theory have uncertainties about how things began as well. Scientists do not know where the original matter came from or what caused it to explode. They can speculate and formulate theories and ideas, but they cannot prove anything scientifically. Therefore, it requires an element of faith to believe in the Big Bang theory. Even NASA seems to agree that the origin of the universe is not something we can completely understand or explain.

According to an article titled Our Expanding Universe: Age, History & Other Facts written by Charles Q. Choi of Space.com – “NASA says it is beyond the model of the Big Bang to say what the universe is expanding into or what gave rise to the Big Bang. Although there are models that speculate about these questions, none of them have made realistically testable predictions as of yet.”

Science cannot prove either theory. They both require an element of faith. Now, having said all of that, let’s return back to my original question: Does it matter how the universe was formed, and by whom?

I believe the answer is yes. What you believe about the origins of the universe will influence how you look at yourself, others, and the world around you.

Reason with me for a little bit. If the world made itself, how would you see yourself? Wouldn’t you be a random piece of matter that really does not matter? How would you see others? If you are just a random piece of matter, then so is everyone else. Eventually this would affect how you treat yourself and other people. You would likely have very little regard for human life. Can you imagine what could happen in this world if an entire generation of young people grew up with this kind of an outlook on human life?

If the world made itself, and we really have no idea if there is any sort of grand design or master plan in mind for the future, then what kind of hope do we have after our few years on earth are complete? Wouldn’t we live our lives with a sense of hopelessness and despair? Wouldn’t we have a hard time finding any meaning or purpose in life and its happenings?

You see, I believe that if God made the world then you are a special creation created for a special purpose. If God made the world then I’m going to look at you as someone who has great value and worth. I’m going to look at myself as someone with a purpose. I’m going to look at the world around me and understand that God has a purpose for all things and all people. Armed with that knowledge I am going to treat others with kindness and respect. I’m going to look at the circumstances in my life differently as well. I am going to see them as opportunities for God to work. He may want to change someone else’s life through mine, or maybe He wants to change me. I don’t always know His plans and purposes, but I do know He has them and I am a part of His grand design. A grand design that includes spending eternity in a place God calls Heaven.

At three or four years old I’m sure that I had no idea how my outlook was being shaped by having parents who told me God created the universe and everything in it. Looking back now I am very grateful because I can see how instrumental it has been in my life. Personally, I do not think it is any mistake that the Bible starts with these words. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” I think it’s the very first thing God wants us to know. I believe it is the foundational truth we need to form a Godly, positive outlook on the world and everything in it.

Feel free to comment and let me know what you think.

Zoom Out And See The Big Picture

A couple of summers ago my wife and I were at the Grand Canyon strolling along the two-mile trail on the edge of the canyon that was especially made for wheelchairs and walking. It was our first time there and we were in awe at the size and beauty of the canyon. We would go a few feet, stop, and look out over the edge. Each time it seemed there was something new and we would point out anything that caught our attention.

Halfway through our trip, she spotted something particularly interesting to her and she spent several minutes trying to direct my eyes toward her discovery. We were standing in the exact same place. (Well, technically I was sitting). We were looking in the same direction. We were looking at the same large rock wall. For the life of me I could not see what she was seeing.

Frustrated, I looked away from the wall and refocused on it completely, trying to look at the “bigger” picture. Instead of focusing on tiny areas of the wall, I zoomed out and tried looking at the reference points my wife had given again. Almost magically, cave dwellings started appearing in various places on the canyon wall. I even saw the tiny trails connecting them. She wasn’t crazy after all.

As I thought about this, I began to relate looking at the Grand Canyon to looking at life. The canyon is so big that you can stand in the same place looking for hours, maybe even days, yet not see all the same things as the person standing beside you. This isn’t a bad thing, it just shows our ability to view life and everything in it in our own unique way. It also shows us that it is possible for us to miss out on some important details about life. Sometimes we need someone else to point things out to us. Sometimes we need to take a step back away from the circumstances and people that we are so close to, refocus, and look at the bigger picture.

I believe to truly see the bigger picture in life we need to zoom out and see things as God sees them. To understand how God would see a particular person or circumstance, we must first get to know God. If we do not have the proper view of God, then we will not likely come to have the proper view of anything else. We certainly won’t have the proper view of ourselves, those around us, and the world we live in. It does not mean we will not have some success in this life and do many great things while we are here, but wouldn’t it be sad to get to the end of life and realize we didn’t see life the way it was intended.

From our limited perspective here on earth it is impossible to think we will ever see everything as God does, but our limitations should serve to remind us that this life is only temporary and seeing the bigger picture requires looking beyond this life for answers. I believe God has given us the ultimate reference point to begin seeing God, life, and everything in it from the proper perspective. The Bible. In it we can learn and understand how God sees things. As we learn how He sees things it should change the way we see things. We might even see new things that we never would have seen otherwise.

So take a step back, zoom out, and use the ultimate reference point God has provided. You will discover new things about life and new ways of looking at your everyday circumstances and surroundings.

Power of an Outlook

When I became paralyzed I was bitter and upset that my Heavenly Father had allowed me to suffer. Countless hours were spent trying to figure out whether I was being disciplined, suffering from my own poor choice, Satan was trying to destroy my life, or if it was a combination of all the above. Eventually I was able to see that figuring everything out was not what mattered most.

What mattered most was my response. Was I going to allow these unwanted circumstances to defeat me or develop me? Allow them to make me bitter or use them to make me better?

Over time I began to see that my outlook, (the way that I saw God, being paralyzed, and everything about life) was a key component in being able to choose to believe that God had a purpose for me and that I could have a victorious, productive life despite my circumstances. Looking back over the last 23 years of being paralyzed, I would even go so far as to say that my outlook has made the difference between just surviving and really living.

The power of an outlook can also be seen clearly when we look at the story of Moses and the 12 Spies.

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and arrived at the place God had prepared for them, the LORD said to him, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.” (Numbers 13:2)

So Moses sent twelve spies into the land to see what it was like. Ten came back saying, “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are. All the people we saw there are of great size….We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:27-33)

Joshua and Caleb returned and said, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” (Numbers 14:7-9)

In this story we see two different ways of looking at the same situation. Everyone saw the same obstacles, but not everyone had the same response. Caleb and Joshua said, “We can do this, let’s go.” The rest said, “We cannot do this, let’s go back.”

The negative report from the ten men spread throughout the camp. The Israelite people began to operate on the faulty assumption that God had brought them this far only to let them be defeated by their enemies. Granted, the people they had to fight were bigger and stronger, but the truth was, God had already promised to give them the land. All they had to do was go into the land and take possession of it, but they let their feelings of fear and doubt overcome them.

Because of their outlook (the way they saw the situation they were in), they spent the next forty years barely surviving in the desert. Had they been able to see beyond the physical obstacles, focusing on and believing in the things God had already told them, they could have been really living in the place God had prepared for them.

Today I want to challenge you to stop seeing yourself as grasshoppers. Stop seeing your problems and your obstacles as being bigger than you and your God. God may allow many things to come into your life that you feel are impossible to overcome. When this happens, remind yourself of God’s promises; then take a step of faith, stand up and start fighting. It just might make the difference between surviving and really living in your life also.

Developing A Godly, Positive Outlook in 2015

“What happens in you is more important than what happens to you.”

An outlook is defined as a view from a particular place. It usually makes me think of being in a high place looking out over a beautiful valley, a canyon, or a body of water, but an outlook is not limited to how we see something from a physical place on the planet. We look at every circumstance, person, and event from wherever we happen to be in life. How we see things from the particular place we happen to be is our outlook.

Kevin_Front_Cover
Me, sitting atop a hill overlooking the farm where I grew up.

The classic example in determining whether a person has a positive or negative outlook is this: ‘A glass contains water to its mid-point. How do you see it?’ An optimist will say he or she sees the glass as half-full. A pessimist will say he or she sees it as half-empty. Optimists focus on what they have and are thankful the glass has some water in it. Pessimists focus on what they do not have and wish the glass had more.

An optimist is usually described as one whose fundamental viewpoint is positive and hopeful. They tend to view things, events, and occurrences in a positive light; expecting good things to happen. A pessimist is described as one whose fundamental viewpoint is negative and doubtful. They have the tendency to think unfortunate or adverse things are more likely to happen, or result from whatever does happen.

The outlook on life you have acquired, and now operate upon, is largely determined by your programming. The things you have gone through in your life and what you have learned from influential people, such as parents, mentors, and friends have affected the way you see everything. As I watch the kids I work with develop ways of looking at things, I often look back on my “programming.” Contrary to my belief then, my parent’s were doing what they were supposed to be doing when they made me work instead of letting me sit around watching TV. When they taught me things I did not think I needed to know and disciplined me for acting inappropriately they were instilling in me some fundamental operating virtues that formed the basic components for my thinking. They were programming me; providing me with some foundational operating virtues for my life.

When I think back on all the things that have shaped my outlook, there is another element that goes beyond the programming I received from influential people and events; the eternal truths in God’s Word. Without the truths that come from God’s Word acting as the foundational key to how we see life, even our best efforts at obtaining and maintaining a positive outlook will fall short when stacked up against the obstacles we face and the disappointments this life brings.

Paul tells us that those who have received Christ have been “adopted” into the family of God and He is our Heavenly Father. (Romans 8:14–15) After we become His children, I believe God begins to do what a father is supposed to do with his child; provide some foundational operating virtues for their life. These virtues shape our outlook.
In Romans chapter 8 Paul tells us several things that seem to be foundational operating virtues; including my personal favorite piece of all Godly optimistic information: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

For me, I am reminded of the promise in Romans 8:28 every time I see that it’s 8:28am or pm. I think of it when I think of the day I was born: 8-28-1971. According to the doctors I was 21 days late, but I think I was born on the exact day God had planned so that I would learn to love this promise.

I used to teach kids the first half of this verse, leaving off the “and are called according to His purpose.” However, I have come to believe that maintaining a positive outlook in this world cannot be accomplished without understanding that God has purposes for everything and that His purposes for us do not always match up with our purposes.
In other parts of Romans chapter 8, Paul encourages us by writing, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:17-18)

One reason our present sufferings are not worth worrying much about is because they are temporary. Paul says our family inheritance includes eternal life in a new body that will never get sick or quit working. To us here on earth, this gives us something to hope for when life is over. Paul says, “…hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:24-25)

Paul also tells us that as God’s children, nothing will ever be able to separate us from His love, not even death. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

The truths in God’s Word are the source of Godly Optimism. They are incredible pieces of information that God has given to us to use as operating virtues. We should use them daily by reminding ourselves of them and thinking of them. In Romans 12 Paul says we are to renew our minds. We do this by replacing our old ways of thinking and seeing things with God’s ways of thinking and seeing things. As we replace our thoughts and ways with God’s thoughts and ways, we move from a place where we spend less time looking at things from our perspective and more time looking at things from Gods perspective.

I like to call seeing things from God’s perspective a Godly, positive outlook. It is more than seeing the glass half full; it is knowing God is the one in charge of filling the glass.

So, from wherever you happen to be in life right now my hope is that in 2015 you will grow in such a way that you are learning to see things from God’s perspective, not just your own. I am going to be sharing many things through my website and my blog that God has done in my life to change the way I look at things. Some you may have read before in my book, some maybe not. Next week I hope to post something I wrote called, “The Power of an Outlook.”