Encouragement From The Word

Rethinking dominion

In Genesis 1.27-28 (NLT), we read:

So God created human beings in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

Over the course of time, there have been countless views opined on what constitutes the human mandate to “govern” the earth.  The older translations refer to this as our responsibility to “subdue” the earth.

There is no doubt that in the order of creation, humanity was given the mandate to steward the world, because, as the Psalmist says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24.1, NLT).  But to what degree can we “govern” or “subdue” the earth, while also being stewards?

The terrible flooding in British Columbia recently has raised this question in my mind.  The area most ravaged by these ‘atmospheric rivers’, around Abbotsford, was once a lake.  Sumas Lake, as it was called, was drained to create a fertile prairie for agriculture.  A process was begun around 1909 and completed in 1924 that created dikes and drainage systems that left the lake bone dry…most of the time.

The human creation of that fertile prairie has come at a cost:  there are records of periodic floods that have caused untold amounts of damage.

Perhaps our understanding of dominion over the earth needs some adjustment.  The earth is our gift from God, to be used for our sustenance and enjoyment.  But it is still his world, and we must take due care to ensure that we honour God in our enjoyment of his creation.Please join me in praying for the people of British Columbia who are affected by these floods. 

Encouragement From The Word

The sound of silence

My wife and I made our last shopping trip of the year to Costco on Monday.  (Why the last one of the year?  Well, let’s put it this way:  we find we are better able to bear the fruit of the Spirit when we avoid places like that in December!)

While there, I made a purchase I had been pondering for a while:  a pair of noise-cancelling ear buds.

They’re handy for tuning out the drone of an aircraft when flying, or when listening to music without background racket.

The reality of contemporary life is that “background racket” is pretty hard to avoid.  

If you sit in your home, there’s the sound of your heating system, or the refrigerator, making noise, albeit subtle, from time to time.

If you sit outside, you might have a neighbour assaulting your ears with a leaf blower.  (Don’t get me started.)

Unless you’re out in the woods, alone, it can be hard to have no sound but nature.  I’m sure that’s why noise-cancelling earphones were invented in the first place.

One of the challenges of modern life is that we often do not really want quiet.

Most people who use noise-cancelling earphones use that feature to keep out the sounds of the world around them so they can listen to the music or podcast or whatever they want, without distraction.

Rarely will people put on noise-cancelling earphones and not play something.

When we are so used to some sort of sound, whether the din of the city or the music of our choosing, sitting in silence can feel awkward, if not unnerving.

But for followers of Jesus, it can also be immensely rewarding.  It’s most often the way in which the Lord has room to speak to us.

I encourage you to try it: sit in silence for an hour, even half an hour.  If you can’t find a place where you can have silence, and you have noise-cancelling earphones, use them, but don’t play anything.

You might feel uncomfortable, because the first time you do it, it will be like a detoxification process.  But the second time, as you listen for God to speak, you might actually hear something in your heart.

Read the Scriptures while you sit in silence.  Choose a short passage, or even one verse, and sit with it.  You may be tempted to do all the talking with the Lord, but try sitting in silence.  It might be challenging, but perseverance will pay off.

Enjoy the sound of silence.

I wait quietly before God,
    for my victory comes from him.
 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62.1-2, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

Pride and prejudice

I read a quotation this morning that struck me, and I thought I’d share it with you.  The late Reformed theologian, R.C. Sproul, said, “You don’t have to give up your intellect to trust the Bible.  You have to give up your pride.”

Ouch.

Now, some may misread this and assume that we are putting our faith in a book instead of in the Lord.  Of course, we place our trust in Jesus – but how do we learn about Jesus, how do we know anything about God, except through his Word?

Many skeptics think that you have to check your brain at the door to be a Christian.  I think it’s quite the opposite: we really need to engage our brains as followers of Jesus.  But don’t let pride get in the way of believing what the Bible tells us.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4.12, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

How great is our God!

Spend a few moments reading, and re-reading, Psalm 29 (NLT).  Then, use it as a jumping-off-point for prayer as you consider the characteristics of God that it gives us.  How great is our God!

Honor the Lord, you heavenly beings;
    honor the Lord for his glory and strength.
Honor the Lord for the glory of his name.
    Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea.
    The God of glory thunders.
    The Lord thunders over the mighty sea.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord splits the mighty cedars;
    the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf;
    he makes Mount Hermon leap like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes
    with bolts of lightning.
The voice of the Lord makes the barren wilderness quake;
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists mighty oaks
    and strips the forests bare.
In his Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!”

The Lord rules over the floodwaters.
    The Lord reigns as king forever.
The Lord gives his people strength.
    The Lord blesses them with peace.