• Every Creature Beautiful

    The biblical story of the creation of the world is not one of defining binaries, but of recognizing the beauty inherent in each of us.
  • The Joy of Pride

    A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me, “What is the most important piece of advice you’ve ever received?” That’s a difficult question to answer because I’ve received a lot of great advice over the years. The first thing that came to mind, though, was a message about pride shared with me back in elementary school. On my first day of fourth grade I didn’t know anyone. It wasn’t the first time that I’d been the new kid in class. I was used to that by now. It was best to just blend in - experience had taught me that there would likely be a new school next year. Good grades came easy to me because it was really easy to remember facts and information. When the time came for the class to select its representative for the annual regional spelling bee. I would have been a natural pick based on my high marks in Spelling, but a student named Andrew had represented the class every year since kindergarten. Our teacher decided to do a mini-bee between the two of us to see who would go to regionals. I studied my butt off for weeks. The mini-bee took the form of a written test and the highest score would win. Although the list was comprised of hundreds of difficult words, I felt prepared and confident because of the work that I had invested. After grading the tests, the teacher announced that I had won the mini-bee and, what’s more, I had achieved a perfect score. As she told the class how impressed she was at my score, I fought to keep a smile off my face - I didn’t want to gloat in my accomplishments. My teacher saw my internal struggle and, a few moments later, pulled me into the hallway to share some wisdom that I’ll never forget: Randy, you worked really hard on this, and you should be proud of what you did today. God made you with some incredible gifts, and you should be excited about what he’s doing in your life. In high school a few years later, I was hanging out with my best friend, a guy from my youth group. As we were casually chatting, I could tell he had something heavy weighing on his mind and he was trying to decide how to confide in me. Finally he turned to me and said, At church they always talk about the sin of pride and how we should eliminate it from our lives because it’s evil. I’ve been trying to live like that, but it really sucks. I feel like everything I do has some bit of pride in it. I can’t respect myself this way. It makes me want to give up. It’s like I can’t have any hope unless I can have some pride. My friend and I went on to discuss pride and what it looks like in our lives. That conversation, like the one with my fourth grade teacher,…
  • Coffee, Creation, and Theistic Evolution

    This may shock some of you, but I love coffee. Hot, iced, espresso, dark roast, light roast - it doesn't matter. It’s delicious. In case you don't believe me, here are just a few of the brewers that I have in my kitchen: Black & Decker Drip Pot Moka Pot Melitta Pourover Kalita Wave Pourover Aeropress French Press Filtron Cold Brewer Each of these methods makes a slightly different type of cup - some produce a more full-bodied cup, some bring out the sweetness of the coffee, some are just quick and easy to use. On any given morning (or afternoon…), I’ll use whichever one best fits my needs at that time. If you were to ask me which one is the best way to make coffee, I’d have a hard time answering. Certainly they each have their strengths and weaknesses (and everyone has their personal preferences), but I can make a great cup with any of them. All else being equal, the distinguishing factor between a great cup of coffee and a poor one is usually not the method of brewing - it’s the skill of the person brewing it. Young Earth Creationism vs. Theistic Evolution One of the big sticking points in evangelicalism these days is the debate between young earth creationism and theistic evolution. Young earth creationists say that the Genesis account of creation should be read as historical fact. They maintain that God created the light and separated it from the darkness, and that was Day 1, the first 24-hour period in history. The next day, God spoke and separated the water from the sky. The third day, he created dry ground and plants. And so on until the sixth day, when he created mankind. Theistic evolutionists, on the other hand, describe the Genesis account as being mostly symbolic. They say that the “days" referred to in the opening chapter of Genesis aren't literal 24-hour days - they are ambiguous “long ages” of time (this is based on an alternate meaning of the original Hebrew word). In addition to contesting the length of a “day” in Genesis, theistic evolutionists say that the account of God speaking the universe into existence is metaphorical and that he used the scientific process of evolution as his tool to accomplish it. Among Christians, this debate is a heated one. Simply mentioning the terms “young earth creationism” or “theistic evolution” is usually enough to get the opposing side worked up. For Christians on both ends, the issue has seemingly become a cornerstone of the faith. Indeed, we often behave as if a person's perspective on creation determines whether or not he follows the one true God. And this division breaks my heart. Remember the Maker I opened this post discussing coffee and how the most important factor in preparing a cup wasn't the method used to brew it, but the skill of the person brewing it. Plenty of people make the mistake of marveling over a coffee-brewing device, but the real credit belongs to the person brewing it. In the debate over how the…