Bundle Up – and Behold Our God

polar

Tuesday I went for a short run after work. It was 4:30, and the temperature was 15?. I hope to regain feeling in my face by Easter. Aerobically speaking, I think I could have achieved the same result by pouring burning oil into my lungs. Now while you may not be dumb enough to go for a run in the recent cold weather, if the multiple headlines using the words ?Polar Vortex? were true, many of you experienced temperatures equally as cold if not colder.

So here?s a question: what can we learn from a cold spell? (Apart from ?Stop running, you idiot.?) Is there anything a polar vortex can teach us about our God? Actually, there is. Listen to this description of God from Psalm 147:16-17:

?He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold??

Who can stand, indeed? When the temperatures plummet as they have in the last few days, we stand witness to a fresh glimpse of the power of God. Our weakness and frailty before creation is brought starkly to our remembrance. Despite all our modern technology, our synthetic fibers and engineered heat systems, the best we can do is minimize the effects of the cold. If we attempt to face the frigidity without any protection, we will suffer the consequences. The power of the cold is a display of the power of God.

There?s also another aspect of God?s character shown: his goodness. Why isn?t our planet constantly bombarded by freezing, sub-zero temperatures? What makes the majority of our world, most of the time, a warm and hospitable place for weak humans to live? The goodness and wisdom of the Lord. Yes, scientifically speaking it has to do with weather patterns and atmosphere and ozone and all that ? but as Christians we understand that?s just another way of describing the wise and loving care that God has lavished on our planet. God created a world that would sustain human life, and even after our rebellion against him he still sustains us and makes our lives possible. The cold we?ve been experiencing will pass. Warmth, spring, and summer heat waves will return. But imagine if God instead unleashed the full power of his cold on our planet ? who could stand then? Polar vortexes demonstrate not only the power of God, but also his goodness to men and women on planet Earth.

The polar vortex may have left, but it’s still winter. Cold temperatures are the order of the day. So when the mercury plummets again, make sure you bundle up. Instead of a run, maybe stay home and drink hot chocolate. But as you bundle up to face the cold, remember to behold the power and goodness of our God and Creator. Who can stand before his cold?

Photo by NASA Goddard? Photo and Video

A Dastardly Tale of Blood, Needles, and Humiliating Apparel

For the past three weeks I’ve been having what you might call stomach “issues”. To put it simply, the inside of my stomach has been trying to get on the outside of my stomach. Anytime I would eat anything of substance I would feel nauseated.

The doctor gave me a few medications which didn’t help a whole lot. This past weekend the nausea started tag-teaming with stomach pain. They make a really good team, and I decided that I should probably make a pit stop at the ER, just to make sure I wasn’t dying or about to have an alien burst out of my chest.

For some reason, being in the hospital puts me in a reflective mood. As I lay back on my ER gurney, here are some of the random reflections that flickered through my mind.

  • I’m so grateful that I live in a country where I can get immediate medical attention. This is the wonderful common grace of God. Millions of people around the world walk miles and wait days to get proper medical attention. Some can’t get it at all. I was admitted into the ER within 15 minutes of my arrival. Thank you Lord for your kindness to me and this nation. Plus, our hospital in particular is wonderful. The staff and doctors are fantastic.
  • When a nurse says “big pinch” what she really means is, “I’m about to stick you with a needle that also gets used to tranquilize bison, so try not to scream like a girl.” Sometimes I wish the nurses would just say straight up, “Look, this is going to hurt like the dickens, so don’t embarrass yourself.”
  • The guy who invented the hospital gown should be forced to wear one every single day for the rest of his life. The hospital gown is, hands down, the most degrading piece of clothing ever invented. Just trying to get the thing on is like a circus act. I never can get the right straps tied together, and, inevitably, part of my backside is left exposed. It’s embarrassing, that’s what it is.
  • The time space continuum works differently in the hospital. A minute takes an hour, and an hour takes three hours. I was at the ER for either six hours or six weeks. I’m not sure. I think it has something to do with The Matrix.

After a battery of tests, including drinking an awful liquid that tasted like sweetened dish water, having a CT scan, and giving up precious pints of my own blood, the doctor concluded that I probably have a stomach ulcer. This is both good news and bad news. It’s good news because, praise God, it’s not worse. God is kind to me! It’s bad news because it means I can’t drink coffee for weeks (I told myself I wasn’t going to cry…).

Now it’s a waiting game. Lord willing, the ulcer will heal on it’s own and I’ll be back to my coffee guzzling ways. But until then…tea. But I will suffer boldly!

Homeless World Cup

I just finished watching a documentary about the Homeless World Cup. Every year, homeless men and women from Ireland, Kenya, Russia, France, the United States, and many other countries gather together to play soccer. To win. To make friends. To escape the clutches of poverty and drugs.

I heard a particular phrase repeated again and again throughout the documentary. It went something like this:

Soccer helps me forget my problems for a while. When I’m out on the field, I forget about my terrible life.

The more I watched and listened, the more I realized, God is so kind to give us recreation.

Soccer allowed these people to put aside their ghosts for a few short hours. The sweat, slide tackles, and body-to-body collisions eclipsed the spectre of heroin and homelessness. A bit of joy snuck into their lives through a soccer ball.

In a small way, I can relate to the homeless ballers. There are certain times when I need to rest my mind. To stop rehashing the problems of my day. Sports help me rest. So do books and movies.

When I pick up my book, I’m meeting the grace of God. In rest. In forgetting.

What about you? Are there certain activities that help you “rest” your mind?

+photo by Brit.

Coldplay Speaks

This past Sunday night on 60 minutes Steve Kroft interviewed Coldplay just before the Grammies, where the band won best rock album and song of the year.

I’m not saying they’re Christians, but I could see much of God’s common grace in the interview.? For example:

ENTHUSIASM

“We rely more on enthusiasm than actual skill,” lead singer Chris Martin said. “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically and people will like it more.”

Enthusiasm should be the hallmark of Christians.? We serve the most glorious King in the most glorious cause. How enthusiastic we should be about worshiping Jesus!

HUMILITY

“And the other reason why we do well is because U2 is still on holiday. So…they’re back in March. So, you know, as soon as they come back, we drop down the ladder a bit,” Chris Martin joked. “So, we’re in our last week of substitute teaching.”

Chris Martin was self-effacing.? That’s how Christians should be.? We shouldn’t take ourselves seriously. “To the humble he gives favor” (PR 3.34)

……

“They all share equally in the profits and Will Champion [drummer] and Guy Berryman [bass player] are thrilled that Chris Martin gets all the attention.”

“I couldn’t imagine coming out of my house and there being photographers out there. I wouldn’t be able to just walk away from that,” Berryman said.

“It?s a blessing to be in this band and to not be the singer,” Champion added.

“They seem perfectly happy to let you have…the spotlight,” said Kroft.

Believers should be glad when others are honored.? “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (GA 5.26).

DILIGENCE

“I can’t dance like Usher. I can’t sing like Beyonce. I can’t write songs like Elton John,” Martin said. “But, we can do the best we can with what we’ve got… And so that’s what we do. We just go for it.”

Believers should do the best we can with what we’ve got.? “The hand of the diligent makes rich” (PR 10.4)
……..

“Look, you guys are one of the biggest groups in the world right now. How did that happen?” Kroft asked.

“All we do is, we try really, really hard,” Jonny Buckland, lead guitarist said, laughing.

Christians should try really, really hard to work out our salvation, since God is working in us to will and work for his good pleasure (PHP 2.12).

Enthusiasm, humility, diligence.? Let’s pursue these qualities for God’s glory!

Quotes from CBS.com
photo by Christoph!