Our Father, Who Art Incredible (Genesis 28:16-17 and Selected Verses)

Who is God? What is he like? How do we conceive him to be? Years ago, a man was trapped in a railroad car all night. It was a refrigeration car, and he was horrified. He was desperate to get out, but he couldn’t. With a sharp object he found in the car, he scratched out a message on the wooden floor: “If I don’t get out of here, I’ll freeze to death.” The next morning, he was found dead. That was doubly tragic because the refrigeration unit wasn’t on that night. It never went below 55 degrees on the thermometer the whole time he was trapped inside.

Mental constructs are vitally important, and what we believe about certain things is no small issue. So, consider the question once again, “Who is God?” Christians are well trained to respond by saying, “He’s the God of the Bible!” But which God of the Bible? Not that there’s more than one presented in Scripture, but there are certainly many portrayals of him. The biblical God has many attributes and many ways of engaging with people as he travels from page to page, scene to scene.

The book of Genesis, for example, shows us a God who appears in many different disguises, playing many different roles, and wearing many different “hats.” He’s highly interactive with his creation—changing faces and changing forms without notice. What’s that all about? It means, in part, that Genesis is a “photo album of the traveling God.” It’s a collage of “God sightings,” and we need to read it with our eye on him. What do we learn about God and his ways from watching him in action?

If God is truly infinite, then all our ideas and understandings about him will be incomplete. Not necessarily wrong but incomplete. That’s why Peter instructs believers to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18). Likewise, Paul writes, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection” (Phil 3:10). Paul already knew Christ, but he wanted to know him more. He needed to know him more.

One of the greatest enemies to truth is thinking we have it all. That mindset causes us to stop looking, stop seeking, stop listening, and ultimately stop thinking. Religious people with deep convictions often fall into this trap. Indeed, it was a highly religious crowd that killed Jesus—the “God-with-us” Emmanuel. Their concept of God—which they thought was biblical—was radically wrong. It was also wrong-headed. But no one could tell them that. Not even Jesus.

If we’re not dynamically growing in our understanding of God—going deeper into the Infinite whose surface we have barely scratched—we might wind up crucifying the truth, too. It’s not enough for believers to be doctrinally right about God, we have to be dynamically relating to God on the journey of life lest we get spiritually stale and obnoxiously blind. So, join us for this flyover of Genesis. You might discover a bigger, more adventuresome God than you’ve ever known. You might even start praying to “our Father, who art incredible.”

Sermon Resources:

Contact This New Life directly for the sermon audio file.

Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Memories

I know a few folks who have a bad case of fibromyalgia, and it doesn’t look fun. Recently, I’ve been suffering from a bad case of fibro-nostalgia. It’s certainly not as debilitating as chronic pain, but it sure can cause the mind to wander and the productivity to drop. I blame the latest flareup on my son.

Drew took me to see the new Top Gun movie on Father’s Day. It’s not a tear-jerker, but I found myself getting plenty choked up numerous times over the course of the film. Some of the feels were because I was, well, with my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. Some were because of the constant allusions back to the original movie. Maybe I subconsciously thought of that era as my heyday. Or maybe I’m just a sniveling wuss. 🙂

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler had been out for a couple years and was still popular back then. “Amanda” by Boston could be heard everywhere, along with “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Richie. “Manic Monday” by the Bangles had just hit the radio, and I really liked that song because they included my name in it. 🙂 And, of course, “Highway to the Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins made its debut in Top Gun

Other top artists back then included Bon Jovi, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Robert Palmer, and a slew of others. I didn’t care too much for Boy George or Madonna, but I (mostly) enjoyed Rush, Journey, Phil Collins, and REO Speedwagon. The Doors had flashes of brilliance, but their corpus was generally too dark for my taste. After I met Jesus, I wanted to make some adjustments to my collection, anyway.

Kate Christensen was surely right: “Nostalgia is a powerful drug. Under its influence, ordinary songs take on dimensions and powers, like emotional superheroes.” That said, I’m still more interested in tomorrow. As Anne Shirley Cuthbert put it, “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it…yet.” 

Come to think of it. I could get pretty nostalgic about Anne of Green Gables, too. Bethany and her friends used to watch the Megan Follows version, which was adorable and extremely well done. (And—while it’s a completely different approach, not to mention earthy, dark, and raw—Anne with an E really should keep going, and the producers should finish what they started. We were all left hanging.)

Anyway, back to the present. The best days are ahead.

Toasting Samuel on Father’s Day 2022

I’ve written before about my adorably delicious Samuel Sandwich gig—a fun little game I play with SamJam every time he comes to my house. You might remember that two pillows serve as the top and bottom slices of “bread.” Together they encase the “Samuel meat” and the tickling “condiments” he receives (endures?) from me before I gobble him up.

Well, for Father’s Day this year, I received two pillows that look like bread to give our game a touch of authenticity—one from Micah and Bethany, and one from Sonya. They were the funniest gifts I think I’d ever received, and I couldn’t stop laughing after I opened them. Of course, I had to try them out right away:

Micah and Bethany also got me a whipped cream spoon (long story, maybe for another post), and two beautiful cards that got me seriously choked up. Sonya got me a few polo shirts and a Japanese maple tree, something I’ve always wanted to get but never did. Her card was excessively kind, too.

Andrew took me to see the new Top Gun movie, which was fantastic. He also sprang for snacks at the theater, so he might need to take out a loan to pay for them! 🙂 It was great for just the two of us to hang out for a while. He’s a wonderful young man.

All this was after a great morning at church and family lunch at our favorite local Italian restaurant. Best Father’s Day ever. I am supremely blessed.