Friday, March 31, 2017

Dear Life

Sometimes I think I can't hang on.

Dear life, you’ve been coming on fast lately. We’ll not so much lately as…always. Only right now it seems faster. But that’s okay. God put me in a particular place at a particular time and you are the life I got. I know I did some things—right or wrong—to shape you into the life you are today. But some things just happened. And life, you are moving along more swiftly that you used to. I know we’re headed somewhere important but I miss the way you used to be. For instance, I miss the mothering of little ones. My babies seemed to have disappeared—replaced by people who are taller than me. Even further back, I miss the girl who didn’t expect the future I’m now living. But some things, I don’t miss so much. I like the right now of you, even though your speed is increasing and sometimes I think I can’t hang on. But I will—I’m hanging on for dear life. Because you are a gift to be discovered, appreciated, and shared. And I don’t want to miss anything.
So that was a brief letter to my life. I tried to find the origin of the expression hanging on for dear life, but came to no conclusion on the matter. If anyone knows, please share it in the comment section below. I know this much—life is dear. And amazing. I’m not one to get into debates over evolution or Earth age. Though some believers hinge their faith on such things, I'm only convinced that life is God’s. It originated with Him. It is sustained by Him and redeemed by Him. It begins and ends by His sovereignty. And I simply don’t care what happened 8,000 years ago or 80,000,000 years ago.
My faith depends solely on what happened 2,000 years ago. I see no reason to hang any other demands on it.

It’s not that I don’t see how a lack of respect for life might hinge on a Godless view of our origin. If life does not come from God, then it is of lesser value. It has little meaning and no real purpose. But it’s not the evolutionist or the facts or fallacies of carbon dating that have brought us in swift measure to this point in the life of the human race. The root does not tunnel down into an old Earth. It is not embedded in fossil fuels. The root lies shallow in a lack of understanding. Great minds can’t explain it. Science can’t discover it. But the most simple-minded believer can know it and share it. It’s grace. I can disregard what a person supposes about a number of things because grace is the hinge of all things. Redemption isn’t based on what you know or think you know. Your piety is of no consequence. Morality is a reasonable goal, but it’s never quite enough. The grace offered by Christ is what matters. It’s what redeems you. And until you’re redeemed you might be hanging on for dear life, but you’re not going to make it.

Sometimes I feel like a small creature held by a strong force to a planet hurling through space and time. Like a misdirected lizard clinging to the windshield of a speeding car, I don’t know much about how I got here. I’ve lost control but I’m going to hang on for dear life and put my trust in the One in charge. If He’s merciful—and I know He is—He’ll let me live. He’ll stop this crazy ride and lift me up, even though I’m a repulsive little thing, and hold me safe in His hands. He could swat me off and run me over, but He won’t. He’ll show me grace and take me all the way home. And home is a place I could never get to on my own.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Ants, Men, and the Machine

If you haven’t noticed, the world has gotten stranger lately. I can’t be accused of trying to hold on to normalcy since I wrote a weird story about a futuristic man. If you want to become a human like the one I wrote about, just hold on a few years and you might get the chance. In my fiction, an inept government fails to establish a new and improved human race. But more than that, it’s the hand of God that keeps the government from achieving the goal completely. 

I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject of Artificial Intelligence, but I've done some research in order to make the fiction more real. I certainly don’t pretend to know the mind of God, but I study and pray to acknowledge His everlasting holiness and discern His will as best as I can in my fallen human condition. And this is how I know the world is getting stranger, and that the human race is becoming more aggressive in its quest for power, and that God is patient.

In a recent article, physicist Stephen Hawking gives warning about the coming age of A.I. and how it might take over and possibly destroy us. Not on purpose, but simply by unwaveringly efficient design. Hawking said:

“You're probably not an evil ant-hater who steps on ants out of malice, but if you're in charge of a hydroelectric green energy project and there's an anthill in the region to be flooded, too bad for the ants. Let's not place humanity in the position of those ants.”

When reading this, I had to wonder if Hawking knows the book of Proverbs extols the ants for their wise and efficient toil for self-preservation. Hopefully, we’re at least as smart as ants.

This statement also appears in the article: Tesla CEO Elon Musk shares a similar viewpoint, having recently warned that humans are in danger of becoming irrelevant.
Hawking’s answer to the problem? A world government coming together for the purpose of protecting us from technology. From our own developments? From all that we cleverly invent to make our lives better? Are the computers really going to take over?  
In one regard, it’s good that the great minds of our time recognize we’re headed into unprecedented circumstance. But they aren’t suggesting we take a step back. They simply believe there is no other possibility and we must be prepared for the future reshaping of our world.
In my novels, I point out the similarities between the coming cyber world and the Tower of Babel. The need for power and the requirement of dominance once brought about something that now seems mundane: the building of a city with a great tower. Not so dangerous, but at the time God saw fit to end it. The endeavor was in itself was not unreasonable, it was the pursuit of power that needed to be tamed. But that fire inside us has been allowed to remain through the ages. Now our city is an artificial territory one may enter from any place at any time, and the tower we’re building is an all-powerful machine. And then, as God noted in the book of Genesis, nothing we plan will be impossible for us. Except perhaps preserving our own existence. A tower was attempted in the first book of the Bible. Could the events of the last book bring a virtual tower and a new world order to rule its exploits?

The rise of mankind to reach the heavens is nothing new. The desire to rule the world is rooted in our deeply aggressive nature not by, as Hawking states, the hard-wiring of Darwinian evolution, but because of the Fall. We exist by the grace of God and we continue to exist because of His will. We will not end ourselves by building a fierce monster of a machine. God is bigger and fiercer than anything we can come up with. He’s also loving and merciful, and He will be the One to reshape this world. But are we taking a strange step toward our own annihilation as God carries out His plan? As one redeemed, I will resist the machine and rely on the power of Christ. He’s coming to my rescue.

Without a ‘world government’ technology will destroy us, says Stephen Hawking

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Stolen Throne

The title here is not original. I’m currently reading A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy, and this phrase from chapter five struck me. Preceding Tozer’s proclamation that we all sit on a stolen throne, he surmises this position is perfectly natural to us when he writes:

Sin has many manifestations but its essence is one. A moral being, created to worship before the throne of God, sits on the throne of his own selfhood and from that elevated position declares, “I AM.” That is sin in its concentrated essence; yet because it is natural it appears to be good.

I’ve often felt a slight discomfort when a sinner approaching repentance does so with mention of this sin or that. As if giving up smoking and drinking will make him right with God. I’ve done it myself, knowing deep inside that my list of sins is not the problem. Recognition of offense is not a bad gesture in the eyes of God, and in the life of a Christian it’s a necessary part of moving toward righteous living. But my assortment of daily failures is not what originally put space between my Creator and me. The Sin of taking my seat on the throne is what caused the problem, and it was as natural as my first breath, my first step, my first deviation away from God’s law. As Tozer puts it, I was born a rebel.

Rebellion is the Sin that causes us to seize the throne. The list of sins builds from there. But why the rebellion? God envy? Pride? Can’t we be like Him? Shouldn’t the creature possess all the power of his Creator?

This brings two considerations to mind. First, am I still sitting on a throne that belongs to God? I envision Him on the throne. I accept that He is King of all. I confess my Sin, and my continual sin. But are there times and situations when I won’t step down?

Second, I find a bit of a turn in the way I view the unredeemed. Though it’s not new to my thinking to empathize their lost condition, if I see their falling away from God as a natural thing, something that to them seems to be good, then I must approach the issue with a deeper understanding of why they cling to the usurped throne. I was rescued from the same condition. And now, if I no longer sit on the throne, self-righteousness must be let go.

It seems right and good to take control of one’s self. The fact that the self-throne is crumbling becomes a matter of denial, perhaps even complete unawareness. Tozer writes: Yet so subtle is self that scarcely anyone is conscious of its presence. So I must be wary of my own self-throne, and keep an understanding of why others have assumed their positions. I must express the grace of God, even to those who strongly oppose the Christian faith, who seem to be my enemies. They’re in need of the same rescue God freely offered me. This is where the self-throne gives way to the Gospel. In my rebellion, I couldn’t grasp that dethroning was what I deserved. In my redemption, I gratefully accept it is exactly what I needed.

Another excerpt from The Knowledge of the Holy, chapter five:

The earliest fulfilment of these words of Christ was at Pentecost after Peter had preached the first great Christian sermon. “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” This “What shall we do?” is the deep heart cry of every man who suddenly realizes that he is a usurper and sits on a stolen throne. However painful, it is precisely this acute moral consternation that produces true repentance and makes a robust Christian after the penitent has been dethroned and has found forgiveness and peace through the gospel.