The Genius of God


The title sounds obvious…a “no brainer”! Everything in creation points to that. He simply spoke and the worlds were created and He spoke again and day and night was divided. He spoke again and the seas and land were settled. He spoke yet again and the seas were filled with all manner of life and animals of every species began to walk the earth and fly above it. But before He rested, He created man.


Humankind was not spoken into existence, but handcrafted. That alone makes us unique and sets us apart from all of Creation. I think it clearly points to a purpose and a plan.

It can only make sense He had a plan for when man would fall. So throughout the Old Testament He began to give hints about the plan, clues that were followed by prophecy after prophecy of the Savior that would come when a part of Him, Jesus, would come in human form to give us all a chance to see and understand the truth. Amazingly, He came with a clear purpose to die. Even though He made that clear to His disciples and those who heard Him speak, they could not believe that was God’s answer for the dilemma mankind faced after falling in Eden.


So many who heard the prophecies and followed the clues did not even recognize He actually had come. They were looking for a King, not a baby born in some barn to an ordinary young couple of that day. That made no sense. Or did it? Was that the evidence of God knowing those who would see and choose Him despite the paradox of His lowly state?

The short three years of the ministry of Jesus were a combination of power-packed messages and miracles and hanging out with those closest to Him. Sometimes that smaller group was eating, other times fishing, and sometimes just walking together. That group who observed Him the most still could not fathom the genius of God that would come from the horrors of crucifixion on the tortuous cross that would conquer death and our sin. Nor could anyone explain the genius of a resurrection that was unheard of or that He appeared to His disciples after that, just showing up in their midst or walking along the dusty road to Emmaus.


I am sure that many had thought that now was the time to set up that kingdom after this miracle of miracles. So many had seen Him die, but to now be alive was the perfect way to start a kingdom, right? No, that wasn’t the genius of God or His plan.

God knew that those who had never chosen His Son would oppose those disciples who did. He also knew of people beyond the confines of the Middle East and His grand plan was to reach them all. One man who was resurrected in time and space could not be in all the places He wanted to reach. So He gave the third part of Him, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit could indwell the heart of each believer and take up residence in each soul and spirit.

The genius of God was that He made Himself mobile!

As persecution drove the believers to far corners of the world, the Holy Spirit relocated with them, in them. Over time and centuries the seed was carried to places some of us have never heard of. Where there were groups of believers they first gathered around fires, in tents, in huts, and homes, but then as time passed buildings/churches were built for a place to gather and that continues to this day.


But the genius of God is that He requires no building. He has never resided in a building. Wherever any one of us goes who is called by His name, He goes. He created a global network long before satellites and cell towers were even conceived.

And guess what? The genius of God has a plan and purpose for each of us, His disciples and ambassadors.

When you look around and see the chaos, look at the evidence of His clear plans and purposes through the ages. Look at the clues and prophecy about His return for those of us called by His name. Don’t fear.

He is a genius after all and He’s got this!!

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How Do I Know You?


Over the course of our lives we encounter so many different people. Some of them we will never meet and yet we will feel as if we know them. Some of them we will only know casually. A few we will come to know very well.

People enter our lives much like those entering from stage left or right in a theater production. Some will only walk through. Some will stay on center stage for a short time. A few will remain central to the story. How I get to know each one will be unique even as the entrance and exit of each will be different.

I will learn about each person through a variety of means. I may only read about them or read what they have written. Some I will only see in the movies, news clips, or on television or the stage. Others will meet me at crisis points in my life and I will recall them vividly. The few who are central I will come to know the best. I will hear their stories, spend time with them at any number of events, and watch them over time. How much and what I remember will vary.

No matter how I come to know someone, it is likely I will recall at least one of his or her signature moves. Esther Meek, a philosophy professor wrote about how we come to know others better. One of those is this:

“We attend to his or her ways, so that we can come to identify patterns – signature moves, I call them. What are distinctive, reliable, delightful ways that a person has of operating?”

Certainly those we know best and have observed the most are the ones whose signature moves are most familiar, but even those we have not met personally have a signature move we can recall.

I can think of many examples from people we have not met (and most will likely date me), but I will share only one. If you grew up watching Carol Burnett on television, most of you will recall that she always gently pulled one ear lobe at the end of each show. What you may not know is that she started doing it when Carol first got a job on television and her grandmother asked her to say hello to her when she was on air. Carol explained she couldn’t do that, but she could find another way. That gentle tug of her ear lobe was a personal ‘hello’ to Carol’s grandmother, a unique signature move.

I recall patterns of signature moves of my parents who went to be with the Lord 28 years ago. One of my dad’s was how he would often use his right hand at the table as if he were wiping crumbs from the edge of the table after the plates were removed. It was almost an unconscious thing and sometimes my husband catches me doing it. I recall the way my mother rolled out pie dough and her own crimp along the edge of a pie plate and so many other things.

Jesus had signature moves when He walked the earth.

An especially powerful example was what happened on the road to Emmaus with two of his disciples. Scripture tells us they were kept from recognizing Him, but two things, signature moves, demonstrated patterns that brought recognition to the disciples. The first was how their hearts burned within them when He shared of what had been written in the Old Testament about the Messiah. The second was when he broke bread and gave thanks when He shared a meal with them.

Of all the things we may know about a person, those patterns we have observed help us to identify them beyond a shadow of a doubt and allow us to be certain of who they are even if we have not seen them for a very long time.

I wonder if that is one way we might know in heaven those who have been known to us on earth.

Patterns, signature moves, offer us so much to consider.

I especially love a quote by Esther Meek in “Reading the Bible…and Longing to Know”:

“Study God’s ways as the relationship unfolds, not so you can predict the future, but so that you will recognize God when He shows up. Expect to be surprised, but also expect, if you have attended to Him in love, to recognize Him. The Bible is the unfolding drama of the covenant relationship between God and his people. When you read it, you attend carefully so that you get to know God, so that you will know his signature moves, so that you will experience them in your own life.”


What Cost Freedom?


Today I share a repeat post because the purpose of pausing to consider the cost of freedom doesn’t end.

Today in the United States we pause to celebrate Memorial Day.

Most will celebrate it with picnics, boating, ball games, swimming, family, and friends. A few will pause for those remaining public celebrations to commemorate the day. Fewer still will visit the graves of those fallen for the sake of freedom or know when this commemoration began or the cost for those who gave us the freedom to celebrate it.

Originally it was called Decoration Day and that is the name I recall when I was a young child. Its purpose? To provide a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America.

It was born out of the United States Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed the day officially on May 5, 1868, and asked that the 30th of May 1868 be designated for the purpose of strewing the graves of those who had died in the defense of their country with flowers and flags.

Most of us would not recall that Memorial Day began with that bloodiest of all United States wars. The country would be torn in two with the Union of the North raising an army of 2,128,948 and the Confederacy of the South mustering a total of 1,082,119 troops. It was a war that would be fought in thousands of places from southern Pennsylvania to Texas, from New Mexico to Florida with most of the battles fought in Virginia and Tennessee.

Between April 12, 1861, when Fort Sumter, South Carolina, was fired upon until April 9, 1865, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at the McLean House in Appomattox Court House, Virginia, 620,000 would die for the cause they believed in. They would die from combat, accident, starvation, and disease. Of that number, the three-day battle on the fields around Gettysburg, PA, in 1863, would see the largest number fall. A total of 51,000 would be dead by the end of the battle.

It can be easy to forget how significant the losses were during the Civil War. Yet, our love for freedom would stir the hearts of others to serve in battles far from our own coastline. In World War II 405,399 would give their lives following the brutal conditions faced during World War I when 116,516 would fall in battle.

Of course, these would not be the only battles where men and women would give their lives for the cause of freedom. In Vietnam we would sacrifice 58,209 and in Korea we would lose 36, 516.


To establish this nation, 25,000 would die in the Revolutionary War. Another 20,000 would die in the War of 1812 and 13,283 in the Mexican War. The Spanish-American War would result in a loss of 2,446.

More recently 6,626 would be lost in battle in Iraq and Afghanistan with another 258 falling during the Gulf War.

How much do we value this freedom?

How much do we take it for granted or use it to serve our own ends rather than for the good of our brothers and sisters?

When we speak of a fight for freedom, men, and women, despite their fear or condition, held the value for liberty and the release of tyranny so foremost among their beliefs that they were willing to leave those they loved most to serve those they had never met.


As I took time to visit a small country cemetery in Ohio near where I live, I was struck as I always am by the number of American flags that had been placed on the graves of our veterans. This cemetery is adjacent to a church founded in the 1840’s.

In the oldest part of the cemetery where the gravestones are often not readable, I found flags adorning the graves of two Civil War veterans. One had died in 1865 and another in 1866. I read their names: James Turner and James Shaw. I wondered what they had seen in their time on the battlefield and if their deaths shortly after the war came because of wounds that never healed.


We can never repay the debt we owe to so many.

We can also never repay the debt we owe to the One who came to give us grace and freedom from sin, the One who suffered for us at great expense to purchase what we could not gain without His payment.

During all the fun and celebrating we may do this day, let us not forget to be thankful, to sober our hearts, to give thanks for so many who gave all they had for our sakes. Let us also thank God for His love beyond measure in what He sacrificed for us.

Freedom is never free.

Others will always want to take it from us, to enslave us. Let us remember to cherish it, not abuse it for our own selfish ends, or fail to recognize the responsibility we must uphold and guard it because of the great cost paid to grant it.


Corinth and Us


When I look at the challenges of fellowship and community in the body of Christ, in the local church, few books in the Bible can match Paul’s letters to the people of Corinth.

Paul had visited Corinth around 50 AD. He had begun the church on his second missionary journey. It was there that he met Aquila and Priscilla, Jewish tentmakers like he was. He spent two years there preaching first to the Jews in the synagogue. When they refused to hear him, he preached to the Gentiles.

When he arrived there, Corinth was already an ancient city that had been in existence for a thousand years before the time of Christ. It was a wealthy seaport city, a center of art, athletics, business, and religion. Unfortunately, it had developed a bad reputation as an immoral city.

How like God to send His light into a dark place?

Paul sent others to minister to the church he established there after he continued his missionary journey to Jerusalem for a brief stop and then on to Ephesus for three years. He kept in contact with the churches he established by letter and letters came to him updating him on the church and how things were going as well. He desired to continue to disciple them and grow them up in all spiritual matters.


By the time he wrote his first letter to the church at Corinth, it’s clear issues were blossoming and the church was not behaving as a Christ like church. The worldly wisdom of the day had been creeping into the church creating confusion and division.

Sound familiar even in 2023 in many places? We seem to have some common characteristics with the city of Corinth and the church there.


Paul’s words as a loving disciple are firm and direct calling them into account out of his love and care for them and his desire to see them mature. He let them know they were acting like babies. They could not be equipped to reach out to others, to look different than the world in Corinth. The church was to model Jesus. The church at Corinth wasn’t doing that.

We are blessed to have many strong, effective, loving churches in our country, but not unlike the church in Corinth our success and culture can slip into the church almost unnoticed until the fruit of its presence becomes evident.

In The Master’s Indwelling, Andrew Murray writes this about the believers in Corinth:

“We find in the Corinthians simply a condition of protracted infancy. It is quite right at six months of age a babe should eat nothing but milk, but years have passed by and it remains in the same weakly state. Now this is just the condition of many believers. We come in contact with them and there is none of the beauty of holiness or of the power of God’s spirit in them.”

I think we sometimes bump into the same issue today. Protracted infancy will not let us reflect Him.

Can these things harm the image of Christ? Absolutely! Can they prevent healthy relational fellowship? Yes, of course.

Sometimes the church today (not unlike Corinth) can have a solid foundation with excellent teaching, but if we only rely on being fed on Sundays we will never grow up into Him and become mature. It is what happens on those other six days that make the big difference in whether or not we are truly growing.

Our churches bear a great responsibility before the Lord for the oversight and care of their body, but that is His to judge. We also have a responsibility. How we spend our time in pursuing the Lord beyond the teaching of the pastor will tell a great deal about the way we model Him. It will have a significant influence on whether we move beyond protracted infancy.

We come into a church looking for certain things. What do we also bring? Do we bring childish self-centered attitudes or a growing, developing Christ-life?

Perhaps what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (MSG) lays out the path for us:

Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.


What Kind of Soil Are You?


I grew up on a farm and never developed a desire to be a farmer myself, but as the daughter of a life-long farmer I had a deep appreciation for the hard work, wisdom, and knowledge it took to do this very important job. I listened to much of what my father would share about what he was doing from season to season trying to assure he would yield a good crop.

Certainly, there was a great deal that my father did not have control of related to the farming process. Chief among these was the weather. One of the areas greatly impacted by the weather was the condition of the soil and the soil was key to the harvest. Tending to the soil was an ongoing process throughout all the seasons of a year.

From time to time my father would do a soil test to determine what the soil on our farm needed. Under applying nutrients would retard plant growth and reduce the yield of the field. Over application of nutrients would be expensive and potentially create an environmental hazard.

Weather could influence what nutrients were added. If it was too wet, one choice might be made. If it were too dry, another combination would be chosen. I recall my father would also rotate crops from field to field since different crops take different levels of nutrients of the soil. Rotating helped keep the soil healthier.


A farmer knows that good soil is dark-colored and crumbly when you feel it with your fingers. He wants to keep the soil well drained, avoid erosion, not let the soil be too dry, and add nutrients to improve the soil and maintain its health and productivity. What a task! It is one never to be devalued as “less than” by those with title, position, or degree.

So, why am I talking about soil? Because we are the soil where the Lord plants the seed. You can read about it in Matthew 13:3-9 where Jesus tells the parable of the different kinds of soil and results when seed is sown there.

I think we often tend to think of that in regard to salvation and I would not disagree, but the condition of real soil does not remain constant. How the soil is used or depleted impacts whether the soil remains healthy and able to produce a rich harvest. Weather is also a major factor regarding that.

We have a choice about what kind of soil we are. We too are impacted by “weather”. The “storms of life” assail us from nearly every direction and batter us. The soil of our heart can be eroded. The heat of spiritual battle can also impact the soil of our heart.

All of these things that come against our heart can tempt us to harden and protect our heart, to cease to risk loving or giving. We can also lose track of how exhausted our heart (the soil) is from giving, loving, and serving for a great length of time and we fail to notice we are depleted.


To keep our heart (our soil) in the best condition, it must be fed and nourished regularly. Yes, time in the Word does that as well as prayer, but we can become locked into a pattern of those things without adding other nutrients we need. We can gain nourishment from rich fellowship with a few others who care for our hearts. Such nourishment can also come from time in the midst of His creation, listening to great music, viewing meaningful art in all its forms, and most certainly rest.

A good farmer knows the soil in his field needs to be able to rest in order to continue to produce. Rest comes in many forms beyond sleep. It can include solitude, changing our routine or areas of service for a period of time, or simply laying down the endless requests that come our way to do one more thing, be one more thing.

I have experienced many seasons and known periods of severe weather as well as drought. I have experienced rich harvest as well as depletion. I do not see myself as “old”, but I am no longer young.

I desire in this season above all others to be the soil of Matthew 13:8 (ESV):

“Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”