Keep In Mind

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My Musings – Jesus passes the love that the Father has for Him on to us.  In the same way, we must pass this love on to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  In this way the world will know that we are His disciples.  If, in seeing this the world hates us, it is because the world hates Christ (and by extension, the Father as well).  Why? Because although “light has come into the world, men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light.”  (John 3:19-21,NIV 1984).  As followers of Christ, we are to reflect the light.  So if they hate the light, they will hate us to.

My Advice – Walk in the light as He is in the light.  We can bear the hate of the world as long as we have the love of the Father.  Evenso, keep proclaiming the truth.  In so doing, some may ultimately come into the light.

 

In My Time

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My Musings – Coming soon, to a location near you.  We’ve been blessed in the United States.  Up until a generation or so ago, the rule of law and Judeo-Christian values were rarely in conflict, with the glaring and shameful exception of slavery.  The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  A veritable two-way street; no imposition of a state religion and no impediment to the free exercise of a citizen’s religion of choice.

That may soon be coming to an end.  The cracks have been visible for quite some time now, and they are rapidly growing deeper and wider.  And if permitted to mix my metaphors, the handwriting is on the wall and our days may be numbered. On that day, and it may be soon, we may be joining our Christian brothers and sisters in certain third-world, communist and Muslim countries where the free exercise of our faith, or at least certain aspects of it, become illegal.  Even to the point of confiscation of property, imprisonment, or even death.  This should not surprise us. Jesus said we would be hated because of Him (Matthew 10:22).  But, “we must obey God rather than men!

My Advice – “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.  “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”   (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring).  All we have to decide is,  do we “obey God rather than men?” “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15, NIV 1984).  Who’s with me?

 

I Got My Mind Set On You

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My Musings – A person’s mindset is the particular way they think, their attitude and opinions about how they view things. A person’s worldview is the overall perspective from which they see and interpret the world.

As follower’s of Christ, we should have our mind set on what the Spirit desires.  This is contrary to our mind set prior to knowing Christ, where we had on mind set on what our sinful nature desired.  A mind controlled by the Spirit of God will view things the way God does.

The mindset of sinful man can only lead to death, whereas the mindset of one born of the Spirit is not only life, but peace.  The implication being that the mind of sinful man has no lasting peace.

My Advice – Set your mind on things above.  View the world and your life through the lens of God’s Word.  This will renew your mind and transform your life, as the things we take into our mind filter down to our hearts.

“And this time I know it’s for real. The feelings that I feel. I know if I put my mind to it, I know that I really can do it. It’s gonna take time.  A whole lot of precious time.  It’s gonna take patience and time, um.  To do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it. To do it right, child.”  (I Got My Mind Set on You, lyrics by Rudy Clark, sung by George Harrison).

And It Was So

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My Musings – Perspective.  It’s easy to lose sight of it amongst all the scientific jargon and mumbo jumbo.  But if you step back to get a better perspective of the big picture it is beyond awesome (a much overused word).  And yet, “these are but the outer fringe of His works; how faint the whisper we hear of Him!” (Job 25:14).  Outer fringe?  Faint whisper?  Now that’s perspective for you.

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Beginning – That “singular point” that scientists call “The Big Bang”, in which all matter, energy and time “sprang” into being, was God speaking it all into existence. This was the beginning of time (for us), a period of remote and unknown antiquity, hid in the depths of eternal ages, before the world began.  After all, what is 13.8 billion years (more or less), to a God that was preexistent (to exist beforehand, before time) for all of eternity past (infinite)? And if this all preceded, and was in preparation for, what occurred on the seven “days” of creation that followed, there is no controversy in the aging of the “building materials” that God created, whether is was 13.8 billion years ago or 6000 years ago. “The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began.” (Proverbs 8:22-23, emphasis added).

Created – The Hebrew word is “bara,” which in the Old Testament is used exclusively for divine activity (Yahweh is always the grammatical subject). This implies that people cannot create in the way God creates [true], and no lesser “god” can claim to be creator. The term also conveys the idea of ordering and determining function (e.g., underlying physical and thermodynamic laws and principles) to the cosmos. While it always describes the divine activity of fashioning something new, fresh, and perfect, it does necessarily describe creation out of nothing (for example the creation of man), it often stresses forming a new, reforming, renewing (initially the earth was void and without form). Clearly the initial “big bang” was creation out of nothing, but not from nothing. It was from God. After all, what is creating something out of nothing to a God who is omnipotent (having unlimited power; able to do anything)? “By faith we understand that the universe was formed (had a beginning) at God’s command (caused), so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible (began to exist).” (Hebrews 11:3)

Heavens and Earth – This expression is frequently employed to denote the world, or universe, for which there was no single word in the Hebrew language; the universe consisting of a twofold whole. The opening (heavens) and closing parentheses (earth) that encompassed the entire creation (cosmos). From God’s perspective (the heavens) to man’s (the earth). From the one sending the revelation to those receiving it. Keeping in mind that those originally receiving the message had not developed scientifically and could not be expected to understand any of that. God was attempting to communicate what, not necessarily the details of how, because the details at that point in time were not necessary. It is, however, interesting to note how man’s advancing scientific “big bang” theory of the beginning (previously the claim was there was no beginning, the universe always existed), has drawn closer to that rudimentary description God originally provided. Interesting, but not surprising. After all, what is the entire cosmos to a God that is infinite (has no boundaries or limits, not confined to the universe He created in time or space)? “The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you.” (1 Kings 8:27).

Formless and Empty – In the more poetic King James Version, “void and without form.” What else might one expect from the “letting loose” from a single point of origin and in the “blinking of an eye” of all matter and energy to form a universe that stretches to an observable edge of 45.34 billion light-years in radius? After all, what is 45.34 billion light years (times two) to a God that is omnipresent (present everywhere)? The two words (formless and empty) designate a state of material devoid of order, prior to God’s meticulous work on it. There was nothing in it desirable to be seen, for it was “confusion and emptiness,” an alternate translation. It was shapeless, it was useless, it was without inhabitants, without ornaments. Not even the shadow or rough draft of things to come (other than in the mind of the Creator). First, He created the building materials, then He set to building and furnishing it. “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalms 8:3-4)

Darkness – Scientists surmise that until around a few hundred million years or so after the Big Bang, the universe was a very dark place, with no stars and no galaxies. God did not create this darkness. Light was not necessary until something was made that might be seen by it. For what is light, to a God’s whose glory and holiness is so bright that no living creature can gaze upon it and live? “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5).

Over the Surface of the Deep – The Hebrew word is tehom, which refers to the primordial or primeval sea—the cosmic waters of chaos. The coincides with the scientific theory that in its beginning, the earth was a giant, red hot, roiling, boiling sea of molten rock – a magma ocean. As the earth began to cool, water vapor began to escape and condense in the earth’s early atmosphere. Clouds formed and storms raged, raining more and more water down on the primitive earth, cooling the surface until it was flooded with water, forming the seas. “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:41).

Spirit of God Hovered Over the Waters – In the darkness of this chaos (darkness, formless, emptiness) the Spirit of God moved to prepare for the effectual creative Word of God. The Hebrew translated as “hovered” or “moved” means “to brood over; to incubate.” How much of that sense might be attached here is hard to say, but the verb does depict the presence of the Spirit of God moving about mysteriously over the waters, presumably preparing for the acts of creation (Days one through seven) to follow. The earth was formless, so God formed what He wanted. The earth was empty, so God filled up what He had formed. Regrettably, scientists, in general, have no place for the Holy Spirit in what precedes or what follows. Science on the other hand, as we will someday fully appreciate, welcomes its Creator. “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6).

My Advice – Simply this, praise God!

References

  1. All Scripture references, unless otherwise indicated are from the New International Version, 1984.
  2. https://www.space.com/25126-big-bang-theory.html
  3. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 17). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  4. Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 1:1). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
  5. Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Ge 1:1). Biblical Studies Press.
  6. Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentary on the Old Testament (Vol. 1, p. 29). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.
  7. https://www.businessinsider.com/size-of-the-universe-2016-8.
  8. Hamilton, V. P. (1995). Genesis. In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Vol. 3, p. 11). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
  9. Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 4). Peabody: Hendrickson.
  10. https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/science/firstLight.html
  11. Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 4). Peabody: Hendrickson.
  12. Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 1:2). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
  13. http://www.extremescience.com/earth.htm.
  14. Ross, A. P. (1985). Genesis. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 28). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  15. Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Ge 1:2). Biblical Studies Press.
  16. Wiersbe, W. W. (1993). Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament (Ge 1). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Sheep’s Clothing

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My Musings – In banking, tellers are taught the best way to spot a counterfeit – you study the genuine article.  By being familiar with the “real deal” you can more readily spot the fake.  This similar principle can be applied to identifying false teachers.  You look to what they are saying and doing, and you place it alongside what is truth – God’s Word.

Feed Only Themselves – We’ve all seen them, enriching themselves while the flock is starving for the truth.

Clouds Without Rain – They look and sound impressive, but in reality lack the substance of the truth.

Autumn Trees Without Fruit – You expect the fruit in the Autumn, and you would expect spiritual leaders to bear real fruit.  Yet the false ones pander to big crowds in this age of “consumer Christianity.”  Give them what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.

Wild Waves Foaming Up – Stirring the pot, when they should be building up the body in unity of the Spirit.

Wandering Stars – Abandoning the flock that they have been entrusted with, seeking greener pastures for themselves, while their sheep are left shepherd less.

For Whom Blackest Darkness Has Been Reserved Forever – Their just reward.

My Advice – Stay in the Word.  You’ll know who measures up and who does not.  Here are a few pointers.

1. Is the teaching from a well-known and trusted source?

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures.” (2 Timothy 3:14, 15)

2. Is the teaching consistent with what you have learned from the well-known and trusted sources?

“I urge you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.” (Romans 16:17)

3. Is the teaching clear from the texts or is the interpretation strained?

You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:24)

4. Is the teaching exclusive or nearly exclusive?

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:20)

5. Is the teaching necessary to support a questionable position or lifestyle?

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

6. Does the teaching direct society to follow God’s moral standards or does the teaching encourage others to follow the world’s social mores?

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

7. Is the teaching’s emphasis on grace and freedom too permissive?

You my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature.” (Galatians 5:13)

8. Is the teaching’s emphasis on morality and obedience too repressive?

Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by the oath.’ You blind fools!” (Matthew 23:16, 17)

9. Does the teaching deny the power of God to enable His children to overcome sin and temptation?

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)

10. Does the teaching follow Satan’s pattern of masquerading as an angel of light?

For such men are false apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” (1 Corinthians11:13, 14)

11. Does the teaching follow Satan’s pattern of deceit by calling God’s Word into question?

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say….” (Genesis 3:1)

12. Does the teaching call right wrong and wrong right?

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20)

Mark Twain is credited with saying that “in religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a farthing.” We must never be too lazy (or too naïve) to blindly accept every “wind of doctrine” that comes along. In the final analysis, even when the source of information seems trustworthy, like the Bereans, we must lay what is being said alongside the Word of God to see if it is true. However, in order to do this effectively we must be sufficiently familiar with the Bible to know how to use it. Possessing a tool is not much good if we do not know how to use (“rightly divide”) it properly.

 

Designed by God

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My Musings – Call me an optimist, but I actually believe that creationism and science must be compatible.  God is a God of order.  From disorder (“void and without form“) He brought about order.  This includes the underlying laws of science.  To the extent that current scientific theories appear to contradict intelligent design, means that science has not yet caught up (if it ever can).  But science is handicapped to the extent “as a matter of principle” it automatically rules out a hypothesis that has never been disproven – God created.

As it stands today, the differing viewpoints (the Word of God versus the word of man) appear to be irreconcilable.  Let’s take a look, but I’d bet on the words that are capitalized.

The Word of God – “In the beginning [time] God [cause] created [energy] the heavens [space] and the earth [matter].” (Moses, he spoke with God face-to-face).

In the Beginning – No scientist or historian can improve upon this simple statement. It refutes the atheist, who says there is no God; the agnostic, who claims we cannot know God; the polytheist who worships many gods; the pantheist, who says that all nature is God; the materialist, who claims that matter is eternal and not created; and the fatalist, who teaches that there is no divine plan behind creation and history. God’s personality is seen in this chapter, for He speaks, sees, names, and blesses. The scientist may claim that matter just came into being, that life happened, and that all complex forms of life gradually evolved from lower forms, but he cannot prove his claim. (Wiersbe, W. W. (1993). Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament (Ge 1). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books).

God – Elohim (sometimes El or Elah), the English form “God,” the first of the three primary names of Deity. This name is formed from El, strength, or the strong one, and Alah, to swear, to bind oneself by an oath, implying faithfulness. (Scofield, C. I. (Ed.). (1917). The Scofield Reference Bible: The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments (p. viii). New York; London; Toronto; Melbourne; Bombay: Oxford University Press).

Created – The word means that which did not exist before was now made, for the Hebrew word used is not yatsar, which signifies to frame or form, but bara, which signifies to create. This means that the world was made from nothing, refuting those who claim that unformed matter existed from eternity. (Calvin, J., & King, J. (2010). Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis (Vol. 1, p. 70). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software).

The Heavens and the Earth – This phrase refers to the entirety of creation (Cosmos, Universe). The Old Testament often uses opposing word pairs to refer to a totality. (Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 1:1). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press).

The Word of Man – “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” (Job 38:2-4, NIV 1984).

Time – “Our universe is simply one of those things that happen from time to time.” (Edward Tryon, scientist and a professor emeritus of physics at Hunter College of the City University of New York).

Cause – “The most reasonable belief is that we came from nothing, by nothing, for nothing.” (Quentin Smith, professor emeritus of philosophy at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan).

Energy – “Almost everyone now believes that the Universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big Bang.” (Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author who was director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge).

Space – “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” (Richard Dawkins, ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and author. He is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, and was the University of Oxford’s Professor for Public Understanding of Science).

Matter – “There is nothing unusual about the earth. It’s an average, unassuming rock that’s spinning mindlessly around an unremarkable star in a run-of-the-mill galaxy – a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.” (Carl Sagan, astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences).

Third Rock from the Sun: Expanding Our Understanding  – Adapted from The Case for a Creator, by Lee Strobel.

Average Unassuming Rock? – Planets require a minimum mass to retain atmosphere (form oxygen, retain heat). If too big, the surface gravity would be less likely to form ocean basins and mountains (whole earth would be smooth and covered by water). Continental drift, which is found only on earth in our solar system aids in the formation of mountains (no water world). This helps balance greenhouse gases (regulates livable temperatures). The earth’s location, its size, its composition, its structure, its atmosphere, its temperature, its internal dynamics, and its many cycles (carbon, oxygen, etc…), which are essential to life, testify to the degree that our planet is exquisitely and precariously balanced.

Spinning Mindlessly? – Planets in other solar systems usually have elliptical orbits, taking them, at times, too close (too hot, water, critical for life formation evaporates) to their “sun” and at other times too far away (too cold, water freezes, ice ages). The Earth’s orbit has an eccentricity of less than 0.02, which means that it is very close to being circular. In our solar system, Jupiter, because of its mass and gravity, attracts comets before they can penetrate the inner solar system and endanger the earth. Inner planets (Mars and Venus) do the same with asteroids. Our moon stabilizes the tilt of the earth’s axis, making seasons possible. Without the moon, the tilt would swing wildly with major temperature swings. The moon also increases tides, which helps distribute ocean nutrients moderate temperature. The moon “just happens” to be the right size and right distance to help create a habitable planet.

Unremarkable Star? – Our sun is among the top ten percent in mass. With smaller suns, a planet would need to orbit closer to maintain enough heat for liquid water (needed for life). But this would be too close, causing the planet to stop spinning (same side always facing the sun) and large temperature variances between sides. The effect of the flares of our sun compared to most other stars is less heat spike and radiation. Many other stars do not produce enough ultraviolet light, which is necessary for oxygen to build. Light is stable preventing temperature swings. The sun’s metallicity is near golden, which contributed to formation of its planets. The sun’s circular orbit is unusual compared to other stars its age, keeping our solar system (and hence the earth) from getting too close to spiral arms in the galaxy.

Run of the Mill Galaxy? – The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy with “safe zones” between the spiral arms (such as where the earth is) for habitability. These zones are away from exploding star formations and the nucleus (black hole) that has destructive energy and high radiation. Outer regions do not have enough work heavy elements to form planets. Elliptical galaxies are less massive and luminous, and do not have enough heavy elements for planets to form. Irregular galaxies are distorted and appear ripped apart, with no safe zones for planet formation and existence.

“And these are but the outer fringe of His works; how faint the whisper we hear of Him!” (Job 25:14, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Don’t bet against intelligent design.  It “might” not be an intelligent bet.

Four Words

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My Musings – When studying the first chapter of Genesis, the focus of many are on the details and why they can or cannot be taken literally.  But even before getting into the details are the first four words.

Four Words: Their Basic Definitions

In – Expressing the time period [beginning] during which an event [creation of heavens and earth] takes place.

The – Denoting one or more people [God] or things [beginning] already mentioned or assumed to be common knowledge. Used to point forward to a following qualifying or defining clause or phrase [created the heavens and the earth].

Beginning – The point in time or space at which something starts.

God – the Creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme Being (IAM).

Four Words: Expanding Our Understanding

Common Knowledge – The Creator is clearly seen in His creation. It is understood that an intelligent design means there is an intelligent designer. Order and complexity did not happen by chance or accident. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20, NIV 1984).

The Point In Time Something Starts – God is not that something. Because “in the beginning, God” was already there. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8, NIV 1984). God is self-existent (existing independently of other beings or causes), the “uncaused causer.” God is transcendent (existing apart from and not subject to the limitations of the material universe – time, space and matter). “I am who I am,” “I will be who I will be,” or even “I cause to be what is.” This is not a “name” that makes God an object of definition or limitation. Rather, it is an affirmation that God is always free to be and act as God wills. (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary).

The Creator – Of the many names used for God in the Bible, the one used here in Genesis is Elohim, which is a plural noun. (Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, Calvin, J., & King, J.). Only two persons (Father and Holy Spirit) of the Trinity were specifically mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2). The third person of the Trinity (Son) is inferred, but not fully revealed. “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26, NIV 1984). The revelation came later. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1-3, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Let’s focus on the Creator.  That will put us in a much better position to appreciate (not worship) His creation.