Don’t shoot rabbits from a motorboat

Ever hear a law that someone had to come up with when they were smoking something? Spend a little time on www.dumblaws.com and you’ll wonder. There’s actually a Kansas law about not shooting rabbits from a motorboat.

Seriously? Does it have to be in the water when you shoot? Because if the boat’s in the water, I doubt a rabbit is going to be out in the water with you. There are tons of these crazy laws out there, and it makes me wonder why they exist. Because there had to be a reason for creating them.

Spend enough time searching through Kansas laws on this website, and you’ll see what I mean. Because Overland Park, Kansas has a law against picketing funerals. For anyone living outside of Kansas, that sounds dumb. Who would picket a funeral? But if you live in Kansas, you know there’s a horrible group of people in Topeka who used to protest at soldier funerals, and this law in Overland Park was designed to protect families.

That law sounds dumb until you understand why it exists. That’s the tricky part about laws. Sometimes at first blush, you don’t think they make any sense, but once you understand why they’re there, it changes your perspective.

No rabbits and not a motorboat ... but you get the idea

No rabbits and not a motorboat … but you get the idea

Today’s verse is Psalm 119:144.

Your laws are always right;
    help me to understand them so I may live.

No, that’s not a typo up there. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, coming in at 176 verses. But it’s an easy read. If you’ve got time, you should check it out some morning. It’s a beautiful chapter.

The central theme you’ll see repeated over and over in Psalm 119 is God’s laws and how keeping God’s laws brings life and joy and blessing. What I love about this verse is that the writer is asking God’s help to understand His laws.

Human beings are just all screwed up. We’re turned around every which way, upside down and inside out. If left to our own devices, we live life backwards. We place value on things that don’t matter in the end. We focus on things that don’t last.

That’s why God’s commandments seem confusing if we look at them through the world’s eyes, because the world is backward.

God has given us rules and laws for a reason. Not to squash our fun. Not to prevent us from achieving our goals. But because He knows what’s best for us. He knows the troubles that we’re facing, and He wants to help us succeed and thrive in this life. But we have to do it His way.

If we try to do it our own way, we’ll end up lost and confused. Because that’s what we are without Him.

So if you run across one of God’s rules that you don’t understand, ask Him to help you understand it. That’s one of the great things about God. He wants to hear from us. He wants us to talk to Him, and part of getting to know Him better is learning to understand why He asks us to live according to His rules.

The rules that don’t make sense are usually related to the cultural differences between modern day America and ancient Israel. But what God said back then is just as relevant in today’s world. You just have to understand His reasoning and His purpose behind it.

So when you’re struggling to understand, just ask. God has a habit of revealing answers to you in ways you won’t be able to ignore.

And, make a note to yourself. If you’re ever passing through Kansas on a motorboat, don’t shoot any rabbits.

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Stop sign at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Do you really want God in a box?

I want God to tell me what He’s up to. Is that too much to ask? I say that with a bit of humor because as much as I want to know what He’s up to, at the same time I know that if He tells me, my brain will probably explode. Either that or I’ll be so scared I won’t be able to take another step. There’s a reason He doesn’t tell us all His plans.

But it’s been one of those weeks where so much has happened, so much has gone wrong, so many emotions have spilled over, and I know without a doubt that God is doing something. He’s getting me ready for something that’s coming, and I’m trying to keep my eyes on that. But in some ways I feel like I’m tripping around in the dark, and it’s all I can do to just hold on and wait until God switches the lights on so I can see which bumps and bruises need bandages.

Stop sign at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Stop sign at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Numbers 23:19.

God is not a man, so he does not lie.
    He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
    Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

Numbers isn’t usually a book in Scripture I turn to for comfort. But there’s a little story nestled toward the back of it about a man named Balaam. You might recognize his name. He’s the one with the donkey who decided to start speaking? It’s a cool story, found in Numbers 22:21-41. But Numbers 23 contains the message that Balaam brought to Balak, King of Moab. And this is part of that message that Balaam brought from God.

How many times do we think we understand what God is up to only to grow frustrated and discouraged when life doesn’t work out the way we planned? I do it a lot. I look at a situation and am pretty sure I can see how God is working, and then the floor falls out from under me. And at that point I have two choices: I can either get upset that God didn’t work the plan out the way I thought He would … or I can realize that my understanding of God’s plans is imperfect.

We try to understand God on human terms. Why? Because we’re human. How else are we capable of understanding anything? We think we understand nature and the universe and all of that, but all we’ve done is plucked it out of the sky and shoved it into a box big enough for us to wrap our head around. That doesn’t mean we understand it. That just means we’ve simplified it to the point where we can grasp it. And then everyone freaks out when nature or the universe ends up being more complicated than we thought.

Of course, it’s more complicated than we thought. It’s bigger than we can imagine. It’s more intricate than we can comprehend. What makes us think we’re capable of grasping it?

It’s the same way with God.

Like when people try to explain the Trinity using an egg or a glass of water. Those are human items that a human can wrap his head around, representing a relationship that a human can explain. But nothing on a scale that a human can understand will ever be able to explain the Trinity. Nothing on a human level will ever be able to understand God.

God is not human.

Now, Jesus was. So He understands us. But He was also God and Man at the same time. How’s that for blowing your puny little mind?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to understand God. Part of getting to know someone is learning how they think, and God wants us to get to know Him. But I really believe there needs to be an understanding on our part that God isn’t limited by the bounds of our imaginations. He isn’t limited by our grasp of the universe or by our level of understanding. If He chooses to act in a way that we don’t understand, He can. Because He’s God.

But looking back over the events of my life, I can tell you for certain that God has never done anything in my life that He hasn’t prepared me for in some way. Hindsight is 20/20. Looking back I can see how He prepared me beforehand to deal with the troubles and trials He knew were coming ahead of me. God has never made a promise He hasn’t kept to me, even though He didn’t exactly fulfill those promises in the way I expected Him to.

So the next time you catch yourself trying to put God in a box so you can understand how He works? Stop. Stop and really think about it. Because you don’t really want God in a box. Because if He’s small enough to fit in a box you can understand, He’s too small to handle the problems you’re facing.

God always keeps His promises

Today’s verse is Romans 11:33.

33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!

I wonder how many times verses like this are in the Bible. So many verses tell us it’s impossible for us to understand God, but we try anyway. And half the time we think we succeed.

Since this is such a common theme throughout Scripture, I thought I’d expand a little bit and see specifically what Paul was talking about in this particular verse. And it sort of surprised me. Not that I’m saying I know so much about Scripture, but I don’t remember reading this bit in Romans 11 before. I reviewed it in the King James Version, and then I remembered reading it but it really never made a whole lot of sense to me. I mean — it did. But it didn’t strike me as totally awesome until I read it this morning in actual modern English.

Romans 11:28-32

28 Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 29 For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. 30 Once, you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against him, God was merciful to you instead. 31 Now they are the rebels, and God’s mercy has come to you so that they, too, will share[k] in God’s mercy. 32For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.

These verses just before the verse of the day go into a little bit of background behind the Church Age. God chose the Jews, the people of Israel, to be His people, but they turned away from Him enough that He finally left them to their own devices. He did this so that He could allow His Word to come to the rest of the world. The Gentiles. Everyone who isn’t Jewish. That means me and just about everyone I know.

The Old Testament was all about the nation of Israel. The New Testament, after Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension, is about Gentiles. The Church Age. And we’ll be in the Church Age until Christ comes back for us.

It’s complicated. It’s like the plot of a good novel, plenty of twists and turns that don’t make sense until you read the whole story. Because I’m sure if you had talked to many of the people alive during this time, none of it would have made sense to them. I mean, now, we can look back and understand that God shifted His focus away from the people of Israel to pursue those of us who weren’t Jewish. If He hadn’t done that, the U.S. wouldn’t exist. (I know a lot of people don’t believe the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation, and I’m not going to get into that debate now. But even you who don’t believe we were founded as a Christian nation can’t argue that Christians didn’t participate in the foundation of this country, that people didn’t come here for freedom to practice true Christianity.) In any case, if God hadn’t shifted His attention to allow Gentiles to come to Christ, I wouldn’t be here. And that’s a fact.

Of course, part of the covenant God made with Abraham was that the whole world would be blessed through him. So God turning His focus to Gentiles was partly to fulfill that promise. But think about the Jews at that time. Not all of them had turned away from God. Not all of them had wanted Christ crucified. Not all of them had been rebellious. But their whole nation was punished. Their whole nation was enslaved and broken apart.

I’m sure at the time it must have felt like the world was falling apart. But God had a plan. It was all part of the story He was creating. The people of Israel needed to be left on their own to realize what God had done for them. The Gentiles needed to be told about God period; they’d never heard about Him before. And when the Church Age is over, God will shift His focus again to the nation of Israel and bring them back to Him as He always has because no matter how much they screw up, they are still His chosen people. And God made a promise to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and God always keeps His promises.

Isn’t that incredible? Thousands and thousands of years after God made a promise to one man, He will keep His promise to rescue that man’s millions of descendants. How awesome is that?

I can’t really understand how God’s mind works. He knows all the knowledge in the universe. Shoot, He created all knowledge in the universe. But He isn’t just knowledgeable; He’s wise. And there really is a difference. And God is on a level that nobody can comprehend. He can see the whole picture. He can undertand every in and out of every situation. He can see every reprecussion, every consequence, every action, every choice we have ever and will ever make. So there’s no way I can understand why He does the things He does.

But what I can understand is what really matters. God keeps His promises.

It doesn’t matter that Abraham screwed up time after time. It doesn’t matter that his kids were screwed up. It doesn’t matter that his family became a nation of people who were disobediant and rebellious. It doesn’t matter that they all turned away from God more times than anyone can keep track of. God made a promise to Abraham, and God is going to keep that promise. (Note: Please don’t think I’m hounding on the Jews. I’m just trying to make a point. If we’re having a contest between the U.S. and Israel about which one has flipped God off more, I actually think the U.S. is in the lead . . . )

So when God makes a promise to me, I know I can trust Him. And that’s really all we need to know. Anything else would be too much for us. Anything more would terrify us.

God never makes mistakes. And He always keeps His promises, no matter what.

That’s good enough for me.

I’m a pretty intelligent person. If I had to describe myself as either being intelligent or not, I would definitely go for the former. I mean, who actualy wants to be stupid? Maybe some people do. But generally speaking, I don’t think idiocy is something most people aspire to (although, if you watch people drive in Wichita, you might think it is).

I’ve had a broad education too, ranging from city life to country life and somewhere in between. From classical music to the Beatles and traditional hymns to head-banging screamers. I read books by Jane Austen and Stephen King. I like Twilight, and I like John Grisham.

I had a writing teacher, who I really didn’t like, once tell our class that to be a good writer you have to know a little about a lot of different things. And if you don’t know something, you need to research it until you do know about it. I didn’t like the teacher, but I definitely agreed with that little tidbit. So I’ve tried to learn as much as I can about as much as I can.

So sometimes, when I lose focus, it’s super easy for me to start thinking about everything I know and everything I’ve experienced and it’s even easier to start thinking I understand how God is working. That I understand what His plan is. That I know exactly where He’s taking me and what He’s got in store for me.

And that’s often the time when He surprises me.

The verse this morning (I know it’s a Sunday, but I felt an inordinate desire to do a post today) is Ecclesiasties 11:5.

 5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb,[a] so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

I know some people will say that we do understand those things now, but for every one thing we understand there are five others that we don’t. And when Solomon wrote this, the wind was a mystery and so was pregnancy. But even Solomon, the wisest and most intelligent man to ever live, realized that there were some things that only God knew.

Do we really think we can understand God? Do we really think we can get into His mind and see what He’s planning and see the big picture He’s painting? I think we actually do. I think we have this idea that we can understand exactly what God wants us to do — or if we don’t know exactly, we think we have a pretty good idea. So when our whole world turns upside down and nothing happens the way we expect it to, we get angry at God. And we demand to know how He could do something so terrible to us when He’s supposed to have good plans for us.

God is doing the best He can with the world we broke. And the plans He has are good but nothing good in this world comes without a price. When it comes to salvation, thankfully, Jesus already paid that price. But when it comes to happiness on earth? Or a comfortable life on earth? Or tons of money or world-renown fame or popularity or success or whatever it is down here that we think God owes us?

I don’t know if any price we can pay will give us any of those things. We might be able to obtain some of them temporarily but achieving something that way won’t last. And I don’t think any of those things are something that God is going to give us while we live down here. At least, not in the form we want them.

It’s very strange that when we start being content with what God has already given us, however, that all those things seem to come along. When you’re content with your life and your possessions and your family, you’ll find that you feel happy. And when you let go of the things you’re clinging too and want the things God wants you to have, you’ll be amazed at how quickly success and achievement follows.

So I try to remember that when my life goes haywire and starts heading in a direction that I wasn’t planning on going that maybe God is just revealing the next step of His plan for me. I could get upset and be angry at Him, but why? What good does that do? It just makes me an angry person and distances me from Him. And I don’t want distance between me and God. I need Him.

So the next time my life goes nuts (it hasn’t happened in a while, so I’m sure it’s coming) — and the next time your life goes nuts (because I guarantee that it will) — remember Ecclesiasties 11:5. God does all things, and we can’t understand why. We just have to trust Him.