Los Alamos Church of Christ

2016… Connections

Naturalist 2

 

 

 

I want to share with you, as I get started this morning, the great lengths I went to prepare the sermon for you.  This week was spent in extensive research into a single sentence of Scripture.  Usually, what this means is I get out the Greek concordance; I check several scholarly commentaries, perhaps read stuff online and then wrestle with the meaning and the application until it yields forth its fruit of understanding.  That is what I do as an Intellectual. 

 

But this week the research was not done in my office or behind a desk or even in a library.  The exploration of this verse of Scripture was done on site.  At a wonderful place to do this kind of research.  But let me read the verse I researched, first, then I will tell you where I did my extensive academic research.

 

ESV Romans 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  (here is the verse) For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

 

Paul, in writing to the Romans, tells them they are without excuse because they could have known about God.  The invisible qualities of God can be understood from the things that were made.  With this premise in mind, I and my research team went on a five day expedition into the Sangre De Christo wilderness.  Some of you may have thought that I was on Trek, but in reality as we backpacked to Lake Como and then climbed Blanca Peak, all 14,345 tough feet, we were not only overwhelmed by the stark beauty of this portion of creation, we were able to do research into the nature of God.

 

Last week I introduced the Naturalist Temperament… The Naturalist connects to God in the outdoors through the observation of nature.  Last week I gave some tips on how to be a Naturalist…

1) Believe in the Creator.  Tanya said near the top… How can a mountain climber be an atheist?

2) Observe the Creation. 

3) Learn the creation.

4) Learn from Creation. 

 

This is what we did.  We observed dozens of Paul’s invisible attributes. I cut them down to seven and then condensed them again to five.  So this morning I share with you the five attributes of God, okay four… that we observed from the Sangre De Christo wilderness at Lake Como and around. 

 

#1 God Does Not Hurry.

 

The motion of the mountain is slow.  It had been 28 years since I was there… it hadn’t changed much.  What little change there was… man-changed

 

Several years ago I wrote a revised 23rd Psalm that I still believe is true:

 

TIM Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd I lack nothing but time to spend with him.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures but I can't stay long because I have other pressing engagements.  He leads me beside still waters, but rarely do I notice them.  He guides me in the paths of righteousness, although often I can't hear his voice for the noise around me.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for I have the card I never leave home without.  You prepare a table before me, but I usually go through the drive-in window.  You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows, surely someday I will have time to drink of it and enjoy dwelling in the house of the Lord.

 

As we backpacked up the trail… we realized that God doesn't hurry.  I guess it's a function of His being eternal.  Certainly, as I hiked down the trail on Friday I was not in a hurry.  When you live forever, you have no reason to hurry.

 

When Jesus needed strength; when he needed solace; when he needed attention, He went off into nature to meet His Father.  Jesus stayed all night, because he knew you can't meet God when you are in a hurry.  No one who rushes into the presence of God is content to stay there long.  But if we want to draw upon that eternal power, we must slow down to meet the God who doesn't hurry.

 

Attribute #2…

 

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#2 God loves variety

 

--The yellows of the flowers - the green of the pines

--The brilliant blue of the sky – a different odd greenish/blue of the lakes… a dozen or more.

--The stillness on the surface of the lake only interrupted by fish eating bugs.

--The coolness of the water - the heat of the pounding sun.

--The parched thirst of the desert at the bottom- tons of water melting off glaciers.

--The harsh intensity of the noon - the silver splendor of a half moon.

--The jagged roughness of rocks and rock and more rocks - slippery smoothness of the grass.

 

Within the small valley we researched, it was obvious even to the casual observer, that God loves variety.  He accents his nature with contrast.  It's as if God didn't want to make the same thing twice.  After creating each tree, each rock, each animal He determined to make the next thing as opposite as possible.

 

God's tool box holds an infinite variety of tools that he uses with unimaginable creativity.  He puts together an eagle with hollow bones and aerodynamic feathers and then makes a toad frog.  He creates water to be fluid and wet and carry with it the power of motion and then makes a rock so big that the water can't move it, but only wear it away.  He makes the black of space but to keep it from being boring he scatters stars from one end to the other.  If that wasn't enough he makes a moon that every day is different.  Not to mention a million species of beetles.

 

And the wonder of it lies in He did the same thing with people.  People come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  Each person is individually fearfully and wonderfully made.  Although each person is created in the image of God, each reflects that image in a different way.  That is one of the main lessons we have learned this year in the study of the temperaments.  Perhaps, the silliest thing we do is try to conform to each other.

 

Our challenge is to conform to God's will while we express our own uniqueness, because God loves variety.

 

Attribute #3

 

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#3 God is mysterious

 

I guess because God is a God of variety he is also a God of mystery.  Contained within every little thing there is mystery.  From the unexplainable infinitesimally small building blocks of life to the vast distances of space there lies mystery upon mystery.  I guess this must be the wonder of being a scientist, realizing that there will never be a lack of riddles to solve or puzzles to put together.  But it must also be the mystery of being a scientist as well.  Each answer they figure out only leads to four more questions.

 

But what struck me was that God defies being explained. God disregards being second guessed. God denies any definition of himself.  Just about the time we think we know what God is all about, He surprises us.  When you think you have God classified, he no longer complies.  When you have your box build, you open the lid and He is not inside.  God is mysterious and even a lifetime of serious effort at learning who he is, will still bring surprise every new day at some new revelation of his personality.

 

God made mosquitoes… lots of them.  Why?  Why put mosquitoes in such a beautiful place.  At night we were unable to do anything but go to our tents.  

 

Consequently, those who live their lives in Him, live lives of amazement… lives of wonder.  Being a part of His ever changing drama, keeps us from the being… ho hum, because our God is mysterious.  The life of the naturalist temperament is one of constant enigma.

 

Attribute # last…

 

4) God loves relationships

 

Biologists call them ecosystems… a contained system where everything works together to exist; an independent and interdependent system.  The Lake Como ecosystem… with its mosquitoes which feed the fish which provide nutrients to the lake which dies and provides fertilization for the trees which soak up carbon dioxide which breaths oxygen which we breathed and swatted mosquitoes which took our blood to reproduce more mosquitoes feed the fish.  Everything working together in relationship.

 

Each species knew what its role was.  It knew what to eat and then when to be eaten.  It knew where to live and what to do.  And it all worked.

 

And it worked to show us that God creates relationships.  God loves to see his creatures working together to bring him glory.  It’s like a huge orchestra playing a magnificent symphony.  You can't always hear every instrument but the whole thing fills the hall with a full sound.  God is playing his creation working all the lives of everything together to show his wisdom and majesty!

 

Which is a lesson for our congregation… metaphorically a spiritual ecosystem.  We have been put together to support and nourish each other and build each other feed each other.  When our relationships are all functioning properly we flourish and grow.  But when even a small segment of the congregation quits interfacing with the rest we get out of balance.  We then have to readjust.  Each little critter in the congregation needs to be fulfilling its niche for us to fully bring glory to God.  Because God loves relationships.

 

A fascinating attribute of God.

 

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So, this past week I did extensive research into God.  The Naturalist teaches us wonderful lessons about who are God is!

 

The Naturalist favorite verse may be… Romans 1:20.

 

Romans 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

 

The God, who does not hurry, takes the variety of his mysterious relationships to teach of Himself.  The Naturalist temperament calls us to seek God in the wilderness.

 

NATURALIST Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Outdoor One: The Lord our God, the Lord is the Creator.

You shall love the Lord your God…

…with all your heart, without any hurry.

…with all your soul, in infinite varieties.

…with all your mind, discovery His mysteries.

…with all your strength, in holding on to his love.”

 

My temperament is God’s gift to me.

My temperament is my gift to God.

My temperament is my gift to the body.

My temperament is my gift to the world.

 

Tim Stidham

July 17, 2016

Los Alamos Church of Christ