The Law of the Universe

Newton’s cradle, a device which illustrates conservation of momentum and conservation of energy. Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

If you were paying attention during physics class in high school, you’ll know that there are certain laws that the natural world abides by.

The Law of Gravity, for instance. Legend has it that this principle was discovered by a young Isaac Newton when he was hit on the head by an apple which fell from the tree he was sitting under.

Or the Law of Inertia, which states that an object at rest or in motion will continue in that state unless acted upon by an external force. So when I’m sitting in my easy chair and don’t want to get up to do any housework, I’m not being lazy. I’m simply obeying the law of inertia.

I recently heard a wag rephrase Newton’s Third Law of Motion (“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”). He dubbed it the Law of Emotion: for every male action there is a female overreaction!

Then there’s the Law of Conservation of Energy, which says that energy can’t be created or destroyed, but can be altered from one form to another. For instance, our bodies transform the chemical energy in food into kinetic energy to help us move around.

I think sin has a principle attached to it which is similar to the Law of Conservation of Energy.

Sin can’t just disappear. It has to be dealt with in some way.

But it can be transformed.

As author Dorothy Sayers said, “There is only one real law—the law of the universe. It may be fulfilled either by way of judgement or by the way of grace, but it must be fulfilled one way or the other.”

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Easier to Destroy Than Create

It’s a truism that it’s easier to destroy than to create.

I saw this in action recently in my own neighbourhood.

A two-storey house had been damaged internally by fire, although it looked salvageable from the outside. Nonetheless, the owners and insurers agreed that it should be demolished and a new house built in its stead.

I imagine the original house had taken months to build. It probably involved scores of people in its construction: contractors, carpenters, bricklayers, roofers, electricians, plumbers, and the like.

But it only took one man with one large backhoe a few hours to raze that building to the ground.

It was shocking how quickly the structure was destroyed. What could have lasted for decades was levelled in the space of a morning.

A cautionary tale, don’t you think?

If we’re not careful, we can see the same thing happen in our own lives.

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We Must Experience Christ Firsthand

What’s your favourite floral fragrance?

If you said rose or lavender, you’re in luck.

These flowers are among those from which we can easily extract essential oils. These substances can then be used in products ranging from perfumes to scented soaps. If you love the smell of these flowers, you have all manner of ways to experience the scent. You can do so directly, by smelling the flower, or secondhand, as it were, through items made from their oils.

But some flowers don’t produce enough usable essential oils.

My favourite floral scent, lilac, is one of them.

Unfortunately for me, the aromatic compounds in lilacs are nearly impossible to acquire. Trying to extract the fragrance through steam distillation can end up destroying the scent profile. And the tiny amount of essential oils that may result are so expensive to produce that it’s not economically worthwhile to bother.

The end result is that you can’t buy true lilac essential oil. Perfumers may be able to mimic the scent of lilacs through synthesis, but the resulting fragrance hasn’t been distilled solely from the actual flower itself; it’s merely an approximation, a blend of other floral notes. No chemist can authentically capture the unique scent of the lilac.

If you want to experience the true fragrance of lilacs, there’s only one way to do it. You have to experience it “live,” by smelling an actual cluster of flowers.

Likewise, if we want to experience Jesus, it has to be “live.”

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Weeding, Like Forgiving, Never Ends

Weeding the garden, like forgiving, is a task that’s never-ending.

We can’t simply say, “I weeded last week, so I’m done now. I won’t need to weed for the rest of the season.”

Every gardener know that the weeds will keep cropping up. The job of weeding is one that lasts for as long as you have a garden.

So it is with forgiving those who have offended or hurt us. Forgiving is not optional for believers: we are to forgive others as God has forgiven us.

But sometimes we think that it’s a “one-and-done” effort. We grudgingly forgive someone once, and assume we’re done with it.

Inevitably, though, we learn that it doesn’t work that way. The next week, we might ruminate about what they did to us and get mad all over again. We find there’s still a root of bitterness in our heart, and we have to forgive them once more.

Like weeding, the duty to forgive is ongoing. It may require more “rinse and repeat” cycles than you might imagine.

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Allow God to Prune You

Fruit tree espaliered against wall. Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

If I were a young apple tree, I probably wouldn’t like being pruned very much.

If I saw the gardener heading my way with secateurs or pruning shears, I’d probably flinch. I would hope that he would just give me a little trim, and leave most of my luxuriant growth intact.

But the gardener invariably has other ideas.

I’d watch in horror as one branch after another was lopped off. They seemed perfectly good to me, but the gardener thought otherwise.

Why has the gardener cut me back so severely?

To make me more fruitful.

God does the same with us, and we find it just as uncomfortable.

The truth is, pruning hurts, and it seems to involve so much wastage.

But our loving Heavenly Father knows that it’s for our own good. Scripture says that it’s for His glory that we bear much fruit.

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The Secret Is Out

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Do you know people who are secretive about their best recipes?

Perhaps they have a killer brownie recipe that everyone covets. Or a special formula for making lasagna that is simply to die for.

But they won’t share the recipe with anyone, not even their best friends. Their famous dishes are their hallmark, and they’re quite proprietary about them.

Many companies are the same. They have closely guarded recipes for their top products, whether it’s the ingredients for Coca-Cola or the coating mixture for Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I can understand them wanting to keep the recipe under wraps: after all, it’s the secret to their success.

But Christians have a recipe that we want to share with everyone:

It’s the recipe for a fulfilling life through belief in Jesus.

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God Is A Step Ahead Of You

Image by kariwil from Pixabay

Don’t you love it when someone anticipates your needs?

You feel good when someone makes provision for something you’ll require before the need even arises. Or when they start setting in motion something for you before you even ask.

It makes you feel sort of special, doesn’t it?

As a teen, I’d occasionally stop by a small fish-and-chip joint on my way home from school. This little restaurant had an open kitchen, and the owner/cook could see the street through the front window.

Carlo, the owner, would see me get off the bus and wait at the lights. He knew what I liked to eat, so he’d start deep-frying my halibut before I even crossed the street and entered his restaurant.

He anticipated what I’d want and started cooking it before I even placed my order.

God does the same sort of thing for us, too.

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Amplify The Signal

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Does your dog or cat come running when it hears the can opener?

Does your husband?

I guess we all tune in to sounds that are important to us, don’t we?

Parents are able to zero in on the specific cry of their child at a playground. They’re able to filter out the sounds of other children to focus on their own.

If you drop some coins on the floor, everyone’s head swivels toward the sound. Our ears strain out the other ambient noises in the environment and prick up at the sound of money tinkling.

Obviously, our family and money are things that are important to us.

But what about the messages that God is trying to send us?

Do we tune in to those with as much attention?

Or are there so many distractions in our lives that we’re unable to focus on the character of God and His love for us?

Maybe we need to adjust the signal-to-noise ratio in our lives.

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Too Many Cooks

Chef Blair Rasmussen and colleagues, Vancouver, 2009
Photo by VancouverConvention on Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Can you have too much of a good thing?

When it comes to chocolate, I would say an unequivocal no.

What about when it comes to having assistance in the kitchen? Surely you can’t go wrong having an abundance of help when you’re cooking?

You would think not, wouldn’t you?

But there’s a limit to how many “sous-chefs” you should have.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “too many cooks spoil the broth.” This idiom can be literally true. One person might decide the soup needs more salt, so liberally adds more. The next helper might think the soup is too salty, so dilutes it to compensate.

Some might figure the soup needs more onion; others think it’s too spicy. Each tries to correct the perceived mistakes of the others until you end up with an inedible mess.

Sometimes we need to be judicious about who we listen to.

There are some key examples in Scripture which teach us that too many “cooks” or advisors can confuse and divide us.

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The Best Swap Of All

World’s Largest Paperclip, Bell Park, Kipling, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo by purecanucks on Flickr. CC BY-2.0

Did you hear about the guy who traded a paperclip for a house?

It’s a little more involved than that, but it really happened.

Over the course of a year starting in 2005, Canadian Kyle MacDonald made a series of 14 online trades, bartering small items for successively larger and more valuable ones.

He started with a red paperclip, which he traded for a pen. He swapped the pen for a doorknob, which he then bartered for a Coleman stove.

The stove was flipped for a generator, which was exchanged for an instant party, which he soon traded for a snowmobile.

Kyle’s next transactions involved a trip, a truck, a recording contract, and a year’s rent in Phoenix. They eventually culminated in a film role, which was traded for a two-storey farmhouse in Kipling, Saskatchewan.

A large sculpture of a red paperclip now stands in the small Canadian town where his trades ended, commemorating his achievement.

Pretty impressive, I must say!

But I can think of an even more astonishing swap.

It took only one transaction and involved the most valuable thing of all…

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