How Do We Know God is Real?

 Nannygranne could tell that Eric had thought about it awhile and didn’t know if it was okay that he wondered.  He was young enough to know he was supposed to think God is real, but old enough to know that some people didn’t think so.  He’d heard some people on TV say they didn’t think God is real.  Adults had discussed how bad atheists were supposed to be but nobody said anything about God in his school books.

“What do you hope?” Nannygranne asked

“I hope He is, but I can’t see Him,” Eric whispered.

“That’s OK, because there are a lot of good things we can’t see,” she assured him.  “Can you see love?”  He shook his head, a smile teasing his lips.  “Can you see what makes your tummy feel hungry?”  This time he laughed.  “I know several reasons we can know God is real, but I’ll show you just one of them.”

Nannygranne sat next to the boy and asked him to toss her his ball.  “Have you learned at school yet how the universe started?”  He shook his head.  “You’ll hear some theories about that at school.  But I want to show you something with the ball. “

She placed the ball on the bench between them. “What’s it doing?”

“Nothing.” He figured she was up to something.

“Now turn around and look behind you.”  While he was turned, Nannygranne started the ball spinning.  “Now look at the ball.  What happened?”

“You moved it.”  He waited for an explanation

“How do you know I moved it?”

“Because you’re the only one here.”

“If you’d turned around and the ball was spinning and I was gone, what would you think?”

“I’d still think you moved it.”

“Why?” I asked

“Because it couldn’t move itself.”

“You are so right!  This ball can’t move itself.”  I pitched him the ball.

“We know that the universe is moving…and it’s getting wider and wider, like when you drop a rock in water and the rings get wider and wider.”1

“Yeah.  We studied that in school.”

“Hmm. I wonder if all that movement had a cause, or if there was nothing and then everything?”

Eric studied Nannygranne’s expression for a bit.  Then he realized what he had to say. “It couldn’t move itself and there would have to be something to explode.”

“What do you think could have caused that to happen?” 

Eric’s eyes were wide.  He froze, then whispered, “God?”

“What do you think?  Who else might have been there?”

“Some scientists say it was aliens,” Eric said with a shrug of his shoulders.

“There are some grownups who think that,” Nannygranne admitted.  Then she placed her finger beside her chin and pretended to be deeply puzzled.  “Aliens from where?”   She waited for Eric to formulate his answer. 

“I don’t know.”  He looked down, then had a sudden thought.  “Maybe Andromeda?”  The big word helped him save face.

“Well…” she pondered. “Wait!  Andromeda is part of the universe and inside that explosion — and is still moving, too.”

“Oh yeah.  Aliens would have to be part of the universe after the explosion.”  He returned to tossing the ball up and catching it.

“You know, God is the only one who says how our universe was born, and nothing He says in the Bible conflicts with what scientists know to be true.  They have a lot of ideas they’re working on, but have never proven anything that doesn’t fit God’s report in Genesis about how the world was made.  Some people note that the seven days in the ancient language could mean seven ages.  A lot of details we’ll have to ask God about when we get to His place.” 2

Eric looked intrigued, but confused.

“Want to see what He says?”  Nannygranne pulled up the Easy Reading Bible version on her phone and together they read how God made the world.

“Wow!”  He took Nannygranne’s phone and looked at what they’d read.  “I’m going to show this to Buddy!”

“Hold on,” she laughed. “I need my phone back! Go get your Bible and we’ll find this passage in that so you can show him.  And don’t forget your ball, OK?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

https://www.pnas.org/content/112/11/3173

https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_657.cfm

What About Life on Other Planets?

As Nannygranne babysat the four youngsters, they waited for their chosen program to come on after the news.

“Science daily reports that scientists may detect signs of extraterrestrial life in the next 5 to 10 years: The latest Telescope launching this autumn could spot biosignatures on other planets within three days,”the news anchor said.

“Whoa, Nannygranne!  Did you hear that?  A telescope that can see life on other planets!” Bobby was awed!

“There’s no such thing as life on other planets, Bobby,” little Sylvia argued.

“You don’t know that!  They haven’t looked everywhere yet.” Bobby wouldn’t be discouraged.

Just then Olivia sat up, turned to face her babysitter and asked, “Nannygranne, what if there is life on other planets?”

“What do you think it might mean, Olivia?”

“If there is life on other planets, then is Jesus really real?”  Her eyes said it all.  It wasn’t a question.  It was a fear.

“Well, Olivia, if there are other planets with life, how would they have gotten there?”  Nannygranne wanted to her to think through her fear.

“I don’t know,” 

“Would it make sense that if God put us here, that He could also have put others on other planets?”  

“I don’t know.  I guess.”  She was on unfamiliar ground and uncertain of her answer.

“The Bible says that in the beginning God created the universe, right?”  Nannygranne offered.  “Can you bring your Bible to me and we’ll look together.”

When Olivia returned with her Bible, she settled next to Nannygranne who encouraged her to read Genesis 1:1, 2.  “What does verse 2 say?”

“The earth was empty and had no form.  Darkness covered the ocean, and God’s Spirit was moving over the water.”

“That’s right, Olivia.  Now, what does verse 1 say God did?”

Olivia looked back at her International Children’s Bible.  “It says He made the sky and earth.”

“That’s right.  Some translations say God made the universe.  Now, what happened in verse 2?”

“It talks about the earth,” the girl responded.

“And the rest of the book is about the earth, wouldn’t you say?”

“I think so,” she guessed

“And we always say Jesus came to earth, right?”

“Yeah.”

“And we know God has always existed and always will, right?” Nannygranne continued.

“Yes.”  Olivia was wondering where Nannygranne was leading.

“Is it possible that God did things before He made us?  Or before He made our universe? Or that He will do even more after the earth’s story is finished and we’re in Heaven with Him?”

“I hadn’t thought of that.”

“Sometimes we forget that God is as powerful as He is.  And we forget that eternity was before us as well as in the future.”

By this time the other children had moved closer.  Bobby asked, “So you think there could be life on other planets?”

“I think that with God nothing is impossible,” 

“But do they know about Jesus?” Olivia wondered.

“I know that if God made other worlds and if He wants them in Heaven, too, He will show them the way just like he has shown us.  And I know that our Savior is Jesus and that we are not God.  I know that whatever God decides to do will be good, and fair, and caring.  So, I’m going to let Him worry about anyone in other worlds.  It’s my job to trust God and tell others on earth about Him.  I know that.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“I remember Jesus was talking to his friends after He’d come back alive again after being crucified.  He told Peter that one day he would die for Jesus.  Peter asked Jesus if John would, too.  Jesus told Peter that it wasn’t any of his business.  He said ‘If I want John to live until I come back again, what concern is that of yours?  You follow me!’2

“So, I learn from Jesus that I need to mind my own business.  I need to follow Him.  What He does with life on other planets is up to Him.”

Silence filled the room now, except for the commercial playing in the background.  The theme music for their program began to play.

“Thanks, Nannygranne.  But wouldn’t it be cool to know where they are?”  Bobby’s eyes danced.

“Yes, Bobby, it will be.  It’ll show us just how big God really is.  Just remember that many people don’t want to believe that. Their God is too small.  I’m glad we look to a really big God.”

“Sh-sh-sh-sh,” scolded little Sylvia.  “Our program is starting!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1 ScienceDaily, 16 April 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210416194922.htm>

2  John 21:22

Why Doesn’t God Kill the Devil?

Sitting at the ballfield, Nannygranne soaked in the din of families cheering on their pee-wee players in their colorful shirts.  Dads’ faces reflected the intensity of desire to see their boys and girls succeed.  Moms watched, too, but with more interest in the safety and smiles of their offspring.  It was fun to watch.  

Then she noticed a bigger brother standing off to himself, seemingly distracted from the game.   His cloudy expression and slumped posture made her rise and walk to him.  She knew him from church and they were friends.  Maybe a jawbreaker would loosen his tongue.

“Hey Michael, want a jawbreaker?”   

When he nodded acceptance, she dug in her purse, pulling out three wrapped gumballs in varying colors.  After brief consideration, he picked the yellow one, popped it into his mouth and returned his gaze to nowhere in particular.

Offering her hand for the wrapper, Nannygranne ventured, “So how’re things going with you?”

Shrugging his shoulders, he mumbled, “OK.”

“So what’s keeping you from being better than just OK?  You want to sit with me and have one of my bottles of water?”  She smiled at him, nodding toward her lawn chair. “Come on.  You know I like hard questions.  Maybe you could ask me one and see how I do.”  

As she headed to her chair, he followed her, seemingly glad to be in her company.

“Thanks, Nannygranne, for the water,” he began as he settled in the grass beside her.

“So, what’s on your mind?  Try me. Make it a good one.”  She hoped her light-heartedness would lighten his burden.

He hesitated. “Well…  It’s probably a dumb question.”

“No such thing, Michael.  The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask and never find the answer to.  What’s bothering you?  I miss your grin today.”

The boy ducked his head, not willing for her to see he was on the verge of tears.  “I don’t know.  It seems like no matter how hard I try, I keep messing up and saying stupid stuff.  I made my mom cry before the ballgame.  I bet I’ll be in trouble when I get home.”  

“Being human can be really tough sometimes, Michael.  God is never shocked at how we mess up.  He knew we’d need help and that’s what Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all about.”

“Yeah, but the devil still messes with you, even when God’s watching.”  Then he angrily threw the remnant of his candy toward the garbage can.  Turning to look at Nannygranne, he finally said, “Why doesn’t God just kill Satan so he’ll leave us alone?”

“Oh, don’t you worry.  God is going to do worse than kill him.  He’s going to put him where he’ll exist in the state of dying for eternity.”  Pulling out her phone, she said, “Let me show you what’s in store for him.” 

She turned to Matthew 25:41. “Jesus is talking about people who refuse to love and who hate God’s way.  He says, ‘Get away from me. God has already decided that you will be punished. Go into the fire that burns forever—the fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels”   She turned the phone to face him and placed her finger over the last part of the verse.  “What did Jesus say about the devil right there?”

“…the fire that burns forever–the fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels.”  Michael looked up at her.  “So, hell was made for the devil?  I thought hell was the devil’s kingdom.”

“Yes, it was made for Satan but Satan is not reigning in hell like some people think.  Satan’s not some kind of evil god.  In fact he’s scared of God and Jesus.  In Matthew 8:29, the demons got thrown into the pigs, remember?  And James 2:19 says demons believe and tremble. 

“God never wanted anyone to go to hell, but some people don’t want to be with God and that’s the only other place there is to be away from God.”

“Oh.”  

Nannygranne could tell he still had another question.  “What is it, Michael?  God has your answer and all we have to do is look in His Book to find it.”

“Well, that verse also said that people are going to be put with the devil.  What I don’t understand is that if God’s not going to kill the devil until the end of time and He lets the devil make us sin, why does He get mad at us for it?”

Nannygranne leaned back, saying, “Now that’s a question for sure. Let me think….”  She paused thoughtfully, praying for the right verse and right words.  “It seems unfair to you for God to allow the devil to make us sin.  Am I getting your question right?”

“That’s it.  And He gets mad at us for it, too,” Michael added.

“Well, there is one word in your question that’s the problem.  It’s the word ‘make.’”   

Michael looked puzzled. 

“We’re asking why God lets the devil make us sin.  The devil doesn’t have that much power, Michael.  He just encourages us to think the wrong things and then we decide to do them or not.  God encourages us to do the right things.  We make the choice.”

“Well, yeah, but why doesn’t God make him leave us alone when we’re trying to do right?”

“Michael, there are several things—important things—God has told us about this.  The first one is that He’s stronger than the devil.2 He made him good to start with because God only makes good things.  Satan decided he wanted to do his own thing and have his own followers.  

“And Satan’s mad, too, because God holds him back.3   You see, Michael, God makes it easier for us to fight Satan when we want Him to.  God is a gentleman.  He’s strongest and could just make us robots to do what He wants.  But He leaves it up to us to choose Him or not.  When we do, He beats Satan back and gives us strength.5

“Something else to think about: Sometimes the world seems like we’re locked in a pitch-black dark room.  Then, one day we see the sun shining through a crack in the wall. We’d do anything to get out and into that light.  So—in a strange way—Satan being so bad makes us want to do anything to get into God’s world where we can be safe.

“God leaves the dark here for now so we will want to choose His light. As long as we live in this world, Michael, we’re learning lessons and discovering more and more about why God made us and everything around us.  And some of those lessons will be hard.  But the important thing is that we’re learning about Kingdom-living right now.  And when God finally gets rid of Satan, living in Heaven will be what we’ve been wishing for all our lives.” 

 Suddenly she remembered something she thought Michael ought to see.  “Michael, here’s a verse you can remember and it will help you all your life.  I memorized this when I was younger than you and it’s kept me out of a lot of messes.”  

Submit yourselves to God.  

Resist the devil, and he will run away from you.  

James 4:7

Michael finally smiled. “Thanks for the water and candy, Nannygranne.  And thanks for the Bible verse.  That’s a good one. Game’s almost over.  I need to go give my mom a hug.  I’ll be seeing you.”

“Good talk, Michael.  Give her a hug from me, too.” 

As the boy jogged away, Nannygranne sighed and whispered, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.  Come.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1 2 Peter 3:9

Rev 12:9

1 John 1:5

2 Cor 11:14, Luke 10:18

Eph 6:10-18

Does God Hear Our Thoughts?

As the girls hovered over their Jenga tower at the kitchen table, Nannygranne rinsed the ice-cream bowls they’d just emptied.

“I know what you’re thinking!” declared Marie

“No, you don’t!  Nobody can hear your thoughts!”  countered Janie.

“God can.” Marie, proud of her superior knowledge, raised her chin in victory.   Then gingerly pulling a block from the stack, they both giggled when the tower fell with a satisfying crash.

“Nannygranne,” called Janie as they gathered blocks into the game box.  “Can God really hear our thoughts?”

Nannygranne, carrying her fresh cup of coffee, joined the girls at the table.  “Would you want Him to?” she asked.

“You mean He can hear everything I’m thinking?” wondered Janie.

“Are you afraid He won’t like you any more if He knew everything you thought and did and said and felt?”

Marie waded in.  “I hadn’t thought about that.  I bet He gets mad sometimes.”

Nannygranne smiled.  “You know God has emotions, too, but His are so much wiser and more loving than our emotions are.  You’re right Marie.  God can be angry, sad, or frustrated.  But the thing about God that we don’t understand is that He has so much more love than we can even feel.   Let’s see what He says about hearing our thoughts, OK?” 

Pulling her Large Print Bible closer, she passed it to the two girls.  This was a good time to practice the skill of finding Bible passages. “I’m going to find the verses and you guys can read them.  That way I don’t have to do all the work!”  

“Ok, Nannygranne.  We’ll help you,” Marie felt important to give a hand to her aging friend. 

Opening her MySword Bible App, she made a topical search, finding the verses she’d had in mind.  “Ok, ladies.  Turn to Psalm 139:1-2 and see what David says in his prayer to God.”  

Nannygranne had placed tabs to mark the books in her Bible.  They helped her stiff and awkward fingers find the pages more quickly.  The girls found the verse and Marie began to read.

Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me! 

You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.

“What does ‘discern’ mean, Nannygranne?” Janie asked.

“That means to figure out or understand.  So you see that God understands our thoughts wherever we are.”  Then she added, “In the Ten Commandments, God warns us to not love other gods or want to take what other people have.  Those are thoughts God wants us to try not to have.   Also, Jesus could read people’s thoughts.  Let’s look at Matthew 9:3-4.”

Finding the verse, Janie read, “At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, ‘This fellow is blaspheming!’ Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?’”

“So Jesus can read our thoughts!”  Janie’s realization was spoken with wonder mixed with a dash of apprehension.

“Yes, He can, Janie, because He made our brains and our heart of hearts.  He is very close to us. Remember I said that His love is bigger than all the love we can imagine.  Sometimes our thoughts aren’t right.  He knows that.”  

Finding Psalm 103:13-14 in the Common English Version on her phone, she turned it toward the girls to read.  

Marie accepted the phone and read, “Like a parent feels compassion for their children—that’s how the Lord feels compassion for those who honor him. Because God knows how we’re made, God remembers we’re just dust.”

“So you see that God’s love is bigger than our bad thoughts and He won’t stop wanting us to follow Him.”  Then she had them find Psalm 139:23-24 and read it.

Examine me, God! Look at my heart!
 Put me to the test! Know my anxious thoughts!
Look to see if there is any idolatrous way in me,
then lead me on the eternal path!

“God helps us with our thoughts.  When we become Christians, we receive an important gift.  The Holy Spirit moves in with us and helps us with our thoughts!  That’s one of the best parts of being a Christian is knowing the Holy Spirit is working on us when we listen to God’s Word and follow His ways.  Marie would you read Romans 8:26-27?”

In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. 

We don’t know what we should pray, 

but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans. 

The one who searches hearts knows how the Spirit thinks, 

because he pleads for the saints, consistent with God’s will.

“What does that mean, Nannygranne?” Marie asked.

“It’s telling us that the Holy Spirit is so close that He knows our thoughts when they’re all mixed up.  Sometimes we can’t even pray right.  So He talks to the Father about it and They understand each other.”  

Nannygranne waited for it to sink in.

“You mean the Holy Spirit hears our thoughts, too?” Marie was encountering the concept of the Trinity.

“The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are so close that they make up One God.  That’s nothing like we are on earth, but that’s the way it is in Heaven.”

“Oh…..”  Marie and Janie looked at each other. “Wow…” said Janie.

“There’s one more thing about God knowing our thoughts.   John, who was one of Jesus’ closest friends, tells us that when Christians worry whether God will stop wanting them, not to forget that God knows they’re trying.”  Finding  1 John 3:20, she read.

My children, our love should not be only words and talk. 

No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do.

That’s how we know we belong to the way of truth. 

And when our hearts make us feel guilty, 

we can still have peace before God, 

because God is greater than our hearts. He knows everything.”

“Now, what do you think?” Nannyganne wanted the girls to verbalize their new understanding.

“Well, God hears everything we think, but wants us anyway,” Marie began.

“And when you’re a Christian, the Holy Spirit helps you with your thoughts,” Janie continued.

“You’ve got it!” Nannygranne said. “Anything else?”

“Even when we feel guilty for our thoughts, God knows we mean to be good so we don’t have to worry.” ‘

“So God hearing our thoughts is a good thing, would you say now?”

Janie and Marie looked at each other again, smiled and both leaped from their chairs and hugged their old friend, kissing her wrinkled cheeks.  “Thank you, Nannygranne.”  Then adding mischievously, “So do you know what we’re thinking now?”

Nannygranne laughed and admitted, “Yes.  You can play dress-up with my old clothes.”

Why did God make me different?

As she leaned toward Nannygranne, her expression filled with confusion, her eyes with tears.  “Why did God make me different!”  She’d suffered another panic attack.  It happened because she was overwhelmed by all the loud and exuberant celebration of the wedding reception the weekend before.  She’d been so excited about the wedding, her new dress, her sparkly shoes and pretty hair do.  She felt like Cinderella at the ball.  But instead of the clock striking midnight, her mind went into panic mode.  Her body shook. She froze in terror and she began to weep.  All the adults at the table couldn’t understand what was wrong and she was embarrassed, as well.  Her mother did understand and gently led her away from the noise to a quiet place where she could regroup.  The doctors said she had a sensory processing brain disorder.  Time and therapy would help her learn to cope with intense surroundings as she grew older, but for Cinderella it had been a nightmare.

Nannygranne took her hands in her own and said, “I’m so sorry your time at the wedding was interrupted by your body, Betsy.  I know how excited you were.  You’re working hard at Occupational Therapy and someday, you’ll be able to enjoy weddings and concerts and big places like you want to.”

“That’s what Momma says,” she responded.  “And I’ve seen other kids at OT that have worse problems than mine, but why does God make some people different or crooked or broken?” Then she laid her head on her arms and wept.

Nannygranne smoothed her hair, gently comforting her, holding back her own tears.  “Honey, I don’t know the answer to that, but I can tell you what Jesus said about one man He met who was blind.”

Raising her tear-stained face, Betsy accepted Nannygranne’s offer of a tissue.  Wiping her eyes and nose she said, “I’ve heard that story.  Jesus healed him and he could see.”

“Yes, Jesus did.  And He’s promised to heal everyone’s bodies who come to Him when He comes again to take all His family home.1  But Jesus said something that day that is really important.”

“What did He say?”  Now Betsy was curious.

Taking out her cell phone, Nannygranne opened her Bible app to John 9:1ff.  “I’ll read it to you.”

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who had been blind since birth. Jesus’ disciples asked, “Teacher, why was this man born blind? Was it because he or his parents sinned?”

“No, it wasn’t!” Jesus answered. “But because of his blindness, you will see God work a miracle for him.”

“Of course then Jesus healed the man.  But my favorite part of the story is when Jesus said, ‘Because of his blindness, you will see God work…’  

“Do you remember when Adam and Eve listened to the devil in the Garden of Eden and chose to not obey God?  Everything changed for humans that day when sin became part of the world.  Now our bodies don’t always work right.  Even things in the plants and animals sometimes don’t work right.  That’s why we call that day The Fall of Man.  But Jesus will be back to make all things right one day.2  Until then,  because of our troubles, we will see God work.  Jesus wants to do something special in each and every one of us.”

“So you think He wants to do something special in me?” Becky puzzled.

“Definitely.  Becky, when you are so brave and have to work harder than most people to do what is easy for everyone else, you are a little like a hero for others.”

The girl was stunned.  “A hero? Really?”

“I’ve seen so many brave people who have learned to do things doctors said they’d never do.  When I see those people walking, talking, laughing and loving, I thank God for His blessings.  And they are my heroes because they show me that I can be braver about my own hard things.  Everyone has something hard they have to do in life sooner or later.  Some hard things are on the inside and don’t show on the outside.  God wants to do something special in all of us.”

“Nannygranne, what’s hard for you?”  Becky asked.

“Well, most of my hard things are on the inside, but I do have something different, too.  It’s a little thing, but to me as a girl it was a big thing.”  Nannygranne held up her hand to show a scarred palm and a deformed forefinger.  “When I was about your age, I fell into some oken glass and cut my hand up, and almost cut my finger off.  The doctors repaired it but said I’d never type or play the piano or guitar. I cried because I’d just started learning to play piano.  Also, my mother was a secretary and I wanted to grow up to be like her.”

“What happened then?” Becky encouraged her friend to continue.

“Well, I just tried not to think about my finger and I learned how to use it.  In high school I got the prize for typing over 120 words per minute.  And I play piano all the time because I love it.  I just do it differently from others.”

Becky smiled then, studying Nannygranne’s old wrinkled hand with its scars.  “Then you’re a hero, too, Nannygranne.”

“Oh, Becky!  Not like you and so many more.  I think God has given this world a lot of heroes, Becky, and heroes are heroes because they’re different.  I love you just like you are, Becky.  You’re strong and I can’t wait to see God’s work in your life.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1 Phil 3:21

Revelation 21

“No arms, no legs, no worries”