WHY TIME with NannyGranne

Does God Know About Dinosaurs? (Part Three)

The party continued with a dinosaur scavenger hunt among the pews in the auditorium.  The kids were sugared up and ready to run.

My table companion was the older brother of the birthday boy and had been encouraged to hang back so the preschoolers could have their fun.  It was a perfect time to continue our conversation. He’d asked earlier when God made the dinosaurs and why there weren’t any on the Ark.

“I’m going to be honest.  Scientists have been arguing about when the dinosaurs lived and died for a couple hundred years. The first guy to call them dinosaurs was in 1842…less than 180 years ago.   Some say dinosaurs lived and died millions of years before humans existed.  Others have done tests that they believe show dinosaurs were still living 50,000 years ago and that cavemen drew pictures of them on stones and in caves.  Still other folks are convinced the earth is only 6000 years old.  So, to be truthful, it’s hard to know when God made them. Some things God just didn’t tell us and He lets us look at the earth itself and try to figure it out.  But you know what?  I’m just glad I don’t have to understand all about that to be in His family. I just know God made them…and everything else…in just the right way, at just the right time.

He lowered his eyes in thought, then looked up at me again.  “Then were there dinosaurs on the Ark?  Weren’t they too big?”

“If they really were extinct before Adam and Eve, then no.  But if there were dinosaurs still alive during the flood, Noah could have taken very young dinosaurs who made the journey.  We just don’t know for certain.  Besides, there are other animals the Bible never talks about.”

“Really?  Which ones?”

“Well, cats for one.”

“Cats?!?” He was gobsmacked!

“Yep, cats…and certainly God knows all about them, too.  There are some things that are interesting, but don’t change God’s story.  So, do you feel like you have some answers now?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Good.  Just remember that we do know that everything had a beginning and God has the only answer for when that was.”

He lowered his head.  I couldn’t tell if it was in thought or disappointment.

“Can I show you one more thing?”

“Sure.”

We again peered into my phone screen.  I pulled up Wikipedia and typed in “List of Christians in Science and Tech.”  He was amazed at the hundreds of scientists living today who believe in the Bible, and the fact that over 65% of Nobel Prize winners in the 20th Century were believers in the God of the Bible.

“I did not know that!”  He was thrilled!

“I know!  Isn’t that cool?  You see, you can listen to folks and what they think, but don’t just take somebody’s word for things that matter.  You can find out for yourself what’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”  He smiled when I said that.  “And trust God to help you find out everything you really need to know.  The rest, you can ask Him later.”

“Yeah!” he grinned, raising his hand for a good old high five. “It’s time for cake.  You ready?”

He is a great kid, with a kind heart and an honest mind.  I had a feeling he’d keep asking questions and looking for the truth.  He’d be the guy to answer his baby brother’s questions when he asks someday, “Does God know about the dinosaurs?”

“Does God Know About the Dinosaurs?” (Part Two)

As we watched his little brother and preschool friends color the bills of their dinosaur hats, I realized my young friend was probably confused by his classroom schooling in evolution. Change (evolution) is an obvious reality in biological and archaeological science, but it is confusing when the lessons go beyond scientific fact and claim to be the mechanism for the origin of all species.  True science, because of DNA and mathematics, has debunked the theory of life’s origin beginning with a single primordial cell. But academia always lags behind in teaching the latest scientific advances. Thus, a child might think that, if the existence of dinosaurs proves evolution, then teachers might be right about our ancestors being rat-like creatures scurrying around the feet of the dinosaurs.

So, in answer to his opening question “When did God make dinosaurs?” I said to him, “God made the dinosaurs before He made us, that’s for sure.”

“Then why did He make the dinosaurs and then just kill them all?”  He’d been thinking about these things for a while.  He needed to be heard and taken seriously.

“You ask an important question.  I can tell you’ve thought about this quite a bit.”

He nodded soberly, never taking his eyes away from my own.

“You’ve thought about this, so tell me how you think God killed all the dinosaurs.”

“The scientists think a huge asteroid crashed in Mexico and killed them all.”  He was well versed in the school-book rhetoric.  He’d passed the tests.

“Yes, they think a huge asteroid did crash into Mexico and wiped out about 70% of all the creatures on the earth.  But some scientists think the dinosaurs were beginning to starve out already and others think there were dinosaurs left on the other side of the earth from where the asteroid landed.  They argue all the time over what happened because it’s really hard to know for sure—it’s been so long ago.”

I wanted him to think about where the blame lay for the loss of dinosaurs.  “But I’m wondering if God is the one who killed them off.” He raised his eyebrows, then nodded. He wanted to hear what I had to say. “If a bunch of nuclear bombs or a weird disease killed almost everyone on earth, would that be God’s fault?”

“I don’t know.” He was guarded, not sure where this was leading.

“If the wiring in your house wore out and caused a fire that burned your house down, would that be God’s doing?”

“No, it would be an accident,” he corrected himself.

“When anything bad happens, whose idea is it according to the Bible?”

“The devil’s?” He also remembered what he had been taught in Bible class.

“I want to show you something.  Is that OK?”

“Sure.”

I grabbed my phone and pulled up my favorite Bible app, selecting an easy-to-read version for his sake. “Do you remember the story of Adam and Eve and how they listened to Satan and did the one thing God had asked them not to do?”  He nodded “Yes.”  “That’s where all the bad began.  Before that, God said everything was good.” I added with a smile, “Except that Adam needed help.”  We both laughed.

After reading God’s response to the fall in Genesis 3:14-19, I explained, “After Adam and Eve got into trouble–and Satan, too–God sentenced Satan to a miserable existence and doom to come.  Then he sentenced Adam and Eve to pain and hardship and physical death.  But God also indicated that One Day He would make things right again for those who wanted to be friends with Him again.”

I stopped and faced him and, putting my hand on his shoulder, continued.  “But there’s more to the story.  Did you know that the earth suffered, too, from Satan getting involved and poisoning everything he touched.”   Turning to Romans 8:21-22 we read, “…the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children.  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now.  Not only this, but we ourselves also…groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, making our bodies free.”

He looked at me, somewhat confused but also intrigued.

“So you see, God didn’t kill all the dinosaurs. The whole universe was broken by Satan. But just for now.”  Turning to Revelation 21:1-5, I showed him where God promises to make all things new..not just our bodies, but an entirely new world with Him.

He sat for a moment, mulling over all this new information.  But he had more questions.  And since we were on a roll, he continued.  “But when did He make them and why weren’t there any on the Ark?”

That question will be answered in Part III.  Meet me there next week.

 

 

Does God Know About Dinosaurs? (Part One)

It was his 3rd birthday party and he loved dinosaurs! He ate dinosaur cookies, played dinosaur games, wore a dinosaur shirt, slept on dinosaur sheets with his dinosaur stuffed companions.  And he had totally nailed a young dinosaur’s roar!  The party was dinosaur dynamite!

As we sipped on dinosaur swamp water (lime punch) and munched on dinosaur bones (cookies), his older brother turned to me to ask a question.  I could tell he was hoping for a real answer, and was a little worried there might not be one.

“When did God make the dinosaurs?” he ventured.

Others have asked dinosaur questions, too, just in different ways.  It was time for some answers.  This boy was serious.

Actually, I have a question, too.  I wondered to myself, “Where has our culture’s ‘dinomania’ come from?  Why the saturation by an extinct life form in every corner of childhood from toddler toys to classroom exposition over almost every other scientific topic?”

Brian Switek, in The Guardian article “Why Do We Love Dinosaurs So Much?”, Sept 5, 2014, said, “Dinomania is so powerful that it has become a cultural institution.”  He went on further to say,”…a gigantic Sauropod…excavated in Southernmost regions of Argentina…is an amazing testament to the wonders of evolution.”

He goes on to say that perhaps children’s imaginations are captured by dinosaurs because they are “big, fierce, and extinct” and therefore thrilling, but safe.  Kids don’t have to worry about one getting into their house because, after all, there aren’t any scary ones still alive.

Sometimes I wonder if the multitudinous emphasis on dinosaurs serves to highlight the void of information about them in the Bible school classroom, leading to a lethal seed of doubt in the minds of our young.  I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I still believe in Satan’s ploys…and God’s truths.

This discussion is a vital one.  Join me next time for Part Two of “Does God Know About the Dinosaurs?”

When Is God’s Birthday?

She was about seven years old, curly blonde hair bouncing in the breeze as she glided to a stop in the driveway that crisp fall day.  The sun had been warmer than usual and we were in our lawn chairs out front in the cul-de-sac watching the neighborhood kids playing together.  They’d congregated in our driveway because we had a tricycle/scooter/skateboard obstacle course laid out for them.

The kids were already talking about what they wanted for Christmas.  Thanksgiving was just days away.

“So when is God’s birthday?” she asked.  “Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.  When is God’s birthday?”

“Wow, Jade!  That’s a good question!” I encouraged. “In fact, it’s really a very important question.  When is your birthday?”

“It was July 29th. I got to have a swimming party!”

“What do you like about Jesus’ birthday, Jade?”

“Getting presents!!”  The other kids chimed in now, announcing their own wants for Christmas.

“What does Jesus get for his birthday?” I asked.  Noticing right away I’d thrown water on their paradejm I asked a less confusing question, though still a challenge.  “Why do we have birthdays?  Does anyone know?”  Met with quiet expectant faces, I smiled.  They were waiting for the answer to my riddle.  “When you have your birthday, everybody celebrates that you were born.   Your birth is the day you were born.  That’s why they call it a birth-day!”

A collective “Oh…OK!”

Then came the hook. “That’s why God doesn’t have a birthday.”

Shock and chagrin! “What?!”  “Why?!”  “Why doesn’t God get to have a birthday!”

I offered everyone gum, gathering around closer.  Speaking mysteriously, I continued. “Because God was never born…in fact God has always been God.  He’s the one that made everyone else to be born.”  Looking at each face, I whispered, “In fact, did you know that Jesus is God, too?”

Jade looked at me sideways…had her doubts.  “But Jesus has a birthday.  How come He gets a birthday and God doesn’t?”

“Well, God decided that Jesus needed to come be a human baby, then a kid like you guys, then a teenager..and then a grown-up man so He could show us how to be the best kids, teenagers, and grownups we can be.  So, He had to be born like us, too.  That’s how he got to have a birthday.”  I left unspoken the ultimate reason He came; His death and resurrection would be for another discussion.

“Oh.”  She saw what I said, but something still bothered her.

“Do you think it’s OK for God to not have a birthday?” I offered

“I don’t know.” She seemed resolved to the unfortunate situation.

“You know what, Jade? I want God to be happy, too.  You know what He wants more than anything?”

Her eyes lit up now.

“He just wants us to find out as much as we can about Him and how much He wants us to be His forever friends.  He says, if we really want to be friends, He tells us everything we need to know. He’ll never stop hoping and waiting for us to do that because He’s actually going to have the biggest celebration in the world and He wants everyone there.  But a lot of people just don’t want to be friends with God and won’t be at His house for the party.”  Then smiling and waving to them all, I announced, “But you are all invited!”

“Hooray!!” “Whoo Hooo!” “Yea!!!”  They all jumped up and down festively.  Jade, being the oldest and wisest among the preschoolers and kindergarteners, just smiled, climbed onto her bike and glided away. Veering up the street toward her house she turned, smiled and waved.  I waved back and prayed she’d be there.  I prayed they’d all be there.

What Is Faith (1)

(Today’s guest blogger is Tim King, who is preparing a study guide for teens and college age entitled Apologetics 101.)

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1; emphasis added).

Whether you are aware or not, you operate on faith all the time.  When we converse with people, we generally take their experiences and stories as truth even though we were not there to witness them.  We learn through faith in others’ experiences.  Otherwise. all of us would have scars from touching a hot stove, or being stung from messing with beehives, or electrocuted from touching the wall socket.  (Okay, some people have to learn the hard way.)

How many of you believe that I, the author of this article—or any other person—has a brain? Have you seen it?

A scientist once asked a colleague, “How can you believe in God?”   The man replied, “The same way you believe that the earth’s core is iron. You nor anyone else has been there to see it, but you were told by reliable sources who have studied the evidence that is the case, and you believe what they say.”

The fact is, there are realities we accept as true that we have not necessarily seen or personally experienced.

Even so, there are fundamental realities in our lives that we accept by faith. By fundamental realities, I mean answers to questions like “Where did everything come from?,” “Why are we here?,” “Where are we going?,” and “How should we live?”  Science cannot provide satisfying answers for these questions, but faith has good answers for each one.

Back to Hebrews 1:1: What is the “unseen” reality behind everything? Here it is: God is the creator. He created everything out of nothing; He created the visible out of that which is unseen.

Does faith in God make any difference? If we think everything is just the random product of chance, we may decide nothing we do matters.  If we think that when we die, we die and that is the end, we may live irresponsibly. What we believe makes a great deal of difference!

(More later)

 

Why Won’t Johnny Play Again?

It was a Tuesday morning and my just-turned-three-year-old charge was looking at his pet garden snails.  He has five, painted different colors, named–all blissfully multiplying in his dime store fish tank.  One had been recently buried in the flower pot on the front porch.  He looked up at me wide-eyed and said, “I miss Johnny. I want to put him back in here.”

“Honey, Johnny died.  Only his shell is in the flowerbed.  If you put his shell back in your tank, he wouldn’t play or eat with the others because he’s not in his shell anymore.”

“Why?”  Then he waited for an answer.  He couldn’t understand.  In his games, when his dinosaurs killed each other, they got back up.  Why could Johnny not get back up?

Death is a subject that children sometimes accept more quickly than the adults in their lives.  They’ll believe whatever we tell them.   Sometimes we tell them pets are “gone to live with Jesus,” thinking this makes it easier for them.  Then when they’re taught that we are just animals, they’re confused further.  We should tell them the truth because the truth for us is far better and we are more than animals.  We are eternal.  We can believe that what we believe is really real.  Jesus truly was raised from the dead; therefore,  what He has told us about death is valid.

Death by definition means “separation.”  It’s a separation of our life force from our physical bodies. When animals die, their life force leaves and they return wholly to the elements.  Their atoms blend with the earth to be used in nature’s work.  But there is more for us.  We are created to be like God…in God’s image.  Our essence–the core of our elemental nature–is eternal.  It’s well documented and observed that humanity has an innate need to look to something greater than itself.  God, as revealed in scripture, is the only Being capable of completely fulfilling that need.   Though our physical bodies decay, our essence relocates to the place of the living where Jesus and the thief on the cross visited on the day of their crucifixions. “Today you shall be with me in Paradise,” he said.  The Wiseman tells us, “Your body came from the earth.  When you die, your body will return to the earth.  But Your spirit came from God, and when you die, it will return to him.” Eccl. 12:7

But so often we miss the greatest wonder of all:  our own resurrection!   Jesus will return with our spirits to gather up our remains, remake us immortal and then we will be relocated by God to our eternal place.  If we have chosen His world in life, He will welcome us there in eternity.

“Brothers and sisters, we don’t want you to be ignorant about those who have died. We don’t want you to grieve like other people who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and came back to life. We also believe that, through Jesus, God will bring back those who have died. They will come back with Jesus. We are telling you what the Lord taught. We who are still alive when the Lord comes will not go into his kingdom ahead of those who have already died. The Lord will come from heaven with a command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the dead who believed in Christ will come back to life. Then, together with them, we who are still alive will be taken in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. In this way we will always be with the Lord. So then, comfort each other with these words!” I Thessalonians 4:13-18

Did you see it?!  “God will bring back those who have died.  They will come back with Jesus…First, the dead who believed in Christ will come back to life.”  THAT’s the thrilling part.  After we die, our conscious essence will go to be with other God followers to wait in Paradise for the Resurrection.  Though our guilt or innocence is concluded at death, “passing of sentence” by the Judge happens when Jesus comes back and we are sent to our eternal place with God.  “So then, comfort each other with these words.”

With all this in mind, I smiled at the little upturned face before me waiting for my answer.

“Johnny can’t play anymore because only his shell is left.  Johnny’s body turned to dirt and is helping the flowers to grow now.   But when we die we don’t stay in the dirt.  Our bodies are our shells and are buried, too, but our “selves” go to be with Jesus. And one day he’s going to come back and wake our bodies up and take all of us who love Jesus to be together at his house.”

He returned his gaze to the other snails, quiet for a few seconds.  Then he said, “Frankie has Joey and Turbo and Herbert to play with, so it’s ok.”  Then he looked back up and asked, “Will Johnny be in heaven?” I smiled.  I could tell him what he hoped to hear.  But one day that answer might confuse him more.  He needed the truth.

“God is the one who can answer that question.  I’ll ask Him and tell you what He says, OK?”

He smiled.

WHO IS GOD and WHAT IS HE LIKE?

(Our guest blogger this week is David Roper)

As I started work on the first Zoey book, I envisioned Zoey learning that God created everything and then asking, “But who is God?” I asked my Facebook friends how they would answer a four-year-old who asked them that question. I received many excellent responses. It was obvious that they had given this question serious thought. Let me share a few of their answers. Perhaps their thoughts will be beneficial as you explain God to your children or grandchildren.

Richard Lovinggood: “The world we live in was created by God: the birds, the fish, the animals, trees, mountains—and even you and me. God loves us and blesses us with food and the things we need in life. God is good and God is love.”

Jamie Davis: “God is the creator of everything—and can do anything. He made the world, the sun, the moon, and the stars. God made every person special and loves you and me.”

Margaret Brandon: “God is the creator of the world. Everything you see, feel, hear, taste, or smell was created by God—even the air we breathe. You and I and all people are creations of God and made by Him. We were placed here in His created world to please Him.  Everything we think, say, think, or do should please Him.”

Carrol Bullock: “God has always been. There is no beginning or end to God. He created everything. He is our heavenly Father. He knows all about us. He knows our name, where we live, our friends, what we think and what we are going to say before we say it. He knows how many hairs we have on our heads. He loves us and gives us what we need. He listens to our prayers. That is how we talk to Him. He is always with us.”

Micah Domina (to my child): “Option 1 – God made everything. He made you and He made me. He is our Father in heaven—just like Daddy is your father here. God loves you and wants you to obey Him. Option 2 – God is the perfect friend. He is always ready to play and sing with you. He is always ready to help you. He can answer any question and solve any problem. He always listens to you and, best of all, He always has time for you.”

John Domina (three approaches): “God is like the sun. He watches over us, helps us grow, and even reminds us that sometimes we need to cool off . . . Sometimes I picture God as a really cool Grandpa. He loves us, gives us gifts, can answer any questions and solve any problem, and always wants to spend time with you . . . God is the Father of Jesus. He created our whole planet: all the animals and plants and even us. God is all the good things in life. As you grow older, your understanding of what ‘good’ is will deepen.”

Coy Roper: “God is a person, but He is unlike any person you know. He is in heaven, but He is also near us, though we can’t see Him. He made everything. He wants us to be good and eventually will punish people for being bad. But He is more loving than you can imagine. He loves you as much as, or even more than, your mother and dad.”