In my eclectic article reading, I came across one that said the likelihood of the existence of aliens has not been ruled out by science. However, if there is intelligent, alien life like what we see in the movies, they likely wouldn’t bother with us. They would be so much more intelligent that it would be like if humans were to invade an anthill for the resources it would provide.
After telling my sons about this article, my youngest said…
“What if we’re the aliens? What if the meteor scientists say came 65 million years ago was really us coming to earth on a space ship from another planet?”
Of course, we don’t really believe this, but enjoy discussing creative ideas like this. The movies we enjoy watching together certainly fuel this activity too.
What’s coolest, though, is how talking about off-the-wall topics like this often fuels discussions about (or at least mentions of) Biblical topics too. It’s happened many times for us over the years.
“We actually are the aliens.”
After my son’s comment, I said something about how the Bible actually calls us aliens. Both my boys knew this already because I’ve said it before, but because they’re teenage boys, I repeated myself.
“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” (1 Peter 2:11)
These verses stress that we are not to fit in with the culture around us, living like those who have not make Jesus their Lord. They get at the idea that this world is not our permanent home, and we are not to give in to what the flesh desires because it is often not what the soul needs.
These verses encourage Christians to live Godly lives in a pagan (one that doesn’t adhere to the Bible) society. Such a timely message for two teenage boys, one wanting to finish out his high school years in victory and the other in the midst of adapting to the very worldly culture at college.
Now that I think about it, when isn’t it a timely message?
For more in-depth discussion and application points on this topic,
check out the post Aliens Among Us.
When we “Don’t Forget to Remember” and live with “Purposeful Remembering,” we keep God’s activity and character throughout history and in our own lives fresh in a way that fuels our faith. This active remembering results in going well beyond recalling and to letting our remembering affect our lives in visible ways. Others will see the impact remembering God has on our lives. With that, our active remembering actually becomes a testimony.
What does this active remembering look like?
“Remember not the former things…” (Isaiah 43:18)
How do we know we aren’t just recalling but are actually letting our remembering affect our lives in an active way? Maybe a better question is, “What are the results of this active remembering?”
Don’t dwell on the past.
As I tell my boys when they make a mistake, “Learn from it and move on.” Too many people live in the past. They live with unforgiveness and bitterness. They tell the same stories over and over again, and a backward focus keeps them from moving forward.
While we want to remember God’s activity throughout our lives, we don’t want to dwell on our depravity — on ourselves — in any way. Instead, we want to focus on what God has done, and this then increases our faith about what He is doing and will yet do in our lives.
“…do not dwell on the past.” (Isaiah 43:18)
Serve Him faithfully in the present.
This speaks to obedience. Serving God faithfully in the present means knowing and doing what He desires because we know from our past that He always does what’s best for us and simply asks us to trust him in that journey. Serving God faithfully right now also speaks to faith, which often grows out of obedience as we gain more experience living in His consistently full grace.
“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)
We trust God for the future.
Our culture says to create our own future. It says to take control of our lives. But God says to trust Him and let Him control our lives. He always outdoes anything we can think or imagine.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)
Not sure about you, but I can think of and imagine quite a lot. But as we remember His work throughout our lives, we’ll see that His way often took us through the impossible, that it often created paths through the worst terrain, and that we came out stronger as closer to Him as a result. And because we know He’s done it before, we can know He’ll do it again.
Active remembering helps us trust God now and in the future because He’s always the same, and we can count on His consistency of character. We know He is just, that He will honor His promises, and that He forgives endlessly when we sincerely repent and turn to Him. Remembering helps us know how to live our everyday lives, how to treat people & how to live our lives focused on Him based on His instruction for doing so in Scripture.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
As Christians, it’s important that we “Don’t Forget to Remember.” Understanding this thread found throughout the Bible helps us understand the place remembering should take in our lives. In other words, a Scriptural understanding helps remembering become take on a living purpose as it goes from mere belief to activity.
What does this activity look like practical way in the life of a Christian?
1.) Remember God’s faithfulness in spite of our lack of faithfulness.
The point of remembering as a thread throughout Scripture involves a focus on what God has done and continues to do in spite of what man has done and continues to do. The Old Testament chronicles how God’s character interacts with man’s character. Studying this interaction helps us remember God’s forgiveness promises & deliverance in spite of our continuous pattern of rebellion.
2.) Remember Jesus words and actions, and let them shape us.
After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples remembered what He had said and done (John 2:22 & John 12:16). This motivated them to do what He had called them to do — fulfill the Great Commission. Reading Scripture can do the same for us still today.
3.) Remember and use the resources we are given.
Those resources include the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) who helps us remember Jesus’ teachings, God’s truths and God’s will. The Holy Spirit also helps us see God working in our lives. The Holy Spirit dwells in us beginning at salvation and remains active in the life of the believer whose job is to let Him lead. (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
Another resources, the Bible (2 Peter 3:1-2), brings us God’s instructions for living obediently to Him. Regularly remembering and studying what the Bible says gives us valuable insight & instruction.
A third tool, communion (Luke 22:19) reminds us of atonement and redemption. It reminds us of Jesus’ love to the point of death on the cross for us. This remembering helps keep us humble.
4.) Let God direct our remembering.
We must deliberately choose to let our remembering be directed by God’s truth. To do that, we must let God direct our remembering (Proverbs 16). If we don’t, we too easily get overwhelmed & tend to forget to remember Him and what He’s done in our lives.
5.) Forget self. Remember God.
The book of Deuteronomy encourages God’s people to remember their slavery and their rebellion. God wanted them to remember where they were before He intervened. This idea extends into the New Testament as well:
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” (Philippians 3:13)
Much of the OT Scripture about remembering focuses on recalling man’s rebelliousness for the purpose of remembering God’s faithfulness, promises and leading. Paul amplifies the point by telling us not to dwell on our past as we do this recalling. Instead, we are to focus on God’s activity in our lives in spite of our mistakes and rebelliousness.
This purposeful remembering helps move beyond remembering as just an activity of recollection. As we deliberately remember, we grow closer to God. In this, we learn to depend more on Him. We also realize again and again that he will never fail us even when we fail Him.
Remembering our history as a culture, as individuals and related to our faith is important. To Remember?!, especially as Christians, exists not simply as an act of recollection but also as a habit that propels us into action.
In the Old Testament, the directive to “remember” sometimes comes phrased as “do not forget.” The concept runs throughout the New Testament as well, and both direct our attention and priority within our remembering.
Pulling out just a few examples helps grasp the importance God places on not just remembering but on allowing that recollection to guide our activity. It also helps take our understanding of “remembering” to a deeper level.
Deuteronomy is often called a “book of remembrance” by Bible scholars. The phrases “remember” and “do not forget” come frequently enough to spot during even a casual reading.
Psalms present the words “remember” or “do not forget” about 70 times, depending on the version. Psalm 78 is a good example.
The Gospels hold many instances where the disciples remember what Jesus said & did. This remembrance then drove their activity (John 2:22 and John 12:16). In addition, Jesus himself even directed them toward remembrance (John 16:4).
Studying this thread of “remembering” in Scripture gives tremendous instruction as to why, what and how that activity should take place in our own lives. It also helps discover significant purpose in our remembering, transforming it into Purposeful Remembering.
From holidays to monuments, memorials commemorate and preserve a significant person, place or event. Think of memorials as direction markers in history showing the people and events that shaped cultures. Consider the following examples:
Memorial Day honors all US military personnel who have perished during all wars and military actions in which the United States has been involved.
Labor Day celebrates the American labor movement and commemorates the social and economic achievements of workers.
Veterans’ Day honors people who served in the US Armed Forces. It coincides with Armistice Day and Remembrance Day celebrated in other countries. All of these mark the anniversary of the end of WWI.
Independence Day commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 when the United States declared independence from Great Britain.
The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France in 1886, is a worldwide symbol of freedom & democracy.
Castle Clinton, the most visited national monument in the United States, sits on the bottom of Manhattan Island and was originally built to protect New York from British invasion during the War of 1812.
Memorials aid our memory and help us preserve what we cherish most as a culture. We have many types of memorials throughout history such as stones, prehistoric drawings on cave walls, grave markers, tombs, pyramids, obelisks and statues.
Memorials also exist on a more personal level. We have special days like birthdays and anniversaries to commemorate the most important people in our lives. We have objects like wedding rings and photographs to help that remembrance to go beyond just a single day a year.
While remembering certainly exists on a variety of levels in our lives, is simply remembering enough? Is just bringing to mind people and places and events enough to serve the purpose for which these memorials exist?
To help answer these questions, consider the theme of “remembering” that runs heavily throughout the Bible. Looking in depth at the word used for remembering can help us understand how we are called beyond simply recalling or remembering.
Azakarah (n) “memorial” = a sacrificial term describing the act “which brings the offerer into remembrance before God, or which brings God into honorable remembrance with the offerer.”
Zakhar (v) “to prick,” “pierce,” “penetrate”
These definitions help us see that the idea of “remembering” in Scripture goes well beyond just recollection. Action and sacrifice are also significant aspects of remembering.
Remembering or recalling by itself isn’t enough. Without action, we just have a day off work or a reason to eat or spend too much. When a call to action accompanies our remembering — which it does throughout Scripture — we find ourselves changed, hopefully for the better, as a result of that active remembering.
Along with this post, several more help explore this idea of active remembering:
The goal of studying “remembering” in this way is to discover the true purpose remembering should have in our lives. With that purpose, we can see the results that active remembering can bring to the life of a Christian.
I’m not talking literally, like superhero-ring-of-power-invisibility-cloak type of invisible. I’m talking the type of invisible you feel when others fail to notice you in some way.
This happens when you’re driving, and someone pulls in front of you as if you aren’t even on the road in your vehicle. It happens when you’re at the grocery store and people walk in front of you as you’re walking down the aisle, and you have to stop abruptly to prevent yourself from running into them.
Worst of all, though, is when someone you are talking with suddenly starts having a conversation with someone else. Sometimes, it’s when two or more people you were talking to suddenly only talk to each other and make it quite obvious that you are not a part of that conversation.
Another type of invisibility involves your contributions. This happens when you consistently and faithfully go about your commitments, and no one really says anything. Until you make a mistake. Then they say something.
Ever had any of these happen?
Feeling invisible in these ways frustrates me and is one of the quickest routes to a bad mood that I find difficult to shake. I mean, I’m sure all of these people overlooked me on purpose.
Do you ever wish you were invisible?
Now I AM talking about the superhero-ring-of-power-invisibility-cloak type of invisible. (As an aside, scientists have discovered how to actually make something invisible See the video here.)
Where would you go? What would you do?
Maybe you would listen in on conversations to find out what people really think of you. Think about it. You could get someone all riled up, leave the room to put on whatever it is that makes you invisible, and then follow that person to find out if you become the topic of a conversation.
Or maybe you would start messing with people. You could blow in someone’s ear, throw sunflower seeds at someone or even follow them around until they get the feeling that they are being watched.
The Invisible God
Really, much of what significantly impacts our lives is invisible. Sound waves. Heat waves. Wind. Oxygen. You see the impact, sure, but not the element itself. Actually, we could not continue to function or even exist without the invisible.
Interesting that the idea of invisibility, whether in fiction or real life and depending on its various forms and conditions, can both benefit as well as negatively impact our lives.
Take this beyond the scientific and into the spiritual, and consider that God – the creator of the universe… of sound, heat, wind & oxygen – is also invisible (1 Timothy 1:17 & Colossians 1:15). We also know our faith is based on what is yet unseen.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)”
Our faith and our hope are all based on the invisible. Even our true struggles take place in the unseen.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
In then follows that our focus should be more on the invisible.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
We can choose to overlook the invisible God and the unseen forces that battle around us, and we can choose to not focus on that intangible unseen force of love. Or, we can choose to take in the reality of what the invisible means for our lives and let it become a part of our reality.
How do we do this?
- Realize that troubles are opportunities that help us look beyond this life and to place our hope in the eternal God.
- Understand that our ultimate hope is that this life is not all there is and that there is life beyond what we can see.
- Believe that we will live with God in eternity to help us live above the pain of the present.
- Be directed by God’s Holy Spirit within us and protected by His armor around us. (Ephesians 6:11-17)
Would you be invisible if you could?
My boys and I periodically talk about what kind of mythical beings we would be and what powers or abilities we would have if we could. Invisibility is not one of my choices. (In case you’re curious, I would be a Jedi Elf. Think Obi Wan morphed with Legolas.) I have felt invisible before and hated it. Even more than my personal feelings, I just feel that the invisible really exists for that which is much higher than myself.
Ultimately for now, the unseen exists as a matter of faith. Without doubt — being completely sure — faith would have no place in my life. For that reason, I choose to believe in an invisible God. I choose to focus on the unseen force of love and to bank my soul on the reality of an eternity in Heaven. In that way, really, the invisible directs me and exists as more of a reality than anything tangible I can verify with my five senses.
The more I simplify my life, the more I realize simplicity comes intertwined with joy. The simpler my physical life and surroundings, the deeper and better quality my mental state and spiritual life. For me, this means the more organized my house, the fewer activities with which I and my family are involved, and the more I reduce the trivial choices like what to wear or eat, the more joy I experience.
Perhaps my mind simply has less to deal with and can concentrate on quality rather than quantity. Whatever the reason, increased simplicity certainly makes me a more joyful person. I no longer feel trapped by a complexity that spiraled my life out of control.
What does joyful simplicity look like to you?
Use the following suggestions to stimulate ideas for a simpler life in a way that brings joyful simplicity:
- Turn off technology. When we play family games, my husband and I turn off the sound on our phones. When we go camping, I leave my phone in the car and refuse to participate in technology. Turning off technology forces me to enjoy simple pleasures like reading and watching birds. This is an amazingly relaxing and simplifying activity.
- Go on a fast. A fast in pretty much any area of life lends itself nicely to the process of pursuing simplicity. Spending fast. Food fast. Technology fast. Choose whatever most complicates your life and fast from it with the goal of seeking simplicity for the long term.
- Purge. Getting rid of excess is exceedingly freeing. After I start to purge, I struggle stopping. A yearly garage sale makes purging a habit for my family. Taking a look at what’s longer needed provides a terrific avenue for simplifying. Like fasting, purging can occur in a variety of areas. For example, consider purging your calendar or your Facebook friend list or even that pile of books or magazines in the corner.
- Help others. Tutor kids. Serve at a community dinner. Teach a Sunday school class. Pray with a friend. Help a friend clean. Run an errand for someone. Call your pastor and ask what needs done at the church or his house. Helping others provides a simple way to not only bring joy to others but to also know the simple joy of serving.
Simple joy comes through a life free to answer the call of God. When life is simple and not overwhelming, the possibilities for simple joy seem to open up.
Maybe this happens because life is no longer just happening to you. Maybe it happens because you finally have time to think rather than letting life happen. Whatever the reason and whatever the path chosen, a simpler life equates to more joy.