Category Archives: Practical Theology

Like A Glass Hammer

Like A Glass Hammer

They were powerful words that commissioned the climax of the creation account, “Let us make man in our image.” (Gen 1:26) It was at this point, God breathed life into dirt, and the image bearer of God walked through creation. Humanity was meant to uniquely display God’s glory, bearing an image to which the rest of creation only testified.

All was well until the moment of deception when they ate of the fruit. Bearing the image of God was no longer the desire of their heart. As the serpent enticed, the lie became more believable – perhaps they could be like God (Gen 3:5). With straying affections that led to an act of disobedience, sin marred the image of God in man. Guilty of and broken by sin, mankind was removed from the garden.

Bearing an Image

A small glass hammer sits on a shelf in my office. Though it looks a little abstract, it was the best glass hammer I could find. When most people look at it, they can tell it is a hammer, but they also clearly see it is not something one might buy at the local hardware store. There would be consequences in using the glass hammer in the same manner as the one in my toolbox. To remove it from the shelf and strike it against anything would prove destructive – not for the object, but the glass hammer. Made of glass and of little physical use, the object on my shelf merely bears the image of a hammer.

A Reminder

This hammer stays in my office to remind me of Genesis 3. Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, the image of God is restored from one degree of glory to the next (2 Cor 3:18). I am a work in progress that God is faithful to complete (Phil. 1:6). Though this is a great promise, I also struggle with the same desires as Adam and Eve. Sin wells up within as I begin to be dissatisfied as an image bearer and seek to be God.

When we think of someone trying to be like God, we picture a prideful and controlling attitude. They may be domineering, wanting everything done their way. We may even use this idea when thinking of a “know-it-all” or narcissist. In using these mental pictures, we are often comforted because we create a scenario that does not resemble us.

A desire to be God, or act like God, most often takes place in our rebellion against his Word and his working in our lives. When we walk outside of the parameters God designed for us, by default, we try to take his place. We act as if our knowledge is more excellent than his and our desire is purer than his. We may not demand that people do what we say or try to control the lives of others. We dethrone the God of the universe to bow down to our own will.


We are not all-powerful, and our vision of life pails to the eternal perspective of God. We take matters into our own hands, following our indecisive hearts and minds. Walking in rebellion of God’s design and desire, we end up a shattered glass hammer. Not only are we broken, but we make a mess of everything around us. Shards of broken pieces and destruction replace the beauty and glory we are designed to bear.

The hammer sits on my shelf to remind me that God’s desire and design is better than my own. In times of doubt and struggle, I can trust what he is doing. He desires to do something more beautiful in me than I want for myself, and no matter what means he uses to accomplish his work, it will be what is best. He protects my soul and guides my path for his namesake. I am to be an image bearer, not a god.


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A Million Other Places

The moment was here.  People were entering the auditorium filled with a mixture of emotions.  Each one had come for a different reason, but all arrived with heavy hearts.  As I stood at the back of the room, waiting for the service to start, a person came to me. The words they shared made the wheels of my mind engage and slowly turn.  “I’m sure there are a million other places you would rather be right now.”

I understood what they meant.  The situation was heartbreaking.  As a pastor, these are the rare, quite possibly, once in a lifetime situations that you dare not even imagine . . . but there I was.  They were acknowledging the physical, emotional, and spiritual stress of the situation, and in some way, their comment was meant to be a statement of comfort – “I’m praying for you.”  At that moment, I coveted that prayer and the prayers of others.  Since the moment I knew the event was coming, I had been in a state of fasting and prayer.  I needed God to work; I needed him to walk me through that service.

Where Am I?

There are moments in our lives that we find ourselves in a place that is less than desirable.  They are not necessarily times of great turmoil, but we long to be elsewhere.  Maybe it is a period of suffering, a period of sorrow, or a point where our theology is being put to the test.  That day, it seemed like these three periods were colliding.

We must acknowledge that evil exists in this world, and because of this evil, there is suffering. People do horrendous things, and we enter into situations that inflame our sinful nature.  Sometimes the events that fan the flames of our fleshy tendencies are small, and in hindsight are inconsequential.  Jesus told his disciples, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33)  Can you imagine what was going through the disciples’ minds? They had no idea of the suffering and persecution they would face.  At that point, they did not know the sorrow and disappointment that would come on the day of Christ’s crucifixion.

The truth is, when we read through Scripture, we understand that we live in a fallen world that stands opposed to God.  The accounts of Abel, Job, Daniel, Noah, Joseph, Paul, Peter, and Stephen affirm that suffering is real.  This list is but a small representation of the people of God suffering in a world condemned by sin.  This world is the world in which we live.

Where is God?

The psalmist writes in Psalm 139:7-11 that there is no place we can escape the presence of God. Jeremiah 23:23-24 reads, “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away?  Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.” God is present.  However, he is not just present; God is active.  God is not a being that stands idly by, observing his creation.  He is actively involved and intimately acquainted with every aspect of our lives.

We learn in Scripture that Christ upholds everything (Heb 1:3, Col 1:17).   The idea that he upholds all things is accompanied by the truth that he directs all things (Eph 1:11).  It is only by the power of God that the grass grows (Ps. 104:14) and there is no chance or coincidence – “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (Prov 16:33)  God is intimately involved in everything that takes place on earth.  There is nothing that escapes his vision, and there is nothing that occurs out of his control.  

We have fancy words for this in theology.  We tend to talk about God’s sovereignty and his providence.  The first attribute means he is the ultimate authority and over all things; the second addresses his intimate involvement in all things. We trust in these two ideas because we also uphold that God is good and righteous in all that he does.

What About Where I Am?

It is easy to teach concepts, but our circumstances often challenge the truths we hold.  This situation is where I found myself that day. Were there a million other places I would have rather been?  Yes.  I long for a day there is no more suffering and death is no more.  I want evil to be vanquished once and for all.  My desire is for the New Heaven and New Earth – encompassed by the glory of God, unhindered by the presence of sin – but that is not today.

Today I will face suffering and sorrow, pain and agony.  The reality of a sinful world will challenge the longing of my heart.  The theological truths I hold will be forced into action by the presence of evil and deception of sin.  So where do I want to be? 

As the gears of my mind and heart continued to turn over the statement made, I realized I desired to be where God wanted me to be.  There was a reason I was in that place, at that time.  This reason did not remove the pain, and it did not lessen the suffering. The physical reality of the situation did not change because of the spiritual truth of the situation. However, when we embrace the spiritual truth of the circumstance, there is hope in our physical conditions.

What is that hope?  It is the hope of a loving Father bringing all things toward his good and perfect purpose through the Gospel.  It is this hope (an expectation of certainty) that enables me to trust him.  It is this hope that lets me see a purpose in every circumstance of life.  At times, there are a million other places I would rather be, but being where God desires is a desire that deafens all others.    

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Posted by on January 28, 2019 in Practical Theology


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