• To Bathe or Baptize?

     

     

    Why should anyone get baptized? What is the difference between taking a bath and getting baptized? Is baptism just an old, outmoded form of religious practice that is no longer valuable to modern life? Well, baptism is indeed old but definitely not outmoded. Baptism has been used for millenniums to demonstrate a change of a person's heart and character. Primarily, Christians are baptized because Jesus commanded it (Matt. 28:19, 20). But why?

    Because baptism is done differently by different denominations, religions and cults, baptism is largely misunderstood by most people today. The word ‘baptism’ is from the Greek word baptizo meaning ‘to immerse’. The Greeks used it to describe a cloth being plunged into a dye to change its color. In the Bible it was always used of a repentant believer making a public statement of conversion.

    Because conversion is spiritual and invisible to the eye, baptism is an outward demonstration of an inward work of God.

    Baptism pictures:

    1.   Dying with Jesus to your sin—being submerged in the water . This is telling everyone that you believe that you have died to your old self and no longer want to follow in the ways that you were formerly walking in.

    2.   Rising with Jesus to new life—coming up out of the water. This is telling everyone that now that you have died to your old self, the new self has been created by Christ and is living a new life.

    3.   Declaring public allegiance to Jesus—leaving the water to follow Him. This is telling everyone that as you leave the water you are leaving the 'grave' of your old self, now with a new nature changed by Jesus to walk in a new way of life.

    I was raised as a Lutheran and was sprinkled when I was young as an infant and that was referred to as my 'baptism'. But when I got older I realized that I couldn't find that anywhere in the Bible. I realized that sprinkling does not accurately picture the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and was not done by Jesus or the apostles. And because I could not repent of my sin as an infant I could not make a salvation choice therefore eliminating the need to be baptized because I was not changed by Jesus yet.

    So, once Jesus changed my heart and I saw what the Bible said and why it said it, I got baptized as a sign of my love and devotion to the One who gave it all for me and set the standard for how to live my life.

    Just as an aside, although not baptizing infants, most churches do provide baby and child dedications which are meaningful times of blessing parents and children as Jesus demonstrated (Matt. 19:13-15).

    Bathing just washes the outside but baptism demonstrates that you have been washed on the inside!

     

  • The Beauty of the Bible

     

    The Bible is an amazing book. There is nothing like it on earth. It was the first book printed by Gutenberg on the printing press, is a perennial best seller and the best selling book in history.

    The Bible is the unfolding story of God’s interaction with humanity written by over 40 authors over 1500 years, yet with one main subject—the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Bible is called ‘the Book’ because it claims to contain the words of God given by the Holy Spirit for men to write down (Ps. 18:30; 19:7; 119:160; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21). Because the Bible is God’s word, and His character is both perfect and all-knowing, the Bible is both inerrant (contains no errors) and infallible (incapable of error).

    This is important because if God is capable of lying then humans wouldn’t know when He was telling the truth and people would be unable to trust or follow Him. So if God cannot tell a lie and is perfect in wisdom and knowledge, then His word is also accurate and without lies or imperfections in the original manuscripts (Num. 23:19). So, even though there may be handwritten, copying erors (none of which affect any doctrine), when comparing the thousands of copies, we can ascertain the probable original reading.

    In regards to anyone receiving a revelation from God that adds to anything written by the apostles or their contemporaries, we reject any later ‘revelation’ (such as the Koran or the book of Mormon) as the revelation of Jesus is final and all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3; Jude 1:3).

    Because Jesus is the completion of God's salvation plan to save those who were trusting in Israel's God for salvation before Jesus came and to those who would come to believe in Jesus after he died and rose again, we no longer need any further communication from God about salvation or what pleases God. He has revealed everything to us that anyone needs to know to be saved and know God's will for their lives.

    This is an exciting and comforting reality that God is on a mission to save and love humanity and the Bible is His love letter to us! Everyone should bask in the goodness of God through the reading of His letter everyday as they grow to appreciate and worship the One who not only planned but completed His saving work for us!

     

  • The Journey to Jesus We Take

    The Journey to Jesus We Take

    Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-56

        It is often underappreciated what Joseph and Mary had to go through to be part of God's plan. Insecurity. Anger. Dissapointment. Ridicule. Sound like fun? Yet this was not just two people who were chosen to do something a little out of the ordinary but to actually bring God into flesh! If that isn't the craziest reality for humans to comprehend then there is none. One would think that if God were putting this scenario together for some people to follow, then He would make sure He would choose the most qualified men and women and make sure their lives would have the least drama. But no. God chooses two people that no one would choose for this 'job'. Poor, no influence, unsettled. Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Lets look at the way God took the two of them on their journey to bring His Son into the world.

    Joseph 

        The Road—Joseph was probably a young man in his early twenties when he met Mary. In ancient Israel, Jewish men would contact the father of a woman they were interested in (many times a relative) and set up a meeting. If the meeting went well, terms of a marriage were drawn up and the couple then started a time of ‘betrothal’. Betrothal was a legally binding marital contract that could only be nullified by a divorce certificate. Betrothal usually lasted about a year as the man would begin to work and build a home until the marriage ceremony. 
     
        The Journey—As part of the betrothal Joseph was not allowed to spend much unsupervised time with Mary and, though legally married, sexual contact was forbidden. Upon finding out Mary was pregnant, he planned to divorce her without making a public spectacle out of it. Though he felt ‘cheated’ on, he was a righteous man who deeply loved Mary and didn’t want to embarrass her or have her stoned as an ‘adulteress’. Upon hearing from the angel though, Joseph, against all human reason, took Mary into his home (that he built as part of the marital contract—v 24) and affirmed the fact of her divine pregnancy. The angel told him that this Child would ‘save His people from their sins’. Joseph accepted that the will of God was to responsibly raise this Child that was not his own.

    Mary

        The Road—Mary was probably a teenager when she was introduced to Joseph. After meeting him and spending time together, Mary would then make her feelings about Joseph known to her father and he would present Joseph with the marriage agreement. Just as with Joseph, Mary agreed to sexual abstinence and purity as part of the contract. As a young Jewish woman her desire was to honor God and her future husband by preparing herself for marriage. This would involve learning domestic skills to run a home and preparation for becoming a wife and mother. Mary was an ordinary woman looking forward to her marriage. 
     
        The Journey—During the time of her betrothal to Joseph, an angel presented her with the news that she would become pregnant. Being a virgin she was understandably confused as to how or why. The angel informs her that the Holy Spirit will cause her to become pregnant without a man and that the Child inside her will be the ‘Son of God’. Instead of rebelling at the thought of what it will cost her, Mary accepts the announcement and calls herself ‘the slave of the Lord’ (v 38). As part of God’s will, Mary would bear the stigma of a promiscuous woman though she was innocent. In fact, instead of complaining that God had ‘messed with her plans’, she breaks out into a beautiful outburst of praise when she meets Elizabeth (v 46-55). Being a young woman Mary has an amazing grasp of scripture and evidences a deep devotion to God cultivated from a life of obedience. Though poor, by submitting to God she not only brought the Savior into the world but became the most famous woman in history!

        

        Where are you at on your journey with Jesus today? Feeling discouraged? Excited? Ready to take the next step in your walk with God? Ready to start your journey? Good. Realize that no matter where you are at, God meets you there and can work with your current situation.

        The journey of Joseph and Mary changed history and eternity. It wasn't easy and drama-free but it had God's supervision and love and approval. And in the end that's all that matters.

    Happy journeys!

    Jim

     

  • The Giving Father

     

    The Giving Father

    Matt 7:7-11

    What kind of Father do we have?

        "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

        Fathers are wonderful. For those of us who had fathers we looked up to and connected with, we know how impactful their influence was and is to this day. For those of us who did not have model fathers or if we did not know our father, we can all look to a significant male role model who filled that role for us, even if they didn’t know they were doing that. In the passage for today, Jesus talks about God as being a Father. He is not only our Creator like our physical father is our creator, but that He is a loving Father. Jesus fights against the prevailing view of his day that God was a harsh, distant task-master, only interested in the ‘holy’ people.

        Jesus compares God to a father that provides not only the necessities but good gifts that go beyond just what the father has to do to what he wants to do. God not only gives to his children but is so good he gives to those who hate him and don’t even believe He exists! God gives rain and sunshine and food to all His creatures but bestows a special blessing of good gifts to His own children.

        As believers, we are told to ask our Father for things that are on our hearts and for things we desire. God is not a vending machine or a cosmic genie that will give whatever our sinful hearts want, but He is non-the-less interested in our lives and wants us to feel connected to Him. What a great thing that our heavenly Father, who never runs out of resources, also never runs out of love for us. Above all physical things He could bless us with, He has given us His Son and has sent the Holy Spirit to live within us. What a great, giving Father! His desire is for us; let our desire be for Him as well.

        Be blessed today!

  • Bring in the Ark

     

    Uzzah dies discovering God's holiness

    2 Samuel 6:1-15

    David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.

    When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God. Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.

    David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.

    Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

     

    David had a great idea. He loved God. He wanted to please God. Saul, who was the first King of Israel right before David had abandoned God and the Ark of the Covenant that Moses made. Once Israel had come into the Promised Land and God struck some people dead for looking inside it, they housed it in Abinidab's house for almost 70 years and forgot about it.

    Imagine that. Forgetting about the indwelling presence of God. Forgetting about the God who brought you up our of slavery. But Israel did. And so did Saul. Now David, the next King of Israel wants to bring the Ark from Abinidab's house after being stored there for almost 70 years. So, he has Abinidab's sons, Uzzah and Ahio, load it onto a cart and bring it towards Jerusalem. As they get close the oxen stumble, the Ark teeters, and Uzzah puts out his hand to steady it so the Ark doesn't fall off the cart. Then God strikes him dead. On the spot. Why?

    God is holy and He expects to be treated with respect. He had already told them what to do if the Ark was moved--Levites were to carry it on poles and it was to be covered in animal skins and blue cloth. Why didn't they follow the instructions right in the law for them to read? Because they got lazy. God became familiar and unholy to them.

    David is so scared of God he leaves the ark outside Jerusalem for three months until he sees what he did wrong and corrects it the next time. Then guess what? The Levites bring the Ark in properly, no one dies and God is worshipped.

    Believers should remember and reverence the greatness of God at all times. Amazing how when we treat God as God and not as a play-thing how we are blessed (and stay alive!) and God is honored through us. Lets worship God for Who He is and bring Him glory through our lives this week.

    Blesssings,

    Jim

     

  • Is Believing in God Reasonable? Pt. 6--Why Does Evil And Suffering Exist?

     

    Is Believing in 'God' Reasonable?--Part 6

    If God is 'all-good' and 'all-powerful' why is there suffering and evil in the world?

        The argument often goes, “If God is all-powerful He can defeat evil or not allow it at all, and if He is perfectly good He should want to, but we see evil in this world and it is not defeated so either God is not all-powerful or not all-good or there is no God.

        Evil is not a ‘thing’ like a piece of bread, or a watch or a car. Evil is a choice against a set standard and some level of suffering is the result. (breaking the speed limit/a ticket)

        God did not create evil but created the world with the possibility of evil. If God created the world as it is then maybe He could be accused of not being all-good. But if our world is not as it should be but is degrading because of evil and the judgment of evil, then God could have created the world perfect and allowed evil as a result of choosing against His perfect good. This would mean that God could still be perfectly good in HiHisHisHisHiHis nature but evil could still exist in our world.

        Believe it or not, but this world is the best possible world if the choice to love or do good is possible! Without a legitimate choice to do wrong you cannot have a world where freedom exists—where there is no freedom, there is slavery or ‘robotic choices’ and true love cannot exist. Forcing someone, or making it their only choice to ‘love’you or to ‘do good’ never has value to the person desiring love or good because it is not genuine.

        You can make a computer program say ‘I love you’ over and over but the computer does not truly ‘love’ you--it is only doing what it is programmed to do and can do nothing else. Even an all-powerful God can’t create a world where there is real love with no choice!

     

    Think about it: How could you create a world that had authentic love or good but the people in your world never had a chance to ‘prove’ their love or goodness by choosing differently?

     

        If you were totally righteous, what would the opposite or necessary outcome of not choosing love or good be in your world besides evil and suffering? If there is light there must be darkness. If there is good there must be evil. If there is love there must be hate. You cannot differentiate one without having the other. It can be possible that God couldbe all-good or ‘love’ without there being evil (such as before the world was created) but we wouldn’t know it without a choice and something to differentiate His goodness.

        So God allows a certain amount of evil andsuffering in the world but does not create it nor desire it. (like a parent holding their child down so they can be given a shot—painful for the child but a necessary ‘evil’ for the health of the child)

        God will overcome evil and do away with it once its purpose has been fulfilled—but not before, and that is the stage we are in now. In fact it is precisely because God is all-powerful and all-good that there is hope that good can come out of evil.

        The world is not as evil as it could be nor does it have as much suffering as it could have and this is proof that God has the power to only allow as much to go on as He sees fit for His own good purpose. (giving time for repentance, showing His patience and love, the desire in humans for something greater/better, etc.)

        The suffering that exists in the world by natural means (starvation because of drought, death by hurricane, storm, fire, etc., death or malformation of infants, cancer, etc.) is a resultof the physical universe and our bodies being abnormal to how God originally created them. Sin, evil, death and selfishness entered the world with Adam and Eve choosing against God. Originally the universe and humans were created without evil but now the universe and our bodies are ‘winding down’ and suffering results from it. (Gen. 1-3)

        But this does not mean suffering is purposeless because, as opposed to pleasure, it is often in our weakness, trials and pain that we find the deepest comfort, courage, and greatest character building. God is not detached or ‘above’ suffering, He embodied it when Jesus, as a poor son of a lower-class family, was beaten, tortured and hung on a cross to die to forgive us of the evil we commit—that is the God of love!

        Sometimes we wonder why God doesn’t deal with the evil that other people commit when we might be the evil that other people wish God would deal with!

        Also, if there is no God, then there is no real answer to the problem of evil and suffering now, and no ultimate justice someday—you ‘just have to deal with it’ and you are on your own in the world. But this idea betrays our inclination that there must be an answer for evil and our need for justice when wrong has been done.

     

        “Justice delayed is not necessarily justice denied. There will come a day when God will settle accounts and people will be held responsible for the evil they’ve perpetrated and the suffering they’ve caused. Criticizing God for not doing it right now is like reading half a novel and criticizing the author for not resolving the plot!”     —Peter Kreeft, Philosophy professor, Boston College

     

        The beauty of the answer to the ‘problem of evil’for the Christian is that not only can our all-powerful God defeat evil and suffering, His all-goodness guarantees it! This is the best world for now, the best of all worlds is coming! (Rev. 21)

     

     

  • Is Believing in God Reasonable? Pt. 5--The Biblical Creation Evidence

     

    Is Believing in 'God' Reasonable?--Part 5

    Does Evolution or Biblical Creation Best Describe What We Observe?

        The debate between the evolutionary process proposed by Darwin and the creation described by the Bible is often thought to be an incompatible debate involving science versus religion or faith. In reality it is not a ‘science versus religion’ debate but ‘science versus science’. This means that it is not a debate of functional operational science but rather of origin science and what system of origin best lines up with the provable laws that we know today. It is therefore helpful to give specific definitions.

    Webster’s Dictionary describes science as:

    ‘Systematized knowledge derived from observation, study and experimentation’.

    There are two basic kinds of science—

        1. Operation Science—this is the commonly known type of ‘laboratory, test tube’ science. This type of science is primarily unbiased, unpresuppositional and is empirical meaning it deals with the way things operate now; it is testable, repeatable and verifiable. (Law of Gravity, Law of Thermodynamics, etc.)  

        2. Origin Science—this deals with past singular events and is more of a forensic science (looking at physical clues leftover from an event to form a picture of what happened—such as a murder scene). This type of science can be bias and presuppositional because it is speculative rather than empirical (past events cannot be observed nor repeated and must be reconstructed using evidence that remains).

        Because we were not present at the creation of the universe, origin science seeks from historical evidence (fossils, astronomy, geological strata, etc.) an answer that best describes the evidence we find. Viewed accurately this way, there is no conflict between debating what the Bible claims to be the beginning of the universe and the theory of evolution. This goes for all other ideas on creation as well (pantheistic, aliens, etc.). It does not matter where the theory of the beginning of the universe comes from (Babylonian Gilgamesh epic, secular college class room, Bible, etc.), all theories are on equal footing until the weight of evidence disqualifies a particular view.

        Only unless you disqualify the supernatural before looking at the evidence can the Bible be discredited—a true open minded person makes a judgment based on where the evidence points and not where he/she hope it points—even if the most sensible answer points outside of our material universe.

    But such open mindedness is not always the case as we see from leading biology professor and avowed atheist D.M.S. Watson:

    ‘Evolution is a theory universally accepted not because it can be proven by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible (unbelievable).’

    There are 3 major areas that any theory in Origin Science must answer.

    1. Origin of the physical universe

        Cosmic Evolution states—either the universe came out of nothing or matter and energy are eternal. The latter is supported by the 1st Law of Thermodynamics (energy canneither be created or destroyed but only changes form). To counter the implications of the 2nd Law ofThermodynamics (the universe is running out of usable energy and becoming more chaotic), some have proposed the Steady State or the ‘rebounding universe’ theory, i.e. theuniverse is expanding and collapsing eternally and we just happen to be inbetween at this moment.

        Creationism states—God who is eternal, uncreated, and is outside the physical universe, created everything out of nothing, including the laws of physics that govern it. This is supported by the fact that something (matter and energy) cannot be created by nothing and must have Someone or Something to make it exist. The 1st Law of Thermodynamics does not state that matter and energy are eternal but only that we do not observe any actual energy leaving the universe nor any new energy entering it—this realistically means God could have put the current amount in at the beginning of the universe and it has stayed consistent.

        The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that the universe is running out of usable energy implying that it had a beginning. To get around the problem of the 2nd law inferring a Beginner, Fred Hoyle purposed the Steady State Theory which claims that hydrogen atoms are ‘popping’ in and out of existence adding energy to keep the universe from running down keeping it in a ‘steady state’— yet there is no evidence of this phenomena. In regards to ‘rebounding’—the universe would still slowly ‘wind down’ one day (like abouncing ball) and won’t ‘rebound’ eternally.

    2. Origin of life

        Chemical Evolution states—purely natural laws can explain the origin of life based on chemical/electrical interplay in the earth’s early history. The modern theory of a ‘primeval soup’ of chemicals dates back to Russian scientist Oparin in1 924. In 1953 Urey & Miller published results of some simple experiments ino rganic chemistry which lent credence to the soup theory. In their experiments they were able to create simple amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins which are, in turn, the building blocks of the cell. The theory is that shortly after the earth was cooled enough to allow it, the combination of hydrogen, nitrogen, ammonia, and carbon dioxide reacted to form elementary amino acids, which in time developed into the DNA chains and finally into cells. This process is said to have taken several billions of years and the extra energy of the sun, volcanic activity, lightning, and cosmic rays was needed to keep the process going.

        Creationism states—God built the living, replicating cell complete with working DNA/RNA. Urey and Miller had to assume, contrary to the opinions of geologists, that the early Earth had no oxygen in its atmosphere. This is because amino acids are destroyed by oxygen. But the absence of oxygen implies absence of ozone, another form of oxygen. Ozone in our atmosphere protects us from high energy ultra-violet rays from the sun also destroying nucleic acids. ‘Naked’ amino acids coming into contact with oxygen would be oxidized and destroyed. But if oxygen is removed, as Urey and Miller did, there is no ozone and the UV rays would destroy the acids anyway.

        In the living cell, the DNA codes proteins and makes them useful. The problem is DNA itself is made out of coded proteins. You cannot get DNA without coded proteins but you can’t get coded proteins without DNA. It has been suggested that RNA possesses some of the properties of proteins while having the information carrying ability of DNA. No experiment has ever produced anything resembling RNA. RNA does not replicate itself, a prime necessity for a living cell.

        A cell based solely on proteins is equally impossible, since proteins lack the ability to reproduce themselves as well. Even if the right chemicals could be produced, no answer has been given for how they could have been arranged properly and enclosed in a cell wall. Also, life arising from non-life violates the Law of Biogenesis (life only comes from life) and cannot ‘spontaneously generate’ as Louis Pasteur (who was a creationist) demonstrated.

    Even if aliens dropped us off (or ‘seeded’ life) it only moves the problem to another place! Where did life start there?

    3. Origin and development of humans

        Biological Evolution states—more complex life forms evolve over long periods of time as genetic mutations give rise to species more fit to survive as they are sorted by natural selection. The examples in the fossil record indicate that man has evolved from lesser animals and ultimately from single celled life. (Darwin’s‘tree of life’)

        Creationism states—Man (and animals) were created separately by God each special and ‘according to their own kind’, i.e. birds have always been birds, fish have always been fish, reptiles have always been reptiles, humans have always been humans (Gen.1:20-27). It is seldom fully appreciated that the only evidence for or against evolution lies in the fossil record. Every other argument for evolution is based on what could have been. Only the fossil record records what actually did happen!

        The lack of transitional fossils was something Darwin recognized could be a problem when in Origin of Species he wrote:

    “Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduatedo rganic chain, and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”

        In the 150 years since Darwin, the situation has only become worse for his theory. Notes Harvard evolutionary paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould:

    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips of their branches (the ‘kinds’ we see today—fish, reptiles, birds, primates, humans) the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of the fossil record.”

    This fact was so overwhelming to Dr. Gould that he devised an alternative to gradual evolution which he called ‘punctuated equilibrium’. It said that instead of slow evolution there was a sudden change in the species, i.e. a bird was hatched out of a reptile egg. No evidence.

    This is because a plain, straightforward look at the fossil record gives 2 impressions--

    Stasis. Most species appear in the fossil record looking exactly the same as they disappeared or that they look today.

    Sudden appearance. In any area, a species does not arise gradually but appears all at once, fully formed. Both of these are seen in the Cambrian Explosion.

        David Raup, curator of geology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, which houses the world’s larges fossil collection said:

    “Darwin was embarrassed by the fossil record because it didn’t look the way he had predicted it would, and as a result he devoted a long section in Origin of Species to attempt to rationalize the differences. We are now over 120 years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded.We now have a quarter million fossil species but the situation hasn’t changed. Ironically we have fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we did in Darwin’s time.”

    Understand that there is not one unquestionable example of species transition.

        Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History wrote in a personal letter

    “I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustrations ofevolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them. You say that I should at least ‘show a photo ofthe fossil from which each type of organism was derived.’ I will lay it on theline—there is not one such fossil for which one could make a water-tight argument.”

        Microevolution states that things will evolve inside their species (kind) adapting to changingclimate/food considerations. Survival of the fittest in this sense means thatthe ones with characteristics to aid in survival would live to pass along theirgenes.

    3 common examples are often used to support macroevolution that are really microevolution.

        The differences in dogs. In colder climates longer haired dogs will survive andspawn other long-haired dogs. Shorter haired dogs will die or move to otherclimates. This is true vice-versa as well. Even though man has bred great physical differences between dogs such as miniature poodles and great danes,they are and forever will be genetically dogs/canine.

        Darwin’s Galapagos Finches. Birds with stronger/longer beaks needed to get food will survive and pass on genetic information. We see this in Darwin’s finches, although beak sizes changed they did not transform into another species.

        The black and white peppered moths—In Britain during the 1850’s black moths were rare and white were common because they could blend in with the surrounding trees. The industrial revolution came and the pollution was so bad that it blackened the trees with soot. This gave the black ones a ‘hiding’ advantage and they flourished as the white ones were now obvious and were eaten. However recent pollution controls have once again seen the resurgence of the white moths. The pollution dictated which moth survived and thrived. The moths are varieties of the same species and both existed before pollution brought a shift.

        Macroevolution states that given enough time one species will evolve into another. There is no evidence for this process anywhere on earth.

        While microevolution does occur—meaning adaptations within a species—there is no such thing as macroevolution, or conversion of one animal type to another, into a new genus or other broad classification level. Also, mutations never add information, but only reduce it—this includes even the rare helpful mutations. Even if a mutation helps a particular thing to survive (such as bacteria-resisting antibodies) it never increases the complexity of the genes to pass onto the next generation, leaving the specimen the same species it always was. The problem for Darwin was simply that he was ignorant of the cell and genetics. The thinking of the day considered the cell a ‘simple little lump combination of carbon’.

        Also, if macroevolution is engine or the basis for creating all life forms we see today, why has it stopped or stopped so long ago we can’t even find it? Where are the ‘almost human ape-people’ today?

        Astronomer Robert Jastrow, founder and director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Professor of Astronomy and Geology at Columbia Univ. states:

    “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story of origins ends like a bad dream. For the past 300 years scientists have scaled the mountain of ignorance and as they pull themselves over the final rock, they are greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

    (Excerpts from Perloff, Tornado in a Junkyard; icr.org; answersingenesis.org)

  • Is Believing in God Reasonable? Pt. 4--The Moral Law Evidence

    Is Believing in 'God' Reasonable?--Part 4

    Moral Law Evidence
    (what does universal “oughtness” tell us?)

        The fact that there is an “oughtness” or overarching common morality in the experience of life that supercedes the individual, society or history gives strong evidence that there is a Moral Law Giver.

    --Why are there inherent ‘rules’ in being human the world over regardless of time or culture?

        A Moral Absolute is a moral obligation that is objective (true for all people), eternal (true at all times), and universal (true for all places).

        If there is no Moral Absolute then all moral issues are Morally Relative (only true at certain times in certain circumstances for certain people, i.e. people make up what is morally right in a given circumstance)

        Rom 2:14-15—Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and now their thoughts accusing and defending them.

        1. Morality cannot be ultimately individual—If what is 'right' or 'wrong' is up to the individual to determine, then no one could say any action by another individual was 'right' or ‘wrong’ because any action would have been what was ‘right’ for the person doing it. If each person is their own island of morality then no one else's island has juristiction over any others. So, everyone is their own judge of truth for themselves and can make no value judgements about anyone else.

        If there is no Creator or power higher than the individual then any individual person should be able to do what they like and not have a society, police force, friends, family or anyone else tell them what is “right” to do. Because a society is just made up of a number of individuals, who is to say that a large group's viewpoint or values are right for any another individual?

        I should be able to steal someone’s possessions or rape or kill them if I prefer and not have anyone care that what I did was 'wrong' because I am the judge of my own actions. (And not only that, but I wouldn’t need to judge myself because there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ to what I did—I just acted)

        The idea that ‘you can do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt others’ or ‘what is right for you might not be right for me’ is a moral judgment that you expect others to respect. But if I choose to cause you pain, why should your values (no pain, freedom, etc.) rule over me? If it makes me happy or if I think its right to cause you pain then my value judgment is just as true as yours. If I happen to like giving pain and you don’t like to receive it you can’t call my values ‘wrong’ because its right for me.

        This moral law is easier to see in others than ourselves. When we are mistreated by others, we assume that there is a moral law that governs the hearts of all men and women—he or she ought to have told me the truth, he or she ought to have been more kind, etc. even if they are not from your culture or society.

        If humans came from gases and particles in space and we are just really new and improved apes, how do we account for what we know we should do or how others should act towards us? If there is no God then there should be no “rules” to live by, no “oughtness” to do the right thing or to have done something better. And no one should care that something wrong has been done to them because there is no standard of right or wrong except to each individual thus putting everyone on the level of animals. (animals never need a counselor and have no court system to decide wrong or right in regards to an animal’s actions or motives) Atheists can’t have it both ways.

    How can you explain a universal moral law or inherent 'oughtness' in humanity without Someone to place it there?

        2. Morality cannot be ultimately sociological—society is just many individuals and if the majority act a certain way it does not decide ultimate morality—Hitler’s Germany
        Might or strength does not make ‘right’. Just because someone can be forced or intimidated to comply does not make what the stronger person wants, morally right.
        Majority vote does not make ‘right’. Just because a vast majority of a society see something as good or advantageous does not make it morally right. (slavery, murdering unborn children, killing homosexuals and handicaps, exterminating people groups—genocide, etc.)

        Even though all societies express values differently (modesty, marriage, religious belief) and different laws to maintain order, there are values that transcend society.

        Although cultures may differ about how they manifest such values as honesty, courage, and preservation of life, they don’t promote dishonesty, cowardice, or arbitrary killing. People of all cultures value love over hate, justice over injustice, kindness over violence, truth over lies etc.

        Also, if society decides what is ‘right’, no country should fight against ‘injustice’ being done by one country to another because if one country thinks killing is good then no country can say its not ‘right’ for them, including if they attack your country!

        3. Morality cannot be ultimately time/history-bound—though practices may change through the centuries, human values have been constant throughout recorded history

        Code of Hammurabi, 1750 BC—Babylonian King Hammurabi created an 8 ft. high stele of black basalt that had listed on it 282 laws relying heavily on the idea that some things are wrong—lying, cheating, murdering, kidnapping, raping, etc.
        Book of Exodus, 1400 BC—In chapter 20-22, Moses wrote down the law of the nomadic Israelite people. Among them is the idea that murdering, lying, cheating, rape, kidnapping, stealing, etc. is wrong.
        Roman Law from 753 BC-1400 AD was filled with various legal documents describing punishment for murder, cheating, raping, stealing, kidnapping, lying etc.
        American Law—The Declaration of Independence to current law (1776-present) states that humans have ‘unalienable rights’ given to them by their Creator meaning that all people have value making rape, lying, murder, cheating, stealing, etc. wrong.

        All cultures (English, Greek, Egyptian, Asian, African, etc.) throughout history that have had a written law to pass down have shown the same types of values. Because multiple societies from different eras have the same value system its not enough to say they choose them to have order, rather they choose them because they are already there. The fact that there are overarching vales that transcend time supports the idea that before societies put the laws down there was a Law that preceded them.

    People everywhere, at all times have an inner sense of “oughtness”.

        Immanuel Kant, renown critic wrote in Critique of Practical Reason,
    “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily I reflect on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”

        The only thing one can reasonably conclude is that humans are special creations with a moral law stamped on their hearts that gives them the idea of right and wrong. In the same way you cannot get social laws with out someone making them, you cannot achieve universal “oughtness” from anything but a higher Being imposing it on you.

    If there is a Moral Law there is a Moral Law Giver.

    (Exerpts from Geisler, Baker Ency. Of Christ. Apol.)

     

  • Is Believing in God Reasonable? Pt. 3--The Teleological Evidence

    Is Believing in 'God' Reasonable?--Part 3

    The Teleological Evidence
    (what evidence does design give us?)

    The fact that there is design and symmetry gives strong evidence for a Designer.

        --If randomness and uncontrolled chance events were the mechanism for the beginning of our universe why is there noticeable order rather than random chaos?
        --Why can we tell the difference between design and chaotic or haphazard construction?

    Heb. 3:4—For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

        William Paley (1743-1805) gave one of the most popular arguments for design in his book Natural Theology the story of the Watchmaker. He insisted that if someone found a watch in an empty field lying among some rocks, one would rightly conclude that it had a watchmaker because of its design and complexity as opposed to the surrounding rock. Even if you had never seen the watchmaker or didn’t know what a watch was, the complexity and order (interlocking dials, precision parts, springs, moving implements all working together) implied design. He argued the greater the design difference (rock to watch) the more likely a designer. The greatest of differences (watch to universe) implied a Great Designer.

    He argued that upon finding the watch you were left with 2 choices
        1. Nature, time and chance worked together to bring about the order you see
        2. Some intelligent mind brought about the order and design you see

        An explosion in a junkyard doesn’t make a working red mustang convertible—you only get more random, less useful junk! (Without God there wouldn’t even be ‘junk’ in the junkyard to explode in the first place, because matter isn’t created from nothing)

        Explosions on a local or cosmic scale never have a positive creative or designing effect, always destructive and random. While energy might change forms, increasingly complex design is never created through random uncontrolled energy placed on matter.

        Charles Darwin was required to read Paley during his theological studies at Cambridge (1828–31). He later said, "I do not think that I hardly ever admired a book more than Paley’s “Natural Theology.” I could almost formerly have said it by heart." However, he then spent the rest of his life developing and promoting a theory to explain how ‘design’ in nature could occur without God. Darwin proposed that small, useful changes could occur by chance, and enable their possessors to survive and pass on changes—natural selection.

        Evolutionists, including the atheistic Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins, still use Darwin’s theory to oppose the design argument. But now, they believe that natural selection acts on genetic copying mistakes (mutations), some of which are supposed to increase the genetic information content. But Dawkins’ arguments have been severely critiqued on scientific grounds.

        • Natural selection requires self-reproducing entities. Producing even the simplest self-reproducing organism by a chance combination of chemicals is even more incredible than producing the Encyclopedia Britannica by throwing letters into the air. Living things require long molecules with precise arrangements of smaller ‘building blocks’. Not only will the ‘building blocks’ not combine in the right order, but they are unlikely, by natural means, to build up large molecules at all! Rather, large molecules tend to break down into smaller ones.
        • There is complex biological machinery of which Darwin was simply ignorant. Biochemist Dr Michael Behe lists a number of examples that have irreducible complexity: real motors, transport systems, the blood-clotting cascade, the complex visual machinery. They require many immediately functioning parts or they would not work at all, so they could not have been built in small steps by natural selection.
        • Biophysicist/information theorist Dr Lee Spetner points out that mutations never add information, but only reduce it — this includes even the rare helpful mutations. Natural selection is insufficient to accumulate slight advantages, as it would be too weak to overcome the effects of chance, which would tend to eliminate mutants.

        David Hume, renowned critic of philosophical proofs for God’s existence and Paley’s ‘Watchmaker’ argument, recognized the power of the evidence of design wrote:
        “A purpose, an intention, or design strikes everywhere the most careless man, the most stupid thinker; and no man can be so hardened in absurd systems, as at all times to reject it.

        It is seldom appreciated that in order to even propose natural selection or a 'beneficial mutation' theory, that you are already working with a designed organism! And since we don't observe anywhere in the universe where design and complexity increase on its own or with the addition of uncontrolled or undirected energy apart from a system designed to handle it, real design presupposes a real Designer.  

        Charles Darwin in Origin of Species, Chapter 6 said,
        “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”

        Yet, despite the absurdity, he then went on to try and explain the exquisite and phenomenal design of the eye by purely natural means without a Designer.

        Only in a system where design is discernable from randomness or chaos is design possible. Since everything in our system goes from order and design to randomness and deconstruction, (2nd law of Therm.) then ultimately design comes first.

        If we can recognize design in human creations how much more plausible is it to assume that everything from a cell to the cosmos has an ultimate Designer?

    Design in Mind precedes design in Kind.

        “The harmony of natural law reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection…God does not play dice with the universe.”
    —Albert Einstein

    (Excerpts from Geisler, Baker Enyc. Of Christ. Apol.)


  • Is Believing in God Reasonable? Pt. 2--The Anthropic Evidence

    Is believing in 'God' reasonable?--Part 2

    The Anthropic Evidence
    (what can we deduce from our life-sustaining universe?)

        This currently popular term in astronomy comes from the Greek word anthropos meaning ‘man’. The Anthropic Principle states that the universe was fitted from its moment of existence for life and is especially suited for the well being of mankind. It is a powerful argument that the universe was designed. Evolutionary theory believes it has an answer to "design" in biological systems by hypothesizing ongoing processes of mutation and natural selection.

        Living things are said to change very slowly and improve with time. There are many fundamental problems with evolutionary theory, not the least of which is that in the case of the Anthropic Principle the theory provides no answer at all.

        Whether describing tides, proton mass, or the earth's position in the solar system, a grand design presents itself from the very beginning. These phenomena don't mutate or change with time. The reality of this has forced some in secular science to propose that there are an infinite number of universes, each with a completely different set of physical properties. According to such thinking, our particular universe just happens to have conditions suitable for human life, and that is why we are here to enjoy it!

        Of course, there is no way to detect any "other" universes or comprehend their underlying principles. That is why people, secular or religious, refer to our cosmic reality as a universe not a multi-verse, which is exactly what the Bible says! Also the fact that ‘something just happens to be here’ is not an explanation for why it is. Our universe contains everything, including the clear marks of the supremely intelligent design of our creator God.

    The testimony of Max Planck, Nobel Prize winner and founder of modern physics
        "According to everything taught by the exact sciences about the immense realm of nature, a certain order prevails--one independent of the human mind . . . this order can be formulated in terms of purposeful activity. There is evidence of an intelligent order of the universe to which both man and nature are subservient.”

    Ps. 19:1—The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands.

     

    The fine-tuning of the universe and solar system gives strong evidence for a Designer

        • The electromagnetic coupling constant binds electrons to protons in atoms. If it was smaller, fewer electrons could be held. If it were larger, electrons would be held too tightly to bond with other atoms.
        • The ratio of electron to proton mass is 1:1836. If this was larger or smaller, molecules could not form.
        • Carbon and oxygen nuclei have finely tuned energy levels.
        • If our sun were a different color (redder or bluer), photosynthesis would be impaired.
        • Our sun is also the right mass and stability. If it was larger, its brightness would change too quickly and there would be unstable high-energy radiation. If it were smaller, our planet would be pulled closer to the sun making gravity so strong the tidal forces would disrupt the earth’s rotational period. Our days would slow to months and we would either freeze or burn.
        • The earth's distance from the sun is crucial for a stable water cycle. Too far away, and most water would freeze; too close and most water would boil.
        • Our atmosphere is a perfect mixture of gases of which oxygen comprises 21%. If it were 25% fires would erupt, if 15% we would all choke.
        • If the gravitational force in the universe were lessened slightly (1 part in 10 followed by 40 zeros) the sun would not exist and the moon would crash into the earth or sheer off into space. A slight increase in gravity would cause our sun to burn too rapidly and erratically to sustain life.
        • If the centrifugal force of planetary movements did not precisely balance the gravitational forces, nothing could be held in orbit around the sun.
        • If the universe were expanding at a rate one millionth more slowly than it is, the temperature on earth would be 10,000 degrees C.
        • If Jupiter were not in its current orbit, we would be bombarded with space material. It’s gravitational field acts like a cosmic vacuum cleaner protecting earth.
        • If the thickness of the earth’s crust were greater, too much oxygen would be transferred to the crust to support life. If it were thinner, volcanic and tectonic activity would pollute the air and make life impossible.
        • If the rotation of the earth took longer than 24 hours, temperature differences would be too great between night and day. If the rotation period were shorter atmospheric wind velocities would continually be around 1000 mph.
        • The earth spins on its axis at a perfect 23 degrees, if it were altered slightly, the surface temperature of the earth would be to hot and seasons too erratic for life.
        • If the atmospheric discharge (lightning) rate were greater, there would be too much fire destruction; if it were less, there would be too little nitrogen in the soil.
        • If there were more seismic activity much life would be lost. If there were less, nutrients on the ocean floors and in river runoff would not be cycled back to the continents through tectonic uplift. Even earthquakes are necessary to sustain life.
        • If the moon were closer to the earth, tides would be greatly increased. Ocean waves could sweep across the continents. The seas themselves might heat to the boiling point from the resulting friction. A more distant moon would reduce the tides and marine life would be endangered by the resulting stagnant water. Mankind would be in trouble because the oxygen in the air we breathe is replenished by marine plants.
        • If there were no ozone layer the sun’s ultraviolet rays would kill all life in minutes.

        The temperature of space just outside the atmosphere of the earth is 455 degrees Farenheit below 0 (-455 F). Considering most life, especially human, cannot survive sustained exposure without protection to temperatures below -40 F, from a naturalistic standpoint, it is beyond comprehension to discerne how life could have been on the earth before water or the atmosphere existed to support or sustain it with night temperatures at around -200.

        That fact that life exists on our 'incubator earth' amidst the death-inducing environment of the universe, points to a Creator who fashioned the earth for that life-sustaining purpose.

        The delicate balance of the universe has been described as being equal to 50,000 pencils simultaneously standing on their points not falling over.

    Astronomer and former atheist Sir Fred Hoyle states
        "A commonsense interpretation of the facts is that a super-intelligence has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces in nature."

        The incredible balance of multitudinous factors in the universe that makes life possible on earth points to ‘fine tuning’ by an intelligent Being. It leads one to believe that the universe was providentially crafted for our benefit. Nothing known to humans is capable of ‘pretuning’ the conditions of the universe to make life possible other than an intelligent Creator outside the creation itself. Or, to put it another way, the kind of specificity and order in the universe that makes life possible on earth is just the kind of effect that is know to come from an intelligent cause.

    Could there be life on other planets?
        From a purely statistical approach, the possibility that there is another planet anywhere in the universe with anthropic qualities like earth to support life is much smaller than a trillionth of a trillionth of one percent (less than .0000000000000000000000001%). Considering that the universe only has about a trillion galaxies each of which averages one hundred billion stars, statistics argue that not even one planet would be expected by natural processes alone to harbor life. Many astronomers such as Robert Rood and James Trefil, among others, are now deciding that given the above statistical probability, it is unlikely that life, especially intelligent life, exists anywhere else in the universe.

        The issue is not that it seems impossible there isn’t life somewhere else in the universe, but it’s the fact that there shouldn’t be life anywhere in the universe!

        The reality that life can only exist under such an impossibly precise set of circumstances points to a living Creator beyond the confines of our universe.

  • Is Believing in God Reasonable? Pt. 1--The Cosmological Evidence

        

        Because I have received tremendous response from the release of the book and in particular the first chapter which deals with John's declaration that Jesus created everything that exists, I thought I would post some of my ideas and research in the area of why believing in God makes sense to me. Ready to go deep? Let's go!

        I will present this series in 4 parts over the next few weeks. Feel free to comment! Blessings.

     

    Is believing in ‘God’ reasonable?—part 1

    A theist is a person who believes there is a God
    An atheist is a person who believes there is no God (a-theist—“a” is a negation of theism)
    An antitheist does not believe that theistic thinking is rational or reasonable

    What does the evidence suggest?

    The Cosmological Evidence
    (what can we deduce from the things that exist?)

    The things that exist give strong evidence for a creator.
    --Why is there something rather than nothing?
    --We know that something cannot be created by nothing.
    --We know that the “something” that we have is not self created—which is impossible.

        The 2nd law of Thermodynamics states that ‘the amount of useable energy in the universe is decreasing’ and everything is moving toward increased randomness or entropy, i.e. everything is in a state of winding down tending toward disorder, not improving or even maintaining.

        This means there is a constant decrease in useable energy in the universe and could someday lead to Total Heat Death (nothing but cold, dark, lifeless matter) implying that at some point in the past Someone or Something had to make the matter and give energy to it (Even a “Big Bang” would need a “Big Banger”!)

        The 1st law of Thermodynamics is often stated ‘Energy can be neither created or destroyed’ and is used by atheists to say that the universe is eternal and there is no need for a God. A more accurate way of stating this law of conservation is ‘The amount of actual energy in the universe remains constant’. This says nothing about how the energy came to be in the universe.

        This does not prove or disprove the idea that God at some point in past or future history did or could add energy to the universe but only that we do not observe any actual energy being added or leaving our universe at this point. This is also why the 2nd law does not contradict the 1st law but amplifies it.

     

    1. The principal of existential causality—all things that begin to exist have a cause

    Everything that begins to exist is:
        Finite—limits on length of existence
        Contingent—relies on something else for its creation
        Dependent—relies on something else for its continued existence—air, food, sun, water
        Changing—something that changes over time—i.e. decays, breaks down, is acted upon by physical forces

    Everything like this has a cause—i.e. was brought into existence by something else

    We know that 'nothing' cannot create something, and since something is here, the something that we have is; finite, contingent, dependent and changing.

    Therefore the creator must be:
        Eternal—has no limit on length of existence
        Non-contingent—was not created by something else
        Non-dependent—does not rely on anything for Its continued existence
        Unchanging—has always been and always will be the same—not bound by space or time or the action of physical forces playing upon It.

    This Being cannot be caused by something else but must be the causer of everything else

     

    2. Principle of external creator—the creator is ‘outside’ the creation

    Since there is something rather than nothing we are led to ask, “How did it get here?”

    This is illustrated by taking all matter in the universe and putting it into the circle (all 'matter' is represented by the white space in the circle).

                      

    There are 4 possibilities:

        1. Matter created itself. This can't be because it would need to precede itself to create itself, which is physically and logically impossible. Also, nowhere does life arise from non-life

        2. Matter is eternal. 2nd Law of Therm. suggests that energy and matter had a beginning as usable energy is decreasing and matter can’t come from nothing

        3. The creator (X) is within the circle. (or is “matter”) This cannot be because all matter inside the circle needs a Beginner to exist and therefore needs to be created, which would make ‘X’ part of the creation not the creator.

        4. The creator (X) is outside the circle. If everything that begins to exist inside the circle is finite, contingent, dependent and changing, the creator must be separate from the creation and infinite, non-contingent, non-dependent, and unchanging and can create at will.

    The statement ‘if God created everything, who/what created God?’ is not valid because God must necessarily exist for our reality to exist, therefore God cannot have a ‘creator’—God cannot not exist if we exist

    John 1:3Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.

     

    3. The human regression evidence--what can we logically deduce from our existence?

    Our cause and effect system gives strong evidence for an uncaused Causer.

    1. Some things undeniably exist like myself—I cannot deny my existence without affirming it.
    2. My non-existence is possible.
    3. Whatever has the possibility not to exist (me), is currently caused to exist by another. (mother/father)
    4. There cannot be an infinite regress of current causes of existence.
    5. Therefore, a first uncaused cause of my current existence exists.
    6. This uncaused cause must be infinite, unchanging, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-perfect. (Nothing can impose limits on the cause of everything—whatever power/characteristics the Cause has, it has in totality)
    7. This infinitely perfect being is appropriately called God.
    8. Therefore God exists.
    9. This God who exists is identical to the God described in the Christian Bible.
    10. Therefore, the God described in the Bible exists.
    (Excerpts from Geisler, Christian Apologetics)

        Before we could see air molecules with machines, air still existed. People 1000 years ago would have been foolish to believe that air as an entity did not exist—but now we see it does. It’s the same with God. The evidence is there. Just like the people 1000 years ago, don’t think that because you don’t see/experience God now as a Person that it won’t happen some day!

        Just because you cannot 'see' or experience something in the immediate physical world does not mean it does not exist (love, gravity, radio waves, light spectrum that cannot be seen with the eye, etc.)

        You can choose to believe there is no air or love or gravity or radio waves because you can’t see it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it exists. You see, hear, and feel its effects in the world without observing the actual origination of the event. The evidence lets you know it is there. It’s the same with God. You can choose to believe there is no God but that doesn’t change the fact that there is. You can choose against the evidence but you would be a fool to do so.

    Jim Jackson


  • Are You a Yelping Christian?

     

    When planning an activity, date night, or a visit to an unfamiliar place, I use a few online tools to aid my research. Yelp and Trip Advisor are two of my favorite places to get ratings and reviews on local activities, restaurants, and lodging for wherever it is that I may be going. The websites provide basic info and listings (much like an old school phone book) on businesses: addresses, phone numbers, menus, prices, etc. But the most helpful part about sites like these is the user reviews. A hotel may look like a great place to stay until a recent user review points out the large cockroach infestation. A restaurant looks like the perfect setting for a date night, until a user reports the recent drop to a 'B' rating. These user reviews provide firsthand information and insight so that other users (like me) can make good & knowledgeable decisions.

    When I visit Yelp and Trip Advisor, I do so selfishly. I only read others' reviews; I don't leave any of my own. The thought recently occurred to me, "What if no one left reviews?!" If everyone acted like me & didn't leave reviews, sites like these would lose their value.

    I figure that many of us church-goers today have the same relationship with church that I do with Yelp. We attend when it is convenient for us, or when we want or need something specific, yet we never offer our gifts, experiences, wisdom, and insight to help other members of the community. We are content to use the church, but we are often too selfish to be used in the church. Yet the church as described in God's Word clearly mandates that all Christians use their gifts to serve the community: "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 4:10-11).

    If everyone treated Yelp selfishly & refused to leave reviews to benefit others, no one else would be served. Likewise, in the church, you & I are mandated to not merely show up, but to "Yelp" so that others in the community can glorify God. The church was not set up so that a few select people could carry the majority of the work of service. The church was meant so that "each one" who has "received a gift" could come not only to be served, but to serve. As Paul writes, "For the body does not consist of one member but of many...But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be?" (1 Cor. 12:14-31).

    And so I encourage us this morning- how are you "yelping" at your local church? What gifts, talents, experience, and wisdom has God given you so that you can bless others? If you aren't active in your church, what would happen to your church if everyone had the same inactivity?

    Ryan Mann

  • Counting the Seconds vs. Counting the Cost

     

    A few weeks ago, as I was driving home from the beach, I thought, "I wonder if Tiger is winning the PGA Championship." Then I immediately thought of several ways that I could obtain this information within seconds, even though the tournament was being played 1,903 miles away. I could flip on the radio, and 710 ESPN will have updates every 20 mins or so. I could hop on the internet on my phone (while hiding it from cops) and quickly get this information within seconds.

    Often times, when it comes to obtaining information, we are impatient when cell service is bad, the internet is down, or the TV has bad reception (yes, I still have a "rabbit ears" antenna!). We 'count the seconds' until we can obtain this information. In fact many successful industries make it their sole purpose to make the world smaller, to make you and me more "connected" to anyone and anything from anywhere.

    I really do love this. I love that I can follow the Angels from Chino, even if they're playing in Chicago. I love that I can communicate instantaneously with great friends in Israel, England, Australia, New York, Texas, Washington, and basically any other location. However, I have seen in myself and in those believers around me a tendency that our "information age" has created. Everything is so simple, so efficient, so "google", so instantaneous- except spiritual growth. I can get you any information you may need in seconds (though if you ask me to do it for you I will send you a snide link to www.lmgtfy.com). But you or I cannot be like Jesus in seconds. We cannot learn the intracacies of God's Word or God's character in seconds. We cannot successfully evangelize to our friends in seconds. We cannot kill our sin in seconds. We cannot counsel each other through trials in seconds. Spiritual growth, discipleship, pursuing Christlikeness is something that bears fruit in years. It is a grand task for which we must count the cost.

    Much of my spiritual struggle in my pursuit of Christ in post-college days has come because it is not easy, it is not "efficient" on the surface, and it doesn't always grant instant gratification. I also see many peers and fellow church members who seem to think that sanctification should be structured more like a Google Search or a Starbucks Drive-Thru.

    But I humbly remind myself and you that we must count the cost. We are giving our lives to Jesus, and he is taking us on a journey of knowing him and becoming like him. You should pursue him this second, but results may not appear for you this second. His plans and his ways are much grander and much bigger than we can imagine. True commitment causes a pursuit of Christ, a study of His word, a commitment to church & discipleship to last for decades, not seconds. May we not allow our "counting the seconds" culture destroy our "counting the cost" discipleship.

    "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’"

    Ryan Mann

  • God Will Dissolve Your Ipad...

     

     

    Behold 2 Peter 3:9-13...

    The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

    I was so impacted by these verses this morning.

    These verses have all the aspects of God's redemptive plan wrapped up in a compact space.

    1. God is a Lover. God wants all of His humans-made-in-His-likeness to come to Him and repent of their wicked and sinful lives.

    2. God is Patient. God's patience suspends His judgment because His love propels His desire to keep on drawing those who will come to Him.

    3. God is not Patient Forever. God will draw the curtain of history to a close someday and wrap up shop on everything He has made.

    4. God is a Destroyer. God will dissolve or bring to nothing the entire universe and everything inside of it that is unrighteous. That includes stars, moons, ants and anything tainted by sin (everything).

    5. God expects us to have an End-of History View. If everything will be dissolved this way how should we live? For the 'now' and physical or for the 'later' and eternal?

    6. God is a giver of Righteousness. Through the repentance of humans and the accepting of Jesus' righteousness that we cannot generate for ourselves, God makes us righteous so we can live for eternity in a place that is totally regenerated and righteous--the new heaven and new earth...without ipads...

    It is amazing to consider that we may get to see this event from heaven with God when He recreates everything just like the angels did when this universe was created. Maybe God will let you watch your ipad melt...nooooooooooooooooooooo! Live for eternity today!

    Jim Jackson

  • A Soul's Beauty is Deep Waters...

    A beautiful woman giving up a 6-figure income to try and honor Jesus...who knew?

    video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2012/02/victorias-secret-model-quits-to-reserve-body-for-my-husband/

    One Victoria’s Secret angel might be turning her back on lingerie modeling but she’s not giving up her modeling wings. Model Kylie Bisutti, 21, has decided to leave Victoria’s Secret because it clashes with her Christian beliefs. “I just became so convicted of honoring the Lord and my body and wanting to be a role model for other women out there who look up to me,” Bisutti said today on “Good Morning America.”

    The California native beat out 10,000 hopefuls in 2009 to win the Victoria’s Secret Model Search. She was 19 and recently married at the time. But wearing the coveted angel wings and walking the runway with Adriana Lima and Miranda Kerr wasn’t quite what Bisutti had hoped for. “I was growing in my relationship with the Lord and my faith. I’m a strong believing Christian,” Bisutti told “GMA” of how her thoughts on the job she has described as her “absolutely biggest goal in life” began to change. “It was more of just a heart issue for me,” she said.

    Though Bisutti has cited her husband and her desire to keep their marriage special as factors in her decision to leave her lingerie modeling days behind, she said the decision was hers alone. “He was so, so supportive of me and I’m so thankful that he let me grow and let me come to this decision on my own,” she said of her husband. Bisutti’s decision to leave the lingerie company was also spurred on by an encounter with her 8-year-old cousin. “I was doing my makeup in the mirror one day and she was watching me,” Bisutti said. “She looked at me and was like, ‘You know, I think I want to stop eating so I can look like you.’” “It just broke my heart because she looks up to me and I didn’t want to be that type of person that she thought she had to do that to be beautiful,” she said. “Thousands of girls that think that being beautiful is an outer issue and really it’s a heart issue.”

    On Dec. 1, one day after the nationally televised Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, in which Bisutti didn’t appear, aired, the model posted to her Twitter page, “For all of you that were looking for me in the Victorias Secret runway show this year, I wasn’t in it. I have decided not to model lingerie Because I personally feel that I am not honoring God or my husband by doing it.

    My marriage is very important & with divorce rates rising I want to do everything I can to protect my marriage and be respectful to my husband. God graciously gave me this marriage and this life and my desire is to live a Godly faithful life, I don’t however judge others for what they do. Everyone is convicted on different levels.” Bisutti says her headline-making decision does not mean she is giving up her modeling career altogether.

    “I’m definitely going to pursue modeling,” she said on “GMA.” “I just want to be more wholesome about it and the jobs that I am going to choose are always going to be honoring the Lord.”

    Jim Jackson

  • Spiritual Thanksgiving Dinner

     

     

    Hunger does strange things to people. It can cause people to become irritable. It can make people lose focus. It is so important that the hungrier people become, the more desperate they usually become. Even the current marketing strategy for Snickers is 'You're not you when you're hungry'.

     

    There have been times when I have been so hungry I have dreamt about food and almost tasted the food. In fact, we are so biologically designed to desire food that we start to automatically salivate when we smell or see food we enjoy.

    The Bible says the same is true of our souls. Humans are designed with an insatiable appetite for God. This comes out in the form of worship or 'giving worth to something or someone'. Worship is a value system instituted by a person for the depth of control surrendered to another entity. The only problem is, instead of turning to God and giving Him the attention and devotion due Him, humans worship self and self interest. So they end up trying to fill their correct appetite for God with the superficial vanity of self. It is similar to trying to fill your starving stomach with the air of a balloon. Although you may become bloated, it does not produce health nor long term satisfaction.

    This brings us to spiritual eating. Where do you get 'fed'? Although it is true we must feed on God's word individually, especially in our day and age when we have God's word in almost every format imaginable--written on paper, digital documents, video and audio, the Bible says God has chosen special men to speak His words to His people. This is known as the 'church' gathered together to learn together. I have had many great and rewarding times with God by myself studying and absorbing His word, but I have had the most consistently spiritually rewarding moments with others gathered together to learn and worship. Every Sunday should be a thanksgiving holiday.

    Every sermon should be a thanksgiving dinner. Every believer should be a thanksgiving participant. Everyone should leave church well fed on the word of God. Shame on the spiritual shepherds that starve their flock with their own words or teach an unbalanced perspective on God to the harm of their sheep. Deception runs rampant in our world and unsuspecting, spiritually starving people wander around looking for food and they eat whatever is near them no matter how unhealthy. How damning that they cannot find a good meal in churches many of them attend! What kind of climate are we in that much of the preaching that reaches peoples ears is neither healthy nor biblical. It might not tickle the ear all the time but if it is what is needed to bring wholeness then let it be brought forward.

    I fear for shepherds who keep throwing out sermons of 'peace and happiness' when it is like filling the stomachs of their flock with air rather than food they can use. Their souls may indeed want to passionately pursue God but they are so malnourished they cannot follow. You are designed to worship God and burn with the energy given from God's word. May we find it this Sunday--this 'thanksgiving'!

    Jim Jackson

  • God's Spiritual Groundhog Day

     

     

    In the 1993 movie 'Groundhog's Day', Bill Murray's character is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he can learn to give up his selfishness. This mind-numbing reality of going through the same motions and conversations and experiences day after day would drive any sane person to insanity. In fact, it is precisely this idea that drives Murray's character to change--because he couldn't stand doing the same things over and over infinitely never having a real 'life'.

    As I have been teaching through the books of the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy) and now having just finished the book of Joshua at Revive, I am struck with the nearly unbelievable idea that God, who is eternal, has to deal with the SAME issues with EACH person--ALL the time. Not only has God had to deal with sinful people who act the same, speak the same, and think the same since He created the first one (Adam) in the garden of Eden, but He has to reteach each new generation the same things over and over and over and over and over and...well, you get the idea. Looking at the history of people in their interaction with God, the Bible records that God has to patiently work with each new generation almost from scratch. Imagine that.

    It is not just one person who God must connect with, convict, convert, counsel, comfort, correct, and care for, but billions of people. Each person, their whole lives. Everyday (which it's always continually 'day' somewhere where people are awake doing something, so there is no 'break' for God). So, right now God must manage trillions of decisions for the 6 billion people on earth at this moment. This is not to mention the billions of people who have already existed since the beginning of time. Meaning God as been 'reliving' the same issues and problems (and also joys and happiness) over and over and over for thousands of years for billions of people that have made trillions of decisions.

    Wow. That kind of patience for humanity is unreal. Beyond comprehension. This is an aspect of God I have never really considered until I started to see the sinful patterns of humanity played out on the pages of the Bible in a continuous, irritating and embarassing storyline. I am amazed by God for many things. However this new appreciation for Him and His love for humanity to save and love and shepherd us is mind-blowing. We get mad when our child or spouse or dog won't listen after the second or third time, imagine trillions of times...

    "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" Romans 2:4

    "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

    Wow. True. Thank God!

    Jim Jackson

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  • To Bathe or Baptize?

     

     

    Why should anyone get baptized? What is the difference between taking a bath and getting baptized? Is baptism just an old, outmoded form of religious practice that is no longer valuable to modern life? Well, baptism is indeed old but definitely not outmoded. Baptism has been used for millenniums to demonstrate a change of a person's heart and character. Primarily, Christians are baptized because Jesus commanded it (Matt. 28:19, 20). But why?

    Because baptism is done differently by different denominations, religions and cults, baptism is largely misunderstood by most people today. The word ‘baptism’ is from the Greek word baptizo meaning ‘to immerse’. The Greeks used it to describe a cloth being plunged into a dye to change its color. In the Bible it was always used of a repentant believer making a public statement of conversion.

    Because conversion is spiritual and invisible to the eye, baptism is an outward demonstration of an inward work of God.

    Baptism pictures:

    1.   Dying with Jesus to your sin—being submerged in the water . This is telling everyone that you believe that you have died to your old self and no longer want to follow in the ways that you were formerly walking in.

    2.   Rising with Jesus to new life—coming up out of the water. This is telling everyone that now that you have died to your old self, the new self has been created by Christ and is living a new life.

    3.   Declaring public allegiance to Jesus—leaving the water to follow Him. This is telling everyone that as you leave the water you are leaving the 'grave' of your old self, now with a new nature changed by Jesus to walk in a new way of life.

    I was raised as a Lutheran and was sprinkled when I was young as an infant and that was referred to as my 'baptism'. But when I got older I realized that I couldn't find that anywhere in the Bible. I realized that sprinkling does not accurately picture the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and was not done by Jesus or the apostles. And because I could not repent of my sin as an infant I could not make a salvation choice therefore eliminating the need to be baptized because I was not changed by Jesus yet.

    So, once Jesus changed my heart and I saw what the Bible said and why it said it, I got baptized as a sign of my love and devotion to the One who gave it all for me and set the standard for how to live my life.

    Just as an aside, although not baptizing infants, most churches do provide baby and child dedications which are meaningful times of blessing parents and children as Jesus demonstrated (Matt. 19:13-15).

    Bathing just washes the outside but baptism demonstrates that you have been washed on the inside!

     

  • The Beauty of the Bible

     

    The Bible is an amazing book. There is nothing like it on earth. It was the first book printed by Gutenberg on the printing press, is a perennial best seller and the best selling book in history.

    The Bible is the unfolding story of God’s interaction with humanity written by over 40 authors over 1500 years, yet with one main subject—the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Bible is called ‘the Book’ because it claims to contain the words of God given by the Holy Spirit for men to write down (Ps. 18:30; 19:7; 119:160; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21). Because the Bible is God’s word, and His character is both perfect and all-knowing, the Bible is both inerrant (contains no errors) and infallible (incapable of error).

    This is important because if God is capable of lying then humans wouldn’t know when He was telling the truth and people would be unable to trust or follow Him. So if God cannot tell a lie and is perfect in wisdom and knowledge, then His word is also accurate and without lies or imperfections in the original manuscripts (Num. 23:19). So, even though there may be handwritten, copying erors (none of which affect any doctrine), when comparing the thousands of copies, we can ascertain the probable original reading.

    In regards to anyone receiving a revelation from God that adds to anything written by the apostles or their contemporaries, we reject any later ‘revelation’ (such as the Koran or the book of Mormon) as the revelation of Jesus is final and all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3; Jude 1:3).

    Because Jesus is the completion of God's salvation plan to save those who were trusting in Israel's God for salvation before Jesus came and to those who would come to believe in Jesus after he died and rose again, we no longer need any further communication from God about salvation or what pleases God. He has revealed everything to us that anyone needs to know to be saved and know God's will for their lives.

    This is an exciting and comforting reality that God is on a mission to save and love humanity and the Bible is His love letter to us! Everyone should bask in the goodness of God through the reading of His letter everyday as they grow to appreciate and worship the One who not only planned but completed His saving work for us!

     

  • The Journey to Jesus We Take

    The Journey to Jesus We Take

    Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-56

        It is often underappreciated what Joseph and Mary had to go through to be part of God's plan. Insecurity. Anger. Dissapointment. Ridicule. Sound like fun? Yet this was not just two people who were chosen to do something a little out of the ordinary but to actually bring God into flesh! If that isn't the craziest reality for humans to comprehend then there is none. One would think that if God were putting this scenario together for some people to follow, then He would make sure He would choose the most qualified men and women and make sure their lives would have the least drama. But no. God chooses two people that no one would choose for this 'job'. Poor, no influence, unsettled. Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Lets look at the way God took the two of them on their journey to bring His Son into the world.

    Joseph 

        The Road—Joseph was probably a young man in his early twenties when he met Mary. In ancient Israel, Jewish men would contact the father of a woman they were interested in (many times a relative) and set up a meeting. If the meeting went well, terms of a marriage were drawn up and the couple then started a time of ‘betrothal’. Betrothal was a legally binding marital contract that could only be nullified by a divorce certificate. Betrothal usually lasted about a year as the man would begin to work and build a home until the marriage ceremony. 
     
        The Journey—As part of the betrothal Joseph was not allowed to spend much unsupervised time with Mary and, though legally married, sexual contact was forbidden. Upon finding out Mary was pregnant, he planned to divorce her without making a public spectacle out of it. Though he felt ‘cheated’ on, he was a righteous man who deeply loved Mary and didn’t want to embarrass her or have her stoned as an ‘adulteress’. Upon hearing from the angel though, Joseph, against all human reason, took Mary into his home (that he built as part of the marital contract—v 24) and affirmed the fact of her divine pregnancy. The angel told him that this Child would ‘save His people from their sins’. Joseph accepted that the will of God was to responsibly raise this Child that was not his own.

    Mary

        The Road—Mary was probably a teenager when she was introduced to Joseph. After meeting him and spending time together, Mary would then make her feelings about Joseph known to her father and he would present Joseph with the marriage agreement. Just as with Joseph, Mary agreed to sexual abstinence and purity as part of the contract. As a young Jewish woman her desire was to honor God and her future husband by preparing herself for marriage. This would involve learning domestic skills to run a home and preparation for becoming a wife and mother. Mary was an ordinary woman looking forward to her marriage. 
     
        The Journey—During the time of her betrothal to Joseph, an angel presented her with the news that she would become pregnant. Being a virgin she was understandably confused as to how or why. The angel informs her that the Holy Spirit will cause her to become pregnant without a man and that the Child inside her will be the ‘Son of God’. Instead of rebelling at the thought of what it will cost her, Mary accepts the announcement and calls herself ‘the slave of the Lord’ (v 38). As part of God’s will, Mary would bear the stigma of a promiscuous woman though she was innocent. In fact, instead of complaining that God had ‘messed with her plans’, she breaks out into a beautiful outburst of praise when she meets Elizabeth (v 46-55). Being a young woman Mary has an amazing grasp of scripture and evidences a deep devotion to God cultivated from a life of obedience. Though poor, by submitting to God she not only brought the Savior into the world but became the most famous woman in history!

        

        Where are you at on your journey with Jesus today? Feeling discouraged? Excited? Ready to take the next step in your walk with God? Ready to start your journey? Good. Realize that no matter where you are at, God meets you there and can work with your current situation.

        The journey of Joseph and Mary changed history and eternity. It wasn't easy and drama-free but it had God's supervision and love and approval. And in the end that's all that matters.

    Happy journeys!

    Jim

     

  • The Giving Father

     

    The Giving Father

    Matt 7:7-11

    What kind of Father do we have?

        "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

        Fathers are wonderful. For those of us who had fathers we looked up to and connected with, we know how impactful their influence was and is to this day. For those of us who did not have model fathers or if we did not know our father, we can all look to a significant male role model who filled that role for us, even if they didn’t know they were doing that. In the passage for today, Jesus talks about God as being a Father. He is not only our Creator like our physical father is our creator, but that He is a loving Father. Jesus fights against the prevailing view of his day that God was a harsh, distant task-master, only interested in the ‘holy’ people.

        Jesus compares God to a father that provides not only the necessities but good gifts that go beyond just what the father has to do to what he wants to do. God not only gives to his children but is so good he gives to those who hate him and don’t even believe He exists! God gives rain and sunshine and food to all His creatures but bestows a special blessing of good gifts to His own children.

        As believers, we are told to ask our Father for things that are on our hearts and for things we desire. God is not a vending machine or a cosmic genie that will give whatever our sinful hearts want, but He is non-the-less interested in our lives and wants us to feel connected to Him. What a great thing that our heavenly Father, who never runs out of resources, also never runs out of love for us. Above all physical things He could bless us with, He has given us His Son and has sent the Holy Spirit to live within us. What a great, giving Father! His desire is for us; let our desire be for Him as well.

        Be blessed today!

  • Bring in the Ark

     

    Uzzah dies discovering God's holiness

    2 Samuel 6:1-15

    David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.

    When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God. Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.

    David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.

    Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

     

    David had a great idea. He loved God. He wanted to please God. Saul, who was the first King of Israel right before David had abandoned God and the Ark of the Covenant that Moses made. Once Israel had come into the Promised Land and God struck some people dead for looking inside it, they housed it in Abinidab's house for almost 70 years and forgot about it.

    Imagine that. Forgetting about the indwelling presence of God. Forgetting about the God who brought you up our of slavery. But Israel did. And so did Saul. Now David, the next King of Israel wants to bring the Ark from Abinidab's house after being stored there for almost 70 years. So, he has Abinidab's sons, Uzzah and Ahio, load it onto a cart and bring it towards Jerusalem. As they get close the oxen stumble, the Ark teeters, and Uzzah puts out his hand to steady it so the Ark doesn't fall off the cart. Then God strikes him dead. On the spot. Why?

    God is holy and He expects to be treated with respect. He had already told them what to do if the Ark was moved--Levites were to carry it on poles and it was to be covered in animal skins and blue cloth. Why didn't they follow the instructions right in the law for them to read? Because they got lazy. God became familiar and unholy to them.

    David is so scared of God he leaves the ark outside Jerusalem for three months until he sees what he did wrong and corrects it the next time. Then guess what? The Levites bring the Ark in properly, no one dies and God is worshipped.

    Believers should remember and reverence the greatness of God at all times. Amazing how when we treat God as God and not as a play-thing how we are blessed (and stay alive!) and God is honored through us. Lets worship God for Who He is and bring Him glory through our lives this week.

    Blesssings,

    Jim

     

  • Is Believing in God Reasonable? Pt. 6--Why Does Evil And Suffering Exist?

     

    Is Believing in 'God' Reasonable?--Part 6

    If God is 'all-good' and 'all-powerful' why is there suffering and evil in the world?

        The argument often goes, “If God is all-powerful He can defeat evil or not allow it at all, and if He is perfectly good He should want to, but we see evil in this world and it is not defeated so either God is not all-powerful or not all-good or there is no God.

        Evil is not a ‘thing’ like a piece of bread, or a watch or a car. Evil is a choice against a set standard and some level of suffering is the result. (breaking the speed limit/a ticket)

        God did not create evil but created the world with the possibility of evil. If God created the world as it is then maybe He could be accused of not being all-good. But if our world is not as it should be but is degrading because of evil and the judgment of evil, then God could have created the world perfect and allowed evil as a result of choosing against His perfect good. This would mean that God could still be perfectly good in HiHisHisHisHiHis nature but evil could still exist in our world.

        Believe it or not, but this world is the best possible world if the choice to love or do good is possible! Without a legitimate choice to do wrong you cannot have a world where freedom exists—where there is no freedom, there is slavery or ‘robotic choices’ and true love cannot exist. Forcing someone, or making it their only choice to ‘love’you or to ‘do good’ never has value to the person desiring love or good because it is not genuine.

        You can make a computer program say ‘I love you’ over and over but the computer does not truly ‘love’ you--it is only doing what it is programmed to do and can do nothing else. Even an all-powerful God can’t create a world where there is real love with no choice!

     

    Think about it: How could you create a world that had authentic love or good but the people in your world never had a chance to ‘prove’ their love or goodness by choosing differently?

     

        If you were totally righteous, what would the opposite or necessary outcome of not choosing love or good be in your world besides evil and suffering? If there is light there must be darkness. If there is good there must be evil. If there is love there must be hate. You cannot differentiate one without having the other. It can be possible that God couldbe all-good or ‘love’ without there being evil (such as before the world was created) but we wouldn’t know it without a choice and something to differentiate His goodness.

        So God allows a certain amount of evil andsuffering in the world but does not create it nor desire it. (like a parent holding their child down so they can be given a shot—painful for the child but a necessary ‘evil’ for the health of the child)

        God will overcome evil and do away with it once its purpose has been fulfilled—but not before, and that is the stage we are in now. In fact it is precisely because God is all-powerful and all-good that there is hope that good can come out of evil.

        The world is not as evil as it could be nor does it have as much suffering as it could have and this is proof that God has the power to only allow as much to go on as He sees fit for His own good purpose. (giving time for repentance, showing His patience and love, the desire in humans for something greater/better, etc.)

        The suffering that exists in the world by natural means (starvation because of drought, death by hurricane, storm, fire, etc., death or malformation of infants, cancer, etc.) is a resultof the physical universe and our bodies being abnormal to how God originally created them. Sin, evil, death and selfishness entered the world with Adam and Eve choosing against God. Originally the universe and humans were created without evil but now the universe and our bodies are ‘winding down’ and suffering results from it. (Gen. 1-3)

        But this does not mean suffering is purposeless because, as opposed to pleasure, it is often in our weakness, trials and pain that we find the deepest comfort, courage, and greatest character building. God is not detached or ‘above’ suffering, He embodied it when Jesus, as a poor son of a lower-class family, was beaten, tortured and hung on a cross to die to forgive us of the evil we commit—that is the God of love!

        Sometimes we wonder why God doesn’t deal with the evil that other people commit when we might be the evil that other people wish God would deal with!

        Also, if there is no God, then there is no real answer to the problem of evil and suffering now, and no ultimate justice someday—you ‘just have to deal with it’ and you are on your own in the world. But this idea betrays our inclination that there must be an answer for evil and our need for justice when wrong has been done.

     

        “Justice delayed is not necessarily justice denied. There will come a day when God will settle accounts and people will be held responsible for the evil they’ve perpetrated and the suffering they’ve caused. Criticizing God for not doing it right now is like reading half a novel and criticizing the author for not resolving the plot!”     —Peter Kreeft, Philosophy professor, Boston College

     

        The beauty of the answer to the ‘problem of evil’for the Christian is that not only can our all-powerful God defeat evil and suffering, His all-goodness guarantees it! This is the best world for now, the best of all worlds is coming! (Rev. 21)

     

     

  • Is Believing in God Reasonable? Pt. 5--The Biblical Creation Evidence

     

    Is Believing in 'God' Reasonable?--Part 5

    Does Evolution or Biblical Creation Best Describe What We Observe?

        The debate between the evolutionary process proposed by Darwin and the creation described by the Bible is often thought to be an incompatible debate involving science versus religion or faith. In reality it is not a ‘science versus religion’ debate but ‘science versus science’. This means that it is not a debate of functional operational science but rather of origin science and what system of origin best lines up with the provable laws that we know today. It is therefore helpful to give specific definitions.

    Webster’s Dictionary describes science as:

    ‘Systematized knowledge derived from observation, study and experimentation’.

    There are two basic kinds of science—

        1. Operation Science—this is the commonly known type of ‘laboratory, test tube’ science. This type of science is primarily unbiased, unpresuppositional and is empirical meaning it deals with the way things operate now; it is testable, repeatable and verifiable. (Law of Gravity, Law of Thermodynamics, etc.)  

        2. Origin Science—this deals with past singular events and is more of a forensic science (looking at physical clues leftover from an event to form a picture of what happened—such as a murder scene). This type of science can be bias and presuppositional because it is speculative rather than empirical (past events cannot be observed nor repeated and must be reconstructed using evidence that remains).

        Because we were not present at the creation of the universe, origin science seeks from historical evidence (fossils, astronomy, geological strata, etc.) an answer that best describes the evidence we find. Viewed accurately this way, there is no conflict between debating what the Bible claims to be the beginning of the universe and the theory of evolution. This goes for all other ideas on creation as well (pantheistic, aliens, etc.). It does not matter where the theory of the beginning of the universe comes from (Babylonian Gilgamesh epic, secular college class room, Bible, etc.), all theories are on equal footing until the weight of evidence disqualifies a particular view.

        Only unless you disqualify the supernatural before looking at the evidence can the Bible be discredited—a true open minded person makes a judgment based on where the evidence points and not where he/she hope it points—even if the most sensible answer points outside of our material universe.

    But such open mindedness is not always the case as we see from leading biology professor and avowed atheist D.M.S. Watson:

    ‘Evolution is a theory universally accepted not because it can be proven by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible (unbelievable).’

    There are 3 major areas that any theory in Origin Science must answer.

    1. Origin of the physical universe

        Cosmic Evolution states—either the universe came out of nothing or matter and energy are eternal. The latter is supported by the 1st Law of Thermodynamics (energy canneither be created or destroyed but only changes form). To counter the implications of the 2nd Law ofThermodynamics (the universe is running out of usable energy and becoming more chaotic), some have proposed the Steady State or the ‘rebounding universe’ theory, i.e. theuniverse is expanding and collapsing eternally and we just happen to be inbetween at this moment.

        Creationism states—God who is eternal, uncreated, and is outside the physical universe, created everything out of nothing, including the laws of physics that govern it. This is supported by the fact that something (matter and energy) cannot be created by nothing and must have Someone or Something to make it exist. The 1st Law of Thermodynamics does not state that matter and energy are eternal but only that we do not observe any actual energy leaving the universe nor any new energy entering it—this realistically means God could have put the current amount in at the beginning of the universe and it has stayed consistent.

        The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that the universe is running out of usable energy implying that it had a beginning. To get around the problem of the 2nd law inferring a Beginner, Fred Hoyle purposed the Steady State Theory which claims that hydrogen atoms are ‘popping’ in and out of existence adding energy to keep the universe from running down keeping it in a ‘steady state’— yet there is no evidence of this phenomena. In regards to ‘rebounding’—the universe would still slowly ‘wind down’ one day (like abouncing ball) and won’t ‘rebound’ eternally.

    2. Origin of life

        Chemical Evolution states—purely natural laws can explain the origin of life based on chemical/electrical interplay in the earth’s early history. The modern theory of a ‘primeval soup’ of chemicals dates back to Russian scientist Oparin in1 924. In 1953 Urey & Miller published results of some simple experiments ino rganic chemistry which lent credence to the soup theory. In their experiments they were able to create simple amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins which are, in turn, the building blocks of the cell. The theory is that shortly after the earth was cooled enough to allow it, the combination of hydrogen, nitrogen, ammonia, and carbon dioxide reacted to form elementary amino acids, which in time developed into the DNA chains and finally into cells. This process is said to have taken several billions of years and the extra energy of the sun, volcanic activity, lightning, and cosmic rays was needed to keep the process going.

        Creationism states—God built the living, replicating cell complete with working DNA/RNA. Urey and Miller had to assume, contrary to the opinions of geologists, that the early Earth had no oxygen in its atmosphere. This is because amino acids are destroyed by oxygen. But the absence of oxygen implies absence of ozone, another form of oxygen. Ozone in our atmosphere protects us from high energy ultra-violet rays from the sun also destroying nucleic acids. ‘Naked’ amino acids coming into contact with oxygen would be oxidized and destroyed. But if oxygen is removed, as Urey and Miller did, there is no ozone and the UV rays would destroy the acids anyway.

        In the living cell, the DNA codes proteins and makes them useful. The problem is DNA itself is made out of coded proteins. You cannot get DNA without coded proteins but you can’t get coded proteins without DNA. It has been suggested that RNA possesses some of the properties of proteins while having the information carrying ability of DNA. No experiment has ever produced anything resembling RNA. RNA does not replicate itself, a prime necessity for a living cell.

        A cell based solely on proteins is equally impossible, since proteins lack the ability to reproduce themselves as well. Even if the right chemicals could be produced, no answer has been given for how they could have been arranged properly and enclosed in a cell wall. Also, life arising from non-life violates the Law of Biogenesis (life only comes from life) and cannot ‘spontaneously generate’ as Louis Pasteur (who was a creationist) demonstrated.

    Even if aliens dropped us off (or ‘seeded’ life) it only moves the problem to another place! Where did life start there?

    3. Origin and development of humans

        Biological Evolution states—more complex life forms evolve over long periods of time as genetic mutations give rise to species more fit to survive as they are sorted by natural selection. The examples in the fossil record indicate that man has evolved from lesser animals and ultimately from single celled life. (Darwin’s‘tree of life’)

        Creationism states—Man (and animals) were created separately by God each special and ‘according to their own kind’, i.e. birds have always been birds, fish have always been fish, reptiles have always been reptiles, humans have always been humans (Gen.1:20-27). It is seldom fully appreciated that the only evidence for or against evolution lies in the fossil record. Every other argument for evolution is based on what could have been. Only the fossil record records what actually did happen!

        The lack of transitional fossils was something Darwin recognized could be a problem when in Origin of Species he wrote:

    “Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduatedo rganic chain, and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”

        In the 150 years since Darwin, the situation has only become worse for his theory. Notes Harvard evolutionary paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould:

    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips of their branches (the ‘kinds’ we see today—fish, reptiles, birds, primates, humans) the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of the fossil record.”

    This fact was so overwhelming to Dr. Gould that he devised an alternative to gradual evolution which he called ‘punctuated equilibrium’. It said that instead of slow evolution there was a sudden change in the species, i.e. a bird was hatched out of a reptile egg. No evidence.

    This is because a plain, straightforward look at the fossil record gives 2 impressions--

    Stasis. Most species appear in the fossil record looking exactly the same as they disappeared or that they look today.

    Sudden appearance. In any area, a species does not arise gradually but appears all at once, fully formed. Both of these are seen in the Cambrian Explosion.

        David Raup, curator of geology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, which houses the world’s larges fossil collection said:

    “Darwin was embarrassed by the fossil record because it didn’t look the way he had predicted it would, and as a result he devoted a long section in Origin of Species to attempt to rationalize the differences. We are now over 120 years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded.We now have a quarter million fossil species but the situation hasn’t changed. Ironically we have fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we did in Darwin’s time.”

    Understand that there is not one unquestionable example of species transition.

        Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History wrote in a personal letter

    “I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustrations ofevolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them. You say that I should at least ‘show a photo ofthe fossil from which each type of organism was derived.’ I will lay it on theline—there is not one such fossil for which one could make a water-tight argument.”

        Microevolution states that things will evolve inside their species (kind) adapting to changingclimate/food considerations. Survival of the fittest in this sense means thatthe ones with characteristics to aid in survival would live to pass along theirgenes.

    3 common examples are often used to support macroevolution that are really microevolution.

        The differences in dogs. In colder climates longer haired dogs will survive andspawn other long-haired dogs. Shorter haired dogs will die or move to otherclimates. This is true vice-versa as well. Even though man has bred great physical differences between dogs such as miniature poodles and great danes,they are and forever will be genetically dogs/canine.

        Darwin’s Galapagos Finches. Birds with stronger/longer beaks needed to get food will survive and pass on genetic information. We see this in Darwin’s finches, although beak sizes changed they did not transform into another species.

        The black and white peppered moths—In Britain during the 1850’s black moths were rare and white were common because they could blend in with the surrounding trees. The industrial revolution came and the pollution was so bad that it blackened the trees with soot. This gave the black ones a ‘hiding’ advantage and they flourished as the white ones were now obvious and were eaten. However recent pollution controls have once again seen the resurgence of the white moths. The pollution dictated which moth survived and thrived. The moths are varieties of the same species and both existed before pollution brought a shift.

        Macroevolution states that given enough time one species will evolve into another. There is no evidence for this process anywhere on earth.

        While microevolution does occur—meaning adaptations within a species—there is no such thing as macroevolution, or conversion of one animal type to another, into a new genus or other broad classification level. Also, mutations never add information, but only reduce it—this includes even the rare helpful mutations. Even if a mutation helps a particular thing to survive (such as bacteria-resisting antibodies) it never increases the complexity of the genes to pass onto the next generation, leaving the specimen the same species it always was. The problem for Darwin was simply that he was ignorant of the cell and genetics. The thinking of the day considered the cell a ‘simple little lump combination of carbon’.

        Also, if macroevolution is engine or the basis for creating all life forms we see today, why has it stopped or stopped so long ago we can’t even find it? Where are the ‘almost human ape-people’ today?

        Astronomer Robert Jastrow, founder and director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Professor of Astronomy and Geology at Columbia Univ. states:

    “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story of origins ends like a bad dream. For the past 300 years scientists have scaled the mountain of ignorance and as they pull themselves over the final rock, they are greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

    (Excerpts from Perloff, Tornado in a Junkyard; icr.org; answersingenesis.org)

  • Is Believing in God Reasonable? Pt. 4--The Moral Law Evidence

    Is Believing in 'God' Reasonable?--Part 4

    Moral Law Evidence
    (what does universal “oughtness” tell us?)

        The fact that there is an “oughtness” or overarching common morality in the experience of life that supercedes the individual, society or history gives strong evidence that there is a Moral Law Giver.

    --Why are there inherent ‘rules’ in being human the world over regardless of time or culture?

        A Moral Absolute is a moral obligation that is objective (true for all people), eternal (true at all times), and universal (true for all places).

        If there is no Moral Absolute then all moral issues are Morally Relative (only true at certain times in certain circumstances for certain people, i.e. people make up what is morally right in a given circumstance)

        Rom 2:14-15—Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and now their thoughts accusing and defending them.

        1. Morality cannot be ultimately individual—If what is 'right' or 'wrong' is up to the individual to determine, then no one could say any action by another individual was 'right' or ‘wrong’ because any action would have been what was ‘right’ for the person doing it. If each person is their own island of morality then no one else's island has juristiction over any others. So, everyone is their own judge of truth for themselves and can make no value judgements about anyone else.

        If there is no Creator or power higher than the individual then any individual person should be able to do what they like and not have a society, police force, friends, family or anyone else tell them what is “right” to do. Because a society is just made up of a number of individuals, who is to say that a large group's viewpoint or values are right for any another individual?

        I should be able to steal someone’s possessions or rape or kill them if I prefer and not have anyone care that what I did was 'wrong' because I am the judge of my own actions. (And not only that, but I wouldn’t need to judge myself because there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ to what I did—I just acted)

        The idea that ‘you can do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt others’ or ‘what is right for you might not be right for me’ is a moral judgment that you expect others to respect. But if I choose to cause you pain, why should your values (no pain, freedom, etc.) rule over me? If it makes me happy or if I think its right to cause you pain then my value judgment is just as true as yours. If I happen to like giving pain and you don’t like to receive it you can’t call my values ‘wrong’ because its right for me.

        This moral law is easier to see in others than ourselves. When we are mistreated by others, we assume that there is a moral law that governs the hearts of all men and women—he or she ought to have told me the truth, he or she ought to have been more kind, etc. even if they are not from your culture or society.

        If humans came from gases and particles in space and we are just really new and improved apes, how do we account for what we know we should do or how others should act towards us? If there is no God then there should be no “rules” to live by, no “oughtness” to do the right thing or to have done something better. And no one should care that something wrong has been done to them because there is no standard of right or wrong except to each individual thus putting everyone on the level of animals. (animals never need a counselor and have no court system to decide wrong or right in regards to an animal’s actions or motives) Atheists can’t have it both ways.

    How can you explain a universal moral law or inherent 'oughtness' in humanity without Someone to place it there?

        2. Morality cannot be ultimately sociological—society is just many individuals and if the majority act a certain way it does not decide ultimate morality—Hitler’s Germany
        Might or strength does not make ‘right’. Just because someone can be forced or intimidated to comply does not make what the stronger person wants, morally right.
        Majority vote does not make ‘right’. Just because a vast majority of a society see something as good or advantageous does not make it morally right. (slavery, murdering unborn children, killing homosexuals and handicaps, exterminating people groups—genocide, etc.)

        Even though all societies express values differently (modesty, marriage, religious belief) and different laws to maintain order, there are values that transcend society.

        Although cultures may differ about how they manifest such values as honesty, courage, and preservation of life, they don’t promote dishonesty, cowardice, or arbitrary killing. People of all cultures value love over hate, justice over injustice, kindness over violence, truth over lies etc.

        Also, if society decides what is ‘right’, no country should fight against ‘injustice’ being done by one country to another because if one country thinks killing is good then no country can say its not ‘right’ for them, including if they attack your country!

        3. Morality cannot be ultimately time/history-bound—though practices may change through the centuries, human values have been constant throughout recorded history

        Code of Hammurabi, 1750 BC—Babylonian King Hammurabi created an 8 ft. high stele of black basalt that had listed on it 282 laws relying heavily on the idea that some things are wrong—lying, cheating, murdering, kidnapping, raping, etc.
        Book of Exodus, 1400 BC—In chapter 20-22, Moses wrote down the law of the nomadic Israelite people. Among them is the idea that murdering, lying, cheating, rape, kidnapping, stealing, etc. is wrong.
        Roman Law from 753 BC-1400 AD was filled with various legal documents describing punishment for murder, cheating, raping, stealing, kidnapping, lying etc.
        American Law—The Declaration of Independence to current law (1776-present) states that humans have ‘unalienable rights’ given to them by their Creator meaning that all people have value making rape, lying, murder, cheating, stealing, etc. wrong.

        All cultures (English, Greek, Egyptian, Asian, African, etc.) throughout history that have had a written law to pass down have shown the same types of values. Because multiple societies from different eras have the same value system its not enough to say they choose them to have order, rather they choose them because they are already there. The fact that there are overarching vales that transcend time supports the idea that before societies put the laws down there was a Law that preceded them.

    People everywhere, at all times have an inner sense of “oughtness”.

        Immanuel Kant, renown critic wrote in Critique of Practical Reason,
    “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily I reflect on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”

        The only thing one can reasonably conclude is that humans are special creations with a moral law stamped on their hearts that gives them the idea of right and wrong. In the same way you cannot get social laws with out someone making them, you cannot achieve universal “oughtness” from anything but a higher Being imposing it on you.

    If there is a Moral Law there is a Moral Law Giver.

    (Exerpts from Geisler, Baker Ency. Of Christ. Apol.)

     

  • Is Believing in God Reasonable? Pt. 3--The Teleological Evidence

    Is Believing in 'God' Reasonable?--Part 3

    The Teleological Evidence
    (what evidence does design give us?)

    The fact that there is design and symmetry gives strong evidence for a Designer.

        --If randomness and uncontrolled chance events were the mechanism for the beginning of our universe why is there noticeable order rather than random chaos?
        --Why can we tell the difference between design and chaotic or haphazard construction?

    Heb. 3:4—For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

        William Paley (1743-1805) gave one of the most popular arguments for design in his book Natural Theology the story of the Watchmaker. He insisted that if someone found a watch in an empty field lying among some rocks, one would rightly conclude that it had a watchmaker because of its design and complexity as opposed to the surrounding rock. Even if you had never seen the watchmaker or didn’t know what a watch was, the complexity and order (interlocking dials, precision parts, springs, moving implements all working together) implied design. He argued the greater the design difference (rock to watch) the more likely a designer. The greatest of differences (watch to universe) implied a Great Designer.

    He argued that upon finding the watch you were left with 2 choices
        1. Nature, time and chance worked together to bring about the order you see
        2. Some intelligent mind brought about the order and design you see

        An explosion in a junkyard doesn’t make a working red mustang convertible—you only get more random, less useful junk! (Without God there wouldn’t even be ‘junk’ in the junkyard to explode in the first place, because matter isn’t created from nothing)

        Explosions on a local or cosmic scale never have a positive creative or designing effect, always destructive and random. While energy might change forms, increasingly complex design is never created through random uncontrolled energy placed on matter.

        Charles Darwin was required to read Paley during his theological studies at Cambridge (1828–31). He later said, "I do not think that I hardly ever admired a book more than Paley’s “Natural Theology.” I could almost formerly have said it by heart." However, he then spent the rest of his life developing and promoting a theory to explain how ‘design’ in nature could occur without God. Darwin proposed that small, useful changes could occur by chance, and enable their possessors to survive and pass on changes—natural selection.

        Evolutionists, including the atheistic Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins, still use Darwin’s theory to oppose the design argument. But now, they believe that natural selection acts on genetic copying mistakes (mutations), some of which are supposed to increase the genetic information content. But Dawkins’ arguments have been severely critiqued on scientific grounds.

        • Natural selection requires self-reproducing entities. Producing even the simplest self-reproducing organism by a chance combination of chemicals is even more incredible than producing the Encyclopedia Britannica by throwing letters into the air. Living things require long molecules with precise arrangements of smaller ‘building blocks’. Not only will the ‘building blocks’ not combine in the right order, but they are unlikely, by natural means, to build up large molecules at all! Rather, large molecules tend to break down into smaller ones.
        • There is complex biological machinery of which Darwin was simply ignorant. Biochemist Dr Michael Behe lists a number of examples that have irreducible complexity: real motors, transport systems, the blood-clotting cascade, the complex visual machinery. They require many immediately functioning parts or they would not work at all, so they could not have been built in small steps by natural selection.
        • Biophysicist/information theorist Dr Lee Spetner points out that mutations never add information, but only reduce it — this includes even the rare helpful mutations. Natural selection is insufficient to accumulate slight advantages, as it would be too weak to overcome the effects of chance, which would tend to eliminate mutants.

        David Hume, renowned critic of philosophical proofs for God’s existence and Paley’s ‘Watchmaker’ argument, recognized the power of the evidence of design wrote:
        “A purpose, an intention, or design strikes everywhere the most careless man, the most stupid thinker; and no man can be so hardened in absurd systems, as at all times to reject it.

        It is seldom appreciated that in order to even propose natural selection or a 'beneficial mutation' theory, that you are already working with a designed organism! And since we don't observe anywhere in the universe where design and complexity increase on its own or with the addition of uncontrolled or undirected energy apart from a system designed to handle it, real design presupposes a real Designer.  

        Charles Darwin in Origin of Species, Chapter 6 said,
        “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”

        Yet, despite the absurdity, he then went on to try and explain the exquisite and phenomenal design of the eye by purely natural means without a Designer.

        Only in a system where design is discernable from randomness or chaos is design possible. Since everything in our system goes from order and design to randomness and deconstruction, (2nd law of Therm.) then ultimately design comes first.

        If we can recognize design in human creations how much more plausible is it to assume that everything from a cell to the cosmos has an ultimate Designer?

    Design in Mind precedes design in Kind.

        “The harmony of natural law reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection…God does not play dice with the universe.”
    —Albert Einstein

    (Excerpts from Geisler, Baker Enyc. Of Christ. Apol.)


  • Is Believing in God Reasonable? Pt. 2--The Anthropic Evidence

    Is believing in 'God' reasonable?--Part 2

    The Anthropic Evidence
    (what can we deduce from our life-sustaining universe?)

        This currently popular term in astronomy comes from the Greek word anthropos meaning ‘man’. The Anthropic Principle states that the universe was fitted from its moment of existence for life and is especially suited for the well being of mankind. It is a powerful argument that the universe was designed. Evolutionary theory believes it has an answer to "design" in biological systems by hypothesizing ongoing processes of mutation and natural selection.

        Living things are said to change very slowly and improve with time. There are many fundamental problems with evolutionary theory, not the least of which is that in the case of the Anthropic Principle the theory provides no answer at all.

        Whether describing tides, proton mass, or the earth's position in the solar system, a grand design presents itself from the very beginning. These phenomena don't mutate or change with time. The reality of this has forced some in secular science to propose that there are an infinite number of universes, each with a completely different set of physical properties. According to such thinking, our particular universe just happens to have conditions suitable for human life, and that is why we are here to enjoy it!

        Of course, there is no way to detect any "other" universes or comprehend their underlying principles. That is why people, secular or religious, refer to our cosmic reality as a universe not a multi-verse, which is exactly what the Bible says! Also the fact that ‘something just happens to be here’ is not an explanation for why it is. Our universe contains everything, including the clear marks of the supremely intelligent design of our creator God.

    The testimony of Max Planck, Nobel Prize winner and founder of modern physics
        "According to everything taught by the exact sciences about the immense realm of nature, a certain order prevails--one independent of the human mind . . . this order can be formulated in terms of purposeful activity. There is evidence of an intelligent order of the universe to which both man and nature are subservient.”

    Ps. 19:1—The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands.

     

    The fine-tuning of the universe and solar system gives strong evidence for a Designer

        • The electromagnetic coupling constant binds electrons to protons in atoms. If it was smaller, fewer electrons could be held. If it were larger, electrons would be held too tightly to bond with other atoms.
        • The ratio of electron to proton mass is 1:1836. If this was larger or smaller, molecules could not form.
        • Carbon and oxygen nuclei have finely tuned energy levels.
        • If our sun were a different color (redder or bluer), photosynthesis would be impaired.
        • Our sun is also the right mass and stability. If it was larger, its brightness would change too quickly and there would be unstable high-energy radiation. If it were smaller, our planet would be pulled closer to the sun making gravity so strong the tidal forces would disrupt the earth’s rotational period. Our days would slow to months and we would either freeze or burn.
        • The earth's distance from the sun is crucial for a stable water cycle. Too far away, and most water would freeze; too close and most water would boil.
        • Our atmosphere is a perfect mixture of gases of which oxygen comprises 21%. If it were 25% fires would erupt, if 15% we would all choke.
        • If the gravitational force in the universe were lessened slightly (1 part in 10 followed by 40 zeros) the sun would not exist and the moon would crash into the earth or sheer off into space. A slight increase in gravity would cause our sun to burn too rapidly and erratically to sustain life.
        • If the centrifugal force of planetary movements did not precisely balance the gravitational forces, nothing could be held in orbit around the sun.
        • If the universe were expanding at a rate one millionth more slowly than it is, the temperature on earth would be 10,000 degrees C.
        • If Jupiter were not in its current orbit, we would be bombarded with space material. It’s gravitational field acts like a cosmic vacuum cleaner protecting earth.
        • If the thickness of the earth’s crust were greater, too much oxygen would be transferred to the crust to support life. If it were thinner, volcanic and tectonic activity would pollute the air and make life impossible.
        • If the rotation of the earth took longer than 24 hours, temperature differences would be too great between night and day. If the rotation period were shorter atmospheric wind velocities would continually be around 1000 mph.
        • The earth spins on its axis at a perfect 23 degrees, if it were altered slightly, the surface temperature of the earth would be to hot and seasons too erratic for life.
        • If the atmospheric discharge (lightning) rate were greater, there would be too much fire destruction; if it were less, there would be too little nitrogen in the soil.
        • If there were more seismic activity much life would be lost. If there were less, nutrients on the ocean floors and in river runoff would not be cycled back to the continents through tectonic uplift. Even earthquakes are necessary to sustain life.
        • If the moon were closer to the earth, tides would be greatly increased. Ocean waves could sweep across the continents. The seas themselves might heat to the boiling point from the resulting friction. A more distant moon would reduce the tides and marine life would be endangered by the resulting stagnant water. Mankind would be in trouble because the oxygen in the air we breathe is replenished by marine plants.
        • If there were no ozone layer the sun’s ultraviolet rays would kill all life in minutes.

        The temperature of space just outside the atmosphere of the earth is 455 degrees Farenheit below 0 (-455 F). Considering most life, especially human, cannot survive sustained exposure without protection to temperatures below -40 F, from a naturalistic standpoint, it is beyond comprehension to discerne how life could have been on the earth before water or the atmosphere existed to support or sustain it with night temperatures at around -200.

        That fact that life exists on our 'incubator earth' amidst the death-inducing environment of the universe, points to a Creator who fashioned the earth for that life-sustaining purpose.

        The delicate balance of the universe has been described as being equal to 50,000 pencils simultaneously standing on their points not falling over.

    Astronomer and former atheist Sir Fred Hoyle states
        "A commonsense interpretation of the facts is that a super-intelligence has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces in nature."

        The incredible balance of multitudinous factors in the universe that makes life possible on earth points to ‘fine tuning’ by an intelligent Being. It leads one to believe that the universe was providentially crafted for our benefit. Nothing known to humans is capable of ‘pretuning’ the conditions of the universe to make life possible other than an intelligent Creator outside the creation itself. Or, to put it another way, the kind of specificity and order in the universe that makes life possible on earth is just the kind of effect that is know to come from an intelligent cause.

    Could there be life on other planets?
        From a purely statistical approach, the possibility that there is another planet anywhere in the universe with anthropic qualities like earth to support life is much smaller than a trillionth of a trillionth of one percent (less than .0000000000000000000000001%). Considering that the universe only has about a trillion galaxies each of which averages one hundred billion stars, statistics argue that not even one planet would be expected by natural processes alone to harbor life. Many astronomers such as Robert Rood and James Trefil, among others, are now deciding that given the above statistical probability, it is unlikely that life, especially intelligent life, exists anywhere else in the universe.

        The issue is not that it seems impossible there isn’t life somewhere else in the universe, but it’s the fact that there shouldn’t be life anywhere in the universe!

        The reality that life can only exist under such an impossibly precise set of circumstances points to a living Creator beyond the confines of our universe.

  • Is Believing in God Reasonable? Pt. 1--The Cosmological Evidence

        

        Because I have received tremendous response from the release of the book and in particular the first chapter which deals with John's declaration that Jesus created everything that exists, I thought I would post some of my ideas and research in the area of why believing in God makes sense to me. Ready to go deep? Let's go!

        I will present this series in 4 parts over the next few weeks. Feel free to comment! Blessings.

     

    Is believing in ‘God’ reasonable?—part 1

    A theist is a person who believes there is a God
    An atheist is a person who believes there is no God (a-theist—“a” is a negation of theism)
    An antitheist does not believe that theistic thinking is rational or reasonable

    What does the evidence suggest?

    The Cosmological Evidence
    (what can we deduce from the things that exist?)

    The things that exist give strong evidence for a creator.
    --Why is there something rather than nothing?
    --We know that something cannot be created by nothing.
    --We know that the “something” that we have is not self created—which is impossible.

        The 2nd law of Thermodynamics states that ‘the amount of useable energy in the universe is decreasing’ and everything is moving toward increased randomness or entropy, i.e. everything is in a state of winding down tending toward disorder, not improving or even maintaining.

        This means there is a constant decrease in useable energy in the universe and could someday lead to Total Heat Death (nothing but cold, dark, lifeless matter) implying that at some point in the past Someone or Something had to make the matter and give energy to it (Even a “Big Bang” would need a “Big Banger”!)

        The 1st law of Thermodynamics is often stated ‘Energy can be neither created or destroyed’ and is used by atheists to say that the universe is eternal and there is no need for a God. A more accurate way of stating this law of conservation is ‘The amount of actual energy in the universe remains constant’. This says nothing about how the energy came to be in the universe.

        This does not prove or disprove the idea that God at some point in past or future history did or could add energy to the universe but only that we do not observe any actual energy being added or leaving our universe at this point. This is also why the 2nd law does not contradict the 1st law but amplifies it.

     

    1. The principal of existential causality—all things that begin to exist have a cause

    Everything that begins to exist is:
        Finite—limits on length of existence
        Contingent—relies on something else for its creation
        Dependent—relies on something else for its continued existence—air, food, sun, water
        Changing—something that changes over time—i.e. decays, breaks down, is acted upon by physical forces

    Everything like this has a cause—i.e. was brought into existence by something else

    We know that 'nothing' cannot create something, and since something is here, the something that we have is; finite, contingent, dependent and changing.

    Therefore the creator must be:
        Eternal—has no limit on length of existence
        Non-contingent—was not created by something else
        Non-dependent—does not rely on anything for Its continued existence
        Unchanging—has always been and always will be the same—not bound by space or time or the action of physical forces playing upon It.

    This Being cannot be caused by something else but must be the causer of everything else

     

    2. Principle of external creator—the creator is ‘outside’ the creation

    Since there is something rather than nothing we are led to ask, “How did it get here?”

    This is illustrated by taking all matter in the universe and putting it into the circle (all 'matter' is represented by the white space in the circle).

                      

    There are 4 possibilities:

        1. Matter created itself. This can't be because it would need to precede itself to create itself, which is physically and logically impossible. Also, nowhere does life arise from non-life

        2. Matter is eternal. 2nd Law of Therm. suggests that energy and matter had a beginning as usable energy is decreasing and matter can’t come from nothing

        3. The creator (X) is within the circle. (or is “matter”) This cannot be because all matter inside the circle needs a Beginner to exist and therefore needs to be created, which would make ‘X’ part of the creation not the creator.

        4. The creator (X) is outside the circle. If everything that begins to exist inside the circle is finite, contingent, dependent and changing, the creator must be separate from the creation and infinite, non-contingent, non-dependent, and unchanging and can create at will.

    The statement ‘if God created everything, who/what created God?’ is not valid because God must necessarily exist for our reality to exist, therefore God cannot have a ‘creator’—God cannot not exist if we exist

    John 1:3Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.

     

    3. The human regression evidence--what can we logically deduce from our existence?

    Our cause and effect system gives strong evidence for an uncaused Causer.

    1. Some things undeniably exist like myself—I cannot deny my existence without affirming it.
    2. My non-existence is possible.
    3. Whatever has the possibility not to exist (me), is currently caused to exist by another. (mother/father)
    4. There cannot be an infinite regress of current causes of existence.
    5. Therefore, a first uncaused cause of my current existence exists.
    6. This uncaused cause must be infinite, unchanging, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-perfect. (Nothing can impose limits on the cause of everything—whatever power/characteristics the Cause has, it has in totality)
    7. This infinitely perfect being is appropriately called God.
    8. Therefore God exists.
    9. This God who exists is identical to the God described in the Christian Bible.
    10. Therefore, the God described in the Bible exists.
    (Excerpts from Geisler, Christian Apologetics)

        Before we could see air molecules with machines, air still existed. People 1000 years ago would have been foolish to believe that air as an entity did not exist—but now we see it does. It’s the same with God. The evidence is there. Just like the people 1000 years ago, don’t think that because you don’t see/experience God now as a Person that it won’t happen some day!

        Just because you cannot 'see' or experience something in the immediate physical world does not mean it does not exist (love, gravity, radio waves, light spectrum that cannot be seen with the eye, etc.)

        You can choose to believe there is no air or love or gravity or radio waves because you can’t see it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it exists. You see, hear, and feel its effects in the world without observing the actual origination of the event. The evidence lets you know it is there. It’s the same with God. You can choose to believe there is no God but that doesn’t change the fact that there is. You can choose against the evidence but you would be a fool to do so.

    Jim Jackson


  • Are You a Yelping Christian?

     

    When planning an activity, date night, or a visit to an unfamiliar place, I use a few online tools to aid my research. Yelp and Trip Advisor are two of my favorite places to get ratings and reviews on local activities, restaurants, and lodging for wherever it is that I may be going. The websites provide basic info and listings (much like an old school phone book) on businesses: addresses, phone numbers, menus, prices, etc. But the most helpful part about sites like these is the user reviews. A hotel may look like a great place to stay until a recent user review points out the large cockroach infestation. A restaurant looks like the perfect setting for a date night, until a user reports the recent drop to a 'B' rating. These user reviews provide firsthand information and insight so that other users (like me) can make good & knowledgeable decisions.

    When I visit Yelp and Trip Advisor, I do so selfishly. I only read others' reviews; I don't leave any of my own. The thought recently occurred to me, "What if no one left reviews?!" If everyone acted like me & didn't leave reviews, sites like these would lose their value.

    I figure that many of us church-goers today have the same relationship with church that I do with Yelp. We attend when it is convenient for us, or when we want or need something specific, yet we never offer our gifts, experiences, wisdom, and insight to help other members of the community. We are content to use the church, but we are often too selfish to be used in the church. Yet the church as described in God's Word clearly mandates that all Christians use their gifts to serve the community: "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 4:10-11).

    If everyone treated Yelp selfishly & refused to leave reviews to benefit others, no one else would be served. Likewise, in the church, you & I are mandated to not merely show up, but to "Yelp" so that others in the community can glorify God. The church was not set up so that a few select people could carry the majority of the work of service. The church was meant so that "each one" who has "received a gift" could come not only to be served, but to serve. As Paul writes, "For the body does not consist of one member but of many...But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be?" (1 Cor. 12:14-31).

    And so I encourage us this morning- how are you "yelping" at your local church? What gifts, talents, experience, and wisdom has God given you so that you can bless others? If you aren't active in your church, what would happen to your church if everyone had the same inactivity?

    Ryan Mann

  • Counting the Seconds vs. Counting the Cost

     

    A few weeks ago, as I was driving home from the beach, I thought, "I wonder if Tiger is winning the PGA Championship." Then I immediately thought of several ways that I could obtain this information within seconds, even though the tournament was being played 1,903 miles away. I could flip on the radio, and 710 ESPN will have updates every 20 mins or so. I could hop on the internet on my phone (while hiding it from cops) and quickly get this information within seconds.

    Often times, when it comes to obtaining information, we are impatient when cell service is bad, the internet is down, or the TV has bad reception (yes, I still have a "rabbit ears" antenna!). We 'count the seconds' until we can obtain this information. In fact many successful industries make it their sole purpose to make the world smaller, to make you and me more "connected" to anyone and anything from anywhere.

    I really do love this. I love that I can follow the Angels from Chino, even if they're playing in Chicago. I love that I can communicate instantaneously with great friends in Israel, England, Australia, New York, Texas, Washington, and basically any other location. However, I have seen in myself and in those believers around me a tendency that our "information age" has created. Everything is so simple, so efficient, so "google", so instantaneous- except spiritual growth. I can get you any information you may need in seconds (though if you ask me to do it for you I will send you a snide link to www.lmgtfy.com). But you or I cannot be like Jesus in seconds. We cannot learn the intracacies of God's Word or God's character in seconds. We cannot successfully evangelize to our friends in seconds. We cannot kill our sin in seconds. We cannot counsel each other through trials in seconds. Spiritual growth, discipleship, pursuing Christlikeness is something that bears fruit in years. It is a grand task for which we must count the cost.

    Much of my spiritual struggle in my pursuit of Christ in post-college days has come because it is not easy, it is not "efficient" on the surface, and it doesn't always grant instant gratification. I also see many peers and fellow church members who seem to think that sanctification should be structured more like a Google Search or a Starbucks Drive-Thru.

    But I humbly remind myself and you that we must count the cost. We are giving our lives to Jesus, and he is taking us on a journey of knowing him and becoming like him. You should pursue him this second, but results may not appear for you this second. His plans and his ways are much grander and much bigger than we can imagine. True commitment causes a pursuit of Christ, a study of His word, a commitment to church & discipleship to last for decades, not seconds. May we not allow our "counting the seconds" culture destroy our "counting the cost" discipleship.

    "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’"

    Ryan Mann

  • God Will Dissolve Your Ipad...

     

     

    Behold 2 Peter 3:9-13...

    The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

    I was so impacted by these verses this morning.

    These verses have all the aspects of God's redemptive plan wrapped up in a compact space.

    1. God is a Lover. God wants all of His humans-made-in-His-likeness to come to Him and repent of their wicked and sinful lives.

    2. God is Patient. God's patience suspends His judgment because His love propels His desire to keep on drawing those who will come to Him.

    3. God is not Patient Forever. God will draw the curtain of history to a close someday and wrap up shop on everything He has made.

    4. God is a Destroyer. God will dissolve or bring to nothing the entire universe and everything inside of it that is unrighteous. That includes stars, moons, ants and anything tainted by sin (everything).

    5. God expects us to have an End-of History View. If everything will be dissolved this way how should we live? For the 'now' and physical or for the 'later' and eternal?

    6. God is a giver of Righteousness. Through the repentance of humans and the accepting of Jesus' righteousness that we cannot generate for ourselves, God makes us righteous so we can live for eternity in a place that is totally regenerated and righteous--the new heaven and new earth...without ipads...

    It is amazing to consider that we may get to see this event from heaven with God when He recreates everything just like the angels did when this universe was created. Maybe God will let you watch your ipad melt...nooooooooooooooooooooo! Live for eternity today!

    Jim Jackson

  • A Soul's Beauty is Deep Waters...

    A beautiful woman giving up a 6-figure income to try and honor Jesus...who knew?

    video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2012/02/victorias-secret-model-quits-to-reserve-body-for-my-husband/

    One Victoria’s Secret angel might be turning her back on lingerie modeling but she’s not giving up her modeling wings. Model Kylie Bisutti, 21, has decided to leave Victoria’s Secret because it clashes with her Christian beliefs. “I just became so convicted of honoring the Lord and my body and wanting to be a role model for other women out there who look up to me,” Bisutti said today on “Good Morning America.”

    The California native beat out 10,000 hopefuls in 2009 to win the Victoria’s Secret Model Search. She was 19 and recently married at the time. But wearing the coveted angel wings and walking the runway with Adriana Lima and Miranda Kerr wasn’t quite what Bisutti had hoped for. “I was growing in my relationship with the Lord and my faith. I’m a strong believing Christian,” Bisutti told “GMA” of how her thoughts on the job she has described as her “absolutely biggest goal in life” began to change. “It was more of just a heart issue for me,” she said.

    Though Bisutti has cited her husband and her desire to keep their marriage special as factors in her decision to leave her lingerie modeling days behind, she said the decision was hers alone. “He was so, so supportive of me and I’m so thankful that he let me grow and let me come to this decision on my own,” she said of her husband. Bisutti’s decision to leave the lingerie company was also spurred on by an encounter with her 8-year-old cousin. “I was doing my makeup in the mirror one day and she was watching me,” Bisutti said. “She looked at me and was like, ‘You know, I think I want to stop eating so I can look like you.’” “It just broke my heart because she looks up to me and I didn’t want to be that type of person that she thought she had to do that to be beautiful,” she said. “Thousands of girls that think that being beautiful is an outer issue and really it’s a heart issue.”

    On Dec. 1, one day after the nationally televised Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, in which Bisutti didn’t appear, aired, the model posted to her Twitter page, “For all of you that were looking for me in the Victorias Secret runway show this year, I wasn’t in it. I have decided not to model lingerie Because I personally feel that I am not honoring God or my husband by doing it.

    My marriage is very important & with divorce rates rising I want to do everything I can to protect my marriage and be respectful to my husband. God graciously gave me this marriage and this life and my desire is to live a Godly faithful life, I don’t however judge others for what they do. Everyone is convicted on different levels.” Bisutti says her headline-making decision does not mean she is giving up her modeling career altogether.

    “I’m definitely going to pursue modeling,” she said on “GMA.” “I just want to be more wholesome about it and the jobs that I am going to choose are always going to be honoring the Lord.”

    Jim Jackson

  • Spiritual Thanksgiving Dinner

     

     

    Hunger does strange things to people. It can cause people to become irritable. It can make people lose focus. It is so important that the hungrier people become, the more desperate they usually become. Even the current marketing strategy for Snickers is 'You're not you when you're hungry'.

     

    There have been times when I have been so hungry I have dreamt about food and almost tasted the food. In fact, we are so biologically designed to desire food that we start to automatically salivate when we smell or see food we enjoy.

    The Bible says the same is true of our souls. Humans are designed with an insatiable appetite for God. This comes out in the form of worship or 'giving worth to something or someone'. Worship is a value system instituted by a person for the depth of control surrendered to another entity. The only problem is, instead of turning to God and giving Him the attention and devotion due Him, humans worship self and self interest. So they end up trying to fill their correct appetite for God with the superficial vanity of self. It is similar to trying to fill your starving stomach with the air of a balloon. Although you may become bloated, it does not produce health nor long term satisfaction.

    This brings us to spiritual eating. Where do you get 'fed'? Although it is true we must feed on God's word individually, especially in our day and age when we have God's word in almost every format imaginable--written on paper, digital documents, video and audio, the Bible says God has chosen special men to speak His words to His people. This is known as the 'church' gathered together to learn together. I have had many great and rewarding times with God by myself studying and absorbing His word, but I have had the most consistently spiritually rewarding moments with others gathered together to learn and worship. Every Sunday should be a thanksgiving holiday.

    Every sermon should be a thanksgiving dinner. Every believer should be a thanksgiving participant. Everyone should leave church well fed on the word of God. Shame on the spiritual shepherds that starve their flock with their own words or teach an unbalanced perspective on God to the harm of their sheep. Deception runs rampant in our world and unsuspecting, spiritually starving people wander around looking for food and they eat whatever is near them no matter how unhealthy. How damning that they cannot find a good meal in churches many of them attend! What kind of climate are we in that much of the preaching that reaches peoples ears is neither healthy nor biblical. It might not tickle the ear all the time but if it is what is needed to bring wholeness then let it be brought forward.

    I fear for shepherds who keep throwing out sermons of 'peace and happiness' when it is like filling the stomachs of their flock with air rather than food they can use. Their souls may indeed want to passionately pursue God but they are so malnourished they cannot follow. You are designed to worship God and burn with the energy given from God's word. May we find it this Sunday--this 'thanksgiving'!

    Jim Jackson

  • God's Spiritual Groundhog Day

     

     

    In the 1993 movie 'Groundhog's Day', Bill Murray's character is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he can learn to give up his selfishness. This mind-numbing reality of going through the same motions and conversations and experiences day after day would drive any sane person to insanity. In fact, it is precisely this idea that drives Murray's character to change--because he couldn't stand doing the same things over and over infinitely never having a real 'life'.

    As I have been teaching through the books of the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy) and now having just finished the book of Joshua at Revive, I am struck with the nearly unbelievable idea that God, who is eternal, has to deal with the SAME issues with EACH person--ALL the time. Not only has God had to deal with sinful people who act the same, speak the same, and think the same since He created the first one (Adam) in the garden of Eden, but He has to reteach each new generation the same things over and over and over and over and over and...well, you get the idea. Looking at the history of people in their interaction with God, the Bible records that God has to patiently work with each new generation almost from scratch. Imagine that.

    It is not just one person who God must connect with, convict, convert, counsel, comfort, correct, and care for, but billions of people. Each person, their whole lives. Everyday (which it's always continually 'day' somewhere where people are awake doing something, so there is no 'break' for God). So, right now God must manage trillions of decisions for the 6 billion people on earth at this moment. This is not to mention the billions of people who have already existed since the beginning of time. Meaning God as been 'reliving' the same issues and problems (and also joys and happiness) over and over and over for thousands of years for billions of people that have made trillions of decisions.

    Wow. That kind of patience for humanity is unreal. Beyond comprehension. This is an aspect of God I have never really considered until I started to see the sinful patterns of humanity played out on the pages of the Bible in a continuous, irritating and embarassing storyline. I am amazed by God for many things. However this new appreciation for Him and His love for humanity to save and love and shepherd us is mind-blowing. We get mad when our child or spouse or dog won't listen after the second or third time, imagine trillions of times...

    "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" Romans 2:4

    "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

    Wow. True. Thank God!

    Jim Jackson

  • God's Spiritual Groundhog Day

     

    In the 1993 movie 'Groundhog's Day', Bill Murray's character is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he can learn to give up his selfishness. This mind-numbing reality of going through the same motions and conversations and experiences day after day would drive any sane person to insanity. In fact, it is precisely this idea that drives Murray's character to change--because he couldn't stand doing the same things over and over infinitely never having a real 'life'.

    As I have been teaching through the books of the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy) and now having just finished the book of Joshua at Revive, I am struck with the nearly unbelievable idea that God, who is eternal, has to deal with the SAME issues with EACH person--ALL the time. Not only has God had to deal with sinful people who act the same, speak the same, and think the same since He created the first one (Adam) in the garden of Eden, but He has to reteach each new generation the same things over and over and over and over and over and...well, you get the idea.

    Looking at the history of people in their interaction with God, the Bible records that God has to patiently work with each new generation almost from scratch. Imagine that. It is not just one person who God must connect with, convict, convert, counsel, comfort, correct, and care for, but billions of people. Each person, their whole lives. Everyday (which it's always continually 'day' somewhere where people are awake doing something, so there is no 'break' for God). So, right now God must manage trillions of decisions for the 6 billion people on earth at this moment. This is not to mention the billions of people who have already existed since the beginning of time. Meaning God as been 'reliving' the same issues and problems (and also joys and happiness) over and over and over for thousands of years for billions of people that have made trillions of decisions.

    Wow. That kind of patience for humanity is unreal. Beyond comprehension. This is an aspect of God I have never really considered until I started to see the sinful patterns of humanity played out on the pages of the Bible in a continuous, irritating and embarassing storyline. I am amazed by God for many things. However this new appreciation for Him and His love for humanity to save and love and shepherd us is mind-blowing. We get mad when our child or spouse or dog won't listen after the second or third time, imagine trillions of times...

    "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" Romans 2:4

    "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

    Wow. True. Thank God!

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