Category Archives: Science

Discussion about SCIENCE and ENGINEERING – All SCIENCE and all ENGINEERING. If there is a SCIENCE or ENGINEERING discipline that interests me, you will find it here.

A New Dynamic

When I started LRPSP three plus years ago, I had no intention or desire to have a blog.  I did not set out to simply archive my thoughts for all the world to peruse. If you have read any of them and taken pause, been blessed, or given new thought to some subject, then I am truly humbled and pleased.  However this was not my original goal.

What I really envisioned when I started this journey was a discussion. A debate of ideas. And debates and discussions take multiple parties. The Scriptures say that  “iron sharpens iron”. And one lone voice cannot sharpen itself nor lead others to sharpen themselves.

I have long believed that we must each run our own race. I can no more stand before God in your stead than you can stand before Him in mine.  Therefore you must grow as I must grow. And you must seek truth as I must seek truth. And hopefully I may intone a thought that inspires others to think deeper, but others will intone a thought that causes me to think deeper.  I don’t want to just share on a blog, I want others to begin or continue a journey in their lives that will lead them to a Creator that loves them and desires a personal relationship with them, as He does me.

I have also desired to consolidate voices into one strong accord. A choir of voices if you will. A choir is made up of parts, yet when they sing together, each part comes out in beautiful harmony that pleases the soul.  I know your time is valuable.  And I also know that there are many great voices, most much greater than mine, out there that may bring true value to your life.  I’ve desired to bring voices together here on LRPSP to help maximize your time and search for that material.  I’ve longed to build that choir.

Today I am very happy to announce that LRPSP is beginning to build that choir.  It is with great humbleness and honor that I welcome a new Contributing Editor to this site.  My Christian Brother Mitch White is joining LRPSP to add his voice and his part to the discussions that take place here.

This will afford you, those that linger on this site to read a few words, a new perspective.  You will now be able to consider topics from a different point of view and perspective.  And I know that will bring even greater insight and blessing to your life.

Welcome Brother Mitch, to LRPSP.  I, and I hope others, look forward to all that God has to share with us through your voice.  It is truly a New Day here on LRPSP and it is exciting to look forward to all God has in store for us as we each journey to know the Great I Am more personally in each of our lives.

Does Your Life Have Meaning?

Here we are at another Easter.  April 16, 2017 is the 55th Easter I have encountered in my life.  Many of my early Easters were spent with family and friends hunting for Easter Eggs, trying to fill baskets with Easter candy, and having Easter Day meals.  All of these have been joyous occasions and comprise many happy memories.  But none of these ascribe meaning to my life, or meaning to my very existence.  However, the meaning of Easter, the true meaning of Easter, the Religious aspect of Easter does bring meaning and value to life and to my existence.

I had the great honor and privilege of attending a talk by Dr. Ravi Zacharias this past week.  I’ve mentioned Dr. Zacharias in my posts on occasions in the past and consider him the greatest Christian Apologist in the world, alive today.  In his talk this past week he talked about four elements to the ultimate pursuit of Truth in one’s life.  He stated that those four elements are ‘Origin, Meaning, Morality, and Destiny’.  These four elements are all met in the celebration that is Easter Sunday.

Today you really have but one question of existential relevance before you.  And that is “Do you believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead?”  Because how you answer that question will shape your world view and provide the foundation for how you conduct yourself in your life.

If you answer the question with a resounding “Yes” you should be compelled to believe that He is the only person in human history to ever do so of His own accord and that would lead you to find relevance in all His other claims – that He is who He said He was, the Son of the one true and living God.  That He came to die for our sins, and to bring life more abundantly.

If you answer the question with a flat “No” or a “maybe” or an “I don’t know” the rest of His claims are left in doubt and bring no relevance to your life.

But how you answer the question is how you will discover whether or not the four elements are met.

Science may claim to answer the question of ‘Origin’, where we came from, but it cannot answer the questions of ‘Meaning’ or ‘Morality’, or ‘Destiny’.  The answers to those question ring hollow and are without substance with the pursuit of Science.

Philosophy may claim to have the answers to ‘Meaning’ or ‘Morality’ or ‘Destiny’ but without an ‘Origin’ these answers do not provide purpose or relevance to one’s life.

However, there is one answer that provides all four.  If Jesus Christ did rise from the dead, as is recorded in history, then His claims of being the Son of God must also be true and that must mean there is a God.  And that answers the question of ‘Origin’.  If Jesus Christ did indeed rise from the dead, then we must be created beings, made by a living God.

If Jesus Christ is who He said He was, then the account of Genesis must be accurate and true and that answers the question of ‘Morality’ and gives meaning to right and wrong.

If Jesus Christ is who He said He was, then the purpose of His coming to earth, of dying for our sin, of providing us a path to a more abundant life, must also be true.  And that answers the question of ‘Meaning’.  It provides a purpose to our lives.  Not one that we invented or made up, but one that the One True God laid down from the foundation of time.

And if Jesus Christ rose from the dead, as history records, then the warning of a Heaven and a Hell must also be true.  And that answers the question of ‘Destiny’.  We can know why we are here and what our ultimate endpoint in all of eternity will be.

The reality of ‘Origin, Meaning. Morality, and Destiny’ are all met in the person and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  No other pursuit of Truth, relevance, or logical consistency are met anywhere else in life,  Only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ do we find answers to all four elements.

So the question is – “Do you believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead?”  But before you answer, let me pose another question to you, and that is “For how long have people been trying to get you to believe that the answer to the question is no?”  Would you believe me if I told you that the answer is “Since the day He died”?  Because on the day He died He was sealed in a tomb and a Roman Guard was placed to watch over it.  Why?  Why would a Roman Guard be placed to keep watch over a sealed tomb of a carpenter from Galilee who had been executed upon a cross?  If not to keep you from learning that He had risen from the dead?

Why were Christians persecuted from the earliest of times and sacrificed in the Roman Colosseum?  To keep you from learning that He had risen from the dead.

Why have governments for centuries tried to control and stamp out the Christian faith?  To keep you from learning He had risen from the dead.

Why does Science teach evolution and denounce the Bible?  Why is the world seemingly so threatened by the Christian faith?  To keep you from learning He had risen from the dead.  And what does it threaten them?  After 2,000 years, why is the world so consumed with you not knowing that He has risen from the dead?

The answer is because He is the TRUTH, the Life, and the Way.  And that TRUTH meets all four elements of ‘Origin, Meaning, Morality, and Destiny’.  And that threatens not the world, but rather the Prince of this world, Satan himself.  He does not want you to know the TRUTH.  And thus he does everything in his power to propagate the lies.

Does your life have meaning?  You can find new purpose and meaning in your life today by knowing the TRUTH, the Way, and the Life.  Purpose and meaning are found in the person of Jesus Christ.  But that truth starts at the foot of the cross and is found in an empty tomb.  And is obtained through belief in Him.

WHY DID THE TREE HAVE A NAME?

I have a question, the answer to which, is not 42.  The answer, “42”, is an esoteric reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a science fiction work by Douglas Adams.  In Douglas Adams’ fantasy realm, the Earth is actually a Super Computer, named Deep Thought, running a 10 million year-long program to calculate the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything“.  A rather fanciful way of asking “What is the meaning of it all?”  And the answer, “42”, has become a euphemism to state “The answer is too complicated for you to understand”.

In reality, the question asked in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is not too complicated to be understood, as long as one goes to the correct source to research the answers.  And that source is the Book Of Life, the Bible, which is the real guide to the universe that God himself provided to mankind.

Of all the other sources available to us, none provides an exact answer to the questions surrounding good and evil with the clarity and finality that the Bible does.  Not Science, nor Religion, nor Philosophy, nor Politics, nor any other source you may care to name.  The answer to the meaning of it all is found in the Bible.  And at the root of that study is the answer to good and evil.

In Genesis chapters 1 & 2, we have the great creation story.  And within that story we have the Garden of Eden with two main inhabitants, Adam and Eve.  And very early on we are introduced to the concept of good and evil.  In Genesis 2:9 God made the plants to grow in the Garden of Eden, two of which, had a name,  One is the Tree of Life and the other is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  And my question today is: “Why were those trees, specifically, named?”  Of all the plants that must have grown within the garden, two were specifically, and deliberately named.  Why did the tree have a name?

The first tree, the Tree of Life, is interesting in and of itself.  It’s purpose is found in Genesis 3:22.  Eat of the Tree of Life, and you live forever.  Pretty straight forward.  Perhaps I’ll come back and revisit the Tree of Life someday, but for now, the tree I’d like to contemplate is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  This tree brought death.  At least the taking of the fruit did (Genesis 2:17).  God specifically said that the day Adam ate of this tree, he would surely die.  This is an interesting statement to me because at that time the world did not know death.  Neither Adam nor Eve had any basis for understanding death.  And yet they clearly understood that there were consequences associated with eating of the fruit of this tree.

However, eating of the tree also brought something else.  It brought with it knowledge.  Specifically knowledge of what was good and what was evil.  This is interesting to me because the tree brought knowledge of, not the substance of.  And knowledge is gained by learning, by being taught of something, or by discovery.  Clearly the concept of, and the very existence of, both good and evil existed before the Garden of Eden.  Otherwise there would not have been a tree that provided knowledge of them.

It is also clear who the teacher of the knowledge was (and who held the knowledge prior to the planting of the tree).  In Genesis 3:4-5 the Serpent told Eve that  God knew her eyes would be opened, as gods, knowing good and evil.  Obviously for God to know this, he had to have prior knowledge of good and evil.  And this is not a situation of God possessing all knowledge (epignosis) as the Serpent was aware as well, prior to either Adam or Eve eating of the fruit.

No, God did not simply know the future, that Eve, and then Adam would eat of the fruit of the tree and that evil would suddenly enter into the world.  Evil was a concept that already existed and could be taught.

I also note that the Serpent was partially accurate in what he relayed to Eve.  The tree really did bring knowledge of good and evil.  And more to the point, that knowledge made Adam and Eve (and by extension all of human kind) as gods (Genesis 3:22).  God acknowledges that Adam and Eve had become like Him (the phrase “as one of us” is in reference to the triune God in the form of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) to know good and evil.  That is, by eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they had learned of good and evil.  And human kind has known of good and evil ever since.

The sin, for Adam and Eve, was disobeying God and eating of the fruit.  The consequences that it brought into the world is knowledgeKnowledge that humans did not know how to deal with then, and still don’t know how to deal with today.  Dangerous knowledge that God had intentionally protected with  a commandment that Adam and Eve not eat of the fruit of the tree.  God did not warn Adam and Eve of the knowledge they would gain or the consequences thereof.  The Serpent did that.  And he did it rather convincingly since Eve understood that the fruit of the tree would make one wise (Genesis 3:6).

It is interesting to me that the definition for the word wise contains the words power, discernment, and judgement.  Because that is exactly what most of us think of ourselves as.  Powerful, discerning, and judges of right and wrong.  We have become as gods, all because of knowledge of good and evil.  Knowledge that is dangerous in our hands.  Is it any wonder that Christ warned us not to judge (Matthew 7:1-5)?  Because though we may be as gods, we are not The God, who judges rightly and perfectly in every case.

Another thing that knowledge of good and evil does to us is to make us believe we are self-sufficient.  We have power (knowledge), and discernment (to chart our own course), and judgment (to rightly align those around us).  Nothing is further from the truth.  It is the greatest deception of all time.  Those are exactly the things we should be crying out to God for and relying solely on Him to provide in our lives.  But because we have not, we stand in our own understanding and then wonder why we have conflict and struggle in the world.

So you see, there is a reason as to why the tree had a name.  The question is, are we going to understand the reason and apply it to our lives?

A Sad Occurance

I was in a fast food restaurant today and I ordered a hamburger meal (realizing that many in the world today do not have even that simple privilege, and if they do, quite a few do not have the means to act upon it) and I chose a table near the back where I thought I would not be disturbed and sat down to eat.

There was an older woman and a young girl sitting at the table next to me.  The young girl was white, blonde hair, and appeared to be around the age of first or second grade.  The woman appeared to be of Spanish decent (I could not say which) and I was guessing she was the little girls Grandmother.  In the Philippines my wife’s family would call her Lola.

The young girl was acting up.  She clearly was not happy being there and she was acting out in every way imaginable.  She told the lady I perceived to be her Grandmother to “shut up”, that she “was not going to eat her meal” and that she “could do whatever pleased her”.  At one point she picked up some food off the table and threw it at the older lady, started to kick her under the table, and when she was threatened with not getting the toy that came with her meal, quickly grabbed it and proclaimed it hers and that no one else could have it.  At one point the older woman, who was clearly displeased with the way the young girl was acting, mentioned that she was drawing attention to herself and that if she did not behave, they would have to leave.  The young girls reaction was fairly predictable at that point as she proclaimed that she could do what she wanted and that no one could make her leave.

This went on for several minutes until the older woman looked over at me and said to the little girl that “the man sitting at the next table was looking at her wondering why she was being such a bad little girl”,  Of course the little girl did not care.  The little girl continued to carry on her temper tantrum and the older woman looked over at me and told her that I was going to be upset if she did not behave.

I leaned over at this point and addressed the older lady telling her that the little girl probably was not aware that I was a minister.  The little girl immediately looked annoyed and asked “What’s a minister?”.  To which the older lady said “Why don’t you ask him?”  I told the little girl that a Minister was a Pastor, thinking that she might understand that better.  But she quickly replied “What’s a Pastor?”  I told her a Pastor was someone who manages and teaches at a Church.  The next question surprised me a little (although it shouldn’t have), she looked at me and said “What’s a Church?”.  And I thought ‘How do you describe a Church to a first or second grade child that clearly has no context to draw upon’?  I asked her if she had ever passed a Church on her way to school or the store.  And it was clear she still had no context from which to draw upon.  I turned back to my meal thinking that there was no way to make any headway with the little girl and that any further conversation was a lost cause.

Now don’t get me wrong, I was no angel when I was her age (and older).  But I did know what a Church was and I did have some sense of when I was not acting rightly or pleasing to my parents.  This little girl was void of any understanding of a Church, or Religion, or the concept of a God in her life.  And I would argue she was void of any social understanding or of good behavior in general.  She was the center of her own universe and only interested in what pleased her or met her own whim at the moment.  She clearly lacked a Theology in her life.

I have no idea whatsoever of the Theology of the older woman I perceived to be her Grandmother, or her parents, or of any other adult figure in her life.  But I did consider that this is a grave area of failed development in the youth of the world today.  We are literally seeing a generation of children being raised without a concept of God or a Theology all around us in the world today.  And it saddened me.  I left the restaurant despondent at the prospects of where we are headed as a society and as a people trying to make our way in the world today.

If you are agnostic, I get that.  I understand how you would not consider a Religion (any religion) as something that would be of concern or interest to how you live or govern your life.  But consider this, a child without the concept of a Religion is void of an important aspect in their social development.  They have no basis whatsoever for establishing a morality in their own lives and for understanding their purpose in the world.  Would the social interaction and concepts of a Church or a religion be so damaging to a young child that it would rob them of something important in their lives or social development?  I think not.

If you are atheistic, I get that also.  I understand how you may struggle, even abhor religions, and in some extreme cases consider them a danger.  But again, consider the results that we see in our children growing up without the social interaction of a Church.  How can a child make any sense of a grounded science, that of Theology, if they have no concept of what it even provides in their life?  What is so damaging, so uncontrollably horrific that they cannot be taught the tenants of what Religions teach and stand for?

If you are theistic, then there is simply no excuse.  The Jewish and Christian religions teach that you should “Train up a child in the way they should go and when they are older they will not depart from it“.  Other religions at the very least teach one that they should consider the desires of others, trying to make the world a better place.  To be considerate in their actions and to take the path void of conflict unless truly faced with no other choice.

What about you?  Are you concerned with the youth of today?  Clearly the great social experiments in the world today are failing us, developing a generation that is void of any moral understandings or a foundation of a Theology that may very well provide the basis of that moral understanding.

Isn’t it time for us to stop and take stock of what we, as a people, are developing as a future path for the world and ask whether or not we are on the right path?  I think so, and hope you would give it serious consideration as well.

Do You Have Wisdom to Share?

There are a few types of knowledge in this world.  There is the scholarly knowledge that is taught and gained in schools.  Some of it may be correct, accurate, and true.  While some of it may be questionable.

Take for example the study of mathematics.  In every culture and in every land we have an understanding of at least simple math.  Everyone understands (or should understand) that 1 plus 1 is equal to 2.  That is if you have 1 apple and then I give you another apple, you have just had your total quantity of apples grow.  And your new total of apples is now 2.

But then you have those that are wise in math and they will tell you that 1 plus 1 is equal to 10.  IF you use base 2 (binary) math.  In other words for a mathematician, it is important to state exactly which math you are talking about.  They want to represent the correct number base and ensure everyone is following the same set of rules.  There is a level of knowledge displayed that goes beyond the every day use of most people counting their apples, BUT it does not alter their understanding of the number of apples they may (or may not) possess.

Then there are studies that are not quite as concrete.  Take for example the study of evolution.  There are those that want to teach biological evolution concerning the alteration or transformation of one species into another as fact.  When they know (and actually have full knowledge) that it is simply a theory and is not repeatable and indeed is unprovable.

The science of evolution is constantly changing, constantly growing, and constantly evolving as people perceive to gain new insights and knowledge and thus alter their thinking on the subject.

I’ve mentioned a book written by an acquaintance of mine in past blog posts.  The book is: “The Word of God A Logical and Moral Dilemma“.  In chapter 5 of his book, titled “The Reality Of God”, my friend writes:

“During my early conversations with creationists, I often presented the scientific viewpoint during our creation vs. evolution discussions.  That is, I used small scientific facts, such as the existence of pelvises in ancient whales and the existence of gill slits and tails in embryonic humans, as evidence that God didn’t create the world beginning with an evolved state of nature.  I made very little headway in my debates, and usually departed from my encounters cursing the “blindness” of my opponent.”

(Eric Brownlee, The Word of God A Logical and Moral Dilemma, Writers Club Press, 2001, Lincoln, NE, ISBN: 0-595-19417-6, pg. 85)

The problem is, we now know that the ‘gill slits‘ in embryonic humans (and I would argue the ‘tails’ as well) are not what we used to think they were.  As a matter of fact, it has now been proven that the scientist, Ernst Haeckel, who is sometimes credited with this “discovery” (it is more an observation), actually faked his drawings and misrepresented the truth (Human Gill Slits).  In other words, we’ve come to a new understanding and know that the statement that human embryos have gill slits is just wrong (Evolutionary Point of View).  An Answers In Genesis article on the subject may be found here.

So here we have wisdom (it was originally represented as scientific fact) that is neither wise nor very long lived.  Certainly not like the mathematical fact given in my first example.

Thus our wisdom grows and gains new insights.

But what about spiritual wisdom?  Surely something so critical as to bringing understanding to the creator and guidance in our own lives, we don’t want to take chances with, right?  We want to make sure we have the right understanding, or at least the best understanding from as early a point in time as possible.

Spiritual wisdom is not too unlike early wisdom, it comes by learning, and learning comes by asking questions.  The difference is, knowing who and how to ask.  When our earthly wisdom is challenged, such as in the case of human embryos having gills, a little bit of research, asking the right questions reveals the answer.  Now there may be those that colloquially make reference to my blindness (see definition # 2) however I am going to claim that it is their own blindness since main stream evolutionist don’t even have that understanding anymore.  The point is, if I am willing to challenge the understanding and ask the right questions of the right resources, I am able to learn an answer and grow my understanding.

The same is true with Spiritual wisdom, but you have to know who to ask.  Fortunately there is an answer within the Bible.  It is found in James 1:5-8.  James tells us that if we lack wisdom (Spiritual wisdom) we simply need to ask of God, and God will provide us with wisdom liberally (see the origin of the word.  Here it means generously).

And I love the fact that the verse tells us that God gives to ALL MEN, without regard for Christian, or Atheist, or Agnostic, or any other Religion or world view.  Why would God do that?  Wouldn’t God just reserve wisdom for those that know him and are his children?  Of course not!  Otherwise, how are we even to discover him in the first place?  God wants us to know him.  He wants us to be curious about him.  And he wants us to discover him, to learn about him, and to have knowledge and understanding of him.  And this comes through wisdom from him.  He gives to all who ask him, and he gives with great abundance, BECAUSE he wants us to discover him.

But note the condition.  You have to truly ask in Faith believing that God will answer your request and will grant you the wisdom you seek.  In other words, you had better believe that God is there and capable of providing an answer.  If your predisposition is that science has given you all the facts of evolution and there is no God, you cannot be running to God asking him to provide you wisdom of himself.  That is not truly seeking after God.  That is simply convincing yourself that the lie you believe is justified.

I sincerely hope that no one believes I have any great wisdom to share.  Rather I hope that for earthly wisdom you will do due diligence and seek out the right answers.  And for Spiritual wisdom that you will ask of God, in Faith, believing he will answer you and provide the wisdom that you seek.

Do You Have A Right To Die?

The world is officially losing its mind.  At least we are here in the United States of America (and probably most other Western cultures as well).

California became the fifth State this week to pass a Right To Die law.  For some reason there are those that seem rather gleeful about this.  This law supposedly gives those that are terminally ill the choice to end their own lives through doctor supplied drugs.

What it does, in reality, is cheapens life.  Forty-three years ago there were those here in the U.S.A. that decried the legalization of abortion predicting that it would lead to new forms of legalized, state sponsored deaths.  And here we have their predictions coming true.

Rush Limbaugh made this very case in his1992 book The Way Things Ought To Be.  Rush writes:

“But I am also pro-life because I am a human being who feels a sense of duty to civilization.  I think it is incumbent upon us all to be concerned about the values we transfer to succeeding generations.  When we take actions that cheapen life, we are contributing to the overall decline in society’s moral values.”

(Limbaugh, Rush, “The Way Things Ought To Be“,  New York, Pocket Books, 1992, ISBN: 0-671-75145-X, pg. 50)

Rush goes on to write:

 “It’s not just abortion that is eroding our respect for human life.  There’s also death at the other end of the spectrum.  Look at the right-to-die movement.  They’re not calling for a right to die, they’re mostly calling for a right to kill.”

(Limbaugh, Rush, “The Way Things Ought To Be“, New York, Pocket Books, 1992, ISBN: 0-671-75145-X, pg. 59)

At the time Rush wrote those words, Dr. Jack Kevorkian was practicing his physician assisted suicides in Michigan.  Rush addresses his work in the chapter of his book I have referenced.  Dr. Kevorkian actually was convicted in 1999 of Second Degree Homicide and served 8 years in prison for that conviction.

It is amazing that just 16 short years ago, States were prosecuting and convicting those engaged in this type of behavior and yet today they are signing that very behavior into law.  How quickly a society can change.

These laws presume to offer you a right (definition #19).  A right to die.  My first question would be: Why in the world would you want such a right?  I have never wanted a right to die.  I want a right to live.  And to live free with the pursuit of happiness.  To be all that God has made me to be.  It used to be that we made SciFi movies about people who were terminally ill and how they would freeze themselves or have their bodies put into some type of stasis so that years into the future when medicine had advanced they could be revived and cured.  Today we simply tell them they have the right to take some life ending drugs.

But my second question is: Where in the world did this right come from?  I’ve talked about rights on this Blog in the past (see my posts on: Where Do YOUR Rights Come From? as well as: Chasing After Rights).  Rights come from somewhere.  That is they are granted by some entity.  The founding fathers of this country believed there were certain inalienable rights that were granted by God.  And among those were Life.  I don’t think that God, who has granted each and every human an inalienable right to life,  has suddenly granted everyone a right to die.  So where did this right come from, if not from God?

And the only possible answer is it came from society.  It came from us.  And if society is in the business of granting rights, we have gone down a very slippery slope indeed.  Why do those in physical pain and suffering get to be granted a special right and those in emotional pain and suffering do not?  I’m going to cry foul here and tell you all about my anguish over the financial disparity between myself and Bill Gates.  I demand the right of financial equality.  It is germane to my sanity and good health.  But there is no such right.  Because God never granted it, and society could never achieve it even if it wanted to grant it.

The people that “granted” this (so-called) right never had the authority to grant such a right to begin with.  They are playing god and are only feeding their own warped egotistical existence.

My biggest problem with the (so-called) Right To Die is the same thing Rush Limbaugh identified 23 years ago.  It cheapens life.  And this is because I actually do have a Theology (something most of the world lacks).

If you are a Creationist, then you have to believe that life was created.  Depending on your particular theology, you might even go so far as to say that life is a gift from God.

My particular religion teaches that God intended for life to be abundant and joyful.  However because sin entered into the world it brought death and destruction.  Death as a consequence of sin, is the very antithesis of life.  The former is a gift, the latter is a curse.

Because of my Theology, I actually cringe whenever I encounter any type of mercy killing or humane killing.  Even with animals or pets.  My problem is that even putting an animal out of its suffering (as if that animal doesn’t want to live) is a hardening of our hearts.  It is a practice that makes it easier for us to then see our way to extending the same practice to our fellow humans.

This is not going to sit well with most of you (actually the vast majority of the world) – but the pain and suffering of death actually AMPLIFIES the great sacrifice that Jesus Christ made upon the Cross.  It is because I abhor death with such great disdain that I appreciate the Cross all the more.  It is because I understand the great sin curse of death that I come to understand Grace all the more.  It is in the pain and suffering that we learn just how much as been overcome.

“Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!”

Paul of Tarsus understood this when he wrote:

“54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” (1 Corinthians 15″54-56)

Paul understood the sting of death.  And Paul understood the great price that had been paid.  He understood death was the consequence of sin and that Jesus Christ had defeated it once and for all and had walked out of the grave victorious in Life!

So do you have a right to die?  I sincerely hope not.  I hope you have a hope to live!  And I trust that hope is found in the one who was victorious over the grave.  My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

What Are You Addicted To?

You may have noticed that the vast majority of my blog posts are titled with, or start out with, a question.  This is simply because when you study the pillars of Religion, Politics, Science, Philosophy, etc. you generally start with a premise which you then seek to disprove or prove.   When you state your premise (your proposition) it is usually best to phrase it in the form of a question (see definition #2) in order to generate interactive thought.  It also invites a response from your audience asking them to participate in the debate with you.

I start out with this bit of rather obvious understanding because sometimes, despite ones best intentions, some questions may still come across as offensive to your audience which, in some cases, will immediately put them on the defensive.  And that is the last thing I wish to have happen with this particular post because I would, literally, like to challenge (almost) all of the conventional wisdom out there on addiction and would urge you to consider it carefully.

Your first response to my title question might be “Why nothing!  I have no addictions!”  And I certainly understand why you might answer this way.  Given how we have come to define, understand, and treat addictions the world over.  But I’d like to propose a different world view, one that just might get you to rethink whether you are addicted to something or not.

Addictions come in all forms, shapes, and sizes.  We typically think of the “top five” and tend to lump everything together with them and exclude everything else.  Probably the number one or number two thought that comes to everyone’s mind when I say addiction is either alcohol or drugs.  And certainly no one should disagree that these substances are addictive.  Alcoholism has been around almost since the beginning of time.  According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism nearly 16.6 million people in the United States suffer from Alcohol Use Disorders (AUD).

I trust you will grant me the fact that I could come up with statistics on most (or all) of the common addictions and several of the ones you might believe are questionable as well.  For drug abuse statistics in the U.S., you might check the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  I am not discussing alcohol or drugs, but rather addictions.  These are just common and well known addictions.

We might also think of tobacco (listed on the NIH site), food, or gambling addictions to round out our top five.

We could even get into more esoteric addictions such as sex, compulsive spending, Internet, or even video gaming addictions.  But what if I were to propose Christianity?  Have you ever known anyone addicted to Christianity?  I have.  And let’s be clear here, what we’re really talking about is a Religious disorder, someone acting in a manner they perceive their religion would prescribe or require.  Recall our definition of addiction would include anything that would cause us to habitually practice something that is repetitious to the extent to cause anxiety upon withdrawal.

What about prayer?  Could one be addicted to prayer?  And if you were, what would be so bad about that?  After all, shouldn’t we pray all the time (I Thessalonians 5:17)?  I would submit that one can be addicted to prayer.  And that it is not a good thing.  I would even contend that we have been specifically warned against it (Matthew 6:6-8).  Praying with “vain repetitions” is a clear sign of “prayer addiction“.

My point here is that there are addictions far more reaching and more subtle than the vast majority of the world would ever give credence to.  And not only that, they also affect every single person who walks upon this Earth.  Given enough time and effort, I would guarantee you that I could find your addiction.  And addictions are not universal either.  Whatever you find addicting, may not phase me in the least.  And my addictions may be completely boring and unfathomable to you.  Addictions, physical and psychological, are a part of all of our lives and affect all us either directly or indirectly.

And yet with all of the self-help efforts out there, with all of the clinics, and the rehabilitation centers, and the support groups, I never hear anyone address or define addictions correctly.  It just doesn’t happen, or rarely happens such that it is hidden in the noise.

My explanation for addictions is: that compulsive behavior that takes over our lives when we allow our lusts to surge out of control.

Please allow me to establish a bit of a foundation here.  Because this is counter to popular thinking, and I would contend that what we have been taught most of our lives (if you are contemporary) is wrong.

First of all let’s examine love.  Why?  Because it is going to become very important in just a moment.  If you look at the definition of love I’ve linked to, it would seem to cover Eros very well.  It is how the ancient Greeks represented sexual or erotic love.  The definition might border on Philo (Philos-adelphia), or brotherly love.  What the ancient Greeks ascribed to family bonds and close friendships.  But it certainly does not even come close to Agape (see under Origin) which is a sacrificial love as only God himself can love.

When we think of love, we tend to believe that the opposite of love is hate.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  Where this falsehood started, I’ve been unable to determine, but somewhere in human history we came up with the idea that you either loved, or you hated, and that the two were mutually exclusive.  But this is not the case.  If you don’t believe me, simply think of someone you love (that you really, really love.  A with all your heart type of love).  Now tell me, in all honesty, that there is nothing that you hate about that person.  Some quirk, or action, some little nuance about them that just rubs you the wrong way and just drives you crazy.  You hate it (go back and look at the definition again if you have to).  And yet you just love the person.  But there are things you hate.  At exactly the same time.  Ergo, the two are not exclusive.  I can take this a step further with God.  God hates sin (Proverbs 6:16-19), and we are a sinful and wicked people (Romans 3:23), and yet God loves us (John 3:16).  God loves, and God hates, at exactly the same time.  The two are not mutually exclusive.

But there is something that is.  And that is lust.  God does not lust.  Neither can he lust (He is, after all, God).  And isn’t it interesting the words used in the definition of lust?  Words like uncontrolled, passionate, overmastering desire, and craving.  The exact same words one might use to describe the effects of an addiction.

God loves, but God does not lust.  The opposite of love is not hate, the opposite of love is lust.  And uncontrolled lust leads to addictions in our lives.  They are fueled by sin in the world and they are powerful and overwhelming forces.

And there is one sure fire way to deal with addictions in your life.  Replace the lust with love.  You see, when God’s love begins to permeate your life, it pushes out the lusts which curbs the addictions.

So, what are you addicted to?  Because I guarantee you whatever it is, (1) it is fueled by lust.  And (2) it can be overcome with love.  My prayer for you today is that you will allow God’s love to come into your life in order to drive out the lusts that fuel your addictions and in turn, make you a more balanced person for his service.

Are You Walking Through Fire?

Fire Walking has been a test of a person’s mettle for several thousands of years (or so the claim goes).  The afore referenced Wikipedia article places it at around 3,215 years old.

Today, many people attend seminars that supposedly help them build confidence by walking across glowing embers.  You can find a number of them with this search here.

The first one that showed up on my list (your mileage may vary)  (Firewalking Institute of Research and Education) suggests that:

“In just one four-hour seminar, you can discover your inner strength, power and confidence. Journey with us through the fire, and you’ll discover an exhilarating world where anything is possible. You’ll be guided through overcoming your fears, building your inner strength and finally, after a calm and confident walk across the red-hot coals, claiming the life of your dreams on the other side! You will profoundly understand that you can do anything you want.”

This quote is from their Seminars page.  Many of the other Self-Help, Motivational, Fire Walking symposiums will tell you the same thing in a very similar fashion, but with different words.  They are all here to help you gain confidence and change your life!

I can’t help but wonder though, if any of the gurus that guide these self-help events know about the most impressive Fire Walkers in all of history?  That would be my friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  You can read the accurate story of their encounter here.

You see my friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not just walk across some glowing embers that someone had spread out on the sand, they were cast, bound, into an oven that was so fiery, and so hot, that it literally consumed those that cast them into it (Daniel 3:22).  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego really and truly knew what it meant to walk through the fire.

I also can’t help but wonder if any of these self-help gurus are sensitive to the plights of folks all around them that Walk Through the Fire each and every day?  These would be the folks that face life’s most challenging situations head on without any or little support from those around them.

I know such people.  A coworker and friend actually.  I saw my coworker the other day, as I do most days, and he asked me what my plans were for the weekend.  I began to outline a weekend with family and friends spent at a local area theme park where we were looking forward to fun, and shows, and fine dining.  But I noticed that he had something much more troublesome on his mind.  So I paused and asked him about his plans for the weekend..

And that is when he relayed to me his story, a story he told me that no one else at work had heard yet.  My friend told me that for the past year he has been struggling to keep his marriage, and his family intact.  His wife has asked him for a divorce and he was facing some very difficult decisions regarding his home, his daughter, and his very future.  This weekend, he told me, he was going to have to sit down and have a discussion with his mother and ask to move back in with her.  And let me add some more relevancy to the story, my friend is an older gentleman and I gather his daughter is college/career age and we are talking an impact of a  marriage that spanned decades coming to an end.

My friend is Walking Though the Fire right now.  And he is walking through fire that is hotter, and more trying, and more damaging than anything the Firewalking Institute of Research and Education would ever have him walk through (or across, as the case may be).  He is walking through life changing, life impacting, and life scarring fire.  Fire that will try his faith and his very foundations in life.

So regular readers of this blog may ask the question, what exactly is your friends life foundations?  Well, he is a Theist.  He believes in God.  He gave his life to Jesus Christ some 44 years ago.  And he has grown in the Lord over those years and today serves as a Deacon in his church.  He was raised in a Christian home, and I believe (based upon his active Church life) that he attempted to establish his home as such as well.

And yet God is allowing him to Walk Through the Fire.  Why?  Why does God allow His children to encounter some of the deepest, darkest, and most trying times in life?  I believe there are several reasons, but one very compelling reason is that when standing before the Judgment Seat of God, no one will be able to claim that God favored those whom he loved in such a way as to provide them an unfair advantage in their path to seek him out.  As in the case of Job of old, God says to Satan (or anyone else who will listen) “Have you considered my servant …”?

God has allowed people to Walk Though the Fire since the beginning of time.  God did not take away the fire walk from Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego, rather he allowed them to pass though it to show that he was God.  And what was their response?  It is found in Daniel 3:16-18.  GOD IS ABLE TO DELIVER US!  They knew that God could deliver them.  BUT (and that is a very important but), If he does not, WE STILL WILL NOT BOW DOWN.  Rock solid Faith.  Even when faced with the fire, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, stood on their Faith in God, no matter what.

Every time I begin to think my life is not as good as it could be, I come across a friend or a coworker, who shows me what it is really like to Walk Through the Fire all the while keeping their Faith.

If you are Walking Through the Fire today (like my friend and coworker), I pray God’s Peace, and His Mercy, and His Love, and His Grace would touch you in such a way that you would have to know you have been touched by the hand of God.  And I pray that God would carry you safely to the other side.  BUT, If he does not, I pray that like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego you would KNOW that he still is God.

The Greatest Question Of All Time …

Here it is, Easter of 2015, or Resurrection Sunday.  Many cultures around the world celebrate Easter.  Here in the U.S.A. Easter egg hunts, as well as chocolate bunnies are a great tradition.

Over the years (especially the last five or six), I’ve had various Theists (specifically those of the Christian persuasion) come to me and inquire as to whether or not I thought Easter Egg hunts were a good idea.  And I would always ask “Why wouldn’t they be?”  They are children, hunting colorful eggs, some hidden in plain sight, and filling baskets with joy and laughter.  What could possibly be wrong with that?

It is amazing to me the number of Christians that don’t have a problem with Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, but the Easter Bunny is of a questionable nature for some reason.  I suppose if you wanted to separate the Easter Egg Hunts from the Church (that is not hold them on Church property), that would be OK.  But I’ve known many churches that have all kinds of secular programs from bingo, to a 1950’s Ice Cream parlor, to even a Halloween Haunted House held on Church grounds.  I am reminded that on a couple of occasions, two great men of God told me that (1) Not everyone is called to be a Saint Francis of Assisi, and (2) God never intended for Christians NOT to have fun.

Saint Francis of Assisi believed that in order to get close to God he needed to be devoid of all worldly possessions and wait on God to provide for him. But my mentor was saying God hasn’t called everyone to take all their worldly possessions and give them to the poor.  You need look no further than Job to understand that God desires to bless his children greatly.  God also created us to have fun.  He never intended for life to be dull and boring.  And somehow I think that the laughter of little children as they inquisitively run around looking for colorful eggs, warms the heart of God.

My point here is that we spend all of our time worrying about the less important questions rather than THE important question.  We can have all the holier-than-thou discussions in the world, (i.e. I am holier than you are because I don’t taint Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ, with Santa Claus) but unless we have dealt with the MOST IMPORTANT question, we’ve become sidetracked and done ourselves a great disservice.

And what is the MOST IMPORTANT question you will ever deal with in your life?  It is “Who is the person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth to you?”

Because if he is who he said he was, and if he did what history has recorded he did, and if the eye-witness accounts are correct, he could make the greatest difference to you for all of eternity.

And of all the claims, of all the acts, of all the accounts recorded of Jesus Christ, the most important one to consider is of him having DIED on the Cross and then having Risen from the dead on the third day.

Why?  Because surly only God has the authority over life and death, and if he demonstrated such, then the claims he made must be true and real and that would indeed have the greatest impact on all people who ever have lived, who are alive today, and who ever will live.

The Bible claims that Jesus Christ died on the Cross (John 19:33-35).  The record clearly states that the Roman Soldiers found Jesus Christ to have been dead upon the Cross.  Their JOB was to see that the prisoners were executed.  No Roman Soldier would have risked their own life and reputation by not carrying out their duty.  Roman Soldiers carried out their duties loyally and upon pain of death.  There were witnesses standing around.  John himself records the fact that he was one of those witnesses.  There could have been no chance whatsoever of a cover up or a conspiracy.  The Roman Soldiers came to the Cross containing the body of Jesus Christ and found him to be dead.  And to confirm that fact to themselves, one of them took a spear and ran him through the side.  Blood and water came out, which most medical professionals acknowledge as a clear sign of death.  So the Roman Soldiers found him to be dead, and pierced his side with a spear to confirm that fact, which resulted in an observation that did confirm that fact for them, and the witnesses who saw this also agreed that Jesus Christ was indeed dead upon the Cross.

Now I realize there are those today who have analyzed this scenario to the extreme.  They have theories that Jesus Christ was not really dead, just near dead.  That he awoke within the tomb and that he was nurtured back to health and that he died later in life.  But all of those theories have one problem, they don’t match the historical record.  They are just theories that are grounded in what people want to believe and not what the facts and the eye witness accounts have to say.  If we are to go with what the historical record says, and what we know to be the facts, we are left to conclude unequivocally that Jesus Christ did indeed die on the Cross and that he was buried within the tomb.

But did Jesus Christ actually leave the tomb, of his own free will, alive and well?  Dr. Lon Solomon, Senior Pastor at McLean Bible Church in McLean, Virginia has taught somewhat extensively on this subject.  And in this sermon he examines the facts as determined from the historical record.  One is left to conclude that either YES, Jesus Christ did rise from the dead and leave the tomb as the historical account relates, or else the story is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated upon the human race.

The facts in the case are that Jesus Christ did rise from the dead.  He did fulfil prophesies that were statistically impossible to fulfil, and his claims of being the Son of God were, and are, true and accurate.  Jesus Christ is indeed, God in the flesh and the Savior to all mankind.

So we can sit around and argue about who is holier than whom on this Easter Sunday, debating on whether or not we should or should not allow our children to enjoy a few colorful eggs and some chocolate bunnies, OR we can deal with the Greatest Question of All Time – Who is Jesus Christ to Me?

My answer is: He is the Son of God, My Lord and my Savior, the most pivotal figure in all of history.  But you will have to answer that question for yourself.  I only pray that you give it the due consideration that it deserves.

God is in control …

There are mysteries that are paradoxes in life.  And that is by design, we are not meant to understand all things.  This is a difficult thing to accept for most people.  We want to believe we can know it all, discover all things, understand the mysteries of the universe.  But the fact is, we will never have infinite knowledge nor infinite wisdom.  We will always be searching to understand, and to make sense of the great paradoxes we experience in life.  The greatest paradox for me in this life is the reality that mankind possesses free will and God is completely in control at exactly the same time.  One of the hardest concepts for people to wrap their thoughts around is that of their own destiny and the meaning of life.

For the true Atheist, the ones that are completely honest with themselves and others, there can be no meaning to life.  The fact that one could alter one’s own destiny or that one’s life could hold any meaning when the entire Universe is the random product of physical, chemical, and biological laws is completely ludicrous.  Furthermore the idea of karma within the Atheistic model is completely nonsensical.  There is absolutely no foundation for morals, justice, rewards, or punishment.  How can there be?  Everything that is, or is not, is simply a product of the physical and meta-physical laws of the Universe, be they known or unknown.  Everything we encounter is a product of natural occurrences and the ideas of fate, freewill, or a spiritual life are completely foreign.  So the true Atheist really has no ground upon which to argue destiny or the meaning of life.  And by extension, in the Atheistic model there is no concept of fair, there is no right, no wrong, and justice is pure foolishness.  You live, you die, and you have no control over the process while you are a part of it.  Everything is pre-determined so far in the past it can hardly be comprehended and everything will carry so far into the future there is absolutely no hope whatsoever anyone or anything will ever be remembered.

For the Agnostic, those that are completely neutral on an Atheistic or Theistic foundation, it really doesn’t matter if there is a destiny or any meaning to life.  And why would it?  The Agnostic doesn’t care one way or the other.  They are simply along for the ride and whatever will be, will be.  There may, or may not, be a destiny and meaning to life but the Agnostic will not care one way or the other.  To do so would actually move them out of the Agnostic camp and into either the Atheistic or Theistic viewpoint.

And that leaves us with the Theists.  For the Theistic viewpoint, the matter of destiny and the meaning of life is extremely important.  Because it is the bigger picture that counts.  Not just what we see in the here and now, but what is to come and what exists within the Spiritual world.  And it is the Theistic viewpoint that has the hardest struggle with destiny and the meaning of life.  But it shouldn’t.

The Theist really should start with their definition of God.  Consider the base definition for God: as the sole Supreme Being, eternal, spiritual, and transcendent, who is the Creator and ruler of all and is infinite in all attributes; the object of worship in monotheistic religions.  If we were to parse this definition we would quickly realize that God, by definition is the sole – the only one, unique, unsurpassed, matchless, Supreme – highest in rank, authority, paramount, sovereign, chief, foremost, Creator – the one who creates.  And if God is indeed the one and only matchless sovereign Creator, then the Theist is forced to ask the question (as did the Psalmist) who can be compared to God?  Psalm 89:6 “For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?” KJV.  And the only possible answer the Theist is left with is a resounding: “No one can!”  For he is God.  He is the Almighty.  He is the one Supreme Creator who is Infinite in ALL of his Attributes.  The Theist is left with the realization that their God is the one encompassing Deity in all of existence.

And for the Theist, that means that God is in control.  And how could he not be?  He is God after all.  Let’s try and illustrate the point this way, answer the question “Is there any scenario or outcome in all of creation or the Heavens where God could either lose the battle between good and evil or be surprised by the results?”  Let me ask this question, “Is there anything that God does not know about, is not happy with, or cannot change?”  If there is, then he surly is not God.  Everything that occurs is because it is part of God’s great plan and it is just the way he wants it to be.  If it were not, wouldn’t he change it?  Of course he would.

But this creates a dilemma.  If God is completely in control, then what about our, mankind’s Free Will?  Do we not have the freedom to choose our own path?  Of course we do.  God himself says we have a choice.  Revelation 3:20 says “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” KJV.   Does this not sound like a choice?  Of course it does.  We do have choices in life.

But can we ever surprise God with our choices?  No, I don’t think so.  Can we ever make a choice that would alter God’s plan or be a choice that he does not want us to make?  Once again, I would have to say no.

And yet that makes no sense whatsoever.  It is completely and utterly contradictory and cannot be explained.  So what is the explanation?  For today, there is none.  But wouldn’t you rather be a part of the model where God allows you a choice even though he is in control, instead of the model where there is no hope of a choice because we are all simply random matter bumping into each other and are following a set of described laws?

I know I would.  And that is why I absolutely assure you these two things are true:  (1) You have free will and you choose your own destiny in the halls of eternity, and (2) God is completely, absolutely, 100% in control and it is his plan that has been executed, is being executed, and will continue to be executed forever and ever.

Despite your free will and all of the things we see within the world today, GOD IS IN CONTROL …