Friday, August 30, 2013

. . . Suppress the Truth

A CNN online article says that they have discovered a massive canyon under Greenland's ice—a canyon that is half again as long as the Grand Canyon. And they say it must have been caused by an extensive river systems millions of years ago. Yet . . . they deny a global, Biblical flood and the erosion the receding waters would have caused.

Other news articles in recent years tell us scientists observing huge canyons on Mars speculate there was massive water erosion there long ago. Problem? Yes. There is no water found on Mars today! Yet, they will believe that, but on our earth which is around 70+% covered in water they can't believe in a global flood that is described in detail in the Bible which is being proven over and over to be an accurate record of history.

The flood of Noah is the defining force that explains the geology of the earth around us. Psalm 104 tells us:
He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight. The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth. (Psalm 104:5–9) [Note: Some people believe this describes Creation, but it must describe the flood instead, because it ends with the line, ". . . so that they [waters] might not again cover the earth" and they clearly did, according to the same Bible, once after Creation in the flood.]
1. The flood would have put tremendous seismic pressure on the earth's plates at over 8 lbs/gallon.
2. The upheaval and sediment transfer would have been massive!
3. As the mountains rose and valleys sank down the receding water would have caused massive erosion and canyon carving!
4. Tremendous amounts of dead, fossilized creatures, including sea animals, would be found in massive graveyards all covered together, on top of high mountains, etc. . . . which is exactly what we find today!
5. Then entire earth would be reshaped within a few years.

Apart from the flood—which gives massive change in a rapid time frame—and God having created already with age (as He did with Adam) the only other explanation for what we see in the geology and topography around us is a form of uniformitarianism (slow change over long time periods as we observe today and many assume has been happening from the start). So, maybe that is why so many resist the flood of Noah's day so vehemently, because without it then evolution and long periods of time must be the answer and that destroys Genesis, which begins the slide of the entire Bible, and ultimately God.

Romans 1:17–22 tells us:
. . . "The righteous shall live by faith." For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools . . .
It is so hard to see how far people go to deny God, and the explanations they cling to that allow them to continue to deny Him. I know that described me for so many years, and even in my early Christian years I tried to embrace a Theistic Evolution until God revealed Himself to me in deeper ways. How far will we go to deny God? Read this quote attributed to Professor Dawkins:
"Well, it could come about in the following way. It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved, probably by some kind of Darwinian means, probably to a very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer."

Wow! But it shouldn't surprise us if we've read Romans 1 in even a cursory fashion. This is the world. But we are not of the world when we are born again as new creations in Christ. We have a new identity, a new citizenship, and the Spirit of God living in us. Praise God for that, and may we know in our hearts that God's written Word is true, from the first words to the last. The same Bible that tells us God spoke it forth in 6 days is the same Bible that tells us He will never leave us or forsake us. The same Jesus that promises us eternal life is the same Jesus that quotes from Genesis and refers to Noah as if they are true, and whose line is given back to Adam. Does our stand on Genesis matter? Absolutely!

Monday, August 26, 2013

What Are You a Citizen Of?

Albert Mohler posted a blog today (Monday, August 26) called, “It is the Price of Citizenship”?—An Elegy for Religious Liberty in America. It is a commentary on the New Mexico Supreme Court's decision last week against a Christian couple who run a photography business and were sued because they refused to photograph a same sex wedding. Mr. Mohler's post is longer than I can do justice to, and worth reading reflectively, but I want to pause on one aspect of it that should make Christians search deeply in their hearts. (All of the information I will use comes from Mr. Mohler's article, I have not independently verified it, but I trust him.)

Though at least one member of the court recognized the sincerity of the couple's belief and how the photographing and artistic capturing of the ceremony went against their beliefs, his opinion following that acknowledgement moves into the need for compromise, and he says compromise, “. . . is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the moving parts of us as a people.” He also writes, “In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.”

Far beyond the issue of gay marriage—which I believe the Bible is absolutely clear is wrong—there is a far bigger issue that has far more reaching effects which I think Christians in American need to start processing now. This is the issue of what happens when our two citizenships collide. We may be citizens, by law, of the United States (or whatever country you might be reading this from/in), but the Bible makes it clear that as Christians we have a different citizenship as well. Paul, writing to the believers in Philippi, says, "Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." (Philippians 3:17–21, ESV).

When we are born again, as new creations in Christ, we have a Father in Heaven, a King in Jesus, a new birth, a new nature, a new identity, a new citizenship. We are taken out of Satan's authority and rule and put into the Kingdom of Jesus—Jesus' domain, dominion, authority (Colossians 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,). We are told by the Bible to submit to our earthly leaders and authorities . . . but the Bible also gives us ample precedent for not submitting to them when it brings us into conflict with God's laws and heart—Hebrew midwives, Rahab, preaching despite authorities commands not to, plus the obvious reality that we, today, wouldn't abort a baby or murder an elderly person even if our government told us to, and we'd hopefully have hid Jews from the Nazis, etc., if we were in a position to.

Recently in California our governor signed a law allowing boys or girls who feel like they are the opposite sex from what their body says they are to be able to use the restroom or locker room of their feelings, not organs. Health care laws imposing things on Christian employers that violate their beliefs . . . gay marriage issues challenging churches and businesses . . . the list of laws that have been passed or struck down in the last few years which yank the foundations out of Christian values is accelerating at a mind numbing pace. Truly the time is coming, and has already come for some, when we will face the decision—which citizenship will rule in our allegiance and obedience?

If we are to truly follow God and honor His heart and his Word we will, inevitably, face this decision. We will have to choose between two citizenships, two authorities, two futures, as to which will weigh the most in our minds and choices. One offers "safety" and "comfort" and temporary reprieve here, now. The other offers eternal hope, but a promise of trials here. One serves this world and the other serves our King. The decisions won't be easy, and I can't imagine what our children and their children will face, but I know that God will never leave us and that something far bigger is at work. The lost are still lost and Jesus still died for them and we can show God's love, declare God's truth, rejoice in God's good news, model God's sacrifice, and serve others as Jesus did in times of hardship and trials maybe better than we even can in times of comfort. Right now it is still fairly easy in America to walk with one foot on each side of the fence—enjoying our Christian identity but remaining comfortable in the world and with the world . . . but I don't know that this option is going to be available much longer. I have a sense that the decisions will becoming closer and closer together when we will have to choose to stand on one side of the fence or the other, to declare and stand for truth at earthly cost, or to stand with the world and turn our back on the One who died for us. Praise God that our true citizenship, the one that trumps them all, is eternal and can never be taken from us, and that while this earth will pass away, our citizenship in Heaven is forever! May we have the strength to invest not in the cares of this world and its passing acceptance and pleasure which render us unfruitful, but to invest in the things of eternity, that transcend this fleeting moment we call life. And, may we do so with a joy and a hope and a love and a humility and a service and a confidence that draws everyone watching us past us and to the One in Whom our hope is anchored. God bless all of you. He reigns!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What to Expect?

Recently someone was expressing some disappointment in someone they knew who was unsaved not doing enough of something for them. This person they were irritated with was doing some kind acts, but not as many as the person would have hoped for (or, if I'm honest, as many as most of us would have hoped for in the same situation). As I talked with Mary Ann about this person's feelings I suddenly had a thought/question pop into my head, "Just how much should we expect (the key word) from an unsaved person?"

I started to think about some verses I had recently used in a teaching that describe our state/nature before we are born again in Christ. Some of them are:

Colossians 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,

Ephesians 2:1-3 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

 Just in these two verses alone we see that the Bible says that people not born again with a new nature in Christ (and us in our prior nature) are (remember this is through God's eyes, the only eyes that ultimately matter):
1. alienated from God
2. hostile in mind toward God
3. doing evil deeds (remember that God alone is good)
4. spiritually dead in the sins and trespassed they are walking in
5. following the course of this world and its ways
6. following the prince of this world (Satan, whom is the only alternative to following God)
7. living in the passions and leadings of the flesh
8. carrying out the desires of their body and mind
9. by their very nature children of wrath

When we realize this (and look at our own pre-Christ nature) I thought, "Wow! Any love, kindness, etc. from someone unsaved is an amazing and awesome gift and a tremendous breaking out of the nature that rules the world and defines its ways! There should be no expectancy of anything, but tremendous gratitude at what is done or given, because it is not the nature of the world."

Then the sobering second half of it hit me.

Colossians 1:22 . . . he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,

Ephesians 2:4-10 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

If all those things are true of the unsaved, then the following are, according to the Bible, true of the saved (those born again as new creations in Christ with God Himself living within them):
1. reconciled to God by the death of God Himself!
2. holy and blameless and above reproach in Christ
3. recognizing the love of God for us and the great gift He gave us
4. eternally and presently alive in Christ
5. saved
6. seated with Christ
7. recipients of His great gift
8. created for good works, to walk in them

So . . . if the expectation of goodness from the unsaved is based on what the Bible says about their nature, then what does our new nature say should be the expectation of goodness from us? It strikes me that a logical application of this approach makes a stunning statement of how we should shine as lights in the world and be salt in the earth. When I reflect on my new nature and what God has done for me I am awed, humbled, and challenged to realize the life that would truly bear out and reflect those realities and stand out from the world and its nature and ways.

I am still processing these two trains of thought, but I'd love to hear any thoughts you might have.The more I reflect on this the more I find deep gratitude in my heart to the unsaved in my life who express kindness to me, and the more I find myself challenging my own expressing of the love of Christ through me. I don't ever want to expect anything—Christ didn't trust Himself to men because He knew what was in men—I just want to be a person grateful for any kindness shown me, and one who loves others as I have been loved. The burden to not live as the world is definitely on the ones no longer of this world, not on the ones who are still of it. May we joyously show to others the love that has been first shown us. May our lives show Jesus to the world!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Signs, Seasons, Days, Years, Light . . .

Genesis 1:14-15   And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. (ESV)
One of the purposes of God creating the Sun and Moon and stars was for signs and season, days and years, and light upon the earth. In the last few centuries we've lost a lot of the "working" understanding of the heavens as a way to mark the passing of time (days, months, years) as it has been replaced with wall calendars, electronic calendars, clocks and watches. It strikes me that the less we pay attention to the heavens, the less we often connect with God as well, because another purpose of the heavens, according to God's Word, is to display His glory. I know that for me, spending time gazing upward and reflecting, puts things on earth back into perspective and returns me to a place of worship and awe.

We started homeschool with our girls this week and one of the things I am doing is teaching them Classical Astronomy from a wonderful book called Signs & Seasons by Jay Ryan which we got at a homeschool conference. (You can find the book and sign up for free Classical Astronomy newsletters at Classical Astronomy is the study of the heavens (which includes the Sun, our most visible star!) without telescopes, but with the naked eye as they have been done since Creation. It is like learning to read a book written across the sky by God, and it is fascinating how easily you can determine directions, times, and seasons through what He has placed there. I have found in the study that what I used to look at and not even notice (does that make sense?) I am now noticing in far different ways (the length of shadows, etc.).
Pounding nails to mark the shadow every 10 minutes.

Our first "field" project has been building a compass in our backyard using the Sun. The principle is that when the sun is highest (high noon, not necessarily your watch's noon) shadows point North and the Sun is South. You can tell when it is at its highest when the shadows are shortest in the day. (Incidentally, that North/South line is called the meridian, or "middle of the day" and when the sun is before it it is "ante meridian," or "am," and when it is past it then it is "post meridian," or "pm." Cool, isn't it!)

Around 2:40 pm. We are ready to find the shortest!
So, we put a stake in the ground and the girls went out about every 10 minutes from around 11:30 am onward and drove a nail at the center, end of the shadow of the stake. Later we found which was the shortest shadow and drew a line through the stake to that nail and past it and we had our line North. We drove a spike in the ground about 80" out from the stake on that line and then carried the line back 80" to the other side of the stake and drove a spike, marking South. Then, using intersecting arcs drawn from each North/South stake we could find a point 90-degrees off the center in the East and West directions and we marked a line from the center spike 80" in each of those directions and put a spike. Now we have a compass 160" in diameter in our back yard! It points straight at the North Star!

Each of us standing at the cardinal points of our compass—
Bethany, North; Abigail, South; Mary Ann, East; myself,
West. We also have a spike in the center for future reference.
We are looking forward to moving further in the book and being drawn closer to our Creator as we marvel at the order and design He has woven into His Creation, and we worship Him as a family. Thanks, Jay and your family, for sharing your knowledge with us!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Doing Big, or Barely Doing . . .

Sometimes I find faith wants to do great things for God. There's a fire in the belly and a passion to win the world—or at least the region you've been placed in. I think that is great as long as God is leading it. To serve and love Him with all of our heart and soul and strength and mind, with a zeal that ignites fires—awesome! To step out into dramatic faith, desperately dependent on Him, doing what the world calls crazy and violates all of the world's "common sense"—inspiring!

But then . . . there's those times you simply barely hold on. Your faith is the thin, frayed line that you cling to in a sea of anguish and overwhelming obstacles and pain. Do big things for God? You are barely getting through the next hour . . . and yet, by faith, clinging to the most basic of God's promises, you take the next breath and the next step. That is crazy and awesome faith as well! It may not feel like it. It may feel self-centered. It may feel like you should be doing more. But when life crashes down and the pain you carry of your own and/or others is almost causing you to drown, to hold on and to step ahead and to keep the faith is a huge victory and a huge act of faith. And . . .

. . . I think God sees our heart, knows our condition, and is so OK with that! He loves us! His burden is easy, His yoke is light! He is a good Father who cares deeply for us. He sees our pain, and He carried pain on the cross. He wept when on earth. He understands.

I thought that this blog post captured that really well and I wanted to share it with you in case it blesses you also:

Blessings to you all. Thanks so much for reading, caring, and sharing in my life.   —Erick


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