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October 2015 entries

Things that Go BUMP in the Night

 This is the week that Americans visualize, conceptualize and create ghostly and ghastly images for their children and themselves. They drink too much, eat too much and post inappropriate pictures of their alter egos on Facebook. 

It is also the season where water fountain conversations at work take a turn toward the macabre. Subjects that ordinarily are avoided are at the forefront of our thoughts.  

Man is incurably spiritual.  We are forever seeking out the unknown.  When our world appears too mundane, creative people often create other worlds.  I propose that if you are bored with creation you have not looked closely enough.

 Let’s look at Creation.

  Psalms 19:1 (NKJV) 

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

God's handiwork is displayed within three dimensions.  The first is "The Immense." 

Since God created all the heavens we see, it must be awesome in its magnitude. Check out these stats:

         The universe contains at least 100 billion galaxies.

         Each galaxy has 100 billion suns.

         Our galaxy alone has over 100 billion black holes

There is a neutron star that weighs over 100 million tons, but could sit inside a teaspoon.

 He also created the earth so its beauty and detail are unimaginable:

Psalms 90:2 (NKJV)
2 Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

The earth is 93 million miles from the sun. If we were 94 million miles would freeze. If the earth were 92 million miles from the sun would be carbon crispies. 

 The earth tilts 23.5 degrees on its axis. If not it would be tidally locked and one side would get stuck facing the sun and burn while the other would freeze. It tilts because 40% of gravitational pull comes from the sun and 60% from the moon. So if the moon were not exactly in it's location the earth's could not sustain life.

The earth’s atmosphere is 21% oxygen. If it were more or less, we could not breath.

 The oceans are 3.4% salt. So is our blood. If it were 4% neither could support life. 

These statistics reveal that our world is finely tuned for for life. God is a Master Builder and Mathematician.  

There are hundreds of these exact ratios necessary for earth to function. It is not that one has to be correct, but that they all must be set correctly for life on earth to exist.

The second realm in which God's handiwork is displayed is the intricate.

Our Heavenly Creator made us so we are more complex than you could ever imagine. 

Psalms 139:13-14 (NKJV) 13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my                                 mother's womb.  14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;                                Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

 Each of you has billions of brain cells. (Some of you burned a few million before you came to Christ.) Every second they perform a trillion computations. Every second your body produces 2 – 10 billion red blood cells. 100 million white cells are stored in your bone marrow right now.  

Your visual cortex in the brain contains sight. Here you will find 110 million cones and 6 million rods. 

You have millions of cells within you that comprise your being. Inside those cells there are atoms. Atoms are small. To count the number of atoms in one drop of water every person on earth would have to count 1 atom every second. The process would take 20,000 years.

Then someone discovered that related to each atom there are protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Now we have discovered that atoms are not the smallest unit of matter. Atoms can be split into quarks. Even quarks can be split. Quarks can disappear and appear in another place without leaving a trace of their path. They simply disappear from one place and suddenly appear in another. (Kind of like Jesus after His resurrection.)  

One final dimension in which God's handiwork is displayed; Or maybe not displayed: The The Unseen. 

 When God created everything He created it out of nothing. There is a realm of the unseen that is as real as the visible world around us. 

Moses was perplexed when God asked him to return to Egypt and win release of his fellow Hebrew slaves. Who am I going to tell the people sent me to free them. Pharaoh demands that these people be set free? 

God answers:  “I AM!”

 This term “I AM” is sometimes rendered as “I was and am and always will be!”

It is even richer than that. It means “I exist!” Forget time (before, during, and after), think in terms of every place at every time. Even places you do not know exist.

When God created everything the materials had to come from the realm of His existence. The writer of Hebrews explains it this way: 

Hebrews 11:1-3 (NKJV)
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of  things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word  of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of  things which are visible.

The things that exist today were first formed in the realm of the unseen.  

These things that exist outside of the natural (observable) are called “supernatural.”

Natural scientists are reluctant to accept things they cannot discover in the realm of the visible. When we only accept those things we can see, taste or touch we become incapable of pleasing God. God expects people of faith to believe there are things outside of our knowing. On occasion, He even brings things into existence, even if for a brief while, things from the realm of the supernatural.

Those who participate in the hunt for ghosts and angels or demons admit they are looking for evidence of life after death or existence outside our senses. They are looking for the supernatural. There are glimpses of the unseen world that God at times allows to influence the world of the natural through divine intervention. There may be something unseen after all in that bump in the night. Bible records some of these supernatural experiences and name them miracles.

-- When angels appear to men.

--  King Saul who is tormented by evil spirits.

-- Two prophets appear on the Mt. of Transfiguration with Jesus.

-- Peter is invited to walk on water. 

Those who truly seek after the supernatural would do well to explore Christianity. The Bible can actually satisfy their curiosity.  I can confidently say you cannot be a true follower of Christ without believing in the supernatural. What defies the world of the natural more than a dead man coming back to life. That fact is a non-debatable doctrine of our faith necessary even to be a member of the body of Christ. 

 Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV) 

9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

So be careful and limit the carbs and bad fats this weekend. Don't act too much like a fool. And remember, the Holy Spirit can lift you higher than drugs or alcohol; and you can remember where you put your keys the next morning. 




Some Things are to be Experienced not Explained

As I sit with Bible and commentaries before me I prepare for tonight's Wednesday night Bible Study. I have been teaching through Luke for more than 9 months and we have finally come to the Mount of Transfiguration in Luke 9. 

In reading the passage again I am reminded how difficult it is to prepare a lesson that is so frequently read or well known. That is because we preachers like to end a study with a statement like "and this is how such an experience may appear in our own lives." We stretch too make events in Scripture apply to our lives. However, I have come to conclude that not all passages are meant to be read for anything but reverence and awe. 

How many preachers have tried to somehow relate the agony of Abraham as he straps his young son to the altar on Mount Moriah to some common experience of life? What human endeavor could ever match such a passionate story? Or  how many teachers have attempted to relate their own baptism to the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan River? Even those of us who have been privileged to baptize and be baptized in the Jordan know the vast difference between our experience and that of Christ. We did not have the heavens open and hear God affirm our identity. There was no dove descending from above in my experience.

Now I sit with the amazing picture of Christ's transfiguration in Luke 9 before me. To what does this relate? I know many messages have been preached about descending from a mountaintop experience into the valley below for service. That is a valid point and well deserving our consideration, but to minimize this beautiful story to that is to trivialize the scene.  Other passages may be used for similar application without doing harm to those texts. 

No, I believe some texts are worthy of pondering without the need of reducing them to daily applications. The Red Sea parting before the Israelites is so much bigger than just God providing a convenient parking spot at a crowded mall. The betrayal of Judas is much more than a harsh word written about you on someone's Facebook post. We need not reduce the picture Jesus paints of the impossibility of a camel passing through the eye of a needle to the necessity of such an animal dropping to its knees and crawling through a small city gate. No, the ridiculousness of the word picture leads to Christ's statement that "what is impossible with man is a possibility with God." (Matthew 19:26)  

So ponder the glory of Christ's garments glowing whiter and purer than any launderer on earth could achieve. Meditate on two prophets from the Old Testament appearing within a rock's throw to speak to their Creator and their Redeemer of His death. Now wait and listen to the voice of the Father as He affirms His Son from heaven where Moses and Elijah had only recently departed and where Jesus will soon return. 

Some things are far too great for us to cover with the cloak of common application. Some events should remain uncovered so we may see the brilliant light of God's glory before us.