Monthly Archives: May 2013

Is the Number of Stars Definite or Indefinite?

a2218_hstkelly

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist (Colossians 1:17)

Is the number of stars definite or indefinite? I recently posted that question my Facebook status, and I was completely unprepared for the firestorm of controversy that seemingly innocuous question would raise. The question, to me, seems simple enough. I have identified a subject – the number of stars – and offered an either-or response.

One person responding to the question suggested that the number of stars is indefinite. Certainly from man’s perspective that is true. There is no way for us to ever know the exact number of stars. There are billions of galaxies in our known universe, and each is composed of billions .of stars. Such numbers are staggering. And then there is that outside possibility that new stars are being “born” regularly. That has never been observed, and it is based solely on very questionable evolutionary theories – more on that later.

But from God’s perspective, the number of stars is definite. The psalmist says, “He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names” (Psalm 147:4). The Hebrew word translated “telleth” (tells) is mânâh and it means to “weigh out, to allot, or to enumerate” and so could be translated as “to number.” By this we know that God keeps a complete inventory of the stars. He “calls” them – Hebrew qârâ’, which means “to call out to” or “to address” each individual star by name. Well, one might say, God could still be creating stars, and He would still know the number each time He creates a new one. That is also true. Jesus says that the very hairs of my head are numbered (Matthew 10:30). God knows exactly how many hairs on my head I started with, the maximum count I had at my zenith, the number of hairs I have lost and He knows my current count now. So, whether God has created new stars since the beginning of creation, or whether the number has remained static since creation, to God, the number is always definite.

One perceptive individual responded “Yes!” In other words, he was saying it’s both. I wrongly responded “No. It has to be one or the other.” But after thinking about it, he was more right than anyone, considering what I have just explained above. To man, the number is indefinite, but to God the number is definite.

But, as these “conversations” tend to go sometimes, it quickly degenerated into a discussion about whether God was still actively creating or not. Since the subject is “stars” I would suggest that the answer is no; God is not actively creating new stars, or anything else for that matter. I see all those red flags going up right now! Before you burn me at the stake as a heretic, hear me out. I base this on two very basic verses in Genesis. As we read the creation account in Genesis one, we see that at the end of almost every day, God’s assessment of the process was as that “it was good.” This is true of every day of creation except for the second day where earth was, for lack of a better term, a big mud ball; it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good enough to be called “good” by God. At any rate, we get the feeling that God was pleased with His creative work. Then when the sixth day of creation was completed “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). “Very good” (Heb. ṭôb me‘ôd) meaning vehemently good. Such an assessment coming from a perfectly good Creator implies that it could not be made better than this; it cannot be improved upon. So, when God “made the stars also” (Genesis 1:15), the number of them was perfect by His assessment. Furthermore, we read in Genesis 2:2 that “on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” That He “ended his work” translates the Hebrew word kâlâh, which means “to cease” or “to be finished.” This too seems to have a note of finality – it’s done! In addition to that, it says that “He rested.” God was not tired and in need of a break! The Hebrew word used here is shâbath, which also means to “desist from exertion.” What I get from this, is that when God finished His creative work, He set in motion the laws of physics and nature that maintain the current state of the universe in stasis. This is alluded to in our opening verse (Colossians 1:17): “by [Jesus] all things consist,” i.e., “hold together.” The Greek word translated “consist” is the compound word sunistaō from sun meaning together and histēmi meaning “to stand” or “to abide.” We see that it is God – Jesus – Who is keeping everything from flying apart! We see God’s promise to keep things together following the Flood. God promised, “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22); in other words, things will continue as God designed.

There is a danger in seeing this from a deistic perspective and concluding that God, like a divine clock maker just got it all wound up and let it go without further involvement. That would be a very wrong conclusion considering the record of God’s involvement in the affairs of man that are contained in Scripture. Does this mean that God no longer creates? The answer is both yes and no. God is no longer creating the “stuff” of the universe; the first law of thermodynamics confirms that. But He has not stopped creating altogether. Each time a baby is conceived, God has created a whole new soul. God’s involvement in the development of a baby in the womb is beautifully described by the psalmist in Psalm 139:14-16:

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

Jesus performed creative acts during His earthly ministry. He turned water into wine (John 2:1-11).  He healed a boy of a fever by reversing the effect of the first law of thermodynamics (John 4:46-54). He healed a paralytic and restored the atrophied muscles to his legs (John 5:1-9). He fed the 5000 (men, not counting women and children) from just two fish and five buns (John 6:1-14). He walked on water suspending the laws of physics that would cause Him to sink (John 6:16-21). He healed a man who had been blind since birth (John 9:1-7). He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44).  All these He did by just His word. And His greatest creation miracle of all is when He gives new life to the walking dead by the regeneration of the “new birth” (John 3:3; John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Not only does God continue to create in this way, but He will one day create a New Heaven and a New Earth (Revelation 21:1). But new stars, for now, I don’t think so.

For more on star creation listen to Ken Ham’s commentary on the subject: Star Formation – Can it Happen? Also, Answers in Genesis has a couple of short articles on the subject:

Classic Conundrum

Star Formation and Creation

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Paying for Free Speech | For Christ and Culture

Paying for Free Speech | For Christ and Culture.

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Texas Senator John Cornyn on Obama Care

Repeal-ObamaCare2

 

This is not the usual content that I post on this weblog, but I thought it was of significant importance that I should share with all who will read it. By posting this, I hope to encourage you to contact your legislators and urge them along these lines.

I wrote to Texas U S Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz as well as my Congressional Representative and the Speaker of the House concerning reports that some members of Congress were, and perhaps still may be, attempting to exempt themselves and their staff from this oppressive law. Senator Cornyn responded to my concerns with this very well-thought out letter.  Below is his full response to me:

Dear Mr. Carrasco:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its application to Members of Congress and congressional staffers. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments. 

I believe that all Americans should be exempt from the onerous and costly provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, not just a select few. I believe the best way to remedy this is to repeal the bill in its entirety.

The existing American health care system faces a myriad of complex challenges. The 2010 passage of sweeping health care reform holds dramatic implications for our health care system. I often hear the frustration of many Texans struggling to meet their health care needs in the existing system, and I understand the importance of implementing common-sense reforms that achieve results. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), spending on the major mandatory health care programs will grow from 5.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2012 to about 9.6 percent in 2037 and will continue to increase under current law. Additionally, the Medicare trustees report that the Medicare program’s unfunded liabilities, benefits Washington has promised but lacks a plan or ability to provide, is more than $36 trillion and growing. There is no question that meaningful health care reform is needed. 

As you know, during the 111th Congress, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA; P.L. 111—148) into law. While I understand the need for health care reform, I voted against this legislation because I believe it does nothing to lower the actual cost of health care. I was also deeply disappointed with the process of health care reform. Rather than an open and transparent process to allow careful evaluation of complex legislation affecting all 300 million Americans, this law was developed behind closed doors and passed with special interest deals and political payoffs. Appropriate reform must lower health care costs for American families, taxpayers, and businesses. Unfortunately, this law simply expands a broken system exacerbating our current health care problems. 

The PPACA spends $2.6 trillion over a ten year period. Additionally, it raises taxes by more than a trillion dollars over the next decade—negatively impacting job growth and the economy. These taxes include a substantially higher Medicare payroll tax, which could harm small businesses, and new taxes on medical treatments, which will ultimately mean higher costs for patients. Furthermore, the PPACA will cut more than half a trillion dollars from the nearly-bankrupt Medicare program to create unsustainable new entitlement programs. 

The PPACA also does nothing to effectively address rising health care costs. According to the CBO, small businesses will continue to face premium increases and premiums for families purchasing insurance on their own will also increase. In fact, the average family premiums for employer-provided insurance have already risen by $3,065 over the last four years. Medicare’s Chief Actuary issued a report showing that national health expenditures will increase, not decrease, under the new law.

As you know, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the majority of the PPACA. I am disappointed by the Supreme Court’s ruling and remain committed to repealing the PPACA. To this end, I am proud to cosponsor Senate Bill 177 (S. 177), which would repeal the health care reform law. Additionally, I cosponsored an amendment to the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (P.L. 113-6) that would have defunded the PPACA, as well as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014 Senate Budget Resolution (S.Con.Res. 8) that would have repealed the PPACA. I am disappointed that these amendments were not agreed to, however, you may be certain that I will continue to work towards a full repeal of the PPACA. 

Congress must repeal this fundamentally flawed law and replace it with realistic reforms that lower health care costs, address entitlement spending, and increase access to affordable health coverage. The right kind of reform will emphasize individual choice and allow patients, their families, and their doctors—not government bureaucrats—to make their own health care decisions.

I appreciate having the opportunity to represent Texas in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Sincerely,

JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator
 

I hope this will encourage you to contact your legislators. The really good ones, like Senator Cornyn, really do listen.

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Tares Among the Wheat

Green Wheat Fields With Cyprus – Vincent Van Gogh (1890)

But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. (Matthew 13:25)

Before I cranked up the lawnmower Saturday morning, I noticed that some bad grass had come up in my backyard, and it was going to seed. As much as I dreaded that task, I knew I would have to pull it all up by hand otherwise I would risk scattering bad seed all over my yard and making matters worse. Through the pain of my aching back, I recalled Jesus’ “Kingdom Parable” about the tares among wheat found in Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43.

In this parable, Jesus likens Himself to the landowner who sowed good seed into His field – i.e., the world (vv. 24, 37-38). The “good seed” which He sowed are the children of the Kingdom – i.e., true believers in Christ (vv. 24, 38). “But while men slept” … Jesus defined all the players in the parable except for these. Who are these men who fell asleep on the job? Since there is no special definition for these men, it seems that these “men” are the “good seed” that was planted in the field. These did what good seed is supposed to do: receive nourishment, grow and produce fruit. But in doing what good seed is supposed to do, it took no notice of the enemy (Satan) that came in and sowed tare seeds into the field (vv. 25, 39). These too grew up together with the wheat and were indistinguishable from the wheat. As the time of harvest approached, the distinction became obvious, and the harvesters (the angels) wanted to rip up the tares (v. 28), but the landowner, not wanting to upset the good wheat, instructed that both be allowed to grow together until the harvest (vv. 29-30).

There are tares among us. They dress Christian. They speak Christian. They, by almost any means, look Christian, but they “are the children of the wicked one” (v. 38). Perhaps “outsiders” can spot them easier than those on the “inside.” Perhaps that is why many want nothing to do with the church because, they say, “The church is full of hypocrites!” No, the church is full of tares! Jesus says, “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn” (v. 30).

So, what are we to do about all of this? A good self-examination would be a good place to begin. “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). Don’t act like tares. Peter reminds us that this present world is going up in smoke, and he exhorts us: “Seeing then thatall these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:11-13, emphasis added). Yes, there are tares among the wheat. Don’t be a tare!

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More Than Conquerors

More Than Conquerors

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

One of the greatest passages on the security of the believer is found here in Romans 8:31-39.  Paul begins this passage with a challenge reminiscent of David’s challenge concerning Goliath:  “who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26).  Surely David would have responded with the words of Paul, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (our verse).

In his counsel to Job, Eliphaz affirms, “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).  Someone once said that even as Christians we are in one of three states of trials: we have either experienced trials, we are experiencing trials, or we will experience trials.  We are not immune from trouble, but in the midst of those trials we are encouraged that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

That “power,” “love” and “sound mind” are a result of the answer to Paul’s follow-up question:  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35)  If God did not spare His Own Son, but allowed Him to die on our behalf, will He then not freely provide or us in every way (Romans 8:32)?  Even the “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10) is unable to bring a charge against us because it is God Who has declared us just (Romans 8:33).

We are encouraged then, that nothing can come between us and God’s love for us.  Not tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or the sword can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35).  Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).  “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37). So, Christian, go forth fearlessly with confidence that the battle has already been won, and we are more than conquerors!

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Beware of False Prophets

Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.   (Matthew 7:15)

This verse begins with the imperative verb “beware” – the Greek prosecho meaning to pay attention to or be cautious about.  This is not just good advice; it is a command from our Lord.  There are false prophets in abundance all around us.  They come to us sheep, dressed up in sheep’s clothing; that is, they infiltrate Christian gatherings disguised as Christians.  Often they fill great pulpits and attract large crowds.  Jesus warns that they are “ravening wolves.”  The Greek word translated “ravening” is hárpages meaning “rapacious,” i.e., given to seizing for plunder or the satisfaction of greed, and inordinately greedy; predatory; extortionate.  These are out to exploit the flock for their personal gain.  Their strategy is simple: tell the sheep what they want to hear.  “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” (2 Timothy 4:3).

So how are we to recognize these wolves in sheep’s clothing?  After all, on the surface, they appear harmless.  Jesus provided the answer.  “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16a).  Therefore, we are called to be fruit inspectors.  “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (v. 16b).  The concept is simple: “every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit” (v. 17).  The challenge is in discerning the good fruit from the bad fruit.  What standard is to be used?  The Berean church had the right idea.  “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).  John tells us to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). The Greek word translated “try” is dokimazō, and it means “to test (literally or figuratively); by implication to approve: – allow, discern, examine, (ap-) prove, try.”

Always measure the words of the prophet against the Word of God. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).  The Greek word translated as “study” is spoudazō  and it means “to use speed, that is, to make effort, be prompt or earnest: – do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavour, labour, study.”  “Rightly dividing” is the Greek word orthotomeō, which means “to make a straight cut, that is, (figuratively) to dissect (expound) correctly (the divine message): – rightly divide.” So when we make an earnest effort and give diligence to correctly dissecting the Word of God (Truth), we should be able to spot the false prophet because his words will not match up with God’s Word. In this way, we can tell the good fruit from the bad, and never fall prey to the false prophets.

On a somewhat different note, but still very much related: some think that making such judgments is somehow “un-Christian,” and any kind of judging should be avoided. They come to this conclusion because earlier, in this same chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:1-2). Obviously, from what Jesus said afterward, He did not mean for us to put our discernment on the shelf. We need to exercise discernment and to make judgments in order to identify the false prophets disguised in sheep’s clothing. What we are not to do is pass “holier-than-thou” judgments on our brothers and sisters in Christ except to help them out of some error or sin into which they have fallen. For that a close self-examination is required before proceeding. As for the wolves, beware, be vigilant, and learn to recognize their false message.

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It Looks like the Bible says, but it REALLY Means…..

It Looks like the Bible says, but it REALLY Means…...

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