Monthly Archives: January 2015

Remember?

Loaves and Fishes

Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? (Matthew 16:9-10)

Jesus and His disciples left the village of Magdala and crossed the Sea of Galilee. Mark tells us that they landed at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22), but before they arrived, Jesus thought aloud about an encounter they had in Magdala with a group Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:1-4). This bunch demanded “a sign from heaven” to validate His teachings. Obviously, the miracles Jesus performed were insufficient for these religious experts. So as Jesus thought on this, He offered His disciples an object lesson. “Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6). However, the disciples were preoccupied with the fact that they forgot to pack a lunch (v. 5), “And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread” (Matthew 16:7).

In their preoccupation with their stomachs, they missed the spiritual meal their Master had prepared for them. So, to refocus their minds to receive the real meal, Jesus reminded them of the miracle where He fed the 5000 (Matthew 14:13-21), and more recently, the feeding of the 4000 (Matthew 15:32-38). They need not concern themselves about what they were going to eat. Indeed, Jesus spoke on this very thing in His Sermon on the Mount. “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” (Matthew 6:31). They were not about to go hungry with Jesus in their company.

We often behave just like the disciples. We get caught up with the worries and troubles of this world, and we forget all the times that God carried us through those troubled times. Remember when you were abandoned, and God brought that special person into your life to mend your brokenness? Remember when you lost your job and somehow God provided for you until He had a better job for you? Remember when you sacrificially gave to a cause God placed on your heart, and somehow you never missed that sacrificial gift? Remember?

When you are in the company of Jesus, all your needs (not wants) will be met, “for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:32). Remember how God provided for you in the past, and “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Remember.

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No Time Like the Present

timeflies

… behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)

We understand time in three phases: past, present, and future. We receive wise counsel not to live in the past while at the same time we are advised to plan for the future. Indeed, even the Apostle Paul exhorts, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Our minds help us in regard to the past by minimizing bad memories and enhancing the good ones. This is healthy for when we latch on to bitter memories, the effects degrade both our physical and mental health. If we focus too much on the future, we can set ourselves up for disappointment, if we fail to accomplish unrealistic goals.

Either dwelling too much on the past or focusing too much on the future can both have negative effects on our lives, so we are encouraged to live in the present. “Take time to smell the roses,” we are told. Recently, this has given me cause to ponder. Just how long is the present that we should dwell therein? A minute? A second? A millisecond? A nanosecond? Time constantly moves forward with no stops. In the blink of an eye, the present becomes the past, while in the same instant we arrive in the future and then that is gone. The question is really an existential one since it deals with our existence and experience. We experience life through our senses: touch, sight, taste, hearing, and smell. These all employ our nervous system with the brain and all of its complex network of nerves. So I thought perhaps the present has to do with the speed of a nerve impulses. “Scientists have an idea how fast nerves send signals. It varies among different animals and humans, but in general one can say it is very fast, on the order of 115197 ft/sec (3560 m/sec).”[1] That is amazingly fast, but even at that the nerve impulse itself has a start and stop time, so it too moves from the past into the future with no hesitation.

So, how long is the present? Apparently the present cannot be measured by time, so this must be a philosophical question. I asked a coworker, whose opinion I value highly, how long he thought the present could be. He said the present does not exist. Similarly, I asked an astrophysicist friend, and he said suggested that it was zero. Both of these answers make sense to me because time is constantly moving forward. I envision standing on the zero point on a line graph that continually moves beneath me from positive to negative – positive being the future and negative being the past. I operate from the zero point as time whizzes by me, but what I do at the zero point – the present – influences the future that comes at me.

I posed the same question to my oldest son. He’s pretty smart in his own right, and he gave me the most provocative response of all. He said, “The present is eternal.” I do not know if he fully understood the ramifications of such a profound statement. For starters, God is eternal, and He identifies Himself to Moses as “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14). He is ever-present. We understand that God is unfettered by time, so He is present at every point in time. He is present in the past and in the future simultaneously. That is why He could say to the Prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). God can accurately foretell the future because He exists in the future. He is eternally present.

Unlike God, we are confined by time. We can only experience time at point zero, and that only for the briefest of moments. We experience the future as it passes us by, but our actions in that brief moment affects the unseen consequences that lie ahead. God created us in His image (Genesis 1:26), and as such we are eternal beings. Unlike God, we have a beginning and no end, and again, we exist at point zero. Our actions, therefore, incur eternal consequences. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), they caused an eternal rift between God and mankind (Genesis 3:22) that affected all of their posterity – you and me. Their offense, and our subsequent sins, offends an eternal and holy God, and the offence is eternal. Since the offence is eternal, the consequence is also eternal, and therefore must be atoned for eternally. Hell is eternal because the offence is eternal, therefore the punishment must be eternal.

The good news is that God granted a way of escape from the eternal punishment that we all deserve. I AM is present in all of time from creation to re-creation; so that

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21, emphasis mine)

At the perfect time (Galatians 4:4), God stepped out of eternity into our present time in the form of the first, sinless Adam, to offer up Himself as the perfect atoning sacrifice for all of mankind. That sacrifice had the eternal effect of mending the eternal rift between God and mankind.

But the remedy is not universal, and it is not automatic. Each individual must make the choice for himself. Making the right or wrong decision in the present will settle your fate for all eternity. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:14-16, emphasis mine)

The present is eternal after all. There is no time like the present to change the course of your eternity.

 Notes:


[1] From http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=1950, accessed January 16, 2015.

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Episode 49 – Carbon-14 Dating

Paleontologists do not test dinosaur fossils for C-14 because they “assume” the age of fossils to be >65M years old. But if a really curious scientist were to test for C-14, I’m pretty sure they would find it. That might really shatter their faith in an old earth!

That's a Fact

Each year, it’s fun to celebrate birthdays. If we’re not sure of someone’s age, we can always check their birth certificate. But can any reliable methods determine the age of an object without a historical record?

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When the Music Stops

Music Magic

The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their musick. The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning. (Lamentations 5:14-15)

The other day on my way to the office, I was listening to a song by The Doobie Brothers entitled “The Doctor.” (Yes, I do sometimes indulge in listening to that godless music!) A line in that song says, “Music is the doctor of my soul,” and the premise of the song is basically that no matter what ails you, music (in this case “rock” music) will make it all better. That made me think: what happens when the music stops? What of your soul then?

We live in a very sensual era, where (it seems to me) people constantly seek one thrill after another. I notice many people walking around with ear buds plugged into their ears and their faces simultaneously plugged into their personal communications devices. It’s as if they desperately seek to shut out the world around them and seclude themselves to a fantasy world of their own creation. Perhaps that explains why many are oblivious to what goes on in the world around them. After all, unless one is firmly grounded, the ugliness of this world gives good cause for depression. Who needs that! So, crank up the tunes, focus on mindless matter, and invent your own reality. But, what happens when the music stops? What happens when “the doctor of your soul” dies?

When Jeremiah wrote the passage above, the Jews had serious cause for depression. Their nation had been ravished by the Babylonians, and all but the feeblest had been carried away captive to a foreign land. They said:

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.

For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.

How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land? (Psalm 137:1-4)

For them, the music had stopped, but note God’s response to their lament:

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. (Jeremiah 29:5-7)

In other words, live your life where you are. Face it; the world around us is not getting any better, and trying to drown it out with music and entertainment will not make it go away. At some point, the music stops, and we have to deal with life – real life with all of its ills. Jesus reminds us, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Trouble and tribulation are just part of life, but for the child of God there is the assurance that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Paul knew about this.  He said, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13). Note that this is something that is learned; one does not come by it naturally, and one does not learn it without living through it. Music is not the doctor; life is, but for the child of God, the power comes from Christ who has overcome the world and gives us to power to face all of life’s circumstances.

I enjoy music – all kinds – but when the music stops, “My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2).

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