As I am creating this issue, I am typing, while at the same time I’m hearing the lovely sounds of Classical music. My ears are receiving sound waves all the time, waking or sleeping. Those invisible waves beat against our ear drums on both sides of our heads. Those vibrations are funneled into the ear by the shape of the external ear and the ear canal. As the sound waves impact the ear drum it vibrates according to the variations of the sound waves. The vibrations of the eardrum cause the three bones of the middle ear to vibrate, transferring sound energy to mechanical energy. The energy is transmitted to the cochlea, a snail-shaped, liquid-filled organ. It has hairs and nerve endings that pick up the mechanical sound waves. Pitches or the specific sound frequencies stimulate specific individual hair cells in the inner ear. Thus, certain frequencies cause specific hair cells to respond. The hair cells translate the pitches into nerve impulses. Each ear has two nerve pathways, one to the left side of the brain and one to the right side of the brain.
What all that means is that I can hear beautiful harmonies. I can distinguish strings from wind, from brass and percussion. By concentration I can hear the violin or the cello, the flute or the clarinet, the french horn or the coronet, the timpani or the snare drum and in the midst of the sound pick out the tinkle of a triangle.
But that is only the beginning. I see the letters on the keyboard and they are quite different from those on the screen. The eye distinguishes letters in both fonts.
When I glance up to look out the window, but only for a fraction of a second, I can clearly see the trees, the lawn, the patio, the side of the house with windows and a door. All in living color. All in perfect definition, not blurred by the movement of my eye – Amazing! It is the most natural thing in the world, because we have grown up with such routine actions and impressions.
But how does the eye work? It has a clear lens attached by muscles that change its shape according to what we are looking toward. If it is close work our eye compensates by muscles tightening to make the lens more round. Conversely, to focus on far away objects, the muscles relax to make the lens more flat. The iris expands to allow more light to enter the eye in dim light and contracts to reduce the impact of bright light.
The retina is at the back of the eye. The lens focuses the light that falls onto the retina, which converts light into electrical impulses. The photo-receptors, include rods and cones. Rods are sensitive to black and white, while cones distinguish colors in daylight. The image that falls in the retina is upside down. This complex, inverted image is transformed into an electric code that is transmitted by the optic nerve to the visual center of the brain. There the brain decodes electrical input into a visual image inverted to give us the “right-way-round” sight.
There are too many “systems” for us to examine in this brief exposition – the circulatory system, the cardio-pulmonary system, the nerve “tree”, the complex organ that is the skin, the skeletal system, etc.
Let’s explore one more: the digestive system. There are four main processes in digestion: ingestion, digestion, absorbsion and assimilation. The whole process after a person places food in the mouth, chews it and swallows it is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. We have no volitional control of any part after we swallow.
The mouth reduces the food by slicing and grinding. Saliva is incorporated to lubricate and begin the digestive process. This is ingestion.
Digestion occurs as ground food is swallowed into the stomach. The stomach manipulation and addition of acid further reduces food into its constituent parts, i.e. macro-nutrients (carbs, fats and proteins), and micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals).
Absorption by the small intestine takes fluid and nutrients into the bloodstream, primarily simple sugars, salt and alcohol.
The uptake of the nutrients into cells and tissues is assimilation. The last part of assimilation is the reassembly of absorbed nutrients into complex organisms – cells, blood, organs, etc.
Remember all of this is beyond your control. Your autonomic nervous system “knows” how to do everything exactly right so that the bones receive calcium and not sugar; that the blood receives fluids and not bone-building material, that your eyes receive fluid for tears, and your ears wax and not the reverse.
We live in a fantastic machine. It is built to transport us through this material world. It is flexible, strong, reliable, and has the amazing ability to heal itself without our direction or effort. We cover a cut with a bandage to prevent contamination. The coagulation of blood seals the wound and the cells regenerate tissue that is exactly appropriate – skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscles. Break a bone and all we have to do is immobilize it and the bone knits together.
As a transport machine, this amazing Body works effectively. It carries our bodies to the table and carries fuel to our mouths. It moves us efficiently and easily around this planet’s surface. It has the ability to interact with others in both friendly (hugs and kisses) and aggressive ways (football tackles).
Consider locomotion. Walking takes strength and agility. Your legs alternate in carrying your body weight. The interchange requires balance as your transfer the weight of your body from one leg to the other. Your ankles adjust to the ground, whether on cement sidewalks or rough, plowed ground.
Then when speed is required other systems come into play. The heart accelerates to increase the nutrients and oxygen needed by the more active muscles. Your lungs increase the processing of air to accommodate the increased the oxygen-fueled burning up of energy. Think of the flexibility of spine, legs, arms, ankles, toes that come into play as you take a simple walk around the block.
That is all mechanical. What the body truly transports is you. And what is “YOU”?
We have had many of our young men injured in our various wars. Does the loss of an arm or leg, make a person any less of a person? It effects the person, no doubt, but the person is not diminished one iota.
Stephen Hawking contracted amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) when he was 21. He went on to become the world-renowned theoretical physicist, despite the crippled and contorted body and his inability to speak. His amazing machine was tragically and profoundly broken; nevertheless, it did not change who he was, nor prevent the real Stephen inside from becoming great.
Who we are is not determined by our body! The body transports who we are to accomplish what we desire to accomplish.
Most scientists tell us it was an accident. There are numerous other creative theories of the start of our world. A random lightning strike into primordial soup (or “goop”) that sparked life. The drastically shocked atoms became alive to form molecules and the molecules formed simple cells. As the cells got bigger some broke apart and those who did could grow again and feed more efficiently. Some say “lost city smokers” in the depths of the oceans exuded amino acids that combined with iron attracted hydrogen and oxygen compounds that then formed RNA. RNA became more robust and made viruses, which were alive and began reproducing. A few believe life was seeded on earth by meteors from distant stars. But there is no evidence of the non-living material substances transforming into life, let alone reproducing life.
Scientists believe the Earth is ca. 3.5 to 4.5 Billion years old. If life originated as a single cell, that cell reproduced and its second generation reproduced and over time, became more complex forming rudimentary botanical life with photosynthesis. And it formed biological life with sentience. Those respective molds or viruses had mutations, accidental changes in the basic structure that enhanced survivability. On the biological side, after several billions of years, a human was formed containing ca..30 Trillion cells (30,000,000,000,000). Humans have not only sentience, but love, a moral sense, a sense of justice, a conscience that plagues us when we do harm to others.
This Theory of Evolution (not a law, because there is no proof and because it is not reproducible, as the Law of Gravity is proved, every moment we live – ask your skinned knee from falling) has many unanswered questions. For instance, “Irreducible Complexity” (“a single system composed of several well-matched interacting parts that contribute to basic function; wherein removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, pg. 39) means that all the parts must be in place and working together.
Above I described the eye. Having a light-processing portion of the brain would be of no value unless there was a way to get exterior light to the brain. The optic nerve would be useless unless there were a light sensitive brain and a source of light. The cornea would have no survival value unless there was a lens to focus exterior light on the rods and cones and an optic nerve to transport the electrical impulses to the light sensitive brain. The eye consists of irreducible complexity. Without one of the several parts in place, the other parts could not enhance survivability and therefore would not be kept in the gene pool.
Mathematicians have taken the 400 Billion years and the huge numbers of changes necessary to transform a-one celled living creature and calculated that even 100, 000,000,000,000 years would not be enough for random mutations to form the 30,000,000,000,000 cells in the modern human being. One has stated that there is more chance of a tornado hitting a junkyard, whipping around scattered parts and leaving behind a fully assembled and airworthy Boeing 747, than for Evolution to produce us.
Despite the extreme complexity of the body, this amazing machine, scientists have great faith in evolution. Just think how this amazing machine converts a hamburger – a complex of bread bun, made from wheat, and eggs, and sugar, etc., the hamburger, made from muscle tissue and fat (in turn made from grass and grain), a slice of tomato, a piece of lettuce, a slice of pickle, some dressing, perhaps catsup or french dressing, add french fries, and a chocolate milk shake, into its constituent parts of protein, fat, sugar, vitamins, minerals and distributes them to bones, nerves, organs, while separating out the waste products – solids and liquids. The body processes them further, recycling some of the fluid in the blood stream.
If you were walking in the woods and discovered a pocket watch lying on the ground, you would pick up the watch and examine it. Opening the back cover, you would see the finely machined gears and wheels. In examining it more closely, you would discover that it was powered by a main spring which was wound by the stem. In contemplating the watch and its ability to measure time, you would naturally assume that its wheels and springs, hands and crystal just happened to fall together in a workable whole out of the natural minerals in the soil and rocks. Right?
Of course not! You would know from just picking it up that it was manufactured by someone of intelligence and upon opening the back would know it was engineered by an extremely skilled maker.
It is a wonder that intelligent scientists, well educated and studied in anatomy refuse to see that truth that the human body did not come together by chance. The human body (or for that matter any animal body) could not have developed on the basis of faulty mutations. Faulty, because mutations by definition are a change in the nature of something. That which was proceeding along a natural course gets interrupted and becomes something else. But the something else gets outnumbered by the natural and soon disappears.
It is far more logical to observe the handiwork of a master engineer. Think back on the few parts of the body were have investigated here. Our eyes are doubled, so we have depth perception. The lens is focused by minute muscles so we can see clearly both distant and very close objects. God designed eyes in those ways.
God planned you to be based on a common, very functional design. Two legs for a bipedal transportation, balanced by a bubble in the inner ear. He designed your digestion to be omnivorous. You can eat vegetables and meat. He gave you the ability to taste a wide variety of tastes. His love for your enjoyment gave you the pleasure of chocolate, of strawberry ice cream, of coleslaw, and fried chicken, of the mixed flavors of lasagna or borscht.
It is amazing that injuries heal. That is because our living Lord created the capability in our cells to regenerate. The blood coagulates over an open wound to protect from infection. Then the body sends in fibroblasts, a type of cell that helps rebuild skin tissue. These cells break down the clot and start replacing it with proteins, primarily collagen. This is a well-planned process. It does not happen unless an injury occurs.
He gave you emotions. And not just fear, anger, contentment, restlessness. But a spectrum of feelings from exuberance to grief. They, to a great extent, define who you are. God made you a reflection of Himself. He takes great joy in obedience and in ministering to the needs of others. He is deeply saddened by our sin and rejection of His sensible and productive way to live.
Every time you use your manipulative hands and fingers to remove a jar lid or play an instrument, to pick up a pin, give praise to God for creating you the way you are. He could have made you like a turtle, instead he made you more like a gazelle. Recall,
I will give thanks unto thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Wonderful are thy works; And that my soul knoweth right well. (Psalm 139:14)
Set aside all your education that tries to tell you the lie that you are an accident by multiple mutations. Common observation and common-sense shouts of a loving Creator. Recognize His fingerprints all over your life.
Not only has He Created you physically, but Almighty God has done so much more. He built into this world the reality of His redemption. His perfect world was ruined by man’s sin. As a result, we live in a broken world of natural disasters, of human inhumanity to man, of sick violence and murder against the weak and defenseless.
But our loving God has given us the wisdom to recover from natural disasters. We see disparate groups of people coming together to rescue, restore and rebuild, while succoring the injured and comforting the grieving. That does not come from “survival of the fittest”, but from the love of God exercised through believer and unbeliever, alike.
While never turning a blind eye to sin, God does not hold a grudge. Man destroyed God’s perfect world by his sin, still God has brought redemption to us. He has opened His heart and accepted us as His children.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving devotion for those who fear Him. (Psalm 103:11)
As far as the east is from the west, So far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, So Jehovah pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust. (Psalm 103: 13-14)
But the lovingkindness of Jehovah is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, And his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, And to those that remember his precepts to do them.” (Psalms 103:17-18)
He wants all people to live according to the precepts He has given to us, because that is the best way for us to live. Acknowledging Jesus in every hour and every part of our lives is the only reasonable thing to do. God loves us!
This is a recurring feature. I pose a question in one issue. You have the opportunity to send me answers. I publish the best ones in the next issue. Please cite Biblical authority, and keep you answer within 250 words.
ANSWER: Propitiation comes from the Hebrew ίλασμός (hil-as-mos) = “conciliate, atone for [sins], be propitious, be merciful, make reconciliation for”. While it is used only three time in the New Testament it is a powerful concept.
For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood, to show his righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God;” (Romans 3:23-25);
My little children, these things write I unto you that ye may not sin. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)
Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)
God established sacrificial worship in the Old Testament for the purpose of atoning for the sins of His chosen people. The blood of the sacrificial lamb (and other animals) was shed to propitiate the anger of God against sin.
God knew His people would sin. The Children of Israel also knew that they would sin; therefore, there needed to be a way to appease the just wrath of God against their inevitable sinning. God in His mercy set up the sacrificial system. The death of the lamb was both a substitution and an object lesson. The substitution was life of the animal for the life of the sinner. The object lesson was to teach that sin had dire consequences.
Jesus death on the cross was the once and for all propitiating sacrifice for our sinning. As Paul and John teach, Jesus, the God-man died in our place. As we have faith in the Blood of Christ, it becomes the propitiating sacrifice that atones for our sins. We are free, because God, out of love for us, sent His Son to be our substitute and our atoning sacrifice.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
Join me in bowing before our God in gratitude that we can speak directly and personally to Him. He is our loving Father, so we can embrace Him boldly, but respectfully.
My gracious God, all praise be to You. You are most holy. You are majestic. Praise Your Glory, Your Majesty, Your Love for Your People.
Your magnificent Creation, even in this broken state, is glorious. That testifies to the power of Your creative ability. You exercised Your word and said “Let it be.” And it was. You created it and us perfect. But we, Father, messed up your perfect world. We have corrupted everything we have touched.
Only Your grace has kept this world functioning well and providing well for all people. You have made its beauty mask the ugliness of corruption that has saturated the world and our lives.
I am amazed that You have granted us the beauty of this world. It is wonderful that You have given us the heart to appreciate all the beauty around us. Even our ungodly architects can create beautiful buildings. Nevertheless, the beauty of those committed to Your will and way far out shined the work, the art of unbelievers.
It is beauty from “both sides”. You, Holy Spirit inspire today’s work as You did the People of God in building the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. So it is with created beauty. It is especially beautiful to the believing beholder, because we see Your inspiration in the work.
Your love for us is represented in the world around us. Note the majesty of the mountains; the stark beauty of the desert and then the startling transformation when cacti bloom. A walk in the forest excites praise for the beauty of Your Creation.
The passing parade of people display the beauty You have designed in the variety of the people. Skins of all hues, hair of all colors, but what enlivens one’s beauty is the smile. You have created us to smile, to experience happiness and reflect Your joy. Dwelling in Christ is the seat of joy. You, our Savior enlighten our lives with the beauty of worship and the joy of living in Christ. Come now, Lord Jesus, visit Your servant with the grace of Your love. Fill my life with Your goodness. Make me to be a servant worthy of Your service. Open my heart and allow me to pour out Your grace onto the people around me – believers and unbelievers alike. Give me the beauty of holiness, so that I may attract others to Your beauty.
Oh, My God, my King and Savior, there are so many distressed people around me. They have no eyes to see Your beauty. They have no heart to appreciate Your loveliness. Have mercy on them and break through their resistance to Your truth. Give them the eternal, unshakable hope of Your love. Melt their frozen hearts with the warmth of Your Spirit.
Holy Lord God I praise You. I worship Your beauty. I praise Your loveliness. I magnify Your glory. Praise You, My Father. Praise You, My Savior. Praise You, my Teacher. All glory in all the world belongs to You and only to You. Praise God!
Father to Thee I raise my whole being
– a vessel emptied of self. Accept, Lord,
this my emptiness, and so fill me with
Thyself – Thy Light, Thy Love, Thy
Life – that these Thy Precious Gifts
may radiate through me and over-
flow the chalice of my heart into
the hearts of all with whom I
come into contact this day,
revealing unto them
the beauty of
of Thy Peace
which nothing can destroy.
The Prayer of the Chalice
May 24, 2015
For it is as when a man, going into another country, called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one; to each according to his several ability; and he went on his journey. Straightway he that received the five talents went and traded with them, and made other five talents. In like manner he also that received the two gained other two. But he that received the one went away and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
Now after a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and maketh a reckoning with them. And he that received the five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, ‘Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: lo, I have gained other five talents.’ His lord said unto him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’
And he also that received the two talents came and said, ‘Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: lo, I have gained other two talents.’ His lord said unto him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’
And he also that had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou didst not sow, and gathering where thou didst not scatter; and I was afraid, and went away and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, thou hast thine own.’ But his lord answered and said unto him, ‘Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I did not scatter; thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back mine own with interest.
Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away. And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.’
Each person is God’s unique creation. Even identical twins have differences. God is the Master Creator and Designer. He created each one of us with specific abilities and characteristics and gifts.
Because He is a purposeful God with each unique person He had a plan in mind. One day the Almighty said, “I AM going to create a Jew. I will arrange to have him born into a family of Jews that are Roman citizens. I will arrange for Him to have both an extensive classical education in Latin and Greek. He will also be tutored intensively in the Jewish Scriptures. He will have great management ability, be an excellent writer, courageous, zealous, an inspirer of men. His name will be Saul of Tarsus.”
What did Saul do with all these gifts? He used them in his efforts to crush the Jews who became involved in the heresy of believing that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. He worked aggressively to seize these believers in the Nazarene, confiscate their property, jail them and kill many.
Was he a good steward of God’s gifts? Of course not. He misused God’s gifts, causing pain and suffering to God by persecuting God’s elect.
The Father, the Son and The Holy Spirit allowed Saul to misuse God’s gifts only so far, and then Jesus halted Saul and turned him completely around. From a hater of Jesus and His believers, Saul was transformed into Paul, a lover of Jesus and His people. He became the foremost evangelist of the New Testament. Properly using God’s gifts, Paul reached thousands individually and by writing; and brought them to faith in Jesus, Son of God, Savior. Did Paul become a good steward of the gifts given to him by Almighty God? The answer is a resounding yes!”
Each one of us here has been endowed with gifts from our Father. He placed them in your innocent baby hands at the beginning of your life. He charged you to use all He gave you, everything in you, even your life itself, all to accomplish His purposes. As the Master in the parable gave talents to his servants, just so God, according to each one’s ability, charges you with the responsibility to turn His gifts unto great results.
To get an idea of the gifts God gives, you can look at the lives of the people God chooses to lead, prophesy, teach and minister. In Scripture there are great examples; King Hezekiah, Rahab and the Prophet Hosea, to name just a few.
Our Lord has not just saved us and left us on our own to live our lives. He has given us the responsibility to grow up in Christ and to be His ministers to believers and to those who do not have Jesus as Savior.
To show us how to grow He has given us the Holy Spirit. Jesus said He was sending the Spirit who would teach us all things and remind us of all Jesus taught. The Holy Spirit also assists us in our ministering to others. God has given us gifts. They are built into us from conception. They are encoded in our DNA. God has distributed them to individuals. Each person will have several complementary gifts. No one but Jesus has them all.
There are three lists of gifts, manifestations and offices in the New Testament.
All your lives you have been using the gifts your Lord has given you. As you reflect on how you have ministered in the past, you will understand how God was ministering through you.
When I was seeking an executive job, they counseled me to just list my previous employments, and then for each one describe in detail an incident that displayed an ability of mine. In this way, I was able to build a picture of the characteristics that made me fit for the job. It was not until later that I connected the skills I had with the gifting of my God.
Do you like to be with people? That may be the gift of hospitality.
Do you like to encourage people to see the movie you enjoyed or go to your favorite restaurant? That may be the ministry of evangelism.
Do you like to help people understand things? That may be the ministry of teaching.
What you like to do and do well, is most likely the talent God gave you to invest for Him and return the dividends. You can ask one another what gifts they see in you.
Jesus wants you to minister to the folks around you. As you pass someone in the hall, send a silent prayer to your Lord. “Jesus, how do you want me to serve her? How would you like me to pray for Him?” As you go by a room, stick your head in and ask how you can help. For those who want prayer, you can step in and pray for them. Lay your hands on them as you pray.
When you wake up each morning ask, “Jesus what ministries have You for me to do today?” During the day keep your eyes open for opportunities to exercise your gifts. Keep your ears open for the Holy Spirit’s direction.
Before you go to sleep each night pray for the people the Holy Spirit has brought to your notice during the day.
You cannot do everything. You can do something; but you must not do nothing.
And then when this life is over and the Lord God Almighty calls you in for an accounting of your use of His gifts, you can say. “Lord, here are the talents you gave me and here is how I multiplied them.” And He will say to you, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Lord!”
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”