Sunday Blessings Reply

picture of Saint John's Episcopal Church in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

St Johns Episcopal Church, Ocean Springs, MS – A Blessed Place

Being grateful for our blessings just on Sunday is not the message I want to deliver. Because today is Sunday, and I happen to be watching a popular television preacher preach about our blessings, the subject just seems to be appropriate. Indeed, it is appropriate anytime.

Today, as always, the sun rose and the world turned to gold. Sunrise is the most beautiful sight in any location. With the sun, our feelings rise and we feel good, ready to face whatever comes in the day ahead.

Recently, we were blessed with a visit of two young men, one of whom is our great-nephew. He and his partner have stayed a few days with us for the second year in a row as they attended a business conference in the Atlanta area. Joe, the nephew, is in the fitness business, and is always looking for ways to improve his business in exercise approaches, marketing, and management. It is refreshing to see a young, ambitious man tirelessly pursue his dream.

Being around these two is like a tonic. Sure, we had to prepare for their visit, but even though they spent most of their time at the conference, we really enjoyed them.

As a person ages, life changes. One’s body changes, but our Joe makes a business of helping senior citizens extend their active days. When around people like Joe, you just soak up his enthusiasm. It is catching.

So, today I thank God for the wonderful extended family I have, and for God’s work in our family. Soon, we will go to a wedding of one of Joe’s cousins. We are looking forward to celebrating life with our loved ones.

We have showers of blessings.

 

The Big Creation – Evolution Debate Reply

The debate was on debatelive.org, and was between Bill Nye, “The Science Guy”, and Ken Ham, CEO of Genesis Answers. The facility was the Creation Museum in Kentucky which Mr. Ham apparently runs. Bill Nye is well-known as a so-called science expert, and Ken Ham is a young-earth creationist. The young-earth creationists say that the earth is only about six thousand years old as opposed to the scientific view that it is four and a half billion years old.

The debate was a classic exchange of evolution arguments against Biblical based creation. Bill Nye used fossil evidence, radiometric evidence, and other things like genetic findings. He tried to concentrate his presentation against the young-earth hypothesis of the creationists. In doing so he repeatedly made a mistake in expressing that people who believe the Bible don’t understand science, or scientific principles. I agreed with him about the young-earth hypothesis being incorrect, but thought it was beyond the pale to imply that Christians, especially Christians in southern states, are ignorant of science and mathematics. That was pretty shallow of him.

The young-earth creationist view comes by counting Old Testament  generations from Adam to Jesus who lived at at a known time. I think they believe it was two thousand years from the world’s creation to Moses; two thousand years from Moses to Jesus; and two thousand years from Jesus to the present. There is uncertainty in their method, but I don’t feel like delving into all those scriptures and counting generations and years.

Of course, the four and a half billion year age of the earth comes from estimation using geological and astronomical data. Ken Ham’s retort to this sort of measurement was to define two types of science; present day observational science and historical science. His point was that since we were not present when the earth was created, we cannot ascertain age using current scientific methods. Ham says that all we are doing is making unwarranted assumptions.

In this Ham is wrong. Science is science, and it should always be based on observational data. The way we estimate the age of  things formed in the past is by using well known constants that were valid in antiquity, and are valid now. Think Carbon 14 dating, radioactive decay of uranium or other elements. There are many methods of physically dating rocks, bones, and vegetable substances. However, there are uncertainties in many methods, and these are usually expressed as a plus and minus accuracy. Ken Ham argues that none of them are accurate, and I think his argument is based on wishful thinking rather than any concrete evidence.

Nye did not classify the uncertainty of many of the dating methods. It is things like that get lost in so-called debates. He pointed out that there were lots of physical things that are dated older than the six thousand years of Ham’s creationist world. For example, the well known Bristle Cone Pine trees of California can get very old. The age of these trees is measured by counting tree rings, and involves very few assumptions. At least one is nine thousand years old. Ham had no reply to this example.

Ken Ham was absolutely consistent. If he didn’t have a physical explanation, he relied on the Bible. When Bill Nye said he didn’t know how matter was created, Ham pointed that there was a book that explained all that, and the book is the Bible. That got a few laughs in the audience.

Nye also exhibited a good deal if ignorance about the Bible and Christianity. For example, he accused Ham of being inconsistent when Ham explained that the Bible had many parts, not just a description of creation and laws. Bill Nye had no knowledge of the Book of Psalms which is poetry and songs.

Mr Nye also seemed to have no appreciation of the way science is always changing. Not all science changes, but almost every day some theory or scientific finding is overturned. That’s the way science works. Nye spoke of science as if it were a monolithic, unchanging thing. Science is a process designed to use evidence as its basis. When new evidence becomes available,  older theories are many times invalidated.  Trusting in science for an ultimate truth is risky, indeed.

Bill Nye has a degree in mechanical engineering, and as such, is an intelligent person. Unfortunately, his knowledge is lacking in some cases.. Ken Ham is nothing but stubborn, and it is sometimes disappointing when he hides behind the Bible rather than give an answer other than the evolutionists make too many assumptions.

The purveyors of evolution do make a lot of assumptions, and then tout those assumptions as science. For example, they fossil record is not satisfactory to me to explain evolution. What is more convincing are the genetic records. Even though I am a Christian, I accept the principle of evolution.

I don’t believe evolution detracts from the glory of God. When you look into the miracles of nature with science, it is hard NOT believe in God. Mr Nye would be well advised to thank God for our ability to scientifically explore all creation. Mr Ham would be well advised to keep an open mind.

Note: You may be interested in this article on the Federalist blog by Cathy Resienwitz. She calls creationism as believing in the “God of the gaps”. Interesting, and I agree with her.

The Evolutionism Creationary Bang Reply

Sometimes I wonder why we sit around and argue so much about things about which we have little or no knowledge. The origin of life is one of those things, and maybe this is an appropriate discussion for a Sunday.

A lot of people agree with something called, evolution. Some people believe in creationism. Understand, I have given you links to Wikipedia, but it is well known that Wikipedia can easily misrepresent things. I am not going to do a comparison about the entire theory about either belief, but just one aspect.

It seems to me that whether you believe that God created the universe ( and all creation), or evolution, then you wind up at the same place when considering the actual creation of matter and life.

Evolution, I think, postulates that the universe was nothing before the Big Bang. After that, everything happened at random with particles joining together to form atoms, then molecules, then stars, then all the rest of what makes up our universe. Life began, probably, in some sort of primordial soup of proteins and other organic compounds, most likely with the cooperation of a fortuitous lighting strike.

What happened before the Big Bang? Well, nothing, according to our scientific friends. In other words it was magic.

Now, along come the God believers who right off the bat will tell you the the whole thing was magic in the first place. Well, let’s say magic in the sense of a Superior Being, i. e.,  God doing the honors of creating matter and life.

So, I have accorded a belief in magic to evolutionists and creationists. Where am I going wrong?

I am far from being the person to evaluate either theory. Everybody will always take somebody else’s word for something, and we all are in that position from the viewpoint of how life was created, and by what means. As far as thinking that God created our world, universe, and life, that doesn’t conflict with the physical sciences. Maybe some Bible stories do, but I am not arguing that, anyway.

Of course, this brings up another issue. Evolutionists tend to think that people who believe in God are anti-science. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most of the famous and fundamental scientists were also Christians. Some had strange beliefs like Isaac Newton, who was also an alchemist. Many people say that Newton was the most intelligent person in history. Don’t forget Galileo and Copernicus, both Catholics.

I think I will stick with my backwards belief in God doing all this stuff. I will let others argue over where all that magic comes from.

Happy Dad’s Day, Kids 2

I was going to write a Dad’s day blog about my father, and what a great man he really was. Even though he was a poor man, had not finished high school, or even entertained college, he was fairly intelligent. He had actually been a school teacher at one time during the Great Depression.

But, now you are stuck with me. Yep, I’m a Dad, and I am proud of it. My two children lived to adulthood, although we lost one when he was twenty-one years old. It was fun to be around him, and others agreed saying that wherever he went there was sunshine, music, and laughter.

One day he called from his college saying, “Dad, I had an epiphany. While I was in the bathroom I realized that I am just like you”. Yes, he was a clown, too. Even at that, I was very pleased to hear those words. It was one of those little jokes between father and son.

My daughter is one of those musically talented people. She is an artist. She, like my son, went to college on  a voice scholarship. Now, she is a music teacher, and has delivered two of the most beautiful children on the face of the earth. It matters not whether they are as talented as my daughter. The idea is for them to be the genuine, loving persons my daughter and son became.

With the exception of my wife, my daughter is the most important person in my life. She is always concerned about my health, and promises to be an absolute health tyrant with her old man. She is unrelenting.

The fact that both of our children were Christians is the most rewarding thing you can imagine. “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

So, you see that Father’s Day is about not only honoring fathers. On this Father’s Day, I want to honor my children and grandchildren who have made life so meaningful and worth living.

What World Do You Live In? 2

Picture of a duck in the water.

Duck picture from Wikipedia

“She is like a duck. She gets up in a new world, everyday.”

This is what my Dad said about one of my cousins. My Dad was right. My cousin never lets the bad things in life get her down, and is always in a good mood. It is like she shakes off her worries every night, and gets up the next morning  with a whole new attitude.

There are people who spend their days worrying about the basics of life, and we need to recognize this and help them.

There are also people who spend their days worrying about all the little things that can affect them. These people can avoid a lot of their worry.

I think most of us are caught in between, having times of depression and worry, interspersed with times of security and happiness. Maybe that is a good definition of happiness, not worrying about things.

Having spent a career as a salesman, I know that one’s fundamental attitude about life will determine whether you are happy and successful. Life is all about attitude, and you can choose how you see things. Sometimes, we encounter defeats and losses, but your attitude determines how you are ultimately affected.

Life is also about perception, how we perceive ourselves, and how others perceive us. If we encounter life each day with a positive attitude and a willingness to work our problems, others will perceive us as happy, successful people. Success breeds success, and you will find yourself going from one successful encounter to the next, all because you started the day with a good, positive attitude.

What can you do to get yourself into that positive attitude each day? There are many ways to do this.

You can think positive thoughts. That’s a good start.

Dale Carnegie classes have an exercise that will get you going. Just repeat the words, “Act enthusiastic and you’ll be enthusiastic…” while performing vigorous exercise, and you can achieve two things. Your pulse rate is physically quickened, and because your blood is flowing a little faster, your mental processes are kicking into a higher gear. Try it.

Another piece of wisdom from Dale Carnegie, and countless others, is to pray. Ask God each day to shoulder your worries, and give you the confidence to fight and win the countless little battles you will encounter. By the time you run into a big problem, you will be way ahead of the game. Prayer can work miracles.

Dale Carnegie was a tremendously successful person, and his career was spent making others understand how to be happy and successful. This was due in no small part to Carnegie’s Christianity. Therein lay the source of his success.

I choose to live in a world figuratively full of sunshine and happiness. I love each day, and enjoy the blessings that inevitably come my way. I pray that I am not a worry to others, for healing the sick, and  I pray for competency in our political leaders. Yep! Since they are in office it would be nice if they did the right thing, occasionally. God has a lot more influence in those cases than I.

What kind of world are you living in? I believe most people are happy most of the time. Maybe that is because I don’t like to hang around people who gripe and complain about their situation.

Life is too short to spend your days worrying about things you cannot control. That’s God’s job.

The Holy Book 2

picture of an old, illustrated BibleWhat is it that makes a book holy?  Wikipedia says a holy book is text or scripture considered sacred by a religion. That can cover a lot of territory, but it will do for my little article.

As Christians, we have the Holy Bible which is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. We view the Bible as the story of the relationship between God the Creator, and mankind. It starts with poetic words in the first chapter of Genesis in the Old Testament, and ends with apocalyptic words in Revalations, the last book of the New Testament.

In between we read of how God favored one people over another, and how this relationship waxed and waned throughout history. With the New Testament, God gives us a new deal in the person of His Son, Jesus. We are given salvation through the act of Jesus sacrificial death, and all we have to do is believe.

Salvation is the gift of God.

Throughout history, Christianity has been under attack. So has the Holy Bible. People deface the Bible, call it fraudulent, drag up inconsistencies in the texts, and generally try to discredit this work. There have been attacks upon attacks.

With all the attacks, the Bible still stands as God’s Word. We Christians take offence to the defacing of the Bible, but we are smart enough to know that the Bible is just a book made up of paper and other materials necessary to present the text. The important stuff is the Word of God.

The Word of God cannot be destroyed. The Word of God is much more than just words. As the New Testament Book of John says in its very first verse, ” In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Argument after argument is posed that there are inconsistencies, and contradictions in the Bible. One of the most egregious readings was done by none other than Carl Sagan, dead scientist, astronomer and talk-show publicity hound.

In Sagan’s book, Contact, he takes a shot at there being two contradictory creation stories in the first chapter of Genesis. He is correct, there are two stories. However, there is only one way you can read a contradiction into the text, and that is to not understand the context. Sagan decided to take the accounts in an ultra-literal way, thereby establishing different orders for the creation of mankind, animals, and the earth.

There is danger in reading a text that was written in older languages in times when things were different. Context can be everything, and Sagan chose to ignore this. This is called the Fallacy of Contextualism. The link takes you to a scholarly article on this very subject.

In spite of all the seeming contradictions, we still hold to our beliefs. God’s Word does not need our defense. Our job is to spread it.

This brings me to the reason for my writing this article. Christians should defend, and spread the Word of God. However, just burning a Bible, or defacing a Bible has no effect on the power and longevity of God’s Word.

We don’t need to riot, kill, and generally go insane because some people deface or defame our Christianity or the Holy Bible. Jesus and the Bible are stronger than this, and we know that the story of Jesus, and God’s Word cannot be stamped out with a few book burnings.

I Want My New Day Reply

As I watched my fifteen year old dachshund, Sam, stumble around in the yard this morning in pain because of his arthritic joints, it struck me that he would not have many days left. The day would soon come when I would have to have him killed. I do not look forward to that day.

That day might be a merciful day for Sam. He can’t see or hear very well, and has to be watched constantly when outside because of his tendency to random sniff/walk into the street. If doggies have an afterlife, he could be happier when that new, painless day comes for him. I am being good to the old hound on the basis that if he beats me to those pearly gates, I don’t want him waiting around to testify against me.

Any way you look at the situation, Sam has a new day coming.

What is a new day for you? Is it like the song, “Our Day Will Come”?

“Our day will come
And we’ll have everything
We’ll share the joy
Falling in love can bring.”

Of course, there are the religious views on new days, and what they herald as in this contemporary Christian song, “There Will Be A Day“.  The message is Biblical, “there will be a day when there are no more tears”. It is a beautiful, comforting message.

There are many “New Day” songs. Witness the incomparable voice of Celine Dion in, “A New Day Has Come“. How about “A Brand New Day” from the Wiz’? All those new day songs speak of freedom, hope, love, and cleansing.

We all want to believe that a new day is coming, and it will be full of good things for us whether it be material riches, or just the love of a person. The expectation of a new day speaks strongly about our faith in the future. Some people live their lives convinced that a new day will be worse than today.

Most of us believe that our new day will make things right, and justify our actions, beliefs, or opinions. That’s OK, and it should not be seen as a selfish thing. It is the natural thought process of a positive person.

I believe there is a problem with some of this new day thinking. If we sit around, waiting for that glorious new day, it will never come. We will not win the lottery. The news media will never report events accurately, and you don’t have a rich aunt from whom you will inherit millions. Well, most of don’t have rich aunts, and most of us will not win a lottery.

Only by acting on our faith can we even begin to expect a newer, brighter day. That day may never come for us, but we may have contributed to our descendants well being.

New days only come to those who work for them. Anything else is just luck, which is another story.