Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Top 4 Most Popular Posts of 2014 (And What I Learned from Them)

At the end of the 2014 year, I have pulled together my top 4 blog posts from ibitedge.blogspot.com. I think it is important to think about these topics again, both for the content and the reasons many may have wanted to read the posts. As a blogger, I need to be sensitive to the needs of the reader, trying to both inform and arm you with interesting and important ideas that will help you in your interactions. I think I can also learn things from them as a blogger. Feel free to check out my thoughts and posts!

1) WRONG! How to raise a rebel or an atheist (don't do these things if you want your progeny to be Christian). http://ibitedge.blogspot.com/2014/08/wrong.html

Concerned parents and teachers want to teach their children and students to know and understand truth. This post gives ideas of things not to do - it's full of sarcasm!
2) 3 Things You Thought The Bible Says About Christmas, But It Doesn't. The Bible never says that Jesus was born in a stable, the angels sang or that there were three wise men. http://ibitedge.blogspot.com/2014/12/3-things-you-thought-bible-says-about.html

Simply put, people want to know what they have been missing out on and also like to learn. This post fulfills both of these desires. It also implies that we need to read the biblical text carefully - not with our presuppositions!
3) Multiverse Theory Proves Flying Spaghetti Monster. If the Multiverse Theory is true, the proverbial Flying Spaghetti Monster, along with many other crazy things exist! http://ibitedge.blogspot.com/2014/08/multiverse-theory-proves-flying.html

I can't take credit as the author of this post. Just reading the title almost makes one laugh. The post itself is even more hilarious! The logical conclusion from an hypothesis that tries to present itself as being so prestigious - but it is innately unverifiable. It seems people will go to all ends with blind faith to hold to a view that tries to put "God out of a job." (However, it still does not demonstrate that there is no God. If this view was true, we still have the question of who made the multiverse?)
4) The Amazing Cell! The amazing design and signal broadcasting system in the cell. http://ibitedge.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-amazing-cell.html

This post was one amazing video clip you will have to watch again! It shows some process that happen within our cells - an awesome and amazing signal broadcasting system!

Feel free to tell me which one was your favorite post in the space below!  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

3 Things You Thought The Bible Says About Christmas, But It Doesn't.

Now each one of these three items may be true, they may have happened as tradition says, we may even have external evidence that points to their truthfulness. However, the Bible does not bear them evidence.

Jesus Was Born In A Stable

What we hear is that Jesus was born in a stable, now like I said before, he just may have been. But the Bible does not say this. It says in Luke 2:7

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

In those days, some kept small animals in the house to protect them from the elements. In fact, even in modernity, there still are farmers who will bring in a piglet, a lamb or chicks for a short time to protect them from the whether and wild animals. Could they have stayed in a house? Maybe. Did they stay in a stable or barn? Probably - but again the Bible does not say.

The Angels Sang At Jesus' Birth

So many times in our traditions of the Nativity and Christmas carols, we hear that the angels sang with "glad tidings." Ah, but again, the Bible does not say this. Check out Luke 2:8-14

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

So did they sing? Maybe. But all it says here is that they were "...saying, Glory to
God...". In fact, I don't think the Bible says anywhere that angels ever sing! However, they could have sang in this case – but it just does not say.

https://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=Ibite

There Were Three Wise Men To Give Gifts To Jesus

Tradition say that their names were: Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar. Others say their names were Larvandad, Gushnasaph and Hormisdas, or what about Hor, Karsudan and Basanater? And still others say their names were Kagpha, Badadakharida and Badadilma. But alas, the Bible never gives their names - let alone say there were only three. Check out Matthew 2:1, 2

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

And verse 11
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

So you see, the number of wise men, or Magi, are never specified, rather the number of gifts were three.

Spread The News!

Alright, there you have it, three things that you were taught that the Bible says - that the Bible never says! Now you have something to talk about when you gather with family and friends this Christmas!

Have a Happy Christmas! Spread the joy of this season and the reason of Christ's birth - to free men from the bondage of sin!

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Image Source: commons.wikimedia/G.dallorto

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On Discrimination and Noah's Ark

During the last few years, Ken Ham’s organization, AIG, has been spearing heading a project to build a full size replica of “Noah’s Ark.” One may not be interested in this project, agree with it, or even go to see it, but, it would seem to me, most would be like “great, if it brings money into the state, more power to them.” Interestingly it is not this way. They have been denied tax incentives because of two reasons:

1. The park owners want to have the right to hire per religious preference.
2. Have the ability to tell others of their religious views.

Practice What You Preach

However, it seems to me, the state is doing exactly what they are accusing this organization of doing: discriminating against those of a different view. Some parks are just for fun, others have more educational aspects such as history, religious education or science. Shouldn't they all have equal access to tax rebates? In fact, this park tries to combine all of these types of parks (even if one disagrees with their conclusions). Is “discriminating” now correct when another “discriminates?” This seems to be a self-defeating position.

Is It That Bad?

In addition, "discrimination" is made out to be a “bad” thing in this case – but why this type of situation? Governments and business do it all the time. In fact you do it too! Why else do businesses drug test people? Why don’t they hire engineers who have not gone to school? Why don’t hospitals hire a welder for a physician position? Why don’t you let anyone move into your house? Why don’t you allow robbers to enter – why do you lock your doors? Why did you marry the one who showers once a day instead of one who showers once a year? These practices are all discriminatory – but is this case different? I think they have the right to decide who they want to hire. If the state wants to discriminate, then they need to call it for it really is – they are “discriminating against non-materialistic worldviews". They don't discriminate against those who hold to a materialistic worldview.

Discrimination At Institutions and Governments

Look at government run institutions that only hire those of the same view point. Think about the educational system, I have personally meet and talked to teachers and scientists who have been demoted, denied a job, fired or had there articles denied in magazines and journals - because of their worldview. Why? Simply because they held to the view that the universe, to some level, had been designed by an intelligent agent. Talk about tolerance, diversity and being non-discriminatory!

Worldview Issue

You see, the foundational issue here is not Ham's boat or even one's science job, but rather worldviews. Nor is the pivot of this issue over religious views. It's the question of whether or not the universe was designed! That is foundational! The line of demarcation is design or no design. The fulcrum is materialism or theism. Both are worldviews, both try to explain our human experience.

However, it seems that preferential treatment goes to one worldview in our cultural – the one that feels that nature is all that exists. Even though this view is weaker in its explanatory power, it is more attractive because of its false sense of immunity to ultimate authority.

This skewed sense of morality leads to strange positions such as "discrimination is good dished out to those who hold to a view of a designer". It seems like it is a one way street by our culture's standards - it's good and upright one way, but the other....immoral and intolerant!

You will not want to miss the next posts. If you found this one helpful, you will want to keep an eye open for others. The best way is to click here, because you can get them straight to your inbox so you don’t miss out! (Click here.)

What are your thoughts? Do you know of cases or have you ever been "discriminated" against because you have a theistic worldview?


Monday, December 8, 2014

4 Creative Ideas For Christmas Cards and Greetings

In the last post, I gave ideas on Christmas' card captions. Here I want to build on that and give more ideas to help you as you send out cards.

Make your message short, memorable and succinct

Give the essence of Christ, the reason for his birth and maybe even a succinct gospel message of the kingdom. However, “preachy” cars may turn many off.

Push against the slogans

People become dull of hearing the message when slogans lose their original luster. For example, instead of “Merry Christmas” use maybe “Happy Christmas.”

Use Images and text lines that are deep but different

Building off the two previous points, if you can write or if you are an artist, use simple truths in a new and powerful way. We have the “romantic” Nativity scenes, but what about a greater range of feelings, such as the despair of being turned away from an inn, the pain of child birth and the “stuck in the manger” feel and running from the king's soldiers? How about the perspective of the magi, the Shepherds or maybe even Herod!

Stay away from the “political correct” phrases 

Our culture is pushing everyone to be “PC”, in this case we need to “swim against the tide”. Examples of these meaningless phrases include the infamous “have a happy holiday”, rather use greetings that have substance for the meaning of this time of the year.


Do you have more ideas? If so, feel free to them below!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

One Thing To Do As You Prepare For Christmas.

Your Christmas card list of contacts may have gotten longer over time, still including those who you haven't talked to in years. Don't miss this opportunity to express Christ through your cards, letters, family pictures or gifts. You have a perfect opportunity to share Christ, so why not use it for the furtherance of the Kingdom?

Do you desire to speak the Gospel in a setting where most people will be friendly to what you say? Christmas is the time of the year when you can do just that. While you may offended some, most people are not only undisturbed by Christ during the Christmas season, but expect you to present the subject.

That method is with Christmas cards.

If you're not a creative card maker, seek out cards that contain the essences of Christ's coming. If you enjoy making and designing cards, make something special with the Kingdom message. Knowing were to start can be a problem for some. The main principle for your text and graphics is that it should be deep and meaningful in content to help others think about Christ. However, it also needs to be persuasive while not preachy. Bible verses, parts of Christmas Carols and creative, but meaningful, thoughts can jump start your card captions. You can also gather ideas from past Christmas cards you have received. Lastly, to help start your “mind juices”, feel free to use or get ideas from any of the following card captions.

O God our loving Father, help us rightly to remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men. May Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake, amen.
—Robert LouisStevenson
______________________________
Jesus is God’s promise fulfilled.
May you take great joy in Him and the celebration of His birth.
______________________________
From the cradle to the cross:
What the Child has done for those who receive His pardon…
______________________________
Nailed to the top of the cross of Jesus’ was a “certificate of debt” to Caesar, a public display of Jesus’ crime: “King of the Jews.” When punishment is complete, Caesar’s court will cancel the debt with a single Greek word stamped upon the parchment’s face: “tetelestai.” Finished. Paid in full.
Being king of the Jews is not the crime Jesus pays for, however. Another certificate as nailed to to his cross that day: ours. In the darkness that shrouds Calvary from the sixth to the ninth hour, Jesus gave his life as a ransom so we can be free from the shackles of sin and Satan.
At the last, it is not the cross that takes Jesus’ life. When the full payment is made, when the sin debt melts away, when the ransom has been paid, freeing us from our own wrong doing and slavery to sin, Jesus simply dismisses His spirit with a single Greek word that falls from His lips: “Tetelestai.” It is finished. 
Colossians 2:13-14
John 19:30
John 8:34
Romans 6
______________________________
Christmas Blessings…
…with a prayer that you come to a quiet place of reflection on the simplicity of Jesus’ birth and the magnitude of His purpose.
 _____________________________
Christmas is not about giving, it's about a gift. May the gift of forgiveness and freedom through Jesus, our Lord, fill your heart this year.
Merry Christmas
 _____________________________
Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name “Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:23
______________________________
The God of all creation humbled Himself to become a human being—our Savior, Christ the Lord.  Because Jesus was born He could die, bringing the abundance of life we enjoy through Him.  May each of you rest in the Babe whose birth we celebrate this day.
______________________________

What creative cards have you seen or made over the years? Do you have any more ideas you could add below for others to use?

These captions either came from or were based off of the following source: Koukl, G. (Mar 12, 2013) http://www.str.org/articles/christmas-card-captions#.VHUEl5-c3Qo

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Amazing Cell!

A couple of years ago, I came across a presentation given at one of the TED conferences by a Drew Berry. If I would have a guess, many non-biologists would be really bored with a talk on cell division, right? But no, not this one, it was most interesting, using computer animation, he exposed the cell division process in great detail - and made it breath taking for everyone!

You see, attached to sister chromosomes is something called the "kinetochore" which contains around 200 types of proteins but thousands in all. This little structure acts as an anchoring site for microtubules, part of the cell scaffolding. Microtubules help pull the two daughter chromosomes apart.

But the interesting part is this, the kenetochores are sending out little chemical and motor signals to indicate when the cell will divide! In fact, Drew called the kenetochore a "signal broadcasting system."

The implications of this structure alone are astounding. Along with many other types of epigenetic information within the cell, these attachment sites hold one of the most illustrious keys to the mysterious dividing cell. One can see a designer's creative abilities at play with structures like this. It's mind boggling that such an elegant structure, such as this, doesn't kindle more awe responses from people towards an amazing creator!

I would encourage you to take a look at it for yourself!







Image credit: Flicker/Mehmet Pinarci

Friday, November 14, 2014

What Is The Difference Between Shannon Information and Specified Complex Information? And why it's important.

Information is interesting, here I want to specifically discuss Shannon Information verses Specified Complex Information. I know, you may be saying "so what, it sounds boring to me." Maybe so, it may even zip over your head, in that case duck so it will hit the person behind you! While being of an esoteric philosophical nature, I think it's significant because of its implications.

The Difference Between Shannon Information and Specified Complex Information
The Difference Between Shannon Information and 
Specified Complex Information
There's a view that information in DNA and biological systems contain just Shannon Information - this is not true. Yes, biological systems do contains Shannon Information, but it is more specific than that - it contains Specified Complex Information. Let me first define the two and then tell you why biological systems have Specified Complex Information and why this discussion is so important.

Shannon Information verses Specified Complex Information

Shannon Information is only concerned with the improbability or complexity of character strings. In other words, it's just mere complexity or it has information-carrying capacity. Specified Complex Information on the other hand, is complex, but also has patterning significance. This is functional information that carries meaning

Let me put it this way, all Specified Complex Information is Shannon Information, but not all Shannon Information is Specified Complex Information (see bottom half of the meme). For example, Shannon Information just means that a string of characters are complex and improbable in their arrangement, but it does not define if this string carries significant meaning. Again, Specified Complex Information is specified and always carries meaning.

For example, this is Shannon Information:
“dfsad sdaf oije .zvsdlkfjas sdlfj” and also can be “Learning about information is fun!” 
However, Specified Complex Information always carries meaning: 
Learning about information is fun!”
“dfsad sdaf oije .zvsdlkfjas sdlfj” is not specified functional information - at least as far as I know, it holds no meaning to an English speaker!

In case you did not get that, let me put it this way. Consider a key and lock. You can take a key blank and file down any pattern on the key blade - that is Shannon Information. However, if you want the key to fit the lock, you have to cut the key blade to specified sequences, shapes and depths for proper key-lock fit. Now that is Specified Complex Information.

Biological Systems and Text on the Page

Now both the text you are reading and DNA are improbable and complex. However, both carry meaning. The text you are reading is telling you something in English. DNA contains information that transcribes to RNA that gets translated to protein. In fact those sequences must be in a specific order else the organism will not produce the correct protein, a protein that does not function well or maybe none at all! The organism's enzymes must be able to transcribe it, if there is no correct sequence, there is no transcription.

Why Know the Difference?

Oh, by the way, just so you know why this distinction is so important, Specified Complex Information is only generated from a mind. In fact, that is the only source we know of that produces this type of information! Think of the text you are reading now, it has come from my mind. Thus this leads to the conclusion that life's specified informational core is grounded in intelligence - an intelligent mind!


Have you heard materialists say the "DNA is just Shannon Information" so it can arise by chance? What do you think, have you gained a new level of respect for "Information theory?"

Friday, November 7, 2014

FALSE: Adam Did Not have One Less Rib Than Eve

Introduction to Anatomy & Physiology, professor lecturing - I can still picture it even though it was back in the first year of the new millennium. “Men and women on average have 24 ribs” he said. And then he said: “no, men don’t have one less rib”, he want on “that was only Adam.”

First I was kind of surprised he would even bring up a biblical account, many have gotten in trouble talking about anything biblical in a science class, not counting more or less the part of the creation account. However, something else hit me, raising my hand I said “Maybe Adam did have a complete set of ribs, I understand that the rib is the only human bone that can regenerate sections after removal.” “No” he said, “bones don’t grow back, they can heal, but not grow back.”

As the years slid forward, that interaction never left me. A few years later I set out to track down the truth, was I correct? That’s when I ran across an article by Dr. Carl Wieland who told of a previous accident that caused the loss of some of his bone. To replace the missing bones, his surgeon used sections from his ribs - because they regenerate (1)!

As a born and raised thinker and researcher, I went deeper. After searching online, I came across and contacted a few surgeons around the world who seemed to have some knowledge in this area. Over and over I heard the same, yes they use bone from the rib and it regenerates back (2). Even recently researchers also confirmed this same action with rib cartilage (3).

You see, when a surgeon removes the a section of the rib bone they leave a surrounding tissue, called the periosteum, in place. Stem-cells are abundant in this tissue and they regenerate new rib bone.

So, did Adam have one less bone than Eve? Did God know what he was doing when he picked the bone he did to make Eve? Maybe the same God who made him really did know what he was doing, surprise, surprise!

What are your thoughts? Has an experience like this ever happened to you? Have you been told that men are less a rib compared to women? 



 

Sources:
(1) Wieland, Carl. "ADAM’S RIB: CREATION & THE HUMAN BODY." https://legacy-cdn-assets.answersingenesis.org/assets/pdf/radio/adamsrib.pdf

(2) Personal email correspondence with a number of surgeons, one was Dr. David Pennington whose name was mentioned in the article that I came across. Also, see this site: http://www.scoliosis.org/resources/medicalupdates/ribthoracoplasty.php

(3) Healing power of 'rib-tickling' found by researchers. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140913141423.htm?

Srour, M., Fogel, J., Yamaguchi, K., Montgomery, A., Izuhara, A., Misakian, A., Lam, S., Lakeland, D., Urata, M., Lee, J. and Mariani, F. (2014). Natural large-scale regeneration of rib cartilage in a mouse model. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, p.n/a-n/a.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

3 Powerful Principles so You can Change the Nation

As a Christian going to the polls, you must make wise judgments. Many questions can be raised such as: who do I vote for and what should you do when both candidates are not desirous? However, first we must elucidate our foundation as Christians by stepping back to see the big picture then I would like to answer the two questions above.

What About The First Christians?

We already talked about Christians and voting (click here). A glaring omission from that post is the fact that during Christianity's first few centuries, Christians did not desire political office nor did they assume national leadership positions. They had a bigger goal, the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom knew no national border, it was cross culture with citizens established worldwide and whose king was Christ. With this approach they were able to change the world within a few hundred years!

Modern Times

Fast forward to modern times, many nations once held many professors of Christ and some even tried to erect a “Christian” state. Compromises were usually made that came at the cost of following Christ. In the end they failed.

Many have also become disillusioned by nominal Christians - living hypocritically and abstaining from Christ’s teachings. Both non-biblical and un-biblical rules have taken center stage. Other times Christ’s teachings are waved as being for a different time. Progeny have fallen away and now are anti-Christian because parents and churches have have not trained them. The focus was not the Kingdom of God, but rather their own lives, their own preoccupations and their own frivolous enjoyments and many times sins.

Our Primary Step

To change the state, nation and world, we must first disciple followers of Christ everywhere for a closer walk with God. If we just apply the Scriptural precepts we understand, we’ll have a busy occupation indeed. We all understand that we are to love God with everything and our neighbour as ourself. If we love all, we will not steal, lie nor commit sexual immorality.

Legislating morality is the business of the government. If all professors of Christ were focused on the Kingdom of God, for many areas the legislation of morality would almost be a silly. Our greatest potential for changing a nation and the world is for each one of us to put Christ back on the throne as king.

Christ and the apostles never taught that we need to be all distressed about leadership – again they had a bigger and more important goal. Remember, Christians weren't originally in national and state governmental leadership. A non-Christian leader is not abnormal - the early Christians changed the world without even one position of senator or emperor. They changed it by their lives and obeying Christ!

Pick The One Who Can Do The Greatest Good

With that as our grounding, let’s switch gears to the topic of voting. Should we vote for one who does not hold to all the proper views? Consider this dilemma, there are two main contenders who we disagree with, in fact both are atheists and believe the same except on the issue of abortion. Abortion, the unjustified taking of an innocent human life, is murder and sin. With the responsibility for action, your best choice is obvious, the one who supports sanctity of life.

Chose The One Who Has The Best Chance

What if three candidates are running for an office, one is outright opposed to good, one who is mediocre but much better than the first and the last is desirable in almost every point. In addition, the the real competition is between the first two, either could obtain the seat. The third has only very low polling results.

Just like in many other situations in life, perfect can sometimes be the enemy of good - diminishing returns is increased when we hold out for the best. The best usually never comes, may not work and itself may have intrinsic failures when we mortal beings are involved. A vote for the perfect potential who has no hope of attaining the post would be squandering our lot to the one who holds the most evil position.

A Call To Action!

So how do we change a nation? First it starts with us, our family and our Christian fellowships. We need biblical grounding, a life that is prayer bound and holiness in our life. We need a drive to share with others. When we live in a land where we are given the responsibility to vote, do it with joy and justice. Wisdom, knowledge and judgement are key so we can live in freedom and peace. This enables us to worship God according the Bible and so we can spread the gospel. But always remember, we have a bigger cause, a bigger vision, a bigger kingdom – The Kingdom of God!


What do you think? 


Image source: Compilation from image from Flicker/ NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Should A Christian Vote?

"Britain’s official education inspector has informed an independent Christian school that it is out of step with “British values” prescribed by the government and must invite someone from another faith, such as a Muslim imam, to lead assemblies or it risks being closed" (1).

News stories like this are seemingly becoming more common - strange and anti-Christian. It seems that some in national leadership have been taken in by the cry for tolerance, but uphold intolerance to Christians.

How do we decrease this type of rhetoric? There are many things that come to mind, like engaging both society and our progeny for Christ. We aught to be living as Christ taught and obeying him. Pray for the leadership as Paul instructed in 1 Timothy 2:2-4 so we can “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” The reason Paul gives is so all men may be saved and know the truth. When people in society are saved and know truth, this type of activity will be greatly diminished.
 

Should we vote?

So what about voting? Some Christians feel we should not vote - others feel we should. One group says we should just pray, the other asserts prayer with voting.

However, the new testament writers say nothing on the topic of voting - nothing at all. One can’t make a lucid case based upon a command from Scripture, in other words one view can’t be more biblical than the other in this regard. To me, it is suspect when one tries to make a hard biblical claim on this when the Bible does not even talk this subject. If this topic was so important, why didn't Christ and the apostles talk about it? While voting may not have been like today's, God is omniscient, he would have talked about it if he wanted. On the other hand, from the perspective of precepts and principles, the Bible does speak.

In the thirteenth chapter of Romans, Paul states “Wherefore ye must needs be subject [to leaders], not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” We see a responsibility to be subject to state leadership, paying taxes (Jesus also says this in Matthew 22:21) and respect them. Many governments not only give the freedom to vote, but also tell us it is our responsibility. When we vote, we aren't trespassing any biblical command, so this is not a case of “obeying God rather than man,” since God has not specified a command in this area.

Actions with prayer

James, in the second chapter of his book, verses 14-18 says this: “ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

Just as we see that being a Christian takes more than just faith, such as our actions and obedience, so one can make a case for prayer and actions when it comes to governmental leadership. When we vote for good leadership, we have a chance to do good, so we should. We have the opportunity to make a difference, a positive one, let’s jump at the opportunity.

What about being of this world?

But, I hear some say “aren't we supposed to not be of the world”? speaking in this sense of being part of a earthly government. While that is a good question, it is a different one and needs to be answered at a different time, that question has nothing to do with what we are talking about here. For example, while at one college, I walked past a table where one could vote for a new school logo. Even though I really didn't care, I picked the one that I liked and moved on. However, I was not part of the school government nor even leadership at the school.

Our greater focus

However, on the other hand, I'm concerned for some, they worry and stress over this, even when there's nothing else they can do. We are taught to not worry in Philippians but rather we need to focus on the kingdom of God. We can get caught up in politics and miss people, miss living a righteous life and being a godly example. We need to be out doing good for others and telling them about the Kingdom.

By default, we are "temporary citizens" of our country of birth, and have responsibilities because of it. We need to pay taxes, obey the laws and vote because the leaders ask that of us. However, getting caught up in the rhetoric, slandering and backbiting should be far from us. Nor should we get absorbed in the concerns that take all of our time. Like elaborate houses, expensive cars and extravagant vacations, it's a wrong focus. Excessive involvement in sports such as hunting, fishing, football, and golfing can also take us away from following Christ. We have a greater calling, a heavenly Kingdom, and heavenly work to do!



(1) http://www.wnd.com/2014/10/christian-school-told-to-have-muslim-imam-lead-assemblies/

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Should Christians Bury Their Head in the Sand?

The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was a list of banned books by the Roman Catholic church from centuries ago. It included two notable books: Johannes Kepler's Epitome astronomiae Copernicanae, which was on the index from 1621 to 1835. The second notable book was, in various editions of the index, some translations and editions of the Bible. Now I’m not going to judge them for what they did at that time, however, looking back, it must be an embarrassment. For us, we too have some who want to "ban books." However, instead of "banning books", maybe a stronger approach would be to educate people on truth, wisdom and common deviations from the truth. This will help arm the common follower of Christ prevent deception.

To build a foundation, I want to note that in a previous post I gave some steps to deflect brainwashing - including knowing truth and intentionally building a broad background in different works (click here). When one puts undue faith on one or even a small group of men or women for opinions, there is impending disaster. In another post on technology, I noted how to bolster oneself against online deception - knowing truth and understanding good sources (click here). Lastly, I noted in a training post that one needs to disciple oneself, or others with, what I called, inoculation (click here).

Just as some parents have concerns about diverse perspectives attacking their children, some leaders of Christian fellowships have the same concern -- for real reasons. However, just as in my previous post on inoculation, isolation is not the key to growth. It makes one much more vulnerable to deception. Isolation is not the key to purity in teaching, but rather it’s the road to a weak or an absent spiritual immune system. Knowing truth and having wisdom is like having a healthy body and nutritious food. When a healthy body is inoculated the body prepares for the defenses. When arguments do present themselves against truth, one will already have heard and been prepared to succinctly and efficiently counter the arguments -- in both one's mind and verbally if needed.

When I hear about Christian leaders insisting that only limited texts and literature is advised, or that one should not read things outside of a certain gathering, red flags raise and concerns accumulate in my mind. This is for two reasons. Just like in III John, we read of one Diotrephes who loved dominance and control or as it is put “preeminence”, it seems that some in our time may desire the same.

https://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=IbiteAnother is that one will not be prepared for the attacks that are increasing every day, they are coming closer to even the sheltered believer. Many types of literature help give rejoinders against the bad arguments that attack the follower of Christ. After one knows the truth and has a strong mind, one needs to sit down and compare what is being said in society to the truth. This can’t be done if one positions one’s self in a vacuum. In addition, not knowing also hampers ones ability to answer the skeptic.

Why would we allow ourselves to be sidelined by weak arguments when we have good sources and arguments to demonstrate they these fail? Maybe we ourselves will not succumb, but what about our children and grandchildren?

The Bereans, in Acts 17, were praised when they listened and then searched out whether or not the Apostles were speaking truth. It's not if one will be presented with dubious arguments against their faith, it's when. The best time to form rejoinders is when one has time to read and think. In this case, the best defense is a good offense, not hunkering down with the "head in the sand".

You will not want to miss the next posts. If you found this one helpful, you will want to keep an eye open for others. The best way is to click here, because you can get them straight to your inbox so you don’t miss out! (Click here.)

What do you think? Can you give any examples when you were prepared the give a defense in your own mind or to another? How did you prepare?


Image source: Flicker/Peter

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Call To Action

As a troop with no training, as a military with no will, as a soldier who has dropped his weapons for naught, many Christians have grown strong in apathy. Many shun dialogue, promote the degenerate view of ignorance as a higher plane of spirituality and simple faith is touted as turning a blind eye to knowledge and clarity. Spiritual weapons are dropped and shunned. Backs are turned, society is not engage and Christ's teachings are not defended.

Christian intrawars on silly topics of culture and topics Christ must have overlooked have taken precedence. Just mentioning some of these topics, even here, would cause a stir. Extra biblical rules are demanded and biblical commands are left ignored. Gossip is king, gain is godliness and the focus on self is the preoccupation.

A call to to clarity goes out! Ignorance is not a virtue. Truth has not been debunked. Let's change our concentration! Let's get active.

Grow in knowledge. Know the truth. Be bold and intentional. Grow in obedience and righteousness. Increase in love.

Read. Write. Speak. Interact. Dialogue.

Go out there and give them heaven!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Is Raw Milk Dangerous?

I know I'm deviating from my usual content, but this is science related and there is much public rhetoric about this topic. This is about raw milk. My state's department of public health is trying to increase rules and regulations for the implantation of raw milk sales. I am concerned with this attempt. To set the stage, I want give my credentials and background. Then I want to assess the danger. Lastly, I want to talk about how to impair the growth of milk-borne pathogens.

My background

I have not only drunk unpasteurized milk at times in my life, but I know many who do and have drunk it. One of my parents grew up on a dairy farm, thus drinking raw milk through childhood. Over the years I have known many milk producers, I have helped milk cows on many different farms. In addition to the hands on and practical experiences, my graduate degree is in biology, and I have taught college classes in microbiology, human anatomy and physiology, and general biology.

Is it that dangerous?

Any biologist, who reads the literature, would have to agree that unpasteurized milk can be dangerous and there is a measure of concern. However, while reading through my state's health department's new rules and reading other related technical journal articles on this subject, I'm skeptical of some things that are being presented.

Of all the people I know who have, and do drink raw milk, I have only heard of one unconfirmed case of illness attributed to raw milk. To put this in perspective, if one would average all the raw milk illness cases between 1993-2006 in the United States, and look at how many people got sick from raw milk, my anecdotal experiences would accurately reflect the results (1). After calculating the numbers, the chances of one coming down with a raw milk related illness in any given year is about 1/30,000 people (these are only people who drink raw milk, not the general population). Compare this to food related illness such as from meat. Approximately the chances of one getting sick from contaminated food is about 1 out of 4 people each year (2). In addition, I have known many who have gotten sick from fast food.

So is there an issue with raw milk? Yes, especially if not properly gathered, prepared and stored. This goes with both pasteurized and unpasteurized milk. Let me cover some very foundational aspects of milk safety.

Healthy animals

Farmers not only need healthy animals, they want them. Most go to great lengths for this. Lactating animals are expensive - unhealthy animals ultimately cost more for care. Most farmers like animals, that's why they farm. Most raw milk producers are small scale farmers, they are especially concerned because of the high investment cost per animal. When one knows the farmer and visits the farm for raw milk pickup, it gives the consumer a better opportunity to make sure the animals are healthy. Quality of the milk increases if the cow is properly feed, has clean water and has a proper bovine environment.

Microbial contamination prevention 

Prevention of microbial contamination in the milk is also essential. The miking area needs to be well washed and dried before milking. A barn will never be as clean as a house, nor a cow as clean as a person. However, the animal should be clean using the proper methods and standards that farmers use. All dairy farmers filter the milk to remove contaminants and reserves of microbial contamination. This is done (and should be done) immediately after milking. Most farmers ingests the milk themselves, he or she wants safe milk as well as anyone else.

Storage of milk

The last, but very important aspect of safe milk safety is refrigeration and storage. The milk container needs to be food grade, clean and easily to be cleaned. In addition, proper temperature is needed for milk storage (under 41 degrees Fahrenheit). It needs to be fresh from the farmer's refrigerator. The milk needs to be sold on the farm, not at a grocery store. When one goes to the farm to pick it up, one will have more knowledge how it was produced, cared for and stored. Just like any pasteurized milk, old milk poses a danger. Milk needs to be discarded if it is older than a week to a week and a half in age or if one questions its safety. After a week or so the chances increase for harmful bacterial growth.

Conclusion

No, raw milk is not anymore dangerous than anything else if one uses proper methods. As a farmer or consumer, you have to be knowledgeable and educated. The more you know, the less likely you will be led amiss.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any other pointers? Do you know of any stories of one coming down with illness from raw milk?






(1) Langer AJ, Ayers T, Grass J, Lynch M, Angulo FJ, Mahon BE. Nonpasteurized dairy products, disease outbreaks, and state laws-United States, 1993–2006. Emerg Infect Dis. 2012;18:385–91 10.3201/eid1803.111370

(2) http://www.nj.gov/health/foodanddrugsafety/documents/foodsafety_brochure.pdf

Thursday, October 2, 2014

I’m No Luddite, But I Do Have Some Concerns With Technology

In a previous post, I acknowledged arguments that some Christians give in opposition to new technology (Click here). In that post, I elucidate a double standard on technology and dismantle each argument. It seems that in the cross-hairs of some resides the cell phone, ebooks, social networking and the internet. Even though I’m no luddite, I do understand the risks and have concerns. When wisdom, knowledge and priorities are not grounded, there is real abuse and hurt. There are at least four major concern categories when discussing novel technology: deception, security, health and social issues.

Immorality and deceptive content.

As technology advances, it gains greater capabilities to give much more power to those who uses and design them. Much harm can be done by the promotion of immorality - this is near the top of my concerns. Immorality abounds, if one is tempted by it, there are at least two steps that need to be taken, first are internet filters - thus filter out undesired content. The second is accountability. If these are not options and if there are real issues, refraining from its use is the best option.

Because of the free and organic nature of some technology, anyone can upload content online. Content may be true or untrue. One has to be discerning, knowledgeable and wise. We need to discern legitimate sources, understand primary sources and learn proper methods of research. This is not a proposition for isolation, but rather encouragement for growth in knowledge, wisdom and discernment. As we become more sensitive to good and proper thinking skills, and grounding, we will be less likely to fall into the trap of deceptive information.

Security and privacy

Security and privacy are also great concerns. From those who are just nosy, to the malicious activities of thieves and hackers, to the government intrusion and control - all cause unease. Even though it sounds simplistic, it is true - the best measures one can take is being careful. Being circumspect what gets posted online and what links you press is essential. The use of diverse, but strong passwords, proper software updates along with security software, are all essential.

Health

I can think of a number of health concerns that can be caused by the abuse of some contemporary technology. This list includes possible eye issues, addiction, radiation, body poster issues and exacerbation of carpal tunnel syndrome. Case in point, here's a story of a man texting his girlfriend too much and caused problems for his eyes.

Social

The social aspect can take on many different forms. First, many try to keep up with the rest of society. They want the latest and greatest. It becomes a tool for the feeling of affluence, this mentality is the cause of much money wasted. The entitlement mentality is encouraged - making one forget that it's just a want, not a need.

Along with money waster, there is a time wasting component. Some can get almost addicted to pieces of technology which leads to dependence and much wasted time.

Lastly, the lack of true human interaction can lead to loneliness - even with social networking. Sometimes we need to get out and be with people. This will decrease one’s dependence on a device.

The final focus

As a follower of Christ, we want to be concerned about all of these things. We want to shun immorality, deception, causing others to stumble by what we post or write, and be wise with the body that God gave us. Concerns with most of theses issues are not just isolated with digital technology, even old paper and print technology are susceptible to this as well. But beyond that, what is our focus? Is it to keep up with the latest and greatest? Is it to waste money and time? What about our calling? What about the work of the Kingdom?

Your thoughts.

Can you think of any other real concerns? How can we use technology to have a greater impact on others?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

That Evil Pocket Watch!

Seventeenth century Europe, time of progress - the pocket watch evolved. One can only speculate the discussions concerning this technology. Did some want the latest and greatest while others, who were more modest, maybe never embraced this mechanism? Did some decry this technology? Did some say it would change the face of history for ever? Did the contemporary “luddites” opposed this latest technology?

One could say that clocks and watches hurt culture and human nature - arguing that the reliance on them made us less inclined to look up at the natural signs for time. Social interaction became more stiff, people had to keep a tighter schedules. Life became less organic - did this offend others?

Other technology

Now let’s let our mind wander, what about the telegraph, the train, the short wave radio, the phone and the radio? What about recordings, both visual and audio? Did those cause much upheaval in society as well? Even paper, books, hammers and spoons are technology. Anything that extends our human capabilities could be considered technology.

The modern technology

For example, in the critical cross hairs of some resides the cell phone, ebooks, social networking and the internet. However, there is a double standard and lack of knowledge. They are against certain types of technology but not others. Even though I’m no luddite, I do understand the risks, just as there is in any novel technology, there are real concerns that do need to be addressed. However, many are arguments are just silly.

Is Technology Wrong?

The one sentence answer is no, technology is not wrong! It’s the person who uses it who makes it right or wrong. Some, who are of maybe the religious luddite bent, have spoken out against technology. While some argument may have some merit, some sound quite silly.

Satan owns the internet.

I don’t think this is true, like any technology there can be great good but also great evil - it’s the people who use it who do the right or wrong.

Texting is wrong because it brings instant gratification...and we should “wait on the Lord.”

Two things here, talking to another person also brings instant gratification - anything does. I’m not sure why this makes texting bad and not other things. Oh, in case you were unsure, “wait on the Lord” is taken out of context and does not really fit in this situation. It's from Psalms and is talking about when the evil ones come against the psalmist.

It is better to call someone on the phone then text them.

I am left wondering, what’s the difference? Both are technology. It is like saying that the telegraph is better the the telephone. This just does not make sense. Both have their uses and places - it may depend on the type and length of conversation - but one is not better or worse then the other.

There’s no reason to have Facebook.

I can think of many reasons. However, I understand that some may not really want it, that is fine, but that does not mean there are no good reasons. Let me name a few. First you can be an encouragement to others. Two, you can show others the gospel and evangelize. Three, you can connect with friends and family who have moved away. I’m sure there is more that one could give. Yes, some people do spend too much time on it and get self absorbed, but that is any issue of selfishness and lack of self control - not the technology itself.

Technology like texting and social networking decreases ones interpersonal interaction skills.

While this may be true, from my perspective and experience I have not seen it to be so. Even if someone is on his or her phone texting, they would rather speak to you-to-your face. If you go up to a total stranger who is on his or her phone and say something, they will look up and enjoy the conversation. So, yes, there could be an issue, but from my experience it’s not.

https://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=Ibite Spelling accuracy is lost with texting.

Many are concerned with one letter words and all lower case text. They claim that this is not having one's life in order. While I understand and agree that’s not how we are to write a professional papers or essays, it's the language of texting. In fact, we can’t hammer texter’s that much, even in our natural language we use acronyms and shortcuts for words. Think of the word car (for carriage), bldg (for building) and DNA (for deoxyribonucleic acid). In addition, ancient Hebrew and Greek also used acronyms and even used only one case of text. In fact we use verbal shortcuts when speaking that wouldn't be correct in an essay format. However, we understand each other because that’s how our language works. Yes, people may try to bring this type of attitude over to professional writing, but just like the rest of education, training is the key.

A cell phone will prevent people to come to Christ.

The argument goes like this, when one has a cell phone, one can fill the emptiness of being without Christ. Now I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry here, yes it is true that one can run from God, but one using a lawn mower could also fill one's life and cause one to ignore the call for salvation. Also, I'm not sure why a cell phone would be a greater block then other types of technology.

We need to “deny self” and follow Christ.

I’m at a loss here. Yes, like anything, if it becomes our focus and takes all our time, then yes we should deny self. Also, we need to follow Christ. However, I'm not sure why this is an argument against technology.

With the advent of new technology we will see the loss of books, newspapers and magazines.

While this may bring us discomfort, I'm not sure what this has to do with spirituality. It may cause concern to the printing industry, but from a biblical perspective it is void. Second, both ink and paper and digital text are types of technology. It is like saying a ball point pen should not be used because we will see the decline of quill pens. This is not wrong. In addition, I do think, as we have seen, that paper products will be in decline, however, I really can't see them being totally removed from our lives.

Technology conclusion

Because of my background, technology is an interesting subject for me. That's why I'm disappointed when those, who don't know what they're talking about concerning history and technology proper, push arbitrary thoughts on others. Technology is all around us, stuff that these people depend on day-in and day-out include technology. What they seem to miss is the fact that the technology is not the issue, rather  we need to train people for its proper uses and wise implementation. In addition, we need to remember, technology is not the thing that's good or bad, it's the people who can use it for good or for evil.


You will not want to miss the next posts. If you found this one helpful, you will want to keep an eye open for others. The best way is to click here, because you can get them straight to your inbox so you don’t miss out! (Click here.)


Your thoughts Do you have some thoughts about technology? Can you think of some good arguments where we should be concerned with the use of novel technology? Enter your thoughts below.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

To Build the Spiritual Immune System

Ebola, that deadly virus is rocking parts of the globe. Other diseases throughout history have done the same. There are three main approaches to many diseases, isolation to prevent exposure, succumb to the disease and hope for survival, and with some diseases, inoculate beforehand for greater resistance. We can learn from these approaches and apply the concepts to our faith and lives.

Jesus

Jesus knew the world needed to know the good news of the kingdom. He knew that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few (1). So he sent out 70 of his disciples to preach throughout the surrounding cities. However, he did not send them empty handed, he taught his disciples about his kingdom and they had saw him interact with others and heard his message. They then went out and emulated that example and his teachings (2).

The act of sending out his disciples seemed to have a three fold reason: 1) so others could hear of salvation and his Kingdom, 2) to prepare the way for his preaching and 3) so the disciples would have hands on experiences sharing the Gospel to prepare for future experiences.

This builds a backdrop for many things we can learn. However, in this post, I want to focus on one aspect, the third main reason for sending out the disciples - to prepare them for future experiences.

Time of Questions

I have some questions. How do we learn? What are some powerful steps for deception prevention? In what way can we prepare for and be protected from the philosophical ugly heads that keep raising against our faith? How do we prepare ourselves, young disciples of Christ and our children from evil attacks on the Christian mind?

Lesson from Biology - Isolation vs. Inoculation

Lets answer this by considering our immune system. We can do two things to prevent ourselves from contagious disease 1) isolation from that infection or 2) inoculate the body to be prepared to defend itself.

Isolation is sometimes the essential and only mode to be protected from disease. One separates oneself from the communicable diseases - such as Ebola. However, with isolation comes a down fall, one has no immunity. In the world of ideas, many isolated young people, rebel in their independence. Their views were never challenged in age appropriate situations and settings, so they never were able to build a solid foundation. They had very little experience, foundation and growth. If we isolate ourselves we lose reality and the ability to learn and affect others.

Acquiring the infection is only worse. It would be crazy to go into battle without proper weapons and training. They have had now experience,  and walk into the midst of fire. Most succumb to the disease.

However, while isolation and infection are inadequate, inoculation of one's system build resistance and immunity is of great value. Allow controlled and structured experiences for immunity and growth is the answer Jesus used to prepare his disciples for future evangelism, push-back and persecution.

Using these elementary principles of immunology, let's apply this to our own lives. As humans, we are not usually isolated, nor necessarily should be from each other. Being a Christian does not change this interaction. In fact followers of Christ are supposed to be ambassadors of the Kingdom, being "light" and "salt" effecting those around us (3). But it is a dangerous place out there, so what do we do?

Three Main Steps

I can think of three main steps that will help one build "resistance" and prevent from getting sidelined or discouragement.
    http://ibitedge.blogspot.com/search/label/deception
  1. Construct a firm foundation for life. In a previous post titled "Wrong!" (Click Here) I detailed out how to protect and shelter the young. However, at this time, one needs to be building a healthy and the spiritual "immune system". At our disposal we have tools and weapons - such as the Holy Writ, prayer, the power of God to use our God given wisdom and the philosophy of Christ which builds knowledge and reason to prep for reality. As goes the adage "more sweat in training, less blood in battle."
  2. Be real a real follower of Christ. Outlined in a post titled "Christian Narcissism" (Click Here), I describe how we are called to do Christ's commands and shun hypocrisy. We need to love God with our whole being and love our fellow man. Without this foundation, all or efforts are void. How can we be valuable to prevent deception and how can we help the spiritually immature and the sick if we ourselves aren't prepared?
    1. Three main steps of inoculation. As with any preparation or training there are three main steps to proficiency and mastery. This last step brings everything together. First we need to train to gain in understanding and knowledge. Second is the time of testing and examination, which is where we are put on the spot in difficult situations to give us experience and help drive us to learn more. Third is a debriefing, appraisal or analysis where assessment takes place. We look at our experiences and find our weakness and return back to the training phase. Anyone who takes time to think and learn automatically does these three main steps. However, having them spelled out helps us focus to excellence. This process is also called discipleship. Without this, our spiritual "immune systems" will be weak. 
    As we train ourselves and others we must keep this in mind, prepare them for the real world by solid and clear training, let tests present themselves in a controlled manner and then let questions assessment check ones status.  The last step is essential to clear the confusion and indulges in more training. If our desire is to help others, we ourselves must have a strong "spiritual immune system".


    What's your thoughts, please post below: 

    What experiences do you have in this area? What are some things that you could prepare for? Who in your life do you think you can "inoculate" and how are you going to do it?




    (1) Matthew 9:37
    (2) He sent them out at least twice, at on time he sent out the 12, at another time he sent out the 70. Matthew 10, Luke 9, Luke 10 and Mark 6.
    (3) 1 Corinthians  5:10

    Image source: UK Ministry of Defence

    Thursday, September 11, 2014

    The Bible's View on Who is Our Brother and Sister

    If you read no farther, I want you to read this: A brother or sister of Christ is a brother or sister to me. I hope it is this way for you as well. I do understand that there are specifications for being a brother or sister in Christ, however, my assertion does not negate that. Our foundation is Christ and those he trained to follow after him. It is my desire that their words that were written will take precedence over my culture, denomination or even my own desires.

    It seems that many Christians hold to views that aren't even Christian, the views I am going to talk about seem to be on the opposing ends of the spectrum.
    Who Is My Brother?Words, Actions and Enjoyments of Some Professing ChristiansChristian UnityWho is a Christian?

    Exclusivism

    One view is exclusivism, those who hold to this view feel their denomination, congregation or group is the only group following the Bible, they are the only Christians – they only call each other brother and sister. In fact, if one leaves their gatherings, they are excommunicated and are no longer called a brother or sister. Unfortunately, the Bible does not teach this, but teaches against it (1, 2). Does this make you feel uncomfortable? Who do you want to follow – Christ or a group?

    Inclusivism

    Just as detrimental is another type, they tip the scale to the other side – they are inclusivists. Anyone who practices any religion, and are faithful to that faith, will have hope of salvation through Christ, even if they do not follow him. If one is a good Muslim, Jew or you name it, also has salvation. No matter how good ones feels about this view, this is not what Jesus and those he trained taught for salvation (1).
    Christian NarcissismThat Lonely Silly Man, Please, Don't Act Like a ChristianCasual or Carnal?

    Pluralism

    Others are pluralists, they believe all religions are truth and all lead to God and heaven. Strangely, not all can be true, because each say contrary things. One may say that Jesus is God and another that Jesus is not God. Both can't be true. This view is illogical and not biblical (1). This is perfect post-modern ideology – it makes people feel good.

    Did I Offend You?

    I understand that I may be offending many. In fact, denying any of these views leads to questions and concerns. I understand, however, if you are a follower of Christ, you must follow what he and those he trained said on this issue. The particulars can be worked out later. Many of those questions have been answered in previous posts. Specifications for being a follower of Christ have been given.

    Who is a Christian?Emulating The CarpenterBig Thoughts on Christianity

    Positive Going Forward

    Fortunately there are those who do not believe in hard exclusivism, illogical pluralism, nor in un-biblical incluvisivm. But they are following Christ, they feel he is the only way to heaven. In addition they recognize other followers of Christ and treat them as brothers and sisters – even if they are not of the same group.



    Sources
    (1) John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. John 1:12-13 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. Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

    (2) Titus 3:15 All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen. Matthew 12:50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. Romans 15:7: Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. Philippians 4:21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. III John 1:9-11, one named Diotrephes forbid others, and would not himself, receive the brothers. And then in Galatians 2:11-13, Paul withstood Peter to the face because he separated himself from the gentiles, because they were not circumcised.

    Image source: Patrick McDonald

    Wednesday, September 3, 2014

    Gears

    Covering the design company IDEO's product design process, the host of the documentary called “IDEO Deep Dive” said something to the effect of “everything besides nature was designed.”

    The Gear

    Consider the lowly gear – classically an iconic element to indicate human technological progress and design. We all have seen them - mundane right? Actually no. Gears aren't interesting because of their boring shape, but rather because of the design criteria needed for proper function. Nor are they arbitrary or haphazardly designed and fabricated. Teeth and gear spacing, proper alignment and material type, and optimal size and shape are all essential.

    As ancient as almost any other human technology and as human of a design as they come, I think we would be stunned if nature contained a beautiful geared system. One is technology, the other is biology. Gears are very mechanical and systematic, seemingly very different than the organic nature of life.  I want to changeable this notion.

    The Nymph

    An unremarkable English insect took the biological world by surprise some time ago, the Issus nymph (1). Interlocking gears studs the trocantera this insects hind-legs (above image hosted by gizmag.com).

    Synchronizing the jumping legs, these gears coordinate the action of simultaneous movement in both legs (first image below, hosted by makeagif.com). The design is essential for this little creature so its jump is synchronized. Moving at high rates of speed through the air, the insect would spiral out of control without this arrangement (second image below from makeagif.com).











































    Best Explanation 

    As you study these beautiful images, reconsider what the host of that documentary expressed. Now tell me, what's your gut reaction, do these gears look designed or do the demonstrate mindless origins? I'm not asking what you think, but rather your first reaction? If you are like most, you have to agree, they appear designed.

    A method that many use to answer historical science questions is to observe the present to understand the past events. While not every historical event may be deduced this way, many concepts can be elucidated. Every new design from our experience has been agent designed. I can' think of an exception. So why wouldn't we expect agent causation in the design in nature? Isn't the most reasonable explanation for the design in nature a mind?

    It seems that biology has an habit of surprising us, why? We are stunned with the design we find in nature. Many times technology and biology overlap in design. We infer design in technology, is it not logical to infer design in biology as well? The design in nature seems to jive well well with our presuppositions of design, not chance and random like process. Intuitively we can detect design.
    In addition, designs in nature seem to be optimally designed for the function intended. In fact, the designs are so good that we, in our quest for technology, copy biological designs in a field of study called biomimicry. We look in awe at biological artifacts and let them inspire us for tools we make. Technology, while amazing, is clumsily and klutzy in comparison to biology. Brilliant minds spend hours, days and years on designs that are far inferior to what we find in nature.

    Elegance At Its Best

    Again, let me ask you, from your intuition and from experience, can't you infer design? Your gut reaction is awe at the beauty of the gear design, you don't automatically infer randomness in mechanical like structures like this, do you? The only source of new design, from our experience, is intelligence. In fact, we can even learn from optimal designs in nature, including this gear. We are able to copy these structures, even though they are more elegant than our own mindful designs. From our intelligently designed technology, we come short. Biology has very advanced designs, while it seems illogical to infer origins from mindless process, it's not only natural but also logical to infer design on biological structures - even this gear.


    (1) Burrows and Sutton. "Interacting Gears Synchronize Propulsive Leg Movements in a Jumping Insect" http://www.sciencemag.org

    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    Christian Narcissism

    ....and how to fix it

    "No," I said after being asked if I had any plans for summer vacation. "Why not?" was his response. "To be clear, I'm not against vacations, I go on vacation every once in a while. However, it seems to me many are always planning and executing their world travels. There's more to life than just vacations. In addition, the intent is usually self-centered." Then I got the comment "The daily grind of going to work and back seems so mundane, vacations gives us something to anticipate. And what's more to life any way?"

    He should have known better, he was a bright, well educated who person who possessed charisma and leader like traits. Beyond that, he was no novice Christian. I was saddened, but not surprised. When Christians have this central self-focus, I call it Christian Narcissism.

    Narcissism Spectrum

    On one end, we have many Christians pursuing luxurious vacations, sprawling estates, feasts, fashion and entertainments such as sports, music and movies. Some feel gain is godliness.

    Sliding to the other end, we have self-focused spirituality, a focus on one's spiritual satisfaction. After salvation, the only thing left is eternity. These people's core focus is Christian friends, music, “Christian” culture, personal knowledge and/or study. Some think that Christianity is made up in a special formula of clothing and spiritual sounding words and phrases.

    My Cross-Hairs

    A measure of necessity can be seen on both ends of the spectrum. Many things are needed to live such as food, clothing and shelter. We also need time to rejuvenate and enjoy God's creation and gifts he has supplied. Yes, on the other end we do need godliness, fellowship, praising God and knowledge. These too are essentials.

    However, my cross-hairs are set on the focus of excess personal affluence and selfish spirituality. In other words, many Christians are focused on their personal peace and affluence. This is not the mark of a mature follower of Christ - but a babe.

    The Big Three - How Not To Be That Christian Narcissist

    Now probably the Scriptures could speak to many more items, but the following three attributes are essentials for a mature follower of Christ.
    • modeling virtue
    • philanthropist
    • messenger

    Like usual, words were chosen here to make one think. Also, I want to note that a proper modeled virtuous life should, as a matter of course, lead to the other two. If Spiritual fruit is produced and if there is obedience to Christ and Apostles it is just one package.

    However, many slide to “first base” and stay there focused on personal peace and spirituality - ignoring the other two. Some may try to jump to the second or third and ignore the others. All are essential in some measure but not sufficient in themselves for a mature believer.

    In Pursuit of Righteousness

    Foundational to virtue and righteousness is love, not the emotional nor tolerance type that contemporaries teach - but the real biblical love. We must be followers of Christ, growing in godliness, sanctification virtue. This is where we model or live our faith as Christ taught. To be ambassadors for Christ we need to be knowledgeable, wise and virtuous. These are life long pursuits for a Christ follower.

    Altruistic Inclined

    One does not have to interact long with others to know that many have true needs. In Matthew 15 Jesus says that he will separate the “sheep from the goats” by the following standards. His sheep are those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, house strangers, clothed the naked, and visit the sick and those in prison. Those who aren't altruistic will be told “depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” James says that true religion is to care for the suffering widows and orphans.

    Articulate The Message

    A prayer for many to come to salvation is essential, because without the work of Christ and the Spirit our talk has no efficacy. But we are tasked to teach, persuade, make a case for and tell others about Christ. While doing good and being righteous are essentials for bring others to Christ, there also has to be verbal communication. Jesus did more than just live right and help others, he spoke it as well. A teacher who never speaks or writes, but only demonstrates the lesson, would teach some, but would soon be jobless. A salesperson would also not last long if he knew and used the product line but never communicated to people about the line. Jesus commanded the apostles to teach what he taught them. One command was to tell others the Gospel - this is a perpetual command. He taught them to teach their disciples and those disciples were to teach others.

    Narcissism And The Fix

    While self preservation and spirituality are essential for us, these must not sum up the life of a believer. There is more, living in obedience to Christ, doing good works (as the Bible calls it), and verbally communicating the Gospel. The focus is not us, but rather Christ.

    Sunday, August 24, 2014

    Pro-Life Cartoon 5.0



    Please share this cartoon on all your social network connections!














    Check out a previous Pro-life cartoons:







    Pro-Life Cartoon

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