Welcome to the Future

Welcome to the Future
Vol: 171 Issue: 31 Thursday, December 31, 2015

I was thinking about all the technological wonders that we had envisioned for the 21st century back in the 1960’s; stuff like death-rays, videophones and flying cars.

(Cell phones weren’t expected until the 24th century, when Captain James T. Kirk uses one to call Scottie aboard the Starship Enterprise. But flying cars and videophones were due around the Year 2000.)

Videophones do exist, but they’re not all that popular. (Back in the 60’s we never dreamed hardly anybody would WANT a videophone.)

And while we could build flying cars, we still haven’t mastered driving the ones on wheels safely.

(It turned out it isn’t the building of cars that fly that was the problem. It’s the idiots that would be driving them while they’re up there.)

But all in all, the future is really much more interesting than even I had daydreamed it would be when I was a kid in the 1960’s.

Who, in the age of LPs and two-song 45 rpm records, could have envisioned a 4G iPod the size of a matchbox that could hold a radio station’s entire library?

While we imagined death-rays (and, indeed, they exist) who would have thought that the first war of the 21st century would instead be fought using high-tech rocks?

(Remember the GPS-guided cement warheads used against the tanks that Saddam parked nears schools and hospitals to minimize collateral damage?)

In 1968, a typical office consisted mainly of a desk and a telephone, some notepads, a typewriter and some filing cabinets.

Who would have dreamed that just four decades later it could all be packed into a laptop computer the size of a clipboard?

Or that an office filing room could be replaced by a “pen” drive smaller that a Bic lighter?

Or that I could sit in this ordinary room in my ordinary house and instantly communicate with thousands of people located on every continent in the world — by hitting the “send” button at the bottom of this page?

In the 1970’s, I was assigned as a computer operator in the Data Processing Department at the Marine Corps Base at Cherry Point, NC.

The computer was housed in a climate-controlled 4000 square foot room kept precisely at a chilly 68 degrees. It had rows and rows of tape drive banks, each the size of a refrigerator.

One of our jobs was printing out payroll checks for the base’s military and civilian employees.

It involved: 1) programmers writing the code; 2) keypunchers to input it onto keypunch cards; 3) a sorter to operate the EAM sorting machine and box them up; 4) an operator to hang the tape on the drive, input the keypunch cards in a big hopper, transfer it to tape, and then; 5) another computer operator to tell the mainframe where to look for the data.

The entire process tied up the whole department for five days, twice a month, using equipment that costs millions and took up a small city block.

Today, I could do it all on my MacBook (which cost less than my first microwave oven did) using Quicken and my laser printer — in two hours or less.

Wirelessly. While watching TV in a little corner of my computer screen.

In 1899, as the 19th century was drawing to a close, US Commissioner of Patents Charles H. Duell solemnly pronounced that, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

When Duell was born, transportation, communications and trade moved at the same speed as it had since the Greeks discovered hemlock was a poor choice for a cocktail beverage.

In his lifetime, he’d seen the invention of the railway, the steamship, the telegraph and the automobile. What else could be left to invent?

But Duell wasn’t the only one suffering from a lack of vision.

In 1922, Thomas Edison declared, “the radio craze . . . will die out in time.”

In 1943, Thomas J. Watson, who was at the time the chairman of IBM, gave this business forecast: “I think there is a world market for about five computers.”

In 1977, Ken Olsen, president of Digital Equipment Corporation declared, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.”

And in 1981, Bill Gates opined; “640K ought to be enough for anybody.”

Assessment:

As we’ve seen, predicting the future is no simple task. One of the problems with trying to forecast the future is that the future is a conspiracy of unknown and seemingly unrelated events that must work together exactly for the prediction to be accurate.

IBM failed to see a computer hardware market, Digital Equipment failed to see the demand, and Bill Gates failed to see its potential.

All their predictions failed — and laughably so — within a matter of decades or mere years of their prognostications. And they were the world’s leading experts in those particular fields!

But the Apostle John predicted, not over a period of years or decades or even centuries, but across two millennia, the rise of a centralized global economic system that would come into existence over the space of single generation, somewhere in time.

Such a system wasn’t possible until the invention of computers, in this generation.

The Prophet Ezekiel predicted the rise of a Russian/Persian Islamic alliance that would come into existence in “the latter years” at the same period in history when there was again a nation called “Israel.”

Ezekiel spoke across two and a half millennia, from a point in history when Israel and Judah had both been invaded and destroyed and the survivors taken as foreign slaves.

And from Ezekiel’s day until May 14, 1948, there was no such place on earth as ‘Israel’ (and no Russian/Islamic alliance, either)

The Prophet Daniel, from the same perspective in history, predicted the rise and fall of Babylon, Medo-Persia and Alexander the Great’s Greece.

Daniel also predicted the rise of the Roman Empire, its decline and fall, AND he prophesied its revival, concurrent with the restoration of Israel.

The Hebrew prophets weren’t forecasting the immediate future of a particular industry in which they were the leading actors.

They were forecasting world events, geopolitical alliances, wars, and social and technological changes so profound there were no words in their vocabulary with which to describe them.

And unlike technological ‘prophets’ like Charles Duell, Ken Olsen or even Bill Gates, the Bible prophets have proved themselves 100% accurate, 100% of the time, even when they admittedly didn’t know what they were talking about!

The Prophet Daniel didn’t have a clue as to what he was seeing and hearing:

“And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?” (Daniel 12:8)

And for centuries, neither did anybody else. Until only recently, Daniel’s words were sealed.

From the Reformation until the middle of the 20th century, the Book of Daniel was the least studied, least understood and least preached Book in the Bible.

Martin Luther questioned whether or not Daniel even belonged in the canon of Scripture, and John Calvin omitted Daniel altogether when he wrote his commentaries on the Bible.

Without the existence of a literal place called ‘Israel’ Daniel’s prophecies made little sense.

But once Israel was restored to the land, what had previously seemed to be a collection of symbolic heads, horns and beasts began to take on a literal meaning.

Especially in the context of the revealing angel’s charge to Daniel:

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12:4)

Duell, Olsen, Gates, etc., couldn’t begin to imagine the wonders that would exist by 2008, even as they were in the process of working to bring them about.

The Bible prophets, under the inspiration of God, could imagine them, but they couldn’t find the words to describe them.

But Jesus brings it all into perspective, speaking across the ages and addressing us directly, saying;

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

As 2016 dawns, may our God richly bless and keep you all, until He comes. 

Maybe this year?

Originally Published: December 31, 2007

Featured Commentary: Auld Lang Syne ~ J.L. Robb

The Third Element

The Third Element
Vol: 171 Issue: 30 Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The body is only one third of what God created in the Garden of Eden.  God created the body out of the dust of the earth.  The body is the first element of man.  It is a physical shell.

Then God breathed into his nostrils, and man became a living soul.  The soul is the second element of man.  That’s the part that makes you ‘you’. 

The Third Element is mentioned in Genesis 1:26 when God says,

“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. . . ” 

What does God look like?

“No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” (John 1:18)

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

“And He said, Thou canst not see My face: for there shall no man see Me, and live. . . And it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by: And I will take away Mine hand, and thou shalt see My back parts: but My face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:20,22-23)

But we are in His likeness.  His likeness is the third element — the spirit.  That is the component of man to which God was referring in the Garden when He said, “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) On that day, Adam’s spirit ‘died’. 

What does it mean to say an immortal, eternal spirit ‘dies’?  If it is eternal, how can it die?  We use the phrase, ‘a fate worse than death’ as a modifier for something so horrible as to be humanly unimaginable.

Because truth be known, it is impossible for the human mind to conceive of a fate worse than death. 

Death is unknown, so it is impossible to measure something known against it.  That’s why we use it to describe something unimaginably horrible.  That is the sense in which spiritual death is understood.  It is a fate worse than death.  Death is an ending. 

Spiritual death is eternal torment, eternal separation from God, eternal nothingness. . . you are written off as dead by God.  You wrote Him off as dead in this life.  You aren’t separated from God at death — you were never joined to Him in the first place. 

You had your chance.  You made your choice.  You will never hear from Him again.  There is no reprieve, no appeal.  But you continue to exist.  Eternally. 

I’ve always loved Larkin’s charts.  Larkin was a man truly gifted with both a double measure of understanding and double measure of the gift of teaching. 

Larkin beautifully illustrates the three parts of man.The Threefold Nature of Man 

The outer ring is the body.  This is the physical part, the part that dies.  But while we are here, the body serves as the sensory input to the soul.  Larkin labels the senses as the “Eyegate” “Eargate” “Nosegate” etc because those are the gateways to the soul — for both good and evil. 

Because that is our only sensory input, that is all we have to work with. 

In Larkin’s center ring is our soul, wherein dwells the natural man.  The soul consists of the mind, will and emotions.  It is the ‘ghost’ in the machine. 

It is the part of you that makes all the other parts yours.  It is uniquely yours.  It is God-breathed.  It will continue to exist after your body dies, whether you are saved or not. 

Now, look at the inner circle.  This is the Third Element.  This is your spirit.  Notice that Larkin’s drawing is of a new creature — indwelling Larkin’s spirit-man is the Holy Spirit of God. 

Let me summarize this all before going on.  I want you to really see this. 

The body is in the outer ring and it is the sensory gate that feeds the soul.  The spirit is in the center and it is the sensory gate through which the Holy Spirit communicates with us.

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:16)

When we die, the soul and spirit separate from the body and the body’s sensory input.  The Bible tells us that our soul doesn’t sleep, but remains conscious; Paul tells us that; 

“Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (for we walk by faith and not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2nd Corinthians 5:6-8)

I want you to see all that this teaches.  The first is the most obvious since it is most often-quoted; ‘absent from the body, present with the Lord’ but see the Bigger Picture as well.  When in the body, we are absent from the Lord.  Our sensory inputs are limited to the five gates of the carnal body. 

Most of us are spiritually blind.  We hear the phrase often enough.  Think of what it means.  It refers to the sensory input we get from the center of our being, from the center of Larkin’s inner circle, where our spirit is. 

At the center of the natural man’s the spirit is dark.  It is totally blind to the things of God.  The natural man can be spiritual; the world is filled with spiritual people who are in communication with the spirit world.  But they are not in communication with the Spirit of God. 

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1st Corinthians 2:14)

The natural man can thrash about trying make a spiritual connection, but he is just thrashing about blindly hoping to latch on to any spiritual passersby. 

Understand the function of your spirit.  It is your sensory input to the things of the spirit.  The quickened, or regenerated spirit is in contact and communion with the Spirit of God.  Absent the body, the spirit becomes the eyes and ears of the soul. 

When we die, the body’s sensory gates close, but the spirit’s sensory gates swing wide-open.  We (that is, the soul, the part that makes you ‘you’) remain aware of what is going on.  (Absent from the body, etc. . .) 

So when you die, the spirit functions much as the body did, as the primary sensory gateway into the soul. 

Look at Larkin’s chart again.  First, your middle ring was being fed from the outer ring.  Now it is being supplied with sensory input from the inner, spiritual ring where the Holy Spirit sits. 

Or not.  If the spirit is dark, then the soul has no source of sensory input.  The spiritual, but lostperson who was thrashing about blindly in this life?  We’ll come back to him momentarily. 

We are half blind in this world.  Our souls only know what they can learn from the sensory input of our carnal, physical bodies.  Our spirits are capable of just enough faith to invite the Holy Spirit in, which then quickens us and opens up our spiritual ‘eyes’. 

When we get our resurrection bodies, we will receive sensory input from both sides.  Both the physical and the spiritual.  The reason that at the Rapture, the dead in Christ rise first, is that they’ve been waiting half-blind for theirs. 

Right now, Paul says, “we see through a glass darkly. . but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1st Corinthians 13:12)

Imagine at the Rapture, when we who are alive and remain suddenly start getting unrestricted sensory input from both our resurrection bodies and our eyes-wide open quickened spirits!  It is a spectacular thought. 

Back to the less-spectacular thought of the soul who dies without the quickening of the Spirit.  His soul has lost its physical sensory input.  His spirit is dark, dead, and incapable of getting any spiritual input.  But at the Great White Throne, that soul will also receive a resurrection body. 

Remember the function of the body and spirit.  They are the gateways to the soul. 

That lost soul will have his physical sensory input restored to him just before being cast alive into the Lake of Fire.  There, he will be deprived of spiritual comfort, since his spirit is dead, but his resurrection body will be eternally alive. 

And his soul, the part that makes him who he is, will spend eternity thinking about how he blew his chance to escape his fate while his spirit aches to see the God he rejected. 

The body is not what its cracked up to be.  It’s really only a temporary life support system and communications center that connects the soul to this physical world.  The part that makes you ‘you’ is the part that makes the body work. 

The body isn’t life to the soul.  The soul is life to the body. 

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” (1st Thessalonians 4:13)

“I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalms 139:14)

Originally Published: August 26, 2009

The Greatest Mystery: Unlocked

The Greatest Mystery: Unlocked
Vol: 171 Issue: 29 Tuesday, December 29, 2015

During His First Advent, the Lord Jesus unlocked many mysteries for the Church, not the least of which is what happens when we die.  The Old Testament doesn’t provide a lot in terms ofspecifics, since OT believers operated under the terms of a different Dispensation.

During the Dispensation of the Law, believers were not immediately whisked into the presence of the Lord at the moment of death.   The blood of bullocks and lambs was insufficient to cover their sin. 

Old Testament believers expected to stand in the Resurrection at the Last Day, but had no expectation of eternal life in the sense that the Church understands it.

“As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.” (Job 7:9)

“For in death there is no remembrance of Thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” (Psalms 6:5)

“For the grave cannot praise Thee, death can not celebrate Thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for Thy truth.” (Isaiah 38:18)

Until Jesus defeated death at His resurrection, death was still pretty much a mystery. The general understanding was that first a man dies, and then he awaits the resurrection of the dead at the last day.

The Book of Job, chronologically the oldest book in the Bible, spoke of the resurrection of the dead even before the time of Abraham, confidently saying;

“. . . all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. . . ” Job awaited the call of the trumpet at the Rapture, thousands of years before it was generally known as doctrine. “Thou shalt call . . .” (Job 14:14-15)

“For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:25-27)

The Lord Jesus filled in the missing details about death and the grave under the Dispensation of the Law when He told the story of the rich man and Lazarus.    I want you to note that Jesus did NOT say, “learn the parable of the rich man.”   He began with a definite statement of fact: “There was a certain rich man. . . ”

And Jesus says that there was a “certain” beggar named Lazarus.  The rich man and Lazarus were real people; this is not a parable or Jesus would have identified it as such.   

“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried.  And in hell, he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”

 Let’s stop there for a second and examine this newly-revealed truth.   Until now, OT believers thought that when they died, they stayed in the grave until the Resurrection.   They had no expectation of continued consciousness – until Jesus revealed the truth to His Disciples.

Jesus told them that the rich man went immediately to hell.  Lazarus was immediately carried by the angels into a place called “Abraham’s bosom.”

 This was a totally new revelation.   The Lord revealed that hell was divided – there was a place of comfort for the righteous dead with Abraham on one side. 

In the middle was a great gulf or chasm, and on the other side was hell, a place of flames and torment and loneliness.  Moreover, the Lord reveals that those in hell could see across to Paradise. 

There are several other things we learn from Jesus about hell, and about those who are condemned to it. First, the rich man has no name, whereas Lazarus is addressed by name throughout the passage. The rich man needs no name. Nobody will ever call it again.

He is eternally separated from God; to all intents and purposes, he is ‘dead’ to God, and to everyone who ever knew him. He is only alive to himself. But the rich man is cognizant of his life, how he ended up in hell, and those he left behind. His memories of his earthly life are intact:

“Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” (Luke 16:22-28)

Jesus teaches us that those condemned to hell are; a) in fiery torment, b) are self-aware, c) are nameless and without hope of reprieve, d) are conscious of their situation, and, e) their memories of their earthly lives are intact.

The Book of the Revelation teaches that what we call ‘hell’ is more analogous to a county jail, where prisoners are held pending trial and conviction. Once a county jail inmate is convicted, he is transferred to a state penitentiary to serve out his sentence.

“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Revelation 20:13-14)

When John describes the judgment against the devil, he writes: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”

Note two things. First, the beast and false prophet ‘are’ – present tense — in the lake of fire. They were not consumed. Secondly, it is a ‘lake of fire and brimstone’ and its inhabitants ‘shall be tormented day and night forever and ever’.

Thus is the fate of those we fail to reach in our effort to discharge our Great Commission.  It’s a sobering thought.

Jesus taught specifically and incontrovertibly that, when the moment of death comes, our conscious spirit lives on, AWAITING the resurrection of the dead, which is when our spirit is united with our new and improved physical bodies.

At the Cross, Jesus told the repentant thief, “Verily I say unto thee, TODAY shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

When Jesus descended into hell after His Crucifixion, He went to Paradise to “lead captivity captive”, the Scriptures say.   He went to Paradise to preach the Gospel and to present Himself as Savior and bring them from Paradise to Heaven.

Our spirits exist and have substance, and they are not only conscious after death, they are completely self-aware.  Death is not the end of our existence. 

Death does not, evidently, even impair our consciousness. 

Assessment:

During the Dispensation of the Church, the Apostle Paul noted that for believers to be ‘absent from the body’ meant to be ‘present with the Lord.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2nd Corinthians 5:10)

The Apostle Paul wrote of physical death as it pertains to believers, saying; “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” (1st Thessalonians 4:13)

But yet we do sorrow when a loved one dies. Even when we know that our loved one is now safely resting in the arms of Jesus.  We know that our loved one’s race is run and their burdens have been lifted. 

They are now where we all wish to be – but that does little to dry our tears. It is one of the conundrums of Christianity – everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.

Why do we sorrow when we know the truth?  Would we be sad if our loved one had won the lottery?  Of course not.  But Heaven is the ultimate winning ticket.   When your number comes up, you win. 

And all your family and friends cry. 

Why is that?  Does that mean that their faith is weak?   Are they really secret doubters?   Paul intended to offer words of comfort  — indeed, the chapter closes; “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Paul offers words of comfort because of the sorrow that comes with losing a loved one.  Being sorrowful at the loss of the loved one is not evidence of a lack of faith.   If you think about it, your sorrow isn’t because you have any doubt that your loved one is safe in the arms of Jesus.

You haven’t betrayed the faith.  You sorrow because they aren’t here.  Our loved ones are a gift from God given to us to make our sojourn on the Big Blue Marble bearable.   The gift is deliberately temporary, which is what gives it its value. 

When a loved one dies, we lose the gift of their companionship.  Even though we know loss isalso temporary, which mitigates the tragedy – it does little to ease the pain of loss in this life. 

Our sorrow is not for our loved one – it is for ourselves. Their gain is our loss.  It’s just that simple.  

There’s nothing selfish in that – if one of my children got a fabulous job on the other side of the world I would be very happy for him – but personally devastated by the loss of his companionship. 

The fact that I know I would see him again would mitigate the sense of loss. But it wouldn’t keep me from missing him while he was gone.  Or wishing he was still here.  (Or make me feel guilty because I did.)

Death comes to us all – we know that.  But death doesn’t come to us once.  It comes to us all the time – death is the one certain part of this existence.   Our own death is simply the last one we have to endure. 

At the Rapture, some believers will not yet have experienced death. They will be instantly changed into their incorruptible bodies. Those who have experienced physical death will be reunited with their bodies, which will be raised and changed.

But their spirits and consciousness are already awake and alive and in the presence of the Lord. Those who are ‘asleep’ in Christ are those who have experienced PHYSICAL, but not consciousdeath.

At the Rapture, the “Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise (physically incorruptible) first: Then we which are (physically) alive and remain (in our natural bodies) shall be caught up together with them (changed and incorruptible) in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Our loved ones who have gone home to the Lord are ALREADY in His Presence, enjoying Heaven and its unimaginable joy and riches. They are NOT mouldering the grave, unconsciously awaiting the call of the Trumpet.

They are alive and aware and eagerly anticipating the opportunity to meet with us in the air and embrace us once more.   We will see them again.   We will recognize them and they will recognize us.

“. . .  and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thessalonians 4:18)

Originally Published: July 31, 2010

Featured Commentary: Truth by Consensus ~ Wendy Wippel

The Logic and Reason of Free Thought

The Logic and Reason of Free Thought
Vol: 171 Issue: 28 Monday, December 28, 2015

One of the arguments most often advanced against Christianity and the existence of God is that such a belief is not ‘rational’. In fact, atheists and secular humanists are fond of calling themselves ‘free thinkers’ — wearing that label as a pejorative against those of faith, who, by implication are not.

The word “rational” means, “consistent with, or based on or using reason or logic.” So, how rational is it to believe in a Creator God?

Where did energy, time, matter and the dimensions in which we live originate? In theory, evena void must have an origin.

Rational thinkers postulate that the universe came into being via the “Big Bang” — that is, the universe simply exploded into existence by itself at some point in the unknowably distant past.

So let’s examine the idea rationally. There is no scientific explanation for the creation of energy, matter, etc., so that leaves but one seemingly logical conclusion.

If these things have no point of origin, yet they are, then logically, they must have always existed. But that doesn’t work, since everything in the universe has a starting point.

What was there before the Big Bang caused the universe to expand into it? Was there an ‘it’ for the universe to expand into.

Where did ‘it’ go? Was it a void before the Big Bang? Where did the void come from? What made the universe explode into existence? What was it before it exploded? And who made the void in the first place?

It is a law of physics that energy must be created — it simply cannot spring into existence on its own. THAT would take a ‘miracle’ and free thinkers deny miracles are possible.

But the laws concerning energy, mass, time, distance, etc. all pre-exist humanity, and the laws of scientific conservation say that they cannot be broken. That is what we call them the “laws” of physics.

But at some time in history, they all had to be broken at least once in order to come into existence. But that is impossible, since it would require a miracle.

But the fact that ANYTHING exists means, by definition, that a miraculous suspension of the prime laws governing the universe had to take place first.

Is your head spinning yet? This is what ‘free thinkers’ call ‘rational’.

Then there is the scientific problem with the creation of life. Science has never been able to create life out of non-life.

It takes life to create life, even in a test tube, a Petrie dish or a laboratory cloning experiment.

Rationally speaking, that leaves only one of two conclusions.

After all, if the most brilliant scientific minds on the planet can’t force something to happen that occurs randomly and easily, without either human direction or resources, they are either stupid and incompetent, or it must be impossible.

If it is impossible, then it would require a miracle, that is, a suspension of the laws of the universe, for life to exist. Yet, irrationally, it does.

Even if a scientist were able to somehow create life out of non-life, it would still require the assistance of a living scientist.

There is a joke about an atheist scientist who challenged God to a contest creating a man out ofdirt.

God refused the challenge, telling the scientist that before He could accept the challenge as fair, the scientist had to first create dirt.

According to the ‘free-thinking rationalists,’ life was created out of non-life, without any sentient intervention, by a random accident of such complexity that it is impossible to reproduce under even the strictest laboratory conditions.

Man is himself a rational being because of the incredible complexity of the human mind. The human mind is invisible, cannot be measured, felt, tasted, smelled or weighed.

It is contained, like a ghost, within an organ called a ‘brain’. Yet it is the mind that separates man from all the other animals with brains in the universe.

Man is the only flesh-and-blood mammal in the universe with the ability to reason. Where did that ability come from? A superior brain?

(The Primate Research Institute at Kyoto, Japan recently conducted a mental acuity test between Kyoto University students and chimpanzees. The test measured raw brain processing power, and in every test, the chimps won. So much for superior ram material. Why aren’t the chimps testing us?)

Man is also the only being with hard-wired, inherent emotions like remorse, compassion, pity, love, kindness, gratitude or generosity.

The human mind discovered that the human body is made up of more than ten trillion DNA cells, each of which is more advanced than the most advanced computing device the human mind has ever conceived of.

One strand of DNA contains enough encoded information to fill a library of 200 volumes of books at 200 pages each. Our bodies contain 10 trillion of these individual supercomputers.

Logic and reason say that such complexity is impossible without a design, but it exists, nonetheless. Logic and reason would demand a master programmer.

This again, leads to one of two possible, logical, reasoned conclusions for what makes man the only mammal with the ability to reason things out in that invisible, untouchable, thing we call the human mind.

The first conclusion is that man was created in God’s image. Free-thinkers prefer ‘random chance’ as the more logical and reasoned explanation.

(“Random chance” employs the same logic and reason that theorizes that a pile of silicone, left alone in a cave for ten billion years, would evolve into a self-programming dual-core 3.0 GB personal computer, (including keyboard monitor and mouse) with a 350 GB hard drive, high-end video card and pre-loaded with Windows Vista, Microsoft Office and Norton AntiVirus 10.0)

Finally, what does applying logic and reason tell us about the Bible?

No other Book in history has been read more times, debated more thoroughly, translated into more languages, touched more lives or remained more relevant to the present.

Moses compiled the first five books of the Bible, (the Pentateuch) fifteen hundred years before Christ. The last book of Scripture, the Book of the Revelation, was closed and sealed before the turn of the 1st century.

In all the centuries of its existence, despite constant and unrelenting attack through the ages, not one single word, not one point of geography, history, science, medicine or other fact has ever been proved wrong.

And it is as relevant today as it was when it was compiled. There is no book in human history that even comes close.

Logic and reason suggest but two possible explanations. The first is that it is a book of myths. The second is that it is the inspired Word of God.

To accept the first conclusion, one must reason that forty men of different backgrounds and different periods of history, kings, shepherds and drifters, without contact with one another, wrote a total of sixty-six different books, all of which flow together as a single narrative, from the perspective of God, “telling the end from the beginning and from the ancient times the things that are not yet done.” (Isaiah 46:11)

Further, applying logic and reason, one must conclude that those books, which when assembled, became the greatest best seller of all time, to the exclusion of all other books every printed in all human history, are the product of random human effort.

It seems that in order to reconcile logic and reason with ‘free thought’ the first step involves discarding all the rules that dictate their use.

Only one conclusion can be possible. Atheism, as it applies to reason and logic, doesn’t describe a person who believes in nothing. It describes a person who can believe in anything.

To reach any other conclusion would be irrational.

Originally Published: December 19, 2007

Featured Commentary: Signs and Wonders in the Last Days ~ Pete Garcia

Christmas Pie

Christmas Pie
Vol: 171 Issue: 26 Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas at my house is always a busy time of year. As the kids grew older, it got even busier. Our family tradition was something started by my maternal grandfather.

Granddad had five daughters, and he realized he was going have to compete with five sons-in-law if he hoped to continue his own Christmas tradition. Granddad adopted the English Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) as HIS Christmas celebration.

They called it the ‘Christmas Pie’. The ‘Christmas Pie’ was an old refrigerator shipping box filled with presents for all the parents and grandchildren. We’d all gather, the day after our individual Christmas celebration, for an extended Christmas.

All the time I was growing up, I thought that Granddad did it all for us grandkids, something that I thought odd in light of the fact that the rest of the year, he was a very proper English grandfather. But at Christmas, all that British reserve would evaporate.

It wasn’t until my kids had kids that I realized what a brilliant man Granddad really was. The Christmas Pie was NEVER about us, but WE never knew it.

It was really about my Granddad and his daughters never losing their own special Christmas traditions.

Granddad headed off any competition with the outlaws about who went to whose house last year — whenever some young fella married into the family, it was firmly understood at the outset that Christmas was for them — but Boxing Day was Granddad’s.

I share my grandfather’s love of Christmas and could not imagine not having my day with my kids.  So when Mike and Kari got married, I sat down with Mike and told him that he could have Kari for eleven of the twelve days of Christmas, but that Boxing Day was MINE.

Or he’d have to find himself another girl.

At our house, Christmas is a two-day affair.  Christmas Day is for Gayle and her mother and I.  We read the Christmas Story from Luke, remember the Greatest Christmas Gift of all — eternity — and have a traditional American Christmas.

Then, we spend the rest of the day preparing for today’s Main Event.

Mike and Kari and Hannah and Mikie and Sarah; Johnny; Ricky and Nikki (we call them the “Ickeys”) and Jacob and Bradley and Carlie; Mike and Kerilyn and Tristan and Natasha; Charlyn and Taya;  sometimes Jessica and Bailey and Lori– all together and at home with us — for one glorious day.

Lots of food, a Christmas ‘Pie’ and a chance for the parents to take a day off to be kids again.

Our Christmas wish for you is that you are surrounded by a family that loves you.  We wish you laughter and love and fun and joy. 

We pray our Lord Jesus Christ will envelope your family with an unspeakable love for one another — and for Him. 

We wish you a merry, merry Christmas.  And may you be truly blessed. 

With much love, from all of us, to all of you.

Originally Published: December 25, 2002

The Most Ironic Story Ever Told

The Most Ironic Story Ever Told
Vol: 171 Issue: 25 Friday, December 25, 2015

The story of the Virgin Birth, sinless life and blameless death of Jesus Christ, an itinerant Jewish preacher from the Judean village of Nazareth is often and rightly called “the Greatest Story Ever Told.”

What makes it great is its theme.  A Child born to a young Jewish virgin and (as was supposed) a Jewish laborer of low estate Whose birth is announced by angels.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

The Child is the Son of God, come to bear the sins of the world.  He grows to maturity, living low as a laborer in Nazareth until He is called to ministry during His baptism in the Jordan by His cousin John.  

Jesus preaches repentance and the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.  He teaches love of God and to love one’s neighbor.  He lives a blameless and perfect life, is condemned as the King of the Jews and crucified for the sins of the world.

Three days after His execution, He rises from the dead to announce that the hereditary penalty for sin imposed on all men since Adam had been paid.   In evidence, He offers His own Body, showing the nail scars and the side wound.

“This is the price paid on your behalf for sins.  Believe in Me, and Him that sent me, and thou shalt be saved.”  

THAT is why it is the greatest story ever told.  But what makes it ironic is the WAY that it is told – as a Christian story.  The story actually begins way back in the Book of Genesis.   

Abram was the son of an idol maker named Terah who lived in the great city of Ur in modern-day Iraq. The Bible relates that Abram was called by God to a new land that God would show him. 

By faith Abram undertook the journey.Genesis 15:6 says;

 “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

But Abram wanted a guarantee, nonetheless. 

“And he [Abram] said, LORD God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” (Genesis 15:8) 

It was then that God proposed a blood covenant after the manner of the Chaldeans

“And He [God] said unto him, [Abram] Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 

Abram knew what to do next, since this was something he was familiar with.

“And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.”

The blood covenant worked this way. The animals were slaughtered and cut up. The pieces were intermingled and then carefully arranged to form a kind of aisle through which the two parties to the covenant would walk together, hands joined. 

The principle of a blood covenant, and the symbolism of the animal parts was clearly understood to Abram. Whoever broke the covenant would end up like those piles of animals.

A blood covenant was, by common custom, a joining of 2 or more persons, families, clans, tribes, or nations, where the participants agree to do or refrain from doing certain acts.

What God proposed was a patriarchal covenant. The patriarchal form of covenant is a self-imposed obligation of a superior party, to the benefit of an inferior party.  Something like adoption by agreement.

In this form, the terms the parties use to refer to each other are: father and son.  And God’s proposal included not only Abram, but extended to Abram’s seed forever.  Abram’s seed, as we learn in Galatians 3:29, are the Jews and Christians that are “heirs according to the Promise.” 

What promise?  The one made by God to Abram and to his heirs and guaranteed by a Chaldean blood covenant.  

Abram waited, driving away the carrion eaters from his grisly creation, waiting for God Himself to come down, join hands with Abram and together, they would swear a blood oath. God would be the Father of Abram and his descendents, who would then be required behave as sons of the covenant.

Genesis 15:12 records that as Abram waited for God, a deep sleep fell upon him. During that deep sleep,

“it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:” (Genesis 15:17-18)

Abram didn’t join with God in passing through the aisle.  The Bible says that God took TWO forms that Abram saw as a “smoking furnace” and “a burning lamp” to symbolize that the covenant was “signed” the requisite two times – but both times by God.

By passing through the aisle alone, God signed the contract — alone — for both sides, binding Himself to keeping both parts. 

And THIS is where the Christmas story begins.  Of the covenant that God signed on behalf of Abraham, Paul explains,

“Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.” (Galatians 3:15)

The covenant could only be confirmed when the price demanded for its violation was paid in full.

When the Law was given to Moses four centuries later, it was assumed by the Jews that to break it was to break the Abrahamic Covenant, for which the penalty was death. Remember, somebody had to die.

But God signed on behalf of Abraham, and Paul pointed out the blood penalty required of the covenant was paid in full.

“And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.”

The covenant demanded satisfactory payment for its violation and no one guilty of violating it was qualified to stand in full payment except those that signed it.  The penalty for its violation was death. 

Justice required that someone keep the provisions of the original covenant and be a true Son as it demanded.

So Abraham could not pay the penalty on behalf of his seed.   Abraham was already under penalty of death.  But somebody had to die for justice to be satisfied and the only signer was God.  

The terms of the Abrahamic covenant required God Himself to step out of eternity and into space and time where He could be subject to the death penalty justice demanded.   

Two thousand years after the first covenant, an angel announced that “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

Unto WHO was born a Saviour?   Unto the Jews of Israel, first. And then to the Gentiles

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew FIRST, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

That is what makes it the Most Ironic Story Ever Told.  Christmas is the most Jewish of all holy days.  It is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant whereby the terms demanded were satisfied. 

But to most observant Jews, Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates something to do with the Christian God.  

That is the irony of the story.  It is a day that celebrates the birth of a Jew from Nazareth, born unto them in the city of David, which is Christ the Lord.  

So this Christmas, pray for the peace of Jerusalem. And pray for His Chosen People that they will receive Him as their King.  And may our God richly bless you and yours, until He comes.

Shalom.  And Merry Christmas.

Originally Published: December 24, 2010

Featured Commentary: The Awful Truth About Islam ~ Alf Cengia

The Christmas Miracle

The Christmas Miracle
Vol: 171 Issue: 24 Thursday, December 24, 2015

Seven years ago on Christmas Eve Tracey Hermanstorfer died during childbirth in Colorado. It was tragic. But it happens. That’s just how it is.

Death during childbirth is rare; it is estimated to claim less than a million lives globally, but it is not unheard of. 

When the body dies, it automatically shuts down non-essential operations first as a last-ditch effort to preserve the blood supply for the critical organs, sort of like a drowning man trying to grab that last breath as he slips below the surface.

When a pregnant woman dies, the first non-essential to be cut off is the womb. So When Tracey died, doctors turned their attention from Tracey to the baby, which they removed by C-section.  

Tracey had been dead for almost five minutes by the time little Coltyn was delivered.  Sadly, the little boy was also dead. Dr. Stephanie Martin wa 
http://www.omegaletter.com/admin/tinymce/themes/advanced/langs/en.js
s called in when Stephanie died to do the emergency C-section.  

She said the baby was born limp and completely lifeless.  

“She was dead,” Dr. Martin told reporters. “She had no heartbeat, no breathing, no blood pressure. She was as gray as her sweatsuit and there were no signs of life.”

Her husband was in the delivery room when his wife died. “I was holding her hand when we realized she was gone,” Mike Hermanstorfer said. “My entire life just rolled out.”

Doctors and nurses began CPR in an attempt to restart her heart.  Mike Hermanstorfer recalls a doctor telling him: “We have been unable to revive her and we’re going to take your son out.”

The doctors later handed him the lifeless body of his infant son.  As Mike Hermanstorfer held his son in his hands, he felt the baby move.  

At precisely the same time, his mother, dead for more than 8 minutes, suddenly drew a breath and came back to life. 

“My legs went out from under me,” her husband said. “I had everything in the world taken from me and then, suddenly, everything given to me. It was the hand of God.”

Doctors at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said there was no logical explanation for the recovery of the mother or her baby.  Mike Hermanstorfer thinks the explanation is obvious.  

“We are both believers,” he said.  “But this right here, even to an non-believer, you explain to me how this happened.” 

It was a miracle. 

Assessment:

The thing about miracles that fascinates us is trying to figure out why they occurred.  Sometimes miracles happen in order to send a message to mankind.  Sometimes they happen because God is God and He can do miracles if He wants to. 

I doubt this would qualify as a miracle in the eyes of the Vatican — there would have to be a saint or a prospective saint involved somewhere. This wasn’t a religious miracle.  

This was just the plain vanilla kind of miracle — the kind where God does something wonderful because He loves His children.  

Instead of seeking some deep, profound truth about the last days or whether this is a signal of some kind, I prefer to think of it as a warm hug from the Father.   Like a reassuring wink and a smile aimed at me personally as the chaos of judgment prepares to unfold.

“Things will get bad, but don’t lose faith.  I am still on My Throne.  Here, let Me show you Who holds the keys to life and death.” 

I am sure that to Mike Hermanstorfer, this was a personal and miraculous gift from God, but this was not a private, secret event between God and the Hermanstorfers.  

It was an open, joyous, glorious miracle of love performed by God alone on the most joyous holiday of the Christian calendar.  

Doctors couldn’t revive them.  Tracey was past the point of revival.  

When all hope was gone, the Lord breathed the breath of life into them both simultaneously and gave them — and the rest of the world — a Christmas miracle without any strings attached. 

It’s been a long, painful and dismal decade.  We don’t know what the new decade will bring, but barring a miracle, we can be pretty sure it will be something awful. 

It’s good to be reminded miracles still happen.   The Christmas miracle was just what the Great Physician ordered.  

And I really, really needed that Christmas miracle.   Thank You, Abba. 

Originally Published: January 2, 2010

Featured Commentary: The Greatest Gift of All ~ J.L. Robb