Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Whale Sung


“Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavensand you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for he commanded and they were created.
Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths.”

(Psalm 148:3-5, 7)

Perhaps it was with Psalm 148 in mind, that Daniel Migliore comments that “while the stars, the trees, and the animals do not speak or sing of the glory of God in the same way that humans do, in their own way they too lift up their praises to God, and for all we know, they do this with a spontaneity and consistency far greater than our own.”[i]

Humpback whales, for example, sing underwater arias; when they’ve finished, they often breach, soaring into an explosive half-twist back-flop with their “wings” flung wide.[ii] One researcher who studies female humpbacks and their offspring reported seeing a juvenile “leap from the water a hundred times in a row.”[iii] Maybe singing and breaching is the language these great beasts of the deep use to talk to God, “to cajole him, plead with him, play with him, and make covenants with him.”[iv]

“God leads a very interesting life and is full of joy.
Undoubtedly he is the most joyous being in the universe…
We pay a lot of money to get a tank with a few tropical fish in it…
but God has seas full of them, which he constantly enjoys.”
[v]
DALLAS WILLARD

Ponder...
Have you ever pondered something like the humpback whale singing and breaching in praises to God?



How many more places in the universe might this type of praise be continually and spontaneously erupting?




Meditate on the following verses, what might they literally mean?

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

(Isaiah 55:12)

“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Romans 8:19-22)





[i] Daniel Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991, 83.
[ii] Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Engaging God’s World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning, and Living, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002, 25.
[iii] Douglas Chadwick, “Listening to Humpbacks,” The National Geographic, July 1999, 21.
[iv] Eleonore Stump, “Faith and the Problem of Evil,” in Seeking Understanding: The Stob Lectures, 1986-1998, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001, 519.
[v] Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God, San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998, 62, 63.

Monday, January 30, 2006

In Creation…



“To whom then will you liken Me, Or to whom shall I be equal?" says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing… Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.”
(Isaiah 40:25-28)

Creation is neither a necessity nor an accident,” writes Cornelius Plantinga Jr. in his book Engaging God’s World.[i] He continues,

Instead, given God’s interior life that overflows with regard for others, we might say creation is an act that was fitting for God. It was so much like God to create, to imagine possible worlds and then to actualize one of them. Creation is an act of imaginative love. In fact, as the British author G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “The whole difference between construction and creation is… that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.”[ii]

In creation
God graciously made room in the universe for other kinds of beings. And then, out of His limitless and self-sustaining resources, God began to work. Expending vast resources of ingenuity, power, and love, God expanded the realm of being, generating ten to one hundred billion galaxies, each galaxy a stupendous bonfire of as many as one hundred billion stars, and many of the stars loaded with their own orbital systems. Over some suitable length of time, God generated great galactic wealth, and He is still generating it inside certain nebulae that are, in effect, nurseries for young stars. On our own planet, God devised processes of His own imagination to make salamanders and sandhill cranes and fringed gentians. As zoologists and botanists show us (often with a kind of wonder if they are good scientists), God’s creation, as we now observe it, includes more than 750,000 species of insects and 250,000 species of plants. It includes grasshoppers that look like leaves and beetles that hitchhike on the backs of bees. Perhaps revealing a whimsical side of God’s nature, creation includes the duckbilled platypus, and also “gooney” birds, a member of the albatross family found around Midway Island in the South Pacific. With their great wingspan and set-back leg placement, gooneys are champion fliers, but they visit land so seldom that, when they do, they come in for some truly foolish landings.

For Christians, the study of creation is a classic opportunity to read Scripture and the natural world together. Scripture tells us who created the wonders of the world, and why. Study of these wonders tells us, at least in part, how God did His wonders. In creation we find not only unimaginable variety but also deep orders and interdependencies. For example, plants and human beings (and many animals) need each other’s exhalations. You take in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, the very thing needed by a tree to live and to produce a little more oxygen for your next breath. (Is it any wonder that being in the presence of budding trees and blooming azaleas makes us feel fresher than acre upon acre of asphalt and concrete?) In this way, the world has been admirable arranged.

In creation we find creatures of wondrous particularity – each of them , and all of them, a display of God’s inventiveness and love. In some marvelous chapters of the book of Job (38-41) we read that God revels in His creation. God walks in the depths of the sea, cuts water channels through deserts, and leads bear cubs out of their dens. God fathers the rain and mothers the ice. He makes a pet of the mysterious Leviathan, perhaps a sea creature (41:5). When the sea bursts from the womb, God wraps it in swaddling clothes. He also speaks to the sea, as if it were His own “rambunctious and exuberant child.”[iii] “This far you may come, and no farther,” says God (38:11). And nature talks back to God. Leviathan speaks to God “with soft words” (42:3). Lightning bolts say to God, “Here we are” (38:35). And at the dawn of creation, angels and stars form into an audience and then a choir as they watch God go to work. In one spine-tingling verse, the book of Job says that God laid the foundation of the earth “while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (38:7).

These highly poetic chapters do not teach us zoology, but they do teach us something important. The chapters teach us that God loves creation. God celebrates creation. God even plays with His creation. Responding in kind, an unspoiled creature turns to God with praise generated by being or acting “in character,” by expressing its nature as God’s creature.



“The Universe begins to look more like a great thought,
than a great machine.”

SIR JAMES JEANS

Ponder...

How do all these elements of creation inspire awe and wonder and worship inside of you?



“I did not ask for success; I asked for wonder.
And You gave it to me.”
RABBI ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL



“As you do not know how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.”
(ECCLESIASTES 11:5)



[i] Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Engaging God’s World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning, and Living, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002, 23-24.
[ii] G. K. Chesterton, Appreciation and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens, Port Washington, MY: Kennikat, 1966, 14.
[iii] Eleonore Stump, “Faith and the Problem of Evil,” in Seeking Understanding: The Stob Lectures, 1986-1998, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001, 519.

Friday, January 27, 2006

In the Light



“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend (overcome) it…the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” (John 1:1-5, 9)

I asked a man what made his life so radiant and bright.
He answered: "Looking, looking toward the Light."
Anonymous


There is not darkness enough in all the world
to put out the light of one little candle.

Epitaph

There is no illness which may not be dissipated, like the dark, if you let in a stronger light upon it.
Henry David Thoreau

Reflection
Reflect on the following description about Christ. What does the following verse mean?

“But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness
shall arise With healing in His wing.”

(Malachi 4:2)

Jesus is the Light. After looking at various elements of light – its speed, power, etc., how might that relate to us as followers of the true Light? Reflect on that and the following passage from Ephesians.

“Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.”
(Ephesians 1:15-20)



“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
[i]
C. S. LEWIS







[i] C. S. Lewis, Weight of Glory, 3-4.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

All in One


“For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things,
to whom be glory forever. Amen.”

(Romans 11:36)
For 300 years, there have been fierce arguments in the scientific community whether light was a particle or a wave. Presently, scientific dogma says that it is both - even though scientists readily admit that this is "impossible." They shrug their shoulders and call it a "wave" when it does what a wave is expected to do, and they call it a "particle" when it does what a particle is expected to do. According to all the present evidence, light is not part particle and part wave (or a particle moving in a wave like pattern, as many falsely imagine), but it is all wave and all particle, all at the same time.[i]

Science tells us that light is constituted of three rays, or groups of wavelengths, distinct from each other, no one of which without the others would be light. Each ray has its own separate function. The first originates, the second formulates, illuminates or manifests, and the third consummates. The first ray, often called invisible light, is neither seen nor felt. The second is both seen and felt. The third is not seen but is felt as heat.[ii]

“God does not think; he creates.
He does not exist; he is eternal.”
SOREN KIERKEGAARD

Grab a Bible and look up the following references. Ponder what they’re saying about Jesus Christ.


Jesus Christ is all God and all man. He is proclaimed to be God (Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:16; Tit. 1:3; Hebrews 1:8), and yet we know that He is all man (I Timothy 2:4). He tired (John 4:6), He wept (John 11:35), He thirsted (John 19:28), and He was "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15).






[i] http://www.thebiblestudypage.com/light.shtml
[ii] Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Faster than a Speeding Bullet

“Faster than a speeding bullet.” This was the infamous description for the notable superhero Superman. Leap tall buildings in a single bound, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, were all said to be traits of this awesome being. But how fast does a speeding bullet travel? Speeds fluctuate and depend upon several factors. Gravity makes a projectile fall toward the earth while in flight. The projectile's size, shape, and the air density affect the speed by which it travels. Air resistance slows the speed of a bullet and reduces the distance by which it travels. The World Book Encyclopedia tells us that "with modern propulsion techniques, the projectile's initial velocity may be as high as 4000 feet (1200 meters) per second for some rifles and 5000 feet (1500 meters) per second for some large guns."[i] As impressive as this might seem, it doesn’t exactly hold water to the speed of light or Light Himself.

Light travels at approximately 186,282 miles per second. Nothing in our experience can move faster. It is the universal, absolute standard of speed. Einstein, in fact, postulated that everything - even time itself - is relative to only one existing constant: the speed of light.

Einstein said that the reason he could construct the theory of relativity was because there is one thing in the world that is unchangeable. That one thing—the speed of light—is the only constant in this physical, material universe.



Ponder...
Grab a Bible and look up the following references. Ponder what they’re saying about the Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the absolute standard by which all other things are measured (Acts 17:31). He never changes His character (Heb. 13:8). It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for anything that comes from His mouth to be annulled, changed, or altered (Matt. 5:18, 24:35) - and even time itself is subject to Jesus Christ, He was alive before there was time (John 1:1), and He will be alive when the new heavens and new earth are made (Rev. 21:6).
When Jesus wants something done,
nothing can slow Him down;
nothing can hinder Him from the execution of His plan
(Matt. 28:18).





“Science conducts us, step by step,
through the whole range of creation,
until we arrive, at length, at God.”

MARGUERITE DE VALOIS Memoirs

[i] Ballistics. The World Book Encyclopedia. New York: World Book, 1998.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Consuming Fire


“But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness
shall arise With healing in His wings.”

(Malachi 4:2)

In June 1946, the Sun sent out an arch of flame that soared above the Sun over ONE MILLION MILES, which is more than the diameter of the Sun! The power of the sun! The sun is a fantastically hot cosmic radiation powerhouse similar to the countless stars out in the vast unfathomable distances of space. Its surface temperature is 11,000°F and its interior temperature is estimated as high as 18,000,000°F. Imagine, if you can, a cake of ice one-and-one-half miles square and 93 million miles high. It would reach from earth to sun. Scientists tell us that this gigantic cake of ice would be completely melted in 30 seconds if the full power of the sun could be focused upon it![i]

Is it any wonder the Psalmist describes God by saying,

“A fire goes before Him, And burns up His enemies round about.
His lightnings light the world; The earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD,
At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.”

(Psalm 97:4)



Ponder...

What are some aspects of fire that speak of the all powerful character of the Christ?



The interior temperature of the sun gets as high as 18,000,000°F. Is there anything on earth that would not be instantly obliterated under the flames of such heat?



It’s only logical to assume that the Creator of the sun has more power and than the sun itself. Therefore, if nothing could withstand the fire of the sun, how much more so the one Whom we honor with holy fear?



Is there something you’re facing right now in your life that seems unconquerable? Write it down on a piece of paper. Describe in some detail the struggle, the situation, the circumstance, and you seemingly powerless ability to overcome it. Once you have done this, light a candle, hold the paper over the small flame and watch it begin to burn. (Be sure to use ansmoke friendly place, and you may want to position yourself near a sink or outside J). As you do this, be reminded that there is nothing to big or difficult for our God. He is a consuming fire. With Him we can do all things and overcome any obstacle or bondage.



[i] Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979.

Monday, January 23, 2006

General Electric

Jesus said,
"I am the light of the world.”

(John 8:12)

Light is energy-pure energy. The greatest natural source of light is the sun. The sun radiates more energy in one second than man has used since the beginning of civilization. In one second, a typical quasar throws out enough energy to supply all the earth’s electrical needs for billions of years[i]

When God said, “Let there be light,” there was light. There was no pause, there was no delay, there was only a universal response. The Apostle John said that “in Him was life, and the life was the Light of men” (John 1:4). Life and light work together intimately. The sun's light ultimately provides energy for everything we have on earth. Green plants, through photosynthesis, convert light energy into stored energy. When we eat the plant, we are consuming energy that was once light. We cannot escape the power and energy of light.

Interestingly, the New Testament proclaims that all power and authority belong to Jesus. One of the translations for the word power is energy. Just as the sun's light is the physical source of our energy, Jesus Christ is the true source of our spiritual life and energy.


Meditate on the following passage:

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.” (Hebrews 1:1-4 NASB)


Ponder...
What are some things this passage tells us about Jesus?




How could it be that Jesus is a better reflection of God's glory than all the stars in the universe?




“The question from agnosticism is,
Who turned on the lights?
The question from faith is,Whatever for?

ANNIE DILLARD
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek






[i] Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Weekend Ponderings…

Mathematical Impossibility

There have been a number of serious mathematical computations which have to do with evolution, and improbable to the vanishing point. Probably the best known case is the symposium on the Mathematical Challenge to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, held at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia in 1966. It was there that a French mathematician told that when a computer was programmed to give the probability of an evolutionary advance, it jammed.

The interpretation of this was that the probability was less than one chance in ten to the one thousandth power! In his closing remarks this man said, “Thus, to conclude, we believe that there is a considerable gap in the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, and we believe this gap to be of such a nature that it cannot be bridged within the current biology.”

Probability is expressed as a fraction and hence certainty is 1 and impossibility is 0. On this basis to be helpful to the evolutionists, the author assumed that the probability of evolution being true (if there were no gaps in the fossil record) as .999, which then makes the probability of creation the difference between this and 1, or .001. But there are at least 13 well-documented gaps in the fossil record, and actually there are very many more. But again favoring the evolutionists by using this very conservative figure of 13, and putting these numbers in the formula, the result is that the probability of evolution being true is about one chance in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Thus, even if assumptions are made favoring the position of the evolutionists, they cannot complain if it still comes out in favor of creation, which it does.[i]


Distance To Nearest Galaxy
The distance
from our galaxy to the next nearest one is nearly 1,500,000 light years. That is the distance light will travel in one-and-a-half million years going 186,000 miles each second.
This distance is so great that if every man, woman and child in the United States had a library of 65,000 volumes, and we collect every book in all these libraries, and then started on this journey of 1,500,000 light years, and decided to place one letter from one of the books on each mile (thus, if “The” was the first word in the first book, we would put “T” on the first mile, “h” on the second mile, and “e” on the third mile; then leave a mile blank without a letter and start the next word in the same manner, etc.), before we complete the journey, we will use up every letter in every book of every one of the libraries and have to call for more. And that is only the distance to our nearest galaxy.[ii]



[i] Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979.
[ii] Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979.

Darwin’s Last Hours

“I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.”
(Isaiah 44:6)

From reliable testimony, it may be assumed that Charles Darwin returned to the faith of his early manhood.

Lady Hope visited him one afternoon in England. He was almost bedridden for some months before he died. And sitting up in bed, he held an open Bible. “What are you reading?” asked Lady Hope. “The Royal Book, I call it. Isn’t it grand?” Darwin answered. Lady Hope mentioned about creation and the early chapters of Genesis. Darwin seemed greatly distressed and a look of agony came over his face as he said: “I was a young man with unformed ideas. I threw out queries, suggestions, wondering all the time over everything, and to my astonishment the ideas took like wildfire. People made a religion out of them.”

Then he added: “I have a summerhouse in the garden. I want you to speak to the people there tomorrow afternoon.” “What shall I speak about?” Lady Hope asked. “Christ Jesus,” he replied in a clear emphatic voice, adding in a lower tone, “and His salvation. Is not that the best theme? And then I want you to sing some hymns with them.” Then he added in farewell: “If you take the meeting at three o’clock, this window will be open and you will know that I am joining in with the singing.” —C. W. Hale Amos in The Bible Friend[i]



Ponderings...

How has the bigness of God impacted you this week?





“Divinity is not playful. The universe was not made in jest but in solemn incomprehensible earnest. By a power that is unfathomably secret, and holy, and fleet. There is nothing to be done about it, but ignore it, or see it.”
(Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)




“For astronomy is not only pleasant, but also useful to be known; it cannot be denied that this art unfolds the admirable wisdom of God.”
John Calvin 1509-1564
(French theologian and reformer)




[i] T an, P. L. 1996, c1979.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Opening the Curtains



“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.”
(Isaiah 40:21-22)


“Beside our sun, the nearest star is 4.3 light years away,”[i] John Bevere shares in his book The Fear of the Lord. To break that down into everyday language, light travels at the speed of 186,282 miles per second – not per hour but per second. That is roughly 670,000,000 miles per hour. Our airplanes fly approximately 500 miles per hour. Bevere continues,

If we built a scale model of the earth, sun, and nearest star, it would be as follows. In proportion, the earth would reduce to the size of a peppercorn, and the sun would become the size of an eight-inch-diameter ball. According to this size scale, the distance from the earth to the sun would be twenty-six yards, which is only a quarter the length of a football field. Yet remember, for a scale airplane to span that twenty-six-yard distance, it would take more than twenty-one years.

So if this is the earth’s and sun’s ratio, can you guess how far the nearest star would be to our peppercorn earth? Would you think a thousand yards, two thousand, or maybe a mile? Not even close. Our nearest star would be placed four thousand miles away from the peppercorn! That means if you put the peppercorn earth in San Diego, California, the nearest star on our scale model would be positioned past New York City and into the Atlantic Ocean a thousand miles out to sea!

To reach this closest star by airplane would take approximately fifty-one billion years, non-stop! That’s 51,000,000,000 years! Yet light from this star travels to earth in only 4.3 years.
Or, to put it another way. Imagine that the thickness of this page which you are reading is the distance from earth to sun (93 million miles). The distance to the nearest star (4.5 light years) would be a 71-feet high shelf of paper. And the diameter of our own galaxy (100,000 light years) is a 310-mile stack of paper, while the edge of the known universe is a pile of paper one-third of the way to the sun (31 million miles).[ii]

Let’s expand further. The stars you see at night with the naked eye are one hundred to one thousand light years away. However, there are a few stars you can see with the naked eye that are four thousand light years away. I wouldn’t even attempt to calculate the amount of time it would take for a plane to reach just one of these stars. But, think of it; light travels at 186,282 miles per second, and it still takes four thousand years to reach the earth. That means that light of these stars were first released before Moses parted the Read Sea, and has traveled a distance of six hundred seventy million miles every hour without slowing down or ceasing since, and is just now reaching the earth!

But these are only the stars in our galaxy a galaxy is a vast gathering of usually billions of stars. The galaxy in which we live is called the Milky Way. So let’s expound further.

The closest galaxy to ours is the Andromeda Galaxy. Its distance from us is approximately 2.31 million light years away. Imagine, over two million light years away.

Scientists estimate there are billions of galaxies, each of them loaded with billions of stars. Galaxies tend to group together. Andromeda Galaxy and our Milky Way are part of a cluster of at least thirty galaxies. Other clusters could contain as many as thousands of galaxies.

The Guinness Book of World Records states that in June 1994 a new group of cocoon-shaped clusters of galaxies was discovered. The distance across this group of galaxies was calculated at six hundred fifty million light years.

The Guinness Book of World Records also states that the most remote object ever seen by man appears to be over 13.2 billion light years away. Our finite minds cannot even begin to comprehend distances this immense. We’ve yet to glimpse the ends of the galaxy clusters let alone the end of the universe.

Yet, Scripture says that God,


“He stretched out the heavens like a curtain,
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.”

(Isaiah 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; Psalm 104:2; Jeremiah 10:12)


Pondering...

How much effort does it take to draw back your curtains in the morning?




If your curtains are like mine, it hardly takes any effort at all. Imagine, God stretched out the heavens, more than 13.2 billion light years (that’s roughly 836,160,000,000 miles x 13.2 billion). And this is just Him opening the curtains into the vastness of who He is!




“Anybody who still thinks the sky is the limit has no imagination.” [iii]
—Saturday Evening Post




[i] John Bev.ere, The Fear of the Lord, Lake Mary, Florida: Creation House, 1997, 25-27
[ii] Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979.
[iii] Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Called by Name




“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”
(Psalm 33:6)

“Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.”

(Isaiah 40:26 NIV)

“He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.
Great is our Lord, and mighty in power;
His understanding is infinite.”
(Psalm 147:4-5)

Have you ever looked up into the night sky and wondered just how many stars there are in space? This question has fascinated scientists as well as philosophers, musicians and dreamers throughout the ages.

Look into the sky on a clear night, out of the glare of streetlights, and you will see a few thousand individual stars with your naked eyes. With even a modest amateur telescope, millions more will come into view.[i]

So how many stars are there in the Universe? It is easy to ask this question, but difficult for
scientists to give a fair answer!

People have studied the mass distribution of stars in the galaxy. Further, one also knows the amount of light put out by each type of star. So, by measuring the total amount of light in the galaxy (called luminosity), and knowing the mass, one can estimate the number of stars that are there in the galaxy. So, even though we cannot actually count the number of stars in the galaxy, we can estimate the number of stars in the galaxy as roughly 100 billion (100,000,000,000).[ii]
I don’t know about you, but billion isn’t a number I typically use as a part of my vocabulary on a daily basis. So, how many are 100 billion? If we were to count 250 a minute—day and night—it would take us about 1,000 years to count to 100 billion. Multiply this by a few trillion, the probable number of galaxies. [iii]

Signs in the Heavens
***Stars are amazing things. Religions have been formed around them. Even today Astrology, Horoscopes and the New Age movement capitalize on them. Could the stars really be speaking to us trying to tell us something – something of the past, something of the present, even something of the future? Could God have designed them in such away to tell of His coming rule? Check out Appendix one. It contains some thought provoking ideas in regards to stars, astrology, astrological signs and the message of Christ.***



Ponder...

Have you ever felt small and overlooked by God? Think of the 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone. They are each numbered and named by God Almighty. None of them hare missing, how much more must He be attentive to us, who have His very Spirit dwelling inside!?



While thinking of the vastness of the stars alone, think of the implications of the following declaration of Christ after rising from the grave and conquering the power of sin and death.. Jesus said, “All power is given unto me.”





“We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made,
or only just happened.”
Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn



God Made the Sun
God made the sun—it gives.
God made the moon—it gives.
God made the stars—they give.
God made the air—it gives.
God made the clouds—they give.
God made the earth—it gives.
God made the sea—it gives.
God made the trees—they give.
God made the flowers—they give.
God made the fowls—they give.
God made the beasts—they give.
God made the plants—they give.
God made man—he …[iv]





[i] http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEM75BS1VED_extreme_0.html.
[ii] http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=31.
[iii] Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979.
[iv] Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Drop in a Bucket



Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, And are counted as the small dust on the scales; Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thingAll nations before Him are as nothing, And they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless.
(Isaiah 40:15, 17)

When we look around our world and see all the calamity, strife, famine, war and perversion of culture, its easy to begin to wonder if it will ever change, if it could ever change. Moreover, when we think about our part to play in the world we live, its equally as easy to begin to feel hopeless, even to despair. Yet the truth of this passage reminds us that regardless of how wars wage, perversion rules and cultures decay before our very eyes, God is in control. He is not shaken or in dismay. The earth is the Lords and everything in it it all belongs to Him.

Consider the following reflection from Astronaut James Irwin as he looked back at our massive planet from space. The perspective he gained could prove helpful to us as we look around the world in which we live and the condition its in.
"The Earth reminded us of a Christmas tree ornament hanging in the blackness of space. As we got farther and farther away it diminished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful marble you can imagine. That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart. Seeing this has to change a man, has to make a man appreciate the creation of God and the love of God.
JAMES IRWINU.S. Astronaut


Thought...

What are the things that seem to be out of control in our culture and society?

How does Astronaut James Irwins perspective help us in our spiritual voyage while on planet earth?

Prayerfully meditate on the following passage:
I will lift up my eyes to the hills-From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth,
and even forevermore.
(Psalm 121)
Take time to view some of the pictures sent back from the Hubble telescope.

http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/


How amazing is Christ's sacrifice for us, knowing that all these things were created through Him, and yet He died on a cross for our sins?

Monday, January 16, 2006

In the Palm



“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
Measured heaven with a span?”
(Isaiah 40:12)

Water is an amazing and interesting thing. Without water, a person can only live aapproximately one week, depending upon conditions. The human body is 66% water.

We use water as an integral part of our daily routine. Have you ever wondered just how much water we typically use? Let’s start with the important stuff:

How much water is used to flush a toilet? 2-7 gallons
How much water is used in the average five-minute shower?15-25 gallons
Washing machines account for 38 percent of household water use.
The average person uses 150 gallons of water per day for personal use
26 percent of the water consumed in the U.S. is bottled.

Have you ever wondered exactly how much water is in the ocean? For starters 80% of the earth’s surface is water. But, how much water is that? How many gallons of water is there in the ocean? Well, the ocean contains 328,000,000 cubic miles of salt water. Each cubic mile can hold (5280)³ cubic feet of water. Each cubic foot can hold (12)³ cubic inches. Each gallon can hold 231 cubic inches. Therefore there would be 3.612 x 10²ยบ gallons of sea water in the ocean. If all the ocean water were piled on top of the available land, 57,500,000 square miles (above sea level), on this planet, it would be 5.7 miles deep. If it were piled on the United States alone, it would be 88.6 miles deep. Scripture declares that God merely holds all that in the hollow of His hand.


Thought...

Have you ever felt like you were in way over your head, drowning under the pressures, circumstances and issues of life?





How does the image of God holding all of that in the very hollow of His hand extend hope to you in the moments of life?




The World Record

23 year-old Australian marathon swimmer, Susie Maroney, successfully swam from Mexico to Cuba without flippers, a distance of about 200 kilometers (125 miles) in 1998. The swim took her 38 hours and 33 minutes and, in distance terms, is the longest-ever ocean swim. Maroney, by the way, also holds the record for the fastest-ever double crossing of the English Channel.
Random Water Facts
-How much water is used on the average for an automatic dishwasher? 9-12 gallons
-On the average, how much is used to hand wash dishes? 9-20 gallons
-Elephant trunks can hold four gallons of water.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Weekend Ponderings…

How Big A God Do You Have?
When Henry Norris Russell, Princeton astronomer, had concluded a lecture on the Milky Way, a woman came to him and asked:
“If our world is so little, and the universe is so great, can we believe that God pays any attention to us?”

Dr. Russell replied, “That depends, madam, entirely on how big a God you believe in.”[i]



“I don’t think you can be up here and look out the window as I did the first day and see the Earth from this vantage point, to look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God. To me, it’s impossible – it just strengthens my faith. I wish there were words to describe what it’s like.…truly awesome.”
JOHN GLENN
Broadcast from the DiscoverySpace Shuttle
on November 1, 1998


[i] Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Britches a Little too Big for the Wearing


"Britches a Little too Big for the Wearing" This is a phrase my grandpa used to say to me as a kid when I showed up with pants a little to big for me. He also used to used this idiom when I would try something I wasn’t quite able enough or big enough or strong enough or whatever enough to do by myself. It seems that we often have a tendency to think of ourselves a few sizes bigger than we really are. Often, we need some help with reorienting ourselves. The following account is very helpful in these regards.


William Beebe was no armchair scholar. His extensive knowledge of nature was gained from explorations into the jungles of Asia and South America, and to the bottom of the ocean in the world’s first bathysphere.


Beebe had much in common with his friend Theodore Roosevelt, who also loved nature and exploring. Often after a visit at Sagamore Hill, Beebe recalled, he and the President went outdoors to see who could first locate the Andromeda galaxy in the constellation of Pegasus. Then, gazing at the tiny smudge of distant starlight, Beebe or Roosevelt would say:


“That is the spiral galaxy of Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It is 750,000 light-years away. It consists of one hundred billion suns, each one larger than our sun.”


After that thought had sunk in, Roosevelt used to flash his famous toothy grin: “Now I think we are small enough.” And the two men would retire, put in their place by the limitless universe.[i]


Read the following passages:


“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
(Psalm 8:3-9)


“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)

What is the source of our significance?






View the pale blue dot and read Dr. Sagan's quote. How can you reorient yourself with humility this week and honor the one who did come to "save us from ourselves"?

http://www.bigskyastroclub.org/pale_blue_dot.htm



[i] Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Great ball of Fire



“God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights.” (Genesis 1:14-16)

The sun is 93,000,000 miles from the earth. If you boarded a jumbo jet today and traveled to the sun, your journey would take over twenty-one years! That’s nonstop too! Where were you twenty-one years ago? That’s a long time. Can you imagine flying that long without a moment’s break in order to reach the sun? For those who have a phobia with flying and would prefer to drive…well, it would take roughly two hundred years, not including occasionally stops for gas, food and personal relief. Yet light travels this distance in a mere eight minutes and twenty seconds![i] The sun is so large that, if it were hollow, it could contain more than one million worlds the size of our earth. To point it another way, if an orange represented the sun, earth would be a mere pen point on the orange.


The sun is a massive and powerful star. As stated, the sun is so large that, if it were hollow, it could contain more than one million worlds the size of our earth. However, consider further that there are stars in space so large that they could easily hold 500 million suns the size of ours. Has your perspective of the world just gotten bigger?


Why do we tend to lose perspective on how big God is?

How does this impact how we approach life?

How can you remind yourself how big God is? What difference would it make in your life if you carried around the proper perspective of God's bigness?




Teacher: “Which is more important to us—the moon or the sun?”
Johnny: “The moon.”
Teacher: “Why?”
Johnny: “The moon gives us light at night when we need it.
The sun gives us light only in the daytime when we don’t need it.”
—Eleanor Doan



[i] John Bevere, The Fear of the Lord, Lake Mary, Florida: Creation House, 1997, 25.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Cosmic Billboard

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.”

(Psalm 19:1-6)



Reread that passage again, this time out loud.

The circuit David describes here is the rotation of the Earth from the viewpoint of a man on Earth and is not teaching that the sun revolves around the Earth. By comparison, we use works like “sunrise” and “sunset” to describe the Earth’s rotation, when technically the sun does neither.[i]


“There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio,
than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Hamlet



What does the universe communicate to us about God?





Reread Psalm 19:1-6 a couple times throughout today. Meditate on what is being said.






The Moon is one-quarter of a million miles from Earth. It took astronauts three days to reach it back in 1969. If we could ride a bicycle nonstop to the Moon (i.e., 24 hours a day), it would take us three years!

And then on February 5, 1970, a microfilm packet containing Genesis 1:1 in sixteen languages and a complete RSV Bible were deposited on the Moon by Apollo 14 LEM Commander Edgar Mitchell.[ii]


[i] Spirit Filled Life Bible, , Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991, 768.
[ii] Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979. Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : [a treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers]. Bible Communications: Garland TX.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Divine Architect



“The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens.”

(Proverbs 3:19)

Have you ever bought something new and tried to assemble it? Chances are, if you’re like me, often those pieces don’t always seem to fit as snug and sturdy as I remember the store display being. Or, what do you do with the three bolts left over? “Did I forget something?” I’ve asked myself more than once. “Oh well, it looks fine to me. At least it’s standing…” “It’s only leaning a little to the right.” “The wheel does seem to be wobbling a little bit, but I think it’s okay.” Any of these sound familiar? Sometimes the extra pieces turn out to be a little more significant than others and before long the whole thing falls apart.

Imagine if you had been contracted by God to design and assemble the universe, or perhaps just little ole Earth. Consider the following intricacies of the planet we live on.
If the earth were as small as the moon, the power of gravity would be too weak to retain sufficient atmosphere for man’s needs; but if it were as large as Jupiter, Saturn, or Uranus, extreme gravitation would make human movement almost impossible.

If we were as near to the sun as Venus, the heat would be unbearable; if we were as far away as Mars, we would experience snow and ice every night even in the warmest regions. If the oceans were half their present dimensions, we would receive only one-fourth the rainfall we do now. If they were one-eighth larger, our annual precipitation would increase fourfold, and this earth would become a vast, uninhabitable swamp!

Water solidifies at 32 degrees above zero. It would be disastrous if the oceans were subject to that law, however, for then the amount of thawing in the polar regions would not balance out, and ice would accumulate throughout the centuries! To prevent such a catastrophe, the Lord put salt in the sea to alter its freezing point![i]

The earth moves in at least SIX different ways, and yet we on earth are not dizzy. The movements are:

(1) The earth spins on its axis, like a top, at the speed of one-third mile per second or 1,000 miles per hour. If it were 100 miles per hour, the earth would alternately freeze and burn.

(2) It weaves slowly back and forth on its axis, tilting to an angle of 23 degrees, then swinging slowly back, twice a year. This gives us our seasons.

(3) The earth with the moon is swinging around the sun, once a year at the rate of 18½ miles per second. And it never varies 1/10,000th of a second on this annual trip.

(4) The sun, with all its planets, is on a trip, rushing northward at 12 miles per second.

(5) The nearby stars, with our planetary system, are revolving at 180 miles per second around the Milky Way’s center.

(6) The Milky Way, our galaxy, with all its millions of stars, is on a tremendous journey, plunging through space at terrific speed. Who knows where?[ii]

God guides and controls them all.



Reflect

What was the last thing you tried to put together or assemble? Were there any pieces left over? When you were done, did you ask yourself something to the effect of “something’s not quite right…what is it?”?



Take a few moments and think of various features built into the Earth, its atmosphere, seasons, etc. Meditate on some of the intricate features listed above.





“There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all… It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe… The impression of design is overwhelming.”

PAUL DAVIESThe Cosmic Blueprint




[i] Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979.
[ii] Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

…in the beginning


“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—
his eternal power and divine nature—
have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

(Romans 1:20 NIV)

“Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
even from everlasting to everlasting,
you are God”

(Psalm 90:2)

God is eternal, i.e., God is without beginning or end. God not only pre-existed creation, He preceded and created time. Sometime ago I came across a fictitious story about a group of men who set out to find an answer to the question, “Where did the earth come from?” They compiled much data covering many areas of investigation and then fed it into the mammoth computer. When they had completed their work and had given the machine all the information, they pushed the “answer” button and waited expectantly for the results. Lights flashed! Bells rang! Buzzers sounded! When the great moment arrived, this printed message emerged: “See Genesis 1:1.”[i]




“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
GENESIS 1:1


Meditate on the following statement: God is eternal. He has no beginning, nor end.



What thoughts, emotions and questions does this arise for you?




























[i] Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979.