Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"How Litte We Know" by Terry Gardner

“How Little We Know”
 Terry Gardner

   In 1899 David Lipscomb wrote about “The Bible and Evolution” and “The Bible and Geology,” topics that Lipscomb had “studied . . . in my younger days.” Lipscomb was disinclined to accept the view that the “day” of Genesis 1 “was an indefinite length of time,” thinking that it was an “ordinary day of twenty-four hours.” Yet, Lipscomb hastened to add, “We have not felt sure about this, but the style naturally suggests the common day.”  The plain text of Genesis seemed to suggest that a “day” was a twenty-four hour day, but Lipscomb could not be “sure” about the matter.
   A few weeks later Lipscomb published a letter from Samuel Jordan.  Jordan conceded the possibility that the author of Genesis 1 had twenty-four hour days in mind, but Jordan pointed out that “the first three days of creation lacked the phenomena that are so essential to our twenty-four-hour periods, sun and stars.”  As Jordan regarded “these periods,” he concluded, Lipscomb’s “thoughts seem to be correct and, of course, beautiful, because unanswerable; but to think of the six-days’ creation as six days of twenty-four hours each, your thoughts are remarkable, geology as taught decidedly wrong, and the Bible language forced to imply miracles needlessly.”
   “It has not been my purpose,” Lipscomb replied, “to present or discuss any theory of geology or of creation, but to present the truth that there is no discrepancy between the facts of geology that are regarded as established and the teachings of the Bible.  As I have said heretofore, my study of the facts and the theories date back from twenty-five to fifty years ago.  I have not kept abreast of the investigations of late years, save in their general theories.  I have held doubtful the idea of the day of Genesis one being a long period of time, but I have not formed a very fixed judgment on the subject.  I have long cultivated the habit of holding doubtful questions in doubt—not forcing a conclusion—for years.  The theory would readily solve all difficulties on the subject; but while the Bible does not forbid such a construction, does it suggest it, with our present knowledge of the structure of the earth?  If not, I hesitate and wait.  I do not wish to force a statement of the Bible.  What I wished was to suggest that men of science often put forth crude conjecture as scientific truth; and believers in the Bible frequently form their ideas more from popular sentiment than from Bible teaching, even on common subjects, and, from failure to observe, oppose the simple statements of the Bible.  Between the two antagonism is presented, where, with regard for the true teaching of science and the Bible, they would be found to harmonize and sustain each other.  We recognize the positions of our brother as in not contradicting the Bible, and, if true, fully removing all difficulties on the subject.”
  No one knows everything.  Lipscomb knew enough to know that surely he was not an expert in all areas and candidly admitted it.  His statement, “I have long cultivated the habit of holding doubtful questions in doubt—not forcing a conclusion—for years,” is remarkable.  We live in a world of increasingly shrill argument. We hear “authorities” and “activists” from all sides of every spectrum speaking and acting as if they know everything. Lipscomb did not know everything, as surely as no one of us knows all.  I don’t even know all the questions anymore, much less all the answers.
   The letter of James reminds us that we “know … everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).  People become violently angry about things posted on the internet (especially on Facebook) and respond with ill-tempered wrath.  Often they are responding to things that are patently false and sharing them with others as fact.  We shall do well always to restrain our anger and, like Lipscomb, keep from forcing a conclusion for years, if necessary.
   Many years ago, I was working for Procter & Gamble when a rumor got started that the company had been purchased by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and as proof the corporate symbol of a man in the moon and thirteen stars was cited.  Later, the rumor changed, claiming that Mr. Gamble (who had been dead for 100 years) had prayed to God for healing and when that did not happen he prayed to the Devil, was healed and now gave 10 per cent of the profits of the Company to the Devil.  Again, people cited the man in the moon symbol, arguing that if you held the logo up to a mirror (and looked at it backwards) three strands of the moonman’s beard made the number 666. Both rumors were, of course, false and misleading.  Many “Christian” people spread these rumors until the company began suing the most vocal propagandists and removed the man in moon from the company’s packaging. Among those who peddled these rumors were people whose business enterprises competed with Procter & Gamble.
   “For every careless word that people speak,” Jesus tells us, “they shall account for it in the day of judgment.”  I enjoy the internet and Facebook, but I suggest a little less Facebook and a lot more of God’s Word will do us all a world of good.  Every day I must remind myself that I don’t know everything.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Love Each Other by Steve Faidley

I am enjoying the good fortune and blessing of a relatively new job.  I had been with my previous succession of employers (mergers and acquisitions) for over 22 years and was beginning to look toward the retirement benefits that I was accruing and the shape of my career path with this employer for the next 15 years or so.   Then, out-of-the-blue, and without getting into all the details, I was contacted last December by the “talent acquisition team” of my soon-to-be new employer.  I had no specific desire to change employers.  For what I think to be obvious reasons, I was reluctant at this point in my life to leave the career I had known and tackle a new career.  But Melanie and I prayed about it; we talked about; we weighed everything out.  I kept asking the Lord if this was really what he wanted me to do?  Well, you already know the answer.  I took a leap of faith and accepted their offer.  I said all that to give the rest of my blog some context.  One of the true blessings of working for my non-profit, faith-based employer is the daily “Reflections” that are sent to us by our Director of Mission Integration.  Glenn is his name, and he is our “spiritual” leader at my employer.  His background is a little different than mine, but he is an ardent follower of Christ, and EVERY day he creates some great food for spiritual thought.  So I wanted to share one of his recent reflections (Glenn has given me permission to use and share his reflections and some of you have seen them in your e-mail).   Glenn wrote the following: recent years Morton Kondracke has been one of the most recognizable American political commentators.


The independent-thinking journalist appeared as a panelist on The McLaughlin Group and co-hosted The Beltway Boys on the Fox Network.


But few knew the back story of Kondracke’s life during those years.  In 1988 his wife Milly was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  Kondracke remembers:


“She had beautiful handwriting, and she was writing a check and couldn’t form the letter K.  It looked fine to me.  But she insisted that, no, there was something wrong. 


“Later she had a tremor in the little finger of her right hand, and then her foot would sort of wobble on the brakes when she was driving.


“She was given Symmetrel – which is a Parkinson’s medicine – by a doctor, and he didn’t tell her what it was.  But she called me at work one day, totally distraught and hysterical in a way that I’d never heard Milly before. 


“She said, you have to come home right away.  Something terrible has happened.  So I raced home.


“There she was standing in the bedroom with this bottle in her hand.  She said, ‘This is a Parkinson’s medicine.  I’ve seen Parkinson’s.  It’s a horrible disease.  I won’t be able to talk.  I won’t be able to walk.  I won’t be able to swallow.  I won’t be able to eat.  You’ll have to take me to the bathroom.


“’I’ll be totally dependent.  You won’t love me anymore.  You’ll leave me.’


Every one of the physical limitations that Milly dreaded came true.   She ultimately lost her battle to Parkinson’s in 2004.


But Kondracke did not leave her.  And he did not stop loving her. 


During one of the hardest times he wrote:  “Multiple times a day I pray for help and strength and Milly’s deliverance.  I simply couldn’t do this without feeling that I was doing God’s work in a small way.  I’ve asked God innumerable times, So what is my purpose here on earth? hoping that he will add a new and grandiose dimension to this, which he never does.


“The message always comes back the same:  Your job here is to take care of Milly.”


No matter what we’re facing today, and no matter how silent God might seem, we can be certain of one of our most important jobs.


Our job, by God’s grace, is to help take care of each other.





I’ve often shared Mr. Kondracke’s hope – that my time on this earth would be noteworthy and have a memorable impact either for simple good or in a way that would glorify God through my life and work.  But what is glorifying God?  It’s certainly not my lack of humility.  I would think one could not argue with the idea that it is to live out the words of His son to the best of our ability, starting with Mark 12:


29 “The most important [commandment],” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”


And that goes back to what Mort Kondracke and Glenn expounded upon.  We’re here to love each other…warts and all…and to take care of each other – in the name of our Heavenly Father.


That IS our grandiose purpose in the eyes of the only One that matters – and it starts with me.


Grace and Peace to you,



Thursday, September 17, 2015

So; You Think You Know It All by Frank Black


(September 20, 2015 – F. Black)


            No, I’m not talking about book knowledge or electronics and computers, etc.  I can quickly squelch any hint that we ‘know it all’ by simple questions such as:  “How high is up?” or “What is life and can you create it?”  But don’t most of us think that in matters of judgment, politics, religion, and morality our thinking is the best, the most accurate, and ‘right’.  Come on now; don’t you think this?  Of course we wouldn’t have the audacity to state this (after all, our name isn’t Trump).  But deep down; don’t we really think so?  We (you notice that I keep putting myself into the mix) think our logic is sound, true, and impeccable. 


            Okay Frank, this sounds rather erudite.  What are you talking about?”  I bring this up because we live in the epitome of a “ME generation” – quite narcissistic and outspoken. In our world most everyone thinks ‘they’ have the right and best answer or action. “Everyone needs to conform to me.” NO THEY DON’T! Unfortunately the individual, the solitary complainer, or the outspoken are given center stage in our country. It reminds me of the old adage, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”  And to speak against such folks is considered intolerant, bigoted, and not “PC”.  And let’s be honest; such a stance in our world does inhibit us – perhaps not in how we live but maybe by speaking in a more guarded way or by limiting how we publicly demonstrate  our Christianity. 


            No matter how “smart” we think we are, it is absolutely impossible to touch the hem of the garment of God’s knowledge and wisdom.  Isaiah 40:28 says, “…….His understanding no one can fathom.”  Our Bible often speaks of “worldly wisdom” and “divine wisdom”.  There is a huge chasm separating the two – the two can NEVER meet. I think all too often in today’s world (whether people claim to be God followers or deny Him totally), people think they know as much as God Himself.  I had a thought recently; it was an analogy that had to do with the sheer impossibility of us knowing what God knows.

 Just as animals cannot possibly know what humans know (reasoning, creativity, artistic endeavors); humans cannot possibly know what God knows.


            What I’ve said is nothing new.  You know this. Let me back up a step and remind you that Luke 16:8 says, “…..For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.” (that’s us Christ followers).  Also Jesus says in John 16:33, “…..In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  In I John 3:13 we are warned: “Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.”  I Peter 4:4 says,  “…….they (the world) heap abuse on you.”  More than any time in my life of 73 years, all this seems to be the case.  We all need to be prepared for this.  Just remember the early history of Christianity with the hatred, discrimination, and persecution.  I think we have entered another such era.  Believe it and be prepared.


            What do we do?  




(I’ve written on similar topics before; but I sincerely think they need to be kept in the forefront)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

To Defend or To Obey? by Mike DeCamp

A friend recently told me that I needed to “stand up and defend God.”  His words struck a chord with me and I’ve given them a good deal of thought.  As I watch the TV news and follow my Facebook news feed, I see lots of other Christians who seem to feel compelled to do that.  They are taking their “stand for God.”  They are marching.  They are protesting.  They are shouting at people.  They are writing biting articles and calling their senators.

I do respect their feelings and their convictions and understand their motives.  I appreciate their concern, and share their concerns over the moral state of our world.  I really do.

So, should I too stand up and defend God?

I guess my humble answer is that I think God is plenty capable of defending Himself.  He’s an incredibly powerful being that is much stronger, wiser, more patient, and more dangerous than I will ever be.

I don’t need to defend Him.  I need to obey Him.

God did tell us to march:
“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”  Jesus – Matthew 5:41

God did tell us to protest:
Defend the oppressed.  Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.  Isaiah 1:17

God did tell us to shout:
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.  Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Psalm 100:1-2

God did tell us to write:
Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.  Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.  Proverbs 7:2-3

No, I don’t think God ever commanded us to stand up and defend Him.  We must not deny him, but defending him is not something he expects.  It is my feeling that He can take care of Himself pretty well.  Rather, I think He wants us (each one of us who claim him as Lord) to OBEY Him.  And personally, I plan to start with the following commands and build on from there:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Jesus – Matthew 22:37-39  (And don’t forget that parable about who your neighbor is.)

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”  Jesus – Matthew 5:44-45

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Paul – Romans 12:17-20

That's enough to keep me busy for quite a while.

And, lastly, Jesus did tell us how to respond to persecution…
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  Jesus – Matthew 5:10-12

That said, I'd like to add a bit of perspective.  We are a long way from serious persecution.

Consider this picture of Coptic Christians in Libya who refused to deny Christ:

We have not yet resisted to the point of shedding our blood.

“To obey is better than sacrifice.”  I Samuel 15:22

I don’t want to become so caught up in being right—so intent on maintaining my form of faith—so focused on my rights—so obsessed with trying to enforce moral standards—that I forget my real reason for being here.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  Paul – 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

I think if we focused on doing what God actually asked us to do, then just like the early church, we will truly change our world.