Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Who made made the waves in the Big Bang?

There's a lot of talk this week about the exciting discovery of the initial waves of gravity as the Big Bang expanded, verifying what's known as inflation.  It appears that the universe expanded faster than the speed of the light in the first split-second of the existence of the universe, and then began to expand at a steady rate for quite a while.

Click here to read about the new discovery, which is probably going to earn a Nobel prize

This is important, not least of all, because it shows the universe didn't always exist.  So why would it start, that's a question that involves a choice making entity. An intelligent being exercising willpower.

The amazing part about the whole discussion is not how divided we are on the questions of the Big Bang between believers and nonbelievers, but that people will study the universe looking for a "cause & effect" that can be measured, tested and analyzed, but not think that there was an ultimate cause.

Science isn't the enemy of faith, and in fact discoveries like we read about this week need to be celebrated.  I see nothing whatsoever in Big Bang cosmology that comes close to contradicting Genesis 1:1.  Science can help us understand "what" we see, but the job of science isn't to give a "why."  The big question remains, since we see these ancient waves of gravity from the early moments of the Big Bang, like ripples in a pond, who made the big "splash" in the pond?

Monday, March 17, 2014

The longest hour is the last one: Has Putin triggered Armageddon?

"And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon" (Revelation 16:16, ESV).
Has Vladimir Putin triggered Armageddon? Is Putin fulfilling the end times prophecies? Is he initiating some great battle that will annihilate mankind? Are we now on the brink of the end? Should we even expect to make it through the year 2014 without a catastrophic end?
Maybe, as you observe the recent events in the Ukraine, you've wondered if we have a glimpse of what's to come — wondering if the movement of Russian troops into Crimea is signaling the beginning of the end. Will Russia finally team up with China (as some have speculated, these two superpowers surely are in the book of Revelation) and fulfill the "Gog-Magog" alliance of Revelation 20:8? Will Russia and China surround Jerusalem and destroy the Holy City?
I doubt it.
We haven't had a decade of consistent world peace before or since Jesus walked the dusty roads of Galilee. I would guess during the Black Plague people began looking for the end of times, or the perhaps during any of the major revolutions in Europe during the last 1,500 years. Does anyone remember Y2K? Besides, Jesus Himself said, "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet" (Matthew 24:6, ESV).
But what about all these social uprising, riots, overpopulation, problems in the Ukraine, Egypt, Syria, tension in the Middle East, threats from North Korea, Iran building their bomb, all the tsunamis, earthquakes and bad weather we are having?
"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains" (Mark 13:8, ESV).
John, the beloved Apostle who was Jesus' closest friend wrote to the seven churches of Asia — convinced he was in the "tribulation," and the "Kingdom" of God was already in existence: "I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 1:9, ESV). So, we don't have to await the beginning of the Kingdom, it's already here, and the tribulation has already happened — according to John.
No more tribulation? But what about Putin being the antichrist? Sorry. That's a term not even mentioned in the book of Revelation. But, the Apostle John did have a few things to say about the antichrist in his epistles. No. 1: The antichrist already came to earth. No. 2: There were multiple antichrists and the "end times" already began. And No. 3: The antichrist wasn't a world ruler. An antichrist is anyone who denies the Incarnation. For example: "Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour" (1 John 2:18, ESV).
"Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son" (1 John 2:22, ESV).
"And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already" (1 John 4:3, ESV).
But my preacher, father, teacher (you fill in the blank) said they know when the end of time will happen. Really? Jesus said, "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:36-37, ESV).
Looking for the tribulation or a future Kingdom in each and every current event makes for great literature in the Christian Fiction Department, but it is terrible theology. These things have plainly already transpired. Plus, Jesus doesn't start an earthly Kingdom with a capital in Jerusalem anywhere in the Bible. Instead, at the end He relinquishes His already established Kingdom: "Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power" (1 Corinthians 15:24, ESV).
I believe Jesus is coming back and when He does, we will be with Him forever in heaven. I believe He could come before you drop this newspaper in your recycle bin or He might not return for another 10,000 years. It's true, the Eschaton is a fascinating topic, but to sensationalize it falls short of our calling to be faithful. There's a temptation to obsess about the "End" that leans towards escapism — it's easier to speculate about a spectacular end than it is to humbly/simply bear our crosses daily, today.
Click here for the Timesnews version

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why are we so restless?

Am I the only one, or does it seem like we are becoming a restless people?  Why are we so restless these

Only a few generations back, our ancestors usually lived and died within 10 to 20 miles of their birth.  Today it's nothing to jump in the car and drive several hundred miles for an event with our favorite hobby or to visit family.  We do this without much thought.  We move a lot too, but that's old news and not really at the heart of the issue.

It's not just that we are unsettled, when we are settled, it seems we are fidgety, distracted even.  We are like school children gazing out the window the last week before summer break.  What's up?

I love Bear Grylls and other survival shows.  Admittedly, none of these are filmed in our backyard -- part of the allure is the exotic locations.  Within 10 miles of our home they are building one new Bass Pro shop and two Cabela's.  The outdoors await, easier to conquer than ever!

I think part of our problem which keeps us fidgety and easily distracted is our craving for adventure.  The adventurous spirit of exploration and testing our mettle dies hard.  Ah, maybe not.  Probably not.  Why go in search of a challenge when you haven't beat Angry Birds or Candy Crush yet?  I guess it's just easier to live vicariously through a favorite athlete or to settle for reruns.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Blinded by the slight:

(Kingsport Times news, 11/23/13)

I was starting the grill tonight (I use what's called a "chimney coal starter") and I almost burned this clipping (yes, I have old newspapers in a bin for this).  I'm not sure how I missed this little gem.  Preachers live for sermon illustrations like this clipping.  We open newspapers, scouring them for such pieces as this!  

Look again at the clipping.  When Kennedy was assassinated, the "big" news of the morning here in Kingsport was a new leader at Eastman.  Is a transition in leadership important?  Having been close friends for several years with the recently retired CEO of Eastman and living in this town whose economy is tied closely to Eastman's successes, I can tell you it is a big deal in this town.  But, it's not that big enough of a deal to overshadow the real news of the day.

This clip reminds we can let the insignificant overshadow what's really important when we lose our focus.  This newspaper clip illustrates how an inward-narrow focus can blind us to bigger things outside our immediate realm.  

Are you going through a painful separation of sorts, losing your job, grieving the loss of a loved one?  God has a way of using painful times to shape us -- it's not that He caused the pain, but He sure can use it to mould us (Think Joseph, Gen 50:15-21

I'm not saying your pain isn't real, or isn't valid, I am saying, typically there's more to the picture than meets the eye.  It's hard, nearly impossible, to see past the pain, but that's where faith & hope come in.

I Cor 13:12-13, "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

II Cor 4:16-18, "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

II Cor 5:7, "for we walk by faith, not by sight."  

Pray for eyes to see eternal/consequential realities and for guidance to walk life's path when the lines get blurred.