Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

Hello everybody, Happy Thanksgiving! I thought it would be appropriate to share my favorite Bible passage about giving thanks, Psalm 118. There are also a few nerdy reasons why I love this passage so much. There are exactly 1188 chapters in the Bible. Psalm 118 is the “central” chapter of the Bible. In fact, the “central” verse is Psalm 118:8. Does this “central” verse and chapter have special meaning? I’ll let you decide for yourself!


Psalm 118

 1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
   his love endures forever.
 2 Let Israel say:
   “His love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say:
   “His love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the LORD say:
   “His love endures forever.”
 5 When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD;
   he brought me into a spacious place.
6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
   What can mere mortals do to me?
7 The LORD is with me; he is my helper.
   I look in triumph on my enemies.
 8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
   than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
   than to trust in princes.
10 All the nations surrounded me,
   but in the name of the LORD I cut them down.
11 They surrounded me on every side,
   but in the name of the LORD I cut them down.
12 They swarmed around me like bees,
   but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
   in the name of the LORD I cut them down.
13 I was pushed back and about to fall,
   but the LORD helped me.
14 The LORD is my strength and my defense;
   he has become my salvation.
 15 Shouts of joy and victory
   resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!
 16 The LORD’s right hand is lifted high;
   the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”
17 I will not die but live,
   and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
18 The LORD has chastened me severely,
   but he has not given me over to death.
19 Open for me the gates of the righteous;
   I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD
   through which the righteous may enter.
21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
   you have become my salvation.
 22 The stone the builders rejected
   has become the cornerstone;
23 the LORD has done this,
   and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The LORD has done it this very day;
   let us rejoice today and be glad.
 25 LORD, save us!
   LORD, grant us success!
 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
   From the house of the LORD we bless you.
27 The LORD is God,
   and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
   up to the horns of the altar.
 28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
   you are my God, and I will exalt you.
 29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
   his love endures forever.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Godly Perspective on Struggles

The Christian life is full of trials and struggles. It’s how we face these struggles that will determine the fruits of our life. Today I want to talk about trying to view life from God’s perspective. This is much easier said than done, and of course truly seeing God’s perspective is only possible if He chooses to reveal it to you! But I firmly believe that looking at problems this way helps even if you can’t see the full picture.

Virtually everybody on earth is naturally myopic, or nearsighted, when it comes to looking at their life. We focus on the short-term rather than looking at the big picture and getting a better perspective on things. I believe people have problems for only two reasons, the natural consequences of poor decisions, and God is trying to teach something.

Consequences for poor decisions fall into two categories, results for your bad choices, and results of the bad choices people around you make. Cause and effect in individual lives is easy. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight and become unhealthy. If you choose to look at everything pessimistically, you will probably be a negative unhappy person, etc… The effects of others’ poor choices are more difficult to understand. Somebody destroying their life through drugs or any other perversion hurts everybody that cares about them, their choices don’t just effect themselves. The actions of criminals frequently hurt innocent victims, etc... This is a natural consequence of the free will that God gave all of us. We aren’t puppets. We have the power to make decisions that can either do harm or good. When people choose to do wrong, others get hurt. I absolutely believe that God has the power to intervene in any situation. And I believe he does intervene sometimes. This is why it is so hard to deal with bad things when they happen for seemingly no reason. “Why did God allow this to happen?” Is probably the most difficult question we will ever face because the answer isn’t always the same and isn’t usually what we want to hear. I’ll share what I believe is a better way to view this a little bit later, but now I want to talk about the second reason for trials.

Sometimes God purposefully puts us in difficult situations in order to teach us and strengthen us. If life were easy, we wouldn’t have to lean on God for strength. We wouldn’t appreciate blessings if we didn’t first understand troubles. I believe this is why so few “Christians” in America are truly following Christ. Whether Americans realize it or not, we have it good. We are blessed with an abundance of food, shelter, and security. Most Americans look at their life and don’t see a daily need for God’s provision. They believe they have plenty to survive on their own. In many other countries, daily survival is bordering on miraculous. You don’t know where your next meal is coming from, but you trust God will provide it. On average, the Christians I’ve met in Africa and the Philippines have a much higher level of joy than Americans because they truly appreciate the “little things” we take for granted such as food, shelter, and family that loves us. They appreciate these things because they know what it is like to not have them. I believe the best way to be able to praise God in the good times involves having our faith strengthened during the bad times. We must lean on God during struggles before we can dance with Him in celebration!

Once again, this is much easier said than done, and everything looks better in hindsight. There has been countless times in my life where I have prayed for specific things and then thanked God looking back that He didn’t give me what I thought I wanted because what He had planned was much better than what I wanted even though I was upset and didn’t see the bigger picture at the time. I love the analogy of mountains as struggles. We humans look at mountains and how huge they are and can’t imagine how much work would be required to get through them. If you have ever been on a plane, you understand how a little change in perspective can change things. When flying over mountains at 30,000 feet, it all looks like flat ground, and this is still looking at things from a human perspective. How much more of a difference could it make if we truly looked at life from God’s eyes?! The problems that seem huge to us are nothing to Him.

My ultimate view on earthly struggles is this: I know that I am just a worthless sinner, and I deserve nothing more than to burn in Hell forever. Anything other than that is better than I deserve. But God loves ME so much that He sent His son to die on the cross in MY place. And I know that I have been forgiven because I have Jesus in my heart and I know that I will spend eternity in heaven. No bad thing that happens on earth should affect the joy of knowing Jesus and His love for us.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I pray that everyone is having a truly blessed week 

In Christ,
Steven Stockwell

I want to leave with one of my favorite verses and the best advise anybody could ever give. Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Disproving Darwin Scientifically

Please feel free to forward this!!!

No matter what some people might say, Darwin was a good scientist and his theory of evolution is a sound scientific theory. This doesn’t mean that it is true, it simply means that it can be tested and shown to either be true or false.

Darwin’s theory in short: life spontaneously coalesced through a series of random chemical reactions. Through countless small mutations over millions of years and natural selection, life evolved from simplicity to the complex world we see today.

Darwin himself showed two ways to test whether or not his theory is accurate. Let’s look at the first.

“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

There are countless examples of this. In Darwin’s time, microscope technology was very primitive. The cell appeared to be a randomly functioning blob. The advances in understanding of cellular machinery in the last 50 years have caused Darwin’s theory to “completely break down.” Molecular biochemist, Dr Michael Behe coined the term “irreducible complexity,” which describes a complex system that couldn’t possibly function if any individual part of it was removed. This implies that any system with irreducible complexity could not have evolved naturally because anything simpler or with less components would not be able to function or survive on its own.

A simple example of irreducible complexity is a mousetrap. The very simplest mousetrap has at least 6 pieces. If any of these pieces are removed, it is completely useless for catching mice.

Virtually any system known in life can be broken down to something that is irreducibly complex. Famous examples include the eye, blood clotting, flagellum, cell function, and the bombardier beetle among endless examples. I don’t have time to go into detail about each one. Please google them if you want to learn more. I want to focus on the most important example, the origin of life.

Life changes over time. This is a simple fact. People are bigger, faster, and stronger than they were in the past. Corn ears used to be less than an inch long. It is easy to see why evolution seems logical. The main problem with evolution is the start, how did life form naturally? Basically, it couldn’t have!

One of the simplest forms of self-sustaining life is the single celled organism called the amoeba. The information contained in the DNA structure of the amoeba is enough to fill 1000 sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica! The thought that this amount of data could spontaneously come together in the proper order on accident is completely absurd. There is absolutely no legitimate scientific explanation for how life could have naturally formed and there is a reason why other planets show no signs of life despite having evidence of water and near optimal conditions. Many prominent scientists believe that life couldn’t have formed on earth.

Francis Crick, famous molecular biologist and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us could now state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it wrong.” So did Crick decide to believe in intelligent design? Nope, he came up with another idea called “directed panspermia,” which theorizes that life originated somewhere else and was somehow transported to earth. How ridiculous is that!? And it still fails to explain how life could form wherever it originated from.

Nobel Prize winning scientist George Wald, “Most modern biologists, having reviewed with satisfaction the downfall of the spontaneous generation hypothesis, yet unwilling to accept the alternative belief in special creation, are left with nothing. I think a scientist has no choice but to approach the origin of life through a hypothesis of spontaneous generation… One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are, as a result, I believe in spontaneous generation.” Basically, Wald is saying, there is no evidence for spontaneous generation of life, everything points to creation, but because I am a scientist, I reject God and believe in evolution! Many scientists have this view, but at least Wald is willing to admit it! The excuse Wald gives is not science, but rather time itself, “Time is in fact the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of two billion years. What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is meaningless here. Given so much time, the "impossible" becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait: time itself performs the miracles.”

Now lets get to the second way Darwin said his theory could be disproved:

“The geological record is extremely imperfect and this fact will to a large extent explain why we do not find intermediate varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps. He who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record will rightly reject my whole theory. The number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, must be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graded organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”

Darwin said that if his theory is true as time progresses and more fossils are found, the evolutionary gaps should be narrowed and filled in to reveal a smooth slow change from species to species going all the way back to the beginning. This is obviously not what we have seen since Darwin’s time. We have found fossils for nearly 250,000 different species and the gaps remain virtually identical to what they were 120 years ago. There are actually fewer plausible examples of transitional species now than there were then.

Mathematician and philosopher David Berlinski, “The question to be raised, and it should be raised whenever an evolutionary sequence is mentioned…what are exactly the predicted properties one would expect to find as one passes from a land dwelling creature to a sea dwelling creature? Specifically, how many changes are required to go from a creature such as _______, which seems to have been land dwelling creature to some, to a creature that spends the entire portion of its life in the ocean? Curiously enough, this is not a question that evolutionary biologists ask a whole lot. I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations myself and the most modest estimate I could come up with is that an organism requires roughly 50,000 morphological changes to adapt itself to the open ocean. And as soon as we introduce a quantitative estimate, however weak, however flabby, however spontaneous, then a great deal of puzzlement starts to intrude into an otherwise sunny picture. 50,000 changes and we’ve got two members of the sequence? Where are the other 49,998 members of that sequence if Darwinian changes are incremental and are small? We are not talking about changes that are arbitrary. A creature must have these changes if it is going to survive in the open ocean. And any attempt to put a quantitative number should induce a profound sense of perplexity because of the number of changes are so much greater than anything we see in the transitional record. Now, what is the proper explanation for this? Please understand, I don’t have it…but neither do the other guys. And in my opinion, they refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the question…that is a fundamental question in paleontology…how many changes are required? Can those changes be compared to the fossil record? And if they are compared to the fossil record, why do we see such deficiencies in the record as compared to the necessary changes? A very important issue.”

The fossil record easily shows that Darwin’s theory of steady slow mutation of species is not true. Stephen Jay Gould, anthropologist and evolutionary biologist agrees, “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of the fossils.” So does Gould accept creation? Nope, he comes up with a new theory called “punctuated equilibrium.”  This theory says that evolution is highly unsteady. Large changes will occur, then the species will remain the same for an extended period of time until another large change occurs. This theory is not logical scientifically, but is actually supported by the lack of fossil evidence for steady evolution.

Conclusion: Darwin’s theory for how life began has been broken down as indescribably impossible, and the slow change of species has been completely debunked by the fossil records. We have two choices: we can believe in creation, or we can believe the modernized theories of evolution: That time mysteriously and unexplainably over several billion years caused life to form and come to earth and that millions of years of illogical herky-jerky large-step changes of species caused what we have today. I’ve said this all my life, it requires more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in creation!

Why is all this important? Evolution implies that God doesn’t exist and that Jesus didn’t matter. The other side understands this!

Richard Bozarth, famous atheist, “Evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the Son of God…and if Jesus was not the redeemer who dies for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing.”

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Give to Caesar what is Caesar's

Hello, today I want to share something I originally heard from Ravi Zacharias. He is a brilliant apologist and I highly recommend looking up some of his work if you don’t know him very well. I want to talk about Jesus’ response in Luke 20 where the priests tried to trick Him by asking about taxes.

“Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, "Show me a Denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?" They said, "Caesar’s." He said to them, "Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

I think this passage brings up a question, and shows you how to find the answer to that question. Jesus says, “give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The coin is Caesar’s because it has his image on it, but what is God’s? Logically, what is God’s must be something that has God’s image on it. I believe this is what Jesus would have said if somebody had asked Him “what is God’s?”

Genesis 1:26,27 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” So God created man in his own image.

We are God’s own possession and He proved this by “branding” us and stamping His own image and likeness on us. Therefore, we are to give to God what is God’s. We are to give up ourselves and follow God. This is summed up by my life verse, Galatians 2;20. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this. I pray that everyone has a blessed week!

In Christ,
Steve Stockwell