Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas and Political Correctness

“Merry Christmas,” I said.
“Merry Christmas,” answered the employee of a large business.
I was surprised. I thought to myself, “she said Merry Christmas, that is cool.”
Many of course are obliged to say, “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” by their employers or by their own personal choice. Society dictates that we be politically correct. The reasoning of course, as you know, is that some folks celebrate Hanukah and some are Muslims or Hindus who don’t observe Christmas. So political correctness dictates they should not be forced to say “Merry Christmas.”
When I lived in India we used to say “Happy Diwali” to many people when that major October holiday rolled around. I didn’t celebrate the holiday per se, but we enjoyed the fact that many did celebrate it. I was not offended to say, “Happy Diwali.”
We now live in a world where people get offended too easily. Litigation is out of control. In fear we lose our freedoms in order to try to soothe this infraction of “accepted norms.”
Too bad. We are way too serious and way too easily offended.
I sincerely do wish you a Merry Christmas, or a Happy Hanukah. God bless.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Spring on I-90

As a kid, growing up in Northern Idaho, I remember one place along the road where our family would always stop near the summit of Lookout Pass. It was a spring of water. Someone had installed a pipe beside the road, to make it easy to drink the cold, clear water that streamed out of the mountain. On summer days, en route to Montana or back home to Idaho, we would stop and be refreshed by that spring.

Springs are one of the many pictures of spiritual reality that God has sprinkled throughout nature.

The Old Testament relates a story of Moses striking a rock at God’s command. Water came out of the rock and the entire community drank. Referring to this in the New Testament, Paul says, “They all … drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”1 During his lifetime Jesus said with a loud voice, “‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, … streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this He meant the Spirit…”2
So we have a spring. Clear water. People parched and in need of refreshment. Christ. The Spirit. Drinking. Refreshment. Life for our entire being.

The fourth century mystic Ephrem the Syrian saw this analogy. He wrote, “A thirsty person is happy when drinking, and not depressed, because the spring is inexhaustible. You can satisfy your thirst without exhausting the spring; then when you thirst again, you can drink from it once more.”3

A simple spring of water beside Interstate 90. Water from the mountain. Year after year. Each time someone passes that place, he may pause to drink. The water is sweet and cold.

Jesus is saying to us with a loud voice, “come to me and drink.”

Are you thirsty?

Drawing of Lookout Pass by Byron Dudley4

1 Corinthians 10:4
2 John 7:37-39
3 Shane Claiborne, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010) 64

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

That's Just the Fringe Stuff

What does it take to hold the planet in orbit? If it got out of whack, we’d all be finished. But the Earth’s orbit is true. It is dependable. What type of force does it take to keep our planet from flying out from the sun in a straight line, like a tetherball if the rope snapped? Even though this colossal force is holding the earth in orbit, yet we experience a pretty comfortable “ride” here on the planet.

How heavy are the clouds? The water vapor and ice crystals have some serious weight. If you don’t believe me just try holding a bucket of water out in front of you. Tech columnist Amit Agarwal writes, “According to scientists, the water in the little cloud weighs about 550 tons. And a bigger cloud may be around the weight of 200,000 elephants.”[1] That’s a herd of elephants over our heads… and yet they float!

What is the extent of the power being generated by ocean movement? Massive. One medium-sized breaker drove me hard into the bottom at Sandy Beach in Oahu. Two Arcadia University students estimated 6.9 GW (or 6.9 billion watts) of power could be generated in the Minas Passage of Nova Scotia alone. Nova Scotia Energy says just 2.5 GW would be enough to power 800,000 homes.[2] What level of power is required to stir up and calm the waves?

Does there not have to be a source of power equal to or greater than the power that exists?

In the Old Testament, Job (below) spoke about the power of these wonders. He attributed the enormity of that kind of power to God. “He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight… By his power he churned up the sea; … “[3]

Pretty amazing stuff, huh?

But hang on. “And these are but the outer fringe of his works;”[4] Job says.

You mean this is just the outer fringe? We haven’t got to the serious power yet?

God is awesome. Trust in his Son Jesus. He cares for you.

[2] “The Potential of Tidal Power From the Bay of Fundy,” by Justine M. McMillan and Megan J. Lickley, Acadia University in Nova Scotia.
[3] Job 26:7-8, 12
[4] Job 26:14

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Block

A local church invited several of us to join them for a special Sunday effort to reach out to the community. I ended up with a gentleman named Paul going door to door in the heart of town. Old row houses and a few shops dotted the street. It is a run-down block. 

Our mission: to ask people if they needed prayer and to offer them a New Testament or a Nuevo Testamento  if they desired it.

Paul and I began our task.

First we met a girl in a uniform that stood in front of a fast food restaurant, waiting for someone with the key. Polite, but not interested. “Talk to my boyfriend around the corner.”

Next we met Willy. Standing down in a stairwell, his eye level matched our shoe level on the sidewalk. “Do you need prayer?”
“Yes, I need a new apartment. I’ve been a chronic alcoholic for 35 years. My apartment is across the street from a bar. I need a safer place to live.” So we asked the Lord for an apartment. Paul encourages Willy.

The next few houses, no response. No one home. 

A man and a boy on the street pass us, “I’m in a hurry!”
“Any prayer requests?”
 “For a new life,” calls the man over his shoulder. Then they’re gone.

Jose is next up, a polite young black man. “Pray for my job as a barber, that I’ll make some money today.” We do so. He accepts a New Testament.

A weather beaten old lady with a sickly yellow complexion walks by, “Can either of you spare a cigarette?”
“No, we don’t smoke.” She bundles off toward the corner store. “I’m not interested,” she sputters.

Next up is a small 4 unit apartment. A Latino man answers the door. “We’re Christians from a local church, can we pray for you in any way?”
“Would you like a New Testament?” As the words leave my mouth I notice his wife behind him, she is wearing a burka. They are Muslims, I realize.
“No,” he replies, “but good luck and best wishes to you.”
“Where are you from?” I ask.
“No,” he patiently replies.
I feel disappointed that I didn’t recognize who I was talking to.  What could have been done differently? I notice their names on the mailbox, Atmanne and Houri.

More knocks. No one home. A Catholic lady, not interested. An old woman. No. A Latino man (or another Muslim?) … cordial, but not interested. A condemned building. Three youths who already have "lots of Bibles" and want us to pray for the economy.

Another door. The lady with the yellow complexion answers. “Yes, come into my living room.” (Now she is interested, but on the street she wasn’t Paul notes) The room wreaks of smoke. Her name is Pearl. We pray for her son who is in prison for child pornography.
She reads us a letter from her son in prison.
She shows me pictures of herself as a 15 year old girl with her step-father, and as a 10 year old. Same face. But so different. So sweet and hopeful in the pictures. Haggard and yellow now. What happened?

Brian greets us as we approach the church. On his way home from a service, carrying a Bible. His face is glowing. He’s smiling. Brian had completed rehab. He tells of how the Lord has changed him. So grateful. We pray. We hug.

The Bible says Jesus went about praying for the sick and telling the Good News of the Kingdom.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Our Default Setting is Life

Life is our default setting.

That is surprising since “The only sure things in life are death and taxes.” We could die within the next 20 years, 5 months, or “today.” ( “To Die” as the Aussies would say.) The death rate is 100%. So it’s remarkable that though death is certain, we don’t usually fret about it.

It is true that some commit suicide. This is due to a loss of hope. They see no way out. Death (and whatever goes with it) seems preferable to life. But this is the exception and not the rule. Yesterday someone told me he had ‘attempted suicide.’ I believe him. But he was still alive to tell me about it. That tells me that the desire to live outweighed the desire to end it all.

Catastrophic circumstances or the death of a loved one, and countless other things, make us think of death. We shudder hearing how someone died, but then an ice cream cone or a favorite song gets us back on the groove of life. We quit worrying.

This God-given sense, enables us to live as if death does not exist.

This tendency to block out something that is inevitable is an evidence of the permanence of life. God’s nature is permanent life. Jesus said, “I am the Life."1 John wrote, “He who has the Son has the Life."2  The overwhelming sense we have is to live today, to make plans for tomorrow, and to hold onto hopes for ‘down the road.’

Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’"3 If we have no hope of living, then we might as well pursue our desires here and now, today! But we don’t eat and drink because we fear death. We do it because we want to live. The default setting is life.

1 - John 14:6
2 - 1 John 5:12
3 - 1 Corinthians 15:32

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Who Will Throw the First Stone?

Is capital punishment a Christian position?

I write this because of the recent Norwegian mass murder. Anders Behring Breivik is charged with murdering 77 people, in two connected attacks. These were heartless and calculated crimes.

Opponents of capital punishment cite New Testament passages such as “turning the other cheek” to counter. Jesus stopped a capital execution by saying, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”[1] How can one reconcile Christ’s act of forgiving his Roman executioners with the administration of sodium thiopental to a death row felon? Who has a right to throw that stone?

Yet capital punishment seems clearly biblical. Yahweh declared in the Law, “Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death.”[2] No negotiation. There are numerous examples of God instigating executions.

Christ Himself, along with two criminals, died by crucifixion, the Roman form of capital punishment. He referred to Pilate’s authority as “given … from above.”[3]

There are two aspects of punishment, - human and Divine. In the 1995 movie “Dead Man Walking,” Sean Penn plays a cold-blooded killer who seemingly escapes Divine punishment, only to be executed by men. Forgiveness is one thing. Consequences of our actions is quite another. The Bible condones an avenger who kills his loved ones’ murderer as “without being guilty of murder,” [4] provided it was done within the legal framework. Executing a serious offender is sanctioned.

How can a loving God endorse the death of a person? Could it partly be the deterrent effect the death penalty has? One study concluded that from 1977-97, each additional execution decreases homicides by about five.”[5]

Norway has no death penalty. Anders Breivik faces a maximum of 21 years in prison under Norwegian law. It seems Norwegian lawmakers could not envision such a horrific crime. Breivik faces 99 days for each life he took unless the sentence is changed. Does the punishment fit his crime?

The criminal crucified near Jesus admitted, “… we are getting what our deeds deserve.”[6] That is the tenor of the Bible regarding capital punishment. Some crimes “deserve” the life of the perpetrator, while others do not. It is right that a judge should have the option of capital punishment.

Should Breivik get the death penalty if he is finally convicted? Definitely. Would God spare him from Divine punishment if he repents of his sin of murder? Yes, He will.

After all, He doesn’t cast stones.

[1] John 8:7 NIV Bible
[2] Exodus 21:12 NIV Bible
[3] John 19:11 NIV Bible
[4] Numbers 35:27 NIV Bible
[5] “Getting off Death Row: Commuted Sentences and the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment,” 1995, by Naci Mocan (University of Colorado at Denver) & R. Kaj Gittings (Cornell)
[6] Luke 23:41 NIV Bible

Sunday, July 31, 2011

He Got Da Whole World In His Hands

This morning as we drove to church, the sun was hot shining through the windshield. It was 7:45 a.m., but I was already hot. I turned up the air-conditioner.

I said to my daughter, “You know, if the Sun shot out one extraordinary explosion of gas off it’s surface, like a power surge, - the entire Earth would be burned to a crisp.” 

She didn’t respond, or look at me, but kept driving with her sun glasses on. 

“But it doesn’t do that,” I continued. “God’s power monitors and regulates the Suns energy output. He is in control. The Earth’s temperature stays within the narrow band of what is comfortable and survivable for life on Earth.” (I thought about the relatively small temperature difference between below freezing and a scorching hot day) 

My daughter didn’t look or respond. Just kept driving, sunglasses in place. 

Feeling the need to further ‘wow’ her, I said, “That is amazing considering  the size of the sun, the intense heat, and the distances involved. That is called the ‘Anthropological Theory.’” Something sounded wrong when I said that. Was that what it was called? 

She didn’t say a word. Didn’t look impressed. “Oh,” as it suddenly came to me, “I mean the ‘Anthropic Principle.’ That means that many people see that the Earth is fine-tuned, by a Creator, to be just exactly what man needs.”

There. My speech was over. Pretty impressive argument for God. My daughter  casually reached up and flicked the radio to another music channel. No comment.

Wow, - kids these days just don’t get it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Why Question

I was having lunch with family a few days ago. At the table straight ahead of me a man sat down with an evil-looking face tattooed on the back of his bald head. I have lived in India for many years, and I immediately recognized that familiar face. Thousands of trucks in India have that painted on the differential as a superstitious way to ward off accidents.

With that face staring at me. I kid you not, I felt physically nauseated for a moment.


As that quickly passed, I asked myself “Why would he do that?”

For cosmetic reasons? Was it a belief that somehow that tattoo enhances his appearance?

Or was it a drunken, spur-of-the-moment decision that movies like Hangover Part II tell us can happen. How drunk would you have to be, and for how long, to get a tattoo that size on your head?

Was it a part of a spiritual ritual? A contract with the devil? Was he imprinting the face of an intimate aquaintance on his body?

Was it simply his individuality showing through, a signature that says, “This is who I am?” Was it like Julia Roberts smile or San Francisco Giant closer Brian Wilson’s beard, or my feeling most “myself” in jeans and a t-shirt?

Maybe it was none of these. Maybe the tattoo was really cool, but I am just an old fogey stuck in the past?

Or did the face communicate his inner landscape? Maybe his experience of life culminates in that tattoo.

Last night at a coffee house I heard a girl read a poem. It expressed her inner landscape. The moving verses were of her growing up, and revealed the pain of being abused by her mother’s husband and her mom seeming not to care. “Why didn’t you help me?” It encapsulated her life experience and ended triumphantly with her tearful declaration, “I forgive you. I love you.”

If that leering tattooed face was an expression of a man’s inner life, then what was the emotion it expressed? Anger? Fear? Intimidation? Rebellion? Loneliness? The look of the face seemed to rule out the more positive emotions like hope.

I wanted to talk to the man. Just wanted to be kind and loving to him in some way, but I didn’t get a chance.

So… why the tattoo?

I’d have to get to know him to find that out.

"The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.”
Lamentations 3:19-22 (New Living Translation)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hey, It's May 22!

Gotta write about May 21, “Judgment Day.” It was incredible how widely spread the awareness of the prediction of the end of the world was. From talk on national media to a full-page newspaper ad to signs in remote corn fields… the prediction of 89 year-old radio preacher Harold Camping got out. In church yesterday, the pastor started off with, “First of all, I just want to say that today is May 22.” There was dumb silence until we realized what he meant.

A few thoughts on Judgment.

Although few people took the prediction seriously, it did create fear. The time mentioned was so specific and assertive. Until 6 pm on the 21st it was not certain what would happen. While watching one sporting event, the announcer said, “I plan on being here at the ballpark tomorrow.” And then, almost under his breath he said, “I hope,” as if there was doubt. There was. That was the fear of uncertainty that many felt.

Second, most Christians I talked to held to the Scriptural teaching that “Heaven and earth will pass away ... No one knows about that day or hour not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”1 So those I spoke to had serious doubts.

Third, Camping’s prediction makes Christians in general look like idiots. He was convinced he had some inside information from God. He was wrong. It was not God, but his own sense of importance or desire for the limelight or whatever. One Alameda Pastor commented, “He is self-deluded.”2 This episode reinforced the stereotype that Christians are extreme. I am amazed that God continuously allows His name to be drug through the mud – by us!

Fourth, I hope that Camping will now stop predicting the end of the world. It is true that we see signs of the end, such as wars and earthquakes, as Jesus said. Most Christians believe that. But since Camping also predicted the end in September of 1994, it would be refreshing if he would just stop. Will his ego or his entrenched theological beliefs allow him to? Hope so.

Finally, it’s not altogether bad that, as Christians, we should live in the light of the certainty that the final day will come. Christ will return. This life will end. World census information from 2008 indicates that 155,000 people3 (roughly the size of Salem, Oregon), die every day. For 155,000 people it was the end of the world on May 21.

But I am glad to be here still, and that this world is still intact. There is much good to be done. Things like the horrible tornado in Joplin make us aware that we have a world to love. No time to make end-of-the-world predictions!

1 - Matthew 24:35-36, New American Standard Bible
2 - “Despite Careful Calculations the World Does Not End,” Jesse McKinley, New York Times, May 21, 2011
3 - “How Many People Die a Day,” Shane Birley, January 23, 2008

Friday, April 29, 2011

Argument from the Violence of Nature

We hold people to a different standard than we do animals. That’s a no-brainer, right? If a shark attacks a person, we say it is only doing what comes naturally. No personal guilt is attributed to the animal, though it may be destroyed to prevent future attacks. A tiger may be labeled a “man-eater,” and considered dangerous, but it is not considered anything other than being true to its nature. It is not seen as worse than any other tiger. This is the natural food chain.

But if a person attacks and kills his fellow man, we have an elaborate, expensive, and often fallible system to mete out “justice” to the offender. We say that person is wrong. This sense of what man ought to do is one of the human beings unique qualities. It illuminates something invisible that exists, - as CS Lewis would say, an “ought to.”

Manhattan Pastor Timothy Keller speaks of the argument for God from the violence of nature, in his excellent book, The Reason for God. Is nature violent? Isn’t that the core of survival of the fittest? Reality is a contest for survival according to Darwin.

Keller tells of writer Annie Dillard who spent years living by a creek in Virginia to “be inspired and refreshed” by the purity of nature. Evidently, Dillard came to the conclusion that nature is ruled by one overriding principle, “violence of the strong against the weak.”1 Dillard wrote, “There is not a person in the world that behaves as badly as praying mantises. But wait you say, there is no right or wrong in nature; right and wrong is a human concept! Precisely! We are moral creatures in an amoral world…”2

Man is judged by a different yardstick than animals. He is held to an invisible code of morality. A “homicidal” praying mantis is just being natural, but a Muammar Kaddafi is considered by right-thinking people to be a monster for his role in the Lockerbie mass murder.

So there is an unseen something, a code of conduct, of what ought to be, that permeates human existence. Something exists, something that we all recognize, beyond what is seen. It’s recognition is unique to man.

In the Bible, Paul says it this way of those who did not accept the Jewish law. “… the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.”3

Yesterday I saw a video that talked of the trillions of stars in the known galaxy. Many are not visible, but no credible scientist would deny their existence. We accept this as fact on the word of scientists. Something invisible, but real.

The violence in nature also tips us to something that is invisible, and yet real.

1- Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, (New York, Riverhead Books, 2008) 161
2- From Chapter Ten, “Fecundity,” in Annie Dillard, Pilgrim At Tinker Creek (Harper-Collins, 1974)
3- Romans 2:15 (New International Version)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Quiet Invasion

D-Day, Normandy, June 6, 1944. 160,000 soldiers came ashore in the largest and loudest invasion in history. 5000 ships with nearly 200,000 personnel were in support. 24,000 paratroopers had landed hours earlier.

Recently, I have been reminded of another, much larger, but more quiet invasion. That was the American expansion that displaced and dominated the American Indian tribes, forcing them into land no one wanted.

In roughly a century and a half, American settlers, businessmen, adventurers, missionaries, politicians, fortune seekers, and soldiers pushed across the American continent, settled in it, and claimed lands long occupied by the Indian tribes. It was a massive, quiet invasion.

Today criticisms about American expansion are rampant from commentators like Glenn Beck who on his website claims Andrew Jackson was “… the guy who went in and just started slaughtering the Indians,”1 to prominent Christian writers, like Shane Claiborne, who highlight our injustice to the Indians. (“Forgive us Lord, for stealing the land: Have mercy and set us free.” 2)

Was it really that bad? After doing some reading, I make these observations:

- It is true that the settlers did the Indians wrong. Time and again our forefathers mistreated them; for example the displacement of the Cherokee nation, -- "the trail of tears," which had elements we would associate with the Bataan Death March of 1942.

- Often the greed of the common man, government officials, commercial interests, corrupt Indian agents, or biased legal decisions violated agreements. Treaties were constantly broken and new ones made.

- The colonial population of 4.5 million at the end of the Revolution jumped to 12.5 million in 30 years, thus creating conditions where “the westward pressure for more land was enormous” 3
But it is also true that…

- The Indians were largely nomadic, hunters with relatively few people claiming vast territories; their culture was different from the European, farming, and individual plot of land mindset. As often happens today, the two cultures missed each other.

- Extensive efforts were made to treat the Indians fairly. The US government generally espoused policies respecting Indian rights and land ownership

- There was a core of Americans who felt the Indians should be treated justly and generously. Among them were Christians like Episcopalian Bishop Henry B. Whipple and government appointed Indian agents like William Bent (Left and second from left).

- There were Indians who bucked the system and sought peaceful co-existence with the whites, like Black Kettle of the Cheyenne

But what do we do with the reminders that we stole the land? How does it help us to see a past President and American hero as evil? Should I apologize to an American Indian? Maybe. It wouldn’t hurt.

Human history has been interwoven with invasion and conquest. The Europeans who subjugated the tribes of North America had themselves been conquered earlier.

Is it better then, to forget what happened to the Indians? Turn off Beck and Claiborne? No. I don’t think so.

As a nation, like an individual, remembering our sins can help or hurt us. Remembering helps when it humbles us, stirs us to want to change, warns us not to repeat those things, and when it makes us realize our need for God. Remembering hurts us when we can only see how bad we are, and when there is no hope of redemption.

1 -
2 - Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Enuma Okoro, “February 8.” In Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010) 137
3 - Ezra Bowen, Edit. The Indians. (New York: Time-Life Books, 1973.) 157

Friday, February 18, 2011

It is Not Good For The Man to Be Alone 2: The Value of Man

In my last post, “It is Not Good For the Man to Be Alone,” I wrote about God’s goodness in providing man with domesticated animals. Dogs, cats, horses, and others serve us, but also provide companionship to us. Early in Genesis, the Lord said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) Animals provide one source of relationship that is critical to our development and well-being. I think especially of children and how important pets can be.
In this post I want to stress that relationship with animals is like icing on the cake of life. The main “cake” of our lives depends on relationship with God and with others.

The Bible is very clear that God wants to relate to you. As we seek him, we are promised that we will find him.

Scripture also stresses our need to love others and be in right relationship with them. As we seek others we find ourselves.

Relationship with God and with others are the core of our purpose on this planet. It’s not our career or our bank balance, although these affect our relationships.

It is disturbing in this modern age that some argue that animals are on the same level of worth as people. I remember reading about Paula Stibbe, the English woman in Austria who wanted to become legal guardian of a chimpanzee. She said: "He is a colourful character with lots of energy. The least we can do for him is give him ... a future in society."1 I am sure the chimp, is colorful – but a future in society? She has fought for the same rights for the chimp that a human child would have. USA Today reported, “Some legal analysts warn of a danger in giving apes equal legal status because an animal's rights could conflict or supersede a human's rights in future court rulings.”2

God’s Word is clear regarding this issue of value. “… 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.” (Ps 8:4-9) In God’s eyes a person is infinitely more valuable than a chimp. People are crowned with glory and honor by God.

Jesus said it very clearly. “You are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matt 10:31)

So relationship is God’s plan. Relationship with God and others is at the center of what is worthwhile in life.. Relationship to animals is just underlining this fact. Icing on the cake of life.

It is not good for the man to be alone.

1 - Kate Connolly, “Court to Rule if Chimp Has Human Rights,” (April 2007)

2 - Jeffrey Stinson, “Activists Pursue Basic Human Rights for Great Apes,” (July 2008)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

It Is Not Good For The Man To Be Alone

The other day, we passed a woman crossing her snowy yard followed by a cat. My wife commented, “There’s a cold kitty… bet he wants in.” Then she said, “A lot of cats live out in the snow I guess.” Immediately I thought of the small wildcats we have in Idaho. Literal “wild” cats who live outside. What made this “house” cat different? It was domesticated. It likes its snuggly blanket in the warm house.

Where do domesticated animals come from? How did we get them? Science traces their domesticity back thousands of years… dogs, cats, pigs, horses, and cows. Various scientific proofs say that through processes of evolution, and intentional breeding by man, our modern domestic dogs, cats, and other animals have come to be over vast stretches of time. Domestic dogs slowly came from grey wolves they say.

Driving on I thought, “God gave them to us for companionship.” That is one of the main purposes of domestic animals. They are companions. It is true that dogs perform vital functions in some cases, like sled dogs in the arctic. Pigs are raised for food. Horses can bear burdens, including us. But one of the greatest things about these creatures is that they are friends. Have you had a favorite pet?

God is a God of relationship. Out of love for man, he gave us some 4-legged friends. He’s concerned that we not be alone. So he gave us what we call “man’s best friend.” How cool is that?

Consider these verses regarding animals.

- God owns all the animals, He made them.
Psa 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.

- He watches over them, even as He does people.
Psa 36:6 O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.

- We are to be concerned about the life of animals.
Pro 12:10 A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast:

- Although God feeds and loves the animals, it is the person who trusts in God that is first priority for the Lord.
Psa 147:9 He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.
Psa 147:10 He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.
Psa 147:11 The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

No, it's not good for us to be alone. Thank you God that you care about me.

Quotes of Note ... The Invisible World

“Spiritual warfare is learning to recognize the strategies, refusing to cooperate with them, and aggressively cutting off the schemes of the devil in Jesus’ name.” Dean Sherman

“those who protest that God cannot exist because there is too much evil evident in life… Evil exists; therefore, the Creator does not. That is categorically stated… If evil exists, one must assume that good exists in order to know the difference. If good exists, one must assume that a moral law exists by which to measure good and evil. But if a moral law exists, must not one posit an ultimate source of moral law, or at least an objective basis for a moral law? By an objective basis, I mean something that is transcendingly true at all times, regardless of whether I believed it or not.” Ravi Zacharias

“But the Devil is no big threat to God’s purposes; he is not even remotely comparable in power. He has been given a limited time before his final judgment to try to prove his case, just as all other moral beings who have chosen to live in rebellion against heaven.” W.A. Pratney

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I've served as a life-long missionary in Samoa, the Pacific region, India, and now in Pennsylvania. The Christian faith is reasonable and works in real life. It is true to the facts. Hope you enjoy some of the thoughts. I appreciate feedback.

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