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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

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Science and the Genesis Creation Account

Scripture was not written by scientists for scientists; it was written by men living in ancient times. The Genesis account, penned by Moses around 1450 BC, was written when people were living in the late Bronze Age. Primitive stone and bronze tools were used to work the land, to make weapons, and to build homes. Writing as we known it was recently introduced, but not a widespread skill. The great emphasis of day-to-day life was to find food for survival. Natural science was limited to personal observation. Many in those days were polytheistic; they worshiped natural phenomena such as the sun, the moon, stars, fire, and water.

Moses, author of the creation account in Genesis, had been educated in Egypt. Ancient Egypt flourished from 3000 BC until the first centuries AD. Its successes were largely based on the irrigation of the Nile valley, early development of basic writing, trade with surrounding regions, and military strength. Egyptians believed in a complex network of multiple gods and an afterlife that emphasized the preservation of the body; hence, mummies. Moses’ Egyptian background is also evident in his choice of words throughout the Hebrew text.

This is the background against which the Genesis account should be read and understood. People 3,500 years ago had no concept of “knowledge” like we have in our time. That which could not be seen or experienced personally would be beyond their ability to understand.

In Genesis, much emphasis is placed upon creation “days” (translated from the Hebrew word yowm In English-speaking circles these days are commonly interpreted to be 24-hour days. As noted above in chapter 2, these “days” should not be the focal point of discussion. Given the background of Jewish people, including Moses, events far distant in time would make little sense and likely could not be understood. The use of yowms to describe the process of creation seems a logical choice to convey a difficult concept in a language and account that could be grasped by Moses’ contemporaries.

Independent on whether yowm is a 24-hour day or some other expression of time, the text of the first chapter of Genesis shows some remarkable insights:

• There is one God: The vast majority of ancient religions are polytheistic, just like the Egyptian beliefs. Genesis sets forth the concept of One God.

• God is outside His creation: The gods of the ancients were represented by natural phenomena, usually the sun (the Egyptian god Ra) or moon (worshiped as Thoth by the Egyptians). In Genesis, God created the universe: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

• There was a beginning: Most ancient religions believed the universe had existed forever. Until the middle of the twentieth century even many scientists still believed the universe had always existed. Only during our generation has science – astronomy in particular – proved conclusively that the universe had a starting point (Big Bang). How was Moses aware of this?

• The beginning was not by chance. The beginning did not just happen; it occurred because God caused it (“God created…”). Big Bang cosmology still has no answer to that claim.

• Original conditions were not suited for life: Whatever the precise condition of earth’s primordial atmosphere might have been, scientists agree it could not have supported life. Genesis confirms added steps were needed once the earth was created.

• Non-life preceded life. Vegetation preceded animal life: According to Genesis, God created plant life at the end of the third day. This is consistent with natural science, which claims amino acids form proteins or RNA which lead to living organisms. Vegetation is essential to produce oxygen for our atmosphere so that animal life could appear.

• Simple preceded complex: The fossil record leads to the conclusion of natural science that simple organisms preceded more complex life forms. Genesis describes the same order of events.

• Mankind appears at the end: According to scientific observations, modern man appeared once recently in the geological record, later than all other life forms. Genesis teaches that God created mankind on the last day of creation.

Amazing, even mind-boggling! Those words come to mind when one realizes how accurately the 3,500-year-old Genesis account describes what human science has only figured out over the last 50 years or so. More than any generation before us, we have the scientific knowledge that shows that Moses was correct. But how could Moses have known – unless by revelation from God – how our world came to be?

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

We Attract What We Are

It's been said that, "To attract attractive people, you must be attractive. To attract powerful people, you must be powerful. To attract committed people, you must be committed. Instead of going to work on them, you go to work on yourself. If you become, you can attract."

Many people want some extraodinary things but their self-image limits them on what they actually receive. A person cannot attract to themselves that which is greater than the way they see themselves.

For example, as long as we think and act like a moker, we're sure to keep smoking regardless of the patches, hypnosis, drugs or other cures we may seek. The same goes whether we're wanting to lose weight, find a mate, or find a more satisfying career.

Until we begin to think and act like the person who has the things we desire we'll never attract those things.

People who have successful marriages don't think and act the way they do because they have successful marriages, they have successful marriages because they think and act a certain way. The same is true with people who have accumulated great wealth. They have wealth because they think and act in a manner that is conducive to attracting it.

Many people work very hard and sacrifice a lot in an effort to create the best life possible. But they are frustrated beyond belief and cannot understand why "life is so hard" or "why life continues to deal them such a poor hand."

Life is only hard because one believes that it is. Life will continue to deal a poor hand to those who believe that it will. People do not attract what they want, but that which they are. Proverbs 23:7 says, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he."

They only way to attract what we want is to change the way we're thinking about ourselves in certain situations. We need to get a different picture. Even if it is hard to believe. It's been said that the longer you tell ourselves a lie the more we will begin to accept it ourselves.

In all reality though, we will be telling ourselves the truth. The truth is, we are winners, and we can have the things we desire. Jesus died that we may have life in abundance (John 10:10). Many times, we just need to change your expectations.

No matter what negative circumstances we may find ourselves in, we need to expect things to turn around in our favor. When we stop working on what it is we're trying to get, and start working on changing the way we see ourselves, only then will we get what it is we want. When we change our thinking, our results will change.

Are Tattoos Okay For Christians?

Should Christians get tattoos?

Tattoos are everywhere these days. It used to be that we would only see tattoos on sailors, service men and bikers.

Now every one seems to have them from politicians to teachers, from rock stars to celebrities. These days tattoos are the fashionable thing to do because they have been forbidden for so long.

We see young preachers with tattoos of crosses and Jesus, who call it a witnessing tool.

No matter what the tattoo depicts it is still a tattoo. Someone still had to take a needle and use ink to draw on our bodies.

The world is full of people who have these markings on their arms, backs, faces, legs and many other unmentionable places. The Believers have joined the bandwagon, thinking it is cool and that everyone is doing it.

We, as Believers, are not to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:1-2).

We are not to be conformed to their way of thinking. Not about fashion. Not about sports. Not about politics. Not about tattoos. Not about anything.

We are not to be followers but leaders. We are not to follow trends but be trend setters.

Even to Believers, God's ways of thinking and doing things seem backwards. They aren't, but we don't understand God's ways.

Instead we automatically do what we see our favorite celebrity doing. What everyone else is doing.

We are called to be separate from the world. We are called to be different.

More and more, though, the church and the people of God are looking like the world in their speech, dress and activities.

If we look like carbon copies of the them, how will the world tell what God has done in our lives?

We are not to be conformed to what the world is doing. We need to do things according to the Word of the Most High God--the Bible.

What does the Bible say about tattoos?

It says we shouldn't mark or cut our bodies (Leviticus 19:28).

Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost (I Corinthians 6:19). It is where the Holy Spirit lives (Romans 8:9).

Just as we wouldn't defile or mark on the outside of a church building, we shouldn't mark the outside of the real temple of the Holy Spirit--us.

Imagine all the ways, though, that we do defile the temple of the Holy Spirit through what we say, think and put into our bodies. Not to mention what we do to them when we do drugs, drink to excess or are promiscuous.

When we conform to the world, to their fashion, to their movies and their way of thinking, our boundaries between right and wrong become blurred.

Little by little, we move the line of what used to be right and wrong just a little further into their territory.

Now we are watching things we used to think were wrong. We are listening to music we used to object to. We are doing things that we would have never done before. The boundaries between right and wrong are harder to distinguish.

We have to pay attention to what we are watching, what we are reading, what we are listening to, who we are hanging around. These factors will determine what our life will be like and whether our boundaries will be blurred.

We need to use the Bible as our moral compass. It should be the final authority in our lives. What it says is the final answer. Learn to follow its direction.

When we get a tattoo, some consequences can occur. If we don't go to a reputable place, we can be injected by a dirty needle. We can be infected with AIDS or hepatitis. The tattoo could get infected. We could be allergic to the ink they use in the tattoo.

Once we are tattooed, we have ink flowing through our blood. Even if we have it removed, we will still have a flesh outline of where the tattoo once was, and we will still have ink in our blood.

If we want to be in a professional job, or any job dealing with the public, we will have to wear clothes that cover up the tattoo(s). Jobs of this nature require it.

We are called to be salt (Matthew 5:13) and light (Matthew 5:14) to a dying world, and we are called to be an example to them. We must show them that godly living--good, clean living--can be prosperous and fun.

They must see something different about us--about the way we act, talk, walk and conduct ourselves. We need to let God shine through us.

We are God's ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) to the world, who are craving and seeking something that will fill the void in their lives. We are to be that light. The example that brings them into God's kingdom.

Will Our Collective Ignorance Kill Us?

With three pounds of matter, called the brain, the human race has gained complete dominion over all of life on this planet. It has discovered the raw power of steam and used it to create the industrial revolution. It has discovered the raw power of splitting the atom and used it to create its own nightmare. It has discovered how to prolong and improve human life and this will result in a population explosion, where the rate of the human race doubles every forty years. Ironically, the great gift of humankind, superlative intelligence, may be the cause of its demise.

The solution, paradoxically, is more intelligence. Intelligence has to move from the few to the many. Literally, a new race has to emerge to keep civilization, even earth life as a whole, alive past this century.

The analogy often used is that most people are asleep, while others, those who are noticing the collapse of the environment and the coming storm, are said to be awakening. What does this really mean?

Perhaps, it means that most people, stuck in habituated or conditioned thought, are not capable of rising to a place where they can contribute anything more than resistance to the idea of the change that needs to happen.

Another analogy might work better.

The Internet is an artificial global brain. Theoretically, it allows anyone to contact anyone else. Those who use this medium to learn and communicate are "online." They are part of the aggregate of humanity that can share a community.

The rest of the world, either due to lack of interest or insufficient economic resources, are living in a more local environment. They are said to be "offline." They only know and communicate based on immediate stimulation.

As you can imagine, there is a huge disparity between the two populations. Those online have any kind of information available to them literally at their fingertips. Those offline have very little information to work on. The result is a growing disparity between the human race. Those who are informed and those who are not.

Similarly, in regards to the human race, only a small number are even aware that the world as a whole is in jeopardy. They have a poor knowledge of history, and do not realize how fortunate humanity was to have survived the dictators and the escalation of raw military power that emerged in the past century. They also have a poor knowledge of science, and do not realize that there is enough raw power to blow up the world eleven times over. Finally, they have a poor knowledge of social issues, ranging from pollution to self-seeking political and economic organizations.

The reason that they do not have this knowledge is because they do not think it is important. In many cases, too, they may not have access to this knowledge. In the past, the general ignorance of the masses did not matter that much. This was because there was never such a pressing need to create worldwide consensus on many issues, there was never a pressing need to reorganize and reprioritize human interests, and there was never the open possibility of general ignorance becoming deadly.

While it is not necessary to become a savant; it is necessary to become more intelligent, which means less conditioned, less ill-informed, less self-oriented, and less apathetic. A critical mass of intelligent people is necessary before the tide turns. Compassion and genius will not flourish in an atmosphere of indifference and confusion.

How can we make the upgrading of intelligence an important agenda for human beings?

We can improve the quality of all our media presentations, from print media to Television to Radio to movies to be less focused on trivial entertainment and more on providing meaningful messages. We can upgrade the educational institutions all over the world, from the model that is currently operating, which is still based on the ideas of the industrial revolution. And we can take individual responsibility and try to read more, understand more, communicate more.

Faith: The Essential Virtue

Anyone reading the Bible, not least the New
Testament part, must be struck by the considerable
emphasis which is placed on faith. Of course, faith is what ultimately ensures our salvation so we would
expect it to receive considerable stress. That aspect of faith is what takes us out of this life into the Kingdom.

Yet this is not an act of faith which, as it
were, stands alone. It is the ultimate act of faith which, albiet having guided our lives, comes at the culmination of those lives. Jesus clearly intended those lives to be lived through a succession of acts of faith.

There are two principles of faith which are of great importance and which should guide our lives.

1. Faith Is The Byeword For Those Who Watch.
What this means is that we need to be people who constantly watch in faith. We watch both for where and when the Lord is active in our lives and the world around us; but also for where he could be brought into a situation through our prayer of faith.

This general attitude can and should be regarded as a way of life: we are always being, not merely aware of God, but of where he is active and where he could be active if we intervened in prayer for his action. For, in the latter respect, Jesus told us:
"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11. 9, 10 NIV)
Now, it would surely have been superfluous for him to have said this if God always supplies what is needed anyway, without his being asked. The unavoidable implication of what he says here is surely that there are, in fact, many things which we do not receive simply because we do not ask for them.

Hence our lives should be expressed through a repeated asking, seeking and knocking. This is not to be implemented in a selfish seeking for one's own advantage, but through a constant watching in our lives at the events around us, and which occur in the world, for those opportunities through which God can intervene as a consequence of our acts and prayers of faith.

Sometimes these may concern things which do affect us personally and directly; at other times they will relate to world events in which we are not directly involved but which we do need to pray for in faith. So faith becomes the byword for Christians, the thing which, along with love, is our distinguishing characteristic.

2. Love Is The Sensitivity Of The Poor In Spirit
This may seem quite different from the first principle but is, in fact, highly comlementary to it. The poor in spirit are such because they know their absolute reliance on God for all things -- and that reliance is a continual act of faith. Indeed, this can be seen as an essential underpinning for the first principle. One of the main reasons why some Christians are not people of an active and daily expressed life of faith is because, although they may acknowledge it in principle, they lack the realisation of their utter dependency on God for all things.

Our objective is to make every aspect of our life subject to faith. Even when we pray, we should not do so without asking the Holy Spirit to be our Pray-er. (see my book "The Keys To How To Pray" on the Christianword web site given below). When asked about it, almost any knowledgeable Christian will affirm the role of the Spirit in this respect. But how often do we form and structure our prayer our selves?. Yet this is a practice which separates the faithful Christian from the less faithful Christian. Truly this is where our life of faith should start. But it should not end there. Indeed, if i sit down to write an article like this without asking for the Spirit's guidance and inspiration, what good is that?

Let us begin our life of faith with and in prayer. Paul advises us that it is the Holy Spirit who does our praying, not us. For example, Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:18 that we should pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. So however we are praying and whatever we are praying for, we are doing it in faith and therefore relying on the Holy Spirit to accomplish what we cannot.

What Is The Purpose For Your Life?

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).

Question: What is my purpose?

Answer: God has a purpose for your life (Jeremiah 29:11) He wouldn't have created you otherwise. Rest assured that if you are living, God has a purpose for you.

God had an assignment in mind when He created you (Jeremiah 1:5). He fashioned you with the exact combination of personality traits, talents and abilities to accomplish that purpose. You are the only one who can do it exactly as God intended.

You can refuse to do your destiny. God will find someone else to do it, but that person won’t do it as well as you would. You have the exact skills. Someone else would have to improvise.

It's like buying the perfect dress and having it ruined. Something happened to it. Perhaps it was lost at the cleaners or something spilled on it.

Then you go to the store and find a similar dress--maybe it has a bow in the back or it's not the right color or length. It's an okay dress, but it is not the same as the one that you had.

You are the perfect dress, shoes or baseball glove. You are first grade. Top of the line. Your purpose, your destiny, is tailor-made for you, and you are tailor-made for it.

Until you find your purpose and begin fulfilling it, you will never truly be happy. Maybe you think you are content at a job you have been working at for fifteen years because you don’t think you can do better. Perhaps you decided that you had no options but to be content muddling through day after day with no goals and dreams, just living from paycheck to paycheck.

Will you continue to wander around, believing that because you are a mother or a blue-collar worker, that you cannot fulfill the dreams you have in your heart? Or the plan God has for your life?

You make excuses. You are too old. You are too young. You are female. You are male. You are too emotional. You are too detached.

God isn't interested in your excuses. He is interested in your willingness to believe His plan for your life. He is interested in teaching and leading you through the Holy Spirit. He is not looking for a perfect vessel only a willing one.

How do you find God’s plan for your life?

What did you dream of as a kid? I find that the dreams you dream as a kid, the things you play about as a child, reveal something about your purpose.

I used to play teacher. I'd line my dolls up and play school. I had a chalkboard on my toy chest and an old health textbook that one of my teachers gave me.

I love to teach as much as I love to write. I once tutored a woman in a computer course I knew nothing about. I only had a manual and God to help me...and she received an "A" in the class.

What do you dream about? What have you dreamed about doing for years? What would you do if you had no limits? No fear? No money issues? No restrictions? What would you do? What would you accomplish?

What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? What are your deepest desires? These may be clues into what God wants you to do with your life.

Do you remember the movie Sister Act II: Back In The Habit? Whoopi Goldberg's character Deloris Van Cartier AKA Sister Mary Clarence told Rita Watson, one of the students the Sister taught in music class, "If you wake up in the morning, and you can't think anything but singing, then you should be a singer, girl."

What is that thing with you? Is it writing? Praying? Preaching? Teaching? Practicing law? Practicing medicine? Ballet? Then that is what you are supposed to do.

If you are a Born-again Christian (Romans 10:9-10), God has planted His dreams inside your heart. These are dreams that stay with you day after day, month after month, year after year, decade after decade.

What do you do when you believe you have a dream from God, but you aren't completely sure?

The best thing to do is pray. Get quiet before God and discuss the dream with Him. If you have the evidence of speaking in tongues, pray that way at this time. Then listen for God to speak.

The Bible says in Psalms 37:4 when you delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart. The more you delight yourself in the Lord, the more He will exchange your desires for His.

If when you pray and listen to God, the desire to do that thing becomes stronger, more often than not, it is God.

If, however, the desire wanes, or you start feeling anxiety or dread, toward it, it is not God.

The Bible tells you in Colossians 3:15 (AMP) to let the Peace of God be the umpire of your heart. If you continue to pray and feel peace about the situation, that's God. If you don't, then it’s not.

Some things that look right to you, or are real good things, are not God's best for you. Or it could just not be the right timing. Delay doesn't always mean denial.

Continue to seek God concerning His plans for your life. You have to get His Word on it.

You can have a man or woman of God tell you what you should do. They may even say they heard from God on it. If you don't get it from God Himself, though, you will always wonder if that person really heard from God.

Go to the Source. Have God confirm or deny what that person has said.

God has a plan for you. A glorious plan for your life. Be willing to let Him accomplish it through you.

Seek His plan for your life today (Matthew 6:33). Then He can do exceedingly, abundantly above all you can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).