When Souls Ache, There is Action to Take

It seems everywhere we turn there are people struggling. Perhaps a family member or friend is facing a health challenge. Or you hear about an accident or a natural disaster impacting strangers or those you know. Addiction, depression, grief, troubled relationships and hurts cause our souls to ache. Maybe it is you who is going through a tough time. Our hearts get heavy and you want to help or make the difficulty go away. The situation may not be fixable; it may be outside of anyone’s control. But there is always an action to take that is powerful and purposeful: PRAY!

Your prayer may be for a healing miracle or for peace and knowledge that God is holding the hand of each person involved. The prayer could be one of thankfulness for God granting strength and understanding to you. God’s Word has guided us that there are many ways to pray, there is no wrong way, and we can pray without ceasing. We can do it wherever and whenever we want. I’ve heard some people say that their problems are theirs to deal with, that God has more important things to do than to listen to their complaints and concerns. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The wonderful truth is that our God is infinite, omnipotent and omnipresent—His ability to pay attention to each and every one of us is never depleted.

God is asking for our action and thoughts and often we find what He wants us to do is in opposition to our instincts. Prayers for ourselves yield more power if they come from an attitude of humble submission, releasing control and surrendering it all to God. When praying for others, God wants us to be warriors. We need to have confidence to ask God to do big things for the benefit of aching souls. We can pray with thankfulness and tell God we trust Him. When we don’t know what to say, there is a song that says “Just say Jesus”. That is the amazing power of prayer and God, we don’t really have to say anything, just fix our thoughts on Him and He knows the reasons our souls ache. He knows the outcomes. He has invited us to enter His peace and put our souls into His care. We can know that no matter what happens, we can have hope, confidence and anticipation that when our earthly journeys end, we will make it to Heaven. We can pray with thankfulness for that.

Get your ‘to do’ list ready—PRAY TODAY! Aching souls are in need of your action. God Bless!

Harry Potter, Twilight & The Bible

Books, I love them!  Going into a library or a bookstore can be a step toward an adventure, an awakening of ideas, and the mastering of a subject. With all the books organized by author, by topics and right there within reach, you could travel far away in your imagination. Those feelings have fueled a lifelong passion for books. Whether reading to entertain, educate, escape, unwind, hear opinions or gain inspiration, I have been drawn to the written word.  You do not need electricity, a driver’s license or money, but oh, the places you could go!  To think that a book was so popular that it took the world by storm and left it changed.  This is what I wanted to read, something that many other people had or were reading.  Classic or popular fiction, would the book change me?  Whether it did or not, at the least, I would be able to decide what I thought of it.   Was it worth all the attention?   Did it give me new ideas or was it just an entertaining way to pass my time?

      As a young adult, I’d squeeze in an extra book in the summertime or between school semesters.  I enjoyed reading stories from Margaret Mitchell, John Steinbeck, Steven King and Ann Rice.  In more recent years, I would embrace both the Harry Potter and the Twilight series. These latter books certainly take the reader on a fun ride into a fantasy world of magic and super-natural abilities, where in the end, the power of love proves to be the greatest power of all.  The other thing wonderful about these books is that they brought back the joy of reading for a couple generations of youth being fully engaged in and inundated by all the videos that were taking over as the main means of sharing information.  Ah, the thrill of seeing how books can still change the world.

      One day, several years ago, I heard a DJ on the radio talking about the five top read books.  There are many different lists of top books based on various criteria.  I cannot say the source for the list I heard about that day, but as the titles and authors were read, I found that I had read four out of the five.  The one that I had not read was the Bible.  Well, I had read certain sections and had started to read it a couple times, but I had generally treated it more like a reference book.  Like a dictionary or an encyclopedia, I would turn to the part of interest and read the words out of context from the whole.  I never seriously thought about reading the Bible through as if it was a novel.  The small text and the number of pages had always intimidated me. 

      I knew there were schedules for reading the Bible in a calendar year, but I didn’t know anyone who did it, or if they had, it wasn’t a topic they talked to me about.  Sticking to a defined schedule wouldn’t be a good fit for my life.  There were weeks that went by without enough minutes in the day as it was.  I wasn’t going to set a goal that would have me quickly tossing in the towel or feeling guilty each day for missing the mark.  I already felt pretty stupid.  All these years thinking I was reasonably well read and looking to what others wrote and said to figure out what everything means instead of reading the Word of God.  It was about time I went to the source. 

      As I read the Bible, I did it with a sense of skepticism.  I wanted the words to prove themselves as more than something written by man.  Maybe you consider this irreverent? Also, is it wrong to approach the Bible as if it were the latest “NY Times Bestseller”?  To read it myself would let me see what all the fuss is about.  Would I like it and by moved by it?  I kept my mind open.  I allowed myself to be critical and to have doubts.  As opposed to bringing all my preconceived notions and what I’ve been taught before, I considered this to be a fresh start.  I didn’t go to the deepest level of disbelief as if to say, “I don’t believe there is a God, Bible prove I’m wrong.”  I knew that a Greater Power exists.  That belief has been based less on what I have read and more on what I feel.  But still, what is God like?  The way I look at it is that God gave me a brain that asks questions, why would He hold it against me to wonder about who He is?  Is He a vengeful God of “Fire and Brimstone”?  Is He Jesus, an All-Loving God of forgiveness and grace?

      I started with the “New Testament” since Christmas was coming in several weeks. This way the books I was reading would tie to the “reason for the season”…Christ.  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are an easy, uplifting, read filled with the parables and the miracles of Jesus.  These are the Gospels, meaning “The Good News”.  Many of the stories were familiar to me from Sunday School and others were new to me.  I was surprised by Jesus saying that the people should not tell about miracles they witnessed.  At the time I read this, I thought, “Why not shout it from the rooftops?” 

      The Acts of the Apostles read like an action adventure book with shipwrecks and fabulous tales of visits to foreign lands.  I kept at it, not fully understanding the Epistles, Letters from Paul to the new Christian churches.  Later I would read a version of the New Testament with a historical perspective section precluding each book.  The statements made started to be clearer with knowledge of the context of the times and culture that Paul was addressing.  I started the “Old Testament” in March.  In all, it would take me sixteen months and 13 days to read the King James Version of the Bible.  I was not that quick, but I was proud of myself for staying dedicated to it. 

      At times I was shocked by what I read.  Sometimes, I thought “They didn’t tell me THAT in Sunday School!”  Stories of violence, cheating, lies, jealousy, incest, murder, war, power, weakness and conflict revealed real people, many quite broken and messed up. Other times I was energized by the Word and the new ideas that took hold in my head.  Some parts, I could not possibly believe were inspired by God.

      Now I wanted to discuss what I was reading with others.  Talking about God, the Bible and what people really believe, doesn’t always just happen naturally.  Sometimes you have to push the topic into the conversation.  Even once God was in the discussion, this isn’t really a subject that you can fully and openly debate, since everlasting life or death may be riding on this one.  The discussion can make people uncomfortable.  I’ve seen people have two styles.  One is where one side forcefully pushes their beliefs on the other person regardless of where the other is on their own journey.  Another way is that they play nice and try not to offend by not really diving deep, dancing across the surface of the questions.  Well, I feel this is certainly a debate that shouldn’t be handled by brute force.  There is a Jason Gray song that says getting to know God should be “more like falling in love, than something to believe in, more like losing my heart, than giving my allegiance.”  These words send a much stronger message to me than someone banging on their Bible and saying “if you don’t believe, you are bound for Hell.”      

“In the beginning…” with the earth being without form, with darkness all around,  I have no problems with reading about an All Powerful God speaking and making it so.  I’ve always considered the “Garden of Eden” to be an analogy, a story that was easy to understand, a moral and one I did not look to as being strictly literal.  As a woman, I don’t want to share the blame with Eve for having allowed evil into the world.  Pretty bad for Adam to cop out of responsibility and say “it wasn’t my fault, I just did what Eve told me to.”  Oh, come on now Adam, didn’t you also hear God when He told you “Don’t eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge?”  You could have told Eve “No, we shouldn’t do this.”  But if Adam did resist, that wouldn’t give the story its intended meaning now, would it?   Does anyone ask how the snake (the Devil) made it into the Garden of Eden?  I guess it really wasn’t a perfect paradise if an evil element was present.  The lesson:  humans can easily be tempted to not follow the rules, to do what we want, to disobey God.  After eating that forbidden fruit, humans had to leave the Garden and face challenges of life on Earth. 

      What greater evil can be shown than to have two sons and one, giving in to jealousy, commits the first murder?  Brother killing brother, the Cain and Abel story tells how evil feelings can take the upper hand over our better nature if we let it.  This horrible episode happens so early in the biblical narrative of humankind.  The Bible says that the trouble between Cain and his brother started over God not respecting Cain’s offering of the “fruit of the ground”.  We are told that God had respect for Abel’s offering “of the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof.”  (Genesis 4:4)  Looking beyond the words, wouldn’t a good God accept and respect any offering if it came with the right attitude and purity of purpose?  God says to Cain, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.”  (Genesis 4:7)  God wasn’t looking at the offering but what was in Cain’s heart and He didn’t like what he saw.  Cain’s soul was sure ugly if he thought that the answer to his problem would be solved by bashing his only brother’s head with a rock.

      Now this little family of four becomes only three, with one committing the monster sin of murder.  The knowledge of good and evil sure wasn’t enough to keep this first generation on the right path.  Eve was happy when God granted her another son, Seth.  Cain leaves the presence of the Lord and the Lord put a mark on him that he wouldn’t be killed (Genesis 4:15).  The Bible tells that several generations later, Cain’s descendent Lemech slays a man and makes threats to kill more (Genesis 4:23).  What a wicked family tradition!  No women are mentioned as being born of Adam and Eve, and Cain is sent away and yet he still has descendants.  God put a mark on Cain to indicate to others that he should not be killed.  Adam and Eve as the first and only human beings on the face of the earth doesn’t jive with the early parts of the story where there are other communities mentioned.  In Genesis Chapter 6 Verse 2, it talks about sons of God taking daughters of men as their wives.  The Bible also says there are giants in the earth (Verse 4).  Interesting!    

      I had known the story of Lot and the cities of Sodom and Gomorah, with Lot’s wife being turned into salt.  The part I didn’t hear was how the father and two daughters settled in a different land and the girls thought it was a good idea to get dad drunk and sleep with him as a way to get pregnant.  How messed up is that?  As I read through the “Old Testament” books, I kept feeling like there had been so much left out in my past Bible lessons.  Now the characters were coming to life, real people with feeling, difficulties, making good choices at times and sometimes making big mistakes.

      In the first three books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus) people make some pretty bad choices.  What surprised me is how the individuals may still end up leaders.  For example, Genesis Chapter 27, Jacob conspires with his mother, Rebekah, to steal his brother’s birthright from his father Isaac.  Pretty bad behavior I’d say.  Later we hear about Jacob’s sons, one being Joseph.  Joseph’s brothers sell Joseph as a slave.  They want their father to think Joseph is dead, so they show Jacob the multi-colored coat with goat’s blood on it.  What family drama!  Yet these brothers eventually become the founding fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel. The theme of God’s forgiveness for past wrongs when people change the attitude of their heart is weaved in early.    

      In Exodus Chapter 20, there are seventeen verses that provide the Ten Commandments.  In contrast, it shocked me how the verses went on and on about other topics and general do’s and don’ts.  In Exodus 32:27-28, God had just told Moses “Thou shalt not kill” and yet Moses leads some of the people to slay their brothers, companions and neighbors because of the Golden Calf incident.  Three thousand of their brothers, companions and neighbors were slayed.  Moses said the Lord told them to do it.  How does this work now?  Do not kill unless it is justified?  I didn’t read any of God’s conditions for when and where He thinks killing is acceptable.  So Moses didn’t follow those ten simple rules after hearing the covenant from the Big Guy Himself.  In Chapter 34 through 40, the Lord “spake unto Moses” all kinds of commands about the tabernacle, the ark, the garments for Aaron, etc.  There are over one hundred verses where God is an interior decorator and fashion designer.  Then in Leviticus, you have God-the Food Safety Officer.  All the rules about animal sacrifice seem to be guides to protect the people from food borne pathogens and other risks.  Next up is God-the Doctor.  Verses give guidance on diagnosing leprosy and preventing it from spreading.  God also provides expert Real Estate advice and the rules for proper slave ownership.  Some of the text goes into great details about jewels, colors, cloth, dimensions, number of items, burnt offerings, fat, blood and on, and on.  As I read through these sections, I cannot help but ask if maybe more emphasis on the Ten Commandments would have really been God’s point.

      As I read through the Bible, I revisited many stories that I had heard before, but now they were in context with what occurred before and after.  It wasn’t just the story of David and Goliath from Sunday School.  That story was followed up by tales about David’s sins and the years he hid away when King Saul wanted him dead.  A generation later, there is trouble with David’s children.  One son raped David’s daughter, the guy’s sister.  David’s son tries to kill David, his father.  There is so much hatred, jealousy and so many evil acts. 

      I questioned the meaning behind the story.  I don’t want to only hear what others have to say about the stories but what do they say to me?  The books of Proverbs and Psalms contain familiar and cherished words.  Books by Solomon contain wisdom.  But when I read commentary about the Song of Solomon that say this is a book about God’s love for Israel or relating to the church as the bride of Christ, give me a break!  This reads like erotic literature to me.  The guy had 700 wives and 300 concubines (I Kings 11:1-11) for heaven’s sake!  Although Solomon had some high points in his life, women were his weakness and they got in the way of Solomon’s relationship with God.  Apparently, it has been stated that anyone who quotes Song of Solomon giving the section a literal meaning and not a symbolic one should be declared a heretic and will forfeit their spot in paradise.  So we are supposed to literally interpret Genesis but not Song of Solomon?  Who is making up these rules?  I say it is a bunch of men who want to tell people how to think.  Not God!

      Some parts of the Bible really tick me off.  For example, read Judges Chapter 19.  What a man allows happened to a woman is disgusting.  What a sick bastard!  In following chapters, huge wars start with many dead started by this one man’s actions.  Horrible!  There are stories in the Old Testament about towns being wiped out but the warriors take the virgins to be their wives.  The use and abuse of women seems to be condoned in the patriarchic text.  Even early on in the story of Abraham and his wife Sarah sending off poor Hagar and Ishmeal out into the desert.  In Ezra, Chapter 10, there are a number of men who “put away” their wives and children since they were considered foreign.  It irks me!  These women and children were apparently polluting God’s people.  The actions seem to not give consideration for any of the wives who worship their husband’s God. 

      There are other parts of the Bible that I find helpful and intriguing.  Like Ezekiel, especially Chapter 33:13-20.  These eight verses speak to me about the point of it all, that the Lord “will judge you every one after his ways.”  Then there are about two hundred sixty verses in Chapters 40-48 that talk about the design of the temple and a lot about the division of land.  To me these verses are hardly the point.  Daniel was interesting.  I knew about the Lion’s Den, I didn’t know about all of Daniel’s visions.  He talks of prophesies and admits that he doesn’t understand what they mean.  It foretells a lot about what was to happen between nations with kings rising and falling.  Historians have compared the statements with events that took place between countries from the north, south and east.  Did the vision describe those days or days yet to occur?  Daniel was told this would befall his people in latter days.  In Daniel 12:10, it says “Many shall be purified and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.” 

      Micah 6:6-8 includes a comment that made sense to me regarding some of the Old Testament religious practices. 

6Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God?  Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old.

7Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil?  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

8He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

      Some words in the “Old Testament” books allude to the coming of a savior who will bear the iniquities of many.  Some of these books were written ~700 BC or further back.  The time gap between the Old Testament and New is about 500 years.  The continuity of the books of the Bible, written at different times, by different authors, but painting the same big picture is pretty amazing.

      Once I finished reading the Bible, did I feel it proved to me that there is a God?  I’ll be honest here, “No”.  My personal conclusion was that there were significant realities within the Bible that came to be written because of God’s divine inspiration and that there is a bit that was written by stupid men.  I gained a new appreciation for what the Bible shares about the depths of the human condition.  It surprised me how generation after generation, the pull to do evil is so strong.  The stark contrast is seen in Christ, with Jesus coming more alive to me in the reading of the Bible as a whole.  We see how he is too smart to be tricked and what angers him.  The power of his teachings come into light.  I hoped I was understanding the intended meaning behind the parables.  There is a lot to take in.  So I can now see why people would read the Bible over and over to get the most out of it.  I can see how different messages could ring more true depending on what life was throwing your way at the time. 

      All in all, the most concise guide for how best to live can be found in Matthew 22:37-40.

37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38This is the first and great commandment.

39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

In our complicated world and our confusing lives, I enjoy reminders to “keep it simple”.  This advice from Jesus is just right.  No one could go wrong by following those words as their guide.  So in the end, the Bible is a lot like the fictional tales of Harry Potter and Twilight.  There is conflict and emotional struggles, tragedies and triumphs.  People are torn between good and bad as they make decisions on what to do and on which leaders they will follow.  The main theme shows us that actions driven by love can overcome evil and that LOVE is the greatest power of all.   Any of us can tap into this superpower and heart filled with love gives us guidance on the right choices to make for our lives.  You gotta love that! 

A Masterpiece, A Miracle–That’s You & Here’s Why

IMAGINE AN ADVANCED ROBOTIC DESIGN, ABLE TO PERFORM manual labor, learn new things via a connection to the world wide web, having self-awareness and the latest artificial intelligence software algorithms.  Now top that off with compasion, the ability to show empathy, care about others and to give love. Pretty incredible and world changing, right?  At first this robot would be a special prototype, with a high price tag.  There is bound to be de-bugging and beta-testing to be done.  Later, the design would be mass-produced, just another output of our computerized, global economy.

Now think about how each human is created.  A special combination of personality, appearance, strengths, passions and capabilities, produced when you came into being.  All your experiences add in to make you who you are.  Consider all the coincidences, chance meetings between people, choices that were made, that led you.  If you believe in only nature, without an intelligent designer, you are just a random arrangement of parental DNA, dropped into the culture and environment that your mother happened to be at the time.  You would be less than the robot prototype, lacking a functional plan and purpose as envisioned by your maker.  But you are NOT LESS, you are MUCH MORE than unintelligent physical processes and matter.  You have a Divine Maker having a hand in the connections and events that led to a unique you, a Miracle of God’s choosing.

God lights up attributes in each of us, bringing out beauty and inspiration.  In an amazing world wide network of individuals and connectivity, God guides, but grants free will.  Situations and experiences, both pleasant and difficult, infuse into our being.  Elements of nature, nurture, spiritual strength, grace and so much more, all coalesce to form something amazing.  No mistake about it, everyone is God’s Masterpiece.  If you feel incomplete, uninspired, unworthy, God isn’t finished with you yet.  God is refining you and is your partner in making you everything you were created to be.  You have a special purpose, an exclusive designs with unique functions and relationships.  You have not been programed or mass-produced.  You are a one of a kind creation, never to be repeated or reproduced, before or after in all eternity.

You are God’s Miracle.  You are God’s Masterpiece.  Incredible and world changing, right?  THAT’S YOU!

Who Could Argue With Love?

Our All-Powerful, Loving God sends his only begotten son to be born of a virgin as a gift to mankind.

Who could argue with love?

The ruler Herod sends soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:16) But the wise men bowed down and worshipped the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:10)

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Even as a child Jesus loved to talk about God, amazing people with his understanding and his answers.

Who could argue with love?

His mother and father asked “Why have you done this to us? We have been frantic looking for you!”

Jesus asks, “Why did you need to search, didn’t you know I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:48-49)

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Parents brought their little children to Jesus so He could touch and bless them.

Who could argue with love?

The disciples scolded the parents for bothering Jesus. But Jesus said “Let the children come to me.  Don’t stop them.  For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.” (Luke 18:15-16)

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Jesus talks and socializes with people society judges and rejects.  He befriends sinners.

Who could argue with love?

The Pharisees saw this and asked the disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” Jesus hears and says “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” (Matthew 9:12-13)

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Jesus taught that we shouldn’t seek revenge or be a hypocrite, we should love our enemies, forgive and show mercy.

Who could argue with love?

Some of the people and the religious leaders said, “He’s demon possessed and out of his mind, why listen to a man like that?” (John 10:17) Chief Priests and elders schemed to arrest Jesus and kill him. (Matthew 26:4) Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.  (Matthew 22:37-39)

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God shows how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinners.

Who could argue with love?

The Council said Jesus deserves to die.  They spit in his face and struck him with their fists (Matthew 26:66-67)  The Roman soldiers flogged Jesus with a whip and mocked him, giving him a crown of thorns. (Matthew 27:26-30)  Being nailed to the cross and crucified as a criminal, Jesus said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

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God sent Jesus as a Prince of Peace, to show in the flesh how we are meant to love.

Who could argue with love?

But through worldly ways, that type of love was rejected.  Then and now, there are people who are driven by hate and violence.  They argue and hurt others instead of showing love.

But in God’s Kingdom  — Love wins !!!!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

God’s People—All Types of Stories

Imagine a God big enough for everyone in the entire world. 

What would that sort of God be like?  There is so much diversity across different cultures, a Big God would have to be adaptable, willingly accepting and embracing the world’s diversity.  The Jewish view of knowing that God selected them as God’s people was such an amazing and exclusive calling.  God used Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Daniel and many others in incredible ways.  The stories held within the Hebrew Bible inspire millions then and now to engage with God in a personal way, to hear God’s voice in the trials and in the joys of each day. The Muslim view of only Allah and the visionary experiences of Muhammed were the right stories and perspectives to change the Arabic world.  Then there is the Christian tenet that there is no way to God except through Jesus:  the miracles, the sacrifice, the resurrection, the love, the forgiveness, the eternal life. 

These are the interconnected Abramaic faith stories, all starting with Abraham, the first father of monotheism.  The stories are shared generation to generation through the reading of the Torah, the Bible and the Qur’an.  These sacred texts hold the words of God and have changed innumerable lives. The impact of these stories on people and civilization as we know it cannot be underestimated.  God was right there in the middle of all these developments.  But intermingled in the pages of divine texts are conflicts, acts of cruelty and contradictions.  For some people, these and other factors are too great for them to buy into the religion inspired by the fundamental stories.  The stories are not enough to drive their passions or directly guide how they live their lives.  The stories do not reveal a God that seems right for everyone.  What was happening in other parts of the world?  Was God missing?  Over all of creation, did God place all of His attention on this one part of the world and let the rest of the globe move along without Him? 

What about all the other cultures?  Would a Big God leave India, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas and all the other civilizations across the globe, to live in darkness with no knowledge of the divine truth?  No way!  A true Big God would make Himself known to many people in many lands.  In Asia and India, the populations are great in number.  These are the regions of the world where believers envision many gods, millions of them in the Hindu and Buddhist tradition and in folklore of the Chinese there was a traditional understanding of a complex celestial hierarchy of gods.  When you are just a speck in the mass of humanity, like each of us is, wouldn’t it make sense that there were many, many gods, enough that there would be one who especially cared about and listened to you!? Yes!

Would the stories told by Christians, Jews and Muslims be enough to win the hearts of everyone to God?  It hasn’t happened yet.  Instead of uniting over their shared histories, the groups become fractioned off, sects form, with each holding strong to the stories that move them.  There is division, strife and clashes between groups.  Each group is sure they are right and everyone that doesn’t believe in the way they do, in the God they serve, is doomed.  Wouldn’t a true God be bigger than all the stuff that man allows to get between one another?  God wouldn’t want us to get bogged down with junk that interferes with our relationship with Him. 

Throughout history and today, there are so many stories where an encounter with God changes everything.  In the Axial Age, the inhabited world went through great intellectual, philosophical and religious evolutions that shaped human societies in Greece, India and Persia.  This time perior brought new ways of thinking based on the Hebrew Prophets and the Hundred Schools of China.  This period of several hundred years ushered in enlightened thinking, with people finding the “way” which led to a huge evolution in cultures, often associated with trends toward the greater good.  The “Golden Rule” for treatment of one another becomes more formally recognized as a beneficial rule for civilized society.  This philosophy becomes rooted in the individual’s conscience mind and in the tenets of organized religion.  “Love one another.”  “Do no harm.” These are the themes of behavior that lead to peace and harmony, a better way, a story with a good ending.  But people cannot just be simply sorted as right or wrong.  We are complicated.  In every person’s story, there will be opposition with people facing challenges.  There will be choices and actions that lead to specific outcomes.

Acting with love isn’t easy and there will be other drivers for action that work in contrast.  People want power, control, recognition, notoriety, material wealth, physical pleasures, you name it, there are dozens of passions and reasons people choose which result in love being a lower priority.  Enemies to peace and harmony abound.  We know in a physical world there will be suffering, disease, infirmities and death.  Love cannot conquer every problem.  We need to be able to tap into a universal super power, a creator, provider, protector, savior and leader.  However we describe it, name it, worship it, think about it, serve it, there is a force greater than the ways of the world.  This almighty power exists for everyone, everywhere, and with free will, each human can make their own choice as to how much they will be transformed to live a life at a higher level.

Not everyone will be moved by the same story, so there are many stories across cultures to guide us.   In my own life, I’ve found that God is present in a really personal, loving way.  I have my own story which secures my faith and trust in my God.  In the book “Life of Pi” (by Yann Martel, published in 2001) and later in the movie based on the book, the characters say that you will learn about God.  I have to admit that when I first watched the movie, I didn’t get it.  Then two weeks later, driving in my car, it dawned on me.  There was a question raised: “which story do you like?”  Pi had been raised a Hindu, fell in love with a Muslim and had an interaction with Jesus.  Pi had met God in a number of ways.  The author said that we can choose our story and that the one with God is a better story.  This God transforms lives, one at a time.  I might not be inspired by the story that changes you, but that is okay.  There are all types of stories for each one of God’s people.  If the story moves us to love one another, it is a Big God story.  We can each live out our own stories in a way where we are connected in relationship with the Divine, as a source of everything that brings true worth to living.  I like the moral of that Big God story best of all.

Top Scientific Reasons for Knowing God Exists: Part II

In my last post I talked about some of the principles governing the universe that point to a greater power.  This time, let’s build on those foundations…

Chemistry & Biology:  Atoms and molecules grouped together to form solids, liquids, and gases.  Chemicals make up everything we eat, drink, breathe, and every material thing in the universe.  The rules for how the atoms and molecules combine make logical sense.  They follow a natural order with ionic and covalent bonding.  These individual components of matter can be subdivided to smaller particles:  electrons, protons, neutrons and even smaller proteons, quarks and other tiny constituents still to be discovered.  Science has figured out how to make polymers and plastics in every shape and many forms but we have not figured out how to make iron, wood or a steak without using nature as the manufacturer.  The energy it would take to convert one element to another element is incredibly great, the process is most often cost prohibitive.  The elements and molecules cooperate in living systems to form functional cells, circulatory systems, DNA, allowing for growth, reproduction, energy to live and so many more complex biological processes.  Humans need protein as nourishment, other animals and plants fulfill this need.  Proteins are biopolymer chains of amino acids.  These chemicals are produced within living systems efficiently, naturally, with no extreme effort required.  Yet, if humans try to replicate the chemical or biological processes in a laboratory, it at times proves to either be impossible or it takes too much time and energy.  If protein and other biopolymer synthesis was cheap, it could mean the end of world hunger, drastically changing the face of our global economy.  Theories proposing that amino acids and more and more complex organic chemicals formed in the primordial soup of an early earth do not seem to take into account the chemical and biological laws that work against this happening randomly.  If we cannot make these biochemicals effectively today with all the ways our societies have found to harness the power of nature, why would it just occur all on its own millions of years ago without a Creator or Designer?

Genetics and Evolution:  We understand how DNA serves as the genetic code, encrypting life, a blue print for every species.  Scientists have cloned life in a lab but they did it using a living species, tapping into the reproductive process.  We understand how our bodies function, but when those functions cease to work, can doctors always apply the right techniques to resume the life processes?  If a human goes without oxygen for a long time and dies, why doesn’t pumping the person up with a supply of oxygen restore them.  Life, being alive, is much more than simply the sum of the biological and chemical reactions.  There is energy, drive and consciousness that define human life beyond that which is purely physical.  Science gives irrefutable evidence that evolution is valid.  There are also starts and stops.  One evolutionary branch may reach an end (think Dinosaurs) while another has many sub-branches (think dogs, with the added help of selective breeding).  There are also complex systems that would require multiple evolutionary changes to be self-sustaining until various related components join together to be functional (ex. The eye).  Some systems suggest non-reducible complexity.  Purely random mistakes in the genetic sequence leading to a survival benefit replicated generation to generation is not a convincing sole argument for the development of more and more complex, sophisticated, living systems.  What makes more sense is evolution with a “Divine Push” now and then.  Like an artist using paint strokes to create a masterpiece, God could use evolution as the medium by which to achieve His creation.  God wanted diversity and beauty, by pushing evolution here and there, He got it.  We see it everywhere.  Eventually God wanted to endow His creation with some of His own properties, emotional intelligence, the ability to understand, and to love, not just survive.  God adds a soul into His homo sapien evolutionary product.  God grants Adam and Eve this “something extra” which separates humans from the animals and establishes us as God’s Children.       

These are some big subjects to consider in such an abbreviated way. I’ve certainly over simplified the topics but hope I’ve given some ‘high-level” rationale for how science can support faith in God.

Thanks for reading and considering these ideas.  I’d love to hear what you think.

Top Scientific Reasons for Knowing God Exists: Part I

Top Scientific Reasons for Knowing God Exists: Part I

 

Science is a big driver in my life.  I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Michigan—Dearborn.  After that, I attended Wayne State University to obtain a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry.  I have a love for learning and try to make sense of things using logic and experimentation.  Some people might say that the belief of God is not logical, but I disagree.  I know that through an understanding of scientific principles and an open mind for what God wants to teach us, it all fits together perfectly.  I wanted to share a couple examples of how science points us to God.

The Big Bang:  All the mass in the universe was concentrated into the tiniest spec and blew up to initiate the creation of everything.  Pretty amazing that a huge burst of energy and light that occurred billions of years ago would be constructive when natural explosions humans have observed are most often devastatingly destructive.  Astronomers are convinced that our universe is still expanding and that the speed of growth is actually accelerating.  We’re used to detonations that are powerful and bright but die out quickly.  What is produced is not sustainable and reliable like all that we see in our solar system and beyond.  The logical conclusion is that God, more powerful than any natural force, used the Big Bang to create the processes and substances which would serve as His building blocks. 

The Laws of Thermodynamics:  The scientific laws of thermodynamics describe the behaviors of fundamental physical properties (temperature, energy and entropy) in a closed system.  Let’s say our universe is that closed system.  The first law is that energy cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system, it can only change forms.  On this basis, it is mind boggling that our sun and all the stars could produce such intense levels of energy for such long periods of time.  Stars are born and they die, with lifetimes measured in the millions and billions of years.  How does this happen if there is nothing beyond our universe, if we are truly in a closed nature system?  Science points to gravity and other natural forces that are not fully understood to fill in human gaps of knowledge about how the universe functions.  The second law is concerning entropy or the level of disorder in a system.  The law says that energy dissipates or spreads out to reach an equilibrium, heat moves from hot zones to cold regions.  In our universe we have some of the hottest objects (stars) separated by vast distances of cold space.  The center of the earth is thought to be about 13,000 degrees Fahrenheit, yet we live comfortably on the surface and the Earth has experienced Ice ages.  Why hasn’t the 2nd law of thermodynamics caused everything to reach an equilibrium somewhere between these extremes of temperature? Complex inter-dependent and independent forces of pressure, gravity, energy have achieved a relative level of stability in the midst of the extremes.  Instead of randomness and chaos, what we find is that nature is very organized and systematic.  This is true even though the law of entropy leads to less organization, a mixing of things.  Only God could infuse energy, order and systemization into our universe.  God controls the laws and He can break them if He choses.  This may not sound logical but who would have thought thousands of years ago that the comparison made in Genesis 22:17 would make sense? “…I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore…” Science knows now that this is a logical comparison.  Of course God knew it all along.

 

To be continued…

This is BIG…

Did you ever discover or experience something that forever changed your life?  Was it an “ah-ha” moment that suddenly filled you with amazement?  Or was it a slow realization revealed over time like layers of clouds moving away so that eventually you could clearly see the light?

It may take a while to process what you learned and to be transformed with your new knowledge.  Then everything changes!  You will never be the same!

Now, what do you do next?  Will you share what you know or keep it a secret?  I can’t help it, I want to share.

The “Big thing” that changed me forever was finding out that God is real.  I know SO many people already realized this over the centuries.  Millions have faith in the God or God(s) of their culture.  My culture taught me about the Christian God of the Bible, who loved me, listened to my prayers and wanted a personal relationship with me.  I wanted to believe it, but it seemed more like wishful thinking.  I am a scientist.  I need logic.  Natural laws must be followed.  I am an average person striving to live well and struggling to figure out the meaning of life.  Looking at the world, trouble, conflict and hate are all around.  Given our world’s condition, the Christian idea of a personal God is definitely NOT logical.  Especially when you consider that for God to be real for me, God would have to be real for every other human being in the universe.

NOT POSSIBLE, RIGHT?!

WRONG!!!

If we allow religion or societies to put God into a box, creating limitations about what God is and does, arguing about who is right, we’re all wrong.

God is so much BIGGER than the picture humans have painted.  A BIG GOD is there for everyone across this great BIG WORLD.  This is the God of the impossible, the architect of the universe, the BIG GOD that breathes life into all creation.

In “Our-Big-God-Blog,” I’d like to dive into the logic that let’s me know God is real.  I want to discuss and share ideas and stories.  I want to talk about books, music and life transformations.  Let’s consider events that defy logic.  It would be great to hear from others who have found out that God is a reality.  I want to hear from non-believers and people from every culture.  I’d like to work toward building bridges of understanding between different people.

Let’s create acceptance.  Let’s demonstrate love for one another even if we disagree.  Let’s be amazed together discovering how OUR BIG GOD is working for OUR BIG WORLD.

  Building divine connections for a divided world.

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