Archive for May, 2010

The Lord is One

Isn’t it amazing how something you have heard and read many times can all of a sudden just jump out at you or create a whole new meaning in your mind? This is what happened to me last night.

In our Bible study, we referenced Deuteronomy 6, from which Jesus quoted what He said is the greatest commandment. Most of us have heard this verse before, maybe even in a song by Lincoln Brewster: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” This is a powerful statement, and from it we get that the greatest thing we can do is to love God. Pretty awesome.

But what got me thinking last night was the phrase preceding this commandment. The phrase is in Deuteronomy 6:4, which says, “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (emphasis mine) This simple statement conveys multiple meanings, and they are incredible!

The first one that sticks out to me is the number used to describe the Lord: one. To me, this simple phrase speaks to God’s sole authority. There are no other gods that have dominion and power the way our God does. Allah or Krishna or Baal (which by the way if you pronounce the way we do in western culture it sounds like “bail,” which is pretty funny and somewhat descriptive of this god) cannot do the things that the God of Israel can. The Lord is THE one, which is why Jesus doesn’t say, “I am A way, I am A truth…” but instead says, “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life.” There is one God, and we believe in His authority.

The other piece to this speaks to God’s perfect unity. Christians are well aware that the Bible speaks to three distinct parts to God’s nature: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. However, a phrase like this speaks to the harmony that exists between these entities. The verb in this phrase is singular: “is”. The word “one” in this sentence is called in parts of speech a “predicate nominative,” which means that it is a noun that refers to the subject of the sentence in a different way (i.e. if you say, “she is my mom,” the words “she” and “mom” refer to the same person). This means that God, being three parts, is also a singular being. This simple phrase also references how these three pieces of the picture work together to make up the one God. That is why there are not three authorities; they are all unified with the same authority.

Man it’s amazing what God can say with just four words. It’s interesting that a lot of times we gloss over these verses as filler verses getting us from one memory verse to the next. It’s becoming increasingly evident to me that as the inspired Word of God, the Bible doesn’t contain words or phrases that aren’t important for us to understand. I thank Him this morning for giving me a reinforcement of His nature, and I hope that the rest of you, like me, will continue to look for these hidden (but not really) gems in the Scriptures.

Lost: A Series Wrap-Up

One of my guilty pleasures over the past five years has been the TV show Lost. I think the writers of this show did something incredibly smart by creating a storyline with enough mystery to hook viewers initially, while spending the first part of the show’s run building character backstories. This helped immensely because it caused you to really care about the outcome of the characters when all hell broke loose.

Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock this month, someone somewhere probably made you aware of the fact that the Lost series was ending. The series finale 2 1/2 hour episode, “The End,” aired this Sunday, and I have to say I was somewhat satisfied with the ending. It was interesting enough to make you think back not only to what you’ve seen this season, but also throughout the previous seasons. So below are some of the answered questions that I was satisfied with, some of the things I was not satisfied with, and some of the questions I think were important to answer, but weren’t.

1) The presence of Rose, Bernard and Vincent on the island was somewhat explained.
2) Jack ended up with Kate. After Season 5 and the Sawyer/Juliet thing, and of course the start of the series, this is how it needed to end.
3) They touched on pretty much every character in the alt-universe that we cared about.
4) The numbers. I know that the numbers representing the candidates was not all that we expected them to be, but it does present a logical explanation for why they kept showing up everywhere.
5) Keamy. I loved this guy. Even though he died twice in the show, I’m glad they brought him back in the alt-universe.
6) The resolution to the show was less about science and more about faith. As a Christian, that tells me that the writers at least understand that people are more important than nature in the grand scheme of things.

1) Sayid ending up with Shannon. While I understand it, they shouldn’t have spent so much time after Shannon died trying to play up the Sayid/Nadia love affair if he was going to end up with Shannon in the end.
2) Dogen. I think I understand what his purpose in the storyline was, but I had to reach to get it, meaning the writers didn’t do a good enough job explaining it.
3) Not explaining certain statements happening in the last two episodes. Ana Lucia “not being ready,” Desmond telling Eloise that Faraday’s “not coming with me,” and Boone already being aware of what they were doing when Sayid rescued Shannon really needed a little bit more explaining.
4) Michael not being in the church. Maybe I missed it and he was, but if he wasn’t, why not? He was part of the most important time in Jack’s life, so he should be there. If his soul is still trapped on the island (which Ana Lucia’s should have been then too, and Keamy for that matter), then they needed to reference it.
5) What was the purpose of Zoe? Seems like they just needed another body to kill, because they never explained why Widmore brought a geophysicist on to the island.
6) No Mr. Eko. I understand that they couldn’t work out a deal in time with the actor, but come on, you knew when the show was going to end 3 seasons ago. That should’ve been more than enough time to get something done.

1) What happened to Richard? We got his backstory on the island, but how come if he became mortal and aging (as evidenced by the gray hair Miles noticed), shouldn’t he have shown up somewhere in the alt-universe as a dead dude? I understand why he wasn’t at the church in the end, but if they can show us Eloise, Penny, Keamy, Mikhail and many other peripheral characters in the alt-universe, why not Richard?
2) Was Hurley actually crazy? This one came up when discussing with my family. We know that he can see dead people, but what was with Dave in season two? On the island, this couldn’t have been the Man in Black, because he could only take the form of dead people on the island, which Dave wasn’t.
3) What was with the temple and the statue? I heard somewhere that they were supposed to be left over from the Egyptians, but how they got there and what purposes they initially served were never answered.
4) The Dharma initiative. What happened between Jughead and the Linus massacre? Seems like if this wasn’t an important piece they shouldn’t have spent 4 seasons telling us how important the Dharma initiative was.
5) Walt. I hear they’re explaining this on the DVD, but that’s not good enough for fans who gave six years of their lives.

That’s all I can think of for now. I’m sure more things will come up, but maybe some of you readers can answer some of my unanswered questions. Or perhaps you have unanswered questions of your own that you would like to ask about, and maybe I can answer them for you. Drop a comment if you care. Otherwise, that’s a wrap!

The First Synthetic Cell

WIFE sent me this article this morning, and let me just say that I’m scared. Here’s the link if anyone wants to read it in its entirety.

“An American biologist has stepped into the shoes of Baron Frankenstein by breathing life into a bacterium using genes assembled in the laboratory.

The creation of the “synthetic cell”, described as a “landmark” by one British expert, is a 15-year dream come true for maverick genetics entrepreneur Dr Craig Venter.

It has major implications for genomics, including the manufacture of artificial organisms designed for specific tasks such as making vaccines or cleaning up pollution.

But experts recognise that as Mary Shelley demonstrated in her famous novel, there are potential dangers too. Synthetic life could, for instance, pave the way to terrifying biological weapons.”

The first thing that came to mind when I read this was biological and chemical warfare. Think about the ability to mass-produce anthrax by manipulating the genetic structure of flour, or even to create nuclear energy without having to use radiation. This could potentially have positive effects, like being able to genetically change cancer cells, but where there is good, someone is sure to use this for evil.

Most importantly, I feel like this is tinkering with God’s design. God created all cells with a unique purpose (yes, even cancer cells), and the ability to effectively change the purpose for this design is like spitting in the face of God to me. Science, while great in many respects, can be deadly–see atomic bomb–and is continuously searching for ways to phase God out of the equation. What do you all think?

What Will Change Your Worldview?

Recently WIFE and I had a discussion on a pretty controversial topic. One of the interesting things about our marriage is that I grew up in a very conservative (politically) home, while WIFE’s household was fairly liberal. The fact that we began dating right before the 2004 presidential election and that we are still together to this day is something we both believe to be a miracle of God.

All this to tell you that we initially fell on different sides of the coin on this issue. I thought that was the end of it; we agree to disagree, respect each other’s opinions, and we’re still able to kiss good night. After attending a Bible study that night, on the way home WIFE tells me, “Well, you were right,” and proceeds to say that Satan has led her astray with yet another lie. What’s been interesting to me is that over the course of a couple of years, how the worldview of WIFE has completely shifted.

Now we are still fairly young, but for an adult to make a hard U-turn when it comes to your worldview is something else; something else being a significant event in your life causing you to look at life in a completely different way. For WIFE, it was beginning a relationship with Jesus Christ. Since then, issues are seen through a completely different lens.

In my own life, the significant event in my life was marrying WIFE. Since she was a new Christian when we got married, some of the excitement in learning about God and His Word was still evident in her life. I realize that the worldview of mine that changed thanks to her was what I will call Latent Christianity. Having professed faith in Jesus since I was 9 years old, I had spent years not paying attention in church, thinking a neck rub from my dad during service was more important than what the pastor had to say about Philippians.

When WIFE started coming to church with my family, and especially when we decided to get married and went through pre-marital counseling, my worldview started to change. It was as if some sleeping giant had been awoken and was stirring, ready to start up again. God began to tug at me, telling me that being a Christian wasn’t just something you say; it’s something you live.

WIFE and I recently joined a new church, and this time is exciting for me, because I am truly energized about serving and giving to both the body of believers and to those who haven’t had Jesus change their worldview yet. For the first time, I have an inkling that I might be able to do outreach, something that I NEVER had a desire to do, because I felt I couldn’t connect with people who weren’t already Christians. As a part of the worship team at my church, I’m excited to worship God with the talents He’s given me every single week, instead of using my musical knowledge to critique and judge those who are just giving what they can to God. I’m taking initiative to be the spiritual leader of my relationship and my family, because I finally realize how important that is to God’s plan for my marriage and the rest of my life. I no longer feel chained to Latent Christianity, because my worldview has changed.

So my question to anybody reading this is: what will change your worldview? Can your worldview even be changed, or are you so entrenched in yourself that God can’t work? What it really means to be “open-minded” is to allow your eyes and heart to be receptive to whatever God is truly placing there and asking of you. If you open your heart to Him, He won’t hesitate to enter. Let Him be your worldview; you won’t regret it.

Do What Your Daddy Tells You

As WIFE and I continue our reading through the Bible this year, certain things tend to jump out at me, depending on what’s going on in life around me. Usually it’s a particular verse, or the backstory of a man that I had never really studied before. This blog post is about the general nature of an entire book.

We just finished 2 Kings, and let me tell you, Israel and Judah had a bunch of kings. After reading the book, I really wish I knew where “the annals of the kings of Israel” and “the annals of the kings of Judah” were, because apparently everything you need to know is in those, right? I mean, God wouldn’t have taken the things He wanted us to know and put them in His book, would He?

I kid, but really it seems like with many of the kings in this book their reigns can be summed up with one line: “He did evil/good in the eyes of the Lord.” I went through and tallied up the kings in this book, and of all the kings of Israel and Judah, only 7 can be said that they did good in the eyes of the Lord. Eighteen kings are said to have done evil in the eyes of the Lord, mainly following in the sins of one Jeroboam, who after reading this book I have to believe would be in Dante’s seventh circle of hell for all of the people he led astray in betrayal of the Lord.

But as Mother’s Day has come and gone, reading this book has really emphasized to me just how important it is to have Godly role models. Many of these kings who did either good or evil did so because they “walked in the way of their father.” As a father to an infant, this realization has taken hold of me. It’s obvious that the example of a parent can be a HUGE factor in how their children live. Parents influence their kids on things from anywhere to sports teams (thanks to my dad I’m both a Yankees fan and a Cowboys fan, and am therefore hated by at least 90% of sports fans on some level) to what’s most important in life (success or happiness, and trust me, there is a distinct difference between the two).

Most importantly, our parents influence our spiritual behavior as well. Those parents who are committed to bringing up their children in a Godly home, where roles are clearly defined by His Word and carried out by the dad and mom, are more likely to see the success found in Proverbs 22:6, which says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he’s old he will not depart from it.” That means following God’s commands explicitly and without reservation. That means if God says something in His book, you write it on your heart.

Though my little girl likely has no concept of what it means to be a Godly woman, as her dad I’d sure better, so that when she’s old enough to understand I can teach her what God wants of her. But on a personal level, I need to make sure I’m in line with what God wants of me, so that if my daughter “walks in the way of her father” I won’t be ashamed, but instead proud that she is who God has called her to be. And that would be “good in the eyes of the Lord.”