The Glory of the Garden

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The dying rose caught my eye. It only had a few of its petals left. Nestled among the leaves close by this rose were still-green, closed buds, along with buds just starting to show their color, adolescent roses shyly opening their petals to the world, and full and stunning roses in the height of their glory. This last group were the ones which I had come to photograph. Is there any flower that shows its glory more than the rose? I was coming a bit late and had missed the first push of the season, but I still found many beautiful roses, bright and gorgeous flowers in shades of pinks, salmons, yellows, oranges, and whites.

But it was that fading rose that really started me thinking.

In a way, our lives are similar to that of the roses. We start as baby buds–young children with so much potential ahead of us but, still green, we give little indication of what we will look like as adults. And then, as teenagers, we open up and our colors start to peek through just a bit as we start to show who we will become as adults. A few years later, we are in our twenties and we are immature flowers that are tentatively opening up to the world around us. This stage finds us ready to take on the world and eagerly developing our talents and dreaming our dreams. It is in our thirties that most of us experience pure and stunning fullness. By this time, most of us have a good understanding of ourselves and who we are. We have found our niche and have settled in to our comfort zones. By this time we have acquired some wisdom and we also still have our health. As we hit our forties, our petals open wider and start to fade. Our bodies stop cooperating with us and we feel a bit stiff when we get out of bed in the morning. We are glad for the wisdom that age has taught us, but we are bummed about our bodies starting to let us down. And then as we head into our fifties and sixties, we start losing petals. One by one they start falling off. The things that we have counted on for security — our children, our careers, physical beauty, health, parents– one by one they start falling away. It is in this stage that we realize no one is taking pictures of us anymore. We are the rose that is fading. The one that is on the way out. And then comes the rosehip. This is what develops when all of the petals have fallen off. The rosehip can be used for so many things, just as those in their 70s, 80s, and 90s still have so much to offer a world that has lost interest in them. The older generation may be the least mined treasure in existence in a world that idolizes youth.

There is really no spiritual lesson here. Just an observation about human life. We are like the roses. And this is the way that life goes.

I heard this quote recently: “Sometimes we get so caught up in who we were, that we can’t appreciate who we’ve become.” This is very tempting for those of us who are older. We are tempted to define ourselves by who we were, rather than focusing on who we’ve become and what we can still be doing for the Lord today.

Well, that’s a little philosophizing for you today. Now for the photos. Below you will find a few of my favorite photos of the roses. I used my point and shoot camera, so they aren’t quite as good as usual, but I think they are still worth sharing. Hope you enjoy them!

p.s. I am taking next week off from writing. It’s time for a little break! I’ll be back the week after next. :)

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Says Who?

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As many of us already know, the Ark Encounter— a life-sized Noah’s Ark–recently opened in Williamstown, Kentucky. There has been much news swirling around this opening. As one would expect, there has been positive feedback by Christians and very negative feedback by the rest of the world.

But I have to admit that the article by Paul Bois over at Truth Revolt had me scratching my head. At first, it looks like it will finally be someone standing up for the right of Christians to have some freedom, too. Which I guess he sort of did in the article. Sort of.

Shall I summarize the article for you?

Stop bashing these poor, pathetic idiots who built this attraction. What do we care if they build a completely unscientific ark that is based on completely unscientific data? Shame on you, world.

Okay, so you may want to read it to make sure I had the right take-away, but this is the message I received loud and clear. He basically called Ken Ham a liar and then made sure the whole world knew that even though he wasn’t on the side of CBS, he really did agree with them. So he really did exactly the same thing as CBS. Which he was criticizing them for doing. Funny how that works.

So why am I even bringing this up?

He made a specific statement in that article that I beg to differ with and thought I would unpack a bit here. I am doing this because I am guessing many of you have also heard the derogatory and demeaning statements made about not only this attraction, but also about anyone who would actually believe that Noah’s ark was a historical event.

Here’s the statement–

“Though founder Ken Ham has expressed questionable–and even downright false–scientific views regarding creationism…”

Really? So one has to wonder then: was this author there–at the very beginning– when the earth was formed? He seems to have some inside knowledge the rest of us don’t have.

Sorry, I had to be sarcastic for just a moment.

Seriously, though, who gets to decide whose assumptions are correct? Follow me here–any theory of the earth’s beginnings are based on assumptions. No one on the earth today was there. There are no science or history books that date back that far (aside from the Bible, that is!) And so, with this being the case, we have to look at all the data available to us and then come up with theories. What the scientific community wants to present as facts are not facts. They are theories based on assumptions that they are presenting as facts.

Ken Ham, myself, and other believers, on the other hand, base our views on a Book. Our assumption–which changes everything–is that the Bible is true. If the Bible is true, then the rest falls into place quite nicely.

Of course, the world doesn’t want to believe in a God to whom they are accountable and so they come up with this theory of evolution. It would almost be funny, if it wasn’t just so tragic.

And we have to wonder–which one actually believes in fairy tales? The one who is using a historical book that has been proven to be accurate over and over again or the one who believes that something came from nothing? That life came from a rock? That a living, breathing person with intricately designed body systems evolved from a single cell? A belief which would require millions of transitional fossils on this earth and yet there is NOT ONE–not one, mind you–fossil of any “in between” creatures anywhere. Along with this is the fact that there is no scientific evidence whatsoever, current or historical, of anything ever coming from nothing or of order ever coming from chaos. This is because it could never happen. And yet, we have a theory that has been presented as fact that is based on all of these very unscientific assumptions. Who is unscientific now?

This theory is taught in our schools, displayed in our museums, and assumed anywhere you go. Most of the world has bought into this even though it makes no sense at all.

Look, I am no scientist. And I don’t care if someone wants to call me names because of what I believe, but let’s be clear here–anyone who believes anything about the earth’s beginnings is making assumptions. No one truly knows. We can base it on a Book or we can base it on something else, but all–in the end–are theories which require faith to believe in.

I admire Ken Ham for what he is doing and I thank the Lord for a man that will stand in the face of such accusations and threats. He knows the truth of God’s Word and he is standing firm on the truth no matter what the world says. We need more men and women like him! And we should be praying for him and for others who are in the heat of such fierce battles.

At first, when I heard about the ark, I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea. But as I have followed the progress of it all, I am starting to understand how God will use this to further His Kingdom. People are curious and Ken Ham and his staff are very knowledgeable. I am sure they will have some wonderful conversations with the media and with folks who are just passing through, plantings seeds of the Gospel that will flourish throughout this country. And, as believers, this is our main calling, isn’t it?

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

 

 

Consider the Blossoms

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Sometimes–with everything that’s going on in the world and within the church and, perhaps, even in our own lives– we can start to feel a little anxious, overwhelmed, or fearful. We lose sight of perspective and take our eyes off the Lord and turn them to earthly things. This is so easy to do, isn’t it? How quickly we forget that we serve an almighty God who will be the victor in this fierce battle for the world! I Chronicles 29:11 puts it this way–

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O Lord,
And You are exalted as head over all.

I thought it might be a welcome break to take our eyes off of the problems, battles, and sadness of this world and turn them to the wonder of God’s breathtaking creation this morning. I had the wonderful opportunity to visit a nearby gardens with my camera yesterday. I just wanted to share a few of my favorite shots from that trip plus a few from my own backyard. God has clothed the flowers, which are here today and gone tomorrow, and yet He has done it so marvelously! O, How much more He cares for us! What a wonderful reminder (Luke 12:27-28).

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Why Does It Matter What I Believe About Creation?

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I have not really addressed the topic of creation on this blog before. Or at least I don’t remember having done so. But as I have been reading through Jeremiah I have been struck by a few of the statements this prophet makes that absolutely discount evolution. I wonder– if you are still with me in our G4L Bible Reading Challenge— if you caught them, too?

Jeremiah 10:12  It is He who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.

Jeremiah 27:5  It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me.

When I read these verses, I am reminded once again that scripture unapologetically confirms that God is the powerful Creator– creating all that is in the world from absolutely nothing and doing so completely in six 24-hour days. For my theist evolutionist friends, I ask you: What power is shown by an outstretched arm that creates a tiny cell? That statement seems completely incongruous, does it not?

There are many passages in scripture that would also confirm a six-day creation–

Deuteronomy 4:32  For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of.

Colossians 1:16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

Psalm 148:3-6

Praise him, sun and moon,
    praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
    and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord!
    For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever;
    he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’

These are just a few of the verses that confirm God’s creation of the world. You can choose to believe it or you can choose to not believe it. But melting two totally opposing world views together is just not a logical possibility.

But why does our viewpoint on creation even matter? What is really the big deal?

I learned a really key point several years ago from Ken Ham, whom I was privileged to hear at a conference for homeschoolers. Many people haven’t given this a lot of thought but it is critical to this argument of theistic creation. And that is the subject of death. If the world was only started by God and then left to develop on its own, as many Christians proclaim, then death would have entered the world before sin. Do you see how this changes everything? Millions of creatures would have had to die before Adam and Eve came upon the scene. And yet, we are taught all through scripture that death is the result of sin. If death came before sin, then what exactly is the punishment for sin? And if the gospel doesn’t save us from death, then what does it save us from? I turn your attention to the following verses–

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

James 1:15  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—

 I Corinthians 15:21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.

 

These are verses from the New Testament confirming that death is a result of sin–that death came by man. Can you see how believing in any form of evolution systematically destroys the inerrancy of the Word of God? If death isn’t the result of sin and the world’s theory of evolution is correct, then not only do we need to conclude that the Genesis account is allegorical, but we also are forced to believe that the New Testament authors lied, therefore concluding that we can’t trust any of  the Bible. Believing in theistic evolution doesn’t only destroy Genesis, it destroys the whole Word of God!

I find it more than a little interesting that we Christians find ourselves caving so easily to the brainwashing of society. If you do any studying at all, you will realize that there is no possible way that such a vast and wonderful creation could have ever happened by chance. There is NO scientific evidence for an intricately designed organ developing from a simple cell. Not even one shred. And, in fact, do a quick google search of intelligent design and you will find that even many non-Christian scientists are coming to the conclusion that there must be a designer–although they will certainly not admit to God as Creator. In fact, some of them even suggest that aliens on another planet created the world here before they will admit that there is a God. (Romans 1:22)

Did you know that even Darwin himself admitted the implausibility of his theory? John MacArthur puts it this way–

“It was a hard sell.  Even Darwin had a hard time with it.  If you read anything of Darwin’s you find he’s continually filling all his writings with tremendous doubts.  For example, he says in the sixth chapter of his Origin of Species, “Long before having arrived at this part of my work, a crowd of difficulties will have occurred to the reader.  Some of them are so grave that to this day I can never reflect on them without being staggered.”  In his chapter on instinct he conceded, “Such simple instincts as bees making a beehive could be sufficient to overthrow my whole theory.”  And to think, he said, that the eye could evolve “by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.”  In his chapter on imperfections in the geological record he complained that the complete lack of fossil intermediates in all geological records was perhaps, quote, “the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”  In other words, he was at least honest enough to admit that the thing didn’t make any sense.”**

So why this elaborate theory to remove God from the picture? A look at Darwin’s life may help us gain at least a bit of understanding. Charles Darwin lost his precious daughter, Anne, to illness when she was only ten. She was the light of his life and he was absolutely crushed when she died.

Wikipedia says this about Anne Darwin

According to biographers, she was a delightful child who brought much happiness to her parents. Eminent Darwin scholar E. Janet Browne writes of her:

Anne was… the apple of her proud father’s eye, his favourite child, he confessed to” [his friend and cousin William Darwin] Fox. “More than any of the other children she treated him with a spontaneous affection that touched him deeply; she liked to smooth his hair and pat his clothes into shape, and was by nature self-absorbedly neat and tidy, cutting out delicate bits of paper to put away in her workbox, threading ribbons, and sewing small things for her dolls and make-believe worlds.”[1]

In 1849, Anne caught scarlet fever along with her two sisters,[2] and her health thereafter declined; some authorities believe that she suffered from tuberculosis. In vain pursuit of help from Gully‘s water cure, Charles Darwin took his daughter to the Worcestershirespa town, Great Malvern. She died in Montreal House on the Worcester Road, aged ten, and was buried in the Great Malvern Priory churchyard.

Annie’s death was a terrible blow for her parents.[3] Charles wrote in a personal memoir “We have lost the joy of the household, and the solace of our old age…. Oh that she could now know how deeply, how tenderly we do still & and shall ever love her dear joyous face.”[4]

 

Here was a man greatly distressed at the hand he had been dealt in life. Instead of shaking his fist at the Heavens and cursing God, he chose to write Him completely out of history. Perhaps that was an easier explanation for the tragic events of his life than believing in a God who would allow such a thing? I don’t really know this, of course, having never met the man nor studied him at great length, but grief is a very powerful thing. And so it does make one consider the possibility.

I wonder if Darwin had any inkling that the ridiculous and illogical theory he concocted would become a giant, hard ball of snow, hurtling down the hill that is the world, destroying all in its path?

Even if the majority of the scientific community changed their viewpoint to intelligent design right now at this moment, the damage of Darwin’s theory has been done. There is no going back. We have an entire country– or perhaps a whole world–who believe they are nothing more than a bunch of cells and that there are no moral absolutes. Ah, yes, enormous damage has been done. The God of the Bible has been effectively removed from the picture and man feels free to do whatever he wants without fear of consequences. The world will never be the same.

As believers, we need to continue to stand strong and firm on the Word of God. I leave you with this statement by John MacArthur–

And there are only two options when it comes to origins.  The two options are: there is a Creator God, or there is not. Those are the only two options. There either is a Creator God or there is not. If there is not, then everything is an impossible, implausible, irrational result of chance. And the equation that I gave you last week is “nobody times nothing equals everything.” If on the other hand there is a creative intelligence, if there is a Creator God, then creation is understandable. It is possible, it is plausible, it is rational. And even the scientists who have left their mark on the scientific world, those who think honestly and make honest confessions about origins, will tell you that there must be a creative intelligence. Even Einstein said that.**

Be strong and courageous, my friends! Keep the Bible as the fixed and solid ground beneath your feet and you will stand firm. Let the scientific world sway you and you will become like the wind, shifting and lurching with every new “theory” that comes along.

 

**John MacArthur quotes are from his excellent series “The Battle for the Beginning”, which I highly recommend and is available for download, free of charge.

 

A Walk Through the Lilies

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I have this fascination with flowers. And my two favorites are lilies and hydrangeas. I tuck varieties of these two plants in any empty space and corner I can find in my backyard. When I took a walk out back the other evening I realized that the lilies are in full bloom. They are just so beautiful that I had to share a few photos of them here. God’s creation never ceases to amaze me! The lilies are such a wondrous display of our Creator.

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What Is One Life Worth?

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I watched one of those old disaster movies the other day– you know where the world is ending and they have to decide who are the lucky ones who will be saved. This isn’t really my normal style of movie, but I had watched it years ago and a bit of nostalgia nudged me to watch it again. At any rate, in this particular movie, when the announcement was made that a random lottery would be held to save humanity they added this caveat — Anyone over the age of fifty will not be entered into the lottery.

Funny. When I watched this movie the first time I didn’t give a second thought to that sentence. But this time, it really hit home because I am approaching 50 rather rapidly. And my thoughts started turning. Is that what our society really believes? That anyone over fifty isn’t worth saving?

These thoughts came to my mind again this week as I did some transplanting in my greenhouse. I naturally go towards the stronger, taller plants and throw the small, frail-looking ones in the trash. I only need so many plants and when the germination rate is high, I have to pick which ones I am going to keep. Whether or not it was the movie that made that day’s transplanting extra hard, I am not sure, but I found myself feeling rather badly for the small plants and transplanting a few of them just to give them a shot. I know, I know. That is really strange.

But it was with remarkable clarity that I suddenly realized that this is why we should never view humans in the same way we view animals and plants. The Bible tells us that we have been designed by God in His image (Genesis 1:27) and we are each fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14). We have eternal souls, unlike other forms of life on earth. Whether we are still within the warm womb being shaped or approaching our 90th birthday does not make us any less valuable in God’s eyes and should not make us any less valuable to each other.

But when a culture makes the switch from believing in a Creator to believing that we all just happened by chance, how we view humanity inevitably changes. Because, in this system of belief, everything is simply a bunch of cells that “just happened” to form plants and animals and people (and they say believing in God takes faith?!), the view of the human race naturally becomes equal to that of any other life on this planet. We are no different than dogs or the whales. All are equally important.

Interestingly enough, there are a few ways we have seen this belief take shape. Some people actually elevate animals as more important than humans. Have you run into any of those people who “save the whales” one day and hold a sign for abortion the next? But the fruit of this belief that is even more evil (if that’s possible) than animal elevation is the belief that human life is only worthwhile if it is productive. This is why a society will eventually allow for the practices of infanticide and euthanasia.

You can see it coming. In fact in some ways and in some countries it is already here.  Much of our society does not give a second thought to aborting an imperfect child already. There is also very little value placed on those who are languishing in nursing homes and have become a large “drain” on society. Self-inflicted euthanasia is already a popular reason to travel to the countries of Switzerland and Belgium. In fact, just recently, Belgium even lifted their age restrictions to include suffering children. (See article here) If this is allowed, how close is it until we go to the next step of forced euthanasia? I can’t imagine it will be very long.

And I believe that this all stems from man’s belief about origins. But should we be surprised? It makes complete sense from a worldly perspective that man would try to eliminate all accountability that would keep him from living the way he wants to live. Unfortunately, the consequences of that type of life are very, very high and there is a plethora of negative effects that have been the result of this effort to convince man he is nothing but a bunch of cells. It is not simply coincidence that the amount of fatherless children, divorce rates, and abortions have sky-rocketed in the last fifty to a hundred years.

So what can we do?

First, we need to know why we believe what we do and why it is not the fairy tale the world tells us it is. We need to know God’s Word and what it says about man and his sinful state. We need to understand why it is impossible, not only to believe in evolution, but to believe in anything but a young earth (hint: death cannot come before sin for the gospel to be true).  I am so very grateful for men like Ken Ham and his ministry, Answers in Genesis, who, unapologetically, stand for a young earth.  He has great resources on his website and I highly recommend it.

Second, we need to be willing to speak up as God gives us opportunities. I mentioned in a recent blog post, that we are probably not going to be changing our culture anytime soon. But does Jesus Christ ever mention anything about saving the culture? I can’t think of any verses that call us to do this. No, instead, we are to focus on preaching the gospel and winning disciples (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Mark 13:10). We need to take this more seriously! I need to take this more seriously. We’ve been stone-walled into silence in many ways. Oh, we won’t get hauled off to prison or lose our lives, but a threatened reputation and ridicule are still very effective ways to get people to keep their mouths closed, are they not? Think about how Christians are portrayed in almost any Hollywood movie and the reputation they are given in the press and in politics. It is no easy thing to stand up for Christ. And it shouldn’t be. We have been a bit spoiled in this country with just how accepted Christianity and the Christian world view has been. But no more. That means now is the time for boldness and courage! (Joshua 1:9)

And, finally, I think we need to be careful how we value life. How important it is that the world doesn’t “rub off” on us in this area. Let’s not forget that all people are valuable to God– not just the ones who contribute to society. Precious children, who, with their imperfect bodies and minds, teach their parents invaluable lessons, as well as the elderly souls who are nearing the end of their lives. Our senior population has been pretty much left in the dust, haven’t they? Once they can’t function as a normal human being they are put in a home and pretty much forgotten. But let’s remember that one day that will be us. And the example we set will most likely be followed.

Oh, may we stand boldly and set a good example for future generations. May all who come behind us find us faithful! I conclude with the lyrics from this old song

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful!

Wednesday Wisdom: Learning from Creation

IMG_4168revI am sitting here on a screened-in porch by the Caribbean sea this morning enjoying some quiet time and thinking about what I want to post this morning (and, really, even if I want to post this morning…) when all of a sudden it started raining. I watched the rain for a few minutes when suddenly I realized that there was a rainbow. And not just any rainbow, but the fullest, brightest rainbow I have ever seen! It was gorgeous and my picture does not do it even a bit of justice.

The beautiful rainbow brought to mind the awesome sites we’ve seen the last couple of days in our exploration of Grand Cayman Island. We have come across incredible skies, wildlife, plants, and sea creatures that just confirm the awesome beauty of God’s creation. I thought that I would share some of the photos here. Instead of presenting someone else’s writing this Wednesday, I am presenting God’s creation, basing this post on Romans 1:20. I hope you enjoy these shots that I have taken.

P.S. For any interested photographers–all of these photos were taken with my Canon PowerShot SX260 HS

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