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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6)
Have you ever been so hungry or thirsty that you grabbed anything and everything you could find to quench your thirst or hunger? You have probably heard stories of people stranded somewhere without any food or water. They resorted to extreme measures to have their physical needs quenched -- perhaps eating bugs, worms, leather shoelaces, or drinking from a sea of salt water.

Jesus described our desire for righteousness as a hungering and thirsting. We should want to be righteous (“right with God”) to the point of doing whatever it takes (Scripturally) to gain that relationship. Are there things in life we need to get rid of – bad relationships, too much entertainment, bad habits, improper attitudes – that are keeping us from being close to God? Or are there things we need to add to our lives – studying the Bible more, repairing broken relationships, a commitment to meeting with our brothers and sisters in Christ as often as possible? When we do these things, we show our hunger and thirst for righteousness.

After you have had a large, cold glass of water (or milk) or a favorite meal, you feel good inside. Not only that, but your life is renewed and sustained. The same should be true when we “are filled” after hungering and thirsting for righteousness, which Jesus promises. We should have an inner peace knowing we have a relationship with our Creator and a reward in heaven. And our spiritual “life” is renewed and sustained for an eternity

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You Can be Beautiful!

As I surfed the television channels one night, an odd-looking image flashed across the screen. A woman’s face, complete with heavy make-up and a poofy hairdo, sat on top of a little girl’s body. As I watched the show “Little Beauties,” my mind could not wrap around the image of 6-year old girls disguised as adult women.

With their faces plastered with more make-up than the average adult female wears and fake, strained smiles, these children flaunted their bodies before a crowd of adults and doting mothers. When the little dolls opened their mouths to speak, they sounded like what they truly are – little girls. “Can I have a puppy now?” the winner asked her mother. Sometimes the little girls appeared completely unaware of what was happening around them. “Am I number one?” one child, unsure of the contest results, asked her mother. “You’re always number one,” the proud mother cooed.

What are these mothers teaching their daughters? They are teaching these little girls that superficial outer beauty is what makes them special and a “winner.” These little girls are toted from place to another, competition after competition. They are taught that with the right make-up, hair-do, skimpy outfit (including bikinis), and Britney Spears-like moves, they can be number one.

A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

I’m thankful that God’s definition of beauty doesn’t require the same set of standards. “Do not let your adornment be merely outward –arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4). What’s important or precious in the sight of God is the exact opposite of what these children are taught from their beauty pageant experience. Dressing modestly and moderately (1 Timothy 2:9) and donning a gentle and quiet spirit is what God expects from any woman professing godliness.

As we age, our skin sags and wrinkles. Our hair turns gray, and our bodies no longer gracefully float across the floor. Outer beauty decays, but inner beauty is incorruptible. What is inner beauty? God defines inner beauty as a “gentle and quiet spirit,” which is reflected in a woman’s attitude. Gentleness is also a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:23). Merriam-Webster defines gentle as “kind, soft, delicate, free from harshness.” Abigail is a good example of a woman who exhibited a gentle spirit when she confronted an angry David on his way to take vengeance on Abigail’s husband. Abigail played the peacemaker and convinced David – in a quiet and gentle manner – to do no wrong. As a result, David respected her (1 Samuel 25:35).

Submitting to our husbands shows a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:5). A wife who is bossy and manipulative and unrestrained in her actions and words is not showing this inner beauty God calls “incorruptible.”

In “A Gentle and Quiet Spirit – Part I,” Angela Snodgrass ( writes, “We should not equate a gentle and quiet spirit with timidity and weakness.” A Christian must be strong enough to rebuke a brother or sister in sin: “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3). We are to be strong enough to help restore an erring brother, yet still exhibit a spirit of gentleness in doing so (Galatians 6:1).

While our outer bodies are “perishing,” our inner spirit is being renewed daily (2 Corinthians 4:16). We have very little control over the aging process, but we can control whether or not we allow worldly influences to corrupt our inner beauty.

Beauty Busters

Sometimes we meet people who are nice looking on the outside, but once we get to know them, they suddenly don’t look so beautiful. That’s because their inner beauty is corrupted by any number of characteristics, such as…

· Selfishness
· Self-centeredness
· Uncontrolled speech
· Anger
· Hatred
· Jealousy
· Conceit

These poisons are allowed to become a part of who we are when we forget that we have “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Cultivating a godly beauty may not be as easy as plastic surgery and buying just the right beauty products, but a godly beauty lasts forever and doesn’t cost a penny!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Respecting God's Word


A lack of respect for God's word causes false doctrine, decisions based on emotions, and division. We see examples of these problems in the Scriptures.

Jeremiah said, "O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). When people put themselves on the throne, they tend to make a mess out of their lives. This is because "there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12).

We don't have to guess or stumble around in the dark trying to find our way. God has already revealed the way to us, as the Psalmist says: "Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path" (119:105).

When we surrender our life to God, we must respect His word, which requires that we practice His word.


Many religious people claim that it does not matter what one believes. If that were true, there would be no such thing as false doctrine. But over and over again in the New Testament we see warnings about following false teachers and doctrine and encouragement to follow the pattern the Holy Spirit revealed to the apostles.

Paul warned Timothy that some would not "endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (2 Timothy 4:3-4). False doctrine is created when men and women seek to justify their beliefs rather than search God's word for truth. We show a lack of respect for God's word when we seek out teachers to tell us what we want to hear rather than what we need to hear.

I read of a woman who was considering having an abortion. She decided to consult various people for advice as to whether or not having an abortion is sinful. This woman admitted, however, that she did not want to talk to one particular person because she already knew he did not approve of abortion. The expectant mother didn't really want to hear whether or not abortion was right or wrong; she wanted to hear that abortion was the right thing to do because that is what she wanted.


"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9). Pop and Gospel vocalist Amy Grant divorced her first husband and then married country singer Vince Gill. She said that although she knows the heart is deceitful, she felt that God had "released" her from her marriage. We do not have to "feel" a certain way in order to determine whether or not God approves of something we do; we can know by reading His word. And God's word permits divorce for one reason only - adultery.

Imagine boarding a plane and hearing the pilot announce that he will not be using any instruments but will instead rely on his gut feelings to navigate his way through the sky. How many passangers would remain on that flight? Feelings are not a reliable guide. When we toss God's word aside, we are left with no other choice than to "wing it" by heart.


Jesus prayed that His believers would be unified: "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me" (John 17:20-21).

The most obvious example of division is the existence of all the various denominations. Each denomination has its own doctrine on a variety of issues. For example, the observance of the Lord's Supper is viewed and practiced differently among religious groups.

Church of Christ, Scientist: "The Mother Church of Christ, Scientist, shall observe no more Communion seasons" (Church Manual, 1980).

Lutheran Church: Frequency of observance varies from church to church. May be taken weekly, monthly, etc. and may be taken on days other than Sunday.

Catholic Church: Offered in Mass daily. The fruit of the vine is only for the clergy.

Baptist Church: Usually observed once a month; not always on Sunday.

Methodist Church: Usually observed once a quarter. Some congregations have used potato chips and Coke.

Presbyterian Church: Not necessary to observe weekly.

When the church at Corinth created factions based on their allegiance to various men, Paul condemned them: "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Corinthians 1:10). Some of the brethren claimed to be identified with Paul, others Apollos, or Cephas. Paul reminded the Corinthians that it was Jesus who died for them and that they were baptized into the name of Christ. The brethren were divided because they ignored the teaching about Christ and pledged their allegiance to men.


Respecting God's word calls for obedience. James writes, "But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was."

What do we typically do when we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror and something is amiss - our hair is out of place or a smudge of food is on our cheek? We don't usually walk away. We fix the problem. James compares a man who doesn't do God's word to a man who sees himself in the mirror and walks away without making the needed adjustments. The mirror is useless if it doesn't help us take action. Likewise, we make God's word useless when we fail to put it into action.

God's will is not burdensome. As our Creator, He knows what's best for His creation. Doing God's will does not deprive of us the joys of life but rather protects us from its ills. We should have the same attitude the Psalmist expresses in Psalm 40:8 - "I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Living for God in our New Life

The apostle Paul made it clear that we are either slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness. The entire sixth chapter of the book of Romans talks about the change Christians make when they chose to follow God, put off the “old man” and his sinful life in baptism, and rise to “walk in newness of life.”

Baptism represents more than just a cleansing from sins: it demonstrates that we have committed ourselves to a new way of life dedicated to God. When we put away our old life enslaved to sin, that isn’t where our new birth ends. Paul says, “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

Not only do we put aside certain things, but we are to add certain characteristics as we grow in Christ. Paul, in Galatians 5:22-23, describes the fruit of the Spirit as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

In addition, a servant of the Lord “must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition” (2 Timothy 2:24-25). As we grow in Christ, we are to "add" to our faith "virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love" (2 Peter 1:5-7). If we possess these characteristics in our lives, we will be fruitful for the Lord.

When we make the decision to no longer let sin rule our lives, we do so by “obeying from the heart that form of doctrine to which we were delivered” (Romans 6:17). Obedience is necessary, and it must come from the heart. God is just as concerned about our motivation for following Him as He is about what we do. It's also important that our obedience is in accordance with the doctrine the apostles delivered by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. A sobering scene is depicted by Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23: "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you: depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" These individuals thought they were doing something good for the Lord, but their acts were not recognized by Jesus because they were not in accordance to God's will.

Although we will from time to time fail and stray from following God, the grace of God does not give us a license to continue in sin. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Returning to our former life of continual, willful, deliberate sin should be just as repulsive as a dog returning to eat his own vomit or “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:21-22).

As a babe in Christ, I used to worry about sins committed in ignorance. How could I be forgiven if I was unaware of my sin or forgot to ask for forgiveness?

John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Walking in the light means we are walking with Jesus and are in fellowship with other believers. The fact that Jesus’ blood cleanses us from sin while we are walking in the light tells us that sin does not automatically kick us out of God’s grace. We can sin while in fellowship with God and be forgiven.

But beware. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). God’s grace does not tell us “go ahead and sin.” But rather, God’s grace instructs us to live righteously by picking ourselves up after we fall and keep on keeping on.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Whose Slave are You?

One of the secrets to selling is creating a need. If people believe they have a need for something, they are more likely to buy it. When it comes to the gospel of Christ and the salvation it offers, some people are not convinced they “need” to be saved; therefore, they do not “buy” the solution.

Every person sins. Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Some may ask, “So what?” In Romans 6:23, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells us that “the wages of sin is death.” Sin “earns” us an eternal separation from God, which is what “death” refers to in this context. In the same breath, Paul tells us what the solution is: “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Imagine that. Man sins against God, and God offers him a gift! “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us […]For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:6-10). God's gift is freedom from the guilt of our sin and the penalty our sins bring.

The “good news” can be summed up in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Mankind has done nothing to obligate God to save us. God offers his forgiveness based on His grace and not on anything that we have done to “earn” His gift. However, we have to accept the gift. When someone purchases a gift for us, we can refuse it. The same is true of God’s gift. The fact that God has prepared a gift for us does not mean the gift is automatically transferred into our possession. What does God expect? Many will tell you, “nothing.” Or “just believe.” But is that what the Bible teaches?

Obviously, we have to believe. We cannot accept a gift from an “imaginary” friend, and many believe God is a figment of man’s imagination. One of the most popular passages quoted is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Belief is necessary if we do not wish to “perish” and instead have everlasting life. Without belief, we are already condemned, so nothing further is necessary in order for us to be condemned (John 3:18).

Can we believe and continue living in sin? Repenting, or turning away from our sins, is necessary. In Luke 13:3, Jesus says, “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will likewise perish.” Peter tells a crowd, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Repentance and baptism are necessary in order to receive the forgiveness of sins.

Baptism “into Christ” is the point in which we die to sin and are raised in the newness of life as a new creation (Romans 6:4-6). The old man, who was enslaved to sin, dies with Christ and is raised by God to walk “in newness of life.” To claim we are saved prior to baptism means we are “burying” the new man. Our faith does not rest in ourselves or the “magic” of water. Rather, our faith is in “the working of God” (Colossians 2:12).

We also must be willing to confess our faith in Jesus. If we deny Christ, He will deny us before God. “Therefore, whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven,” says Jesus in Matthew 10:33. Paul also writes, “…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

I’ve never understood those who confess to be Christians yet continue to live as they wish. We are either slaves of righteousness or slaves of sin (see Romans chapter 6). Even when we do not choose, we do choose. By not choosing to serve God, we choose to serve sin. Those are the only two options. And once we become a Christian, we are released from the slavery of sin. So why do some continue to practice sin? Everyone sins (1 John 1:8). But there is a difference between committing an occasional sin and being a servant of sin. Instead of using our lives to practice unrighteousness, we should use our lives to bring glory to God. Sin should no longer “rule” or have dominion over us (Romans 6:14).

Just as death no longer has dominion or rule over Christ because He conquered death when He was raised from the dead, the Christian should not allow sin to have dominion over him since he conquered sin when he died with Christ in baptism and rose a new creation.

In the next entry, we will discuss what it means to be a slave of righteousness.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Intelligent Design - Part VI

This is the final chapter in this series. Thanks to everyone for their comments.

Chapter Five
Intelligent Design Critics

The most common argument against the intelligent design theory is that it is not a true science. According to scientist Linus Pauling, science is defined as the “search for truth” (Harris and Calvert 2003, p 557). Sciences that study the origin of life (origin sciences), such as intelligent design, seek the truth regarding how life began. In order to separate truth from fiction, scientists follow a procedure called the scientific method. Can scientists apply this method to the intelligent design theory?

The Scientific Method

The scientific method generally consists of five steps:

1. Observe an object or phenomenon and gather information
2. Form a hypothesis (a description of what is observed)
3. Make predictions based on the hypothesis
4. Perform experiments to test the predictions and update the hypothesis if the test results require it
5. Continue testing and modifying the hypothesis until the hypothesis and test results match one another (Wudka 1998).

Critics claim that intelligent design is not scientific because it cannot be tested or make predictions – two elements of the scientific method (Harris and Calvert 2003).

Can Intelligent Design be Tested? Make Predictions?

Harris and Calvert (2003) explain how intelligent design is tested by the same techniques used in other sciences such as forensics, cryptanalysis, and archeology. Scientists in these three fields must determine if intelligent action is at work:

Ø Forensics: Scientists perform tests to determine whether a death is a result of an accident or natural death (chance/necessity) or murder (intelligent action proven by the intent to kill).

Ø Cryptanalysis: Specialists called code breakers look closely at characters to determine if they communicate a message (intelligence).

Ø Archeology: Archeologists test objects to determine if they are man-made (intelligent action) or produced by natural causes. For example, a clay pot exhibits intelligent design while a rock formation may exist because of natural causes (wind, erosion, etc.).

Likewise, intelligent design is a science that uses various methods (discussed in chapter three) to “test” whether or not objects are caused by intelligent action or chance.

Intelligent design also makes predictions. For example, theorists predicted that a purpose for “junk DNA” would be found (Harris and Calvert 2003). As you recall, the instructions in DNA are made up of sequences or patterns of letters. DNA that does not contain instructions is called non-coding or “junk” DNA. Recently, scientists discovered that so-called “junk” DNA has a special job within the nucleus – to help the proteins created by DNA to function (The Designing Times 2002; The Free by Farlex 2005).

Is the Intelligent Design Theory Peer Reviewed?

When scientists want to share their findings with others, they follow a process called peer review. Scientists submit their manuscripts to at least two experts who work in the same field addressed in the manuscript. For example, if a scientist writes about molecular biology, then experts in the biology field read and comment on the contents contained in the manuscript (Henneberg 1997).

Critics argue that the intelligent design theory is unscientific because it is not peer reviewed. However, this claim is deceptive. Because the majority of scientists today do not support intelligent design, many refuse to review any work on the subject (Harris and Calvert 2003).

However, others have reviewed the works of leading scientists in the intelligent design movement - Michael Behe and William Dembski, and “an enormous amount of work is being done to find naturalistic explanations of their arguments” (Harris and Calvert 2003, p 538).


While early design arguments relied on the metaphysical realm as well as scientific data, today’s intelligent design theory relies exclusively on scientific evidence. Scientists have discovered, through advances in technology, that objects in nature – such as the cell – exhibit the same complexity as designed objects made by human hands and minds. Therefore, many scientists have concluded that nature exhibits signs of intelligent design. Why, in spite of the evidence, do many scientists reject intelligent design? Perhaps the following quotes help explain the motivation behind the rejection of intelligent design:

Evolutionist Sir Arthur Keith wrote, “Evolution is unproven and unprovable. We believe it because the only alternative is special creation, which is unthinkable” (Dvorak 2004, p 4).

Dr. Michael Walker, Senior Lecturer – Anthropology, Sydney University said, “One is forced to conclude that many scientists and technologists pay lip-service to Darwinian theory only because it supposedly excludes a Creator” (Dvorak 2004, p 5).

Dr. Scott Todd, an immunologist at Kansas State University wrote, “Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic” (Dvorak 2004, p 5).

“Naturalistic” refers to the philosophy of naturalism. This philosophy is the foundation of evolution and states that natural laws explain all phenomena. Naturalism eliminates design, purpose, and the supernatural.

Take Note
Naturalism is a philosophy and not a belief based on scientific data. All other possible causes of life are rejected, not based on scientific data, but because they fail to meet the definition of naturalism (Harris and Calvert 2003).

The Future of Intelligent Design

The belief that living organisms show design and, therefore, are a product of intelligent action has existed for thousands of years. While Darwin offered an alternative to the design theory, and many scientists have followed his lead, advances in technology will continue to strengthen evidence for intelligent design.

Perhaps Behe says it best:

The idea of Intelligent Design is widely discussed now and, although there’s resistance to it, I think it will fade as science progresses. As we learn more about biology, we’ll see that it’s becoming more complicated and fits less into the Darwinian evolutionary model (Peters 1999, p 6).


Access Research Network. 1998. Molecular Machines Museum. Accessed 2005 March 31.

Behe, Michael J. 1996. Darwin’s black box. New York: The Free Press.

Behe, Michael J. 1999 June 7. The God of science: the case for intelligent design. Accessed 2005 January 24.

Carpi, Anthony. 1999. The cell. Accessed 2005 January 27.

Cells Alive. 2004. Lysosomes, peroxisomes, secretory vesicles. Accessed 2005 January 26.

Dembski, William A. 1999. Explaining specified complexity. Accessed 2005 January 24.

Dembski, William A. 2003a August 28. Intelligent design.
Accessed 2005 January 26.

Dembski, William A. 2003b February 17. Still spinning just fine: a response to Ken Miller. Accessed 2005 January 26.

Dembski, William A. 2004a January 16. Detecting design in biological systems. Accessed 2005 February 2.

Dembski, William A. 2004b. Introduction: the myth of Darwinism. In: Dembski, William A, editor. Uncommon dissent: intellectuals who find Darwinism unconvincing. Wilmington: ISI Books. p xvii-xxxvii.

The Designing Times. 2002. Accessed 2005 January 26.

Dvorak, Allen. 2004. When evolutionists tell the truth. Sermon outline that includes quotes from evolutionists regarding the problems with the theory of evolution.

The Free by Farlex. 2005. Non-coding DNA. Accessed 2005 February 2.

Harris, William S; Calvert, John H. 2003. Intelligent design: the scientific alternative to evolution. The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly Autumn 2003: 531-561. Accessed 2005 January 26.

Henneberg, Marcie J. 1997. Peer review: the Holy Office of modern science.
Accessed 2005 February 25.

Intelligent Design Basics. [undated]. What is the theory of intelligent design? Accessed 2005 January 27.

Luskin, Casey. 2001. The science behind intelligent design theory. Accessed 2005 January 26.

McDonald, John H. 2000. A reducibly complex mousetrap. Accessed 2005 March 31.

Meyer, Stephen C. 2000 April 1. DNA and other designs. Accessed 2005 January 26.

Mondore, Robert; Mondore, Patricia A. 2002 December 14. Designer genes. Accessed 2005 January 31.

Peters, Holly. 1999. Darwin’s demise. Accessed 2005 January 26.

Pittman, Sean D. 2003. Natural selection. Accessed 2005 February 25.

Richards, Stephen. 2004. The design argument. Accessed 2005 February 25.

Strobel, Lee. 2004. The case for a Creator. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. GCE “o” level biology (5093) study guide. Accessed 2005 March 31.

University of California in Santa Barbara [undated]. The bacterial flagellum.
Accessed 2005 January 26.

University of Wisconsin. 2005. The why files. Accessed 2005 March 31.

West, John G. 2002 December. Intelligent design and creationism just aren’t the same. Accessed 2005 January 26.

Wudka, Jose. 1998. The scientific method.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Intelligent Design - Part IV

Chapter Four
Examples of Design

Human artifacts (man-made objects), such as the mousetrap, exhibit irreducible complexity; therefore, we know intelligent action caused them to come into existence. Dembski concludes, “Therefore, biological systems that exhibit irreducible complexity are likely to be designed” (Dembski 2003a, p 1).

The cell exhibits the same irreducible complexity as the mousetrap. How do evolutionists explain its existence? Cell biologists Franklin Harold and James Shapiro state, “There are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations” (Dembski 2004a, p 16).

The Cell

Cells are the basic units of life. Our bodies are made up of many different kinds of cells. Each cell is composed of a variety of parts that function in various ways. Figure 4.1 on page 11 is a diagram of an animal cell. In Darwin’s Black Box, Behe (1996) lists the parts of the cell and their functions as follows:

Ø Nucleus: holds DNA

Ø Mitochondria: produces cell’s energy

Ø Endoplasmic reticulum: processes proteins

Ø Golgi apparatus (or complex): stores proteins that are being transported

Ø Lysosome: contains enzymes that help the cell digest various materials (Carpi 1999).

Ø Secretory vesicles: stores secretions such as hormones before they are sent from the cell (Cells Alive 2004)

Ø Peroxisome: helps body digest foods, such as fats

Because each part of the cell is sealed off from other parts by a membrane, the question arises: how do materials the cell needs get past the membrane barriers and into their special compartments?

The cell moves proteins into various compartments using three methods (Behe 1996).

I. Gated Transport - Gate opens and closes to allow or block proteins from passing through membranes.

II. Transmembrane transport - A single protein is guided through a protein channel through the cell membrane

III. Vescular transport - Protein is transported by “containers”

Gated transport and transmembrane transport are essentially the same. The only difference between the two is the size of the channel the proteins pass through: gated transport uses a large channel; transmembrane transport uses a small channel (Behe 1996).

In order for gated transport to work, several components must be in place:

Ø Proteins must send out signals in order for the “gate” to recognize the proteins and allow them to pass from one place to another.

Ø On the other side of the gate, enzymes must have receptors in order to recognize the proteins’ signals. Once the enzymes recognize the signals, the gate is opened.

Ø Proteins must have a channel to pass through. However, if a channel allows all proteins to pass through, then all compartments would contain the same materials (Behe 1996).

All components that allow these processes to take place must exist at the same time, not gradually. Therefore, this system is irreducibly complex; and Darwinian evolution cannot explain how this system came into existence.

According to Behe (1996), vesicular transport is more complex than gated transport and requires six components in order to function. If all six parts are not in place, the system either fails to function or the proteins fail to reach their proper destination.

This is a brief explanation of gated and vesicular transport. However, even this simple description shows the system’s irreducibly complex nature (Behe 1996).

Bacterial Flagellum

A motorboat uses a rotary propeller or motor to move the boat through water. Similarly, bacterial cells use a “rotary motor” called a flagellum to move the cells through liquid (Behe 1996). Figure 4.2 on page 13 is a picture of the bacterial flagellum, showing its parts that are similar to that of a man-made rotary motor.

This whip-like tail is made of a protein called flagellin. The flagellum is lodged in the cell membrane and attached to the rotor drive near the surface of the cell. The material that attaches the flagellum to the drive shaft is called hook protein. This protein works like a universal joint, which allows the flagellum and drive shaft to rotate. The motor that rotates the flagellum is located at the base of the flagellum where several rings are located (Behe 1996; Strobel 2004; undated University of California in Santa Barbara).

Take Note
The flagellum requires the coordination of 40 proteins. If one protein is missing, the flagellum will not function (Dembski 2003a).

How did the bacterial flagellum come into existence? While evolutionists claim evolutionary processes are responsible for the flagellum’s existence, no scientist has ever presented an evolutionary model of the bacterial flagellum (Strobel 2004).

Evolutionists’ Arguments

While scientists have failed to explain how evolution produced the flagellum, they have criticized Behe’s argument that the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex.

Ken Miller argues that the bacterial flagellum is not irreducibly complex for two reasons. Within the flagellum is a subsystem called Type III secretory system (TTSS). This system acts as a pump to move proteins to the outside of the cell. The function of TTSS is separate from the rotary propeller function of the flagellum. Evolutionists argue that the flagellum is not irreducibly complex because it evolved from TTSS. Remember, for an object to be irreducibly complex, it cannot have any precursors, i.e., any previous form of the object from which the more complex evolved (Dembski 2003b).

However, the existence of a subsystem within a functioning system is a poor argument for evolution. Dembski points out, “One might just as well say that because the motor of a motorcycle can be used as a blender, therefore the motor evolved into the motorcycle” (2003b, p 2).

Miller also claims that the flagellum is not irreducibly complex because TTSS can still transport proteins even if some proteins are missing. However, transporting proteins by the subsystem has little to do with the rotary propeller function of the flagellum. These are two separate functions. Moreover, if parts of the rotary system are missing, the propeller cannot function – regardless of whether or not proteins are missing. Therefore, the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex (Dembski 2003a).

Why does it matter whether or not an object or system is functional during its development? Evolutionists want us to believe that natural selection is how life began. However, if a system is not functioning, natural selection will not work. Since all parts must be in place at the same time in order for the bacterial flagellum to function, the flagellum could not have developed gradually over time (Behe 1996).


DNA is located in the nucleus of the cell and contains the information – the instructions - needed to make all the proteins that build our bodies. We depend on an alphabet that consists of 26 letters to form words that convey messages (Strobel 2004). Likewise, DNA’s instructions or messages are written with a special “alphabet” that consists of only four letters. Scientists have named these letters after the acids that form the DNA bases: A (adenine), G (guanine), T (thymine), and C (cytosine).

Each “letter” alone is meaningless, just as a single letter in the alphabet is meaningless. DNA’s letters must be in a specific order (called a sequence) in order to create instructions, just as the letters in this sentence must be in a specific arrangement in order to create a coherent message (Harris and Calvert 2003).

Therefore, DNA exhibits specified complexity because

Ø It is complex (made up of many components – letters)

Ø It is contingent (More than one combination of letters is possible.)

Ø It is specified (Follows a pattern called a sequence.).

Problem for Evolution

DNA and the information it contains must be present in order for life to begin (Strobel 2004). But how did DNA come into existence? Natural selection cannot explain the existence of DNA. Natural selection only works if organisms can duplicate themselves. In order to duplicate, organisms must have DNA. Therefore, if DNA is absent, natural selection cannot work. You have heard the question asked: “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” Obviously, the chicken must exist first in order to reproduce to get the egg. In the same way, DNA must exist first in order for organisms to reproduce (Intelligent Design Basics undated).

Furthermore, the probability that DNA assembled itself in the first cell is 1 x 10 –190, which essentially equals zero (Harris and Calvert 2003).

Friday, July 25, 2008

Intelligent Design - Part III

Chapter Three
Detecting Intelligent Design

Until recently, no methods of detecting intelligent design existed (Dembski 2003a). The two most common methods used today are specified complexity and irreducible complexity.

Specified Complexity

Mathematician and philosopher William Dembski formulated the specified complexity method for detecting design (2004a). Objects that have these three characteristics – contingency, complexity, and specificity - are said to show design.


Something contingent is a possibility - but not the only possibility. For example, if I toss a coin with one side heads and one side tails, heads is a possibility, but so is tails. The result of the coin toss is contingent because more than one possibility exists. However, if heads is on both sides of the coin, heads is always the result and no choice exists. Therefore, natural laws explain the result because natural laws always have the same result (Intelligent Design Basics undated).

Anything that is complex has a number of interrelated parts that makes chance an improbable cause (Intelligent Design Basics undated). For example, a sentence is complex compared to a single letter in the alphabet.


This term refers to anything that follows a meaningful pattern. For example, although the letter “a” is simple and not complex, it follows a pattern: it is the first letter of the alphabet (Dembski 2003a).

Using the alphabet as an example, below is an illustration of specified complexity based on the three characteristics described above.

1. Letter "a" of the alphabet
2. Lengthy string of letters in no particular order (i.e., gbaozmt)
3. Arrangement of letters in a poem

1. Yes: 25 other choices
2. Yes: various combinations possible
3. Yes: other possible poems

1. No: too simple
2. Yes: many components
3. Yes: many components

1. Yes: always the first letter of the alphabet (pattern)
2. No: no meaningful pattern
3. Yes: follows the pattern of grammar

In all cases of specified complexity in which cause is known, intelligence is responsible (Dembski 1999; Meyer 2000).

Irreducible Complexity

Biochemist Michael Behe (1996) writes about the concept of irreducible complexity in his book Darwin’s Black Box. Behe argues that biological systems show design due to their irreducibly complex nature. If an object is irreducibly complex, it cannot be reduced to a simpler, functioning object; and the object must contain all of its parts at the same time in order to function. If any part is removed, the object will no longer work. This characteristic found in nature presents a problem for Darwinian evolution.

Darwin wrote: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down” (Behe 1996, p 39; Strobel 2004, p 197).

Behe (1996) states that since all components of a complex system must be in place at once in order to function, the system could not have possibly evolved as Darwin describes.

The Standard Mousetrap

To illustrate the concept of irreducible complexity, Behe (1996) refers to the standard mousetrap with five parts: platform, hammer, spring, catch, holding bar (See figure 3.1). If any one of these parts is missing, the trap will not function.

Table 3.2 illustrates how scientists determine if an object or system is irreducibly complex. Using the mousetrap as an example, Behe (1996) asks three questions as the following table demonstrates:

Table 3.2 Steps to Determine Irreducible Complexity

Can the scientist name the function and components of the system?
Mousetrap Characteristic
Function: trap mice
Components: platform, catch, hammer, spring, holding bar

Are all parts necessary for the object to function?
Mousetrap Characteristic
Yes – For example, if the holding bar is missing, the trap will not catch mice.

Are there any functional precursors?*
Mousetrap Characteristics
No – The trap with five parts did not “evolve” from a simpler form.

*Behe (1996) explains that other means to catch mice exist, i.e., glue traps, boxes propped with sticks, etc. However, none of these can develop into a mousetrap that includes a platform, catch, hammer, spring, and holding bar. This means the mousetrap has no functional precursors.

Figure 3.1 Standard Mousetrap
source: McDonald, John H. 2000. A reducibly complex mousetrap. Accessed 2005 March 31.

Evolutionists’ Arguments Against Mousetrap Analogy

Some evolutionists argue that the mousetrap does not demonstrate irreducible complexity. In an interview with Lee Strobel (2004), Michael Behe discusses two of those arguments as follows:

Ø It is possible to build a less complex, functioning mousetrap with fewer parts. Behe agrees; however, the point is that the mousetrap Behe refers to could not be created gradually because it would not function until all parts are fully in place.

Ø Perhaps natural selection preserved the components as they served other purposes while a complex system developed. Ken Miller, Brown University professor and evolutionist, makes this argument. In his analogy, Miller theoretically removes parts of Behe’s mousetrap and assigns functions to these components until they can develop into the mousetrap.

Some components in complex systems can have other functions. However, the question is whether or not these functions will develop into a complex system through a series of modifications over time. Behe writes: “He’s [Miller] starting from the finished product—the mousetrap—and disassembling it and moving a few things around to use them for other purposes. Again, that’s intelligent design!” (Strobel 2004, p 200).

Irreducible complexity is not the only complication for Darwinian evolution. Related to irreducible complexity is a concept called “minimal function.” For Darwin’s natural selection to work, objects must have minimal function. For example, not only does the mousetrap need all of its parts, these parts must work efficiently. If the mousetrap platform is made out of paper, the platform is too weak to support the other parts, which reduces the ability of the trap to function (Behe 1996).

We have focused on man-made objects to illustrate design. What about complex living organisms? Do they exhibit irreducible complexity and specified complexity as well?

In the next chapter, we will look at biological examples of intelligent design.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Intelligent Design - Part II

Chapter Two
History of Intelligent Design Theory

For the first 4,000 years of human history, scientists accepted the design theory. Aristotle, Plato, Aquinas, and Newton all believed nature shows design (Meyer 2000).

Theologians Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and William Paley (1743-1805) argued for the existence of God based on the presence of design in nature. This philosophy is referred to as the teleological argument, natural theology, or theological design. The word “teleological” is derived from the Greek word “telos,” which means end or purpose (Richards 2004).

In 1802, William Paley published a book titled Natural Theology. In his book, Paley uses a watch to illustrate the nature of design. The parts of the watch form a complex mechanism that cannot be explained by chance. Paley argues that objects in nature exhibit the same complexity as the watch. He concludes, therefore, that nature reflects design as well (Dembski 2003a).

According to William Dembski (2003a), mathematician and philosopher, early design arguments did not rely solely on science but involved the metaphysical (supernatural) realm as well. Today’s intelligent design theorists focus on understanding how science – not the metaphysical – explains design. Intelligent design theorists look especially to molecular biology for evidence of design and rely on the latest scientific information to support their theory.

In 1859, the design argument took a backseat to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Charles Darwin

The argument for design declined in popularity when, in 1859, Charles Darwin offered an alternative explanation for the origin of life called the theory of evolution. In his book, The Origin of Species, Darwin argued that the healthiest members of a species pass down their genes to the next generations. The unfit members of a species die, and the most fit continue to reproduce. This process is called natural selection or “survival of the fittest.” Darwin argued that over time, this process produced new species (Harris and Calvert 2003).

Today, evolutionists believe an “updated” version of natural selection. They teach that random genetic mutations (errors in DNA) cause the differences seen in species. Mutations can be helpful or harmful to a species. Modern-day evolutionists claim that natural selection chooses the helpful mutations that give a species the greatest chance of survival. These traits are then passed down from generation to generation (Pittman 2003). However, mutations do not occur often enough to “account for all the hundreds of thousands of fundamentally different genes” that exist (Mondore and Mondore 2002, p 3).

Take Note
Harris and Calvert (2003) point out that the term “natural selection” is inconsistent. “Selection” implies that a choice or decision is made. However, natural selection says that events occur randomly, without purpose or intelligence. Therefore, choice and decision are excluded from the process.
Chemical Evolution – a Challenge to Design

Most biologists rejected intelligent design during the late 19th century. During this time, scientists sought to confirm Darwin’s theory of evolution through scientific experiments (Meyer 2000). In the 1870s and 1880s, scientists believed life was made out of a material called protoplasm that they could easily create by combining chemicals such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitrogen.

Scientists Haeckel and T.H. Huxley believed a two-step process of combining and recombining chemicals created the first cell. Just as combining sodium and chloride produces salt, Haeckel and Huxley believed that combining chemicals could produce a cell. This is referred to as chemical evolution (Meyer 2000).

In 1952, a graduate student named Stanley Miller tested the chemical evolution theory. He created a small amount of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) by combining methane, ammonia, water vapor, and hydrogen – the gaseous mixture Miller believed represented the early atmosphere on Earth (Meyer 2000; Strobel 2004).

Years following Miller’s experiment, scientists determined that Miller’s assumptions of what the early Earth’s atmosphere contained was inaccurate. To date, there is no evidence that the atmosphere of the early Earth consisted of methane and ammonia (Meyer 2000).

Yet, even if Miller’s experiment were re-created using the correct atmospheric conditions, the results would yield formaldehyde and cyanide. Scientist Jonathan Wells makes this observation: “Now, it’s true that a good organic chemist can turn formaldehyde and cyanide into biological molecules” (Strobel 2004, p 38). However, Wells points out that far from representing the origin of life, these molecules represent embalming fluid – a fluid used to preserve bodies that are no longer alive.

What Miller’s experiment did demonstrate is the need for intelligent intervention. Meyer (2000) explains that in the type of experiment Miller performed, the experimenter must get involved to prevent cross-reactions that would cause the amino acids to break down. Experimenters do this by removing certain chemicals that could produce undesirable affects. Meyers gives this example: A realistic atmosphere includes both short and long wavelength light. However, experimenters often use only short wave length light because long wavelength light causes amino acids to break down.

Take Note
Miller’s experiment is still included in many textbooks in spite of its inaccuracies (Strobel 2004).
Over the years, advances in the fields of molecular biology, biochemistry, physics, and astronomy have made it difficult for scientists to dismiss intelligent design (Meyer 2000). As a result, intelligent design has increased in popularity since the end of the 20th century (Behe 1999).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Intelligent Design - Part I

I researched and wrote a booklet titled Mind Over Matter: an Introductory Guide to the Intelligent Design Theory. This material is copyrighted. I will be posting the booklet in the span of five or six blog entries.

Chapter One

Defining Intelligent Design

Imagine that you are serving as a juror in a murder trial. As the prosecuting and defense attorneys prepare to present their evidence, the judge announces that only the defense attorney can present evidence in favor of the defendant. Will you hear an accurate and complete presentation of the evidence? Of course not! Yet, this is exactly the situation that students experience today as teachers are silenced in the classrooms from presenting scientific evidence that refutes the theory of evolution.

The purpose of this guide is to introduce students to the intelligent design theory – the scientific alternative to evolution. This guide will

Ø Discuss what the intelligent design theory is – and is not
Ø Briefly trace the history of the design argument
Ø Discuss methods used to detect intelligent design
Ø Give examples of design
Ø Address evolutionists’ arguments against the intelligent design theory.

What is the theory of intelligent design?

The question every person eventually asks is “how did life begin?” The three possibilities that explain the origin of life are

Ø Natural laws
Ø Chance
Ø Intelligent design.

The evolutionary theory says that natural laws and chance alone created life (Harris and Calvert 2003). Intelligent design, “the science that studies signs of intelligence” (Dembski 2003a, p 1), says that life can be a result of all three possibilities – natural laws, chance, and design. To demonstrate how these possibilities can work together, consider what happens when someone tosses a coin. The decision to toss a coin is an act of intelligence. How the coin falls is according to a natural law – the law of gravity. The result of the coin toss (heads or tails) is left to chance (Harris and Calvert 2003).

According to Harris and Calvert (2003), many scientists have concluded – based on studying and observing the complexity in the natural world – that intelligent action best explains the origin of the universe.

While intelligent design looks for signs of intelligence in objects, it does not identify the designer’s purpose (Dembski 2003a).

Is the Theory of Intelligent Design the Same as Creationism?

We understand that designed objects – such as cars – have a designer. When we observe objects in nature that show signs of design, we can reasonably conclude that these designed objects have a designer, too. Many identify this designer as God. Does this then imply that the intelligent design theory is the same as creationism – a theory that identifies the designer as God? Although many scientists today claim that intelligent design theory is creationism, it is not.

The intelligent design theory does not name the designer (Luskin 2001). Intelligent design is not a religion, and does not refer to religious texts such as the Bible. Creationism defends a literal interpretation of the Genesis account of creation and supports a young Earth theory. The intelligent design theory does not (West 2002). In Uncommon Dissent, Dembski defines creationism as “a literal interpretation of Genesis in which God through special acts of creation brings the biophysical universe into existence in six literal twenty-four hour days, somewhere in the last several thousand years” (2004b, p xxiii).

The following illustrates the differences between creationism and intelligent design:

Identifies designer as God
Defends literal interpretation of Genesis
Supports young Earth model

Intelligent Design
Does not identify designer
Makes no reference to religious texts
Accepts an older Earth model

Why are evolutionists labeling the intelligent design theory as “intelligent design creationism”? Ronald Numbers, University of Wisconsin historian of science, is critical of the intelligent design theory; however, he explains that mislabeling intelligent design as intelligent design creationism is the “easiest way to discredit intelligent design” (West 2002, p 1).

Has intelligent design always been sharply criticized by scientists? In the next chapter, we will briefly trace the history of intelligent design and answer this question.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Do Unto Others

You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to be familiar with a popular phrase parents often repeat to their children: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is a paraphrase of what Jesus tells His followers: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). What we see practiced most often in the world is “Do unto others as they do unto you” – a retaliatory attitude.

Understanding the general concept of how Christians are to treat others, I was surprised to read an Internet message that claimed Christianity is evil and the catalyst of all that is wrong in the world. Perhaps this attitude should not surprise me, considering all that is done and said in the name of religion, God, or Christianity. But these things (such as the so-called Christian Crusades) are a misrepresentation of how God wants His children to behave.

So what does God expect from me as a Christian?

Jesus said that we are “blessed” when we are reviled and persecuted, when people say false evil things about us for His sake (Matthew 5:11). We need to realize that being a Christian will result in some form of persecution, because this is how people treated Jesus, His apostles, the early Christians, and the prophets before them. I learned many years ago that when a Christian publishes on the Internet messages related to God or the Bible, it won’t be long before the name-calling and attacks begin.

It’s not easy to endure mistreatment. How do we react to those who curse us? Jesus says, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). The Greek word translated “love” is “agape,” and it does not refer to a “feeling” but rather action. When we love our enemy, we are willing to do good things for them. Jesus is the ultimate example. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-9).

Loving those who love us is easy. Jesus said even sinners do this. It doesn’t take any degree of personal character to love those who love us; however, to love and do good for those who hate and mistreat us takes strength and character.

We are to forgive others. Many families and friendships are torn apart by long-held grudges. When we refuse to forgive others, God refuses to forgive us. “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15). Many years ago I read a story about a couple whose only son was murdered. Without having ever talked to their son’s murderer, the couple announced that they had “forgiven” this young man for taking their son’s life. While we should always be ready to forgive and hold no ill will towards anyone, forgiveness does require repentance. “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).

Even if the one who sins against us doesn’t repent nor seek forgiveness, we are still to treat them – at worst – like an enemy, and LOVE them. The apostle Paul said that we are to live peaceably with all men as much as it depends on us (Romans 12:18). We can only do so much to make peace and attempt to reconcile failed relationships. But when all is said and done, we are still to follow Jesus’ example of love and sacrifice even for those who hate us.

“Getting even” or “teaching someone a lesson” were common attitudes I not only witnessed but participated in when I was a child. Wanting to strike back at someone who has hurt us can be a natural reaction. But God tells a Christian that vengeance is His. “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard [or provide] for good things in the sight of all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:17, 19).

How do we react to someone who is unkind? Do we snap back? Quoting from Proverbs, Paul writes, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head” (Romans 12:20). One New Year’s Eve, I drove to the grocery store to pick up a few things for a party. I pulled into a parking spot and noticed that a man suddenly stopped his car behind me. As I got out of my car, he began yelling and cussing at me. Apparently I took a parking spot that he was planning to pull into, but I didn’t see him waiting for it. Instead of yelling back, I calmly apologized and told him that I didn’t see him there. I then offered to back out and let him have the parking space. He was stunned. There was silence for a moment, and then he said, “No, that’s OK. Happy New Year,” and he drove away. Obviously he was expecting a fight. Sometimes saying the right thing in the right way brings unexpected, yet pleasant, results. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). But not always! No matter what someone else’s reaction is, a Christian must not respond in a hateful manner.

Paul tells us, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good – not just for those who are nice to us or believe as we do – but to all men, with an emphasis on our Christian brothers and sisters.

Whenever I hear someone say that Christians are “evil,” I remember all that God teaches us to be….

Love our enemies
Do not seek revenge
Bless those who curse us
Pray for those who spitefully use us
Do good to those who hate us
Give food and drink to our enemies in need
In general, treat others like we want to be treated.

God's code of ethics far surpasses anything man could ever create himself. Far from being evil, treating others as God says is crucial to the well-being of humanity.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Deceptive Heart

"Again, the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments and be holy for your God'" (Numbers 15:37-40).

Have you ever tied a string around your finger to help you remember to do something? A piece of string may have no connection whatsoever to what we need to remember; however, a simple recognition of the string reminds us of something important we need to accomplish. Our string-around-the-finger reminder is probably a modern-day version of the tassel sewn onto a garment. But the children of Israel had a much more significant and important task to remember than a daily errand: they were to remember all of God's commandments and to do them.

The reason the Israelites needed a reminder is so that they wouldn't do what they were "inclined to do." In other words, man tends to do what he wants to do while forsaking what God has asked him to do. We see examples of this every day, sometimes in our own lives. God also tells us that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9). The heart represents our emotions. Emotionalism is not a reliable guide. We cannot trust our emotions to do what's right because feelings are deceptive. I remember when gospel singer Amy Grant divorced her first husband. She claimed that although she knows "the heart is deceitful above all things," she just knew that God had released her from her marriage. Amy relied on her emotions rather than God's word to decide whether or not she had a right to divorce her husband, and, as best as I know, she reached the wrong conclusion.

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 16:25). When man relies on his emotions, the way "seems" right but often is not. Instead, we are blessed if we trust and hope in the Lord (Jeremiah 17:7). Today, we have God's word to remind us of His will and to encourage us to follow His way and not our own. "Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105).

Friday, May 30, 2008

Do We Really Believe?

As I was reading in the book of Numbers yesterday, I was amazed (again) how the Israelites complained so much while on their way to the promised land. I couldn't help but wonder if we are guilty of the same complaints against God.

"And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, 'If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword? [...] Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?'" God brought the Israelites out of a horrible situation and promised them something better - a land that flowed with milk and honey. Yet they had no confidence that God would provide. They complained constantly about God's provisions - or in their minds, the lack of. Do we do the same? Do we complain about what we don't have instead of being thankful for what we do have? Has God ever brought us out of a difficult situation, and all we could do was complain about the outcome because it wasn’t exactly as we had hoped?

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23). Do we believe God is faithful regarding His promises? Or do we often waver in our hope?

"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). When we are tempted, do we complain to God that He hasn't done enough? Do we blame God when we fall to temptation, or do we acknowledge that we are tempted and drawn away by our own lusts (James 1:14)?

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Do we truly believe our sins are forgiven, or do we fret and beat ourselves up even after we have confessed and repented? Do we have a difficult time forgiving others whom God has forgiven?

I don't want to be like the Israelites, doubting God’s faithfulness and complaining about His provisions, because this made God angry! God never lies, God’s promises never fail. Do we really believe this?