Recommended approach

Sojourner's paradigm challenges atheists and skeptics to make a shift in the way they examine and approach the claims of the Bible and Christianity. It is best to first watch the gospel message video and read the foundational truth of God. Other blogs speak on a variety of topics.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Quieting the Disquited Soul

The phone rings at 2:14am. It’s the police. Your son has been involved in a horrific hit and run accident.

Or you discover that a close trusted friend has been spreading lies about you behind your back.

Your spouse turns to you as you settle into bed. He admits to having an affair and tells you he wants out of the marriage.

These represent events in which you or a loved one has been wronged by someone else. You rehearse the events and the pain over and over again in your head. Anxiety doesn’t have to come in the form of another person’s attacks or offenses. Trying times come in many forms. Events may have happened suddenly or have been building up over time. Anxiety and disquietedness suddenly moves into what had previously been occupied by a settled and quiet spirit. Or perhaps you cannot remember the last time you felt peace. Anxious thoughts have been your constant companion as far back as you can remember. No one is immune.

You spend sleepless nights listening to those troubling thoughts. You then decide to talk to God. But still the dialogue in your head continues. Nothing changes. What’s the answer?

I want to be upfront with you about the motivation behind this writing. My intent is to offer biblical counsel on how to quiet the disquieted soul. But that isn’t my primary objective.
First, I want to show you the answer found in scripture. (Emphasis on “answer”) All too often we look for answers in uncertain areas. Even if we choose not to look for answers, we put a band-aid over the anxiety through various vices. We try and substitute “feel good” avenues to cover up the pain.

Second, I want to show you the answer found in scripture. (Emphasis on “scripture”). I am not referring to token bible verses. Bible bombs seldom hit a specific target. I want to demonstrate to you the depth of even the shortest passages of scripture where you will discover a treasure trove of resources and provision the Lord has made available to us.

Israel’s King David had written a good many of the Psalms. Engrained within the words are gut wrenching, raw and honest emotions laid out for all to see. There are few, if any, pious platitudes. Even so, masks which might be worn are then ripped off as the truth exposes the naked realities of one man’s human condition. The reader soon discovers the persona of the psalmist resembles himself. Struggles we thought were unique to us are universal. They are no respecter of eras or cultures. As Solomon once commented, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

David wrote Psalm 43. We aren’t sure of the circumstances behind this psalm of plea, but some have suggested this was written during a time when his son Absalom was spreading false accusations against his father and trying to have him killed. Absalom wanted to take over the kingdom. Psalm 43 has 5 verses. The 5 verses represent 5 phases of a soul’s journey from disquietedness to quietness.

Verse 1: “Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
deliver me!”
David wanted to be vindicated. Vindication means setting the record straight. David wanted the truth of his innocence to be made known. He wanted to see justice served. Can you relate? I can. My vengeful nature rises up to plead my case. I rehearse the wrongs committed against me over and over again in my head. Hurt and anger control me. My focus is on myself.
Verse 1 therefore signifies phase 1 of the journey from a disquieted to a quiet soul: VINDICATION.

Verse 2: “For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
In this verse David is trying to make sense of what’s going on. He is interpreting the matter according to how he feels. We get a glimpse into David’s inner thoughts. In this phase of the journey we begin to ask a lot of why’s. The whys then turn into accusations against God. Have you had those moments when you cry out, “how could you let this happen to me God?”
Verse 2 signifies phase 2: ITERPRETATION.

Verse 3: “Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!”
David is beginning to figure out that his only hope is going to have to come from God. He needs God’s truth to illuminate and enlighten his soul. He realizes he needs intimacy with God and that the only way to experience that is by getting into God’s revealed truth and allow that to bring him to a place of worship. His attitude begins to change. We too should realize that God’s Word is our source of hope and strength. Intimacy with God is the result.
Verse 3 signifies phase 3: ILLUMINATION.

Verse 4: “Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.”
As David’s heart is illuminated by God’s Word and he begins to have intimacy with God, this naturally brings him to a place of worship and adoration of God. Joy replaces anxiety. He realizes that as long as he has God, he has everything. God alone is his salvation. Recall the episode when Jesus and his disciples were on a boat when a storm suddenly arose. Jesus was asleep. The disciples began to fear for their lives. They certainly had a disquieted soul. They woke Jesus and pleaded with Him to save them. He quieted the storm. They had nothing to fear. Jesus was by their side. We need to ask ourselves; are we walking hand in hand with Jesus, the One who calms the storms of life?
Verse 4 signifies phase 4: ADORATION

Verse 5: “Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.”
These words aren’t the first time David had written them. He also concludes Psalm 42 with the same words. He is reminding himself of the source of his joy and hope. He is having a conversation with himself. We too must realize that the words we tell ourselves will determine the direction of our life. If the words we tell ourselves come from within a troubled mind fixated on self, then we will continue to have a disquieted soul. But if the words we tell ourselves originate from God’s Words, then we can walk in the assurance of his sovereign control over the circumstances of life.
Verse 5 signifies phase 5: CONVERSATION

Notice how the psalm began. David was listening to himself and then talking to God. Notice how it ends. David was listening to God and then talking to himself. We have learned much from this short psalm. It causes us to ask a few questions.
First, ask yourself; where is my focus? Is it on God or myself?
Second; how am I interpreting the circumstances of life? Am I viewing these events through the lens of my own finite and flawed mind or am I utilizing God’s timeless and infinite truth?
Third; how does God’s Word speak to these particular events and circumstances? This will involve reading, researching, and studying God’s Word.
Fourth; how can I turn my anxiety into worship? Only by reading God’s Word can I begin to enter into a place of worshiping God for who He is.
Fifth; what do I need to tell my soul right now? You may need to remind yourself that, “... we know that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). There are a myriad of other truths you can stand on during troubling times.

What it all boils down to is living in trust that God is in control. Despite the difficulties, we need to submit to His will, no matter the cost. We must often wait for God’s timing.

I hope you can see that the answers to life always come from God’s Word. We must allow the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to His truth in Scripture. Then we may fully realize what a privilege it is to walk hand in hand with our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Only two kinds of "religion"

When it comes to "religion", have you ever considered there are only two types of worshippers in the world. And each is represented by either Cain or Abel portrayed way back in Genesis. Cain "worshipped" in his own way, deciding for himself what was acceptable to God. Abel on the other hand, intensely aware of the appalling nature of his sin, knew that a "life for a life" sacrifice was required by... God. He sacrificed the best lamb from his flock as a substitute for his own sin. Several thousand years later we see this portrait become reality with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the "spotless lamb of God". So which kind of worshipper are you? One who does your own thing or one who recognizes the propitiation of your sin offered through Jesus Christ?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Is Evolution compatible with the Bible?

Is evolution compatible with the Bible?

Are the truths of Scripture compatible with the tenets of evolution?  Before deciding, a greater question must first be asked.  Upon what authority will you base your decision?  Or better put; can we trust what Scripture tells us concerning creation and the origins of life?

You will find that the position of those favoring the evolutionary model is not actually based on scientific findings.  Evolution is not a “theory” so much as it is a world view.  It is flawed science at best.  Evolutionists take the position that God does not exist and therefore must find some other explanation for the world, universe and the existence of life.
Evidence for God’s supreme power and intelligence surrounds us both day and night, but the one who ignores the revelation that creation brings will ignore the revelation that comes from God’s Word.  If we claim to be followers of Christ, and say we believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, but also believe the claims of evolution, then the Bible must either be inaccurate, misleading, or wrong.  There are many theories and contrived explanations which try and bond evolution and Scripture.  Some of these are referred to as the gap theory, the day age theory, and the progressive creation theory.  Each of these explanations must rely on re-interpretations or the inaccuracy of scripture.  Those who expound these theories end up digging themselves into a theological hole.  They must then deny other scriptures which support the literal six-day account of creation stated in Genesis.  They begin a process of speculation which relies on human wisdom rather than God’s wisdom and truth.  As Christians, we must humbly submit to God’s revelation in His Word and in our lives.  In so doing, we are allowing God to be the authority, not man.

 Another way to put it:  Are you going to rely on the authority of a 4-pound mass of tissue between your ears to make accurate analysis of data that is thrown at it, or will you rely on the One who holds all knowledge and allow Him to reveal His truth to you? 

Let’s get back to the original question.  Are evolution and the Bible compatible?

 No, they are not.

Let’s first lay a foundation.  The eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews contains what has come to be known as the Heroes of the Faith Hall of Fame.  Before the names of these honored Saints of old are mentioned, the writer begins with a curious statement of faith. 

Hebrews 11:3 says this, “ By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”     

  How might we re-phrase that?  It appears that the very first step of faith is belief in creator God.  This stands in stark contrast to those who espouse the “Big Bang Theory” which states that all matter came from a condensed blob of hydrogen along with a host of other matter.  A big bang flung everything into space which just happened to form the intricate order of celestial objects which make up the known universe.

The following are just a few examples as to why Evolution and the Bible are not mutually compatible. 

1.                  Jesus attested to the authority of the Genesis account by stating in Matthew 19:4, “Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female,’” Are we to doubt Christ’s words?  He brought validity to the Genesis account of creation.  His words “at the beginning”, refers back to this account of creation.   And there they were; male and female, right from the very beginning.  We learn from Genesis that sin, death, and corruption in the world came through the fall of Adam and Eve.  Oh, and by the way, Genesis also tells us that in the beginning all living animals, including mankind, were vegetarians.    

 Genesis 1:29   Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.”                                                                                                              It wasn’t until after the flood that God gave Noah permission to eat meat.   (Genesis 9:3).                 

 Evolution relies on millions of years of death, disorder, and destruction before human beings ever came on the scene.  And yet, God declared that His creation was all “good” in the beginning.  Would God have used such a cruel, haphazard, inefficient, and wasteful processes to bring about this “good” creation?

According to the Bible, God did not create the world full of pain and death. Instead, it was the self-centered, rebellion, and wickedness of humans that spoiled the perfect peace and harmony which God had created.    In the words of Romans 8:19–21, because of man’s evil, the creation was “subjected to futility … and a bondage to corruption.”

2.                     We are told 10 times in Genesis that all living things were made “after its kind” which refers to the family of each living organism.  Macro evolution requires each family to mutate into another family. While each family of living things has reproduced many different species, they have not crossed over into another family.  Which is it?  Evolution or God’s Word?

Here’s the problem.  Science has never observed this happening, nor does the DNA code of information allow for macro evolution.  This would require new information to be added to the DNA code which is impossible, using known conclusive scientific observation.  And, by the way, DNA itself is a vast complex storehouse of information.  Imagine several million letters and words dropped from an airplane which, when landed, formed several volumes of Encyclopedias.  Yet, this is an illustration of what evolution would require you to believe. 

 3.                     The gods of evolution are time and chance.  Neither is a friend to evolution.  Mathematicians have time and time again shown just how improbable it would be for evolution to occur by “chance.”  That’s why some evolutionists have resorted to explaining life on earth as having come from aliens seeding the earth.  (Seriously – that explanation was provided by Richard Dawkins, a well-known atheist and evolutionist)  Yet, where would these aliens have come from?  We’ll read a bit later from Romans 1:18-25 and see where this line of reasoning originates.   Chance is a big factor in Evolution.  The Bible leaves nothing  to chance, but reveals a God who is in constant control of His creation.  Examine, not only the order and harmony of everything around you, but look at the history revealed through scripture.  God worked out His plan to bring about the Messiah, the Christ / Savior / Lord at the precise time and place in history.  God is the God of time and space. 

Ephesians 1:11 says this, 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will”

4.                    A symbiotic relationship exists between all life forms.  Each life form depends on the other for survival. Evolution cannot explain how each life form existed on its own for millions of years without this needed symbiotic relationship with other life forms.  This is why the six days of creation as outlined in Genesis is a viable means of life on earth.

5.                   According to the laws of thermodynamics, encompassing what is also known as entropy, states that all matter progresses from order to chaos; not the other way around.   Yet, evolution requires matter progressing from chaos to order, thus denying this well established law.  The Bible, too, states that life and matter is progressing from order to chaos.  The Bible states that the early generations of mankind lived for hundreds of years.  Life spans began to be shortened after the flood.   Again, Romans 8:19–21, tells us that the creation was “subjected to futility … and a bondage to corruption.”

6.                    Evolution relies on “beneficial mutations.”  There is no evidence to support the premise that a mutation strengthens any living organism.   Mutations always result in weakened life forms.  Mutations do occur.  Change does take place within a species.  Mutations result in disease and diseased organisms, and birth defects.  What does the Bible say as to reasons why this is so?  Again, the fall of man resulted in the entrance of sin and corruption as we read earlier. 
7.                    For evolution to work, it must depend on time.  Accumulated defective decay and corruption threatens life on this planet.  Time makes it more unlikely that things would go from chaos to order.  If not for a benevolent God, we would have long ago been consumed by all of this corruption.

8.                   Natural Selection is true.  The evolutionist got that one right.  This explains why there are varieties within families, genus, and species of plants and animals.  Natural selection helps explain how poodles came from the same line as wolves.   This is why Noah would not have necessarily had to bring every species and sub-species of animals on to the Ark.                                                                                                                                                                                                       
9.                   How about the age of the earth?  What about carbon dating, radioactive decay, chemical analysis of rocks, etc?   Over and over these methods are proving to be inaccurate.  Also, for each to work, it must make several assumptions.  For instance, the flood account in Genesis is thrown out entirely as having any viable explanation for the layers of rock and the age of the earth.  Could God have created the heavens and earth with the appearance of age?  Of course.  Could God have created heavenly light to give the appearance of billions of light years from earth?  The Bible contains 11 references to God who “stretches out the heavens.”  As it turns out, science has confirmed that the universe appears to be expanding or “stretching out.”  The Bible account is confirmed.

Why do so many people resort to the religion of evolution to explain life and the origin of the universe?     Romans 1:19-22 gives us a clue:

  19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools” (emphasis my own)

 This Biblical truth, in summary, explains and reveals why so many people refuse to simply believe God who created all things and reveals himself through His Word, the Bible.