Endurance Through Trials

Romans 5 : 1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Been meditating on this verse lately. Trying to, though counter-intuitive, be grateful for sufferings. Each of us bears his or her own loss, or bitterness of heart. Having been broken in love, or denied goals, having drank the anguish of defeat, often it causes us to resolve ourselves to hopelessness.

Charles Spurgeon said, “The mind can descend far lower than the body, for in it there are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in 10,000 ways, and die over and over again each hour.”

But, in wading through these things, we do good to remind ourselves of a couple of key truths. Firstly, For by him [Christ] 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. (Col 1:16)

Also consider, John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

God has given us creation to enjoy, to be sure; love, wine, nature, a myriad of pleasures, but that only works if our hope and focus is on Him. When we look to the world to make us happy, finding sustaining life in the world is impossible. Welch put it this way:

“When you observe life and listen to wise people, you will quickly find that it is not about us, which hurts our pride but is a welcome relief. We simply can’t invest our hopes, dreams, and love in the self because it was never intended to carry such freight. For that matter, there is nothing created that was intended to sustain such hopes. Creation is to be enjoyed, but we don’t put our trust in it. The only alternative is God himself.” -Welch, Edward T.. Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness (Kindle Locations 913-916). New Growth Press. Kindle Edition.

If we face bitterness and continue to long for that which we feel we are owed, even owed by God, then our resentment towards Him would distance us from that which is most important, would it not? If Christ is the door, the way, the truth, if indeed the greatest command is to love God above all else, then it could be determined that any trials, though not caused by God, are allowed to happen, in order to bring about the truth of this reality.

Paul said, it is better for you to lose your life and save your soul. Again, very counter-intuitive with how the world thinks. But imagine a world where every pleasure and desire was realized, and those pleasures kept you perpetually from seeking God. That life is still subject to entropy, and eventual death. Would it not be better to endure trials that “produce perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope?”

This has led me to conclude, rather reluctantly, that I am grateful for my trials. I say this carefully, not wishing certainly to evoke more, God forbid. But, my bitterness has certainly exposed the worst parts of me, it has exposed all of what I need to work on, and all I have put my hope in other than God Himself.

If the rest of my life, hypothetically, were devoid of all joys, stripped of all hope of love, and robbed of all entertainments, and ego-boosting assurances, understanding this one fact, that it is God’s love that will sustain me, then it is not a life wasted.

That is not to say, that nothing should be enjoyed. You won’t see me moving to a stone-built monastery in the Alps this year leaving my LOTR extended addition behind, or selling my car and living with the Amish (though I am sure they are much happier than many of the people who are plugged deeply into the world). But the folly of dependence upon people or things is lessened, as I focus my hope on Him, who has promised to sustain me, not just now, but always. John 5:24 “Truly, Truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes in Him who sent Me, has eternal life…”

Yes it is counter-intuitive. But I am grateful for my trials.

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The God Chromosome

1.

“How did you two meet?”

“His name came up during my analyst team’s search for an expert in the field of obstetrics.” Chris Devereux was even keeled in his delivery. There was no longer the weight of navigating protocols and politics upon his shoulders. This was a free man. “I didn’t know we would become so close. I suppose I didn’t realize how distant I was from everyone until we met.”
“How close did you become with Dr. Riley?”
“In the short time that I knew him, hmmm, that’s a tough question. I will say he had a terrific impact on my life. On who I am, and what I believe. I owe him everything.”

“I understand that you were friends, but how do you justify that statement, ‘owe him everything’.” The questioner adjusted his glasses as he and his associate typed Christopher’s responses into their e-hubs. The room was cold, and clinical. The wall to Chris’s right was a one-way mirror, and Chris found himself wondering if there was anyone observing from the other side that had dealings with him in the past. As an Analyst in Charge for the Atlanta Accountability Office, he had often flown up to the Hill to debrief with members of Homeland Security often.

Chris leaned in and spoke plainly, “I was blind, but now I see.” He rubbed the stubble on his chin, such a contrast to the classic Oxford refinement that had been so axiomatic for 16 years. He had lost weight since going off the grid. Less drinking, less sedentary. He looked good, a fit frame, square jaw line, and engaging brown eyes that had seen through lies for an entire career.

“With him gone, why did you come back to D.C.? Was it for,” the interviewer’s finger swiped through files, “Cassandra? Cassandra Hale?”

“Yes. Last time I talked to Cassie, I told her I would find her, and explain to her why I left and went off grid.”

“Well Christopher, that is precisely what we would like to know. You realize disseminating that report, how you wrote it, how you went to the news. You personally caused the deaths of thousands of Americans. You are looking dead in the face of treason charges. Do you understand that?”
“I understand that that is Homeland Security’s perspective. Yes.”
“So you deny causing the deaths of thousands of people?”
“Is this office blaming me for the actions of thousands of people who are free to act as they wish?”
“For inciting riots, smart guy.” The associate next to the guy-with-glasses finally spoke up, and was sternly announcing his presence.
“I do not mind sharing the details of our case, sirs. And if it is the choice of this office to lay the blame for this country’s reaction to the truth at my feet, then so be it. But whether it came from me, or from the failure of Platinum Labs to deliver a cure in the previous weeks, you know that this country was already set to rip itself apart. But I understand this office needs a scapegoat. I find it strange that I am it, but what are you going to do, right?”
The stern associate interjected again, “Do not accuse this office of drumming up some strawman to burn at the stake for the sake of quelling the masses! You know very well the parameters of your position as Analyst in Charge, and you broke the law!”

Glasses-guy stepped on his associate’s sentence with his own calmer brand of accusation, “Chris, Chris. At this time, we are charged with ascertaining the facts. It isn’t about guilt or innocence yet. Yes, I’m sure there will be a trial, and I am sure you knew what laws were being broken at the time you chose to break them. Clearly you felt justified in doing so. We will get to that.” He adjusted his glasses again, letting the tension wind down a bit from his partner’s aggression. “You have been nothing but cooperative, and we have no reason to believe you will stop being so. Let’s just start with the initial work order matrix. You were commissioned by Congressman Dumas from Tennessee to conduct an analysis of Platinum Labs, is that correct?”

Chris looked at bad-cop, and then at Glasses, wondering if they had planned their approach in the hall before entering. “May I have a coffee? I imagine we will be here awhile. We might as well make ourselves comfortable.”

Glasses leaned back and to the left, and spoke to the mirror, “Can we please get a coffee in here for Mr. Devereux. Terry? Coffee?” Bad-cop nodded. “Just make it three coffees please. Thank you.”
“Yes, it was the Congressman from Tennessee that initiated the request. But it wasn’t Platinum. It was a branch of Platinum, the RIGHT Project. It was Alex Dumas’ opinion, one which I ended up agreeing with, that several people from within the government had hooked their wagons to the inevitable fiscal success of Platinum through this new project. He was pursuing his own political options to weed out corruption surrounding the project, but our specific task was more refined in nature. It was to investigate the chances of the RIGHT project to save the human race.”
“And for the record,” said Glasses, “state what the RIGHT Project is, please.”

“RIGHT stands for Recovery Initiative for the Genome of Humanity Team.”

2nd Law of Thermodynamics

I posted this pic on my Facebook author page, https://www.facebook.com/cooper.author/;

31913695_588273344874387_7039792427137236992_nand as you can plainly see, one of the assertions in this meme is that the theory of evolution violates the law of entropy, or the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Disregarding for a moment all the other assertions, I had a friend who has an interest in the creation vs evolution debate single out this law, and ask me how specifically the law is violated by the evolutionary theory. Evolutionists claim that the theory does not violate any known laws of physics, including the second law.

What is the second law? Thermodynamics refers to the relationship between energy, heat, and matter. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that as energy is transferred or transformed, more and more of it is wasted. The Second Law also states that there is a natural tendency of a system to degenerate into a more disordered state, or experience entropy (disorder). This means on a long enough timeline, these systems will experience a heat death, or an energy death, where potential energy will cease to be available. People like to say, ‘everything tends towards chaos.’

Now, the main caveat that evolutionists will include is that this applies only to isolated systems, and not to open systems, or systems that exchange matter and energy with the systems around it. They will say that the universe, the Earth, these are open systems, and therefore materials and energy can be added to them, which of course, is correct. The sun, for example, adds energy to the Earth constantly. So does it all depend on whether the system is open or not?

First, lets define the three systems; isolated, closed, and open.

An isolated system shares zero matter and energy with the systems around it. Without intelligent interference, these systems will wind down.

Then there are closed, which only share energy, not matter, and open, which share both energy and matter with its surrounding systems, such as Earth, receiving materials from space (debris, meteors, maybe comets, etc), as well as energy and heat.

But, the interesting thing is, the 2nd law applies to these open systems as well, despite the evolutionist’s claim to the contrary. Dr John Ross of Harvard University states:
“… there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics. Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems. … There is somehow associated with the field of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics the notion that the second law of thermodynamics fails for such systems. It is important to make sure that this error does not perpetuate itself.”

Open systems still move towards disorder. There are some instances, in an open system, where order is increased, at the expense of a net loss of order in the surrounding systems, such as in crystals. But it is important to note, as Dr Jonathan D. Sarfati B.Sc. (Hons.), Ph.D., F.M. points out, there is a huge difference between order, and complexity. A crystal is not increasing information, just aligning and repeating. If one breaks open a crystal, the same repeated alignment is still present, but in smaller chunks. Whereas, if one breaks a cell, or a frog, one destroys the complexity, and thereby destroys the system completely.

Plus, and this is key, you cannot pump raw energy into a system and expect order and increased complexity. It destroys. Stand in the desert sun for awhile and see if your body can utilize the energy of the sun. One anti-creationist states that ice cubes prove adding energy can create order. However, that is through an intelligently designed device, a freezer. Adding raw energy would heat water, and increase disorder, creating steam and air. Plants have a built in mechanism, and language (DNA), and components that enable it to harness the sunlight. We have the intelligence to harness it with devices such as solar panels. We can utilize our designed intelligence to create things from food, to structures, and thereby can create order with intelligence, which is the only way order can be actually created.

This is why entropy rails so hard against the theory of evolution. It is only with an intelligent designer that order has appeared, and through observing how nature utilizes energy to create function and order, whether an open closed system or not, we see once again that “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” – Romans 1:20.

It took intelligence to make the universe, and life, a sensible deduction because as we observe every time, it takes a directed harness and intelligence to use it. So again, we see that observable, repeatable, demonstrable science supports a designer, rather than random chance.

All sides of the debate agree that the universe as a whole is winding down, that it had a beginning, and will one day, on a long enough timeline, experience a heat death. We see entropy in everything from the non-beneficial mutations of the human genome, to the aging of our bodies, to lunar regression, to even the sun itself having a finite amount of fuel to burn. Evolutionists must continually rail against good science to prop up their theory so as to “not let a divine foot in the door,” by inventing ways the universe could have randomly ordered itself, sustained itself, and perpetuated itself. Stars must explode to make more stars, proteins must increase in complexity to become life, the magnetic field of Earth must self-sustain for billions of years (even though we observe it losing magnetism [called the dynamo theory – insert eye-roll here]), and proponents of the theory must assert loudly that their side is the only one that practices good science.

Without intelligence to harness and utilize available energy, regardless of the type of system, we see the universal 2nd law of thermodynamics is very much on the side of creation. The fall back for evolutionists is of course to invoke great amounts of time to solve the problem; the “anything possibly can happen if given enough time” faith. But time only increases entropy. Ask yourself if it is good science to believe that if a cat walks on a keyboard long enough, he will write a book. Now realize that in the simplest  organism, there are 1000 pages worth of specific genetic coding. Knowing the 2nd law is true, how do you arrive there without intelligence?

Trust

God has seen fit to grant me great faith. I say this, without boasting, for even at my worst, when all my lights faded, I knew the word to be true. I believed in the reality of God, an awesome creator, and author of real love and salvation. Belief became obvious for me. Yet, trusting Him, and trusting Christ through the day to day, through the broken plans, and the if-onlys, and the dreams of how I saw things going, this is where I falter, this is part of being sanctified, part of our endurance, part of our refinement, as I understand it. A lesson that despite my faith, I fail over and over. Trusting God, trusting in His plan, His laws, His instruction, His goals, His kingdom over my own wishes; for my wishes seem right to me, seem possible, seem magical, and seem more important.

Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It says so in 1 Corinthians 12:

8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in various tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues…

I have been on the precipice of despair, I have felt the hopelessness of all my remaining years, I have wrestled with the imminent death of those I have loved, and I have walked through many a failing dream, and at my lowest low, this faith that God was ultimately above all things never left me, and at times was most likely the only thing that saved me.

But still… as these trials linger, and my search for purpose rolls onward, I find once more I have screamed into the wind, that I have built secular temples and trappings, that I have compared myself to all those who are what I am not, because I fail to walk with trust. And so enduring each trial becomes a stubborn reminder that I have not learned.

James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Joshua 1:9 says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Psalms 56:3 says, “when I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

Not in myself, or my plans, but in Him. Psalms 20:7, some trust in chariots, some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord.

We are told not to lean on our own understanding, which seems counter-intuitive as a young Christian. But as I have gotten older, and have seen the failures of my own understanding, this instruction begins to slip past the pride of my heart, and starts making sense. Trust.

So as we look to the future, we trust. We pray and trust. Even when we do not see a hope. We make decisions each day, we try to be ready for whatever purpose, whatever end; but we trust.

We plan our tomorrows with such pride and tenacity, don’t we? The dreaming, building up around us all that we deem pleasing. The reality of these hopes never remain, it is the way of a thousand small deaths.

James 4:13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

So on this day, May 5th, 2018, I consider the question, what will I be doing in 5 years; what has God ordained that I cannot yet see? What successes, or what hopelessness, or what cynicism, or what love. It will be interesting to see the reality of May 5th, 2023, in comparison with my mind’s wishes, or fears. All my useless what-ifs. So I pray again for trust, and say again, if it is the Lord’s will…

Perhaps it is time to have trust in our faith. Not just faith in Him. Not just trust in self.  “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” – Revelations 21:5

Perhaps trust in God is the key to curing the bitter heart.

Is There a God? How Do We Answer?

Obviously, to become a Christian, you must come to believe that there must be a Creator God of the universe. This is an essential step between non-belief and Christ as Lord of your life, but this very basic and obvious truth is attacked, and done so with such vigor, and under the guise of logic, materialism, and science, that it can be an intimidating hurdle for Christians to even explain how it is we know there must be a God.

Certainly there are many ways to unpack this particular question, but the three main logical responses are:

Cosmological

Teleological

Moral

Certainly our bible tells us “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” – Romans 1:20, This is a true claim, does prove to be accurate, but cannot necessarily be used as an argument against an atheist who gives no credence to the Bible yet. In other words, though the bible is true in its message, if a person doesn’t believe in a god, much less the God, why would they believe in anything that God says.

It used to be quite obvious that people were created, designed, that all of this organized world could not have come from nothing. The axiomatic truth was known to great philosophers, such as Aristotle, who called the creator the “Unmoved Mover..” It was clear to him that someone or something must have started everything, because science, is ultimately the search for causes, and something must always cause other things. Things do not, and never have been observed to have been caused by nothing whatsoever.

Cosmological, simply put, is the shared opinion of both naturalists and theists alike that the universe had a beginning. Things like the 2nd law of thermodynamics, and the general theory of relativity have led both theistic and non-theistic scientists to conclude that the universe had a beginning. Einstein himself stated being “irritated” that his equations pointed to a beginning, so much so that the great mathematician put a fudge factor into his work (dividing by zero!) in order to perpetuate a steady state theory. Arthur Eddington found this proof “repugnant” and said, “The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural.”

Like it or not, both sides are forced to deal with a beginning, and science continues to drive home the point that not only is a slow heat death occurring, but that “nothing” cannot cause something. There must be a first cause. Whether we believe that nothing caused the universe, or God did, both would qualify as anti-naturalistic miracles.

Teleological proof is simply the watchmaker theory, or an argument from design. There is much research on this, from the irreducible complexity of the eyeball, and human knee, to the detail and beauty of the peacock feather, to the written coded language in our genetic code, 1000 encyclopedias-worth of messages written into each cell in the correct order, in order to create and sustain life. We could walk into a cave and see a picture or message written simply by an ancient culture, and know that it was created, yet this obvious complex and stunning language to make and sustain life is somehow viewed as mere chance. Design is a powerful argument for a designer. In Dawkin’s book, the blind watchmaker, Dawkins himself states how things have the “appearance of design,” a logical and scientific conclusion, but rejects this based on his philosophy and world view, not because of any scientific reason, merely because for him it cannot be true. This is a philosophical rejection.

Thirdly, the moral argument, a basic standard of right and wrong. How do we know things are wrong? What makes the Nazis, baby killers, rapists wrong, and helping people right? An atheist would say that that it is a natural response to help perpetuate a society, but that is subjective, and when analyzed, does not hold water. If we can agree that any one thing is objectively wrong, above and beyond our own opinions and subjective standards, then there must be an objective good. A correct law (yes, written on our hearts) demands a law-giver. Without this, it is simply he who has the bigger stick that makes the laws. We have seen the results of this throughout history, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, from slavery, to genocide, to abortion. Without moral law, people do not by default fall into a paradigm that “works best” for society. It is a matter of opinion. If there is in fact a moral objective, then we should of course find it, and try to follow it. Seeking which morality is correct is maybe another topic, but agreeing that there is one, at this stage, is the goal.

These three arguments define quite simply why it is logical to believe in a creator. It is obvious from observing causes, winding down of the universe, time space and matter, life, that there must be a timeless, space-less, immaterial, personal, intelligent creator. This is the description of the God of the bible. It is merely good science, good logic, good philosophy.

Keep in mind, it is okay to doubt things, doubting helps us adjust our thinking, and leads us to research and find truth, but the evidence doesn’t change. If you go back and forth, good day you believe, and a bad day you struggle with faith, it is you and your emotions that change, not the evidence. The evidence for God, for historicity of the New Testament remain constant and readily available.

 

Gabriel Leaves Persia – Sonnet

Canon has them rushing towards the battle
As it spread with creeds from their commander
Fire from the ghostly horse’s saddle
Pestilence and axes promise danger

Gabriel resisted one and twenty
Here in mighty Persia, souls we settle
Blood and crimson coal keep pyres fiery
Prince and king but tools of raging devil

Pike and shield in hand, the valley’s covered
Slain and strewn the flesh of men the payment
Heaven watches sober, scythe them over
Soon the prince of Greece will add their raiment

Why has Michael’s power loosed his hand here?
Worthy risk to bring the Book of Truth near

 

Attempted my first Sonnet, Trochaic pentameter: Based on Daniel chapter 10, when Gabriel leaves the fight over Persia to speak with Daniel and relay prophecy. There are fourteen lines in a Shakespearean sonnet. The first twelve lines are divided into three quatrains with four lines each. In the three quatrains the poet establishes a theme or problem and then resolves it in the final two lines, called the couplet. The rhyme scheme of the quatrains is abab cdcd efef. The couplet has the rhyme scheme gg. © 12 hours ago, J.R.

Renewal of My Mind

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…

Living with joy is not always an easy endeavor, and yet, as a Christian, I know that my life is supposed to be a letter to others:  2 Corinthians 3:3 “And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

This joy that Paul discusses over and over, and the reason he is able to praise God in even dire circumstances is due to the transcendent purpose of Christ in His life, and in the lives of those whom he cares for. This allows for a person’s heart to be filled with gladness, and love, and hope, even when all earthly pleasures have been stripped away. But our daily thoughts can be consumed by things we want, things we lack, people we are envious of, false idols, people or powers that stand above our love of Christ in our minds. So how do we renew our minds, and focus on the only thing that truly matters? (For why it is the only thing that matters, check out this blog from last year.)

I would state first that this is something I have not mastered, and am presently working on. My goal is to eventually live with the joy of Christ fully, and for my life to be a letter, a testament to that hope I have in Him. But putting away all the messy darkness must start with prayer, and there are several verses I pray and meditate on daily as I work towards keeping Jesus Christ as the transcendent purpose of my life:

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

In regards to putting the past behind me, old idols, old hopes, old sadness, old worries, I use this: Philippians 3:13 “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way…”

Him alone? Psalms 62:1 “For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.”

All those things we attempt to gain by our flesh, do we someday realize that God intends to give us these freely, if we but humble ourselves:

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
1 Peter 5:10

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” 1 Peter 5:6

This is so powerful. This is freedom from all anxiety, all regret, all pain. I’ve tried to establish my life on my own, my heart on my own. I failed. All was impasse, what love I could muster was selfish, half measures, and insufficient to establish anyone, least of all myself and those I loved. I died there, at the dead end of my decisions, my will. Luckily the mighty hand of God is expert at resurrection. I am thankful for my failures, for there is nothing more humbling than the death of all the best efforts of my heart.

So… the question is, are we humble enough to be truly care-free? I ponder this, and how to walk forward with a renewed mind, singularly focused on the only source of lasting joy. I am free then, to love others as He would have me love others, under His power, and because He first loved me. I hope this is a renewal of my mind, for I need the will of God to replace my own. My own is flawed, and only hurts. I trust His far more.