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?

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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.

 

God vs god

I welcome discussion on this, and look forward to thoughts, so please share, and invite people to like the page, and join the discussion:
I asked  fellow Christians about whether or not the God of the bible and the gods of other religious writings were the same, and got some scary answers, as if Americans got to heaven one way, and the Japanese another, and Islamic states another. The crux of the issue is, are other religious writings from God too? Let us take a look at the Quran as a comparable.
We launch from the pre-supposition that the bible is fact, and was inspired by a holy creator, and we look at the question logically. God cannot contradict himself or lie, and therefore another holy book that contradicts the bible cannot be inspired by the same God. We could do this with the Vedas or Buddhist writings easily, and no one would challenge that they are speaking of the same paradigm. But what about Islam? Some verses to consider:
Does the Quran agree with the bible that Christ is God in the flesh, the only son of God, a considerable doctrinal truth in Christianity to say the least.
Surah 4:171 – …The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son…
Surah 23:91 – No son did Allah beget, nor is there any god along with Him: (if there were many gods), behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have lorded it over others! Glory to Allah! (He is free) from the (sort of) things they attribute to Him!
Furthermore, where is it that Christ will spend eternity according to the Quran?
Surah 3:45 says – Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah
yet
Surah 21:98 says – Indeed, you [disbelievers] and what you worship other than Allah are the firewood of Hell. You will be coming to [enter] it.
indicating that believers “and what (they) worship” will be firewood for hell, which would include worship of Jesus Christ.
Let us remember that Jesus was worshiped by the apostles as Lord, and
John 1:3, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
Col. 1:16-17, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Rev. 1:17, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.’”
Rev. 2:8, “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.”
John 8:24, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (NKJV)
John 8:58, “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I AM!”
Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
I would ask, with this disparity between the two works, would they both be written of the same God? would one so fully exalt Christ above all things, and the very same author deny His deity, position, omnipotence, and importance?
Whether you follow one school of thought or the other, that is your choice, but we must logically conclude that when it comes to what the author was trying to convey, the two are diametrically opposed. We also must conclude that since God cannot lie or contradict Himself, the Quran cannot contain the same god as the God found in the bible.
puts it this way, which I thought was a most logical and succinct way of viewing the entire issue:

Premise 1: Either the Bible is the Word of God or it is not.

Premise 2: If the Bible is the Word of God, the Qur’an is not.

Premise 3: If the Bible is not the Word of God, the Qur’an is not.

Conclusion: Therefore, the Qur’an is not the Word of God.

For a link to his article explaining this in greater detail,  click here.
(For reference, here is a list of Quran Scriptures that affirm the bible:

Surah Al-E-Imran 3: “He has revealed to you the Book with the truth [i.e. the Qur’an], confirming what has been before it, and has sent down the Torah and the Injil.”

Surah An-Nisa 136: “O you who believe, do believe in Allah and His Messenger and in the Book He has revealed to His Messenger and in the Books He has revealed earlier. Whoever disbelieves in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and the Last Day has indeed gone far astray.”

Surah An-Nisa 163: “Surely, We have revealed to you [i.e. Muhammad] as We have revealed to Nuh and to the prophets after him; and We have revealed to Ibrahim, Isma’il, Ishaq, Ya’qub and their children, and to Isa, Ayyub, Yunus, Harun, and Salaiman, and We have given Zabur [i.e. the psalms] to Dawud.”

Surah Al-Isra: “Your Lord knows best about all those in the heavens and the earth, and We have certainly granted excellence to some prophets over some others, and We gave Dawud the Zabur (the Psalms). Say, “Call those who you assume (to be gods), besides Him, while they have no power to remove distress from you, nor to change it.”“

Surah Al-Anbiya: “And We have written in Zabur (Psalms) after the advice that the land will be inherited by My righteous slaves.”

The Qur’an  also assert that the prophet Muhammad is prophesied in both the Old and New Testaments, although he is never mentioned. Consider the following verses:

Surah Al-Araf 157: “Those who follow the Messenger, the Ummiyy (unlettered) prophet whom they find written with them in the Torah and the Injil and who bids the what is fair and forbids what is unfair, and makes lawful for the good things, and makes unlawful for the impure things, and relieves them of their burden, and of the shackles that were upon them. So, those who believe in him and support him, and help him and follow the light sent down with him, those are the ones who are successful.”

Surah As-Saff 6: Remember when Isa, son of Maryam, said, “O children of Isra’il, I am a messenger of Allah sent towards you, confirming the Torah that is (sent down) before me, and giving you the good news of a messenger who will come after me, whose name will be Ahmad.” But when he came to them with manifest signs, they said, “This is a clear magic.”)

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.

The Power of Simplicity (abstract)

I was shaving, using an old-fashioned boars hair brush, and homemade farmer’s market shaving soap that smells like sandalwood and lavender, listening to Sinatra, and slowing the haste of the world with my breathing.

This idea of transcendent purpose has affected me as of late, a clinging to a purpose I can serve, one that is larger than the vanities of our day. King Solomon told us that “All is vanity” (Ecc. 1:2). If not but for God, it would seem that Solomon ended up a nihilist. He felt what we all feel eventually, that the toil of life mixed with the purposelessness found in the perfunctory grind of our daily action is the legacy of dead men walking.

We work diligently in thought and deed for great swaths of time towards goals we find give us a sense of relevance. These are different for all. Maybe you are saving the manatees. Perhaps you follow the political battles of Washington D.C., working hard each day to know and understand your platform, so you can defend it, prepared to forgive the trespasses on your side, and militantly oppose the other. You may march with signs. You may work towards a financial goal, or strive to build a business. Perhaps you pursue love, and escape in the delirium of intense desire. You build a world around a hope, an earthly hope that has no choice but to crumble under the weight of your expectations. No matter your interest, as it pulls you from ecstasy to the depths, and back again, any achievement or reciprocation received is short lived, and leads only to bitter unrest at the knowledge that any joy it brings will not endure.

Does this foreknowledge of failure make you negative? A pessimist? Being able to see the collapse of hope in the distance, and unable to stop it often makes us even more dedicated to our dream. It could even be stated that doubt and uncertainty are part of a recipe necessary for coveting that which we cannot live without. It is shocking the violence that takes place in the mind when our desires and fears mix. Compulsive daydreams infect how we perceive reality, and despite the real understanding that all will burn, along with the knowledge that we are helpless to stop it, we choose to run headlong towards an ecstatic finale we know is not there.

So then, what purpose transcends this inevitable disappointment? Further, what transcends our lives? Fame? Sex? Power? Glory? We would need a purpose that exists beyond our time here. One that makes us part of something much grander than our accomplishments. Robert Lewis wrote: “A transcendent cause must be truly heroic, timeless, and supremely meaningful.”

Upon reflection, there is only one thing in the universe that qualifies. That is Jesus Christ. And lo and behold, He has offered to make us a part of His transcendent story.

So these items we cherish, wine, love, money, they as blessings cause enjoyment in one who’s focus is on Christ. They are merely things He has placed in your path as you live and grow in sanctification. But, as idols, they take, and they keep taking, and no permanent  satisfaction will ever be attained from them. The idols like those I have sought to validate me, instead have devoured me, and refusing to admit they were there, it was to the depths I went. “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” (Psalm 32:3)

But to acknowledge this? How good I perceived myself as being versus how broken my actions had become? So twisted that God had to actually save loved ones from me? Deliver them from me, as I had become a catalyst for pain and lack of peace?  Who was this man I never meant to be? My heart desired what I dare not speak aloud, much less pray for. I coveted. I had false idols. I wished to steal (not just material things, but love, dignity, respect of others, time, freedom, for the most dire things stolen are not things at all). I am angry. I lust. This all means I bear false witness. A liar, especially to myself. One then who is blind to sins known since childhood, sins known to have been written by the very finger of God. What a pretty picture of a Christian.

And the result? Distance from God. Silence in prayer life. Anxiety. Inability to properly love others. Self-loathing. To be the clanging cymbal that has no love in his heart. Despair. And how much more, in these depths, did I rail against the world for my causes, or grasp harder for my purpose, my secular validation? Or, how much more did I escape, self-medicate, choose negligence, indifference. Has the man who militantly blames society for his pain examined his character?  Do the high ideals in the public square extend to his wife and kids? Does he bring the whole of himself home each night, as priest of it? Does he grab his wife’s hand and pray with her, or teach his son or daughter why the bible is true, or how to love? Does the daughter witness from him what she should expect out of a husband someday, or is this not a consideration the father should concern himself with? Can he put himself last and still hope for fulfillment when all the magic he desires is rationed to the fortunate unworthy standing in the wake of his life’s disintegration? Look in his eyes; he is simply not there.

Unfortunately, recognition of who we truly are must proceed change. When we all started this journey, we thought to ourselves, I will be this type of Christian, or this type of spouse, or this type of parent. My intentions are to be purposeful and knightly, and full of honor. But all is vanity; and distractions erode us; and idols fill us; and it isn’t long before we have forgotten how to love, because we have forgotten who loved us first.

The simplicity of life: “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3) The Alpha, the Omega, and your transcendent purpose. It need not be more complicated then this. All else, blessings to be enjoyed, or not.  In a world of distractions, and the great whirlwind of lives to compare and contrast yourself with, and the pressure of forcing idols to answer wishes for love and money, what if we take Christ at His word. What if it is enough? And in this power, as it allows you to love properly again, you live out the life you were meant to?

I was shaving, using an old-fashioned boars hair brush, and homemade farmer’s market shaving soap that smells like sandalwood and lavender, listening to Sinatra, and slowing the haste of the world with my breathing. Starting at the center of myself, and working out. The parts I could control. I could be thankful for the music, and the steam, and be blessed to feel the satisfaction of a proper shave, and the calm in which this romantic chore took place. Like an artist who paints a leaf, there was beauty in the smallness of the moment, and I was “allowed” to be part of it. From here, what man would I chose to be? I could step out and complain about money, or Washington D.C., or be anxious for investment returns, or escape into a fantasy of love never actualized. Would these actions help me love others the way they needed to be loved? The way they deserve to be loved by me?

Or can I step outside the walls of my bathroom and be a different man; a simpler man, and not concentrate on the periphery of the world, but on my walk down the hallway, the embrace of my child, the prayer that my loved ones deserve, the health and wellness my body deserves, the study of scripture that my God deserves. I could ask God to teach me to love others better, and then make efforts to do that. Imagine it! Edifying others without seeking gain!

But I wanted them all to think I was smart, and special, and attractive. I wanted to be worth something to everyone.

But would my worth, according to them, change at all how I could love them, if I was loving them properly? Can I change that? No. I can change only me.

This will change my home. Which will change my church. Which may change my town. Which may change the state. Which may change the country. Which may change the world. But I leave this to God. I won’t yell at you about who you are supposed to be. I will do better at what I should have been doing. Overtime, perhaps I can be forgiven for having loved so badly, and so selfishly. But, it was coming from my flesh, not Christ, so it was bound to an inherently faulty foundation. If I can truly make Christ first, then how I see the world, how I love the world, everything changes. And everything is simplified into one transcendent purpose. Suddenly, I feel blessed just to be allowed to enjoy any of this silly old world at all.

Micah 6:8 – He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Colossians 3:23 – Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,

Hebrews 12:1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us

Isaiah 49:4 – But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God.”

And so, I was just shaving, using an old-fashioned boars hair brush, and homemade farmer’s market shaving soap that smells like sandalwood and lavender, listening to Sinatra, and slowing the haste of the world with my breathing. And I thanked God.

Fundamentals, Heroes, and Rabbit Trails

As an author, sometimes, I get caught up in apologetics, and science. It can be a mentally stimulating distraction. But the truth is, though my writing and research may help fortify the faith of others, or raise good questions, or even give people confidence that there is someone out there who “actually” believes that the bible is still real, and relevant, in a world where the power of mankind is idolized, I don’t expect to change many hearts, if any. I dare say, that is not my job, and furthermore, I continue to work on my own as well, learning through study and regurgitating facts, bolstering my faith, wading through the perceived relative truth of the day. But as much as I enjoy learning and teaching, my heart remains… we will say… a work in progress.

One thing I noticed upon meeting some of the apologetic greats of our time, and that is, they had the fundamentals down. They seemed stoic and stable. These were not houses of cards ready to tumble at the first sign of strife. They were prayed up, and forged, soldiers bought by the blood of Christ. It wasn’t just knowledge, and facts, and answers. They loved what they did, and they love the Lord.

Each of us must prepare our hearts, in our own way for what’s to come, what is here, what we walk through. And I would go out on a limb and guess that each of us, despite the constant motion of our trudging actions towards goals, we internally and continually fight off doubt, search for meaning and purpose, and attempt to validate our existences in some form or another. For some it is sexual conquest. For others it is money, others power. But John Eldridge illustrates in his book, Wild at Heart, this common theme of validating ourselves through God, a theme I relate to in my mind, but struggle with in my heart. The bible supports this theme, through Solomon’s Ecclesiastical outlook on the vanity of all things not God, among other places.

But with so many barometers for success held in high esteem all around us, and so many desires in the human heart to chase what makes us happy, despite all morality or consequence, how hard is it to simply be satisfied with who you are in Christ. To present yourself to the world, damaged, and unafraid. Vulnerable. At home in Him. The truth is, the world would eat you up, and spit you out if you did this. Furthermore, I don’t have the strength to do it.

I’ve been in constant prayer as of late, not under the illusion that I will change God’s mind to conform to mine, but instead to search for His will in my life, and to ask for His will to be done in the lives of those I love. I realize I am not the solution, but He is. That I can’t heal myself or others, but He can. I can’t forgive myself, but He did forgive me.

I wanted so badly to be the hero of the love story. To be the one who changed hearts, and gave loved ones sanctuary, and to quell their fears. I wanted my book, my advice, my words, my caring, to be powerful forces in their journeys. I wanted credit in the form of affection for my effectiveness. I wanted the love that was “owed” to me because of all I had accomplished. I wanted to be enough. I am not.

After much prayer, the Lord has seen fit to grant me some perspective, some empathy, and to look at things from outside of the narrow, self-serving lens through which I view them. It is with this perspective that I sense the deep well of pain within others that I do not remove, and cannot touch, and upon which I have no affect. Who did I think I was? Simply the offering of a broken vessel when someone asks you to hold their water.

Furthermore, all the wise words I have collected, and studied, and regurgitated has not healed my own heart. Because my love is insufficient. You know the verse, made popular as a wedding day staple:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.”

It rolls out of us automatic, and we hear it and feel comforted as if those qualities are imbued to us because of our worth. But it is a command, and we fall short. It is a warning, and we fail. What’s more, the warning before it states plainly that my endeavors are simply a clanging instrument, fit for nothing but to annoy, if I do not first have this type of love. I do not.

I have not been patient. I am not kind. I am rude. I am envious and resentful. I struggle to endure, and I struggle to keep hope. How then, can I be anyone’s hero. I cannot save anybody.

I wanted so desperately to be the paladin. The knight that edified those I love. In trying, I engage, and re-engage, jealously coveting accolades and kudos meant for my thoughtfulness, and resenting achieved value obtained by vehicles other than myself. I beg for compliments to sustain my self-worth, and when they fade, I crave reassurance, like an addict. I force answers and demand change, because in my heart I think that I really ought to be enough. I am not.

Let us then let the truth shine.

I am the clanging cymbal. So, to all those to whom I have spoken with insufficient, imperfect love, I am sorry.

I am not light. Christ is.

I am not a sanctuary for anyone in my brokenness. Christ is.

My love is not sufficient to save anyone. Christ’s is.

I am no lion. Christ is. 

I am no one’s king. Christ is.