|God's Guidance in History|
In the book What Has Christianity Ever Done For Us? one of the things talked about is the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1436. Why was the printing press invented at that point in history? Could it be because for the first time in history there was a movement to translate the Bible into the languages of the people? For about 1000 years the Bible had been available only in Latin, the language of scholars. But now voices were declaring that all people should have the right to read God's Word for themselves. John Wycliffe had already created an English translation (about 1382). William Tyndale was about to follow suit (in 1524), for which he would be burned at the stake. And Martin Luther—hiding from his enemies in a lonely castle, and growing a big beard as a disguise—was about to produce one in the German language (1522). Was it a coincidence that Gutenberg invented his printing press about this time—when the Bible, for the first time, was being translated into the people's languages, and ready to be mass-produced. Or was God overseeing history and ensuring the spread of His Gospel?
Reference: What Has Christianity Ever Done For Us?, Jonathan Hill, pp 8-14.
|The Making of a Brave|
One American Indian tribe had a unique practice for training young braves. On the night of his 13th birthday, a boy was blindfolded and taken into the middle of a dense forest. He was left all alone, the first time he'd been away from the security of his family and tribe. When he took off the blindfold, he was there in the dark forest. All alone. All night.
If a twig snapped, he wondered if a wild animal was ready to pounce. If an animal howled, he imagined a wolf coming for him. The wind in the leaves brought to his mind all kinds of sinister images.
Finally, if the boy persevered, the first rays of morning began to lighten the forest. He saw the trees, the flowers, the outline of the path. Then, to his astonishment, he saw a man standing a few feet away: his father! Standing there with bow and arrow, watching over him—where he'd been all night.
When you're going through a dark time, remember that, when the darkness clears, you'll see your Father there with you. His love is watching over you.
Reference: SoulSalsa, Leonard Sweet, pp. 23-24.
|God's Name Represents God Himself|
"Disney." What do you think of when you hear that name? Do you think of a young shy boy from Chicago who wanted to be a cartoonist? Probably not. What did you think of? Maybe a movie (The Little Mermaid or Lion King), or a theme park (Disney Land or Disney World), or a cartoon character (Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck). You probably don't think of the man Walt Disney, who died in 1966, but of all his name has come to represent. There is power in a name. It is more than just some letters strung together to make a certain sound. A name represents someone or something. God's name represents God Himself. Therefore, it should be held in highest honor, as the Third Commandment teaches (Exodus 20:7).
In a radio broadcast, Charles Swindoll told a story from the last months of World War II. The British were conducting daily bombing raids over Berlin. The bombers took off from an airstrip in England and flew surrounded by smaller fighter planes whose job it was to keep German fighters from attacking the bombers, which were easy targets.
One night after a successful bombing raid, as they were heading for the safety of England, the bombers were attacked by a large group of German fighter planes. Somehow, during the dogfight, one bomber found itself flying alone with no protection, and suddenly a German fighter appeared out of nowhere. The crew of the bomber watched as the German plane moved closer and closer, until finally it was in range. They prepared for the worst and watched helplessly as tracer bullets began spitting from the fighter. Bullets whizzed by them, over and under, until Thud! Thud! Thud! Thud! Thud—five bullets slammed into the fuselage of the bomber near the gas tank. The crew braced for the explosion, but nothing happened. They could see fuel pouring from the bullet holes, but there was no explosion. Miraculously, they made it back to their base and got safely off the plane.
A few hours after they landed, one of the mechanics showed up in the crew's barracks. He had found five bullets inside the fuel tanks, crumpled but not exploded. He handed them to the pilot. The pilot carefully opened the shells and to the crew's amazement found each one empty of explosive. Inside one was a tiny wad of paper. When he unfolded the paper, he found a note. It read, "We are Polish POW's, forced to make bullets in factory. When guards do not look, we do not fill. Is not much, but is best we can do. Please tell family we are alive." The note was signed by four Polish prisoners of war. I imagine those POWs figured their predicament made no sense, that no good could possibly come out of it. I wonder if they ever knew that their act of service saved lives. God can bring good out of any circumstance, and our smallest acts of service can have far-reaching results.
|Conversion of Europe|
Historian Bruce Shelley, in his Church History in Plain Language, writes about the conversion of Europe to Christianity:
The bristling forests of northern Europe were inhabited by barbarian tribes who sacrificed animals and worshiped nature spirits among the trees and beside the streams. Any missionary who ventured among them, with any hope of conversions, had to demonstrate the superior power of the Christian spirits.
The most famous incident tells of one eighth-century missionary named Boniface who marched into a shrine in Germany, the sacred forest of Thor, the god of thunder. The cult object was a massive oak. Boniface, so the story goes, took an axe to it. Just as he leveled the first stroke, a mighty breath of wind from God toppled the tree. The pagans marveled and were converted. Boniface used the wood to build a chapel to Saint Peter.
That is the stuff that made Europe Christian. The missionary monks overthrew barbarian magic by calling down superior powers. God blew, and the tree fell. A miracle here and a victorious battle there; and the Germans were ready for baptism.
Reference: Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), p. 152
|The Edge of the Universe|
To get an idea how vast the universe is—and how wondrous it is that God fills it all with His presence—let's take a mental journey to the edge of the universe. Let's take this journey at the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second (per second, not hour). "One thousand one"—in the time it took me to say that, at the speed of light you would have traveled more than 7 times around the Earth! That's how fast we'll be traveling. Ready? Let's go: Whoosh! Traveling at the speed of light, we reach the edge of our Solar System on the day we left it. We're making good time, and we might think that we're going to reach the edge of the universe before long. But…. After leaving our Solar System, it will take 5 and ½ light years (5 and ½ years of traveling at 186,000 miles per second) to reach the nearest stars to our sun, the Alpha Centauri System. And our journey has just begun…. It will take 100,000 light years to reach the point where—looking back from our mental spaceship—we can view the spiral shape of our own Milky Way Galaxy. It will take 5 million light years to reach the point where—looking back—we can view the cluster of galaxies the Milky Way is a part of, known as the Local Group. It will take 14 billion light years (14 billion years traveling at 186,000 miles per second) to journey to the edge of the universe, the point where—looking back—we make out the large-scale structure of the universe. (And we really haven't reached the end of the universe; it is still expanding.)
Do you get a sense of how incomprehensibly vast our universe is, and how amazing it is that God fills it all? But Isaiah said, "He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in" (Isaiah 40:22). The whole universe is the "tent" God lives in.
Reference: The Privileged Planet, DVD, by Illustra Media
|God Looks Ahead|
Warren Wiersbe: "The word ‘providence’ comes from two Latin words: pro, meaning ‘before, ’ and video, meaning ‘to see. ’"
God's providence means that He sees before what's going to happen in our lives, and makes arrangements to meet our needs in advance.
Reference: The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Volume 2, Warren Wiersbe, p. 97
|He Calls the Stars by Name|
Isaiah 40:26 says that God has a name for each star (He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name). The modern telescope has revealed what a remarkable truth this is. Before the telescope, about 3000 stars could be counted in the sky with the naked eye. But now we know that there are about 10 billion trillion stars out there! That's an inconceivably large number of stars, but God has a name for each one of them.
|Einstein and the Creator|
By 1916 Albert Einstein's theory of General Relativity had predicted that the universe was expanding. Why was this a big deal? Because an expanding universe meant a universe that had a beginning point. This would be obvious if the expansion of the universe had been videotaped: you could rewind the tape, and you would see the universe shrinking back in on itself to its beginning point and to nothing. There was as of yet no evidence for an expanding universe; Einstein's theory just predicted it. But he wasn't happy about the idea! In fact, he later called it "irritating." Why? Because he knew that a beginning point meant a Beginner—a Creator. Up to this point Einstein was a believer in the Steady State theory of the universe, which held that the natural universe itself was eternal (had always existed, no one made it). And here his own theory was predicting that he was wrong.
(In fact, the idea bothered him so much that he made what he later called "the greatest blunder of my life." He introduced a cosmological constant into his equations, which later came to be called Einstein's "fudge factor," and which was soon revealed as an algebraic error. This was how badly he wanted to avoid the idea of a beginning.)
But then in 1927 Edwin Hubble, looking thru the 100-inch telescope at California's Mount Wilson Observatory, saw visible evidence of an expanding universe. He discovered a "red shift" in the light coming from the other galaxies. A "red shift" is what occurs in the light spectrum if the source of the light is moving away from you. It was conclusive, visible evidence of an expanding universe.
Two years later, in 1929, Einstein made his own pilgrimage to Mount Wilson to look through Hubble's telescope—and he could no longer deny that the universe was indeed expanding, and therefore did have a beginning. From that point on he sought to understand the Beginner. He subsequently said that he wanted to "know how God created the world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details."
When we see the greatness of God, we want to come to know Him.
Reference: I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, pp. 73-74
It's important that we learn to recognize God's voice. In Jan of 1997, Larry Riley—the player personnel director of the then Vancouver Grizzlies of the NBA—made a decision that saved his life. He was in Cincinnati, waiting to board a plane for Detroit. Instead, he decided to return home to Lynden, Washington. When he arrived in Seattle, he learned of the fate of the Comair commuter flight he'd almost boarded: it had crashed outside of Detroit, killing all 29 aboard. A co-worker called him and said, "Larry, where are you? Everybody's upset." Then he was told about the other flight. Larry Riley said, "Something just told me to go home."
Reference: "Grizzlies aide fortunate," The Arizona Republic (1-14-97)
|The Most Important Thing|
People like lists and rankings. There are whole books dedicated to nothing but lists. One such book, The New Book of Lists, has some interesting lists, such as: "The 10 People with the Most Square Miles of the Earth’s Surface Named After Them." Topping that list is Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer after whom North and South America are named—a total of 16,243,000 square miles. "10 Most Intelligent Breeds of Dogs," based on the rankings of obedience judges from the American and Canadian Kennel Clubs. The top 5: #5)Doberman pinscher, #4)Golden retriever, #3)German shepherd, #2)Poodle, and the smartest: #1)Border collie. li>And Ronald Reagan was asked to name "6 People in History Whose Life I Would Like to Have Lived." He named explorers like Lewis and Clark (#4), and Cortés (#2). But his number one pick was Adam. He said, "It would have been wonderful to see the world begin."
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day also compiled lists. They had documented 613 commandments in the Law of Moses. One day they asked Jesus to tell them which of the commandments was the greatest. Jesus replied: " ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment" (Matthew 22:37-38).
The most important thing in life is to love God completely.
Reference: David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace, The New Book of Lists (Canongate, 2005), pp. 6-7, 167, 576-577
|Caught in His Arms|
Our church had a party for nursery workers at a local park one Saturday afternoon. I was sitting on the grass watching the children play on the monkey bars. One little toddler named Mya was having a great time. She would hang onto the crossbars with all her might, her face turning red, the ground a couple or three feet beneath her—a long way to someone her size. She would hang there as long as she could, then let go and squeal with delight as her dad and grandpa and mom took turns catching her. Then she wanted to do it again.
Here’s what caught my attention. Her dad and grandpa and mom were standing behind little Mya. She couldn’t see them as she let go and fell through the air. But she never doubted that they would catch her. That was the fun of it. She was letting go. She was falling through the air. But she knew someone bigger and stronger than her was going to catch her.
That’s how our Heavenly Father wants us to trust him with our life.
Reference: William Ray, Knowing God through Prayer—the Plan Jesus Gave (Ambassador International, 2008), p. 35
|Safe on Your Knees|
The story is told of some mountain climbers in the Alps. Two were experienced. One was making his first climb in the Alps. They climbed and climbed, up the rock and snow. When they reached the summit, the two experienced climbers moved aside to let their friend go first. The young man ascended the summit and was about to jump to his feet—when his two friends pulled him down! When he asked them what they were doing, one of them said, “Hold your hand up.” He did and felt a powerful gust of wind. “Up here,” the experienced climber explained, “the only safe place is on your knees.”
We should approach God with a sense of reverence, keeping in mind his perfect holiness.
Reference: William Ray, Knowing God through Prayer—the Plan Jesus Gave (Ambassador International, 2008), p. 36
|What Color Is God?|
People have a tendency to want to remake God in their image.
There’s the story of a white guy and a black guy who were arguing over what color God is. The white guy insisted, "God is white!" The black guy said, "No, he’s black!" They both died about the same time, stood outside heaven’s gate, and were still carrying on their argument.
"I’m glad you’re here," the white guy said. "Now you’ll see I’m right. God is white!"
"Now you’ll see I’m right," the black guy said. "God is black!"
They asked the angel to open the gate. When he did, they heard a big voice say to them, "Buenos noches!"
People have a tendency to want to remake God in their image, but the God of the Bible does not compromise his holy and good nature for any of us.
|America Needs God|
On January 27, 2009, Democratic Congressman Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania, the Chair of the Capital Markets Subcommittee, was interviewed on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” program. He said he was there in September 2008 when the financial crisis hit, and explained what was going on from the government’s point of view—why they wanted to pump money into the system.
He said, “We were having an electronic run on the banks…their estimation was that by two o’clock that afternoon, five-and-a-half trillion dollars would have been drawn out of the money market system of the United States, would have collapsed the entire economy of the United States, and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed… It would have been the end of our economic system and our political system as we know it.”
Kanjorski said our nation was just hours away from ruin.
Is America really that fragile? Without God we are.
Reference: Rep. Paul Kanjorski, Washington Journal, C-SPAN, (1-27-09)
|The 10 Worst Places to Live|
In 2010 the website walletpop.com published a list of the 10 worst U.S cities to live in. Their criteria included unemployment rates, foreclosure rates, crime, etc.
#1 on the list was El Centro, California. The city held the highest unemployment rate in the country, 27.5%, at the time of the article. A couple of years ago even the city’s cemetery went into foreclosure.
#2 was Cleveland. The article cited its weather—located on the south shore of Lake Erie, it gets hit by several feet of lake-effect snow each year. There has also been a lot of corruption in northern Ohio—309 public officials convicted of crimes in the prior 10 years. And the city has thousands of abandoned homes, partly because the federally-funded Afford-a-Home program provided down payments to many people who could not subsequently make the payments.
#3 was Detroit. The article called Detroit "America’s most dangerous city, with 1,220 violent crimes per 100,000 people." The stumbling auto industry has also hurt the Motor City.
Whether we like or don’t like where we’re living on Earth, as Christians we have another residence: the kingdom of God. We can live there now in the Spirit through faith in Jesus. And it will be our eternal home.
Reference: Aaron Crowe, "10 Worst Places to Live," walletpop.com (8/5/10)
Graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University have invented a new gizmo called the Smart.Mirror. It helps people shop for clothes.
The way it works: A chip is embedded in the tag of each article of clothing in a store—a Radio Frequency Identification chip (RFID). When you try on an article, a sensor reads the tag, and on the smart mirror appear other articles of clothing in the store that might go well with what you're trying on.
Members of the fashion community are excited about it, because it would allow them to present their designs as they conceived them. Stores may increase their sales by providing the additional guidance to customers.
The first prototype of the Smart.Mirror went into the Charles Spiegel for Men in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburg.
James 1:23 refers to God’s word as a mirror (in James 1:23). It's like the Smart.Mirror, because when we look at it, it shows us what pleases God, what behaviors we need to "put on" to look good in His eyes.
Reference: Sara Bauknecht, "Smart.Mirror matches fashion rather than reflect," post-gazette.com (12/14/09)
|God's Protection in History|
Have you ever considered how "lucky" it was that America developed that atomic bomb?
Do you realize that Albert Einstein, whose theories led to the creation of the atomic bomb, was German—and that he live... [Read More]
Reference: Pastor Bill Ray, Desert Joy Christian Fellowship
|God's Personal Name in the New Testament|
God's personal name in the New Testament is Jesus.
An angel told Joseph what to name Mary's miraculously conceived Son: "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because... [Read More]
|God's Personal Name in the Old Testament|
God's personal name in the Old Testament is Yahweh. There are many other names for God in the Old Testament, but Yahweh is the name He gave to Moses at the burning bush, when Moses asked, "What shall I tell t... [Read More]
|A Free Second|
On December 31, 2005, you were given an extra second of time. "In theory, there should be exactly 86,400 seconds in a day." But "the actual length of a day is 86,400.002 seconds." That's not mu... [Read More]
Reference: John Faherty, "A Stolen Moment Is Coming," The Arizona Republic (12-31-05)
|Seen from Above|
In southern Peru a series of long strange lines, known as the Nazca Lines, have been carved into the earth. The ancient Nazca Civilization, which flourished from 200 BC to AD 600), made them by sweeping aside dark... [Read More]
Reference: "Nazca Lines" and "Nazca," encarta.msn.com; Timothy George, "Big Picture Faith," Christianity Today (10-23-00), from "Bible's Big Picture," preachingtoday.com
|It Was No Brute Strength|
In 1996, on Brown Road in Mesa, Arizona, there was a bad accident involving two pickup trucks. The driver of one of the trucks, the one at fault, was instantly killed. The driver of the other truck, Eddie Kime, was tr... [Read More]
Reference: Abraham Kwok, "Superhuman effort saves man trapped in pickup," The Arizona Republic (3-29-96)
|God, If You're Out There….?|
"Please go out on the porch and get me the broom," a mother said to her little girl.
"I don't want to," the little girl said.
"Go and get the broom," the mother repeated.
&qu... [Read More]
|Look for God's Presence|
Do a quick experiment. Look around you and find three items with blue in them: blue shirts or pants, blue Bibles, blue purses, whatever. What happens after a few seconds of doing that? Everything with blue in it begin... [Read More]
|You Go in There with God|
A thunderstorm hit. A loud clap of thunder woke a four-year old girl and sent her running to her parents' bedroom. "I'm scared," she said. "Can I sleep with you, Mommy and Daddy?" The sleep... [Read More]
|Get Your Own Dirt|
There's a story of two scientists who, after discovering how to clone humans, challenged God: "We don't need You anymore. We can make life ourselves now."
God said, "Ok, let's have a man ... [Read More]
The modern microscope has revealed that there's no such thing as "simple life," that even a one-celled amoeba enters the world filled with pre-programmed information.
Charles Darwin assumed the cell, ... [Read More]
Reference: I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, pp. 114-116
|God Is Love|
The idea of a God of love is a distinctly Christian revelation.
A stone slab (stele) depicting the false god Baal was unearthed by archaeologists in 1932 and is now on display in the Louvre. It depicts Baal with a... [Read More]
Reference: William C. Ray, Bible Study for Beginners (to be published by For Beginners Publishing LLC)
|God’s Plan vs. Our Plan|
My neighbor told me about an interesting day he had early in his Christian life. He woke up one morning excited about a worship concert he was going to attend that night, praying, "Lord, use me today," and v... [Read More]
Reference: William Ray, Knowing God through Prayer—the Plan Jesus Gave (Ambassador International, 2008), pp. 60-61
|How Many People Does It Take to Make a Pencil?|
Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, in his book Free to Choose, talks about how many people it takes to make one simple lead pencil. Just to get the wood for the pencil to the pencil factory, it tak... [Read More]
Reference: Milton and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose (Harcourt, 1980), pp. 11-13
Chaplain Doug Cox was born in Yuma, Arizona. He was born on January 1st of that year, the first baby born that year in Yuma. Because he was the first baby born, through some promotion his family got a free delivery, f... [Read More]
The World Book Encyclopedia says the Earth moves in 3 ways:
- "It spins like a top around" its axis.
- " it travels around the sun" in its orbit.
- " it moves through the Milk... [Read More]
Reference: The World Book Encyclopedia, 2003, "Earth, " p. 17
In 2008, astronomers for the first time witnessed a supernova—the explosion of a massive star. It only lasted five minutes, but astronomers happened to be studying an older supernova in the same galaxy, a galaxy named... [Read More]
Reference: Robert S. Boyd, McClatchy Newspapers, "Scientists catch break, witness supernova birth," in The Arizona Republic, (5-22-08)
|Unusual Vacation Destinations|
Are you looking for an unusual vacation destination this summer? Real Simple magazine has some ideas:
The Baked Bean Museum of Excellence in Port Talbot, South Wales.
The Museum of Bad Art in Dedham,... [Read More]
Reference: "Unusual vacation destinations" - from K-Love, Scott and Kelli page
A prop illustration.
Required elements: a baked product, and the individual ingredients in the recipe
Here on this table are some slices of homemade white bread. Delicious! Especially with a healthy do... [Read More]
|Switched at Birth?|
A Brazilian named Dimas Aliprandi always wondered why he had blonde hair and blue eyes while his sisters had dark hair and eyes. His suspicions grew when, at age 14, he saw a news report about babies getting switched ... [Read More]
Reference: Stan Lehman, Associated Press, "Brazilian men swapped at birth work, live together," hosted.ap.org (7/31/10)
|Toddler Survives Fall|
In November 2010, an 18-month boy survived a seven-story fall in Paris. He bounced off a café’s awning into the arms into the arms of a passerby, local doctor Philippe Bensignor.
The doctor’s own son had seen the... [Read More]
Reference: "Toddler survives seven-floor fall in France," news.yahoo.com (11/2/10)
|The Bank of Italy|
In the early 1900s, an Italian immigrant in San Francisco—A.P. Giannini—knew that other Italian immigrants regularly saved money, even out of small incomes, and that they were reliable in repaying loans. S... [Read More]
Reference: Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (Basic Books, 2007), p. 107
Some years ago a thief stole a car. Soon after, the police had an all-points bulletin out on him. Radio stations were making announcements as well, trying to lure him in.
Why all the fuss? After all, cars are sto... [Read More]
An eastern newspaper told the story of a woman who was driving home when she noticed a truck tail-gating her. She made a turn, but the truck stayed with her. She sped up, and the truck sped up, too. She ran a red ligh... [Read More]
|The Believer’s Job|
A pastor who was an avid golfer was taking part in a local golf tournament. As he prepared to tee off, storm clouds rolled in. The organizer of the tournament pointed them out to the pastor, and said with a smile, ... [Read More]
|History and the Gospel|
There is plenty of evidence that God is charge in history, directing the world toward a good end. One example is the set of circumstances that were in place when Christianity burst on the world scene, circumstances th... [Read More]
Reference: William Ray, Knowing God through Prayer—the Plan Jesus Gave (Ambassador International, 2008), p. 149-150
|Out of Gas|
One New Years Day some years ago, in the Tournament of Roses parade, a beautiful float suddenly sputtered and quit—it was out of gas. The whole parade was held up until someone could run and get a can of gas. Who was ... [Read More]
Reference: William Ray, Knowing God through Prayer—the Plan Jesus Gave (Ambassador International, 2008), p. 155
Isaac Newton wrote, "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being."
- Creati... [Read More]
Reference: Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Crossway Books, 2004), p. 95
The ancient theologian Augustine was puzzling over the doctrine of the Trinity while walking along the beach one day. He saw a little boy carrying water from the ocean and pouring it into a little hole on the beach. A... [Read More]