Dec 1, 2008

The Bells Tolled for Me

I attended Multnomah Bible College in Portland, Oregon for three years and like virtually every other student there, I would often find myself studying my class work in the beautiful John Mitchell Library on campus. Diagonally across from the library’s main entrance is the quaint and quiet, old fashioned Prayer Chapel. It serves as an almost secret sanctuary in the midst of the campus.

From time to time, individual students will slip inside for a brief retreat from the hectic college life. It is very quiet inside and often there is no one inside, or at most one or two people silently praying, meditating or reading their Bibles. On the outside of the Prayer Chapel, on top of the little white steeple, is a clock and a church bell. It plays a short, traditional bell melody, then strikes out the hour. The bells may be digitally synthesized rather than actual bells but I remember the tone as always sounding very authentic.















Many of those days, more than I could count, I would be at a study cubicle right at the noon hour, when the Prayer Chapel bells would begin the session of their longest chimes. The rich tones would begin to play the familiar bell-tower type melody, I think it was the Westminster Chime. I would stop and listen to the tune which lasted for perhaps 15 seconds. Slowly, I would put my pen to rest on the desk.

The chime would finish, and then…the hour bells would begin. And in my own little world, it literally seemed as though the whole busy, noisy library world around me quickly slowed down then froze in time and everything was silent, waiting for the striking of the bells.


BONG -----------------------------------------------------------------------one
BONG-----------------------------------------------------------------------two
BONG----------------------------------------------------------------------three

And like most clock chimes, these bells had a deep and slightly off-key tone that gave it an added feeling of seriousness---like it was something very ancient and significant.

As the bell went on a mounting sense of trepidation or foreboding would develop as each bell struck closer to the twelfth hour.

BONG----------------------------------------------------------------------four
BONG----------------------------------------------------------------------five
BONG----------------------------------------------------------------------six

It felt as though the bells were tolling out for the Final Judgment of the world; whose time had at last come. Everything stood still, waiting for the moment when the twelfth bell would sound and the Great and Terrible Judge of the Earth would take His place and where I and every one else would be required to give an account. The moment was transfixing.

BONG----------------------------------------------------------------------seven
BONG----------------------------------------------------------------------eight
BONG----------------------------------------------------------------------nine
BONG----------------------------------------------------------------------ten
BONG----------------------------------------------------------------------eleven


and finally…

the bell would strike twelve…


BONG----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The striking of the twelfth bell would hang in the air for three or four seconds as the sound slowly echoed off into the future somewhere. At that moment, it was as if the entire world had been given a reprieve. A stay of execution. Another chance. As if there were some great angel standing next to me, watching this whole event unfold and at the end would turn to me and say, “As you see, it is not yet. There is still time.”

The noise and motion in the library would gradually start up again, steadily replacing the little drama as if it had never happened. I’d look around a tiny bit; the other students studying, walking, talking, laughing and carrying on. And then I would slowly join back in, take my pen and pick up where I left off only a minute before. But I would remember.

And I was both sad and glad.

Sad that the time had not come and that I was still here—with work ahead of me.
And I was glad...glad that the time had not come and that I was still here—with work ahead of me.

Nov 1, 2008

That Works

I have the hardest time writing for a blog. I think, “Who in the world is going to read this?” Then, every now and then, I get a comment from someone who has actually read it and was encouraged, or challenged. That works.

CHEMISTRY
I am still working through writing Chemistry 101. Man is that a challenge, but I nearly can’t wait to watch it myself! I think it has great potential to introduce a whole new discipline to those who otherwise may never even touch it for fear that it is beyond them.

WEDNESDAY
I facilitate a small group on Wednesday nights. We have gone through Tactics in Defending Your Faith which you can find at www.str.org. We’ve gone through The Truth Project by Focus on the Family. Both of these were terrific. Just recently we finished a wonderful series by Andy Stanley called The Best Question Ever. Highly recommended.

EAGLE
We just completed the Eagle Court of Honor for Micah. That means both sons are now Eagle Scouts. My, oh, my was that a lot of work, especially as the family did it through the Boy Scout of America’s Lone Scout program. It is wonderful to have set a goal many years ago and now to see it completed. In fact, all four of us are sitting down tonight and discussing what we would like to see accomplished in the next 10 years and setting goals toward that end. God superintends the affairs of all history, but with no clear vision, the people perish. If you aim for nothing, you hit it every time.


WIFE
Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” I have found a good thing. I have obtained favor from the Lord.

Aug 8, 2008

Lose Your Baby Fat

I was a chunky kid. That was a nice way of saying chubby and I hated it. My metabolism was on 4 but my mouth was on 7. Not obese, just chubby.

I fought this on and off for nearly 50 years.
A lot of people call it “baby fat.” Trying to lose those last 10 pounds can be almost impossible. It hangs around. You get sick with the flu and the upside is you don’t eat for a couple of days, then get back on the scale and, “Yeehaaa! I lost those 10 pounds!!” Only to find them return with swift vengeance within a week.

We carry a lot of spiritual baby fat around.
Here’s what Hebrews 12:1 says,

“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

That’s the NKJV. The Message puts a sharper point on it; “We'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.”

Baby fat. Those little sins and indulgences that weigh us down like we’re carrying 10 pounds of spiritual potatoes on our midsection.

Anger.
Worry. Faithlessness. Prayerlessness. Foolish talk. Gossip. Complaining.

Yessiree, I’m hitting home I know, because my toes are getting stepped on right now!

Imagine if you were finally at the weight you wanted to be, but you had to keep carrying a 15 pound sack of potatoes EVERYWHERE you went!
To meeting, to bed, in the shower, on the airplane, in the elevator, at the store. What a burden.

Now imagine after months and months of this, finally being able to throw off that sack!
Free at last, free at last, thank God I’m free at last! What a relief that would be.

This is what God wants for us.
Physically and spiritually but especially spiritually. Throw off those little nasty sins you indulge in. Start running and never stop!


By-the-way, I told my sons when they returned from their trip back East to the National Home School Alumni Convention, that their Dad would weight no more than 155.
I’ve got three pounds of 49 year old baby fat to go. Will I make it? Drop me an email and find out!

Jul 23, 2008

22 Questions to Ask Yourself

We love lists. We like information broken down into bite-sized, digestible chunks. Plus lists are easy and fast to read. Especially “Top 10” lists.

John Wesley was a Christian minister back in the 1700’s. While studying at Oxford University, he and some friends started the “Holy Club.” Here is a list of questions they asked themselves in their private devotions.

1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?

2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?

3. Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?

4. Can I be trusted?

5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?

6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying or self-justifying?

7. Did the Bible live in me today?

8. Do I give it time to speak to me every day?

9. Am I enjoying prayer?

10. When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?

11. Do I pray about the money I spend?

12. Do I go to bed on time and get up on time?

13. Do I disobey God in anything?

14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?

15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?

16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?

17. How do I spend my spare time?

18. Am I proud?

19. Do I thank God that I am not like other people?

20. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard?

21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?

22. Is Christ real to me?

I printed the list off and stuck it in the middle of my Bible. During my quiet time or during a church service, it will surface and I’ll read it again.

It’s a great list.

May 8, 2008

Missing God’s Glory

I have been on a joy ride for the past 5 months. God has been after me and working with me to produce a constant joy in my life. Taking a vow of joy as opposed to being Mr. Grumpy. Joy in spite of the trials that life always is throwing at me. Now that I’m just starting to get pretty good at this joy thing, God has thrown me another curve.

His glory.

I don’t get this “glory” thing. Christians always talk about “do it all for the glory of God!” I never, ever, ever say this...ever. Because I don’t get it. But God wants me to get it. So…we are just starting to go through John
Piper’s “The Blazing Center video series.
Piper gets it and I bet by the time we’re done, I’m going to understand this too.

And I can’t wait.

Because I just know that this is going to deepen my relationship with God. Just like my quest for joy.

P.S. The supremacy of love. This is another lesson I’ve yet to firmly grasp. But it’s coming…I’m sure of it.

Apr 23, 2008

Teaching Science? Start with the Bible!

This month I had the opportunity to present a workshop at the Washington State Christian Heritage Homeschool Convention. Here is a brief overview followed by many of the quotes from the Father’s of science who believed that to do science, you need to start with the Bible.

Science will not and cannot answer the four most important questions we ever ask ourselves. They do not answer them in such a way that corresponds to the deepest needs of mankind. Here are the questions:

1. Origin - where did it all come from?

2. Meaning – does my life have meaning?

3. Morality – what are good & evil?

4. Destiny – what happens after I die?

In brief, here’s how modern evolutionary science answers these questions:

1. Origin - where did it all come from?

Here’s what David Darling, the British Astronomer says:

“What is a big deal—the biggest deal of all—is how you get something out of nothing.

Don’t let the cosmologists try to kid you on this one. They have not got a clue either—despite the fact that they are doing a pretty good job of convincing themselves and others that this is really not a problem.”

2. Meaning – Does my life have meaning?

Richard Dawkins is a popular science writer, and holds the Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford and is an outspoken evolutionist. Here’s how he answers this question:.

“If it's true that evolution causes people to feel despair, that's tough. It's still the truth. The universe doesn't owe us condolence or consolation; it doesn't owe us a nice warm feeling inside. If it's true, it's true, and you'd better live with it…Don't kid yourself that you're going to live again after you're dead; you're not. Don't imagine for one second you're going to paradise. You're not. You're going to rot in the ground."

3. Morality – What is good and evil?

Francis Galton 19th century anthropologist, explorer, evolutionist and half brother of Charles Darwin. He was knighted in 1909. Here is a paraphrase of what he though:

"I do not see why any of those in the gifted class should not treat others with all kindness, so long as they don’t have children. But if these less gifted people continued to reproduce children who are inferior in moral, intellectual and physical qualities, the time may come when such persons will be considered as enemies to the State, and will to have forfeited all claims to our kindness."

4. Destiny – What happens after I die?

William Provine is an American historian of science, and is a Distinguished University Professor at Cornell University. He is an atheist, evolutionist and a professor in the Department of History. He holds his from the University of Chicago. Here is how he sums up his views on the four major questions:

"Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear ... There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That's the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either."

Here are some quotes from the very Fathers of various scientific fields. These men believed that if you want to teach science, you need to start with the Bible as your foundation.

Sir Isaac Newton, the Father of Physics and Calculus says we should start with the Bible:

"I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily."

The Father of Thermodynamics, James Prescott Joule, says we should start with the Bible:

"After the knowledge of, and obedience to, the will of God, the next aim must be to know something of His attributes of wisdom, power, and goodness as evidenced by His handiwork."

How about the Father of Electronics…Michael Faraday? What did he say about using the Bible as the starting point?

“The Bible, and it alone, with nothing added to it nor taken away from it by man, is the sole and sufficient guide for each individual, at all times and in all circumstances…For faith in the divinity and work of Christ is the gift of God, and the evidence of this faith is obedience to the commandment of Christ."

And the Father of Modern Oceanography Matthew Fontaine Maury? What does the Father of Oceanography say about using the Bible?

"The Bible is true and science is true, and therefore each, if truly read, but proves the truth of the other."

Here are a few more…

Lord Kelvin – Pioneer in Mathematical Physics

"With regard to the origin of life, science...positively affirms creative power…Overwhelmingly strong proofs of intelligent and benevolent design lie around us...the atheistic idea is so non-sensical that I cannot put it into words."

James Clerk Maxwell-Pioneer in Theoretical Physics

“Almighty God, Who has created man in Thine own image, and made him a living soul that he might seek after Thee, and have dominion over Thy creatures, teach us to study the works of Thy hands, that we may subdue the earth to our use, and strengthen the reason for Thy service; so to receive Thy blessed Word, that we may believe on Him Who Thou has sent, to give us the knowledge of salvation and the remission of our sins. All of which we ask in the name of the same Jesus Christ, our Lord."

Samuel Morris – Father of the Telegraph

"Education without religion is in danger of substituting wild theories for the simple commonsense rules of Christianity."

Sir William Herschel – Father of stellar astronomy

“All human discoveries seem to be made only for the purpose of confirming more and more the Truths contained in the Sacred Scriptures.”

Robert Boyle – Father of Modern Chemistry

"Christ's passion, His death, His resurrection and ascension, and all of those wonderful works which He did during His stay upon earth,[were done] in order to confirm mankind in the belief of His being God as well as man."

Johannes Kepler – The Father of Modern Science

"I am a Christian...I believe... only and alone in the service of Jesus Christ...In Him is all refuge, all solace…let my name perish if only the name of God the Father is thereby elevated [for God] is the kind Creator who brought forth nature out of nothing."

Mar 3, 2008

Joyful as Scrooge

I am currently reading a biography on the life and thoughts of G. K. Chesterton. If you haven't a clue of who this is, Google: "G. K. Chesterton Quotes". You'll get a kick out of Chesterton. Chesterton was a man who loved God, and loved life. But not everyone loves life. Many people are irritated with life because they don't have what they think they want.


Moremoneynewercarbetterjobbetterwifebetterhusbandbetterkids

newerwifebetterparentsnewcomputermorestuff.


The reality is they don't actually know what they want. Because as soon as they get it, they are dissatisfied and want something else. They live for the weekend only to actually hate the weekend because the weekend will end and Monday looms on the horizon. Their life is wearisome. More than one can say. But Chesterton really loved his life because of something he owned. He owned peace and joy. And this was his secret.


"In this world you will have tribulation.
But be of good cheer,
I have overcome the world."


If this cosmic fact will sink into our stony hearts, we'll be like Ebenezer Scrooge at the end of his story:


"Scrooge was holding up his hands in a last prayer to the Ghost of Christmas Future to have his awful fate reversed, when he saw an alteration in the Phantom's hood and dress. It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost. Yes! And the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own, to make amends in!

`They are not torn down!' cried Scrooge, folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms, `they are not torn down, rings and all. They are here--I am here--the shadows of the things that would have been, may be dispelled. They will be! I know they will. `I don't know what to do!' cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his stockings. `I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel; I am as merry as a schoolboy! I am as giddy as a drunken man!"


The time is still before us. Time to make amends in. It is time to act like the Christians we were meant to be. To love life and be full of joy.

Feb 11, 2008

The Invisible Generation of the 1970’s

Every generation seems to have their moment of impact on society and of fond memories of their high school and college days. My days were the invisible and forgettable seventies. We just came out of the 60's which did not produce the promises hoped for. Instead, we fizzled out of Vietnam, went through Kent State, got burned out with hippies and assassinations and just went through Watergate. The Older generation didn't need another youth culture thing so my generation pretty much quietly took a back seat waiting for the decade to end. We were stuck between the slow sell out of the "love generation" of the 60's and the same generation going for the big money grab of the 80's. It wasn't until the 90's that the US was ready to talk about the youth culture again with the Generation X people. By that time, my generation was raising our families and wondering what happened 20 years before. We weren't Baby Boomers and we weren't Generation Xers. We were the Invisible Generation. The In-between Generation. The Waiting-for-"It"-to-Happen Generation. The "it" was our turn to change the world as a youth group. "It" never showed up.


The Baby Boomers were idealistic coming off the triumphs of WWII. The 60's promised a new world to the generation of the 70's but we didn't realize that the biggest change was going to be green and orange shag carpets. The Generation X people have been a cynical youth from the get go. They never were promised anything but impending Armageddon and broken up families. But the 70's people have continually been waiting...waiting...waiting for that something to show up.


The 70's was intolerable disco music, bell bottom pants, gas lines, inflation, Ronco TV ads, Brady Bunch and olive green carpet. Our Presidents were not Roosevelt and Kennedy Icons. They were Nixon (resigned in disgrace), Ford (unelected and tripping everywhere) and Carter (peanut farmer and goofy).


Although I largely missed the Beatles, I loved them...and I hated them. And I didn't know why. Whenever I heard John Denver sing "Rocky Mountain High" it would cause a deep sense of sorrow and heart sick in me. And I couldn't figure out why. But now I know why.


In the opening of the song, Denver sings


He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Comin' home to a place he'd never been before
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door


This was the promise. To come home. To find the key to every door. To be part of an ideal...a Rocky Mountain High. But they didn't deliver. They had the same fights, same broken dreams, same divorces, same drug problems, same attitudes and answers as everyone else.


And this was the attraction of Jesus. Here was someone who could deliver. Who showed me home. Who truly gave me the key to every door. Here was someone and something worth living for...and dying for. Here, at long last, I found what was promised to me when I was coming of age in the confusion and disillusion of the 1970's. At last I found rest for my troubled soul. And I've never looked back. And I never will.