Concrete vs. Asphalt

Looking at the public media I’m overwhelmed with so many different celebrities making a stand for something. Whether it’s fighting for human rights in justification of homosexuality, or a boycott from a brand of clothing because someone offended another. Regardless of the reason people who do not honor Christ with their lives are standing for something. The majority of what I’m seeing is non believers voicing their opinions regardless of the opposition. I’m saddened at the fact that when I see a Christian on the news I hold my breath and normally watch as a secular anti-Christ journalist rips them apart piece by piece because they have no real substance for what they believe. This is not so with a few Christians such as Al Mohler, Doug Wilson, John MacArthur, Mark Driscoll, and Joel Osteen (kidding about the last one). My question is this: Where are the Christians? Where are the true Bible believing, God-fearing Christians? Where is the substance?

Have you ever wondered why you never see an asphalt building or a foundation made of asphalt? I was working with a concrete company on I-77 in Columbia, SC. Before this the only experience had been with the Quick-Crete bags you mixed yourself at home. After we had finished all of the road work on I-77, we then moved to asphalt. I had absolutely no experience in this. At first I was dreading the learning process, but besides the 200 degree temperature, having clumps of asphalt harden on my boots, and removing the hardened asphalt from the bucket of the Skid Steer it wasn’t bad. I remember asking one of the veterans, “if asphalt was so cheap in comparison to concrete why don’t you see buildings or foundations made from the stuff?” He laughed and said, “The only thing asphalt was good for was making the surface it was covering more comfortable to drive no matter what the weather conditions were. It’s not strong enough to support any real weight.” He didn’t realize it, but he made a very profound statement.

That is the problem with Christians today, particularly men. We aren’t strong enough to be used for anything, because we have no substance. We just make life comfortable for everyone else around us regardless of the sin they’re living in. When is the last time you heard someone take the Lord’s name in vain? Did you say anything? When was the last time you seen your brother in  sinful act? Did you do anything? There is an old preacher I know and he was at work and one of the guys there used the Lord’s name in vain, and the pastor punched the guy in the face. After doing so he told the man, “Show some respect!” I don’t think either man was right, but what an honor to stand up for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Perhaps you haven’t experienced any of these things, but you can always make a stand. When was the last time you said “NO!” to temptation. When was the last time you said I’m not watching this TV show anymore it defiles God? One of the first stance I made as a Christian was quit watching Family Guy. Sadly, I had been proffessing Christ as my Lord and Savior for several years before I made this decision. What’s your stand?

Examine your life. Are you a Concrete Christian or an asphalt Christian? Stand for something. Be valuable, be a useful tool for the Kingdom!

Jesus put it like this in Matthew 7:24-27, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

Food for thought: I had been proffessing Christ as my Lord and Savior for many years before I made a stand. A TV show I watched regularly openly mocked God. Time after time I turned a blind eye. I loved the satisfaction the humor brought me more than the Joy of my Salvation. But at that moment in my life the only difference between a non-Christian and myself was that I got up a little earlier on Sundays. If your Salvation isn’t changing you, then that is not Salvation? Salvation without Sanctification is like Water without Hydrogen, it’s incomplete.

The Death of Jesus Christ

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of the Christian faith; it is the element that separates Christianity from any other religion. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ died for us. Dr. David Cooper writes in his book Faith under Fire, “He experienced the unfathomable depths of human suffering. He felt pain, loss and grief. He was a man of sorrows, He was acquainted with grief. He wept at the grave of His friend, Lazarus. He knew what it was like to be misunderstood, rejected and even hated. Yet, He transcended suffering. He suffered the cruelty of crucifixion” (Cooper). God came down in the body of a man and lived a sinless life knowing that it would inevitably end on a cross where he was brutally beaten and publicly humiliated. Not once did Jesus say, “Enough! I’ve had it!” Imagine having all the power in the world; being able to turn the lungs of someone into dust with nothing but a thought. Imagine having that kind of power and holding it all back until death. Why would anyone do that?

Scripture is the divinely inspired word of God. This is the first thing everyone must accept when studying Christianity, the life of Jesus, or Scripture itself. It is infallible, with the intention of only strengthening the body of Christ. In reference to the death of Jesus Christ, it is essential that we derive any opinions or facts strictly from the Bible. What are the reasons behind Christ’s death? Scripture reveals that it was for a ransom of many (Matthew 20:28), a propitiation (Romans 3:25), a reconciliation of the fellowship we once had with God (Romans 5:10), and a substitution for us all (Isaiah 53:6).

Whenever the word “ransom” is mentioned I am always brought back to the movie Man on Fire. The movie was about a young girl living in Mexico City who is kidnapped by a gang for a ransom. The bodyguard hired to protect this girl is shot several times trying to prevent the kidnapping. Ignoring his injuries, the bodyguard leaves the hospital even though he knew he was going to die in a matter of time; he had to find the little girl. Toward the end, the only way the gang would agree to release the girl was if the bodyguard surrendered his life to them. The bodyguard’s life was a ransom for the little girl’s (Man).

Matthew 20:28 reads, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Jesus knew that sin demanded a price, and that price was death (Romans 6:23). Jesus Christ died and became our ransom so that we could live; He was our ransom! Merriam-Webster defines ransom as “a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity” (Merriam). What are we captive of? We are all born captives of sin with a ransom of death over our heads. Romans 6:20 states that we are born “slaves to sin”. Every man’s sin will be paid for in the end: Either Jesus’ ransom is received and honored, or the sinner will pay by his own death. Today in our culture, the great ransom He paid sometimes gets overlooked and taken for granted; this is a sad picture indeed. We were born kidnapped into sin, and we so easily forget who paid the price and gave us the opportunity to be ransomed.

The second way Scripture lays out the definition of the death of Jesus Christ is that He was a propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2). Some might confuse the difference between Christ’s death being a ransom for our life and a propitiation for our sins, for they can appear to be very similar. Ransom refers to Jesus physically paying the price for the release of someone in captivity to sin. Propitiation refers to Christ dying to appease the wrath of God toward our sin. Ransom saves us from the chains of sin, but propitiation saves us from the deserved wrath of God. God hates sin. He hates the planning and the pursuit of sin (Proverbs 6:18). He even hates anyone who does it (Psalm 5:5). Scripture does not water down God’s view on sin, nor should Christians. It is a necessity for one to realize the disgust God feels toward sin before the idea of Christ’s death for the propitiation of our sins makes sense.

An analogy that could describe propitiation would be if I carelessly messed up my house, my wife would be very mad at me. Even if I took the time to clean the house and return it back to its original state, she would be angry that I had messed up the house in the first place. Something would have to be given to her to appease her anger; so I would give her flowers and write her a love note. The flowers and the note are the propitiation for me carelessly messing up the house. This analogy is very cheap and jaded compared to the Cross and Jesus, and compares it to a much smaller scale. Eventually the house is going to get messed up, and unfortunately my wife will get mad again. So there will have to be another flower and another letter to be a propitiation to appease her anger. Of course when Paul wrote about God publicly displaying Jesus as propitiation it was much more valuable, meaningful, and permanent (Romans 3:25)!

Not only are our sins atoned for and God’s wrath appeased through the death of Christ, but we also are reconciled to God through His death as well (Romans 5:10). William Evans writes, “Reconciliation has two sides; active and passive. In the active sense we may look upon Christ’s death as removing the enmity existing between God and man, and which had hitherto been a barrier to fellowship…In the passive sense of the word it may indicate the change of attitude on the part of man toward God, this change being wrought in the heart of man by a vision of the Cross of Christ; a change from enmity to friendship thus taking place” (Evans).

After our sins are paid for and God’s wrath has been appeased, closing the gap between an almighty God and a sinful man must take place. In Genesis 3 the fall of man placed a gap between God and man. According to the New Covenant, the only way to fill that gap is though Christ Jesus. Jesus clearly states in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” It is clear that the only way to God is through Jesus. Thanks to God’s sacrifice to die on the cross, we are now reconciled to Him through His son, Jesus Christ. Sin was the gap. John said in John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Through Christ’s sacrifice we could change a relationship full of hostility and alienation to peace and fellowship (Youngblood). Divine reconciliation was made through the death of Christ.

Finally, the fourth way Scripture defines the death of Christ is through substitution. Isaiah 53:6 reads, “but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” He took our place, though we deserve to die for our sins. This particular point reminds me of a little league baseball game I played several years ago in school. My brother and I were on the same team, and let’s just say that my brother got all the skills when it came to that wretched sport. I was playing second base and my brother was playing centerfield. A school bully was at bat and he hit a sky-high, in-field fly ball. The shadow of the ball slowly lurked passed the pitcher and right above my head. My brother knew the trouble that was headed my way and took off in a full sprint towards second base. I didn’t have the ability to catch the ball, and my brother knew this. I put my glove up in the air, closed my eyes, and hoped for the best. Moments after the ball started its descent I could hear my brothers pounding footsteps and reassuring voice yelling, “I got it!” Immediately, my nervousness and anxiety dissolved and was replaced with confidence and relief. My brother put his glove over my head and caught the ball.

This is a perfect example of what Jesus did for us on the Cross. He knew the trouble that was headed for us, and He knew we wouldn’t be able to handle it alone. So around two thousand years ago, a bold, loving, Jewish carpenter yelled, “I got it!” He took the weight and price off our heads and placed it on His. Christ died in our place, bore our sins, and paid the penalty due our sins; and all this, not by force, but willingly. (Evans) 1 Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” He pushed us out of the cross-hairs and became our substitute. It is important to point out the selflessness and humility that Jesus our Lord provided for us.

Today, Americans are so obsessed with themselves that the idea having a Savior that possesses these traits is unheard of. The only Jesus we like to talk about is the Jesus who fits into the skewed image we paint of our insecurities, interests, traditions, philosophies, and even some religious doctrine. Jesus did not accomplish all of this so we could live comfortable nine to five jobs; Though working the nine to five may fit into the calling of some Christians, the Amercan Dream is not to be perceived as the life God wants us to live.

The first story in the Bible that substitution is referred to is when Adam and Eve had sinned in Genesis 3. They heard the Lord coming so they hid in the bushes (Genesis 3:8). God calls them out, and finally Adam said in verse ten, “I was naked, so I hid myself”. Later, after God confronts and curses them, God makes garments for them out of the skin of an animal because the fig leaves they sewed together in verse seven were not suitable.  For the first time, blood was shed in the Garden of Eden. God killed an innocent animal to clothe Adam and Eve’s nakedness; a fruit of their own sin (Genesis). Fast forward to Jesus on the cross; It is the same picture. As that innocent animal that was slain for Adam and Eve, so Jesus did for all (1 Timothy 2:6) This is the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.

The four-fold way that Scripture defines Jesus Christ’s death could be summarized by saying that it was a ransom for many and a propitiatory sacrifice so we could be reconciled to God through the substitutionary atonement that He provided at the Cross. When man sinned it created a big problem. God knew the wages of sin was death (Romans 3:23), God knew he hated everything about sin (Psalm 5:5). God knew man would be separated from him if they sinned (Isaiah 59:2), and He knew that man would need a substitution (1 Peter 3:18). God knew man sinning was a big problem, but God had a big answer: Jesus Christ.

Evangelism is a huge part of my life. I take it to heart when Jesus said in Matthew 4:19, “I will make you fishers of men”. I believe every man, like fish, require different strategies, or tackle, to reach with the gospel. Saying that, the four-fold way Scripture defines the death of Christ could be very useful. In my own personal life I know several people this could be effective for. I work in a secular environment, where I am the only Christian. At work people ask me all the time what is the difference between Christianity and other religion. “Brent, don’t you think there is someone else out there just like you preaching the same thing with just as much passion as you, about a different religion? What makes you right and them wrong?” When I was young in the Lord these question frightened me because I was scared I was going to lose a soul for the kingdom, but now I can smile and answer with confidence that I am the only person like me. The Lord created everyone differently for different reasons, and it is impossible for someone to be preaching the same thing about a different religion, because Christianity is the only religion where God came down in the form of man and died for them. Jesus is the difference.

I would use the terminology when I witness to someone. Instead my presentation would be the definition of those terms in modern day words. For instance if I were telling someone about the Ransom of Christ I would use the Man on Fire illustration. If I were telling someone about God’s wrath towards sin and the propitiation Jesus provided, I would describe the analogy of my messy house. When someone would appear lost about the reasoning of the Cross, I would explain to them that it is used to close the gap between God and man. To emphasize the point of our need for His substitution, I would illustrate the story of my brother and the little league game. But most importantly, the best way to use these points to impact those Christ has placed in my life is to live a life dedicated to Jesus. As a Christian, knowing the scriptural definition of the death of Christ can help translate to achieve a more sincere relationship with God, and naturally set the tone for more intimate and thankful worship.

Works Cited

Cooper, David C. “In Search of Jesus.” Faith under Fire. Cleveland, TN: Pathway, 2001. 163.  Print.

Evans, Williams. The Great Doctrines of the Bible. Chicago, IL: Moody Bible Institute, 1949.  Print.

Man On Fire. Dir. Tony Scott. Perf. Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning. 20th Century Fox,  2004.

Merriam Webster Dictionary. Springfield, MA: G & C Merriam, 1981. Print.

NASB Reference Bible: New American Standard Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub.  House, 2000. Print.

Youngblood, Ronald F., F. F. Bruce, and R. K. Harrison. Compact Bible Dictionary. Nashville,  TN: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004. Print.

Observation of Creation

Observing God’s creation is a great way of worship and meditation. God truly has His fingerprints in everything He has created; it is absolutely amazing. Genesis 1 gives the account of the creation. In a mere six days God created everything. In the six days God created the heavens, Earth, light, darkness, skies, dry land, seas, vegetation, the sun, the moon, the stars, creatures in the water, birds in the air, land animals, and finally, mankind. After all of this, God rested on the seventh day. Studying the book of Genesis points to God in so many ways as the Creator, and births a greater appreciation of everything God has created by knowing the details of the six days of creation. God used the six days of creation to point to Himself.

Not to arouse a theological debate, but there are many theories in relation to creation. The Day Age Theory, the Gap Theory, and the Revelation Theory are the theories mentioned by John Phillips in his expository commentary “Exploring Genesis” (Phillips). Unfortunately, these theories compromise God’s power and simplify His nature to appease the weak faith of mankind. Nowhere in the Scriptures is it insinuated that the days are large time gaps, or that there is a gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, or even that the days were days of Moses as God revealed it to him. Why would God need rest on the seventh day if He were telling Moses His description of creation? If God created everything, is he not capable of having a detailed conversation? It is essential to note that the Bible is one hundred percent true; it is imperative to make this statement when discussing anything of Scripture.

Genesis 1:1-5 reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” The first day God created the heavens and the earth, light and darkness. The Earth was His canvas that we can perceive and it was full of water. God’s first command recorded is in verse 3, where He demands, “Let there be light.” In one sentence God shined light on the entire world! Light travels at a speed of 186,000 miles a second or 700 million miles an hour (The UnMuseum). God created that by speaking one single sentence, and lit up the earth. After God created the light, He separated it from darkness. The light He called “day”, and the darkness He called, “night”.’ This was the first day.

The second day is found in Genesis 1:6-8, “And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.” Whether it is to admire the color, an odd shaped cloud, or to just be in complete awe of the endless panoramic view from a tall mountain or high building, everyone has took pleasure by looking at this great creation. It was always puzzling to think of the different colors of the sky. As a child I thought the color of the sky reflected God’s emotions. Although my innocence as a child would not measure up to the ideas of a respected scientist, I was correct in attributing the colors to God. The reason the sky is blue is because sunlight reaches Earth’s atmosphere and is scattered in all directions by all the gases and particles in the air. Blue light is scattered in all directions by the tiny molecules of air in Earth’s atmosphere. Blue is scattered more than other colors because it travels as shorter, smaller waves. This is why we see a blue sky most of the time. (Why Is)

It is odd how something as powerful as a beam of light can be shifted off course by tiny particles or invisible gases. This is a perfect example of how Christians should live their life. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”(NIV) Even though God the Creator of the universe is our king, it is our responsibility as Christians to let His light shine through us by our actions. Noting that the smallest of particles can shift the light this shows the importance of daily biblical self evaluation as mentioned in Matthew 7:5. If the smallest speck is in our eye it will still affect the light. Of course, if we deny Christ altogether by our actions this would mean that there is no light at all. If there is darkness, there is no light. This simple Christian truth can all be seen in observing God’s wonderful sky which was created on the second day.

The third day of Creation is recorded in Genesis 1:9-13, “And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.  Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.” So on the third day God created dry land, seas, and vegetation. At first God created a big blue ball called earth, then applied light to the blue globe, and now He has created dry ground and vegetation for that ground. God is preparing a home for something special.

Only being six years old the first time I saw the ocean, I remember it very clearly. Seeing pictures and movies about the beach and the ocean can never compare to it true shocking view that can not be explained by words only experienced. Being on the road for several hours I was the only one of four children that had not fallen asleep. Excitement was the only thing running through my mind. The smell is what hit me first, the beautiful sulfuric salty smell. Then I knew I was near because I had never smelled anything like that. Riding in the backseat was tough because all that could be seen was tall buildings. Suddenly there was a gap between two buildings and I saw a brief glimpse of the dark blue horizon; it was absolutely breath taking. The saying has been said “as far as the eye could see”, but that never meant anything until I actually witnessed the ocean myself.

The sea is the heat regulator for planet Earth: it stops Earth from getting too hot or too cold. This is because of the remarkable properties of water in bringing about the transfer of heat by absorbing heat from the sun and sending it back into the atmosphere. The oceans are the biggest single part of a land, sea, air system that maintains life. Over 98.5 percent of all the water on Earth is in the sea (Barton). Over two-thirds of our planet is covered by the ocean. It is clear by observing the ocean that God has a purpose for everything He creates.

Once the seas were gathered, dry land appeared. The dry land houses the vegetation which would be “seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” (NIV) Trees play a vital role in our environment. There are many types of trees and vegetation inhabiting the planet, and nearly all used for different purposes. Trees were even used by Jesus to illustrate vital truths for His followers. God put a lot of science into the genetic code of a tree.

If something were to happen to eliminate all of the leaves and trees, our lives would come to an end. The leaf that God placed on the vegetation produces oxygen in a process called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis means “putting together with light”. Simply stated, the leaves absorb the sunlight and carbon dioxide and release oxygen and sugar. Humans need the oxygen to breathe, and sugar is used by the plants to make starch, fats, and proteins which is food for their survival. Vegetation and trees are overlooked but are easy to label the life stabilizer on earth (Tree)

There are so many different trees and so many different purposes. This is a great illustration of Christians. A key note to make when observing and studying the vegetation and trees would be it is impossible to grow at night. Like most things that live, plants also sleep at night. The reason this sleep is necessary is because it is impossible for any plant to grow with out sunlight. That can be seen in the Christians life. It is impossible for the Christian to grow unless they have Light in their lives, which could be translated a daily personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Like many trees, Christians are to be fruit bearing people. In Matthew 21:18-19 Jesus is quoted by saying, “Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. Why curse the fig tree? Certainly, it is not the fig tree’s fault that it had no fruit, is it?

Jesus mentions in Matthew 7 that a good tree can not bear bad fruit and a bad tree can not bear good fruit. Clearly Jesus mentions there are trees that bear good fruit, bad fruit, and no fruit. But for a fig tree not to bear fruit the conditions of growth would have to be closely explained to fully understand this particular passage. Ficus Carica, the common fig tree in Israel, require good quality soil that is well drained and requires protection from late frosts (Tree). A Christian desiring to be fruitful must take note of this text in verse 18 and 19. We are to bear good fruit that is pleasing to God. Unlike the fig tree we can choose what we set our roots in. Will we set our roots in a dry arid climate fully focused on self, or will be planted by the rivers of water meditating on the word of God day and night like David mentions in Psalm 1?

Another key observation to make when looking at vegetation in particular trees is the time is takes for growth. In our walk with Christ, the trend that sets in normally is one of haste and impatience in relation to spiritual growth and maturity. Americans are in this fast paced technological culture where everything has to be high speed, and anything that contradicts that speed is encouraged to be left alone. The cell phones, internet, plastic surgery, weight loss supplements are all fruits of a ‘now’ generation. Waiting is just not acceptable anymore. A lot of Christians would prefer their spiritual growth and maturity to be cooked in the microwave, but the mighty tree’s growth is not measured in minutes, but years. The tree can be a reassuring reminder for a Christian to relax and trust that God is guiding their growth just as He planned. All this is just an observation of day three of creation.

The fourth day of creation is found in Genesis 1:14-19: “And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.  God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.”

It has always amazed me the power of light. Nowhere on this planet will you find any darkness that is stronger or more powerful than light. Darkness is literally defined as the absence of light. (Merriam) Darkness has no place with light. When God made the sun, He put that in the sky to help warm and fuel the seasons of the earth. Then He strategically placed the moon just outside planet Earth so it could use its gravitational pull and create the ocean’s daily constant tides. The sun is such a powerful source of light, the only light the moon emits it the light from the sun. Even the moon is totally dependant on the sun in relation to the light it produces (McNab). The only light we can shine, as Christians, is the light that comes from the Father. Nothing good can come from us unless it is Christ shining through us.

The fifth day God created the living creatures in the water and the birds of the air. This is noted in Genesis 1:20-23, “And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

Note the command God gave the creatures, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” Thus far, this is the only audible command given to the creation. Part of this reason is to constantly replenish the earth. The Lord had a big plan when He created this planet and these creatures were to be a huge part of that plan. Birds and fish were used in scripture to illustrate key biblical truths.

Two aspects from Scripture come to mind when talking about the bird. The first would be the bird’s vital role in the flood. In Genesis 8 Noah sends out two types of birds to see if the waters have receded. The raven he sends out flies back and forth until it finds a place to land. The dove is sent out as well. Eventually through the birds Noah and his family knew when it was safe to leave the ark.

The second aspect that comes to mind when the bird is used in Scripture is Isaiah 40:31, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” The mighty Eagle can have a wingspan of up to ninety inches that is seven and a half feet! (Alderfer) This verse in Isaiah gives the Christian hope in the Lord.

Studying through the Gospel it is clearly noted the role fish played in some of the disciples lives. Some of the disciples of Jesus were fishermen, but in Matthew 4:19 Jesus called His disciples to be “fishers of people.” (NIV) This plays a huge role in the way we see evangelism. Just as different fish are caught by different means so people are reached for Christ in different means. Christians should do everything in their power that is morally and biblically correct to reach someone for the Gospel.

Finally the sixth and last day of creation is written in Genesis 1:24-31, “And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so.  God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.”

To witness the account on this day would have truly been mesmerizing. As mentioned earlier God created a big blue ball called earth, then applied light to the blue globe, and now He has created dry ground and vegetation for that ground. God is preparing a home for something. That something was man. God went through all this work and intricate detail to give us a home. But God’s great power did not stop after the birds and fish. The fingerprints of God can still be admired even by looking at man. His fingerprints are everywhere!

Land animals and man were the last of His creation. Everything God created, He gave to man to rule over them. The patterns and instincts of man and animal are all points to marvel at God’s glory and power. When observing God’s creation, it is impossible to overlook his fingerprint in everything, because everything is made up of atoms. The observation of the nature of the atom points to God more than anything else of His creation, because it lays out a model for the life of a Christian.

Matter is anything that takes up space and has mass. All matter, whether made of solid, liquid, or gas, is made up of the same basic structure. The atomic structure is made up of three parts: protons, neutrons, and electrons. The center of the structure, or nucleus, is made up of protons and neutrons, while the electron is constantly orbiting around the nucleus (King). This is the basic structure that everything God created has. Atoms are everywhere in everything.

The protons have a positive charge, the electrons have a negative charge, and the neutron that clings to the proton has a neutral charge. God has laid out a model for us in everything that he has created. Humans are the neutron, we are neutral. As Christians we are to cling to the proton, or Christ. The electron in the atomic structure orbiting the nucleus represents Satan. 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The smallest thing in everything carries a perfect model of how Christians should live their lives.

Genesis 1 accounts for everything God made from the creation of the earth to the creation of man. Whether it’s the detailed look into the science behind light, the complexity of a tree, or the atomic structure in everything, God’s creation should be admired. Everything under the sun should be given to the glory of God; nothing should be used to glorify man. Looking at science through the scope of biblical lenses is a form of worship, but once that science takes the precedence over God and robs from his power it becomes a sin. One hundred lifetimes could be spent in observation of this planet and other creations God has made and the surface of the mystery behind everything would not be touched.

Works Cited

Alderfer, Jonathan K., and Jon L. Dunn. National Geographic Birding Essentials. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2007. Print.

Barker, Kenneth L., and Donald W. Burdick. Zondervan NIV Study Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002. Print.

Barton, Robert. The Oceans. New York: Facts on File, 1980. Print.

King, Rita Mary., Frances Chamberlain, Q. L. Pearce, and W. J. Pearce. Biology Made Simple. New York: Broadway, 2003. Print.

McNab, David, and James Younger. The Planets. New Haven: Yale UP, 1999. Print.

Merriam Webster Dictionary. Springfield, MA: G & C Merriam, 1981. Print.

Phillips, John. Exploring Genesis: An Expository Commentary. Grand Rapids, MN: Kregel Publications, 2001. Print.

“Tree – New World Encyclopedia.” Info:Main Page – New World Encyclopedia. Web. 14 Aug. 2011. <http:>.</http:>

“The UnMuseum – Speed of Light.” The Museum of UnNatural Mystery. Web. 14 Aug. 2011. <http:>.</http:>

“Why Is the Sky Blue? :: NASA’s The Space Place.” NASA’s Space Place :: Home :: NASA’s The Space Place. Web. 14 Aug. 2011. <http:></http:>.

Learning to Lose

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies? Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us!” (Romans 8:31-34).

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3)

Blessed is the man who perseveres under temptation, for when he is approved he will receive the crown of life which the lord promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)

It was march 6, 1985 and the boxer known for his amazing speed, power, and defense in his amateur career had finally gotten his first professional bout. The critics were anticipating this fight knowing that the boxer could knock out a man in 8 seconds, the record for quickest knockout in Junior Olympic history. This boxer went the first five years of his professional career undefeated. It wasn’t long before he became the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history, and the first boxer to hold all three title belts. At 37 wins and zero loses with 33 knockouts, and 17 not lasting past the first round the boxer was easily nicknamed “The baddest man on the planet.”, some even called him the “the god of boxing.”

On February 11, 1990 He was set to defend his title yet again against an obvious unworthy opponent James “buster” Douglas. With the 42 to 1 odds it was sure that Buster was heading toward his destruction. In the red corner you have a boxer who is 37-0. Hasn’t once flinched at the sight of the toughest competition. Every opponent was but a speed bump. His last opponent he knocked out in the first round. He had all the belts, all the fame, all the wins, all the knock outs,  and all the confidence anyone would ever need. In the blue Corner you have James “Buster” Douglas who was 30-5-1. He just came off a loss prior to this fight being knocked out in the third round. He was struggling with the cold all week, and his mother died twenty three days before the fight. It was obvious Buster Douglas was the underdog. It was truly a fight of “Man vs. Machine”.

During the fight the commentators smirked at Douglas’ shot in the fight. They were questioning when he was going to get knocked out. He lasted through the first, the second, and the third. It was clear that Douglas was standing toe to toe with the champion and wasn’t intimidated. Buster fought hard and the commentators smirks turned into to praise, but unfortunately the eighth round would not be a good one for Buster. He caught the feared right upper cut and hit the canvas. The crowd cheered the champion and questioned their earlier reasons for every doubting him. Meanwhile Buster was on his back looking at the lights and the count began 1….2…..3…..4………..Buster stood up on the ninth count shocking all. Two rounds later in the 10th Buster Douglas knocked out the champion Mike Tyson. Becoming the first fighter to defeat the “Iron Mike”. This fight is known in the boxing world as “the upset of the century”. Mike Tyson fought just four more times after his loss, before being sent to prison for rape of a beauty queen. He was released after serving 3 years in prison. He returned to the ring a fraction of the “Iron” he once was. Between Angry outburst and ear bitings Tyson continued to make headlines. But the aura of invincibility was gone and Mike Tyson had to face the real world, his humanity. Mike Tyson finished his Career 50-6. And no one remembers his countless records or his induction to the Boxing Hall of Fame. They remember him by his failings, because he didn’t know how to lose.

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Translation: Shortcomings and failures are a sure reality for anyone. They can come in many different packages, and are by no means partial to any particular race. But after reading the above verses ask yourself three questions: 1) Do I trust God’s Word? 2) Do I delight myself in the Lord? 3)Do I love God? If you answered yes to any of these questions you should have no problem in responding to life’s seemingly losing situations. Not because you are such a strong person. But because your walk with Christ is so rich that the seemingly losing situations aren’t seen as huge obstacles in the light of God’s grace and redemptive love. If life’s tough times ruins your day, week, or robs you of joy and makes you a grump to be around. Then one of the questions you answered no, or you lied.

Solution: Pray, Get in the Word, and Meditate on what you read.

Casey Anthony: Justification and Sanctification

Traveling down the interstate one afternoon my wife gasps, “Oh my goodness! Did you see that billboard?” Being such the observant husband that I am, I replied apathetically, “No.” She then paints a graphic picture describing the billboard. It was an advertisement billboard with the picture of a recent mug shot of Casey Anthony, a young mother who was on trial for the murder of her beautiful 2 years old daughter. Beside her mug shot in big, yellow, capital letters reading, “MURDERER!” Unless for some reason one was totally excluded from any form of civilization in America, one would be aware that Casey Anthony was found not guilty for the murder of her daughter. When the verdict was read, America was outraged. Aside from people close to Casey Anthony and a very small group of the population, America hated Casey Anthony.When first hearing about the billboard I was encouraged that someone would spend money to stand for something the so strongly believed in such as that. I was in the group that thought she was guilty as sin on Sunday. It did not seem fair that a mother could kill her daughter, have all of the evidence stacked against her, and still be found not guilty. After my wife finished I began to vent, I believe the phrase “there is a special place in Hell for people like her” was used. After I finished expressing my Southern thoughts about the American justice system, and what’s wrong with the world today, it hit me: I was a hypocrite. How could I get so upset over a trial where someone was proven not guilty, yet cling on to my grace and justification like it was an earned reward deserved for my dedicated hard work, commitment, and labor in the ministry?
That billboard didn’t need Casey Anthony’s picture on it, it needed mine. What would it say: liar, blasphemer, idolater, slanderer, prideful? You could tag any of those sins and probably more, but for some reason before the earth was formed the Lord chose me (Ephesians 1:4), and because He chose me I am justified freely by grace accomplished by Jesus Christ on the cross (Romans 3:24). We are justified by the blood of Jesus Christ. John 19:30 reads, “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” It was finished, the court was adjourned! Through that act of the cross the ones that He chose were justified! Romans 8:1 said it best, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Justification and sanctification is the brick and mortar of Christianity; however there is often confusion between the two. Justification is defined as the judicial act of God whereby those who put faith in Christ are declared righteous in His eyes, and free from guilt and punishment. Sanctification has a two-fold meaning: the separation from evil and the dedication unto God and His service. Technically speaking, justification is God declaring us righteous in which we may become righteous through sanctification. Justification is what God does for us, while sanctification is what God does in us (Evans).
Unfortunately in many religious circles the belief is supported and taught that a Christian can lose their salvation. How can someone lose something that wasn’t theirs to begin with? There is no Christian on this planet that can take ownership of their salvation; Romans 3:23 states, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. All means all! Look at John 3:3, Jesus said a man has to be “born again.” Can a man be born again, again? The result of being justified by the Cross was pure, undefiled, priceless, and undeserving grace for the believer in which Christ died for. Christians will be given eternal life the moment they repent and believe. The latter part of 1 John 5:13 states, “you may know that you have eternal life.” That sounds kind of permanent.
Please note that a man who takes this grace and runs freely in sin and does whatever he pleases, and bears no fruit at all should not be viewed as a Christian. We will all stumble, but there is a different between the battling of sin and the settling of sin. Note the wording in Luke 1:37 and John 15:5. Luke 1:37 says, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” And John 15:5 reads, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” Take a closer look at how the passages are translated. Luke basically says, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” The passage in John could be read, “You can do nothing apart from (Jesus).” For with God ‘nothing’ will be impossible, but apart from Me you can do ‘nothing’. If a man claims to be in Christ, how can he bear no fruit at all? The Scriptures state that with God ‘nothing’ is impossible. It must mean that the man claiming to be a Christian is apart from Jesus which is the only way that someone can bear no fruit at all in their lives.
Once someone chosen by God repents and believes in Christ Jesus he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is where sanctification begins. As stated before sanctification has a two-fold meaning: separation from evil and a dedication unto God and His service. These are two good things that a believer should constantly ask themselves: “Am I separated from evil?”, and “Am I dedicated to God and His service?” Although, there is a two-fold meaning of sanctification there are three stages in which it is viewed: past, present, and future or instantaneous, progressive, and complete.
Instantaneous sanctification is the act of sanctification where when the man becomes a Christian he is sanctified. Every Christian is a sanctified man. 1 Corinthians 6:11 supports this claim by stating, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” The act of someone being sanctified the moment he receives Christ is instantaneous sanctification and is known as the past view, because we as believers were sanctified on the Cross when Jesus died.
Progressive sanctification is seen in 1 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” This is the act of sanctification that is a daily process. This is important to note as a believer to take hold to every situation and growing closer to the Lord, while becoming more like Jesus Christ. Grow in grace and knowledge. A Christian should keep knowledge a part of their daily study. One should grow daily in the knowledge of Jesus, and never stop learning; never stop growing.
The last and final stage of sanctification is the future view or the complete and final sanctification. This point can be seen in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When Jesus comes back we will be united with the King and fully sanctified
It is essential in the body of Christ to realize how powerful the payment Jesus made was. We were justified and sanctified by that act (1 Corinthians 6:11). A believer’s life should be centered around Christ daily, and this gift of grace should not be taken lightly or to be cheapened by immature actions. We are representing the Kingdom of God, so we should represent it well through our worship, actions, and lives.