Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I’m not getting out to climb often enough to improve these days, but I am amazed how well at once a month I am maintaining. I do some training on the hangboard, door frames, and pull-up bar. We climb in the morning at a South facing local crag. We were 75% of the time in the shade since the Sun had not come around the corner. Of the four climbs we did two of the climbs that we did were positive slopes with minute holds, almost friction climbing. Three were sport climbs (having bolts to clip into, for the uninitiated), and one was a mixed route (meaning it had bolts (2) and needed gear placed (in this case cams)). There was a 5.8, a 5.9, and two 5.10’s. I flashed one of the 5.10’s. I enjoyed the mixed lead most and have some pictures of my climbing partner and me leading it. The day was surprising pleasant for a summer day in the South. There were occasional cool breezes and random small clouds and some shade. The insects were slight, the other climbers out of earshot, the skies exceptionally blue, no injury, and several clean (no falls) topouts. Our conversation was pleasant, and I believe God glorifying, and my mind was cleared. Such nice days make the harder ones more manageable. It is good to set aside and commit such days to the One who “gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” (Psalm 127:2)

101_1072

Lead on a mixed 5.8

101_1078

Partner entering the crux sequence.

Advertisements

Eat, tell stories, find out what’s been happening since we last gathered, and eat some more pretty much sums it up.

101_1031101_1051101_1055101_1056101_1058101_1050101_1049101_1047101_1046101_1045101_1042101_1039101_1050101_1041

Birdbox 2.01

About five years ago one of my classes built two bluebird boxes to put just out the window of two classrooms at the school. One lasted one year and then got taken by vandals. The other one outside my window could be destroyed but not so easily taken because of the wiring that runs out the bottom of pipe pole, through concrete, underground, through the wall into my classroom and to my computer. I realize that wireless cameras exist, but this is what my students could afford. It is color, works at night by shining infrared lights, and has sound. At one time you could record segments of video, but the school techs lost the software that has to be reinstalled every year due to computer re-imaging.

There are two problems with the present set-up. Even with retreating the wood, five years is considerable weathering, so the roof piece is bowed and lichen encrusted, though still functional. The other problem is a matter of rushed planning on my part when it was built. The students were excited about the camera arriving; the box was already built; we quickly installed it and began observing nesting soon afterwards. The camera, however, was mounted too close to the subjects so that it has always been blurry. The new box has a ceiling below the roof where the camera will be installed and not susceptible to moving when the side panel is opened to clean out last year’s nest. The distance is increased sufficiently to enable in focus viewing.

Since there are three eggs in the present box now, the installation of this new box will wait until Fall or later. I had the time to build it now and the availability of the school shop, so I did. I may put a roof shingle on the top when I install it so that it will last more than 5 years.

Students totally love to see the progress of the birds building a nest, laying eggs, hatching, feeding, growing, and leaving the nest. They are amazed when they here the chirping, chagrinned when there is a runt that is underfed because the others poke their heads up faster and more consistently, and curious about gestation and developmental timings. We have 2 to 3 nesting each Spring. One year the bluebirds and tree swallows fought violently over which pair could nest first. At one point two males (one bluebird and one tree swallow) were rolling around on the ground, clawing and pecking. The students flew to the window to see what was happening. We have never been able to observe the hatching of the birds. It seems to always happen on the weekend or in the early morning. I have left at 5 PM and arrived at 7 AM the next morning to find several birds hatched.

I sincerely wish that I could do more of this kind of teaching, what I call “affective science”. Students need an emotional connection to what they are learning to prick and increase curiosity. I could give many reasons why this is not happening, but I’m not in the mood to wax political or negative, so I will leave that to your imagination. I recorded some aspects of the box build, but many details are also left out. I hope that you enjoy the pictures, but even more, I hope you will observe the world around you and give thanks to our Creator for its utter beauty and utility.

If you hover over the pictures, you can see the captions.

The Lie that was promulgated in the garden is persistent and pernicious. The enemy knows it is the most subtle way to destroy us, and it is persistent because it is part of our nature. “You will be like God” (Genesis 3:5) is a Lie with many iterations. It is the basis of all works salvation whether it be the religions of the world, the self-assured atheist, or the nominal, legalist Christian. Such an ominous enemy to our soul must be regularly and rigorously opposed. The remedy for me is focusing on the grace of God brought to us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

To that end, I asked my pastor recently if he had a book that would refresh my focus on grace. He loaned me the little book, “All of Grace” by C. H. Spurgeon. He leaves no stone unturned in his pursuit of convincing the reader that God “justifieth the ungodly” (Romans 4:5).

The persistence of the Lie most frequently resides here: “We stubbornly believe that there must be something in us in order to win the notice of God” (p.14) But “God, who sees through all deceptions, knows that there is no goodness whatsoever in us.” (p.14) Our pride rises up against this thought, but salvation is for those who realize “He makes those just who are unjust. He forgives those who deserve no favor.” (p.14) Those who are closest by training to what is right and good can sometimes be the fartherest from salvation because they have become self-deceived into thinking that the rightness and goodness resides, even if only partially, in them. On the other hand, some who reject the very existence of God are equally self-deceived about their own goodness. For this reason, what Spurgeon says is profoundly true: “The law is for the self-righteous, to humble their pride. The Gospel is for the lost, to remove their despair.” (p.21) To those already broken by their sin, we preach the good news of God’s grace. To those self-assured of their own goodness, we convey the law so that they will come to a point of despair over their sin and grow in desire for a solution only found in the Gospel. Though the witness is a messenger of these things, the Holy Spirit through the Word of God is the means of this grace. “When He [the Holy Spirit] comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8) and ” the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith” (Galations 3:24).

So why must I, who have long been in the grace of God, refocus on that grace? As I have already said, the Lie is persistent and pernicious. My old nature would have me believe that afterall there is some measure of works I must provide to be satisfactory to God. No, I must continue in “simple reliance upon Jesus” (p.89), cling to Him, turn constantly for a view of His goodness, love, and power, all given to me by His grace. Herein is joy and peace; hence is purpose and hope. The quicker and more deeply I can become totally convinced of the grace of God, the more readily I can love others and point them to that all sufficient grace.

Over the weekend my neighbor came over to share a photo album of his recent vacation. Several relatives took him to the beach, a pier to fish, a battleship, and out to eat several times. He was very excited explaining in his broken, repetitive speech about the beach and waves, a fish he caught, the large shells and big guns of the ship, and pancakes he had. You see, my neighbor has an IQ of around 80. His experience of life is very simple and concrete. (He is also the best neighbor that I have ever had.) The thought occurred to me as he talked that his excitement sounded very similar to that of a young child. Subsequently, I considered that me or some very intelligent person is little different compared to God’s infinite intelligence, perception, and power. We are all enjoying the beach like young children in our level of perception compared to God. But are we all enjoying it with the simple excitement and thankfulness of this neighbor of mine? As I considered it further this morning, I thought about the 4 things our society values: riches, intelligence, beauty, and athletic ability. Those are gifts to be thankful for, but frequently they bring their own problems because we think these gifts somehow come from us. We would be best off without these gifts if we are going to misuse them. And we would be best off not alive if we don’t know God through His Son.

I’d rather be a bear of little brain
Thankful, content, and partially sane
Than one of high intellect and profane
Ungrateful, unbelieving and inane

I would rather be an ugly duckling
Humble and kind, always listening
Than one gorgeous, proud peacock strutting
Self-absorbed and manipulating

I’d rather be a spastic water boy
Team player, play maker, full of joy
Than the stud and star that’s all a ploy
To be in the lights, a lonely alloy

I would rather be poor and struggle hard
Thankful and content though often jarred
Than be filthy rich and on my guard
And by greed and retribution marred

I’d rather be a believer in God
A servant, humble though roughly shod
Than a skeptic agnostic, oh so mod
Separated eternally from God

American Woman

The following poem may be the biggest mistake I’ve ever made on this blog. It could draw some significant ire. However, if those who read it, read it carefully and understand its intent, it may help someone reconsider how they are doing things. The poem came as a result of a conversation I had with a decent young man who at present has no prospects for marriage. What he said could be interpreted as so much sour grapes, but I don’t think so. He wants to be a godly husband and is waiting for a godly spouse, but inside and outside the church, young women seem suspicious and disinterested in commitment to young men. (Switching gender in this statement is sometimes true as well.) One statement he made struck me as instructive: “The American Woman (I’ve decided to call her) expects that a man meet all of her emotional needs, but she sees it as optional to meet his physical needs.” I thought several things after he said this: 1) The full pendulum swing from the man as ruler of his house to the fully liberated woman has occurred.  2) Neither extreme is biblical and both are damaging to all parties involved. 3) This statement illustrates the age old difference and misunderstanding of differences in needs of the two genders.

This society belittles males as nothing more than animals, blathering, hormonal driven fools. What we expect and inspire is what we get. We need to change our expectations and encouragement of boys and men.

American woman why do you flounce?
Look on with disapproving eyes

Every male reject and renounce
Belittle in jest and despise

You practice no modesty before guys
In speech and action or in dress
Putting out honey will draw flies
Complicit are you in this mess

(Now it’s true that men should not lust for girls
Treat them as objects, as mere tools
But made in God’s image, real pearls
Honoring her, not acting like fools)

So build up young men; don’t tear them all down
Declare to them their great value
Help them step up to be renown
Sober of mind and always true

Thus the benefit for all and for you
Respect your man and serve him, too
Modest in dress says you are true
He will arise, protect, love you

I have long been curious and fascinated by Biblical chronology. It is right that I should be so, since I believe that the Bible is true and all other truth claims are to be interpreted in light of its meaning. It is not, however, a straight forward pursuit since various factors have obscured the truth that is contained therein. Various people deal with this problem in various ways, but it seems to me that the main procedure that they use, on some level, is to discount  the validity of the Scriptures. So, while I believe and can confidently say based on Scripture and corroborating scientific evidence that the Earth was created recently, perhaps six to eight thousand years ago, I can equally confidently say that no one knows the exact number of years ago that “God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) Others refuse to explore these issues and say, ‘What difference does it matter?’ I believe that it matters for at least the following reasons:

•An old Earth laced with death means death is not a result of Adam’s sin.

•If Adam’s sin did not bring death, then there is no need for a Savior.

•If we cannot place the Flood in the correct time where it fits with what else we know of history, we cannot apply logic to see how the modern Earth has resulted.

It is this latter idea that I want to explore on an admittedly shallow level and give my opinion. My musings here will not resolve the problem, but they will help me to clarify what I have come to suspect and perhaps stir some readers to consider different legitimate perspectives.

As a kind of introduction to the problem, has it ever bothered you about how rapidly post-Flood changes took place? Nations of peoples in a very few generations, Tower of Babel, Ur, and most of the planet settled in 300 years? And all of these people came from three women who came off of the ark. (It does not say that Noah had other sons and daughters, but it does say “These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated.” (Genesis 9:19)) Abraham could have known Shem who “ was one hundred years old, and became the father of Arpachshad two years after the flood; and Shem lived five hundred years after he became the father of Arpachshad” (Genesis 11:10-11). 500 years after the flood would be long enough for him to be alive when Isaac was born. Noah and Abraham could have even known each other because “Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood.” (Genesis 9:28)

What I have not told you is that this chronology and the resulting seemingly odd consequences come from the Masoretic Text (MT) of Scripture. The Septuagint (LXX for 70 scholars who translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek.) extends the date of the Flood earlier by about 900 years (exact numbers are not really possible for many reasons). This extra time easily and neatly fits many historical and scientific claims.

I come across examples of how the LXX chronology fits with what we know about the world every now and then. Following are a few examples that I can remember. The first Egyptian Dynasty is said to have begun around 3150 B.C. (1) Now if it were said that Egypt was around in 4500 B.C. or some such date, I would not accept that because it clearly contradicts Scripture by any reasonable, straight-forward reading of the text. Even the dates they do give could be skewed, but they seem reasonable.

Bristlecone Pine ring cores have dated Methuselah at 4845 years old and Prometheus, which was cut down, at just over 4900 years old. And more recently one unknown, purposefully hidden specimen was dated at 5062 years old. (2) Even with a number of double rings (two sets of rings grown in one year), these trees would have sprouted before the ~2400 B.C. of the Masoretic Flood date.

I was listening to a video with students about a month ago on the subject of the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964. The USGS geologists studying this 9.2 megathrust earthquake took soil cores from the zone near the inter-tidal zone where barnacles were suddenly thrust up out of the sea about 8 feet in 4 minutes. When they drilled down deep, they found the sudden occurence of land based plants at nine places in the core, going back about 5500 years, based on the C-14 dating. The researcher said that this suggested that the average time between large quakes was about 630 years.  (3)

These examples may seem random and anecdotal with respect to biblical chronology, but they have one thing in common. All three examples originated in the range of 3500 to 3000 B.C., meaning that the events would have happened after the Flood as recorded in the LXX text of Scripture. I don’t think that experience and “scientific” and “historical” evidence mediates Scriptural discussion. In fact that is what has gotten us into the unbelieving mess we are in now. But when multiple lines of evidence line up with what the Scriptures say, it lends some credence to the argument.

Tell me what you think. Have you read or heard evidence from secular or Christian sources that suggest that the Flood happened before 3000 B.C.? Or do you have a well thought our reason to remain with the 2400 B.C. date? If you begin to explore these ideas, be aware that there is a boat load of information. It is not worth getting swallowed up by, but it does merit some curiosity, particularly if it pushes you to examine Scripture for more truth. Let me know what you think.

(1) https://www.ancient.eu/First_Dynasty_of_Egypt/

(2) https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-one-man-accidentally-killed-the-oldest-tree-ever-125764872/

(3) http://www.earthquakenewz.com/1964-quake-the-great-alaska-earthquake-5/