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Archive for the ‘Why?!’ Category

“It is not amazing that God answers prayer; it is amazing we pray so little.”

‘How can you say it’s not amazing that God answers prayer?’ Don’t misunderstand the statement because I do believe it is amazing how He answers prayer. For in pulling off an answer to prayer God must at least redirect the course of God ordained natural forces or the intentions of wills predisposed to wrong. At most He must suspend the rules He has laid down for nature so that they begin running immediately in a new course or give tangible manifestation to spiritual reality. In any circumstance you can name where prayer is answered the supernatural impinges on the natural to bring about God’s purpose with full consideration and at least partial affirmation and completion of the request. All together how prayer is answered demonstrates God’s great power and unending knowledge. How that happens is amazing and wonderful. But that He would answer prayer is not. Answered prayer matches well His character of kindness, mercy, grace, personal involvement in His creation, and goodness. 

But why do we pray so little? Our skeptical, mocking society has largely silenced our praise to God for answered prayer. For one thing they nay say any testimony that challenges their naturalistic presuppositions. ‘That can’t happen; you can’t prove the supernatural.’ Of course you can’t if the only evidence you allow is natural or has a natural explanation. So we Christians back off from saying the truth under the pressure of skeptical mockery. Merely natural explanations, however,  fall short on too many accounts at explaining all that we observe. But our praise to God for answered prayer is silenced for a far more serious reason. Despite the abundant Scriptural evidence to God’s willingness, ability, and examples of answered prayer; the abundant historical evidence (George Mueller very notably); God’s good sustaining grace in our own lives, we pray far too little. We must not believe He will answer. He has many times for me in witnessing opportunities,  financial needs, serious health issues, relational difficulties, bewilderment and discouragement, weather, direction, help for missionaries and witnessing friends. Why do I pray so little? “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures…” (James 4:2-3) Perhaps a better question is… What is preventing me now? A big and glorious God answers big and God-glorifying prayers! Lord, work in my life so that I pray more and more intensely!

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When I was a child my father owned a National Geographic book about… well, I don’t exactly remember. However, I do remember the inside cover painting, one similar to the one below, though linear. It also based its unit of measure on the height of man, a markedly humanistic approach which at least has merit because it compares all else to something we know.  Notice that the exponents range from a mere -15 to 25 and yet this nearly emcompasses the entire known range of size in the universe (the universe is above 10^25 and elementary particles or strings (Do they have dimensions?) are below 10^-15).

Source: http://www.astrobio.nau.edu/~koerner/ast180/lectures/pic/cdrom/art_low-res/es01/figure-I-03.jpg

I loved numbers and making connections so this painting was the source of contemplation and imagination for many hours. I liked the idea of numbers and size relationships so much that one time while carrying English ivy that my father was trimming along the driveway, I asked him what the largest number was.  He replied that it was similar to an eight turned on its side. I didn’t figure out for years that this was the infinity symbol (∞). Sometime near the end of elementary school I decided to write my numbers as high as possible. Was I trying to write to infinity, or some highest number, or just a very big number? I have no idea, but frequently the young are too idealist to notice the possible failure rate of poorly laid plans. I also know that author John Piper says he believes we are drawn to bigness in its various forms because we are made in God’s image with an ability and afinity for seeing the beauty of God which we cannot clearly see at the moment. At any rate (or perhaps a specified rate within limits of one factor of ten) I had one of the old large rule writing tablets with dotted lines for teaching beginners to write their letters. I would write each number interval of 100 on a page. I don’t now know where I stopped but I do remember it was over 10,000.  Obviously these antedotes mean that I was (am?) silly, but they also partially introduce why I think “order of magnitude” thinking is important and partly explain how I know it is largely missing in education. When students crunch numbers on calculators they mindlessly accept what number it spits out not considering that perhaps they put in inappropriate numbers or incorrect key strokes. You may not immediately know what 1,549,000 times 361 equals but you should be able to know that 55,918,900,000 is not the answer by inspection because it is two orders of magnitude (100x) too large. You may not know a comparison between miles per hour and meters per second but if I tell you that a person walks at 1.5 meters per second you should be able to tell that any normal car is not likely to be traveling at 150 meters per second (unless transported to a war zone in a C-5A perhaps). If this rambling of childhood memories in any way spurs you on to consider at all or again powers of ten or orders of magnitude I have included a fun link that is useful for imparting the concept as well as firing the imagination. Enjoy it and share it with some young person who needs an introduction to magnitude so that their future answers might at least be in the ballpark.

 http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/java/scienceopticsu/powersof10/     (As I understand it I may not link this site for copyright reasons but you may go to the site by copying and pasting it into your address line. Enjoy!)

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As time passes I seem to have more, not less, on my mind than I can bring to the front burner and cook. I have so many incomplete questions and thoughts that sit on back burners and in warming alcoves that some will spoil before they ever get cooked.  Rather than a source of discouragement it reminds me that there are life times of ideas to explore in God’s person and works and I shan’t ever get bored  in this one. And it encourages me also that my mind is more active, albeit somewhat slower, than at earlier times, so that I am confident of God’s continued work in my heart and mind.

After college and some number of years of self study in “true science”, unbiased by evolutionism and naturalism (OK, highly and proudly biased by biblical thinking- what of it?), I had come to the conclusion that naturalistic thinking had only two difficult to confront evidences against 6-day Creationism. The first was radiometric dating which gave a clear cut way to measure time since the formation of rocks.  After years of study and a number of different evidences to the contrary, I feel confident in saying Creationists have overcome this difficulty. Polonium halos forming is less than three minutes in granite, the possibility of additive or subtractive contamination in parent and daughter isotopes, evidence for changing decay rates in carbon-14, and most significantly the absence of large amounts of helium from the alpha decay in the uranium series strongly suggesting the youth of the rocks (Don DeYoung’s Thousands . . .Not Billions (Master Books, Green Forest, Arkansas, 2005)) have given sufficient alternative evidence and explanation of this phenomena to render great age unneccesary.  The second difficulty I saw was distant starlight as inferred from redshift data. How could the universe be less than 10,000 years old if starlight had been coming from stars for millions and billions of years? The “appearance of age ” suggestion by some Creationists was never satifactory to me since it means practically that Christians could always retreat to a “miracle” to answer unanswerable questions. Now don’t get me wrong. I not only believe God has but does interfere with Nature for His purposes to accomplish great and actual, albeit rare, miracles. But if God is the God of order and reason then His Creation reveals Him and His work in reasonable and orderly ways, though incompletely without Scripture. And though I much prefer correct explanations, that is not the main point of giving a reasonable explanation, for we can no more know if our scientific explanation is right than can the Naturalist. Sorry, it is simply the limited nature of science. However, we now have a reasonable and convincing explanation for the “starlight problem”. And as such Naturalistic explanations are unneccesary. This fact does not mean that my faith was weak before and stronger now. God said it; that is all that matters, but since I was not created with fins or scales, I get tired swimming upstream in this Naturalistic culture. A little slowing of the downward current on occasion is pleasant . It turns out that the explanation is a matter of relativistic perspective. Einstein chose a convention (rule of thumb, reference frame, or perspective if you like) that was useful and convenient for his mathematical and scientific thought experiments but is not required. Einstein was concerned with observers at different locations. In order to retain this perspective he had to consider them going at the same velocity in the chosen frame of reference. If instead the location of the observers is forfeited so that they are at the same location then the velocity may vary. The result is a new definition of simultaneous that matches the Bible’s explanation for how starlight arrived at earth on the same Day Four that it was created. For considering the age of the universe, the author argues convincingly from evidence that Einstein’s convention is not the correct one. If you are neither faint of mathematical or logical thinking you may like to read it as well:   http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v3/n1/anisotropic-synchrony-convention    Even though I cannot revel in a complete understanding of every detail it adjusted my perspective by comparison to a new one and that is pleasant.

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Pain is a teacher unlike the rest
Mastery through continual test
Speaks loud and clear the nerves to molest
Difficult friend and unwelcomed guest

 

Told to rejoice through various trials
How so when all comfort it defiles
Raises high fears deep emotions riles
Makes a few steps seem as many miles

 

The answer comes through what is induced
Frivolous pursuits greatly reduced
Priorities from limits deduced
Perseverance and faith both loosed

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Eagle Cliffs

Eagle Cliffs

 

I guess I wanted to blog while I was away. Hikers, particularly “through hikers” (also called “end to enders”), journal their experiences and keep in contact with other hikers by writing in spiral bound notebooks left in each shelter, most usually in a ziplock bag.  I went backpacking 3 days and 2 nights in the Smoky Mountains National Park with 3 of my children and 2 of their friends.  I had so much on my mind that my children commented on my exceptional quietness.  A small amount of it came out at lunch time on the second day.  My daughter laughed at the thought of me wanting to (as an afterthought) and being able to digitally copy it.  You can read my thoughts by clicking on smokys-08-trail-journal-entry  

 

 

Pecks Corner Shelter

Pecks Corner Shelter

I decided not take tents which meant we had to stay in shelters.  This of course saved weight for us all and gave the young people the new experience of staying in a shelter. The first one, Laurel Gap Shelter still had the old design, dark with a chain link fence over the open side to keep out bears.

The Year of the Fir Cone

The Year of the Fir Cone

But Peck’s has the skylight and expanded front with picnic table and vulnerability to wildlife. Life is a balancing act.                              
I was once told that Balsam Firs only cone once every 7 years.  I do see them rarely.  I have a picture of me picking a cone from the top of a tree 14 years ago. The cones have a certain mystery to them since they come infrequently and the cones disentegrate (You’ve picked up pine, hemlock, and perhaps spruce cones but not whole fir cones unless it was a thrown green one.) My daughter commented that since she would be 21 years old this year she was born in the year of the fir cone.  Time is marked in assundry ways.

 

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Here is an oldie but a …. well you’ll have to decide about that.  It certainly isn’t an easy one to get nor was it easy to do.  I sometimes get hung up in my own devices poetically.  I’m sure the poetry suffers but it’s about the challenge.  Hopefully the message does not equally suffer though it may need to be gone over several times to see.  So, with that somewhat disparaging introduction, see if you can figure out what I was intending to talk about by clicking on Source and Reality

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A Need to Create

Why are we creative? Look around. Consider. To expand your musings read my poem by clicking on  A Need to Create .   Here is a scene that brings back memories for me and could elicit creativity in most anyone:

Missouri River Sunset

Missouri River Sunset

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