Billions of Missing Links – Evidence for a Creator

I read this (by Geoffrey Simmons) and I had to laugh:

The wombat has an upside-down pouch. Scientists presume, and it makes sense, that position prevents dirt from entering the pouch when the wombat is digging in the ground. Could there have been transitional species with pouches situated sideways, or did the first wombats have to scoop dirt out of their pouches every day?

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For the Purpose of Godliness… Bible Intake

So I’m back to start the next chapter: Bible Intake Part 1.

The alternative to discipline is disaster. No spiritual discipline is more important than the intake of God’s word. There is no substitute for it. Lord, I confess that often I honor you with my lips but neglect you in my heart. I am often far from your word. I confess this and repent of it. Lord, I will strive to grow in the disciplines, especially this one of Bible intake. Grant me strength and will. For I can do no good thing apart from your power. Amen

Hearing God’s word is an important aspect of Bible intake. Luke 11:28 and Romans 10:17 both speak favorable of hearing God’s word. A church is a good place to do this. But other means are good too, such as recordings. Consider tape lending services and short wave radio. 1 Timothy 4:13 speaks favorably of corporate Word reading, preaching and teaching. Private “golf course” worship is possible but not a viable replacement. It is important that we prepare our hearts and minds to hear the word of God. This is true in church. We should hold hearing the word with higher reverence than we do. This is a discipline to be cultivated.

Reading God’s Word is also important. Since “all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” shouldn’t we read it? This must be a discipline. John Blanchard wrote on how often we should take in God’s Word. How often do we face problems, temptation, or pressure, need instruction, guidance, or encouragement, or need to see God’s face again? Everyday. DL Moody said a man can no more store up grace for the future than he can eat for six months at a time or breathe once for the rest of his life.

Practical suggestions for reading the Word regularly: Find a time. This takes discipline. But it is worthwhile. If it is when you are tired and sleepy, you will retain little. Find a plan, a schedule. Meditate on at least one word or phrase during each reading. This deepens understanding and helps us remember what we have read.

Reading God’s word gives us breadth, but studying gives us depth. Studying is very important. Consider Ezra who disciplined himself to study Gods word, to apply it, and to teach it (Ezra 7:10). Let us not fail to study God’s word. When you read, write things down. Cross reference. Outline, a chapter or paragraph at a time. This will give a strong understanding of the text. Read books by others but do not fail to explore the Bible for yourself.

More application. If your growth in godliness were measured by the quality of your Bible intake, what would be the result? What is one thing you can do to improve your intake of God’s word? The chapter closes with an exhortation from pastor Geoffrey Thomas to read the Word.

For the Purpose of Godliness… Discipline

Donald Whitney has written a book on spiritual disciplines. It is quite good. Here are my reflections on the first chapter.

Just opened my new book on discipline by Donald Whitney. This is a great book I’m looking forward to it. I will be writing more about it.

1 Timothy 4:7 says “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” NASB. (ESV says “train yourself for godliness’). Godliness needs training. You don’t fall into. You don’t trip over godliness when you walk down the street and take it home with you. You must be disciplined. “The spiritual disciplines are those personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth.”

God uses 3 main things to help us grow, to make us more mature spiritually. He uses people. Iron sharpens iron. He uses circumstances. Pressures, conditions, even weather. Opened doors. We have no control over these. We do have some control over spiritual disciplines and how they affect our lives. However, even in this, spiritual growth is a gift from God. But the disciplines are our means of spiritually “working out.” Consider Blind Bartimaeus who never gave up or Zacchaeus. Neither affected their own spiritual growth. But both did what little they could to work toward it.

1 Timothy 4:7 is a command. Holiness is not an option but a mandate. The means of obtaining holiness is not a suggestion but a command. Christ modeled discipline for us, his disciples. Fruit follows discipline.

One thing I like about this book is at the end of every chapter, there is a “more application” section. It is usually a great addendum to each chapter. It usually has some emboldened statements and then some elaboration. There is danger in neglecting the spiritual disciplines. Whitney then elaborates with a story about the author Coleridge who was apparently undisciplined. There is freedom in embracing spiritual disciplines. Quoting a man who compares spiritual discipline to athletic discipline, he says “Discipline is the price of freedom.” But it takes time. There is an invitation to all Christians to enjoy the spiritual disciplines. Discipline without direction is drudgery. So practice for the purpose of godliness. “Jesus was the most disciplined man who ever lived and yet the most joyful and passionately alive. He is our example of discipline. Let us follow him to joy through the spiritual disciplines.”

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday.  Happy Birthday to Me!

Marvel IV

Marvel vb \‘märv-ǝl\ : to become filled with surprise, wonder, or amazed curiosity

Having nothing to do with science.

Last week I posted that I had just finished my first year in Med School. This is just a little bit of an elaboration.

First in line is a little back ground. For all those who would believe that being a doctor is my life-long dream, you are wrong. For all those who think that I am doing all this for that doctor “lifestyle,” wrong also. I didn’t want to go to med school. I didn’t want to be a doctor. I just wanted to be a regular guy living in a regular town with a regular wife and some regular kids. I didn’t want any of this action. I didn’t have any aspirations or ambitions.

I also had no passions.

Then one day, on the mission field, the Lord called me into mission work. Now I’m not saying that I got some fuzzy feeling in my chest somewhere and that was the calling. I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that He made real to me the need for his Word and Truth and Grace in the world. I already understood that missions was what he commanded. And I was going to do some of that in my life. But it was then that I realized that my whole life’s purpose was supposed to be centered around the Great Commission – making disciples of all nations.

I would point out here that the Great Commission is for every believer. Not just some weird people (like me) who had no plans without it. If Christ’s call to cast your burdens on him and let him be your rest is a call for every believer, then his call to make disciples of all nations is too.

So I prayed about different things. Seminary was one. But the Lord shut every door to me except the one that he had already opened. I was in college at the time. I was pre-med (but I had no idea why). Now everything made sense to me. I knew the path that I was on was a path that God was making.

Fast forward to med school. It is hard. It is real hard. We have between 20 and 25 hours of classes every week, and these are 800 level classes. For those of you who think that some people are smart and stuff like this is easy for us, you are wrong. It takes studying. Its hard work. There were days I didn’t think I could go on. There were times when I didn’t think I would pass. There were times when I doubted the Lord’s call on my life and I doubted that he could even bring me through. I was wrong. He is a strong and mighty warrior.

There were times when I put my relationship with my wife after my studies. I was wrong. For that I am sorry. And the Lord is good to forgive. Thankfully, my wife, Maryem, is also.

As I posted earlier in a very short post, last week, I took my last test of my first year. What a relief it is! What a joy to be done with one year! I’m a year older. I feel ten years older. But I know that I could not have made it without the Lord. He gets the credit and the glory. To him is all my hearts joy. I just have to marvel, I just have to stand amazed at how good the Lord is. He is faithful and he is good. I have to stand in wonder at how good our God really is.

Batman’s Blog

I just want to take a minute to highlight another blog. Its the blog of Batman. Just a good look into the everyday life of a super-hero. Its a brand new blog but I highly recommend it.

Where Resides the Soul?

John Calvin referred to the Psalms as “an anatomy of the soul.” In our modern age, it would seem that the existence of the soul itself has been called into question. Following is an essay I wrote some months ago shortly after beginning the infamous course: Gross Anatomy.

Where Resides the Soul?

The student interrupted as his professor was about to begin the dissection of the cadaver, “But sir,” he asked, “where resides the soul?”

This is an interesting question. Where does the soul live? Is it in the brain (the thinking part)? The heart (circulator of the life’s blood)? The kidneys (cleanser of the body)? The lungs (remember that God “breathed” life into Adam)? The liver (got to have it to live, hence the name)? Where does the soul reside.

As I stood aside the body I’d named Chickering Smith, one thing was for certain. It did not come very close to resembling a person. A person’s body? Yes. A person? No. It wasn’t even close. This was a far cry from a person. A person’s personhood is no longer present in the lifeless vessel of a dead body, the thing we call a cadaver, an “it,” the thing I gave a name. It is a far, far cry from being a person, from being a “him” (or a her as the case may be).

Where resides the soul? This is proof, to me at least, that a person is not purely physical, but “soulish” as I will describe one (or all) of us. But where does it come from? And where does it go? Its there. Does it die. So what if… where is it? The body dies and we have remains. Shouldn’t there be remains of the soul? Something to show that at some point there was something else to what you see than, well, what you see. It was a person. What happened to the personhood.

For thousands of years questions of the body and questions of the soul were not at all separate. They were linked at the most basic level. An ancient Greek would never consider the body without considering the soul. If doing a dissection (which, as in the manner in which dissections are carried out today, was illegal then), of chief concern would be the residence of the soul. Would it live in the “spirit pump” as the brain was called? Or elsewhere. Was it a physical thing that died along with the body or did it “go” somewhere.

The enlightenment rolled in one day and physics and metaphysics were separated, as they remain to this day, for the most part. Philosophy and medicine are seen as 2 distant fields, both requiring scholarship, but having little if anything else in common. The student of the body, be it for medical or purely scientific motivation, would never ask the question “Where resides the soul?” A question such as this is immaterial. We wanted to move forward in our understanding of how the thing worked, not what made it tick. And so we, humankind, divorced the two questions, those of the workings of the life of the body and the workings of the life of the soul. The superstitious ideas of the soul were thrown off, and the body was worshipped.

Scientific searches for the soul have come back to some extent today, but lack the weight that they once carried. The people who delve into such matters are dismissed as foolish while we knowledgeable scholars carry on without a care to something as unimportant as the soul.

But consider for a moment American culture’s way of indicating oneself by body language. It is our way to point to the middle section of ones chest to indicate “myself” or to ask “me?” Does this lead us to believe that the soul resides in the chest? Consider the common Japanese technique of pointing to one’s own nose (which I have observed numerous times) to indicate self. Does the Japanese man’s soul reside in a different part of his body than the American man’s soul.

Consider this. A man can loose an arm, and continue to live. Can a man loose a limb of the soul? Is this possible? What could the dynamics of the soul be? Is consciousness the blood of the soul. Is this consciousness circulated by the brain, or by a metaphysical part of the mind, enabling the soul to live on? How does the soul work, anyway? Is the soul undying and unending? If so, is it necessarily unresting? Or consider for a minute the birth of the soul. The body is born and then decays, but if the soul cannot decay, then is it ever actually born? Interesting questions indeed, none of them posed or considered by our medical student who questioned his professor on the residence of the soul.

If we are to consider Christian doctrine, and I believe that we surely must on questions of the soul, then we are to find that there certainly is a part of the person that is not the body. For there are some who can kill the body, but after that are powerless, and then there is God who, after killing the body, has the power to put the soul into some type of hell, the specifics of which we can only guess, but it is most certain by the words spoken of it in scripture (whether metaphorical or not) that hell is most certainly a horrible place for a person (or a soul) to reside.

Maybe the soul resides not in the body at all, but in some other dimensional space. Maybe.

It is clear (to me at least) that the soul is real and that it will survive after the death of the body. It will dwell forever in enjoyment of God or in torment separated from God, except to be exposed most brutally to his wrath. It is also clear that God cares about the well-being of the soul. The question is why do we, as biological scientists treat it so flippantly or ignore the concept.

In all this I believe that we can be for sure of one thing. I think that the search for the soul is more of a search of what the soul is and what state it is in that what part of the body it is found in. But let the absence of the soul from the body serve to us as a reminder that a person is more than a body, but also, in some form or dimension, possessing a soul. And let us, as God does, value that soul and care for it, nurturing and caring for it at every possible opportunity.