Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Heart in the Word – the Word in the Heart

Ps 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12 Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! 13 With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. 14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
What immeasurable value there is in committing God’s Word to memory! With his permission I present this practical, workable approach developed by my friend and brother, Joseph Stephens.
Memorizing Scripture
Get Started.
Select a faithful Bible translation you are comfortable using.
Select a passage of Scripture (of any length) that you enjoy reading and thinking about, and that means a lot to you. Make it your personal goal to memorize that passage.
You will need a notebook and something to write with.
Step 1 – Lay a foundation for success.
Every day for one or two weeks spend time simply reading through your selected passage. If time permits read through it two or three times. As you read stay focused on the message.  You may also enjoy listening to your passage repeatedly on audio CD. You might consider listening to a recording of yourself reading it out loud. The purpose of this step is to make yourself thoroughly familiar with your selected passage of Scripture.
Step 2 – Memorize.
Sit down with your Bible, notebook, and a pen or pencil. In your notebook write out the first “bite-sized” phrase of your Scripture passage. Carefully read this phrase out loud to yourself 10 times. Make a little tally mark out to the side with each reading to keep track.
Next, recite the phrase out loud to yourself 10 times without looking at your paper. Again, make tally marks to keep track. (You have now read or recited this phrase out loud to yourself 20 times!)
Now that you’ve memorized this first phrase write out in your notebook the next “bite sized” phrase of the passage. Start from the beginning of the first phrase and carefully read through to the end of the second phrase out loud to yourself 10 times. Then say it out loud to yourself 10 times without looking. Practice it once or twice more just to make sure you’ve got it.
Continue adding on more phrases until you can recite 4 or 5 together. Think of this as forming a chain in your mind: one phrase leads to the next, to the next, etc. Now when you add a 6th phrase use the 5th as your starting point of recitation.
Step 3 – Practice.
Take time each day to practice what you’ve already memorized to keep it fresh. You have more time than you think! Recite to yourself while you’re brushing your teeth, or driving, or folding laundry, or washing dishes. Then add more with the process outlined above.
Patience, Practice, & Persistence are required in equal measure! God bless!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

In the Beginning … Nothing?

The Law of Cause and Effect is among the most fundamental rules of science. At least it used to be. If you had told most people in the past, including brilliant atheists, that there was an effect without a cause, they would not have taken you seriously. In fact, unbelievers denied the existence of God using this very idea. “Who created God?” they would ask, assuming that even God had to have a cause behind Him.
However, if God is not the ultimate cause, who or what is? The problem has been that no one could come up with a plausible alternative to God. In the beginning … what? Matter? Energy? The Second Law of Thermodynamics affirms that the universe, including for example the Sun, is running down. Energy is being expended, not sustained. Nothing in the material universe could have existed from all eternity. It just couldn’t.
Some then tried to claim that a very tiny bit of something somehow multiplied and produced the vast, complex array that we call the cosmos. Once again, however, no one could explain how that “bit” could have existed eternally, or how something so little could cause something so much greater.
So we are back to God, or should be! In fact, scientists who believe in God – and there are myriads of them – have no problem with the fact that God made all things from nothing. Heb 11:3 declares, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
However, those who presuppose that there is no God are in crisis. They have come to a cliff, facing a chasm that they cannot cross. If matter was not here from the beginning, if energy did not work on that matter to “create” a “bang” and bring life from non-life, and if there is no God, they are out of answers!
What about evolution? In addition to all its other problems, assumptions, and missing links, this unproven theory lacks a starting point. If man evolved from A … that evolved from B … that evolved from C … what is the first thing, or being, or source that gave rise to all the others? We are back to cause and effect! Evolution demands multiple effects with no ultimate cause or clear intermediate causes! It has no beginning point to offer, especially now that theories of eternal matter or everlasting energy have proven false!
So what’s the latest? How do we get a universe without an origin, a creation without a Creator?
Hold on. The answer is coming. Yes, we are told, atheists have a solution. Are you ready? Some of them are saying …
In the beginning … nothing!
I am serious. The latest idea, presented with a straight face and accepted as quite reasonable by the truly intelligent, is that there is no cause after all. The law of “every effect has a cause,” that “this came from that,” has now become the law of “the first effect had no cause” and “everything came from nothing.”
Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and Director of the Origins Institute at Arizona State University, published A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing. This book, as its title suggests, purports to explain how something---and not just any something, but the entire universe---could have emerged from nothing, the kind of nothing implicated by quantum field theory.
Wait … did you say quantum field theory? Is that the best we have?
Krauss says, “And while we don’t yet know the ultimate origin of life, for most people it’s plausible that at some point chemistry became biology. What’s amazing to me is that we’re now at a point where we can plausibly argue that a universe full of stuff came from a very simple beginning, the simplest of all beginnings: nothing.”
Huh? What’s that? Say it again? “… we’re now at a point where we can plausibly argue that a universe full of stuff came from a very simple beginning, the simplest of all beginnings: nothing.”
According to Ross Anderson, writing in The Atlantic, “It’s a story that Krauss is well positioned to tell; in recent years he has emerged as an unusually gifted explainer of astrophysics. One of his lectures has been viewed over a million times on YouTube and his cultural reach extends to some unlikely places---last year Miley Cyrus came under fire when she tweeted a quote from Krauss that some Christians found offensive. Krauss’ book quickly became a bestseller, drawing raves from popular atheists like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, the latter of which even compared it to The Origin of Species for the way its final chapters were supposed to finally upend the ‘last trump card of the theologian’”.”
Did you catch that? The well-known atheist, Richard Dawkins, sees this “big nothing” as sufficient to overthrow the theologian’s arguments for God’s existence? Krauss says, “We don’t know … plausible …” That unseats faith in God?
Think back with me about this.
When scientists declared that life cannot spontaneously generate from non-life, the theologian already knew that.
When scientists admitted that they could not find the links to prove evolution, the theologian already knew that.
When scientists proclaimed that the universe had a beginning, the theologian already knew that.
When scientists realized that matter and energy could not have existed eternally, the theologian already knew that.
And now, when scientists say, it all started from nothing, the theologian already knew that, too. “In the beginning God.” That’s it. In the beginning, there was no universe, no matter, no creation. Not until He brought it all into being, ex nihilo, from nothing.
Dawkins’ bold statement makes me think of Robert Jastrow’s famous comment. Jastrow (1925 – 2008) was an American astronomer, physicist and cosmologist. He was a leading NASA scientist, populist author and futurist. He wrote, "… scientists cannot bear the thought of a natural phenomenon which cannot be explained, even with unlimited time and money. There is a kind of religion in science; it is the religion of a person who believes there is order and harmony in the Universe. Every event can be explained in a rational way as the product of some previous event; every effect must have its cause, there is no First Cause. … This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized."
"Consider the enormity of the problem. Science has proved that the universe exploded into being at a certain moment. It asks: What cause produced this effect? Who or what put the matter or energy into the universe? And science cannot answer these questions, because, according to the astronomers, in the first moments of its existence the Universe was compressed to an extraordinary degree, and consumed by the heat of a fire beyond human imagination. The shock of that instant must have destroyed every particle of evidence that could have yielded a clue to the cause of the great explosion."
"For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."
—Robert Jastrow, The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe, (1981), p. 19.
Now consider the title of Anderson’s article in The Atlantic:Has Physics Made Philosophy and Religion Obsolete?”
Are you kidding? Physics – at least all that physics has actually proven – has shown faith in God to be the only thing that is not obsolete! Theories come and go. God remains.
Note what Krauss further admits in response to this question from Anderson:
Anderson: “Your book argues that physics has definitively demonstrated how something can come from nothing. Do you mean that physics has explained how particles can emerge from so-called empty space, or are you making a deeper claim?” 
Krauss: I’m making a deeper claim, but at the same time I think you’re overstating what I argued. I don’t think I argued that physics has definitively shown how something could come from nothing; physics has shown how plausible physical mechanisms might cause this to happen. I try to be intellectually honest in everything that I write, especially about what we know and what we don’t know. If you’re writing for the public, the one thing you can’t do is overstate your claim, because people are going to believe you. They see I’m a physicist and so if I say that protons are little pink elephants, people might believe me. And so I try to be very careful and responsible. We don’t know how something can come from nothing, but we do know some plausible ways that it might. 
But I am certainly claiming a lot more than just that. That it’s possible to create particles from no particles is remarkable---that you can do that with impunity, without violating the conservation of energy and all that, is a remarkable thing. The fact that “nothing,” namely empty space, is unstable is amazing. But I’ll be the first to say that empty space as I’m describing it isn’t necessarily nothing, although I will add that it was plenty good enough for Augustine and the people who wrote the Bible. For them an eternal empty void was the definition of nothing, and certainly I show that that kind of nothing ain’t nothing anymore.
It’s not just theologians. Even fellow scientists take issue with Krauss’ conjecture. Look at this review of Krauss’ book, written by David Albert, a professor of philosophy at Columbia and the author of “Quantum Mechanics and Experience.”
The more I read and think, the more I believe Genesis! God took nothing and created all.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

God Says, "Do Not Be Afraid!"

Here is a list of Scriptures dealing with fear. As you study, ask yourself these questions. Why did each person fear? Was their fear justified? How did they react? Who told them not to fear? What can you apply to your own life as you deal with fear?
 Genesis 15:1
1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
 Genesis 21:17
17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.
 Genesis 26:24
24 That night the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”
 Genesis 35:17
17 And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you have another son.”
 Genesis 43:23
23 “It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.
 Genesis 46:3
3 “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there.
 Genesis 50:19
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?
 Genesis 50:21
21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
 Exodus 14:13
13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.
 Exodus 20:20
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
 Deuteronomy 1:21
21 See, the LORD your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the LORD, the God of your fathers, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
 Deuteronomy 20:3
3 He shall say: “Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them.
 Deuteronomy 25:18
18 When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God.
 Deuteronomy 31:6
6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
 Deuteronomy 31:8
8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
 Deuteronomy 32:17
17 They sacrificed to demons, which are not God— gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your fathers did not fear.
 Joshua 8:1
1 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.
 Joshua 10:25
25 Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.”
 Judges 4:18
18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she put a covering over him.
 Judges 6:10
10 I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”
 Judges 6:23
23 But the LORD said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”
 Ruth 3:11
11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character.
 1 Samuel 4:20
20 As she was dying, the women attending her said, “Don’t despair; you have given birth to a son.” But she did not respond or pay any attention.
 1 Samuel 12:20
20 “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.
 1 Samuel 22:23
23 Stay with me; don’t be afraid; the man who is seeking your life is seeking mine also. You will be safe with me.”
 1 Samuel 23:17
17 “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.”
 2 Samuel 9:7
7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”
 2 Samuel 13:28
28 Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Have not I given you this order? Be strong and brave.”
 1 Kings 17:13
13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.
 2 Kings 6:16
16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
 2 Kings 17:25
25 When they first lived there, they did not worship the LORD; so he sent lions among them and they killed some of the people.
 2 Kings 17:34
34 To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the LORD nor adhere to the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands that the LORD gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel.
 2 Kings 25:24
24 Gedaliah took an oath to reassure them and their men. “Do not be afraid of the Babylonian officials,” he said. “Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you.”
 1 Chronicles 28:20
20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.
 2 Chronicles 20:17
17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’”
 Psalm 55:19
19 God, who is enthroned forever, will hear them and afflict them— Selah men who never change their ways and have no fear of God.
 Psalm 64:4
4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent man; they shoot at him suddenly, without fear.
 Psalm 78:53
53 He guided them safely, so they were unafraid; but the sea engulfed their enemies.
 Isaiah 7:4
4 Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood—because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah.
 Isaiah 35:4
4 say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”
 Isaiah 41:13
13 For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
 Isaiah 41:14
14 Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
 Isaiah 43:1
1 But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
 Isaiah 43:5
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.
 Isaiah 44:2
2 This is what the LORD says— he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
 Isaiah 44:8
8 Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”
 Isaiah 51:7
7 “Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults.
 Isaiah 54:4
4 “Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
 Jeremiah 2:19
19 Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.
 Jeremiah 3:8
8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery.
 Jeremiah 5:22
22 Should you not fear me?” declares the LORD. “Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it.
 Jeremiah 40:9
9 Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, took an oath to reassure them and their men. “Do not be afraid to serve the Babylonians,” he said. “Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you.
 Jeremiah 46:27
27 “Do not fear, O Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, O Israel. I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid.
 Lamentations 3:57
57 You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.”
 Daniel 10:12
12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.
 Daniel 10:19
19 “Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”
 Hosea 10:3
3 Then they will say, “We have no king because we did not revere the LORD. But even if we had a king, what could he do for us?”
 Joel 2:21
21 Be not afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice. Surely the LORD has done great things.
 Haggai 2:5
5 ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’
 Zechariah 8:13
13 As you have been an object of cursing among the nations, O Judah and Israel, so will I save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.”
 Zechariah 8:15
15 “so now I have determined to do good again to Jerusalem and Judah. Do not be afraid.
 Malachi 3:5
5 “So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty.
 Matthew 1:20
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
 Matthew 10:28
28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
 Matthew 10:31
31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
 Matthew 28:5
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
 Luke 1:13
13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.
 Luke 1:30
30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.
 Luke 2:10
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
 Luke 5:10
10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”
 Luke 8:50
50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”
 Luke 12:7
7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
 Luke 12:32
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
 Luke 18:2
2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.
 Luke 18:4
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men,
 John 12:15
15 “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”
 Acts 27:24
24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’
 1 Peter 2:18
18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.
 Revelation 1:17
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.