Monday, April 15, 2013

Good Friday

I had the opportunity to speak at church this past Good Friday. I had to pick some of Jesus' last words before he died and give my thoughts on them.  Here's what I came up with:

"Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing".  Powerful words.

If I were put into that position that would not be my first thought.  So where did He get the strength and wisdom to speak them? How did he muster up that courage?  Well, I'm not so sure that He was the one that did.

Surrender.  That's another powerful word.  God's been teaching me a lot about that this past year.  Through projects falling apart at work, a good friend going through a nasty divorce, and the never ending work of caring for a toddler and pregnant wife at home, God has taught me that I can rely on him for strength.  For the words to say.  For the courage to say them. 

The trick is simple: just get out of the way.  Empty yourself of.... yourself.  Surrender your own desires and wants and independence.  We talk about God wanting to come into our lives.  To give us good things.  Well, if our lives our so full of ourself, He has no room.

Jesus had learned to empty himself.  He let the power of the Holy Spirit guide him.  With this source of unending courage, he was able to do the impossible.  To look with God's eyes instead of his own.  To see people as they really are, broken and in need of help.  To love those he saw, even in the midst of terrible pain.

That power is open to all of us.  You just have to make room in your life for it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Religious Rules

Some people say rules are made to be broken.  Others say you better follow the rules or you will be in trouble.  Christian rules don't follow either of those concepts.

Following all the rules to the letter with no regard for anything else is actually frowned upon in Christianity.  It's called legalism.  You can't get to heaven that way.  You earn no favor with God that way.  Your life may be a little bit better off is all. 

The rules God lays out in the bible are not meant to take our fun away, or make us pious so that our lives consist of nothing but serving God through these rules.  In fact, if you really read and understand them, it's hard to even take them that way at all.

God gives us these rules, these guidelines to live by, because he loves us.  Because by voluntarily following them, we grow much closer to him and because of that our lives will be fuller in every sense.  He will show us how to utilize our natural abilities to the fullest.  He will put wonderful people in our lives that bless us as we bless them.  He wants us to live life to the absolute fullest.

This only works if you almost disregard the rules at the beginning.  Don't start with the rules, start with love.  Get to know God personally.  Let him show you what you need to do.  Learn to love him more and more.  As you do this, he will naturally start to align your will with his and you will want to follow the rules.  Not because you feel like you have to.  But because you have a desire to serve him better.  To know him more. 

That is the key.  There's a world of difference between following rules by rote because that's just what you feel you have to do, and following the rules because you have a desire to serve the one that put the rules there.  The former means you gain nothing, the latter means you gain everything.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Views on Science

One of the big reasons people don't believe in God (or at least an excuse that is popular) is that they think science doesn't support it.  That science somehow disproves God.  First off, that whole notion doesn't make sense.  If God exists, He exists outside of science.  There is no test to prove or disprove that, and there never will be one.  The only true test is to ask God to show Himself to you.

Now, there are certainly several key sciences where people consider there to be a sort of round-about evidence for or against God.  Things that give people pause in reconciling their beliefs and this fact of science.  I enjoy encountering these things that seem to make no sense, as they make me re-evaluate things.  It helps me get closer to the truth, and get deeper into my faith. 

Here's my current view on these sciences and how things may not be what they seem.  Some details may not be quite right, but overall I think I'm on the right track.

Biology:  We'll jump right into the big one: evolution.  There's a lot of back and forth on fossil records and is micro-evolution ever a net positive instead of just a tradeoff and whatnot.  I simply can't follow all of that, there seems to be evidence both ways, and I'm not a good enough biologist to evaluate it myself.  So I'd like to go deeper.  Back further.  Where did it all start anyway?  How did life get here to begin with?  How did a simple cell form?

Turns out, life in a cell is not so simple after all.  As we got better microscopes and got better at looking at these things, the more complex it got.  First we discovered it's more like a factory, with parts doing their own specialized thing and various chemicals flowing though the different areas.  Then we said wait, no, even that is too simple, it really works more like a miniature city! 

Any way you want to look at it, life is far too complicated to have arisen on its own by random chance.  DNA, Proteins, what are the odds of these forming by random chance, even given that you have the perfect "primordial soup"?  Far, far beyond what statisticians call impossible

If you have infinite time, maybe, sure.  But we don't have infinite time.  We only have 2 billion years or so. 

Physics/Astronomy:  There seems to be a beauty in these things.  Some things just happen to work out just so.  We are in a unique place in the universe, able to see just after the big bang and also way far out, to the edge of the universe.  Most other places have too many other stars or particles around to be able to see things clearly. 

Additionally, the whole anthropic principle seems to turn up everywhere - take any one of a number of forces and change it by just a fraction of a percent, and the whole thing would collapse and not work at all.  Many people just dismiss the whole thing and say well of course it works out, if it didn't we wouldn't be here to observe it.  To me that seems like dodging the question.  If there's that much coincidence that there's an actual named principle behind it, then that's enough evidence for me.

And the whole multiverse (an infinite number of alternate universes or dimensions or what have you) - that seems like at least as big of a stretch as God is just to answer the anthropic principle.  It's also something that we can't ever test and as such is also firmly outside the realm of science.

In conclusion:  The evidence from hard sciences seems very clear to me.  Life here currently is beyond the impossible to have formed randomly by chance.  That leaves only that it was created. 

Historical/Archeological evidence for Jesus and the Bible does not disappoint either. 

Most of all though, are the numerous specific prayers that have been answered, and the way I see God moving throughout my life.  That is why I believe.  All the evidence I can see points directly to the Christian worldview being correct.