Month: January 2016

Let there be light Photo Nima; hopographer/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does science make a case for God?

On Christmas day in 2014, an article appeared in the Wallstreet Journal (WSJ) entitled “Science increasingly makes the case for God.” Written by Christian apologist and author Eric Metaxas, the article caused a firestorm on the internet. It received an incredible 550,000 Facebook shares. This along with nearly 9,500 comments made it one of WSJ’s most read articles in its prestigious history. In the article, Metaxas starts off writing how science has been desperately looking for life on other planets. He cited an article written in 1966 by Time Magazine entitled “Is God dead?”. In it, astronomer Carl Sagan suggested in the vastness of the universe there were a septillion number of planets (1 plus 24 zeros) capable of life. Sagan believed all that was needed was a decent sun with a planet the right distance away and presto life will spontaneously appear. A number of government and private organizations popped up to track down these aliens. They organized into a group called the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. But Metaxas points out it has been …

Changing habits on porn usage -- includes women. Photo: Jonas Smith/Flickr/Creative Commons

Survey reveals rapidly changing trends in porn usage

A survey conducted by Barna Group, a national survey company, and Josh McDowell Ministry uncovered changing views on pornography among American teenagers and young adults. Having written over 145 books, Josh McDowell is a popular Christian speaker and writer on contemporary culture. The survey, entitled The Porn Phenomenon, looked at how widespread porn usage is in both America and the church. The results warn that the porn landscape is changing rapidly due largely to easy internet access. Perhaps most revealing is that most of those surveyed consider a lack of recycling a greater sin than viewing porn. While 32% of young adults and teens viewed porn as “usually or always” wrong,  56% said not recycling was “usually or always wrong.” A second troubling trend is that a persons first viewing of porn is coming at a younger age. The survey discovered that 27% of the young adults (ages 25-30) viewed porn before puberty. This compared to only 13% for the next older age group — GenX (35 and 55 years of age). In a matter …

Questonable research?

A disturbing side to scientific research on babies?

An article in the National Post reported on a study written by nursing professors Celeste Johnston from McGill University in Montreal, Canada and Carlo Bellieni of Italy’s Siena’s University Hospital. In their study, they called for an end of a disturbing “unethical” research practice used during pain therapy trials for babies. Referred to as comparison tests, researchers will typically lance or stab babies with needles or even perform medical procedures with and without pain medication. The tests are done this way so researchers can compare the benefits of pain therapies. Some of the studies looked at the impact of pain medication involving procedures on eyes and as well “suctioning airways.” The study, published in the Journal Acts Paediatrica, stated that of the 45 “neonate” studies published between January 2013 and June 2015, nearly two-thirds used some type of pain comparison research. Even after testing, the babies denied pain-medication often did not receive treatment to deal with any residual pain. Johnston and Bellieni called for research ethics boards to ban the practice and for journals to refuse …

Are you playing the blame game?

A woman’s perspective: Are you playing the blame game?

Too often, many of us are tempted to blame others for our feelings of insignificance.  For a Christian, it is not uncommon to blame the church for one’s unhappiness. We may feel ignored because our gifts or contributions have not been recognized. In our minds, we feel invisible and unable to gain the attention we so desperately need. In other words, we are looking to the church to fulfill our purpose and calling thus taking the responsibility off our shoulders and placing it on theirs. It is a temporary comfort though. When things don’t work out as we hoped, it ends up being the church’s fault and not ours. Often, we blame God as well because we perceive the church as the only means by which God can fulfill our purpose. For many years, I blamed the church for my unhappiness and for not meeting my personal needs. I believed it was their responsibility and not mine. I ashamedly admit it was an attempt to make myself feel better. Deep down I was angry for …

The waiting harvest. Photo: Coloneljohnbritt/Flickr/Creative Commons

The silent crisis: Mormons, Muslims, and the rest of us

I have been to church many times, and I know one topic we don’t want to talk about. I can’t ever remember a sermon on the people who are dropping out. And they do drop out, including some people who are very close to me. The old people called it “not living for the Lord.” People are dropping out of most religions, including Mormonism, Islam and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian churches. This is becoming the one big issue, the silent crisis among Mormons. Some people drop out and make dramatic statements, but most claim to belong and don’t bother to practice. Passive and agnostic dropouts number in the millions, and they don’t get persecuted. In any religion, people who convert to something else stand out and can pay a high price. A recent video recording shows teenage Muslims in Germany saying nasty things about German people. They are offensive little brats, but in their defense, when I was in high school we said lots of dumb things, and I’m so glad no one recorded …

Neriyah Youtube capture One for Israel

An Orthodox Jew’s journey to faith in Jesus

On his interesting website, God Reports, Mark Ellis writes about the conversion of another Jew to Jesus in Israel. When 17-year-old, Neriyah Arabov immigrated with his family from the Soviet Union to Israel, one of the first things he noticed was no one was calling him a “dirty Jew” anymore. He was the only Jew who attended his school in Uzebeki, Russia and his unusual name and olive skin made him standout. Though he didn’t understand why his parents had moved, after he joined the army for his obligatory Israeli military service his appreciation for his new country began to grow. He realized his journey to Israel was prophesied as the Old Testament prophets spoke of the rebirth of the nation of Israel and about Jews from around the world returning to the Promised Land. 21 Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 and …

God ordained one man, one wife. Photo: Jose Carlos Castro/Flickr/Creative Commons

Was it Christianity’s insistence on monogamy that led to successful societies?

In a recent article in the National Post, Barbara Kay discussed a book, Marriage and Civilization, written by William Tucker. In it, Tucker argues that what made certain civilizations more successful than others was their insistence on monogamous marriage — one husband and one wife. He does not suggest that nations pushing monogamous marriage were perfect, but they tended to be more successful than those that practiced polygamy. He attributes Christianity for being the major reason for the acceptance of monogamy. Despite having a secular view, he described Christianity as “the most powerful force for implementing monogamy in Western Civilization.” Tucker states one of the hallmarks of a polygamous society is that it is often in conflict. He says “everywhere polygamy is practiced it creates conflict” which hindered the culture’s development. And there is a very good reason for this because “there is always a shortage of women” in a polygamous society. As a result, men would raid other groups in search of women for marriage. A second thing also happened. Due to the lack of …

Orthodox Jews wearing a kippah in Warsaw, Poland. Photo: Alex Proimos/Flickr/Creative Commons

Why do orthodox Jewish men wear a kippah or skullcap?

With Jewish groups in Europe warning Jewish men against wearing a kippah or skullcap in public for fear of attack, I was a bit curious as to why they actually wore one. There are no passages in the Old Testament requiring men to wear a cap. After a bit of research, I discovered through Chabad.org that the tradition is based on the Talmud which is a collection of ancient Jewish writings interpreting the Old Testament Law — essentially an ancient Jewish commentary. The Talmud tells the story about an astrologer who told a Jewish woman that her son was destined to be a thief. To prevent this from happening, the woman demanded her son wear a cap as a reminder that God was watching his every move and to remind him of God’s presence. It even includes an incident that happened to the boy as he was sitting under a palm tree. His hat had fallen off and when a fruit fell to the ground he was strongly tempted to eat it, even though it …

Navigating life with a one track mind. Photo: Blind corner Skagway line in Alaska Ted McGrath/Flickr.Creative Commons

A woman’s perspective: Keep on track with a one-track mind

We have all heard the expression, “you have a one-track mind.” It is usually spoken with a negative connotation. Well, I am beginning to think a one-track mind would be great! And, to be honest, I have been working very hard to stay on only one track at a time. I believe this is the way to the “peace that passes all understanding” that Paul talks about in the book of Philippians. The Apostle Paul is the perfect example of a one track mind.  He knew his purpose was to preach salvation to the Gentiles and when he stepped into his mission, things became clearer as he kept his focus on that one thing. Nothing was going to deter Paul from his call to the Gentiles.  It was his purpose. I am beginning to understand when we have a single focus in our daily lives there is no room for other thoughts. When we keep that focus, anxiety ceases because there are no other thoughts roaming around in our heads distracting us from our purpose. …

The Bible predicted a time when the Jews would return to Israel. Jews at the Western Wall wearing their tradition Kippah or skullcap. Photo: delayed gratification/Flickr/Creative Commons

Israel’s regathering hitting record levels

One of the sign posts on the second coming of Christ was the restoration of Israel as a nation. People who study end-times prophecy, such as Isaac Newton (1642-17260), believed it was necessary.  Though Israel did not exist in Newton’s day, from his study of the Bible he said it needed to happen before Christ’s second coming. There are several verses that spoke of the nation of Israel being restored (see Amos 9:14-15; Ezekiel 37:10-14; 37:21-22; 34:13; Deuteronomy 30:3-5). The prophet Isaiah writes: “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons. (Isaiah 66:8 NASV) That event predicted in the Old Testament miraculously happened on May 14, 1948. But along with this, the prophets also predicted that the Jews would pour back into the promised land from nations around the world. They would literally flood in: And He will lift up a standard for the …

A sign of the times? Calbuco Volcanoe, Chile Photo: Andiseno Estudio/Flickr/Creative Commons

Another end times event — volcanoes?

I had never heard of Perry Stone, an American Bible teacher and TV evangelist, but I recently came across his interpretation of verses in Joel speaking of the end-times, that caught my attention. Joel writes: “I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. 31 “The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. (Joel 2:30-31 NASV) Up to this point, I have interpreted these verses referring to blood, fire, columns of smoke, dark sun and blood moon as describing the aftermath of a great earthquake the Apostle John refers to in Revelation 6:12-17. However, Stone has a different twist on this passage and I think he might be right. He believes Joel is describing giant volcanic eruptions exploding on the earth. Columns of smoke perfectly describe the aftermath of volcanoes. The resulting ash pouring into the atmosphere will cause a darkening of the sun and even blood moons. We were about 1200 miles away …

Mural: Dig out of the drug hole. Photo: photographymontreal/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Addiction Epidemic

I know a young man who turned out right. He has a wife and two children, a career, and a good attitude. When he was a troubled teen, a man in his church met with him for breakfast every second Saturday, and that simple kindness helped him to get focused, and stay away from trouble. A news article from Australia shows how bad it can get. An entire generation is being damaged by meth cooked in local labs. I have traveled through Montana, where large billboards warn about the dangers of meth, and many towns have lost their young people. Drug impairment is an important topic in defensive driving courses. Addiction is cheap, and addicts are profoundly sick. When I worked in a college, my favorite program coordinator was a recovering addict. One day, in a business meeting, she looked straight at me and said “I will be dead by Christmas.” I gave her my well-meaning Christian denial and I was sure God and the doctors would save her, but a few weeks later I …

Mural of a dam construction by William Gropper (1939). Photo: James Vaughan/Flickr/Creative Commons

A secret purpose for the ‘gift of tongues’

With King Saul trying to kill him, David and his army had developed an uneasy alliance with the Philistines. For a few days, David and his army had joined the Philistines for some battles, but the Philistine commanders were wary of David’s loyalties and eventually asked him to return home. But while David and his men were gone, scouts for the Amalekite army had discovered that other than for a few old men and young boys, David’s base at Ziklag was unguarded and launched a raid on the base. When David and his men returned from what had turned into an utterly useless venture they found Ziklag burning and empty. Their wives and children hauled off into captivity. David’s men immediately turned their anger and frustration on David. It was his dumb decision to join the Philistines that caused this mess. David had made a huge mistake. But there was one thing that set King David apart — during times of stress and adversity he purposefully strengthened himself in the Lord. 6 Moreover David was greatly …

Study shows people want to experience God

One of the defining attributes of the early church in the Book of Acts is that they experienced God. Services did not consist of three hymns, announcements, offering and then for the finale a sermon. The Holy Spirit was moving in a powerful way and to  a large extent this is what caught everyone’s attention. According to  a report on CBN, a study conducted by Duke University suggests that church members today have a growing desire to experience God and it is showing up in changing church services. Called the National Congregations Study, Duke analyzed the results of three surveys of American congregations conducted in 1998, 2006-07 and then again in 2012 and noted there have been significant changes over the 14-year period. These surveys included all forms of churches —  Catholic, Evangelical and Liberal. In 2012, Evangelicals dominated the religious landscape making up 38% of the population, followed by Roman Catholic at 28%, mainline (usually liberal denominations) at 17% and Black congregations at 13%. The report stated that churches are moving away from an …

Photo: Stefans_Box/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is ‘Facebook’ anti-Israel?

Over the past few years, Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center (SHILC) has received numerous complaints that Facebook is allegedly allowing pro-Palestinian groups to post hateful articles and comments against Israel and Jews. SHILC is a legal civil-rights group based in Tel Aviv, Israel dedicated to fighting terrorism and protecting the rights of Jews around the world through legal means. On December 28, 2015 it launched a social media experiment to find out if Facebook had a bias when it came to Israel. Called “The Big Facebook Experiment,” the organization created two Facebook pages. It called one page “Stop Palestinians” and the second “Stop Israelis.” Launched simultaneously, SHILC began to post essentially identical articles inciting hatred towards Palestinians on the “Stop Palestinians” page and hate messages against Israel on the “Stop Israelis” page. Over the next couple of days, they posted similar articles, images and comments while slowly increasing vitriol against the two groups eventually culminating with posts calling for “Death to all Jews!” and “Death to all Arabs!” on the respective pages. At the end of …

Pentecostal camp meeting in Colorado. Photo: Masonerecycleicious/Flickr/Creative Commons

Why Paul wishes we all spoke in tongues

Back in the early 70s, I was saved in a church belonging to a denomination with a strong evangelistic, missionary emphasis. Though the church was not charismatic, it was not opposed to  the gift of tongues. Its semi official position was “seek not, forbid not” with more of an emphasis on “seek not.” However, the particular church that I had been saved in had formed out of the Jesus’ people movement and over time fully embraced the charismatic. Speaking in tongues was as controversial back then as it is today. As a result of the denominational influence, I had started to develop a negative attitude towards the gift and was looking down upon those who practiced it in the church I attended. But at a Bible study group, I felt the Lord speak to me of my need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I asked some of the people in attendance to pray with me for the in filling. It was a dramatic moment as I was instantly filled with God’s Spirit. I can …

Small Pentecostal church service in Liberia. Photo: Multimedia Photography/Flickr/Creative Commons

What happens when you do a neuroimage scan of a person’s brain as they speak in tongues?

In some ways it’s odd how Speaking in Tongues has become the lightening rod of dissension in the church. According to the Bible, it is one of the supernatural gifts given a person when they are filled with the Holy Spirit. On one side of the spectrum you have those who believe Speaking in Tongues and most of the other charismatic gifts ended with the writing of the New Testament, while those of a Pentecostal/Charismatic persuasion believe it is a gift still needed today with some believing it is a sign of the filling of the Holy Spirit — meaning all people filled with Holy Spirit will speak in tongues. According to the Bible, speaking in tongues also called glossolalia occurs when the Holy Spirit moves on a person and initiates this language. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul described it this way: 15 What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the …

Newsweek's cover image for its abortion article annoyed Sady Doyle.

Apparently, this ‘Newsweek’ cover said more than its allowed thousand words

Sady Doyle writes for Elle.com a fashion and beauty website for women. She recently came out criticizing Newsweek magazine on a December cover story entitled “America’s Abortion Wars.” The publication was writing on the struggle to end abortions in America. A relevant topic particularly with the controversy this previous year involving a number of videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). CMP went undercover disguised as representatives of a research company interested in buying baby body parts off the abortion giant. However, as a pro-abortionist, Doyle was not offended by the article itself, what upset her was Newsweek’s cover story image depicting a baby. In her articled titled Why does Newsweek’s Abortion wars Cover show a cartoon fetus instead of a woman Doyle states she was “flabbergasted.” There are a couple of reasons for this. First, pro-abortionists are always disturbed when the conversation on abortion focuses on the child being killed instead of the mother. According to abortionists, the rights of the mother supersedes the rights of the child. The discussion on the …

Left: a drawing of the two witnesses from the Bamberg Apocalypse (11th century). Right: picture of the two olive trees and lamp stands www.the-tribulation-network.com/Wikipedia

Who are the two end-times witnesses in the Book of Revelation?

One of the more curious questions about the end-times revolves around the two witnesses mentioned by the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation. In his vision of the end times, he saw two prophetic witnesses who for a period of time, God will grant special authority (Revelation 11:1-14). They will manifest great power and miracles. It says an enemy will rise up and kill them and they will lie dead in the streets. People will be so over joyed by their deaths, that some will treat the event as Christmas and send gifts to each other. The question that has puzzled end-time scholars is who are these two witnesses? Some have wondered if they are Moses and Elijah as both appeared with Jesus at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:3-4). Some Jews even believed there are Old Testament passages that speak of these two prophets possibly returning —  a prophet like Moses will come (Deuteronomy 18: 15, 18) and Malachi speaks of the spirit of Elijah returning (Malachi 4:5). Others have speculated they might be Enoch …

Israeli officers saluting their flag Photo: Israel Defense Forces/Flickr/Creative Commons

Who does ISIS really fear?

As ISIS works to set up a Muslim Caliphate in the Middle East with hopes of extending its influence into even Europe, there is only one country it fears — Israel. This is according to a German reporter who spent 10 days with ISIS in 2014. Because of a unique relationship he had developed with ISIS leaders, Jurgen Todenhofer received permission to embed with the Islamic extremists. During this time he was able to interview several Jihadi fighting in Iraq and Syria. Though several countries such as America and Britain have military in Iraq, Todenhoffer said in an interview with Jerusalem News that ISIS is not scared of them because they lack the commitment and experience needed for city guerrilla warfare. As one fighter pointed out, Mosul, Iraq has 1.5 million people and ISIS has 10,000 fighters scattered throughout the city and Western armies lack the experience for that type of urban fighting. ISIS’s headquarters is based in Mosul. In addition, ISIS fighters are prepared to die for their cause, and they do not believe …

All of Israel will be saved. Photo: Haifa, Israel at sunset -- Dan Zelazo/Flickr/Creative Commons

What is the Biblical relationship between Israel and the church?

According to an article in Israel Today, just before Christmas the second most visited Hebrew internet site in Israel, Walla! News, started running a series of interviews with Messianic Jews. They had planned upwards of 24 interviews including one with a well-known Israeli actress. Even as the series started there were those such as Eitan Bar, who was also being interviewed, asking for prayer as they expected a strong reaction from Ultra-Orthodox Jews. Perhaps not surprisingly just after Christmas, Walla! News stopped the series after threats of a boycott and law suit by Ultra-Orthodox Jews. It is illegal in Israel to advertise any missionary activity and some believed these interviews broke this law. The website removed any reference to Messianic Jews as well as interviews previously posted. In many ways it represents the strained relationship that remains to this day between the Church and Israel. What is the Church’s position on Israel? One of the more prominent views, Replacement theology, believes the church replaced Israel as God’s chosen people. When Israel refused to accept Jesus …

Photo: Wilson Salvador Neto/Flickr/Creative Commons

The ‘Good Eye’

Some people are naturally more positive or upbeat in their personalities. I am not one of them. I am by nature more of a realist. In fact one of my choice expressions is, ‘well that is just reality!’ Even if not spoken, it is often in my thoughts as I evaluate life. I really want to have a better outlook and a more positive attitude towards myself and others. This has been my desire for awhile now and something I want to continue working on during this brand new year. I will tell you honestly so far, this has not been easy. The old habits, ways of speaking and thinking, die hard. However, I did find an interesting scripture that will help me move ahead in this area. Proverbs 11:27 says, ‘He who earnestly seeks good finds favor, but trouble will come to him who seeks evil.’ I did a word study on this phrase, ‘seeks good’ and found the Hebrew language sheds more light on this scripture for me. According to an article on …

We need to protect our mind. Photo: Joe Goddard/Flickr/Creative Commons

A woman’s perspective: The garrison around my mind

This past month I noticed a change in my pattern of worry. At times, it seemed non-existent. My husband knows firsthand my battle with worry and anxiety. I succumb to worry and it’s wandering ways often throughout my day. But lately, it’s as if my thoughts bounce off a guard rail that won’t let them pass through. My thoughts cease to stray and a cloud of peace settles over me.  At times, I have noticed an anxious thought wander in and then just disappear. My mind is protected by an unknown force and I experience peace in a way that I have not known before. It is the “peace” that Paul spoke about: “and the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Philippians 4:17) We exercise our body to stay fit physically and in the same way we need to discipline our mind  and  learn to control our thoughts. The Apostle Paul tells us that we must literally take every thought captive: “and we …