Month: March 2016

And God said, "Let there be light." Sun appearing over the India ocean/Nasa/Flickr/Creative Commons

Gene study: Life just got way more complicated

One of the massive problems facing evolutionists is how did non organic material suddenly come to life — living, growing, moving, breathing, consuming and most importantly reproducing. There is no explainable way it could happen and according to an article entitled “Design and synthesis of a minimal bacterial genome” published in Science Magazine, the issue is much worse than previously thought. Over two decades, a group that would involve 20 scientists took one of the simplest bacteria, M. mycoides, and began to strip away unnecessary genes to discover what was the least number needed for it to continue to exist. Unnecessary does not mean these genes are unuseful. If I was to strip my car down to the very basics needed to function, there are probably dozens of things I could remove that are not necessary, but nevertheless beneficial, such as the rear view mirror and front window. With 900 genes, M. mycoides is one of the simpler forms of bacteria. In comparison, the E. coli bacterium has over 4,000 genes. They had sorted out what they …

Ship sailing into the sunset. Photo: Ozgur Mulazimoglu/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does the Bible predict a solar ‘superflare’?

Our sun experiences massive explosions on its surface on a regular basis. Up to know it was thought our sun could only produce minor eruptions compared to the superflares other suns are capable of producing. Superflares occur when a large magnetic field on a sun’s surface collapses resulting in a massive release of energetic energy and plasma. Astronomers were able to study superflares after NASA launched a space observatory, called the Kepler Mission, in 2009. It had on board a massive telescope intended to look for other planets in our Milky Way that could hold life. Though it failed miserably on that front, astronomers saw other suns giving off massive solar flares, 10 to 100 times larger than what our sun typically throws off. After analyzing this data, researchers with Denmark’s Aarhus University concluded that though our sun does not routinely give off superflares, it is capable of doing so. Compared to most suns studied, ours has a weaker magnetic field. But they noticed that suns with the same-sized and even weaker magnetic fields as …

Temple of Baal in Palmra, Syria. Photo: oriana.italy/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is a Temple of Baal coming to a city near you?

According to an article in the New York Post, next month the Institute of Digital Archaeology (IDA) will unveil a full-sized replica of the Temple of Baal in New York City and London, England with plans to build 1,000 more in other cities. The IDA is a project sponsored by the University of Oxford, Harvard University and Dubai’s Museum of the Future. According to the Post, the temple in New York will be installed as part of an UNESCO’s World Heritage event in April. Standing 48′ tall, these Baal arches are being built in China using 3-D printers. The altars will be set up in prominent locations — Times Square in New York and Trafalgar Square in London. They will replicate the arches of a 2,000-year-old Baal Temple located in Syria destroyed by ISIS in August, 2015. Baal was a Canaanite god that Israel encountered several times after they entered the Promised Land. This god was supposedly in charge of the weather and fertility. The Baal gods went by different names which at times represented …

Photo: Justin K./Flickr/Creative Commons

It doesn’t have to be a life sentence

I lost my eldest son Graham in 2004 to suicide. Six years later my grief took me to a five-day seminar to help deal with the emotional upheaval in my life due to his death. I had filled out their forms, answered questions, shared my story and the reasons why I wanted to attend the seminar. On the first day, we all received a name tag. One facilitator came up to me and gave me mine. I glanced at it as I took it from her hand. The words “life sentence” we’re neatly printed on it.  It caught me completely off guard.  It took a few days into the seminar to face the cold hard facts. As  judge, juror and prosecutor, I had sentenced myself to a life-time of guilt and shame  for the death of my son. Death from suicide carries a stigma with it and the grieving is more complex. I could not understand why my son took this drastic measure. He willingly left us. I did something wrong. My husband and I …

Crucifixion by Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669)

Some say Easter is early this year, one ancient scholar says it’s right on time

I have heard a few comments that Easter is early this year, which leads to the obvious questions why is it early and why do the dates fluctuate so much? Well you can blame the council of Nicea, held in 325 AD, for this. During that meeting the early church leaders laid down the calculation used to determine the date for Easter. At the time, there were two camps with differing opinions as to when Easter should be celebrated. There were those who felt it should be held at the same time as the Jewish Passover when the Romans crucified Christ. Since the Bible describes Jesus as the Paschal lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), this seemed the logical choice. However there was a second group wanting to separate it from the Jewish Passover, since the Jews had rejected Jesus as their Passover lamb. This was only partially true as thousands of Jews did accept Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. It was this latter group that won the day at Nicea. Easter would be separate from the …

One of Jacob's lambs in England. Photo: Paul Blakeman/Flickr/Creative Commons

‘Jacob’s Sheep’ returning home?

Sheep have played an important role in Israel’s economy and religious life for centuries. However, the sheep that cover  Israel’s fields today are not the same sheep that existed in Old Testament times. Today’s white and brown-faced sheep are part of  a breed known as Awassi that originated in Syria. However, the ancient breed of sheep that the Patriarch Jacob developed and cared for still exist today and a family from British Columbia, Canada has one of the world’s few remaining flocks of this rare breed. And over the past few years, they along with a non-profit society have been working to send this flock to Israel. Going by their name Jacob’s Sheep, they are on the endangered list and are considered one of the oldest sheep breeds in the world. They are officially listed as an ‘heirloom” breed meaning there is stock alive today that is basically unaltered from the time it first existed in the Middle East. They still have the same characteristics mentioned in the Bible: Speckles and spots (Genesis 30:32); Horns …

The good news about burning Bibles

Recently, someone burned Bibles in the city of Mosul in Iraq. Christians have left the region, so their enemies burned their books. Someone wants to exterminate Christians, and that is bad news. It is easy to miss that this is also a good news story. Christians are suffering, and that is tragic, but part of this story is good. It’s a picture of disruption. “Innovative Disruption” refers to a new idea that replaces a “market and value structure.” It erodes critical mass which is the minimum amount required to maintain a venture. One good example is the smart phone that you probably have in your pocket. I remember when phones were mostly black and had dials. The system worked well, but now we all want the new thing. Cell phone vendors don’t hate dial phones, they just promote their new thing. Traditional phone companies had us all, their critical mass, and then lost us. Now they are free to sell antique designs to a few, but they need us all in order to succeed. In …

Cappadoina home of the fairy chimneys. Photo: Benh Lieu Song/Wikipedia

Preaching the gospel among the fairy chimneys

When writing his first epistle, the Apostle Peter addresses it to the elect living in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1). The Apostle’s second letter was also written to these same groups of people (2 Peter 3:1). But in this list, there is one very strange place — Cappadocia, home of the fairy chimneys. Located in modern Turkey, the area is composed of a unique landscape made up of a thick layer of tufa, a soft stone made of volcanic ash from nearby volcanoes that mixed with mud and lava. Because the rock is soft, it is easily sculpted by wind, rain and water run-off forming a bizarre landscape more at home in a science fiction movie than on earth. With a landscape filled with an estimated 50,000 spires, turrets, cones and pyramids, Cappadocia is Turkey’s most famous tourist attraction. Some, because of their unique caps, have been given the name fairy chimneys. (At the end of the article there is a small slide show of the area.) Over the centuries people …

Photo of the Heart shaped leaf that fell at Laura's feet as she meditated on God's love for her.

Struggling to believe God’s love?

[by Laura Fauchon] For many years I struggled to understand God’s love. The unsettling events of my life (sexual and physical abuse ) often kept me awake at night. I would cry myself to sleep asking God to help me and take the pain away. How could a loving God be so absent and seemingly distant during these times? Although I grew up being taught that God loved me and died on the cross for my sins and that He heard my prayers, I felt He did not care. I would struggle with being told God is a very present help in times of trouble. If this was true, then where was He? A wise and godly woman years ago helped me on my journey to healing.  It was through her mentoring and fellowship that I began to heal from the hurt and pain I endured. Coming to the realization that this abuse was not my fault was a stepping stone to my healing.  Then, by the grace of God, I was able to forgive …

Soldiers with Israel's defense forces praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Photo: Mor/Flickr/Creative Commons

Described as unprecedented: Orthodox Jews call for three-day fast in Israel

Describing it as unprecedented, Breaking Israel News (BIN), a Jewish news site, is reporting the Orthodox Jewish group HaTzom is calling for Israelis to fast for three days commencing Sunday night, March 20. The fast, which will end 72 hours later, will be done during the Jewish feast of Purim, held annually this time of year. The feast of Purim is derived from the Book of Esther when Queen Esther called for Jews to fast for three days before she entered the throne room of her husband, the Persian king, to expose a planned massacre of the Jews organized by a senior bureaucrat in the Persian administration. HaTzom, whose name in English means “The Fast,” has over 22,000 participants agreeing to join in the three-day fast. They organized the fast because of the unrelenting terrorist attacks in Israel and the growing hatred around the world to their country. BIN recently reported three attacks that took place on March 8 and 9. On the first day, Palestinians riding motorbikes opened fire on Jerusalem police guarding a …

Hope: Why Justin Bieber, actress Ashley Benson and model Hailey Baldwin have a “G” tattoo

A remarkable article on theBlaze explains why these three stars have a “G” tattoo. The story begins in 2010, when Pastor Chad Veach and his wife Julia discovered their four-year old daughter, Georgia, had lissencephaly — an incurable genetic disorder that affects the brain. Instead of having the normal folds, the brain is smooth. Depending on the severity, the disease renders a person unable to speak or walk. It causes seizures, vomiting, muscle spasms and swallowing difficulty. In an interview with theBlaze, Veach, who pastors Zoe Church in Los Angeles, California, said like any father he had hopes for his daughter. He envisioned her graduating from high school and even becoming a missionary. He even prayed for his daughter while she was in her mother’s womb believing God would use her to impact the world. However, that all changed as he watched this disorder slowly take control of his daughter. Veach admitted that this was the first time he understood true suffering. But a father’s prayers and purposes of God can still be fulfilled in …

Guarding Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China Photo: Stephan Rebernik/Flickr/Creative Commons

China: When church and governments collide

In 2014, speaking at a religious forum in Shanghai, Wang Zuoan a senior bureaucrat with China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs told of the government’s plans to “nationalize” Christianity in that country. Though Zuoan didn’t couch it in exactly those terms he spoke of Christian theology adapting to Chinese conditions and culture. There was no doubt in the minds of Chinese Christians that this meant the communist party was planning to take over Christianity and use it to promote its platform. Since that announcement, the Chinese government has moved forward on its plan, that included the removal of crosses from Churches. To date citing building code violations over 1,200 crosses have been removed and in some instances churches destroyed. The government even sent a number of Christians to jail for opposing the cross removals including Pastor Huang Yizi, from the eastern province of Zhejiang. The government also recently sentenced Pastor Bao Guohua and his wife Xing Wenxiang to 14 years in prison for leading opposition to crosses being removed. The government also falsely accused them …

Twenty-one Christian men marching to martyrdom on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

Redeeming the land?

Dr Joseph Yousef has a ministry, Leading the Way, that broadcasts via radio and TV to over 190 countries around the world. On a recent program, Yousef interviewed Shahid (not his real name) a former Muslim from Libya. After attending a Muslim school for 14 years, Shahid was an expert in Islamic Law and interpretation. However, he began to question his Islamic faith and when he asked sincere questions to those mentoring him, he was abruptly told the Qur’an forbids people from asking questions. Shahid said he struggled with this doubt for four years and finally renounced Islam and decided to become an atheist. It was during this period he heard about Christianity through Leading the Way’s 24-hour satellite channel. He ended up contacting the ministry who eventually introduced the young Muslim man to several Christians living in Jordan and Lebanon. Shahid met secretly with a group for a few months, studying the Bible. He eventually became a Christian and was baptized. Today, he is sharing his faith with fellow Muslims primarily in Libya and …

Jennifer Garner at the opening of The Invention of Lying at the Toronto Film Festival in 2009. Photo: Reza Vaziri/Flickr/Creative Commons

Was actress Jennifer Garner impacted by a miracle?

Actress Jennifer Garner, 43, recently announced that she and her three children are starting to attend church as a direct result of Garner’s starring role in the Christian movie Miracles from Heaven. Garner said they have rarely missed a Sunday since. Jennifer who  separated from her husband Ben Affleck comes from a Christian background and growing up lived for a few years in Calgary, Alberta. Garner made her big break playing a CIA officer in the ABC spy-thriller Alias where she won a Golden Globe and received three Emmy nominations for her performance. She has also shown up on the big screen acting in movies such a Daredevil, Juno, Dallas Buyers Club and recently Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day. Miracles made from Heaven, produced by Affirm Film that lists popular pastor T.D. Jakes as one of its producers, is scheduled for release March 16, 2016. In the movie, Jennifer plays Christy Beam, the real-life mother of a young girl named Annabelle who was miraculously spared serious injury after falling down …

And Jesus wondered at their unbelief. Modern-day Nazareth. Photo: Adam Jones/Flickr/Creative Commons

Has this punctured a hole in your faith?

When we study the New Testament, one of the major themes is faith. But equally as prominent is the concept of unbelief that is a major hindrance to miracles. Unbelief basically cuts a hole in our reservoir of faith allowing it to seep away. There are many things that can cause such a rip. One of them is offense. In Mark 6, we read how Jesus had arrived at His home town, Nazareth, and on the following Saturday popped into the local synagogue where the leaders invited Jesus to teach. At this point, Jesus’ reputation was starting to grow. From the congregation’s reaction, it was clear people were aware of the reports circulating about His miracles. Now as they listened to Jesus teach, they were “astonished” by what Jesus had to say. But not everyone. Some were offended. They had been attending the synagogue faithfully for years and now “this man” a carpenter, the son of Mary, was teaching their congregation. They had been attending this synagogue for years and now this upstart was teaching …

Donald Trump Photo: Michael Hogan/Flickr/Creative Commons

Trump, Harper, Bush, Jesus

A man stood outside a meeting room and heard the speaker say “47” followed by loud laughter from the audience. This laughter was repeated, with different numbers. The man asked what was happening, and he was told “This is a joke club. We know all the jokes, and each reference number prompts us to laugh at one of our jokes.” The man stepped into the room and shouted “four hundred and seventy-eight.” The room went silent, and then someone giggled. The giggling changed to loud laughter from everyone, and soon people were crying and falling out of their chairs, from laughter. The man was confused, and someone said, “You just told a joke we’ve never heard before.” Evoking means we wave the flag, shout out the number, and trust that the audience knows the back story. It’s a form of cheerleading. Rick Mercer is a famous commentator in Canada, and he has the fluency, articulation, and gift of the gab of a true Newfoundlander. Even when I disagree with him, I admire his skill. But …

The breath of life.

Breath

Have you ever felt the need to slow down and just breath? To let your lungs fill with air and just be totally refreshed? I know I have. The book of Genesis tells us God breathed the very first breath of life into man. ‘The Lord formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of the spirit of life and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7 Amplified Bible) Isn’t it amazing that God is the source of life and He ‘breathed’ this life into man. In the Old Testament, Job’s friend Elihu said it well: ‘The spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:4 NIV) In Hebrew ‘ruach’ is the word for breath, wind or spirit according to Strong’s Dictionary. There is a force in this word, like there is in the wind. This wind can blow (breath) wherever it wills and accomplish what it wants in my life (John 3:8). One day last month it was extremely …

A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:4

A safe place to grieve

My first-born son, Graham, died when he was eighteen years old. He took his life while stranded on a country road in his vehicle. A few months after he passed away my grief counselor advised me to find a place where I could go and “let it all out and cry hard to release my painful emotions.” At that time I was not able to speak about my son’s tragic death to anyone.  My heart felt like it was frozen. Even when I was alone the tears would not come. I didn’t trust myself or anyone else enough to talk about it and expose my raw emotions. I was too hurt to do that. I have always found great comfort in writing.  It was easy for me to pour out my thoughts and feelings on paper. I missed my son terribly so I wrote him a letter to tell him things about myself and how his family was coping. I wanted to share it with him! “And God will wipe away every tear from their …

Ancient tombs dating to the time of Abraham found near Bethlehem

Livescience is reporting that archaeologists working near the city of Bethlehem have discovered an old burial site or necropolis with nearly 100 tombs — some estimated to be 4000 years old, dating to the time of Abraham. The tombs were dug into the side of a hill and consisted of large caves some with multiple chambers. It appears that the workers creating this necropolis used pre-existing caves. They believe this burial site, called Khalet al-Jam’a, was for a yet to be discovered larger town located nearby. Because of the variety of artifacts inside, it is believed the town was a major trading center. Tombs in the site range from 2200 BC — the time of Abraham, to about 650 BC when they abruptly ended. This coincides with Israel’s invasion by Babylon and Assyria, when many of the Israelis were taken off into captivity. Though the tombs were ransacked over the centuries, they still include a family — a man, wife and child dating to about 3,500 BC and another tomb containing an earlier single man …

Families are the happiest when attending church.

Study: Marriages are the happiest when couples attend church

A study released by the Institute of Family Studies concluded that marriages are the happiest when both members of a couple attend religious services or if the husband does. In contrast, the least happiest are those where neither person attends or the just the wife does. The study entitled Better together: Religious attendance, gender and relationship was written by W. Bradford Wilcox of University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project and Professor Nicholas Wolfinger from the University of Utah. For their report the two analyzed data from the National Survey of Religion and Family conducted in the US in 2006. After accounting for other factors such as economic well-being and education, they discovered: 78% of couples when both or just the husband attended church considered themselves “very” or “extremely” happy. 67% of couples considered themselves happy when neither attended services. Only 59% of couples said they were happy when just the wife attended religious services. The two stated that the reason they believe religious services are a contributing factor to successful relationships is because they are …

Muslim Shrine in Iran. You can see an image of the Ali Khomeni, the Supreme Leader of Iran, on the left. Photo: My life, the universe and ..../Flickr/Creative Commons

Christian population surging in Iran

Despite Iran’s heavy-handed crackdown, the Christian population in Iran is flourishing and growing rapidly. The country has a population of about 78 million. The official religion is Muslim, and on paper it allows other religions including Christianity. However, it is illegal for a Muslim and even members of other religions to convert to Christianity. Iran is an Islamic Republic and though there is an elected president, according to Iran’s constitution he is subject to the country’s “Supreme Leader” who is the highest ranking religious leader in the country — currently Ali Khomenei. Iran is made up primarily of Shia Muslim, the smaller of the two main branches of Islam, the larger being Sunni — ISIS comes out of this latter group. It is dangerous for a Muslim to convert to Christianity in Iran and aside from societal/family pressure can lead to imprisonment, torture and even death. As a result, most Iranian Muslims convert secretly, keeping it hidden from their family. One of those Muslims who converted to Christianity in Iran but didn’t keep it quiet …

Selena Gomez in concert. Photo: Ronald Woan/Flickr/Creative Commons

Selena Gomez surprises crowd with a performance at Hillsong concert

I sometimes get a bit gun-shy writing about the faith of celebrities because invariably something hits the media that can taint their testimony. But then I ask how any of us would fare if we were faced with media and others watching, listening, photographing and videoing everything you said and did, day and night. So my tendency, right or wrong, is to give them the benefit of the doubt. If in this growing anti-Christian climate a person is willing to step up and profess their faith in Christ, I say God Bless. Former Disney star Selena Gomez is latest to come out publicly about her faith in Jesus. Selena, 23, is a singer and actress who was the one-time girl friend of Canadian pop star Justin Bieber. She just released an album in October entitled “Revival.” It debuted as #1 on the Billboard 200 and went on to earn a Gold rating. On February 25th, Selena surprised a Los Angeles crowd attending Hillsong Young & Free Revival concert, when she stepped on stage, and joined …

Mt Gerazim on the left and Mt Ebal on the right. Photo: Tom Miller/Flickr/Creative Commons

Where did Israel’s giant footprints come from?

In Israel’s Jordan valley, archaeologists have discovered a curious phenomena — six huge man-made footprints. These structures, where the low outer stone wall is distinctively foot shaped, are quite large. One referred to as el-‘Unuq is 228 feet wide and 816 feet long — about two football fields in size. Perhaps the most famous of these sandal-shaped sites is one found on Mt. Ebal. Discovered in 1980, its most unique feature is a massive altar found in the center measuring about 23′ by 30′ feet in size. It is also a story high — 10’. Of course, such an altar, created of unhewn stone, required a huge ramp to get on top, which this one had. They also found charred animal bones and ash in and around the altar. It was apparently a religious site where the people made animal sacrifices. This is where it gets interesting. Adam Zertal, the archaeologist who discovered this site, believes this is the altar Joshua created when Israel first entered the Promised Land. 30 Then Joshua built an altar to …

Rwanda refugee camp Photo: Elisa Finocchiaro/Flickr/Creative Commons

Lies and Refugees

World news everywhere is about refugees and migrants. Millions of people are leaving their homes and travelling to better places. In France the “Jungle” camp for migrants who want to break into Britain is being moved, with tear gas and rock throwing. Police in Macedonia are keeping migrants out, with tear gas and rubber bullets. Donald Trump wants to build a wall on the Mexican border, where organized crime cartels smuggle people, and kill the surplus. And the list goes on. I live in Canada where the government promised, in October 2015, to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by Christmas. They achieved the number by March of 2016. Something is missing in all these stories. Some clues about the missing story are the delay in bringing refugees to Canada, and the strange story about refugees from Iraq, living in Finland, returning home by the thousands, and kissing the ground of Iraq when they get off the plane. Someone lied. I live in a wealthy place that is now in a severe recession; where the government …

Map of the area of the Red Sea showing the region where God parted the waters.

And God sent a wind — the parting of the Red Sea

England’s BBC recently posted a video to its YouTube Channel about the impact of storms hitting their country. Because of the high cliffs along the coast there are many waterfalls cascading over the edge into the ocean. When a massive storm or hurricane hits at the right angle, they can actually reverse a waterfall and push the water back over the top of the cliff. In the video below, you will see this happening to a waterfall on the Isle of Mull off Scotland when Storm Henry hit on Monday, February 1, 2016. Wind can move water. This is relevant because when Israel was trapped between the Red Sea and an approaching Egyptian army, God used a wind to part the Red Sea allowing Israel to escape over land. As the Egyptians entered the land passage way, the waters collapsed drowning the soldiers. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters …