Author: Dean Smith

Brazilian Amazon Credit: Guto de Lima/Flickr/Creative Commons

From Debutante balls to the Brazilian jungle

The National Post ran a fascinating article on Canadian Ruth Thomson who 50 years ago left her high-class life as a Toronto debutante to serve in the jungles of Brazil as a Wycliffe missionary. Her father was a highly successful Toronto lawyer, and Ruth grew up in a mansion and attended private school. She became so proficient at horse riding that another wealthy family — Pittsburgh’s Mellon family — asked Ruth to ride their horses competitively. As she came of age, her parents expected Ruth to attend Downton Abbey debutante balls where parents signaled to Toronto society their young daughters were ready for dating and marriage. It featured flowing gowns and elbow-length gloves. She recalls having disagreements with her parents in 1959 who wanted her to attend a number of  balls held at private clubs and the major event on that year’s social calendar  — the Governor General’s Ball. She said “I had no patience for any of it. It all seemed so artificial. It wasn’t the life for me.” But despite their wealth, she …

Vickie Williams-Tillman (right) Credit: Baton Rouge Police Department

Vickie Williams-Tillman — a 21st century Good Samaritan in more than one way

Vickie Williams-Tillman, 56, a black Christian woman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana was on her way to the store when she saw a white police officer, Billy Aime, being assaulted by another man. She was also doing what she normally does when driving, Vickie was listening to Gospel music. The police officer had come upon the man sleeping in his vehicle. When Aime saw drug paraphernalia in the car he woke Thomas Bennett, 28. However, after getting out of his car, Bennett quickly gained the advantage. He grabbed Aime’s baton and began beating the police officer on the head. Bennett was also after the police officer’s gun. When Vickie saw the confrontation, she immediately called the police for help. But she did more than that. She got out of her car and jumped on Bennett’s back. This caught Bennett totally off guard, confusing him and hindering him from grabbing the gun. When another police officer showed up a few minutes later, he subdued Bennett with a stun gun. The police charged Bennett with assaulting a police …

Nambia desert Credit: John Adams/Flickr/Creative Commons

Healing our rejection

Using a MRI scan university researchers discovered that emotional pain associated with rejection is as real as physical pain. In 2011, the group led by University of Michigan associate professor Ethan Kross studied 40 people who had recently gone through a romantic break-up within the previous six months. All the participants chosen mentioned having felt intense feelings of rejection due to the ending of the relationship. The 40 people were then put through two tests one related to the emotional pain they felt over the rejection and the other actual physical pain. In the first test, the study subjects viewed an image of their ex and were asked to think about the break up.  In the second stage, thermal devices were attached to their arms that created heat the equivalent of hot coffee. As the 40 people went through these and other comparative tests, the researchers monitored their brain activity using MRIs. The researchers found that feelings of rejection sparked neural activity in the same area of the brain where people felt physical pain. In …

Pray for those who mistreat you. Credit: MissTessmacher/Flickr/Creative Commons

Study: prayer calms the angry heart

A 2011 study conducted by researchers from universities in America and Europe concluded that prayer helps a person calm their anger. The study conducted by Brad Bushman a psychology and communications professor from Ohio State University, Sander Koole of Holland’s VU University of Amsterdam and University of Michigan’s Ryan Bremner found that prayer quelled a person’s anger even if they were not particularly religious. There were various stages to this study. In one session, the researchers asked the participants in the study to to write a paper that was then evaluated by a partner who purposely and aggressively criticized the paper. They were extremely negative about what the participant had wrote. They then had some participants of the study group think about what their partner had said and others spend five minutes praying for them. Once they had gone through this process, the participants then played a game with their partner. If the participant won, they were allowed to blast their partner with loud music. The participant also determined how loud the music was and …

Remains of the ancient city of Babylon in Iraq as seen from Saddam Hussein's former summer palace: Credit US Navy Arlo K Abrahamson/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Cuneiform tablet confirms the gruesome story of Jeremiah 39

Jeremiah chapter 39 paints the gruesome fall of Jerusalem to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586BC/587BC. King Zedekiah had previously been installed by the Babylonians as Judah’s puppet king after Babylon defeated Jerusalem in 597 BC. Jerusalem remained largely intact, and Judah was forced to pay an annual tribute to Babylon. However, Zedekiah, who was 21 years only when he was set up as a vassal king, eventually tired of the arrangement and rebelled against Babylon by forming an alliance with Egypt. The prophet Jeremiah who initially served as one of Zedekiah’s counselors warned against the move, but Zedekiah was by this stage doing evil in the sight of the Lord (Jeremiah 52:1-3) setting the stage for God’s devastating judgement. When King Nebuchadnezzar returned a second time to bring Jerusalem back into submission, he was in a foul mood. The battle predictably turned against Judah and with Jerusalem on the brink of falling, King Zedekiah, along with his family and personal guards, fled with the Babylonian army in pursuit. After the invaders caught up with …

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega sharing on their devotional Vlog WOW (Words of Wisdom): Credit YouTube Capture

Hollywood celebrities Carlos and Alexa PenaVega talk about the power of prayer

Actress Alexa PenaVega (nee Vega) recently shared an Instagram post on how prayer raised her 93 year-old-grandmother from the deathbed. This past week has been a struggle for my family as our beautiful abuelita (grandma) was on life support. It has been a bitter sweet experience. Here is this woman who has had such a full and beautiful life… 93 years old…12 kids… more than 50 grand kids…10 great grand children… just the most incredible little Colombian woman inside and out. This week her lungs collapsed. Her heart started failing. Her stomach stopped working and she fell into a coma. As we all prepared ourselves to say goodbye my family’s local church members came to her side and prayed over her for over five hours. When I say the power of prayer can bring forth the most amazing miracles THIS WILL FLOOR YOU. Our abuelita Yeya woke up completely healed. The Dr.’s cannot find anything wrong with her. They can’t explain it. They keep running tests to try to make sense of it all. But …

Painting of Israel carrying the Ark of the Covenant into the Promised Land under Joshua by Benjamin West (1738 -1820) Credit: Wikipedia

Archaeologists to excavate site that once held the Ark of the Covenant

It is one of the great mysteries of the Bible – what happened to the Ark of the Covenant. When the Babylonians captured Jerusalem in 586 BC, they ransacked the city, hauled its citizens off into captivity and looted the Temple taking its treasures as spoils of war. A number of Bible passages list the items the Babylonians stole. One found in Jeremiah is particularly detailed and includes even pots and spoons (Jeremiah 52:17-23). But strangely missing from all the lists including Jeremiah’s and the listings provided in 2 Kings 24:13, and 2 Kings 25: 13-18 is any mention of the Ark of the Covenant. It was a gold-plated wooden box on which God’s Presence manifested. As the most important piece of furniture in the temple, the Babylonians would have coveted it. Many believe the Jews hid the Ark to stop it from falling into Babylonian hands. But when Babylon hauled Israel’s citizens into captivity for 70 years, the people who hid the Ark died and its location forgotten. Rumors even circulated that the prophet …

Award Credit: Youtube capture/The Recording Academy

A grandmother’s prayer leads to Chance the Rapper’s worship service at the Grammys

At the 59th Grammy Awards held Sunday, February 12, 2017, Chance the Rapper won three Grammys. The Grammy Awards are put on by The Recording Academy to honor outstanding achievement in music recording primarily in the English-speaking world. Chance the Rapper who recently became a Christian received “Best New Artist,” Best Rap Album” and “Best Rap Performance” at this year’s awards. He was nominated for seven in total for his recent 14-song album The Coloring Book. Five of the album’s songs have a significant Christian theme that marked the remarkable spiritual transformation that has taken place in the life of Chance the Rapper. In a radio interview he shared what happened. His grandmother saw him while he was performing on his Acid Rap tour — the name reveals where he was at spiritually — and she began to pray for her grandson. Chance the Rapper said: “One day during my Acid Rap tour, my grandmther saw me and began to pray. She said ‘I break off anything in your life that is not God.’ After …

South American Squirrel monkey Credit: cuatrok77/Flickr/Creative Commons

Evolving Evolutionists?

Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, a respected anthropologist from the University of Pittsburgh, still believes in evolution, but his views on Darwinism have evolved over the years, due to a lack of evidence in the fossil record. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Schwartz no longer believes in “gradualism.” According to the theory of evolution proposed by Charles Darwin, species evolved gradually over millions of years through minute incremental changes. Schwartz argues that if these minute changes actually took place, evolutionists would find thousands examples of these species at different stages in their evolutionary development. Instead the fossil record is starkly quiet with huge gaps in the fossil record. Darwin claimed that the absence of these missing links was simply a matter of bad luck. Schwartz disagrees – based on the evidence – the lack of transitional fossils says the transitions never existed in the first place. Schwartz adds that some organs, such as the eye, are so complicated that the sheer number of changes required for its evolution “defies logic.” He also takes a …

Singapore Credit: William Cho/Flickr/Creative Commons

When did Satan take over the world?

During the temptation in the wilderness, the devil showed Jesus all the “kingdoms of the world” (Luke 4:5) and offered the Lord a deal no man could refuse: “I will give you all this domain and its glory, for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” (Luke 4:6 NASV) As we study this passage, we noticed that Jesus never challenged Satan’s claim the world had been handed over to him and several times the Lord acknowledged Satan was the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 14:30). The apostle Paul pushed the theological barrier to the edge when he described Satan as the god of the world (2 Corinthians 4:4). In no way, did the apostle believe Satan was divine, as Paul clearly states there is only one God, but as far as humanity was concerned, the evil one functioned as a god. The title-deed for planet earth was firmly in Satan’s grip. So when did Satan take over the world? Most instinctively think it took place when …

Denzel Washington Credit: GabboT/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

An old woman’s prophecy over actor Denzel Washington said he would speak to millions

Denzel Washington, 62, is a popular American Actor, playing major roles in such movies as Remembering the Titans, Training Day and one of my favorites — The Book of Eli. He has won two Academy awards and three Golden Globes. In an interview with Parade Magazine, Denzel spoke of his strong spiritual roots, including his father who was Pentecostal preacher for nearly five decades. Denzel added that he reads the Bible daily and has read it through completely three times. God had a call and a purpose for Denzel and he tells of a prophetic word given him by an older woman at their church who many considered a prophet. She told Denzel that one day he would speak to millions of people. Denzel was 21 years old and had just flunked out of college. He was sitting in his mother’s beauty shop, when the old woman approached him. In an interview with Access Hollywood, Denzel recounts what happened next: It was March 27, 1975. I started acting four months later. She said, “You know …

Children need married parents to thrive Credit: buck82/Flickr/Creative Commons

Children do better when parents are married versus living together

A recent study by the Institute for Family Studies found that children raised in a family where parents marry have the best chance of success. The study reported in The Federalist analyzed data from 100 countries. The study found that where there is no marriage commitment — this included situations where both of the child’s biological parents were living together — there was a greater chance the child would face a union transition. This takes place when parents end their relationship and start a new sexual relationship. These types of transition create a major time of instability for children often resulting in emotional and behavioral problems, educational difficulties and even a higher risk of death for the child. The report stated that “[C]ohabitation continues to confer a stability disadvantage on individual children even as cohabitation has become more normative.” The report disputes those who suggest that because of the rise in rates cohabitation it should be looked upon as the new form of marriage. Writing for The Federalist, Holly Scheer said: “Couples who commit to …

Village in Indonesia Credit: Jose Javier Martin Esparto/Flickr/Creative Commons

A Muslim man’s journey to Christ through the Quran

Evangelical Focus recently shared the testimony of a young Muslim man who became a Christian because of what he read in the Quran — Islam’s version of the Bible. Markus was raised in a strict Sudanese Muslim family in Western Java, Indonesia. His father, a high ranking Muslim leader, led the Muslim University that Markus eventually attended. As part of an Islamic youth group, Markus actively shared Islam with non believers. It was the result of one encounter with a Chinese Christian man who led Markus to leave Islam and become a Christian. As he shared his Islamic views with the man, he responded stating he was confident that he was going to His Father in heaven. For Muslims, heaven is a such a sacred place, they rarely talk about it. Markus was also puzzled over how this man referred to God as his father as Muslims consider themselves slaves of Allah. When Markus challenged the Christian on who his God was, the man answered simply Jesus. This answer began to haunt Markus. According to …

Reba McEntire in concert Credit: Alisha Morgan/Flickr/Creative Commons

Country superstar Reba McEntire produces first gospel album

After divorcing her husband of 25 years, Narvel Blackstock, in 2015, country singer Reba McEntire, 61, turned to God and her faith to keep her through this difficult time. Referred to as the “Queen of Country,” Reba is one of America’s great country singers. She is a member of the Country Hall of Fame. In a career that has spanned 42 years, she has released 32 albums and sold over 85 million records world-wide and has 35 chart-topping singles. After seeking God during this dark period of her life, Reba sensed that she needed to release what would be her first Gospel album. Entitled, “Sing it Now: Songs of Faith and Hope,” the two album set features 22 Gospel recordings. Reba wants this album to encourage people to return to God. During the recording of one of the songs, How Great Thou Art, Reba felt the Holy Spirit’s anointing on the music: “When I got through with singing the song, I would go in there with Doug Sisemore, my co-producer, and Todd Tidwell. We would …

October 8, 2014 Blood Moon Credit: slworking2/Flickr/Creative Commons

Will ‘Moon Temple’ mark the beginning of a new world order?

According to Bible prophecy the moon will play a role in the end-times. The prophet Joel (Joel 2:30-31) and Apostle John (Revelation 6:12-13) both refer to a blood moon that will serve as warning sign-posts. Since Blood moons in themselves are not unusual, it is their appearance along with several other events such as a solar eclipse, stars falling from the sky and earthquakes that will make them unique. According to the Apostle John one particular Blood moon will mark the angelic opening of the sixth sea, that can be best described as a time of terror on the earth. But apparently the moon hasn’t escaped the attention of the European Space Agency (ESA) and envisions it as a part of a new utopia. An artist working with ESA’s Advanced Concept Team recently came up with a conceptual drawing of a building on earth’s celestial neighbor that he describes as a “Moon Temple.” Jorge Manes Rubio envisions it as part of a lunar base that is in the planning stages at the space agency. According …

The Strait of Gilbralter near the location of the fabled City of Atlantis Credit: joko facile/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is the Biblical city of Tarshish the fabled city of Atlantis?

Some believe the mythical city of Atlantis is just that — a fable. The city was only mentioned once in ancient writings by fourth century Greek philosopher Plato (428 BC to 348 BC) who wrote of a traveler Solon who had visited the sea-faring city and described it as an advanced and wealthy civilization. But others are not convinced it is a myth. In a documentary, Atlantis Rising, produced for National Geographic, famed film-maker James Cameron (the movie Titanic) and journalist/archaeologist Simcha Jacobovici claim they have unraveled the mystery surrounding the ancient city. Plato said Atlantis was covered with mud and water and sank, leading the duo to conclude it was probably hit by a tsunami. But the philosopher also provided a clue to the city’s site describing it as being past the “Pillars of Hercules.” Cameron and Jacobovici believed these pillars referred to the Straits of Gibraltar. In an interview with Breaking Israel News (BIN), Jacobovici said this would put it along the coast of Spain, Portugal or the Iberian Peninsula. Though Atlantis is …

Painting by Adolf Northern (1828-1876)

Have you been raided?

Greg Gordon has operated sermonindex.net for 14 years. He also has a YouTube channel with over 5,000 sermons that people have viewed over 35 million times. Thousands of these sermons are embedded in websites around the world. He was shocked to find out that YouTube had recently shutdown his channel for violating community standards and specifically cited “deceptive practices.” Gordon had no idea what they were talking about, but obviously someone had complained. Though YouTube eventually restored the service, Gordon believes the shutdown was an attack of the enemy. In an article on Charisma News Gordon said: “I started to consider this a direct attack from the enemy. That same night, I fainted and fell and ended up at the ER. This has never happened to me with a flu or sickness. We have curried the prayer support of thousands of prayer (warriors.)” There is an interesting verse in the Gospels where Jesus talks about violent people raiding the Kingdom of God. The problem started when King Herod was visiting his brother Philip and became …

The main hindrance to constructing the Third Jewish Temple is the Muslim Dome of the Rock that Orthodox Jews believe sits on the original site of the Jewish Temple. Credit: Davit Ortmann/Flickr/Creative Commons

Jewish Sanhedrin re-introduces the half-shekel Temple Tax

A report in Breaking Israel News (BIN) says the nascent Sanhedrin has introduced an official half-shekel temple tax. Referred to as the mitzvah or commandment, the money will be dedicated to operating a third Jewish temple if it is ever built. The half-shekel tax was first set up under Moses to help fund the tabernacle. Jews paid it when Israel conducted a national census (Exodus 30:15). The Jewish leadership then introduced a one-third temple tax during the rebuilding of the temple under Ezra and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10:32; Ezra 6:8). It was collected annually. The tax was re-introduced when Herod built the second temple in 20 BC. The half-shekel tax, worth about $4 today, was collected three times a year during annual pilgrimages to the temple. They had actual tax collectors whose job was to collect the tax. We even have an account of Jesus and Peter paying the temple tax (Matthew 17). However, it is clear that Jesus felt no obligation to pay the mitzvah (verses 25-26). So why did Jesus pay it? He agreed …

Morgan Freeman Credit: Nathan Congleton/Flickr/Creative Commons

Morgan Freeman on the Gift of Tongues

The Christian Broadcasting Network published an article on comments actor Morgan Freeman recently made on his encounter with the Gift of Tongues at Newlife Pentecostal Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was part of a documentary series Freeman is doing called “The Story of God.” In a recent episode he describes this charismatic gift as “powerful.” Freeman said: “All around me people have been swept up by an invisible force. And now they speak what they believe is the language of Heaven. I can see on their faces that they are genuinely somewhere else. “Now, whatever it is, they felt that power; they are not the same. Experience changes them, how they see themselves, how they relate to others, how they change their lives. “That was a powerful experience. I could feel the energy in that space. Normal people suddenly transformed by some power and then just suddenly return to normal. But Pentecostals believe they are bringing heaven down to earth.” These are interesting statements as the experience seems to have genuinely impacted Freeman. The …

Tim Tebow in his interview with Harry Connick Jr. Credit: Youtube capture

A Divine coincidence?

As a quarterback for the University of Florida Gators, Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 as the best player in college football.  In 2010, the Denver Broncos chose Tim in the first round of the NFL draft. After the Denver Broncos started off the 2011 season with a record of one loss and four wins,  Tebow took over quarterbacking the team leading them to an 8-6 season, the AFC West title and first playoff victory since 2005. But winning isn’t everything in the NFL, because that was the last season Tim started an NFL game. Questions about his throwing ability led to Denver trading him to the New York Jets in 2012 and by 2013 he was basically out of football. But his strong Christian faith was prominent every time he stepped on the field. The son of Baptist missionaries to the Philippines, one of Tebow’s trademarks in college was citing the Bible verse John 3:16 on the eye-black many football players put under their eye to reduce sun glare. During one Gator …

Beware the roaring lion. Credit: chris jd/Flickr/Creative Commons

Beware the roaring lion

In several verses, the Bible warns about the devil’s attack. The Apostle Paul tells us to be wary of the snares of the devil (1 Timothy 3:7), deceiving or seducing spirits (1 Timothy 4:1) and the devils schemes or mind games (2 Corinthians 2:11). But it is the Apostle Peter who urges believers to be on the “alert” for the “roaring lion,” who seeks out those he can devour. 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NASV) It’s interesting how the apostle throws in the term “roaring” to describe the lion. For years, scientists have been puzzled by the unusual affect the lion’s roar has on its prey. When the lion gives a deep, guttural roar, animals — instead of instantly fleeing — are momentarily paralyzed giving the lion a brief opportunity to strike. Researchers have now discovered the reason for this. Along with its roar, the lion utters what is called “infrasound.” This is a …

Ho Chi Minh city (formerly Saigon) Viet Nam. Credit: Colin Key/Flickr/Creative Commons

Original sin

Studies show that the average person lies about 100 times a day. As one writer tactfully noted, this was not talking about you specifically, but the average person. In the study, published in the Journal of Basic and Applied Psychology, University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman recruited 121 pairs of men and women attending classes at the university to take part in the study. They had no idea what it involved at this point. They were then brought together and asked to have conversations with the other participants. Most of them did not know each other. They were unaware that the conversations were being recorded and researchers received the required permission after, before moving to the next stage. The students were then asked to view the video and to pick out the lies — from the most innocent to the most blatant. They found that over 60% of the participants lied within the first ten minutes of their conversation and told an average of 2.92 lies. They found men and women lied the same amount, …

England's Parliament Building Credit: Jim Nix/Flickr/Creative Commons

In the midst of trials and tribulation lies a ‘Great Opportunity’

Interesting days in England and it probably  indicates what the so-called progressive left eventually wants to see happen in North America. A new law is being debated in England’s House of Commons and if passed, the government’s revised Policing and Crime Bill will see the penalty for a “racially or religiously aggravated offense” increased from its current seven-year imprisonment to 14 years. Since the revised law implies that a person could be thrown in jail for simply offending someone, during the debate UKIP Member of Parliament Lord Pearson asked the following question of the government: “Could such an offense be caused by a Christian preaching the supreme divinity of Christ and thereby denying the supremacy of Muhammad? Would various assembled Muslims be free to regard that as a religiously aggravated offense under this section?” He wanted to know if a person could be thrown in jail for simply stating their belief Jesus is Lord? As an opposition party, UKIP led the charge in England’s decision to leave the European Union. Rather than saying there was …

Credit: Antonio Ponte/Flickr/Creative Commons

Sex addiction is real

Dr. Stefanie Carnes is president of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP). She recently came out against those in the therapy community who do not believe people can be sex addicts. IITAP provides materials and support for those working in the addiction community. She pointed to several studies that show sex addiction is a very real problem. In particular, she cited the recent research of Ji-Woo Seok and Jin-Hun Sohn at Chungnam National University in South Korea. The two work at the university’s brain research institute. Their findings confirmed what earlier studies have shown — sex addiction is real for both men and women. In their study, Seok and Sohn found that people with a sex addiction share many similarities to those with alcohol and drug addictions. Like other addicts, those with a sex addiction spend an inordinate amount of time searching for pornography to satisfy their craving. Sex addicts have the same level of sexual desire as the normal population, but similar to other addictions have a higher degree of wanting …

Huli Wigmen tribesmen, Papau, New Guinea Credit: Didrik Johnck/Flickr/Creative Commons

The ten-foot angel said “I am not going to let you kill her”

It was February 24, 2009, when Canadian missionary Sue Ambrose heard the sound of someone running up behind her. She turned and saw a madman coming at her with an upraised machete. She remembers screaming “No” and the crazed man yelling “Yeah, you” then the blade deflected off her skull, chipping bone, and slicing off skin and hair. Stunned Sue fell to the ground, but continued to fight back. When the man thrust the large knife into her hip, she grabbed the blade to stop him from striking her again severing several tendons in her hand. From Salmon Arm, BC, Sue and her husband Mark serve as Wycliffe missionaries in Papua, New Guinea. She was returning to the missionary compound after buying food at the local market for the students at the Bible and literacy school where she and her husband minister. She used these walks as a time of meditative prayer and that morning she was contemplating a verse she had spoken to people about that morning: “Whoever desires to save his life will …

Credit: shutter-fotos.com/Flickr/Creative Commons

But Satan hindered us

It was a cold winter night in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada as my wife, then fiancé, and I drove a lonely highway to visit my parents. We had started late afternoon for the six-hour drive. Other than a car following behind us, there wasn’t much traffic. But two flickering lights off in the dark distance warned of an approaching vehicle. As the car got closer, it suddenly veered into our lane. Panicked my wife who was driving wrenched the steering wheel to the right and our car plunged into the ditch. We hit the ditch at full speed and the deep snow gripped our front wheels and our car rolled. Not sideways, but end over end — back over front. Suddenly my wife and I were hanging upside down in our car. I remember fumbling with the keys and turning off the vehicle. We released our seat belts and collapsed on the ceiling of the car. Other than being in total shock about what had just happened, we were unhurt. But the deep snow, that had …

Fortified bridge of the town of Besalu, Spain Credit: Mariluz Rodriguez/Flickr/Creative Commons

Evangelical church growing in Spain and France

Reading reports out of Europe, you get the impression that the Christian church is not doing well. And though it’s true the Roman Catholic and liberal churches are in decline pretty much like they are around the world, the Evangelical church is doing fine. A recent report by the Spanish Government says the Evangelical church is on the upswing in Spain. According to the Religious Plurality report released by the country’s Justice ministry, as of December 31, 2016 there are 3,910 Evangelical churches in Spain, up from 3,769 in 2015, an increase of 141. In other words, last year a new Evangelical church opened in that country every two and a half days. These numbers only included registered churches and do not include unregistered house churches or Bible study/prayer groups. The report added that the Evangelical church is also the fastest growing religion in Spain. Religion analyst Maximo Alvarez who described the increase as a “great upturn,” said the growth has been most pronounced since 2000. With 46 million people, there is still a need …

Credit: Steve Braund/Flickr/Creative Commons

Fearfully and wonderfully made: Appendix redeemed, we do need it

A favorite tactic of some to prove evolution is to point to what they call vestigial organs in the human body. According to this theory, vestigial organs evolved in our ancient history, but have no real purpose today. They are left over relics from our evolutionary past. One of the prime examples of a vestigial organ is the appendix that is routinely cut out when it becomes infected because doctors see no real use for it. However, a group of researchers at Midwestern University Arizona Hospital in Glendale, Arizona have concluded the appendix actually serves a very important function in the human body. Because of the large amount of lymphatic tissue in the appendix, they said it is a production center for beneficial “gut bacteria” necessary for good health. Good gut bacteria serves several important functions including helping the body absorb fiber and nutrients. It  also plays a vital role in the body’s immune system and some bacteria even supply a form of beneficial hormones. Contrary to what scientists have believed for decades, our body …

A new star appearing in the sky in 2020. Credit: wienotfilms/Flickr/Creative Commons

Orthodox Jews look to the formation of a new star as a sign of the coming Messiah

Though Orthodox Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah, they are still looking for a Messiah and an upcoming celestial event has excited some orthodox Jews because they believe it is a sign of the Messiah’s imminent arrival. A celestial event called a Nova involving the collision of two stars will soon be taking place. According to Larry Molnar, a professor of Astronomy at Calvin College in Michigan, this collision will be so bright that for six months it will be visible to the human eye on earth. In 2013, Molnar and one of his students noticed that two stars in the Cygnus Constellation were getting brighter. They realized their orbits were shrinking and they were now on a collision course. Based on earlier observations, Molnar expects the two will collide sometime in 2022. Breaking Israel News (BIN) cited an explanation of the event that Molnar provided in a video: “[The collision] will release as much energy as the sun releases in its entire lifetime … When the two finally collide, it will create a new …

Credit: Josh & Karen Tanenbarum/Flickr/Creative Commons

Baby Sinners?

A study by Dr. Vasudevi Reddy, of the Psychology Department at the University of Portsmouth, showed babies learn to lie before they learn to speak.  Her conclusions were reported in the April 2007 edition of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Dr. Reddy stated that lying started as early as six months. She says through trial and error, babies gain a better understanding in what situations lies work best and by seven months many infants are skilled in the art of deceit. Reddy’s conclusion flies in the face of many behavioral psychologists who — convinced of man’s eternal goodness — don’t believe children start lying until they are four years of age or older, when their brains are more developed. (By this age some argue lying is a learned behavior not an innate one.) But others, mostly parents, have had nagging suspicions that their sweet, innocent child had a dark side. In the course of her research, Reddy studied 50 children and did extensive interviews with their parents. Through this process, Reddy identified a …

Artist's rendering of an asteroid. Credit: Nasa/JPL-caltech/Wikipedia

Another near asteroid miss, missed again

It is becoming almost a regular occurrence — announcements by those looking into space for dangerous asteroids — that they had missed another near miss. Now to be fair, the asteroid called 2017 AG13 was only half the size of the asteroids the Catalina Sky Survey is looking for. It is an organization partially funded by NASA to scour the skies with NEOCam, an infra-red telescope, looking for potentially dangerous asteroids. They only had 24 hours notice on this one that passed by earth on Saturday, January 7, 2017. But half the size meant this asteroid was 25 meters to 35 meters tall — ten stories — and according to reports it was traveling at 16 kms a second (9.9 miles per second). A near miss in astronomical terms meant that it was 126,461 miles out, passing halfway between earth and the moon. Of course, any asteroids intersecting our planet’s trajectory are always a concern because of the potential for the earth’s gravity to pull them in. The asteroid that exploded high in the atmosphere …

Sun appearing over the India Ocean Credit: Nasa/Flickr

Mathematics professor predicts chaos in the next decade — a sign of the times?

Peter Turchin is a mathematics professor at the University of Connecticut. One of his projects is using mathematics to determine what lies ahead for the world’s future. And if he is right, it does not look good. Based on his mathematical model, Turchin is predicting a time of economic and political chaos in the the next decade – 2020s. For his predictions, Turchin used a branch of mathematics he developed called cliodynamics. According to Wikipedia, this looks upon history as just another branch of science and describes it as “the mathematical modeling of historical processes.” Basically, Turchin developed a mathematical algorithm to analyze past historical events and then used it to predict future events. Apparently, the model successfully predicted the political instability that the world is going through at the moment, but his calculations show that it won’t peak until the next decade, around 2025, and could result in the collapse of society. It will be caused by a number of events including the declining wealth of people and families that will put them under …

Dog sledding on Greenland, where the ice and snow is returning. Credit: Baron Reznik/Flickr/Creative Commons

Arctic ice cap roaring back

According to an article in the Daily Caller, the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) is reporting Greenland’s ice sheet is returning with a vengeance. The agency added that since January 1, 2017, Greenland’s ice sheet gained 8 gigatons of snow and ice. It noted the ice has been increasing since October. This increase is far above the normal rates seen this time of year, and DMI stated it is one of the highest growth rates in recent years. DMI has been monitoring the size of Greenland’s ice sheets for 24 years. Over the summer, those promoting man-made Global warming  trumpeted the arctic’s shrinking ice cap as evidence of man-made global warming. Of course, it always melts during the summer, but the melt this past year was aided by a strong El Nino effect that warmed the 2015-2016 winter. Once every three to five years, an El Nino occurs that results in warm waters — that should be pooling around Indonesia and the Philippines — moving eastward and settling along the coast of South America. Depending on …

Nepal Credit: Roberto Saltori/Flickr/Creative Commons

Nepal court sentenced Christians to prison for ‘withcraft’

A court in Nepal has found four Christians guilty of ‘witchcraft’ and ‘violence’ and sentenced them to five years imprisonment. According to World Watch Monitor, the crime the Christians committed was ministering to Seti Pariyar who had been sent to a prayer meeting in June last year by her father-in-law who thought Seti might be possessed by demons. Seti, who struggled with some type of mental illness, attended the prayer meeting, but left early fleeing into a nearby forest. After the prayer meeting ended, members of the church found Seti screaming in the forest and self harming. After praying for her, the group took the woman to her home. A few weeks later, a local businessman shared the incident with the local media who wrote a story on what took place at the church. When news of this came to light, a local resident filed a complaint with the police on the incident, who arrested five Christians and accused them of trying to convert Seti to Christianity. They also accused them of practicing ‘witchcraft’ and …

Artists portrayal of Nero's persecution of Christians by Heinrich von Siemiradzki (1843-1902): Wikipedia

How Tacitus’ contradiction of the Biblical record actually confirms the Bible

Roman senator and orator Tacitus (55AD-118AD) is considered one of the great ancient historians. He wrote a number of books, and in his last work entitled Annals he had a couple of paragraphs about Jesus and the Christians. Though small, these two citations pack a wallop because they provide various confirmations about the Biblical account and even one contradiction that actually proves the Bible’s accuracy of events. Tacitus was providing a brief history about the Roman Emperor Nero (37AD – 67AD) and because of this felt compelled to give an explanation about Christians and Christ as they played a role in the Great Fire of Rome (July 18-23 64 AD). Many Romans believed Nero purposefully set the fire as part of his grandiose plan to rebuild Rome. To deflect the blame, Tacitus said Nero accused Christians of arson: [neither] human effort nor the emperor’s generosity nor the placating of the gods ended the scandalous belief that the fire had been ordered [by Nero]. Therefore, to put down the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits and punished …