Bioinspiration

Job, in his response to one of his supposed “comforters” said: “But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; and let the fish of the sea declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:7-10).  Man has learned so much from studying God’s creation. As we study the motions of birds and animals we learn many things that we have applied to the design of our own devices. Such application to human engineering inspired by design in the natural world God created is called “bioinspiration,” a field that has grown in both size and importance in the past century. And yet we were encouraged to learn from the animals and birds in probably the oldest book in the Bible, the book of Job, written somewhere around 2,000 B.C.! 
     Humans have been trying to soar like the birds for millennia but after multiple failures, it seemed that maybe manned, mechanized flight was impossible. However, along came Wilbur and Orville Wright, whose mother, a strong creationist had a love for birds and could identify a bird by its song. She taught this love to her sons and after observing birds effortlessly gliding for long distance, they concluded that if a bird’s wings could sustain it in the air without the use of any muscles, there’s no reason they couldn’t copy their design and enable man to fly. The brothers, who had been experimenting with mechanical things throughout their lives, began work on trying to duplicate the structure of the birds’ wings. They recognized that a critical factor was the shape of the wing which they endeavored to copy. Observing birds (like Job recommended!) was one way their approach to flight differed significantly from their contemporary experimenters whose focus was on developing more powerful engines. The brothers focused on wing design, realizing the wing needed to be curved to force air on top to travel faster than air underneath, since faster-moving air has less pressure, creating lift from the air below the wing.
     Wilbur and Orville spent many hours studying birds in flight. They noticed that birds changed the shape of their wings to turn and maneuver and saw how “a buzzard maintained its balance in the air chiefly by twisting its dropped wing. This twist increased the air pressure on the dropped wing and restored the bird to level flight” (Acts and Facts, September 2018, page 16). The brothers copied this design to enable their flying machine to bank or lean into a turn just like a bird.They spent the next three years incorporating what they had learned and built a glider. They selected Kitty Hawk, North Carolina as their test site and in 1900 successfully tested their 50-pound biplane glider with a 17-foot wingspan in both unmanned and piloted flights.  Experiencing problems with the glider spinning out of control, Wilbur and Orville built a small wind tunnel for further testing, resulting in a redesign of their glider—this time with a 32-foot wing span and a movable tail (again from observing how birds used their tails to maneuver in flight. They used a small homebuilt wind tunnel to collect the data that enabled them to construct more efficient wings.
     Next they designed a propeller and motor and built a powered aircraft weighing 700 pounds. It became known as The Flyer. On Dec. 17, 1903, Orville Wright took The Flyer on a 12-second flight, the first successful powered, piloted flight in history. Few men have changed the world in greater ways than the Wright brothers, and they started by following Job’s advice to observe “the birds of the heavens and let them tell you” Job. 12:7. 
    While the Wright brother’s contribution to mankind through the use of bioinspiration may be unsurpassed in its importance to mankind, the list of human engineering devices from observing God’s creation is a long one and one that continues to grow. Aeronautical engineers were able to dampen the noise of turbine engines by designing the fins after the feathers on an owl’s wings. Owls are able to fly nearly completely silently.  Others, in attempts to improve helicopter design, have studied the structure of dragon flies’ wings and how they are able to hover and take off vertically.  Sports science, in order to design safer football helmets, studied the construction of a woodpeckers brain and skull. Woodpeckers, of course can spend hours beating their beaks against a hard tree without damage to their brains.  Mankind has profited greatly by observing birds and animals which were designed by an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator God. 
     In addition to the physical features of God’s creatures that we can try to copy to improve our mechanical devices, there are many life lessons to learn from them. For example, In Solomon’s book of wisdom, he writes: “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise” (Pr. 4:4). Or, consider the amazing honey bees. I did a whole series of “Wisdom of the Week” articles on honey bees and what they teach us about the need to be reliable messengers in sharing the truth about God who alone can provide eternal life to those who are lost.
     As you observe birds and animals in the future, ask God to teach you.
            Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
    
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God SO Loved…

One of our family’s favorite summer activities as the children were growing up was to backpack into the nearby Cabinet Mountain Wilderness to a mountain lake and camp overnight. It was a lot of work, but oh, so rewarding to spend time in some of the most beautiful of all of God’s creation and then to lie and look up at the stars at night (we didn’t take a tent!) and marvel at the immensity of space and see an occasional meteor or passing satellite. King David, who spent much time under the stars as a shepherd in the hills of Bethlehem, wrote in the Psalms: “He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord…” (Psa. 147:4, 5a).  And the prophet Isaiah, also contemplating the greatness of God, wrote: “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance, and the hills in a pair of scales?…Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by names; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power not one of them is missing” (Isa. 40:12, 26).  The 2010 estimate of the number of stars was 300 sextillion. That’s 300 followed by 21 zeros!  God not only numbers every star (and I’m sure our estimate is way low) but has named each one!
     As the Psalmist declared, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psa. 19:1). But the heavens don’t just declare the glory and greatness of our Creator, but also declare His love for us. The Psalmist also wrote: “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving kindness toward those who fear Him” (Psa. 103:11). Many have expounded on this verse, emphasizing  that God’s love is unfailing and steadfast toward all who follow Him faithfully and worship Him in reverential fear. The basic thought is that God’s great love is even greater than the distance between heaven and earth. To appreciate that distance, especially in relation to God’s love, we might ask ourselves, “Just how much is ‘so’?”  Let’s take a look.
     The sun (which is 800,000 miles in diameter compared to 8,000 miles for the earth) is the closest star to Earth at 93 million miles. To cover that distance, light, which travels at 186,282 miles per second, takes 8.3 minutes to reach Earth. The nearest star to the sun, called “Proxima Centauri,” is about 4.22 light-years away or approximately 25 trillion miles. (A light-year is the distance light travels in a year). It would take the fastest spacecraft more than 50,000 years to get there!  Wrap your brain around this mind-boggling thought, if you can: To reach the edge of the known universe would take about 15 billion light-years! The point being, God’s love is so great that it is immeasurable—it is truly awe-inspiring.
     The birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem and His subsequent death on the cross for our sin is a manifestation of that love, as Scripture says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). During these tension-filled days of troubles in the world and in our own nation, it would be good to focus on the simple word “so” in regard to God’s great love for you: “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving kindness toward those who fear Him” (Psa. 103:11).
                    The love of God is greater far
                    than tongue or pen can ever tell;
                    It goes beyond the highest star,
                    and reaches to the lowest hell;
                    The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
                   God gave His Son to win;
                    His erring child He reconciled,
                    and pardoned from his sin.
                    O love of God, how rich and pure!
                    How measureless and strong!
                    It shall forever more endure
                    The saints’ and angels’ song.      (The Love of God by Pastor Frederick Lehman [1868-1953])
           
        Forever His,
            Pastor Dave
    
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Take Off the Old and Put on the New

Our son and his family were with us to celebrate Christmas this year. One of the gifts our grandson (freshman in high school) received was a red Nike hooded sweatshirt. As soon as we finished opening gifts, he took off the “old” sweatshirt he was wearing and put on the new red hoody which he wore  pretty much the rest of the time they were here!  He very literally did what Paul challenges believers to do in Eph. 4:22-24. He “Laid aside the old…and put on the new.”  So often when we get something new it stays in the closet or drawer while we continue to wear the old with which we are more comfortable.
     When we trust Christ for eternal life, we are “born again” (spiritually…Jn. 3:3) and Paul writes, “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (II Cor. 5:17). The problem is, we often have trouble letting go of the “old things”—old habits and old ways of thinking and acting and speaking when our lives were controlled by the desires of our old sinful flesh. We are more comfortable in our “old clothes.” That’s why we have numerous challenges in Scripture to “walk in newness of life…consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness to God…Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God…and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… ” (Ro. 6:4,11-13; 12:1,2).
     In Christ—because of His death, burial, resurrection and ascension—we have available to us a whole new way of living victoriously and abundantly (Ro. 8:37; Jn. 10:10).  But, although we have a new nature through the Holy Spirit and Christ living in us, we also still have our old sinful Adamic nature  until God takes us to heaven. So, we have a struggle within us between the Spirit and the flesh, described by Paul in Rom. 7:15-24 and Gal. 5:17.  The secret of living the new life in Christ, Paul gives us in Gal. 5:16: “But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”  As we, moment by moment, allow the Spirit control of our lives (Eph. 5:18), we are enabled to “put off the grave clothes and put on the grace clothes!”  Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can follow Paul’s admonition in Eph. 4:22-24: “…In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Paul goes on to list some examples: Stop lying and speak the truth; don’t let the sun go down on your anger; stop stealing and work hard to provide for your needs and share with others; stop speaking unwholesome words and speak words that edify; put away bitterness, wrath and anger and slander and be kind and forgiving (vv. 25-32).
     As we come to the conclusion of 2018 and enter 2019, this would be an appropriate time to take inventory of your life to see if you need to put off some of the old deeds of the flesh and put on the new self created in Christ in you.  As a believer, you have received through the indwelling Holy Spirit and Christ in you everything you need to live victoriously for God this coming year. But, the choice is yours. He does not force you to “wear your new clothes.” Let Paul’s words to the Corinthian believers be your challenge: “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (II Cor. 5:14,15). 
     Wishing for you a fruitful year of service for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And, remember, we are now another year closer to His return—even so come, Lord Jesus!
      Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
    
    
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A Message from Outer Space

  For many years, scientists have had their ears cocked to the sky in a search of voices from outer space. They’ve used telescopes and satellites and huge antennae covering acres in order to try and pick up messages from outside the world. While space scientists may have drawn a blank, the amazing fact is that messages from beyond the world are silently signaling, but it’s not a telescope we need to focus on them or a radio antennae. All we need to do is focus on the order of life and space and we’ll hear voices from outside our world. Let’s take a brief look.
The Formation of crystals
     The plane surfaces are always in shapes involving the ratios of 2,3,4,6—and no other—never 5 or 7. Why not? It’s as if the crystals form to programmed instructions!
Construction of Bee Hives
     Every bee hive is built geometrically, with the same number of hexagonal cells per square inch in every hive. Who’s doing the thinking for them? Do they have the same blueprint? When a worker bee returns to the hive, it relates the distance of the nectar source by its body motion, and then lands at the appropriate angle on the hive w.r.t. the sun to point to the direction of the nectar source. Does the honeybee have some fantastic built in computer system? If so, who programmed it?
Fibonacci’s Series (Arithmetic progression)
     You start with one and add the digit in front to get the next number (1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89…etc.).  If that series of numbers were to come in from outer space on astronomers’ radio telescopes, scientists would shout “LIFE!”  Actually the Fibonacci message is being received, but not in the huge bowls of the radio telescopes, but in the tiny cupped head of the garden daisy, where tiny florets in its yellow center form detectable spirals with 21 clockwise and 34 counterclockwise; or, the bumps on a pineapple with have spirals of 8 and 13; or the center of sunflowers which have 34 and 55, or on larger blooms—55 and 89—all of which are adjacent figures in the Fibonacci Series. Is this mere chance? The odds against that are staggering!
Flatworms that can Multiply by Dividing
    The microscopic flatworm known as the planeria has no stomach and its nervous system is nil, yet when one of these worms is cut into two, the head grows a new tail and the tail grows a new head!  Flatworms which have been trained to respond to light pulses have been severed, and a month later the two new worms still have the conditioned reaction to light.
Crabs that can Detect Tide Times 
     Fiddler crabs on the East coast change color for camouflage as the tide goes out. As the tide returns the crabs go back to their pinkish normal color. This cycle happens .50 minutes later every 24 hours—coinciding with the moons control of the tide. Even removed from their native habitat, the crabs will continue to change color to coincide with every ebb of sea—and they will adjust to any change in time zone!
A Cricket that can Tell the Temperature
     You can calculate the air temperature from the number of chirps per minute emitted by the tree cricket!
     And this list can go on and on. How does the salmon find its way back to its place of birth? Who tells the birds to fly south or to build the same kinds of nests? How can the Tern migrate from pole to pole every year?  How do baby opossums know they’re supposed to climb up into the pouch when they  are born?  Surely all these illustrations show that some extraterrestrial intelligence is superimposing its mind in the most unexpected places. From the formations of crystals and the construction of bee hives to the chirping of a cricket and the migration of salmon and birds, messages are coming through—the language of space is all around us. The Master Designer is maintaining and directing that which He created. He has a wonderful plan for even the tiny planeria flatworms, so just imagine the plan that He has for you.
     That plan is revealed to us in the great “message from outer space,” God’s Word, the Bible. In it we read of His Story, how God created the earth in such a unique way that it would support life (Isa. 45:18) and then He created all the plants and animals and finished with the “crown of His creation,” man and woman, made in His image, with the ability to communicate with, and love and glorify Him. Sin messed up that relationship, but God’s plan, even before He created the world, included a means of forgiveness and reconciliation. He would come down and pay the penalty of sin and give each of us the opportunity to repent and trust Him for eternal life (Jn. 3:16).
     Mankind waited for several millennia for this “Savior” to come. “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4,5). Then came the greatest “message from outer space” in the history of the world. It was delivered one night by an angel to shepherds in the hills near Bethlehem. The angel said, “Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people, for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:10,11). That eternal “Word” which had communicated to man from outer space now became flesh, took on the form of a bondservant and was made in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:7). “The grace of God has appeared, making salvation available to all men” (TIt. 2:11).
     In contrast to the creatures of nature which God directs, God has given us a will to choose or reject His direction. God provides the circumstances for you to receive Him as Savior, but you must make the choice. “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God…” (Jn. 1:12).   Then, as a child of God, we have the choice of whose directions we’re going to follow. King Solomon’s words of wisdom are: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct (make straight) your paths” (Pr. 3:5,6).
     To all who are waiting to hear from outer space, we already have, and it’s “Good News!”  God loves you and sent His Son to die for you. He wants to direct your life and His plans are far better than any we could ever make for ourselves (Jer. 29:11).  All you have to do is ask Him.
                May you have a merry Christmas and a joyous, fruitful New Year following Him,
                    Pastor Dave
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Pretty Lights

While pastoring at Three Lakes Bible Church, on Wednesday evenings we used to pick up some neighbor kids and take them to our AWANA program for children and youth.  At this time of year, when decorations have gone up for Christmas, one little girl used to comment on the way home about all the “pretty lights” and would then ask, “Do you like pretty lights?”  On one occasion we passed a patrolman who had a car pulled over beside the road, and again, “Look at the pretty lights.”  (They probably weren’t “pretty” to the occupants of the car that was stopped!)
     One thing our family has always enjoyed is driving around on Christmas Eve to see all the “pretty lights.”  Some folks go all out with outdoor decorations. Sometimes a neighborhood will have decoration contests and people try to outdo each other with their light displays.  One residential area in our community often puts out luminaries all along the roads in their neighborhood on Christmas Eve, knowing that many people will be driving through to look at lights. 
     Use of the Christmas tree was part of the Christian Christmas celebration in the 16th century in Germany, spreading to most of Europe by the 18th century.  According to tradition, it was Martin Luther in Germany who popularized trees as a Christmas symbol of the new life we have in Christ. He also apparently had the idea of putting candles on the tree to represent how “in Him (Christ) was life, and the life was the light of men” (Jn. 1:4).  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12).
     In England, Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree to the royal palace and in the United States, our 14th president, Franklin Pierce, was the first president to set up a Christmas tree in the White House.
     While candles are what really made a tree a “Christmas tree,” the flickering flames, though festive, were also a fire hazard. So, along came Thomas Edison and Edward Johnson. Johnson hired the 24-year old Edison as a consultant for his telegraph company on 36th street in New York City.  Johnson took many of Edison’s brainstorms—like the phonograph— and tuned them into cash.  In 1880, Edison patented the light bulb and Johnson and others invested $35,000 to form “The Edison Lamp Co.” to market the bulbs. Then Johnson saw the opportunity to use light bulbs in place of candles on Christmas trees. He set up a tree by the street-side window of his parlor and hand-wired 80 red, white and blue bulbs, strung them around the tree and placed the trunk in a revolving pedestal, all powered by a generator. The lighted tree drew large crowds that stopped by to gaze at the glowing marvel. He continued to add more bulbs each year. Soon bulbs were being mass produced and by 1900 you could buy a string of 16 flame-shaped bulbs sitting in brass sockets the size of shot glasses for $12 (about $350 in today’s money) .  In 1894, President Cleveland put electric lights on the White House tree.
     Today an estimated 150 million light sets are sold in America each year. Christmas lights consume 65% of the nation’s electric load in December! It all started with Johnson’s “miracle on 36th street!”
     But, long before the celebration of Christmas with all its light displays, there was an event mentioned in Scripture and recorded by Jewish historians.  Jewish people had returned from exile in Babylon, rebuilt the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and were living, worshiping, and working in the land. But then along came Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) who forbade the Jewish people to keep the Sabbath or to observe their religious practices. Many were forced to bow and sacrifice to pagan gods and thousands more were slain. The Holy Temple was invaded, defiled and robbed. Things seemed hopeless for the Jews until one godly man, Mattityahu, a priest, stepped forward and, backed by his five sons, attacked the army of Antiochus, tore down the idols, and slew the idol-worshippers. Other faithful Jews then joined him as they fled to the hills. Yehuda Maccabee, one of Mattityahu’s sons, led the small guerilla army to a series of victories. With God on their side, they liberated Jerusalem and won the Temple back on the 25th of the month Kislev, 165 B.C. (which was also our December 25th that year!). 
     Overjoyed and thankful, the people cleared the Temple of idols and rebuilt the altar. According to tradition, they looked for holy oil to light the menorah and rededicate the sanctuary, but only one cruse remained undefiled. In faith, they lighted the lamp, and the oil which should have lasted just one day, lasted eight. Jews began an annual celebration to honor that great miracle and bravery and faith in God. It commemorates one of the many times God has delivered Israel from the hands of her enemies. It is called “Hanukkah” which comes from the Hebrew verb meaning “to dedicate.” It is also called the “Feast of Dedication,“ and the “Festival of Lights.” It lasts 8 days and on each day one of the candles of the Menorah is lighted from the candle in the middle called “the Servant Candle!”   We read in John 10:22,23 that Jesus attended the “Feast of Dedication” (Hanukkah) in Jerusalem in the winter.
    The pretty lights of Christmas (and Hanukkah) remind us of when God became a man and the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds near Bethlehem when the angel came, saying:  “Don’t be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2: 10,11). Light is the basic energy by which all creation functions. God, of course, is the source. In fact, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (I Jn. 1:5). And, that light came into the world in the person of God the Son, Jesus Christ, the God-Man. He came to light the way for us. “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ (Gen. 1:3) is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (II Cor. 4:6).
     As you admire all the beautiful lights this Christmas, be reminded of what they represent: The red lights speak of the blood Jesus shed to pay for our sins (I Pet. 1:18,19); the green lights speak of new life and growth, the white lights speak of the holiness of God, and how our sins can be made white as snow through Christ’s blood; the yellow lights speak of the golden streets of heaven and the eternal life that awaits all who have received God’s gift to man–His Son, Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:12). Have you received God’s “Indescribable gift” (II Cor. 9:15)?
            Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
  

    

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Trust in the Lord and Do Good

  I enjoy listening to “In The Market” on Moody Radio. Janet Parshall, host of the daily broadcast, deals with current issues and how we, as Christians, should respond.  She doesn’t shy away from tackling tough, controversial topics. As Janet says, with all the turmoil, evil, and craziness in our world today, the U.S.A. included, it would be easy, as a believer, to just “pull the covers up over our head and try to ignore it all.”  This past fall in the United States we have witnessed numerous tragic shootings, and unbelievably sickening treatment of Brett Kavanaugh during the hearings to confirm him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. And then came the campaigning for the mid-term elections with all the heated rhetoric and mud-slinging. Even after the election, the turmoil continued with recounts and charges of voter fraud and candidates unwilling to accept defeat. It is sickening and disheartening to see the depths to which this “great nation” has sunken in such a short time. We listened to a special Moody radio program at Thanksgiving about the Pilgrims and the beginnings of our nation and how the emphasis was on freedom to worship and serve God and proclaim His Good News of love and forgiveness. Our first universities were established as places to be trained in God’s Word to be able to teach it to others. My how far we have strayed in our short history.
     I’m sure you too have been struck by how very sinful the times are in which we live. Sin and the war it wages against mankind is everywhere. You can’t visit an online news source, turn on the television, or tune in to your favorite radio station without being reminded of the wickedness of our day. It has penetrated every level of our society. And the problem isn’t unique to our country. It is universal.
     As believers in Jesus Christ, we love what He loves and hate what He hates. We love righteousness, justice, truth, peace and holiness. So, we are grieved by sin and its awful effects that so dominate the culture around us. We long for justice and for things to be set right. We want to see the lies and deceit exposed for what they are and long to see God and His Word exalted and sin judged.  We can surely identify with John the Apostle’s closing benediction of the final book of Scripture: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).  And, it is tempting to want to “pull up the covers” and just stay there till Jesus returns to make things right.
     And we are not the first ones to feel that way. Ever since sin took place in the Garden of Eden, believers have longed for evil and wickedness to be judged and for justice to rule.  It is easy to have the attitude that “being good doesn’t pay,” for we see how many seem to prosper in their evil scheming and not get caught or punished. Even if their wickedness is exposed, nothing is done about it. the Psalmist was obviously bothered by this as well, as we have a number of the Psalms we refer to as “imprecatory” Psalms which cried out for God to judge those who were working against His plans and purposes and making life difficult for those who followed God’s commands. But, inspired by God, David wrote: “Do not fret because of evil-doers. Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass, and fade like the green herb. (You continue to ) Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust also in Him, and He will do it. And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noon day. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him. Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret, it leads only to evil doing. For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked will be no more…but the humble will inherit the land, and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (Psa. 37: 1-11).
     It is important that we view our current culture with an eternal perspective and not become “weary in well doing” (Gal. 6:9) and just wait for the Lord to come and take us out of here. We can trust that one day soon “The Lord will come who will bring to light the things hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts” (I Cor. 4:5). But meanwhile, we are to continue doing good, and dwelling in the land and cultivating faithfulness. We are not helpless bystanders in a world gone amuck, but have at our disposal  the most powerful, life-changing weapon to fight corruption and evil in the world, one that is not dependent upon a particular political party or piece of legislation. It is the Word of God which alone reveals the means of ultimate deliverance from sin and judgment. It is the only means the Holy Spirit uses to bring people into a right relationship with God and change them from the inside out. In this world of “bad news” we have the “Good News” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Ro. 1:16).  The gospel alone has the power to save souls from Satan’s kingdom of lies and deceit, wickedness, and death, and to bring them into the glorious kingdom of God. In a depraved, perishing world, God continues to gather a people for His eternal glory—to praise, serve, and enjoy Him forever, and we have the privilege, and responsibility of sharing that “Good News” in a world that desperately needs it. Jesus said “I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18).  Since “gates” were used for defense, it implies that the church (we believers) are to be on the “offensive,” taking the Gospel to the remotest parts of the earth, which includes not only the neighbor next door, but also the countries “closed” to Christianity.
     So, don’t go into hiding, waiting for this all to end and Jesus to get you out of here. We are to continue being “salt and light” (Mt. 5:14-16), and the more corrupt and darker it becomes, the more we need to “show up.” After all we are Christ’s Ambassadors on earth with the privilege of representing Him to others so they might be reconciled to God (II Cor. 5:18-20). This is the “season of lights”–Hanukah and Christmas. Make sure your “light” is also shining!”
                Forever His,
                        Pastor Dave
    
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Keeping Your Balance

  We enjoy watching gymnastics and are amazed at the abilities of the gymnasts. All of the events are impressive, demonstrating the gymnasts amazing strength and flexibility and timing, but one in particular shows the athlete’s balance and that, of course, is the balance beam. I’m sure at some point in your life you have tried to see how long you could walk on a railroad rail without falling off. Now raise that rail to 4 feet off the ground and try it!  A balance beam is 16 feet long, 3.9 inches wide and 4.1 feet off the ground. It is wider than a rail but gymnasts doesn’t just walk on it; they perform tumbling combinations to demonstrate acrobatic skills and must also stay on the beam the whole time. They have 1.3 minutes to show their skills. That may not seem like a very long time, but I bet it seems like an hour when you are trying to keep balanced and not fall off.
     Keeping your balance is a much-needed skill, not just in gymnastics, but in all of life.  We need to keep the tires balanced and the wheels in alignment on our vehicles or we have difficulty staying on course. In order to stay healthy, we need a balanced diet (which doesn’t mean a chocolate bar in both hands!). Financially we need a balanced budget where we don’t spend more than we make (or we end up like our government!). Sports teams need to have a balanced attack, not dependent on just one player,  but all working together, with each contributing according to his/her special abilities. The same is true for a local assembly of believers. The Apostle Paul compared the church to the physical body, which has many members, all serving an important role and necessary to the proper functioning of the body (I Cor. 12:12-31). Just as it would be ridiculous for the foot to say, “because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” or for the ear to say, ” because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is also ridiculous to say that because you don’t have particular spiritual gifts that you are not really needed in the local assembly. If you are a believer, you have been gifted by God to serve in the body of Christ. Paul wrote: “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit (spiritual gifts) for the common good” (I Cor. 12:7).  Rather than envying what others can do, thinking that you don’t have anything to offer, keep in mind Paul’s statement in I Cor. 12:11: “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” God did not leave anyone out and is the One who decides what gifts to give each of us that will best complement the body to make it healthy. To the Ephesian believers, Paul wrote: “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift…being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:7-16).  If you decide you aren’t needed, or don’t want to get involved, then the body is “out of balance” and suffers. There needs to be a balance of teaching, administering, showing mercy, service, worship, outreach, missions, etc. for a church to stay in balance and be healthy. The church needs YOU!  CH_ _ CH is nothing unless UR in it!
     And, speaking of the church, there needs to be a balance in teaching from God’s Word. It is our nature to fall prey to the “perils of the pendulum,” and emphasize one doctrine and neglect others. For example, we may exclusively teach on the sovereignty of God and neglect the teaching of the free will of man and his responsibility and accountability. Or we may put all of emphasis on evangelism and very little on discipleship and missions. Or we may get hung up on prophecy and neglect the development of our everyday walk and witness.  When Paul met with the elders from Ephesus, he told them, “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose (KJV = counsel) of God” (Acts 20:27). Paul boldly declared all the truths of God’s Word—creation, election, redemption, justification, adoption, conversion, sanctification, holy living, etc. and strongly condemned those who adulterated the truth of Scripture (II Cor. 2:17; II Tim. 4:3,4). “All Scripture is inspired by God (from Genesis through Revelation) and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3:16,17).  It is crucial that we study and teach and preach all of God’s Word and not be a “Scripture-plucker,” with just a verse here and a verse there to teach what we want God’s Word to say or to just emphasize one portion of the “whole counsel of God.”
     Another area where we are prone to get out of balance is in the area of our physical versus spiritual conditioning. Our culture today is quite obsessed with health and fitness. I just heard that people in our country spend and average of $100,000 in a lifetime on fitness centers, exercise equipment, diets,  protein drinks, etc. to keep their bodies in top shape. Now, it is good to do what we can to stay healthy and in shape (someone said, “round is a shape!”)  for we only have a ministry as long as we have a body, but don’t neglect to exercise spiritually. Imagine how spiritually strong and healthy we would be if we gave as much effort to spiritual conditioning as to physical!  Paul wrote: “For bodily discipline (exercise) is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (I Tim. 4: 8).  We tend to spend much time on our physical bodies which are temporal and little time on the inner man which is eternal. Paul wrote: “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:16-18). How much time (and money) do you spend on the “outer man” versus the renewal and growth of the “inner man”?  Has your life gotten “out of balance”? 
     “Keeping your balance” is important in every area of life. Gymnastics is not the only venue with a “balance beam.” But, none is more important than your spiritual life. We are here to glorify God in all that we do (Col. 3:17, 23,24) and in order to do that, must “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Mt. 6:33). How are you doing?  Have you gotten “out of balance?”
                Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
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