Looking Down from Heaven

Who wouldn’t agree one of the most emotional events in a person’s life is the death of a family member or friend. It is one of the hallmarks of the human experience indicating a level above that of mere animal. My Dad died in 2005 and Mom 9 years later and still today I really miss them, thinking so may things I should have said to them while alive but didn’t.

So believe me when I write this short note I do understand how the heart can longingly look back on those who have meant the most to us, but it has occurred to me there is one aspect of society’s thoughts of the departed that has intrigued me. There is often a phrase is used, to impart comfort and kindness, or maybe not. Example: “so and so is looking down from heaven at you and would be so proud,” or conversely: “so and so would be very disappointed in you to see you doing that.”

But how would they be looking down at us all in any fashion to observe us behaving in any manner? Too be sure I speak from pure conjecture on this topic, but I’ve never seen or read any substantiating validity for the “Looking Down from Heaven” concept. Certainly it would be a view over an awful long distance. Well, maybe not “awful” since the viewee would be there in heaven, right?

And what exactly would that mechanism be to telescope one’s vision from heaven to Earth? How would you even pinpoint this blue marble out of all the rocks circling the billions of stars in the billions of galaxies? And then you’d have to know exactly where a person would be on the planet at a particular second in time and space to be able to focus on them.

Unless of course heaven had some contraption such that you’d key in some data points, and a valid reason, of course, as a security check against any nefarious peeking, and hit a green button and stand back to face the giant flat screen and see if your request was approved. Frankly, I don’t know about you, but there are way too many things I do, and have done I wouldn’t want others to witness or know about. That’s why doors have latches!

I don’t know, but there are just too many considerations that indicate to me that one someone is gone they won’t be able to stalk us any further. I just can’t see it. Maybe it is one of those mysteries we will understand when we get there. Unless heaven is not the final destination!

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Sin or Society: Man’s Social Dilemma

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper,  a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table.  But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste?  “For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”  But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me.  “For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me.  “For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial.  “Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”  Matthew 26:6-13

Reportedly one reason leveled at Christianity in general and Jesus Christ in particular by detractors concerns Jesus’ lack of focus on social injustices. Since He came to save the world why didn’t He eradicate poverty? Why not deal with slavery? Or the cruelty of government? Since He clearly had phenomenal power at His disposal, the myriad reports of these are amazing, surely He could have turned His miraculous gifts in the direction of society’s more crucial issues.

I believe the reason that He did not was that there were more pressing problems facing mankind than those manifesting as the social ills of the day. The problem of the sickness of the heart is the one crucial issue that has plagued mankind that was the real cause of the cancers manifesting in societies worldwide.

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.  Mark 7:21,22

Humans have grown very adept at hiding this fact and inoculating himself from the real poison and trying a multitude of failed methods attempted to eradicate this curse of a sick heart. But as it was brought about by disobedience to God in the Garden of Eden, the only cure is obedience by God’s perfect Son, and our accepting of the gift of life through Him, Jesus Christ. And His resurrection from the dead is our only hope; an event occurring in the corner of the world 2000 years ago has been believed on by millions and celebrated up to today. Thanks You Lord for such an awesome gift.

“nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” John 11:50

[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]

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Uh Oh, It’s the Bible!

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Here we have in the first ten words of the Bible (in English) written thousands of years ago the answer to questions many humans continue to ask: “Are we alone in the universe?” and “how did the universe come to be?” And the answers are “no” and “God” respectively I’m reading again through the Bible, as I do annually, and want to comment on things that strike me as I go. Like the inquisitor’s two main topics, the Who and the How?

I admit without apology that I believe all of man’s answers to life and living as told through this holy book can be accepted only as a matter of faith. That is faith is the assurance that these things that are written are true. Hebrews 11:1 Can you believe in miracles? Can you believe that water can be made into wine? Can you believe that the dead can be raised? Can you believe that an all-supreme being came to earth in the form of man and walked among us? Can you believe that this planet, that all that we see was the result of careful design and engineering and creation and humanity was placed here?

Or would you rather believe that the universe formed on its own unguided after a big bang? Believe that single cell organisms abruptly appeared from the primordial slime and evolved into other creatures all on their own? Can you believe that humans evolved from one species of creature into something different all on their own? Can you believe that life itself was something that spontaneously occurred from a non-living entity creating its own consciousness, its own sense of “self-awareness.” Then for you “Evolution” is the designer, engineer, manufacturer.

If you are in the former camp you can read the books of the Bible with an open mind seeking to understand what is written and why it was written, seeking to know truth.

If you are in the latter camp nothing you read will make sense and you’ll imagine that it is all make believe like the dozens or hundreds of other cultures’ “holy books.” You won’t be alone; I was in your company for the first 26 years of my life until a sudden event had a monumental impact on my perspective of life.

I should say it is possible that one can accept God and true science. At least the science of the kind that is provable, that gave us discoveries like x-rays, vaccines, etc. things that are provable. But I will be honest, science can neither prove the existence of God nor can it prove the existence of what is today accepted as fact called evolution, in spite of what some scientists state are “facts” rather than theories taken on faith.

So if you are somewhere between the camp of the skeptic and the believer and are seeking answers keep reading. What is presented in the 66 books of the Bible does make sense. Read it and see. Next I comment on the first few chapters of Genesis.

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Abraham’s Sacrifice of Isaac

What would you do, I’m speaking to you parents, if God asked you to take your only child, the child you’ve longed to have all the decades you’ve been married and have tried to have a child but couldn’t, and take that child and bring him to a far mountain and sacrifice him to the Lord as a blood sacrifice? Like He asked Abraham in Gen. 22: 1-12

If it was me I think I’d either question my sanity, since God does not have His people do things against His doctrines, i.e., kill your children, or I’d wonder if it was the devil tempting me like Satin did to Charles Manson.

But the Old Testament times were different days, and Abraham had plenty of experience with God telling him to do things like leave his home and go to a land far away where He would make the land a present to him and his posterity. So I guess Abraham recognized his voice.

But, and this is a huge but, God was asking him to sacrifice his only son, the son He promised would be the heir and future of his hopes and his nation! But there is nothing in the text that gives us any insight at all about how he debated or mulled this proposal in his mind. Except that early in the next morning they set of on the journey. In other words, Abraham obeyed God.

But you have to believe he was freaking out inside, right? What father wouldn’t? But consider the relationship Abraham had with God. Think about the faith he had in the Lord. This was not just a casual belief in God. This was not a “Churchianity” like so many of us have today, where we let the impact of the Holy Spirit indwelling us barely register on how we live our lives and deal with our world. This must have been a full walk moment by moment in the knowledge of the Lord to have the faith the Lord “will provide for Himself the lamb” without explicitly being told. He must have known God would never have Abraham harm his son, so he felt completely confident that he could tie up Isaac, lay him on the alter, on top of the wood, and even raise the knife over his head ready to strike! And I feel certain that even if God did not stop him from killing his son, he knew God was able to raise him from the dead, as well. See Heb. Heb. 11:19

I’m not quite sure I’ve got that much faith! But Abraham spent a lot of time following God’s instructions wandering around the Promised Land. Sure he stumbled on occasion, telling some kings his beautiful wife was his sister because he didn’t trust God enough to protect his family. But the magnificent thing about the way Abraham did believe God was that it was absolute. He believed God and God awarded him with Righteousness because of it. Gen. 15:6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

And the great thing about this is that it can happen to every human being in this same way – Jesus called it being Born Again. Just read John chapter 3. John 3:7 “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.'” When He was talking to a renown Teacher of the Law this Pharisee didn’t realize Jesus was speaking out of that very Law, as He so frequently did to their blindness.

I don’t know if there was tremendous relief in Abraham when God called out to stay his knife and do not harm the boy. Maybe his faith just pegged a notch. Maybe he did break out in a sweat. Who knows. What a phenomenal relationship he had with God, to go through such a blind trail. I sure hope I can fair as well, because I these kinds of pressures don’t let up in these crazy days of ours!

[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]

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The Truth Suppressed, God is Knowable

Romans 1:18-20
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

This is just a spectacular statement for a man to make, even for a non-scientist, a theologian like Paul. This is before such 19 and 21st century scientific thought like Special Relativity, Quantum Physics, black holes, the “God particle,” “dark energy” as detected by the Hubble telescope, and so on. A simple declaration is made first thing in Romans to lay a foundation for the rest of Paul’s premise, God was knowable by everyone. Why was He knowable? Because God Himself made Himself evident! He wasn’t the watchmaker who wound up the watch and left it to run and then hid on His creation. No, He made Himself evident. He let His creation become the evidence for His existence. And not just for His existence but for His own personal characteristics as well. His invisible attributes! Paul understood there is something about the spiritual and emotional makeup of mankind that is perceptive enough to detect the eternal and the divine nature of God through creation. And these things about God are seen clearly. It isn’t some foggy notion or a puzzle, or some convenient notion that man makes God in his own image, it is a clear part of human nature to comprehend that there is an eternal, divine God who created all things.

But very sadly, Adam’s fall changed the original paradigm drastically. [Adam had the privilege to walk and talk face to face with God (in the form of Jesus).] While still able to understand all of this, mankind chooses to reject this information to one degree or another. History is proof of all that. How awful has been the impact in the life of all cultures – the rejection of this truth. The history books are filled with the awful tales as mankind spiraled downward to the worst forms of evils, as the Book of Genesis details graphically, though there have been bright spots in humanity here and there. So Paul could justly summarize his world and it applies just as much today in verse 21 and 22:

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools

It is wonderful to hear some scientists today expound on the awesome discoveries made daily and give God the glory for the things fearfully and wonderfully made, but this is rare. More often one hears of the scientist who praises the god of evolution for deciding to take some particular path in development and declare how this is such a wonderful step in progress. Isn’t it great how Evolution brought us out of the slime to the lush planet we presently love and live. Yes, isn’t Evolution a fabulous sentient designer that can form all these species and adaptations and make all these decisions? Professing to be wise, they became fools indeed!

For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

The big lie. What makes more sense, that this huge, seemingly infinite, unimaginably complex universe, from the building blocks of subatomic particles to giant galaxies, would be a random accident of a non-designer, or stranger yet, a non-sentient evolutionary concept, or if a real Designer/Engineer was responsible for everything we see and sense? What if I told you your car just slowly appeared on its own eventually standing in your driveway fully formed ready to drive? How about the city you live in, that years ago it appeared fully formed with all the sub-structures, electronics, sewer, rail lines, streets, stores, everything you see, evolved ready for use; would you believe that story? Or would you say that designers and engineers had to be involved?

Yes, I thought so. Doesn’t He deserve some recognition for such a fabulous deed?

[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]

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