Posted by: T. Boyd | May 19, 2015

Awesome

Christianity Today recently had an article suggesting the popular expletive, “Awsome!”  describes only to one thing, rather one person: the triune God!

About 2 feet from where my hands are typing this article is a bird feeder right outside the window.  Rarely do Caroline Wrens come to feed at a sunflower source – maybe he was looking for insects there.  But being so close, I was struck by his beauty.  Such a neat, sleek creature.

And I exclaimed, “How did you do that, Lord?”

How did He create such beautiful creatures that are so varied and numerous?  And then there are the humorous looking ones that must have made Him laugh as He saw what He had made.

That is awesome.  He is Awesome!

And I am saddened that the people who believe that these wonders evolved spontaneously cannot experience the same joyous excitement, the wonder of the experience, of  “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know … what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe… (Ephesians 1: 18-19

Posted by: T. Boyd | April 12, 2015

Life is Unspeakably Sad

Recently I bought three books that were recommended to me: Inside Out  by Larry Crabb, When Heaven is Silent  and The Faith Crisis by Ron Dunn.

Crabb’s book hits quick and deep about our natural, strong desire to avoid conflict and sadness, and how the church has facilitated that escapism with its surface “fixes” and programs to keep us busy – not just the church, but it is also my own tendency to escape into a new hobby or activity in order to keep my mind away from the sadness.

Dr. Crabb’s famous line, “Life is unspeakably sad” is so insightful – that life will always bring us episodes of sorrow until Christ returns – that Jesus will provide a means to experience joy in the midst of the sorrow, to give us hope of the victory to come as He brings worship to our hearts; an assurance that the outcome doesn’t depend on us.

Yesterday I was given the opportunity to experience this for the first time: A new friend in our neighborhood, described the chaotic, violent eviction of his next-door neighbor that morning – a young mother with 2 small children, with all their belongings flung out of the house – a TV and big mirror, for example, destroyed as they were thrown out on the sidewalk and street, by angry, rude men that had been hired by the house owner. They flung every belonging of the family out of the house upon the wet curb and street in the chilly, rainy weather.

The sorrow was overwhelming to me; and typically, I would have nursed the anger that arose in my heart, not knowing how to react, wanting to do something to escape the ache and hopeless feeling I was experiencing.  Rather than dealing with the sorrow, my usual thing to do would be to “change the subject” by feeding some desire for pleasure – maybe food, or turn to the internet to browse Facebook – anything to stop the emotional pain.

But instead I read a few pages of Inside Out  and I realized that I did not need to escape those feelings, that I did not have the power to do so;  but I could respond in the way that the author of Psalm 73 was led to respond to the unspeakable sadness:

“But when I thought how to understand this,
    it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;

    then I discerned their end.”

And my application here of these words is not out of vengeful feelings and thoughts, but of the knowledge that the righteous judge of all the earth will deal with this event; and it is not even that the thought of justice so much, but I think it is the thought that I can take this sorrow and burden to Him and not feel that I am responsible for the evil that I saw through my friend’s eyes.

The sorrow still remains, but it is not a despairing, hopeless feeling, but an inexplainable hope that arises in spite of the sight of the destruction of that mother’s belongings.

Instead there is a hope that looks beyond the tragedy; that sees that the power of the gospel may allow that family to say, along with Joseph, son of Jacob, “… you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today”.

It is the law of unintended consequences that God is always using to thwart the actions of the enemy.

The point of this long story is that the Lord has worked into me a new coping mechanism of not becoming despondent over something that brings sadness to me; instead, He has shown me how to confront the sadness instead of “sweeping it under the rug” so to speak.  Maybe I have learned a little bit about using the feeling of sorrow for good, and a joy arising that is like Paul’s statement in 2 Corithians 6:10 – “…as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”

 

Posted by: T. Boyd | November 18, 2014

Mount Ebal – Mount Gerizim

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( Image courtesy of www.HolyLandPhotos.org )
As I watch the daily news about the turmoil and trouble in the U.S., and the awful storms that are taking a toll on the country – the tornadoes, hurricanes and floods, drought and forest fires, sudden changes in weather, I hear a voice, “Repent…Awake, Oh Sleeper, before it is too late

It is a call to our nation, to the believers in our country that don’t see the need to cry out to the Lord for revival of His people; that we would repent and turn from the idols of prosperity and the “good life” that the vast majority of us are worshiping; to fall on our faces before Him in seeking Him for mercy and healing of our land.

I thought of the Mt. Ebal vs Mt. Garizim ceremony, the blessing and curse promises of the Lord to His nation of Israel which would follow their choice to either follow His commands or not. Moses gave the directions starting in Deuteronomy 27:4 , and then carried out in Joshua 8:30-35.

The message from Moses includes this important command in Deuteronomy 30:19 –

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,

Would that each believer that is truly committed to Jesus would reach out to his or her friends that are also serious about following the Lord and ask them to become sober, to become watchmen on the wall, and warn the people about the curses that have been experienced and future ones that are coming; to prepare for the persecution already breaking out in much of the world and will soon be experienced in our own country.

Would that we all take the call in Hosea to heart: “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn…” (Hosea 6:3)

Would that we turn off the TV and open His Word instead, and sit often and at length before Him; to be able to join Elijah in saying, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand…”; and from that place of holy ground to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom – to warn of the calamity coming; but also to point to the path, the Way of salvation, namely Jesus Himself, as the only way out of the darkness into the light.

Posted by: T. Boyd | January 31, 2014

Shattered Lantern and Mockingjay

book-shattered-big

(Warning – Mockingjay Spoiler Alert)

I am currently reading The Shattered Lantern by Ronald Rolheiser. It offers “a spiritual antidote to our everyday agnosticism…The way back to a lively faith is not a question of finding the right answers, but living in a certain way” – a quote from the back cover.

Rolheiser convinced me that we truly live in an agnostic age, one in which we no longer see God permeating our existence; most of us no longer live as if we need Him to get through our daily lives. And then Rolheiser shows the way back out of the resulting emptiness and longing for wholeness.

He uses John of the Cross to give direction: we have to enter the dark night of the senses, the dark night of the spirit, and the dark night of death. Rohlheiser explains this description in a loving and convincing way that resonates with my soul’s longing for healing and completion, a longing for God Himself.

images

 I was helped to picture what Rolheiser means when I recently read the third story of the trilogy of Hunger Games, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

At the end of the story, the heroine, Katniss, is found by Buttercup, the cat of her late younger sister, Prim, who was killed in battle. Katniss is in the long recovery from the sorrow and pain of being a leader in the battle against the tyranny of the government during which most of her team members were killed, and she herself almost destroyed.

Katniss has been moved to her childhood home to heal and recover. The cat, Buttercup has trekked many miles to return home and arrives weeks later. He is in bad shape – wounded, bedraggled, and starving. Katniss has always despised the cat, and likewise he has always shown hatred toward her.

But, strangely enough, through their shared  series of tragedies, they learn to comfort each other.  Katniss reflects,  “… hours later, when I come to my bed, he’s there in the moonlight. Crouched beside me, yellow eyes alert, guarding me from the night.” Katniss has finally begun to heal and to find purpose in the dark night of the soul that she has experienced.

And for me, that brought completion to the whole trilogy saga, and it seemed to parallel the hope, the faith, the love that permeates Rolheiser’s book, “The Shattered Lantern”.

For our lives, there is an end as well as a process, a goal that culminates in the opening of something “further upward and further in” (C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle) in our journey to truly enter the Kingdom of God.

May The Lord strengthen us to always keep our eyes on Him, on Jesus Himself, and be transformed into His image. Amen.

Posted by: T. Boyd | January 11, 2014

Awake, Sleepers!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

As I read the weekend edition the Wall Street Journal this morning, I found it just packed full of sorrow and evil that is so prevalent in our world.  It tends to just give me more depression, but I am thinking the righteous reaction is to soberly pray for the conditions of the sufferers.

I also just started reading a Randy Alcorn novel, Safely Home, that depicts very vividly and accurately (according to reviews) the sad situation in China of the Christians in the rural home churches.  The persecution is awful and very widespread, apparently.

The vast majority of Western Christians just don’t get it. We are asleep at the wheel, just keeping the throttle wide open, being part of society’s hurling toward disaster, crushing any that hinder our progress toward our prosperity and pleasure seeking.

Why are we not weeping, casting ourselves before The Lord in seeking His face to how we can join in the battle against evil, in spreading the gospel, in reaching out to widows (divorcees, unwed mothers) and orphans; to those in poverty and sickness; and those in prisons all around us?

Taking our place in the battle line does not need to be dreaded. It can be, it should be, “for the joy set before us”, knowing that we are finally fulfilling our purpose in being here, and of being called to be children of God, fellow sufferers of our eldest brother, Jesus Christ, God’s own Son. And in joining in the host of believers that are on the front lines, being cheered on by the “great cloud of witnesses.”

Here is the way Hebrews 12 says it in The Message:

 “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

I’m so glad to see churches like East End Fellowship where many young adults and teens have heard the clear, clarion call to rally to our commander, our Lord. The words of the old hymn come to mind:

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
W
ith the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!

 May we pause in this busy, crazy, 100 yard dash toward our next goal; may we get before our Lord, and wait to see His face, to hear this call, to pray for courage to respond; to take up the “whole armor of God” and enter the fray as He directs with His strong, encouraging voice; knowing that “He is our strength and shield, a very present help in times of trouble.”

Boyd

Posted by: T. Boyd | October 15, 2013

When I Run I Feel His Pleasure

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Eric Liddell, at Stamford Bridge, London, in qualifying trials for 1924 Olympics, original at http://www.ericliddell.org/ericliddell/photographs/eric-liddell

In my morning bible study a few weeks ago, I noticed a new parallel I had not seen before, unless my memory fails me (which happens a lot these days 🙂 ).

I was reading chapter 9 of Deuteronomy, verses 4 and 5, where Moses is talking about going into the promised land – like us “going” [processing?] into our sanctification:

“Not because of your righteousness … are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you…”

The new thought that came to me: it is like what God is doing in making us more like Jesus. It is not because of our righteousness that he is doing this work: “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ“, but it is because He loves us and wants to drive out the wickedness that lingers in our flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these… ” (Galatians 5:19).

That purging is not fun or comfortable – those “inhabitants” of past experiences, our natural inclinations, our prejudices which affect our relationships, those strong opinions that cause us to insist that we are right and others are wrong; all of these “works” have to go, have to be taken captive and destroyed by “Him  whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13).  And, although, by faith, we have been crucified and that dying is completed in one sense, (“we are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10), in another sense it is an on-going, daily experience (“Take up your cross daily and follow me” Luke 9:23).

It is not fun, but it brings joy, because in the transformation process

 (“And we all , with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” 2 Corinthians 3:18).

We begin to experience God’s pleasure.  As Eric Liddell, the olympic runner told his sister, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”  God made each of us for a purpose – in fact He had our purpose in mind before the world was created!

Can you believe that? It is found in Ephesians 1:4 – “He chose us before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him”, and Ephesians 2:10 – “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  And when we walk in the path that He has planned, we feel joy in our hearts – we feel His pleasure.

Posted by: T. Boyd | August 26, 2013

Too Small to Fly!

I was upstairs in my “man cave” when I noticed something tiny flying around. This bug was tiny compared to a fruit fly which we sometimes find in the kitchen around the fruit. It was moving quite fast, so I didn’t get a good look at it, and it didn’t land as far as I could tell.  In fact, it seemed very busy.

And I started wondering.  How could such a small creature have all the equipment and the know-how to fly?  It seems impossible.  I looked on the web for the smallest flying insect, and the winner is the Fairfly (http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/course/ent425/text01/smallest.html).

Fairy Fly, from Wikipedia

Fairy Fly, from Wikipedia

This fly is only 0.139 mm long. To compare, I got my micrometer, pulled out a hair from my beard (ouch!) and measured its width: 0.21 mm.  Imagine! This fly could land and turn around on the hair without it overhanging the sides.

So I say again, as in the title, it is too small to fly! But, obviously, it does.

Imagine what it would take to build and make such a small flying object which would also be autonomous (self-governing). Not only is the physical makeup of this fly very complicated – just as complicated as a large wasp, I imagine; but to give it the mental ability to maneuver its body and decide where to fly to, how to land safely, and what chore to accomplish, is stretching the best engineers’ abilities today.

The latter have developed small autonomous flying aircraft, but with much less ability that one of these flies, and not near as small (so far). Again, I come to the conclusion, that the ability our creator is accurately described when He says,

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)

Posted by: T. Boyd | April 18, 2013

Forever He Will Run

Return of the Prodigal Son – Rembrandt – used by permission of Wikipedia

I love the song by Freddie Rodriguez, “I will run”.  The chorus has these words:

Forever I will run
So I will run
Unto You, oh God
Now You have my heart
So I will, I will run
Forever I will run
Run to You, oh God
Where else can I go
Forever I will run

And they do express the desires of my heart most of the time, but they are not strictly true, because I am not faithful in my walk.  I will not forever run to God.

But He will forever run and pursue me, and consequently I will always return to Him, because He is God and He will not give up on me.

Posted by: T. Boyd | March 21, 2013

Ideas for Science Projects

I hope to expand the ideas below to give details – this is just an outline of the first few ideas I thought of.  

Physics Categpry ( several are advanced physics)

  • Atmospheric Static Electricity – see flames of fire
  • Measuring the speed of light using radio or tv – see Measuring…
  • Finding micrometeorites in rain water – see Collecting micrometeorites
  • Modeling the nuclear force using the Coffou theory for the 3-body problem – see Wiki article on the 3-body problem and A simple model of the Triton
  • Chaos and the 3 body problem – see Finding Rest at a Lagrangian Point
  • Building a rubber-band refrigerator
  • Studying the effect of electrical fields upon seedlings
  • Studying the light output of eclipsing binary stars
  • How much UVA and UVB get reflected by sunlit surfaces, or transmitted through clouds on cloudy days, or transmitted through sun protective clothing
  • Can we create periodic traveling heat waves in a metal bar with a pulsing heat source?
  • Using stellar light to determine the composition of the stellar atmosphere
  • Studying light interference with simple hand-held lasers
  • Studying a magnetic torsional pendulum

Engineering Category

  • Studying strength vs. shape of arches – see egg shapes and arches
  • Consumer studies: comparing generic vs namebrand batteries – see Science Projects for…
  • Hearing aid batteries, air activated – life of batteries under hearing aid load compared to shelf life after activated by removing tag.

Bio Physics Category

  • Detecting location of a sound by our ears listening through stereo mikes feeding stereo earphones
  • How many seeds (say one kind of seed, like a black sunflower seed) does a bird have to eat to gain back the energy it took to fly to the feeder?

I missed the first week, but glad I caught this one.  Pastor Tim Matthews is teaching from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, and today was the first part of chapter 6.  Here is the recording of the teaching and the discussion.  Hope you are challenged by it like we were.

Pastor Tim Matthews

Boyd

Click here to download, or play it. Tim_Matthews_19Mar2013

Or click the player here:

https://brightmysteries.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/tim_matthews_19mar2013.mp3″

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