Before Anyone Else

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BAE. Before anyone else. A term to describe the most important person in your life. Most use the term to describe their significant other; so, for example, I would say that my wife is BAE. And she definitely is…in human terms. But there is one who comes before her, and should be BAE for all of us, and that one is God. This is not just my opinion, it is one of God’s commandments, one that God gave us for a very specific reason. Let’s look at God’s Word:

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.” (Exodus 20:2-6)

Now, some people can find the meaning of these verses from the ten commandments a bit troubling, but in reality they are not so difficult at all. God is communicating to us his intended design that places Him first in the order of all things, and especially as it relates to our relationship with Him. Any difficulty in understanding often comes when we bring our own, modern day understanding to the text (a poor practice called “eisegesis”, which space doesn’t allow us to discuss in detail here). When we use the technique of understanding the text in terms of the original writer’s perspective (a more acceptable practice called “exegesis”) then we begin to understand what God is saying to us.

When God is described here as a “jealous” god, the word in the original language is “qannā,” a word that refers directly to the attributes of God’s justice and holiness. He is to be the sole object of human worship and he does not tolerate man’s sin. Understood this way, we see that the term “jealous” in Exodus 20:5 is not the same kind of jealousy we might feel in our lives, rather, it reflects God’s ordained order of things, and His rightful place in that order is before anyone else, or BAE. Anything less will not be tolerated.

This is a good point for us to be reminded that when God says “don’t,” He means “don’t hurt yourself.” There is a clearly designed order in God’s creation, of which we are a central part, and when we stray outside that order we begin to experience consequences that may take many forms. To stray from God’s intended order in any way is to sin, and sin always comes with repercussion. And this is where we see God warning us in Exodus 20:6 – “I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected…” So maybe the cliché “don’t means don’t hurt yourself” might better be stated: “don’t means don’t hurt yourself and others”.

As human beings, we often have a strong tendency to think only in terms of ourselves, but our lives are not our own, and our choices and the actions we take affect those around us as much as they affect us, and this is especially so within our families. Most of us have known family dysfunction at some level, and we see here that the ultimate root cause of that dysfunction stems from not recognizing God is BAE. So when we lose sight of God in His rightful place as Lord, and we pursue all those things that we desire, we really make ourselves BAE (even if we don’t realize it) and all those things, those pleasures, they become idols to us.

So what are we to do? How do we escape this tendency to put ourselves in the center of our lives? Simple, really: we accept God’s forgiveness and we start doing our very best to keep God at the center of our thinking and our lives by reading the Bible, praying, and trying to follow His commands. Psalm 119:1-9 offers us this encouragement:

Joyful are people of integrity,

who follow the instructions of the Lord.

Joyful are those who obey his laws

and search for him with all their hearts.

They do not compromise with evil,

and they walk only in his paths.

You have charged us

to keep your commandments carefully.

Oh, that my actions would consistently

reflect your decrees!

Then I will not be ashamed

when I compare my life with your commands.

As I learn your righteous regulations,

I will thank you by living as I should!

I will obey your decrees.

Please don’t give up on me!

How can a young person stay pure?

By obeying your word.

We can see that when we keep God as BAE, and follow His commandments, then we experience joyful living. That doesn’t mean we will be without trials or difficulty. Quite the contrary, it means we will be joyful despite our trials and difficulties, and that joyfulness will bear witness of God’s power to all those around us, and to our own families, and family dysfunction will start to fade away. And that seems an admirable goal, doesn’t it? So…is God BAE in your life?

Learn more at: KnowGod.org

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
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St. Patrick’s Day

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As an Irish-American, St. Patrick’s Day has always held a special place in my heart. But just why do we celebrate? Who was St. Patrick and why was he so important? Let’s take a closer look at this intriguing story!

Patrick was a sheep herder who became a Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. The exact dates of his life are not precisely known, but in general it is believed that his ministry was primarily during the second half of the 5th century and that the day we celebrate, March 17th, is believed to be the day of his death and subsequent entrance into heaven.

Surprising to many is the fact that St. Patrick was not Irish. He was British; Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in England. By the time of Patrick’s birth, most Romans were Christians and Christianity was spreading rapidly across Europe. At age 16, Patrick was captured by Irish raiders and taken back to Ireland as a slave where he spent several years herding sheep and learning about the Irish people. Around age 22 he managed to escape and fled back to England.

Patrick wrote in “The Confession of Patrick” that the time he spent as a slave was crucial to his spiritual development and that The Lord had “mercy on his youth and ignorance”. As he spent his days herding sheep he spent much time in prayer leading to his eventual personal repentance and faith in Jesus. Once back in England, Patrick joined a monastery and spent 12 years learning more about God and, thus, grew closer to his Creator.

Patrick recounted in “Confession” that he later had a vision of a man named Victoricus that came from Ireland carrying “many letters”. To Patrick he gave one with the heading “The Voice of the Irish” and from this vision Patrick was inspired to return to Ireland as a missionary. Patrick’s position as a foreigner in Ireland was not always an easy one; his refusal to accept gifts from kings placed him outside the normal ties of kinship and affinity. Legally he was without protection, and he claimed that he was once beaten, robbed of all he had, and put in chains. As with many missionaries, the Gospel message is not always warmly received.

Several legends have become common to St. Patrick including the legend that Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland. There is, of course, no real evidence to support this, and it is more probable that it is allegorical for driving out the pagan beliefs. Of course, especially here in America, the color associated with Ireland and St. Patrick is green, but Patrick’s color was originally blue. In several ancient artworks depicting the saint, he is shown wearing blue vestments and King Henry VIII used the Irish harp in gold on a blue flag to represent the country. Green was associated with the country at a later time, possibly because of the greenness of the countryside, made so by the plentiful rainfall. Today, Ireland is often referred to as the “Emerald Isle”.

And then there is the prototypical symbol of St. Patrick’s Day, the shamrock. While many would claim the shamrock stands for faith, hope, and love; legend has it that Patrick used the shamrock to help people understand the triune nature of God. This makes sense as the leaf’s typical three lobes can easily demonstrate how three things, such as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, can be separate entities yet be one and the same. It does seem quite apparent that, however Patrick shared the Gospel message, he met opposition and he faced plenty of challenges. That he overcame the trials and difficulties to convert the Irish people is a testament to his conviction that the Gospel was worth any price he might have paid.

The Gospel message has driven many a person to endure whatever hardships, trials, and persecution came along. Compelled by the certainty that the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection is absolutely true and, therefore, the single most important fact of all humanity, Christians throughout history have endured all things to advance the salvation message. Saint Patrick was one of these great missionaries, and he spent much of his adult life bringing the message of God’s mercy and grace to the people of Ireland and that is what we celebrate on March 17th.

St. Patrick’s Day is also the perfect time of the year for all of us to contemplate the certainty that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin into human form, lived among us for approximately 33 years, was crucified for our sins, and rose again to defeat death once and for all. That “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). This truly is the greatest fact of all humanity. Have you made the decision to repent and place your faith in Christ? Why not do so today?

Many blessings to you all as we celebrate the blessed life of St. Patrick. Éirinn go Brách!

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Conspiracy Theory 2

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True or false: science has proven conclusively that the earth is billions of years old.

False.

Almost all of us have grown up being taught that the earth is billions of years old, that we evolved from some lower form such as apes, and that these things are indisputable facts. They are not. In fact, up until the roughly the middle of the 18th century, most people believed the earth to be roughly 6000 years old, just like the Bible states. One such person was Niels Steensen (1638–1686), a famous Danish geologist who established the principle of superposition, which is the theory that rock layers are deposited successively in horizontal fashion. In his book, Forerunner (1669), Steenson expressed belief in a roughly 6,000-year-old earth and that fossil-containing rock layers were deposited during Noah’s flood. Over the next century, several authors, including the English geologist John Woodward (1665–1722) and the German geologist Johann Lehmann (1719–1767), wrote books essentially reinforcing that view. So the old earth view has not always been the principle theory.

Perhaps that’s not so shocking. After all, we have better and more complete scientific methods these days. And yes, that is true enough, but the theories surrounding an old earth predated those methods and the newer technology by hundreds of years. Renowned scientist Comte de Buffon (1707–1788) imagined in his book, Epochs of Nature (1779), that the earth was once like a hot ball of molten material that eventually cooled over a period of about 75,000 years to reach its present state. And Abraham Werner (1749–1817), a popular mineralogy professor in Germany, believed that most of the crust of the earth had been precipitated chemically or mechanically by a slowly receding global ocean over the course of about a million years. Many of the greatest geologists of the 19th century were Werner’s students, who were impacted by his idea of a very long history for the earth. But none of them had access to today’s technology.

So the theory of an old earth is just that, a theory. And while today’s advanced technology is used by some scientists to attempt to prove that theory is true, the fact remains that, since none of us were there to observe conditions when the earth was formed, this technology relies on presupposed ideas in order for the data to be interpreted; and thus we can see that what is often portrayed as indisputable fact is really just an educated guess at what certain data sets might mean. And while old earth theories are still taught as fact, the reality is that those theories have many detractors. Detractors who are every bit as scientifically educated as those who propose the theories, and who are interpreting the very same data.

Obviously this blog doesn’t allow the space to thoroughly examine all the potential assumptions that might influence how scientific data might be interpreted, so for the purpose of highlighting how certain suppositions can affect analysis, we’ll look at three common assumptions associated with one of the more popular methods that supposedly “proves” an old earth: radiometric dating. Radioactive rocks offer a “clock” of sorts in that radioactive atoms (parent isotopes) decay into stable atoms (daughter isotopes) at a measurable rate. The issue with this method comes about due to the fact that, as we noted above, no one was around when the rocks were formed so we have to make assumptions about how they were formed and the conditions that existed at that time. Let’s look a bit closer at these three assumptions:

Assumption 1: Conditions at Time Zero

Because no one was there when rocks formed, it is unknown how many, if any, daughter isotopes existed in the rocks when they were formed. If one assumes no daughter isotopes were present at that point in time, the rocks will appear much older than they really are. Such is often the case when volcanic lava flows from the unobserved past are analyzed. Scientists often just assume none of the daughter atoms (argon-40) were present at formation. But analysis in 1996 of lava rocks from the 1986 Mount St. Helens eruption were found to contain so much argon-40 that modern radiometric dating methods would have estimated their age at 350,000 years.

Similarly, basalt deposited by volcanic eruptions near the north rim of the Grand Canyon were obviously deposited after the canyon was formed, so they are relatively young compared to the canyon itself, but if one uses mistaken assumptions about the amount of daughter isotopes at formation, this basalt yields an age of up to 1,000,000 years. So we can plainly see how assumptions about conditions at time zero can influence interpretation of the data and cause us to have very mistaken results.

Assumption 2: No Contamination

The problem with this assumption is easy to grasp. Rocks are exposed to many sources of contamination such as may occur with water flow during heavy rainfalls, floods, etc. And lava that flows up through conduits from deep within the earth during volcanic activity is likely to pick up pieces of the surrounding rock as it moves through the conduit. All this activity can lead to gains or losses of parent or daughter isotopes, contaminating the analysis completely. Because of such contamination, lava flows from Mt. Ngauruhoe in New Zealand that are known to be less than 50 years old, yield a rubidium-strontium age of 133 million years, a samarium-neodymium age of 197 million years, and a uranium-lead age of 3.9 billion years. As you can see, the magnitude of the potential error is staggering!

Assumption 3: A Constant Decay Rate

Scientists have measured the decay rates of certain parent isotopes in the laboratory for nearly 100 years and have observed constant decay rates. Further, they have not been able to change these decay rates with heat, pressure, or magnetic fields. Based on these results they assume decay rates have remained constant for billions of years. Those familiar with mathematics will recognize the problems with making such an assumption based on data from such a relatively short time span as that of the laboratory testing.

But even more problematic for this assumption is that new evidence more recently discovered can only be explained by decay rates that have changed over time. One such example, the radioactive decay of uranium in tiny crystals in a New Mexico granite, yields a uranium-lead age of 1.5 billion years. Yet the same uranium decay also produced abundant helium, but only 6,000 years’ worth of that helium was found to have leaked out of the tiny crystals. This indicates the uranium must have decayed rapidly over the same 6,000 years that the helium was leaking, more than 250,000 times faster than today’s observed rate.

So we can see with these three assumptions that our interpretation of the observed measurements can be greatly influenced by the lens with which we choose to look. This is hardly pure science, and an old earth is hardly a proven fact. In our system of law, an accused person is presumed innocent unless proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We see above more than enough evidence to have reasonable doubt about the reliability of radiometric dating methodology. Thus we must not dismiss the possibility the earth is closer to only 6000 years old just as the Bible says.

So why have old earth theories propagated so widely as to be presumed true even when the data is hardly conclusive? One word: rebellion. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools…..They traded the truth about God for a lie. (Romans 1:20-23,25a)

So lay aside rebellion and seek the truth. Jesus said in John 14:6 that he is the truth. If you seek him in earnest right now, I guarantee you will find that his words will ring true and that he will gladly extend his free gift of grace to you. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

To learn more about the age of the earth: check out the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis.

We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.