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big things and small things

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"He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is his name..."  (Amos 5:8) BIG THINGS, AND SMALL . The universe is a big place. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has enabled us to peer farther -- in the case of the Cartwheel galaxy pictured above (photo courtesy NASA), some 500 million light-years farther -- into this amazing universe. In the words of the first chapter of Genesis this creation of stars and galaxies in the vastness of space is simply stated, "He also made the stars" (Gen 1:16 NIV). At the beginning there was not a what, but a who. An infinite, self-existent, personal Creator made this vast universe. In the book of Job, we are told that the stars and the constellations reveal to man the power of God and his unfathomable wisdom (Job 9:1-10; cf 38:31). SIZE AND DISTANCE NO MATTER.  Recently, I wrote

the purpose of man

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"The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." (Genesis 2:15 ESV)  "Originally this first man was simply called the man ( ha-adam ) for he was alone for a while and there was no one beside him who was like him. It is not until Gen. 4:25 that the name Adam occurs without the definite article. There the name first becomes individual. This indicates clearly that the first man, who for a while was the only human being, was the beginning and origin and head of the human race. As such he received a double task to perform: first, to cultivate and preserve the garden of Eden, and second, to eat freely of all the trees in the garden except of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. "The first task defines his relationship to the earth, the second his relationship to heaven. Adam had to subdue the earth and have dominion over it, and this he must do in a twofold sense: he must cultivate it, open it up, and so cause to come up out of

praying the ten commandments

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Martin Luther wrote to his barber in 1535, giving him a few simple guidelines for prayer. This was later published as "A Simple Way to Pray". It's brief and practical, especially in how he instructs Peter (his barber) and us in how to use Scripture in prayer. Specifically, Luther gives directions about praying the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles Creed, and the Ten Commandments. Luther says that the Ten Commandments have a fourfold use -- for instruction, for worship, for confession, and for petition. What he means is this, the Decalogue is in turn a textbook, a hymnal, a confessional, and a prayer book. I have recently enjoyed giving praise to the Lord (second use, worship) for his goodness as revealed in the Ten Commandments. They point us to God's perfect character, his good plan for us, and what the future world will look like, what Jonathan Edwards called "a world of love." There, people will rightly honor God, think well of him, show dignity to one anot

Christ and nature

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Here are some excerpts from The Sacrifice of Praise by Herman Bavinck, specifically relating to how our Lord Jesus viewed the natural, created world... "Christ acknowledges and respects the ordering of natural life in all areas, because he did not break down the works of the Father but only those of the devil. He pays taxes [Matt. 17:24-27] He refuses to act as an arbitrator between two brothers quarreling about an inheritance [Luke 12:13—15]. He commands to give to Caesar that which is his [Mark 12:17]. He requires submission to those who are seated upon the seat of Moses, and forbids his disciples, even in the most frightful hour, from use of the sword [Matt. 23:1; 26:52]. He never encourages revolt. Words of love are always heard from his lips. Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Do well to those who hate you and pray for those who do violence to you and persecute you [Matt. 5:44]." "He also loves nature with a childlike joy. He enjoys her beauty and refres

"I know where I'm going"

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We received the following story from our good friend, Walter, regarding a luncheon address given by Billy Graham late in his life.  When Billy Graham was 92 years old, he was struggling with Parkinson's disease. In January, a month before his 93rd birthday, leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina, invited their favorite son, Billy Graham, to a luncheon in his honor. Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation because of his struggles with Parkinson's disease. But the Charlotte leaders said, "We don't expect a major address. Just come and let us honor you." So,  he agreed. After wonderful things were said about him, Dr. Graham stepped to the podium, looked at the crowd, and said: "I'm reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honored by Time magazine as the Man of the Century. Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train, when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When

on the free exercise of religion

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In my own reading it seemed timely to me that I came upon a section in an apologetic book which dealt with the separation of church and state as commonly (mis)understood today. The author is Dr. John Frame, retired professor of systematic theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando. Here are a few highlights...  The Christian, as opposed to the secularist, comes to realize we are accountable to a law higher than, and outside of, ourselves. Namely,  "the source of morality is greater than our family, our clan, even our church. Greater than our present loyalty, but not greater than loyalty itself. Morality is grounded in a higher loyalty, and a higher love." Christians do not abandon the use of reason, but rather they reject purely autonomous reason:  "Only Christianity, abandoning autonomy for trust in God’s revelation, presents a suitable account of both the powers and limitations of reason, neither deifying nor denying our rational faculty." O

reading Stott

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"This hope does not disappoint, because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5:5 CSB) "If we Christians dare to say that we are going to heaven when we die, and that we are sure of final salvation, as we do dare to say, it is not because we are self-righteous or self-confident; it is because we believe in the steadfast love of God, the love that will not let us go." (John Stott, Men Made New ) ============   John R. W. Stott (1929--2011) was an Anglican clergyman, author, and speaker who had a global impact on evangelical Christianity in the second half of last century. His contemporaries included Martyn Lloyd-Jones, J. I. Packer, Francis Schaeffer, and Billy Graham.  Though I never heard Stott preach, I did read many of his books through the years, which were formative in my Christian thinking. Here's a sampling, with publication dates: Men Made New (1966), Basic Christianity (1971), Your Mind M