Are You Jesus?

Are You Jesus?Are you Jesus?
This is a true story relayed to me by a friend of the person involved. I heard it many years ago, and recently one of the persons involved met me and reminded me of what happened. It has a message for all of us.

Some salesmen were at a regional sales convention in Chicago. They were rushing through security with tickets, briefcases, and the usual airport hassle. One salesman inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples as he hurried to get to his flight. Apples flew everywhere. The guilty salesman rushed on without looking back. The other salesmen stopped, looked at each other and then followed his lead. But one salesman stopped and called his wife to tell her he would be taking a later flight.

He returned to the area of the display and realized that a mentally challenged, blind person was operating it. She was crying softly with tears of frustration running down her cheeks. As she groped for her spilled produce, the crowd swirled around her, and no one stopped to help. The salesman knelt on the floor with her and gathered up the apples. He put them back on the table and helped organize her display.

The salesman noticed that many of the apples were battered and bruised. He set those aside in another basket. When he finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, “Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you OK?” She nodded through her tears. “I hope we didn’t spoil your day too badly” he continued. As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, “Mister…” He paused and turned back to look at her and responded, “Yes?” “Are you Jesus?” she said.

I question whether that could happen in today’s world, but the question remains whether anyone could ever mistake us for Jesus? The person who gave this account to me pointed out that the goal of our lives should be that we would be so much like Jesus that an innocent, mentally-challenged blind girl couldn’t tell the difference. If we claim to know Jesus, then we should live, walk, and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting scripture and going to Church. It’s actually living the Word as life unfolds day by day. Are you Jesus to the people you meet?
–John N. Clayton © 2018

The Day and the Hour

The Day and the Hour-False Prophets
In 2000 Francis X. Gumerlock wrote a book titled The Day and the Hour. The subtitle was “Christianity’s Perennial Fascination with Predicting the End of the World.” The book tells about people who attempted to set a date for the coming of Christ and the end of the world (or end of the age) going all the way back to the first century. In more than 350 pages it lists numerous predictions by self-proclaimed prophets, charlatans, and even sincere people who tried to set a date. If that book had been published in 2018, it might contain perhaps twice as many pages.

The people who believed those false prophets were forgetting that Jesus said, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36). If we believe in Jesus, we should believe what He said.

Unfortunately, there is a new prediction for this month. A certain false prophet is saying that April 23 this year will be the rise of the antichrist and the beginning of seven years of tribulation. (He also predicted it would happen on September 23 and the October 1 of last year.) He bases his prophecy on politics, numerology, astrology, taking Revelation 12:1-2 out of context, and some completely bogus astronomical predictions. There is no giant rogue planet named Nibiru. The Sun, Moon, Jupiter, and stars will not align in the way the false prophet is saying. Anyone promoting this idea is either ignorant, trying to gain fame, or trying to make money.

What is the real problem here? These false claims that supposedly come from Christians make all Christians look foolish in the eyes of unbelievers. That makes it difficult to teach the truth of the Gospel to skeptics and seekers. Also, some Christians are duped by these false prophets into giving money that could better be used to share the true message of Christ.

Don’t listen to or support those who predict the time of Christ’s return. Don’t share their message with others on Facebook, Instagram, or elsewhere. Pray that all Christians may be doing the work Christ has given us to do as we remain ready for His return–whenever it will be. Remember that Jesus said nobody knows the day and the hour.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Earth’s Magnetic Field

Earth's Magnetic Field
You might say that planet Earth is a very large magnet. We have mentioned before Earth’s magnetic field that is generated by the iron core. The movement of that molten iron generates a magnetic field surrounding our planet. We can see the effect of that field every time we use a compass to find directions.

What you may not realize is that there is also a magnetic field generated by the ocean. Salt water is a good conductor of electricity. Moving electric currents generate magnetic fields. Hans Christian Ørsted discovered that by accident in 1820 when he noticed that placing a compass near a wire carrying an electric current caused deflection of the compass needle.

Salt dissolved in the oceans’ water creates ions, which are electrically charged particles. The movement of ocean tides causes those charged particles to move. Electric current is electrically charged particles in motion. Since electric current generates a magnetic field, the ocean tides generate magnetic fields. Because the movement of ocean currents and tides is complex, the magnetic fields generated by the oceans are more complex than the big magnetic field of the Earth. They are also 20,000 times weaker than Earth’s main magnetic field making them harder to measure.

Today’s satellite technology allows us to map the oceans’ magnetic field. The European Space Agency used three satellites to create a network called “Swarm.” They used the data from those satellites to create a 3-D digital map of this little-known magnetic field. The research shows how the field changes over time. Although the oceans create a relatively small part of Earth’s magnetic field, they play an important role. Mapping this field also give scientists a better picture of how the oceans flow all the way down to the seabeds. That information gives us a better understanding of Earth’s climate.

Combined with the magnetic field produced by the molten core and rocks in Earth’s crust, we are protected by a “cocoon” surrounding our planet. You might say, “Protected from what?” Our Sun frequently erupts in solar storms releasing charged particles that escape into space. Many of those particles travel to the Earth. We call it “solar wind.” Without a protective magnetic shield, those particles would reach Earth’s surface disrupting power grids and aircraft navigation. More basic than that, they would damage human cells causing cancers and other health problems.

We don’t think it’s by chance that we have the protection of Earth’s magnetic field. We see this as one more evidence of the provision of God to make possible life on this planet.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Prosperity Gospel or Health and Wealth Gospel: Same Old Distortion

Prosperity Gospel
There is a new “gospel” out there called “The Health and Wealth Gospel.” In the past, this teaching was called the prosperity gospel. The message is that God wants to bless us in every way, including our material possessions. The religious leaders pushing this “gospel” promise that if you give your money and possessions to them and their organization, God will give you far more. Religious leaders justify enormous salaries by saying that God is rewarding their righteousness, faith, and spirituality by giving them physical wealth. They promise that members of their churches will also become rich if they give their money to the church.

The logic of the prosperity gospel is that God is good and that in His goodness He will bless His children with material blessings. Preachers of this doctrine say that God cares about the whole person and that He is faithful to His promises. They take Jeremiah 29:11-14 and especially Deuteronomy 8:6-18 out of context to show that God promises to multiply one’s gold and bless us materially if we are His children. They also use Matthew 6:33 to say that God will give material blessings to those who seek the kingdom.

The biblical error in this is that Deuteronomy and Jeremiah were not written to Christians. The Jeremiah passage refers to the Jews being released from Babylonian captivity. The Deuteronomy passage refers to taking over other people’s homes and lands which Christians are not commanded to do. These are Old Testament promises to the nation of Israel, and they have nothing to do with Christians today. The passage in Matthew 6:33 promises to provide basic needs–food, drink, and clothing–not luxury items. The emphasis of the passage is spiritual and not physical.

Jesus Christ did not enjoy the luxury items of His day. He and his apostles lived in austere conditions. Paul suffered beatings, imprisonment, and mistreatment from both the Romans and the Jewish leaders. Jesus warned His followers, “In this world you will have trouble.” Christ also warned about the dangers of riches. (See Luke 6:24; 8:14; 16:14-15; 18:24 etc.) The riches that Christianity promises are spiritual riches. God promises peace, love, eternal life, and the joy of learning both to love and to serve others.

Don’t go to Church or become a Christian to make money or become rich in material things. The prosperity gospel is nothing new, and it is a twenty-first-century example of Paul’s statement in Galatians 1:6-7 where he was amazed that people could pervert the clear teachings of Christ.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

New Human Organ Discovery

There Is a New Human Organ Discovery
With all that science knows about the human body, it is truly amazing that they have just made a new human organ discovery. Scientists at the New York University Langone School of Medicine have announced the discovery of a previously unknown organ in the human body. They gave it the name “interstitium.”

The human body is about 60% water, most of which is in the cells. The interstitium is a network of fluid-filled spaces, and it holds about 20% of all the fluid in the human body. The reason this organ wasn’t detected earlier is that researchers treat and dehydrate the tissue samples before they put them under a microscope. That causes the interstitium to collapse. Until now researchers saw the interstitium as a dense wall of the protein collagen. They now realize that it is not a wall but an “open, fluid-filled highway” supported by a lattice of collagen.

The interstitium organ plays a major role in the immune system. Interstitial fluid is the source of lymph, which sends out white blood cells to fight infection. The interstitium’s role in the body’s battle against infection is significant, and this discovery may change how some difficult infections are treated.

Medical researchers discovered the interstitium by using a new imaging technique called probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy (pCLE) to examine living tissue. They found interstitium tissue under the surface of the skin, in the lining of the digestive tract and lungs, and surrounding the muscles. This new human organ discovery helps explain how cancer cells spread throughout the body.

We still have much to learn about the design and function of our bodies, but we see God’s wisdom and the complexity of His creation as we grow in our understanding of how our bodies work. David said it best in Psalms 139:14, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are your works God, and my soul knows that very well.”
–John N. Clayton and Roland Earnst © 2018

CRISPR and God’s Design

CRISPR and God's Design
The general media and scientific journals have given great attention to something called CRISPR (pronounced like the name of the refrigerator drawer where you stash fresh veggies). CRISPR was first reported in scientific journals and papers in 2012. Now it is being used by scientists all over the world as a method to modify human embryonic stem cells and answer questions about basic biology and development. Here is a sample of what Wikipedia says about it:

“CRISPR is an abbreviation of Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats… A simple version of the CRISPR/Cas system, CRISPR/Cas9, has been modified to edit genomes… CRISPR/Cas genome-editing techniques have many potential applications, including medicine and crop seed enhancement. The use of CRISPR/Cas9-gRNA complex for genome editing was the AAAS’s choice for the breakthrough of the year in 2015. Bioethical concerns have been raised about the prospect of using CRISPR for germline editing.”

That last statement about this technique concerns many people. Are we “playing God” feeling that we can improve on what God has created? Is human genetic engineering going to threaten a catastrophic mistake in the future? Hollywood is already on this with dramas like Netflix’s Luke Cage.

CRISPR exploits something that microbes commonly do in the natural world. Bacteria defend themselves against viruses and other DNA in the environment by having snippets of foreign genetic material as molecular spacers which serve as borders. What scientists are doing is to pick those characteristics that CRISPR can use to eliminate a bad gene and insert a good one in place of it. We are taking something that God has designed into nature and using it to eliminate genetic disorders that may have been caused by human abuse of the environment.

This could be the tool to eliminate nerve damage and give quadriplegics and paraplegics full use of their arms and legs. Trials are already going on to eliminate cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, muscular dystrophy, many forms of cancer, sickle cell anemia, beta thalassemia, and leukemia. This is not replacing God’s original design but rather using some of the tools God created to repair things damaged by time and human abuse. Scientists are harnessing an ancient biological process to edit the code of life. God’s design is what makes this possible and offers great hope for the future of people afflicted with disorders which have not been within our medical reach in the past.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Reference: Notre Dame Magazine, Spring 2018, pages 22-27.

Nudist Colony Mail Service

Nudist Colony Mail Service
There is a new twist to the question of whether an employee has to serve a customer in a way that violates the employee’s moral convictions. It involves nudist colony mail service at a resort in Florida. Leonard Rusin is a resident of Eden RV Resort, which is a nudist RV park. A package delivery had to be signed for by Rusin. That meant the mail carrier had to go to his RV. The postal employee marked the package “Undeliverable” rather than go into the nudist resort.

We have reported on other cases where business owners refused to violate their moral convictions, such as the cake decorator who would not create a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding. In this case, a government employee is involved. Mr. Rusin says, “I pay for a service, and I expect that service.” We can see a police officer having the same dilemma. The nudist colony residents maintain that the U.S. Postal Service is discriminating against them just because they don’t like to wear clothes. Nudist colony mail service is a relatively simple issue. As our society becomes more secular and vacates the principles of Jesus Christ, moral conflicts like this will grow in number and complexity.

When I talk to Christian young people about their dress and entertainment, I try to avoid absolute standards. I don’t set rules such as whether the skirt should be one inch or four inches below the knee. My argument is that if a man and a woman are both Christians, they are going to choose dress and entertainment by a standard that takes into account their faith and the needs, emotions, and sensitivities of the other person. The standard should be,“How will what I wear affect the person I am with, as well as others?”

Jesus has solutions to moral struggles. They involve a lack of selfishness and concern for the needs of others.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Original story in The Week, March 9, 2018, page 6.

Our Unique Solar System

Our Unique Solar System
As astronomical equipment gets better, the details of stellar systems other than our own show patterns that highlight our unique solar system.

The January 3, 2018, issue of The Astronomical Journal published a report on a study of 909 planets in 355 systems discovered by the Kepler Telescope. The study shows two major patterns in neighboring exoplanets. The first is that those exoplanets tend to have similar masses. The second is that their orbits are regularly spaced from one planet to the next.

Our solar system has inner planets that have mismatched sizes, and they are widely spaced. All models of solar system formation fit what we see in exoplanets. The evidence suggests that exoplanetary systems have not been disturbed since their formation. Our system is different because it shows evidence that it has been disturbed. Jupiter and Saturn seem to be tools that modify the normal pattern of solar system formation.

In 1996 an extraterrestrial rock fragment was discovered in Egypt called the Hypatia stone. The mineral composition of that stone is unlike any other known object in our solar system. Scientists think that it originated outside of our system. Our solar system seems to be unique in both structure and chemical makeup. Astronomers are discovering indicators of how God created the Earth and all of the things that allow life to exist on it.

The design of our unique solar system compared to other systems helps us to understand that we are not a product of chance collisions or explosions in space. The simple statement of the Psalmist in Psalms 19:1 has a different frame of reference now than when it was written. It is truer today than when the ancient shepherd looked at his sky and wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the Earth shows the work of His hands.”
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data from Astronomy magazine, May 2018, pages 15, 17.

Mollusk Designs

Mollusk Designs
Many of the invertebrate creatures known as mollusks build interesting shells. An article titled “How Seashells Take Shape” describing a study of mollusk designs appeared in the April 2018 edition of Scientific American (page 70). The article begins with this paragraph:

“Mollusks are fabulous architects. They build houses that protect their soft bodies from predators and the elements–shells of uncommon strength, durability and beauty. Many of these shells have spectacularly complex shapes–logarithmic spirals bedecked with fractal spines or other ongoing elements, all executed with near-perfect mathematical regularity. Yet mollusks, of course, know nothing of math. How, researchers have wondered, do these humble creatures produce such intricate patterns so precisely?”

The article goes into the mathematics of the shells and how the animals use complex processes that scientists are still studying. It isn’t just the shapes that are an issue here, but also the physical properties of the shell material including elasticity, ductility, tensile strength, and the use of oscillatory systems. Scientists are trying to understand the fractal-like spine pattern in some mollusk designs. Also, the researchers are curious about why 90 percent of mollusk shells are right-handed and only 10 percent are left-handed. Other “exquisite ornamentations” create a mystery for scientists to study.

Romans 1:18-22 tells us that “we can know there is a God through the things He has made.” The complexity of something as basic as a seashell can speak to us about the design God has used in everything He does. It is only with the advent of mathematics and engineering that we can duplicate what we see in nature. Seashells are an intricate example of the design of living creatures.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Brain Uploading

Brain Uploading
How would you like to have your brain uploaded before you die so that your consciousness could be preserved? That is the goal of a brain uploading company called Nectome.

The company wants to deliver a “100-percent-fatal” service to terminally ill patients. They are developing a process that fills the patient’s arteries with embalming fluids. The result is that the patient will die, but the brain will be preserved. Their process is supposed to preserve the links between the neurons in full detail. Then Nectome will view those links with an electron scanning microscope. Their goal is to preserve those links to revive the consciousness of the deceased person. The company hired lawyers to work out the legality of this process under California’s physician-assisted suicide law.

Nectome was founded by graduates of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and received funding from a famous Silicon Valley startup incubator. The brain preservation project involved a collaboration with MIT and received a grant of almost a million dollars from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). They also received a prize of $80,000 from The Brain Preservation Foundation for preserving a pig’s brain using their process. MIT severed ties with Nectome just a few days ago after previously publishing a favorable article in the MIT Technology Review on March 13.

After the article in MIT Technology Review, several leading neuroscientists criticized the idea of brain uploading after preserving a brain from a live person. Nectome has removed a statement about being able to “back up” people’s minds from their website. They are now saying that they have no plans to do this in “the foreseeable future.” Robert McIntyre, the co-founder of Nectome, recently said, “…we don’t mean to imply that electron microscope image data is the only thing we would need to reconstruct consciousness or even memories.”

We have said for a long time that there is more to humans than just the physical body or the neurons in our brains. There is a spiritual aspect that cannot be preserved by any scientific means. By its very nature, it cannot even be adequately studied by any scientific means. We are created in the image of God with a soul that can live forever. Brain uploading, if it ever works, can never preserve the essence of who we are. Only God can do that. We must place our hope in Him, not in a company no matter how prestigious or well-funded it might be.
–Roland Earnst © 2018