By the end of 2020, the annual total of Bibles printed will be 95-million. That is nearly double the number printed 20 years earlier. Most of us living in North America take Bible availability for granted. Almost every day, I get a catalog offering a variety of Bibles in all kinds and sizes, and with a growing variety of translations.
In 1900, five-million Bibles were printed, and you could find them in motel rooms everywhere. As an atheist, I stole my first Bible from a hotel room. In high school in 1955, Bibles were distributed to every student at the start of the school year. In 60 years, we have moved to the point where schools are sued for allowing Bible distribution, and schools take disciplinary actions against a child or teacher for bringing a Bible to school.
More to the point is the fact that in many countries, Bibles are hard to find. In 1900 there were 2300 people for every one Bible printed. Now that figure is 82 people per Bible. What that tells us is that even today, God’s Word is not available to a vast number of people. There are ministries attempting to change that. It is easy to understand why morals are very different in various parts of the world when people don’t have access to God’s instructions for conduct.
As secularism, atheism, and paganism continue to attack the Bible, we can expect to see more conflict and power struggles. Conflict is rising in America and continues in much of Africa and Asia. The situation highlights the mission of this ministry. The total of Bibles printed means little if people don’t bother to read them because they don’t believe in God. A presentation of the evidence for God, the Bible, and the teachings of Jesus, along with the living example of real Christians, can change the world.
If there is one phrase that needs to shout to everyone on the planet in 2020, it is “Look at the evidence!!” From the president of this country to the teenagers across this land, there has been a huge failure to look at the scientific evidence. Despite all the evidence for how the Covid-19 virus spreads, we still have young people who party without masks, even in a closed interior environment. In spite of the fires on the west coast, the significant increase in hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, the melting of the polar ice caps, and the rise in temperature of the oceans, we still have people denying climate change. Even within the Church, we have a disdain for scientific evidence.
Those who follow Jesus Christ should be the most likely to respond to evidence. Jesus appealed to people to look at the evidence. He told people to see for themselves that things are true. When Thomas was unable to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, how did Jesus convince him? Did He engage Thomas in a philosophical/theological discussion about how the resurrection was logically reasonable? Did He demand that Thomas believe as a test of faith? Read John 20:27-29 and see what He did.
The fact is that the resurrection, all of Jesus’ appearances after the resurrection, and most of the miracles before He died were to provide evidence so that people could believe. Just like today, some people refused to look at the evidence. They suggested that the miracles were fake, but the kind of miracles Jesus performed could not be faked.
It wasn’t just the miracles that Jesus used to validate His existence as the Son of God. His teachings did that as well. The parables of Jesus were not unbelievable fantasy stories. They were practical, true-to-life, easy to understand evidences for the truths He was teaching. When Jesus talked about relying on God, did He use theological and philosophical models to convince His listeners? Read passages like Matthew 6:25-34. You will find Jesus talking about examples that everyone knew about–fowls of the air, changing one’s height, and the flowers of the field.
Using the things that God has created to teach and make doctrinal points is not denigrating God. Read Romans 1:19-32 and notice what Paul uses to convict the Romans of the destructive path they are following.
Today, we see vast numbers of people refusing to look at the evidence. We don’t need to engage them in philosophical discussions. We need to show them the evidence that God does exist, that He is the God of the Bible, and that Jesus is His Son.
The fact is that a Japanese robotic satellite that has been orbiting Venus since 2015 records data in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum. The satellite has detected spectra for the chemical phosphine (PH3). Phosphine is a flammable, toxic gas made of one phosphorous atom attached to three hydrogen atoms. It is difficult to make in a typical chemistry lab. Biologists know that there are microbes that can make phosphine. Finding the chemical in the upper clouds of Venus, where the temperatures are low enough for the gas to exist, raised some questions about whether microbes could have produced it.
It is possible that the phosphine could have been produced by conditions on Venus that are not available on Earth. Such conditions could be very low pressures, long term effects of ultraviolet light, and long periods of time. The environment of Venus is highly toxic, even to microbes, so microbe production is unlikely. Scientists have found many of the chemicals essential to life or possibly produced by living organisms on several moons in the solar system. The creation process produces chemicals that can be associated with life, including water. The environmental parameters of all of these places are so extreme that no astronomer expects to see an alien walking around.
The Bible doesn’t say that Earth is the only place where life exists, and it may be that God has created life elsewhere. As humans leave our planet searching for chemicals and materials to meet the 21st century’s needs, we may find a storehouse of essential materials, both metallic and biological. Did science find life on Venus? No. This newest media hype does not tell us anything we didn’t already know, but the discovery is interesting.
Those who do not wish to follow the Bible point out teachings that seem uncomfortable in the 21st century. One of those teachings is the role of women in the Bible and the limitations it seems to impose on them. These people often hold up 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34 as proof that the Bible is a male chauvinistic book with a heavy bias against women. Both passages say that women are to be silent and not usurp the authority of the men. Critics also point out Titus 2: 3-5 as a passage that defines women as “keepers of the home” and obedient to their husbands.
The truth is that the life and teachings of Christ and the New Testament are the single most liberating teachings ever written about the role of women. The role of women in the Bible was ahead of its time. In studying a manuscript of any kind, you have to look at who wrote it, to whom they wrote it, why they wrote it, and how the people it was written to would have understood it. All of those passages were written at a time when women were property, were dependent on either their husband or father, and had no personal rights.
Jesus set a whole new standard for dealing with women. In John 4, He not only treated a woman as an equal, to the dismay of His disciples, but He ignored the racial and ethnic prejudice of the current culture. In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus treated Mary and Martha as significant players in His work. Mary Magdalene was active in Jesus’ ministry and was the first person He appeared to after His resurrection (Mark 16:9). Luke 8:1-3 tells us that a group of women were the prominent supporters of Jesus as He traveled and taught.
In 1 Corinthians 14:26-28, Paul advised a congregation about dealing with a worship service that had become a circus. Everyone was speaking at once, so Paul tells them to deal only with edifying speeches and otherwise to keep quiet. He concludes by saying, “God is not the author of confusion but of peace.” Then he addresses married women (not all women) and asks them to contribute to the solving of the chaos by discussing questions at home.
First Timothy 2:9-15 and Titus 2:3-5 are passages that deal with the roles of Christians in the culture in which they live. The family was not a significant part of Roman life. The Romans used family for politics, but the inconveniences of family life were brutally managed. An unwanted baby was thrown out in the street to die. (Our culture simply does this surgically or chemically before birth.) Paul writes to the young preachers Timothy and Titus to encourage the building of families according to God’s plan. These passages deal with the institution of families. Being a wife and mother was not the only role for a woman. The book of Acts tells of women with unique roles. Lydia had a high-end business, and many women are mentioned as having key roles in the early Church.
The early Church protected the roles of men and women. Women have a role available to them in being mothers (See 1 Timothy 2:15), but men have no role guaranteed to them. Women can indeed do just about anything a man can do, and in some cases, do it better. In that light, God gave men the role of being leaders in the worship service. That is one role men can fill, and God knew Christian women cared enough about their brothers in Christ to allow them to have that role. You don’t lose your identity by loving enough to allow another human being to do something you could do. The role of women in the Bible was counter-cultural for the time.
I came across something written by Buck Griffith about how you could recognize Jesus. Griffith points out that Jesus did not have angel-like wings or a halo. Even the people who knew Him didn’t recognize Him shortly after His resurrection. Mary Magdalene didn’t, and the men on the road to Emmaus didn’t. However, you explain these biblical cases; the fact remains that people always have a hard time recognizing what Jesus looks like. Satan has the power to appear as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), so it can be difficult.
Interestingly, people portray Jesus according to their culture. Some artwork shows Him as a light-skinned, blue-eyed, Scandinavian. I have seen pictures showing Jesus as a black-skinned, dark-eyed African. I have also seen pictures showing Him as a man with typical oriental facial features. There was even a picture of a bald man with a goatee. The closest picture physically is one that shows Jesus with characteristic Jewish features.
The fact is that all of these pictures are correct. However, all of them must fit the description of Matthew 25. In that passage, Jesus gives six different scenarios that tell us how you could recognize Jesus in someone standing before you. Those six scenarios describe Jesus as being one who is hungry, thirsty, a stranger needing a place to sleep, naked, sick, and imprisoned. Jesus tells His followers who had taken care of people with these problems that Jesus was the one they had treated well (Matthew 25:35-40). He then condemns those who had not done those things, saying that they had failed to do it for Him.
Many people are looking for Christ with the wrong standards as to how to recognize Him. They want a super-hero with incredible physical characteristics. There is a beautiful story that illustrates this well and tells us how you could recognize Jesus. The story goes that a blind girl had a table stand at an airport with apples on it. A group of men came running through, racing to catch a flight. They hit the table and knocked the apples all over the place. One man stopped and helped the girl pick up the apples, separating the bruised or cut from the others. He handed them to the girl and gave her some money to cover the damaged apples. As he started to leave, she called out to him, “Thank you, sir. Are you Jesus?”
No matter who you are or what your situation in life, dealing with gender identity and lifestyles in the 21st century is a challenge.Christians have a special difficulty because the Bible is quite clear on the topic. Genesis 1:24 states that a man should “leave his mother and father, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Romans 1:24-32 describes in very negative terms those who “dishonor their own bodies between themselves.” Verses 26-27 leave no doubt that the passage is describing homosexual acts.
The problem is that humans don’t follow God’s teachings, and that leads to difficult choices. David’s sin with Bathsheba led to murder and massive family problems for David. Saul’s failure to obey God led to the loss of his kingship and to his death. We frequently create our own problems by disobeying God, and then we struggle to undo the consequences of our misconduct.
God’s plan for every human was to be conceived and raised in a home that was dominated by a loving father and mother. This is still the ideal, and it is the way to avoid many of the problems we see in our world today. But many children are born to and raised by a less than ideal set of parents. One consequence of this is that they have self-image problems and struggle with gender identity and lifestyles and their role in the world. In addition to that, many children are abused, causing them major psychological issues. As our world turns away from God and rejects biblical teachings, children are being taught things that conflict with God’s word and with common sense.
Christians must approach gender identity and lifestyles like any other behavioral issue. We must respect and be kind to everyone. We can love the person without loving everything about them. From personal experience, I can tell you that a homosexual couple living next door is much less of a problem than an alcoholic living next door. Sharing the love of Christ with others by serving them is the one sure way to build bridges of hope and faith.
We often see an animal or plant with remarkable abilities or properties that are not obvious how they work. One of those is the mystery of cicada wings and raindrops.
Scientists studying cicadas have noticed that their wings repel water and have antimicrobial properties. Every past attempt to understand how this works has destroyed the wing before finding the answer. However, it did appear that there were layers to the wing.
Scientific American (September 2020, page 21) describes a new method of analysis called microwave-assisted extraction. Using that method on cicada wings, scientists at Sandia National Laboratories peeled back the outer layer revealing a fantastic design.
Under the outer chemical layers, cicada wings have structures called nanopillars. When scientists removed the nanopillars’ chemical layers, they became shorter and bent towards each other, making the wing structure so close that water could not penetrate it. The chemical layers on top of the nanopillars kill microbes.
Marianne Alleyne, an entomology professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, was the study’s senior author. She said this knowledge will help scientists understand how to use chemicals and structure to engineer new products. “We can design new materials more rationally, making choices about the structure and chemistry based on what we have observed in nature,” Alleyne said. This is one more example of how science can copy nature to give us new products.
Romans 1:20 tells us that we can know there is a God through the things He has made. The mystery of cicada wings and raindrops is another example to verify that statement and show us ways to improve our lives here on Earth.
You can read more about the research project HERE.
One of the problems we all face is knowing whether the healthcare products we see advertised and on the store shelves actually work. The fact is that many of the advertised items are totally useless. In October of 2019, the Center for Inquiry sued Walmart for putting useless homeopathic products on shelves beside valid medicines. On May 20, 2020, the homeopathy lawsuit was dismissed by the District of Columbia Superior Court.
The Center for Inquiry said their concern is that consumers wouldn’t know what was useful and what was not. A good example is that just about every drug store and department store like Walmart sells products claiming to protect us from memory loss. Research has shown that most of them are useless. The Center for Inquiry will appeal the court’s decision. They have also filed a similar lawsuit against CVS, the country’s largest pharmacy chain.
Many of the products promoted as homeopathic cures have religious claims and are marketed by religious figures. We have had a personal interest in this with a family member using a homeopathic treatment for cancer to the exclusion of established medical treatment. That error ultimately resulted in the death of our loved one.
There is a biblical example of this in Acts 8:9-24 where a man called Simon “used sorcery and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest saying that this man is the great power of God; and to him they had regard, because that for a long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.” (Verses 9-11) There have always been scams and con artists who take people’s money for things that simply don’t work.
So how do we protect ourselves? The fact that the homeopathy lawsuit was dismissed should not prevent us from being skeptical of health claims made by anyone, including religious leaders or celebrities. Ask your doctor about anything you put into or on your body. There is a website called Quackwatch, which has links to health claims and products.
Taking care of our bodies is taking care of the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). We need to realize that doing that requires some effort on our part.
The Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation is a publication that provides articles on faith written by scientists who believe in God. In the September 2020 issue, editor James Peterson tells a story about standing in line at a home improvement store. While waiting, he had a discussion with a young couple about wearing a face mask. The two people’s response tells a lot about the condition of our society, thanks to the rejection of God and the Bible as a guide to life. Here is the discussion:
Peterson to Girl: “Are you aware that people wear surgical masks like the one I am wearing to protect other people, not themselves? I know for myself that I don’t like wearing a mask, and it does not protect me. It is to protect you.” Girl to Peterson: “Masks don’t make any difference. You are either going to get the virus or not.” Peterson: “So it is all fate? Nothing you can do?” She nods with resignation. Peterson to her friend: “You see it that way too?” Friend to Peterson: “You don’t want to know what I think.” Peterson to friend: “You sound like you may be angry.” Friend to Peterson in a loud voice: “I am. I don’t give a **** about anybody but me. If it doesn’t help me, I’m not doing it, and you and nobody else is going to make me!!”
Peterson wrote, “So in 30 seconds flat, I had a reminder that we have our work cut out for us, and it matters.” As a Christian and a scientist, Peterson knows that wearing a face mask is only one small indicator of the state of our society. Later in Peterson’s article, he says, “Stuff 300 chimpanzees in a plane and they will tear the plane apart. Most humans just think about it.” His point is that evolutionists suggest that altruism and cooperation result in an evolutionary advantage for passing on our genes.
The American public’s response to the pandemic has been revealing and shows how the rejection of God has already influenced our society. Young adults will attend a party or go to a beach, knowing that they are exposing themselves to a contagious disease. The desire for pleasure while believing they are fit and will survive the virus drives them onward. Thinking of anything but their own immediate comfort causes a vast percentage of our population to refuse social distancing and wearing a face mask.
Some religious people who might care about others have accepted the political propaganda that the whole thing is fake until they see older family members die from the virus. Indeed, our work is cut out for us. We need to get back to basics. There is a God, and He has told us how to live. Taking care of the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16) and showing love for others (Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 19:18) should affect how we deal with the people around us.
I am amazed by the lack of understanding of our planet and how it works. It is astounding how the public refuses to take the cause and treatment of the current pandemic seriously. Politicians worldwide are promoting distrust of just about everything, making progress on any level almost impossible. The Bible is the one thing that we can trust, but since atheism and false religions have taken over the planet, people reject the Bible’s teachings and create chaos all around us. Are we doomed?
Proverbs 8:32-33 quotes wisdom as saying, “…hearken unto me…hear instruction and be wise and refuse it not.” Romans 1:17-32 tells us that we can know God by understanding the creation. The meaning of those passages is more evident today than ever before. We now have the means of seeing the vastness of the cosmos, and understanding how fragile Earth is. We see pictures of polluted skies, contaminated lakes and rivers, and plastic-filled oceans. When we see images of starving people around the world, that should motivate us to make changes. You can see evidence for global warming if you will look. There is no debate possible about pollution or water shortages. Look at the evidence and “hearken to wisdom.”
Scientific American (September 2020, pages 74-81) published an article by Peter Brannen titled “The Worst Times on Earth.” Brannen surveys the evidence of mass extinctions and the implications for the future. He offers logical solutions to likely future catastrophes. If we believe that God created the cosmos, we understand that wisdom and design went into every corner of the creation. We know that God told us to “take care of the garden” (Genesis 2:15). As Christians, we are told to serve others as if our salvation depended on it, because it does. (See Matthew 25:31-46.)
Are we doomed? We know that God will ultimately destroy the creation (2 Peter 3:10), but He will not allow humans to do it. We may make the planet uncomfortable to live on. We may pass on a contaminated, overheated Earth to future generations. Hopefully, we will heed the words of Proverbs 8 and Romans 1 and be wise in what we believe about the creation, how we use our money and energy to make this physical world better, and how we vote.
Are we doomed? As Christians, the answer is loud and clear. NO!!We have hope no matter what happens here in the physical world. We know that we have a spiritual existence beyond the grave that is totally free of all human ignorance, selfishness, greed, and stupidity. The God whom wisdom describes in Proverbs 8 has promised it to us.