7/7/15

From Mark Copeland... "FAITH IS THE VICTORY!" In Overcoming Loneliness

                        "FAITH IS THE VICTORY!"

                        In Overcoming Loneliness

INTRODUCTION

1. To the persecuted church in Smyrna, Jesus had His servant John write
   these words:

   "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."
                                                 (Re 2:10)

2. This promise certainly demonstrates the importance of believing in Jesus...
   a. For the "crown of life" is a figure for the gift of eternal life
      that Jesus offers
   b. And if we wish to receive this "crown", we must remain faithful!

3. But the rewards of faith in Jesus are not limited to "the afterlife"...
   a. There can be victories to be enjoyed even in this life - 1Jn 5:4-5
   b. In this series we have noticed how faith in Jesus helps us to 
      overcome such things as:
      1) Sin               5) Despair
      2) Anxiety           6) Discontent
      3) Boredom           7) Fear
      4) Depression        8) Grief

4. As we conclude this series, I wish to provide one more example of
   how faith in Jesus helps us in overcoming the world with its many ills...
   a. I am referring to the problem of "loneliness"
   b. It is has been said that "Loneliness and the feeling of being
      uncared for and unwanted are the greatest poverty" (Teresa of Calcutta)
   c. A Jewish proverb states that "Loneliness eats into the soul"; it
      can also have an adverse effect on the body

[As we shall see, faith in Jesus can help us overcome the problem of
loneliness; but let's begin as before by seeking to better understand
the problem we face...]

I. UNDERSTANDING LONELINESS

   A. LONELINESS IS NOT THE SAME AS SOLITUDE...
      1. Solitude describes a situation where one is alone by CHOICE
         a. To reflect, meditate, or simply enjoy solitary activites
            such as writing, drawing, reading, etc.
         b. Every one needs some solitude from time to time
      2. Loneliness is a feeling of dissatisfaction with the quality
         and/or quantity of one's relationships with other people; it
         can be broken down into two types
         a. Social loneliness - as when a person goes to college or
            takes a job in a new town and are isolated from friends and family
         b. Emotional loneliness - when we feel that we have no one
            to talk to, no one who understands our deepest concerns and needs
      3. Other comparisons between loneliness and solitude:
         a. Where solitude enriches and energizes, loneliness detracts
            and debilitates
         b. Solitude can build a desire to involve one's self with 
            society, whereas...
            1) Loneliness often robs one of any such motivation
            2) Loneliness can provoke a vicious cycle of despair so
               that the sufferer shys away from social contact and
               support needed to overcome
         c. Perhaps this why it has been said: "Loneliness and solitude
            are quite different. One is defeat--the other victory."
      -- The above notes were taken mostly from the General Loneliness
         FAQ of the soc.support.loneliness newsgroup

   B. HOW PEOPLE REACT TO LONELINESS...
      1. Active solitude
         a. Becoming engrossed in some activity that we enjoy and which
            enriches our lives
         b. Such as listening to music, reading, exercising
         c. This is a postive reaction to loneliness
      2. Social action
         a. Such as calling or visiting a friend or relative; helping
            someone less fortunate
         b. It is a deliberate action that breaks the isolation and 
            involves us with others
         c. This too is a positive reaction to loneliness
      3. Distraction
         a. Doing something to take our minds off our sense of loneliness
         b. Such as going for a drive, or going shopping
         c. This is a more neutral reaction, and really only a 
            temporary solution
      4. Sad passivity
         a. This is where one continues to feel badly and does nothing
            to positively impact the problem
         b. This can lead to a downward spiral of depression, and often
            includes sleeping too much, overeating and self-medicating
         c. This, of course, is a negative reaction to loneliness
      -- The notes in this section come from an article by Rona 
         Subotnik, M.F.C.C., who refers to a book called "In Search of
         Intimacy", by Rubenstein and Shaver

   C. CHRISTIANS NEED TO RESPOND POSITIVELY TO LONELINESS...
      1. For being lonely may be a sympton of a more serious problem
         a. "Loneliness is being unaware of the One who is with us 
            everywhere."
         b. "Many Christians suffer from loneliness because they are
            sitting instead of serving."
         -- Croft M. Pentz, The Complete Book of Zingers
      2. When one walks with God, they are never truly alone - cf. Jn 16:32
         a. "The soul that has been enriched by communion with God 
            will not be dismayed by isolation but will welcome 
            solitude. He will seek not the crowd but the closet, and
            emerging will never walk alone, for he has unseen 
            companionship." (Frances J. Roberts)
         b. "The soul that is growing in holiness is the least lonely
            when it is most alone." (F. Andrew) 
         -- Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the 
            Christian World

[When one suffers from loneliness, it is an indication that their
relationship with God and others may need some work.  There is no one
better qualified to help us in that regard than Jesus Christ...]

II. HOW FAITH IN JESUS OVERCOMES LONELINESS

   A. JESUS RECONCILES US BACK TO GOD...
      1. Paul explained that Jesus' ministry was one of reconciliation
         - 2Co 5:18-20
      2. Jesus offered Himself as the only way to God - Jn 14:6
      3. When we keep Jesus' commandments, we are assured of the 
         abiding presence of both the Father and the Son - Jn 14:21,23
      -- Through faith in Jesus, we can be reconciled to God and 
         thereby never truly be alone!
       
   B. JESUS ADDS US TO HIS FAMILY...
      1. We read where Jesus added people to the church - Ac 2:47 (KJV,
         NKJV)
      2. This "church" is also described as God's house, or family
         - 1Ti 3:15; cf. 5:1-2
      3. Indeed, Jesus told Peter what His disciples would enjoy in 
         this lifetime, which I understand to be a reference to His 
         church - cf. Mk 10:28-30
      -- Through faith in Jesus, we are born into a spiritual family 
         where we should never be alone

   C. JESUS' WOULD HAVE US RESPOND POSITIVELY TO LONELINESS...
      1. He teaches us to pray, which builds companionship with God
         a. To pray always, and never lose heart - Lk 18:1
         b. To pray to our Father in secret, where you are one on one 
            with Him - Mt 6:5-6
      2. He teaches us to serve, which builds companionship with others
         - Mt 20:25-28
         a. One cannot be alone when they are busy serving others!
         b. Remember, "Many Christians suffer from loneliness because
            they are sitting instead of serving."
      -- Through faithful obedience to Jesus, we will establish and 
         nourish relationships whereby we will never be alone!

CONCLUSION

1. Just as Jesus knew He was never alone (Jn 16:32), so Paul 
   experienced the reassuring presence of God...
   a. At a time when others had forsaken him - 2Ti 4:16-17
   b. Which gave him hope for the future - 2Ti 4:18

2. As Christians, we are promised never to be left alone...
   a. "...and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
      - Mt 28:20
   b. "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake 
      you.' So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not 
      fear. What can man do to me?'" - He 13:5-6

Add to such wonderful promises the blessings of being a part of God's
family, the church, and truly we should be able to say to overcoming 
loneliness, and to overcoming any problem we face:

                       "Faith Is The Victory!"

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

Hosanna! by Dave Miller, Ph.D.




https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=1192


Hosanna!

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

It was the final week of Jesus’ life on Earth. He had set His face to go to Jerusalem for some time (Luke 9:51). As He and His disciples were approaching Jerusalem, He instructed two of them to stop off at Bethphage—a tiny village about one-half mile east of Jerusalem on the south slope of the Mount of Olives. They were told they would find a female donkey and her foal that they were to untie and bring to the Savior. When questioned about their action, they were to assure the questioners that the Lord had temporary need of them, with the implication being that the owner—no doubt a disciple himself, or at least sympathetic to Christ—would give his consent.
Upon their return from this assignment, the disciples placed their outer cloaks (worn over their tunics or shirts) on the unbroken, saddleless colt, implying royal honor, even as in the case of Jehu’s elevation to kingship in 2 Kings 9:13. With Jesus seated on the colt, they continued their approach to Jerusalem, and were met by a considerable multitude of Jewish pilgrims who had come to observe the Passover. They had heard of His approach, and went out to give Him escort. The inspired writers inform us that this circumstance was a direct fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy—specifically, Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9: “Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The crowd of enthused worshippers commenced to litter the roadway with tree branches and articles of clothing, and to wave the branches of palm trees. To Jews, palm branches symbolized rejoicing and victory (Leviticus 23:40). The great multitude of Revelation 7:9 uttered praise and adoration to God and the Lamb, while holding palm branches in their hands.
Notice what some members of the crowd shouted: “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” What an incredible scene! The entire scenario fills us with wonder and a sense of awe. But what does it mean? Why did this event occur? Why did Jesus even participate in a so-called “triumphal entry”? What is with the crowds? Why did they come forth and hail our Lord as if they were convinced that He was the Son of God, especially in view of the fact that in just four days they would turn on Him and clamor for His execution?
Two textual indicators help us to size up the situation. First, the people were curious about Christ’s ability to perform signs. John informs us that many people had been informed of the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and the crowds were still buzzing about that (John 12:18). But keep in mind that most people ultimately did not view the miracles of Jesus as proof of His divine identity (and therefore their need to bow before Him in obedient submission). Rather, they saw Him as a curiosity—someone Who could offer them physical advantages. Remember the comment Jesus made to the crowd whom He fed miraculously with a few loaves and fish? “You seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (John 6:26). In other words, just like people today, they were after the thrill, the excitement, and the materialistic possibilities—not the spiritual, eternal riches.
Second, it is clear that most of the Jews of Jesus’ day were looking for a physical king. The people of Jesus’ day were restless and waiting. They were looking and expecting. They were yearning and hoping for someone to change their oppressed condition. The foreign invader—the mighty Roman—had entered their land and subjugated them to foreign rule. What a degrading, humiliating situation! The average Jew hated the Roman invader, and saw him as low-class, pagan trash. Jews constantly were looking for every possible opportunity to antagonize their Roman oppressors with ultimate hopes of driving them from Palestine. These nationalistic hopes and expectations were centered on the Messiah predicted by the Old Testament prophets.
But a major misconception dominated the Jewish mentality: they were certain that the long-awaited Messiah would come in the form of a worldly, militaristic king Who would sit on an earthly throne—the throne of David—and reign in Jerusalem over a renewed Davidic kingdom. Even the apostles were infected with this materialistic understanding of the kingdom of Christ—as is evident in such incidents as Peter’s attempt to defend Christ with a sword (John 18:10), and the disciples’ question just prior to Christ’s ascension, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). On one occasion, the crowd even tried to take Jesus forcibly and make Him a king (John 6:15). Notice—in the four accounts of this triumphal entry—the terminology of the crowd in alluding to Jesus: “son of David”; “kingdom of our father David”; and “king of Israel.” These appellations show they were looking for a physical kingdom.
What was the significance of the expressions shouted by the crowd? What did they mean by their use of the term “hosanna”? These Jewish pilgrims simply were alluding to Psalm 118:25-26, which was a customary psalm to recite at the Feast of Tabernacles and other Jewish festivals. “Hosanna” is two words in the Hebrew—hoshea-na. “Hoshea” is an imperative meaning “Save!” “Na” is a particle of entreaty tacked on to the imperative, meaning “I pray” or “I plead.” So it roughly means, “please save.” In the context of the psalm, “hosanna” is a cry for help, a supplicatory plea for God to extend salvation. “In the highest” means in the highest degree or heavens. They were calling for salvation from the ultimate source—Heaven itself. “Hosanna” seems to have evolved through the centuries to the point that, by Jesus’ day, it was more of an exclamation of joy—a shout of praise and acclaim. People probably so use it today. But notice carefully its true biblical import.
Here is Jesus, sandwiched within a throng of people offering an imploring cry to God to bring to reality the salvation expected at the coming of the Messianic King. Though they conceptualize a physical kingdom, here is Jesus, fulfilling the kingly prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 in a joyous, triumphant setting reminiscent of the Feast of Tabernacles, with palm and willow branches waving and littering the pathway. The scene evoked, from those who were present, an exclamation appropriate to that occasion. But in the process, they were, in fact, unwittingly greeting the true King David and Messiah! Here was the King of kings, and Lord of lords—and they did not even grasp it! Here was the One Who could bestow upon them a salvation far beyond what David or any human king could offer. “Hosanna in the highest” actually refers to the fact that Jesus was the King who was about to bring salvation to the people from Heaven—not the ridding of the Romans from their land, but the eradication of sin from their lives, making it possible for them to enter the kingdom that cannot be shaken and that will last eternally (Hebrews 12:28; Revelation 11:15). Only deity can save in the true sense (Psalm 3:8; Isaiah 43:11; Jeremiah 3:23; Hosea 13:4).
Notice, then, the following observations and lessons to be gleaned from this biblical account:
First, perhaps the central purpose of the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem was to demonstrate Jesus’ approach to His coronation—which was heavenly rather than earthly. People constantly look in all the wrong places for the fulfillment of their dreams and wishes. They thought they wanted an earthly king to give them physical, psychological, and emotional relief. But they did not need that! What they needed was a divine king who could give them spiritual and eternal relief from the true hardship of life—sin.
The Jews had gone through this once before—in 1 Samuel 8. They thought they needed an earthly king then, too. But they did not—God was their king. Here they are again seeking earthly salvation, when the One Who could give them eternal salvation was in their very midst. Earthly kings fail and fade. Jesus was about to experience the ultimate death of human history, and then to rise victoriously from the dead and to ascend into Heaven itself in order to sit down upon His throne to rule and reign over a kingdom that would last throughout time—throughout all of world history—at which time He would turn the kingdom over to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24).
Second, notice the sharp contrast between the triumphal entry of King Jesus and the triumphal entries of worldly rulers. The Romans were well known for their triumphs. A Roman triumph consisted of the conqueror returning from his victorious campaigns to Rome, where he was greeted by throngs of grateful citizens. The road was strewn with flowers. Trumpet blasts heralded his procession through the city. He rode in a magnificent, gilded chariot pulled by four white horses. He wore a royal, purple robe, laced with gold and hung by jeweled shoulder clasps. He held an ivory scepter in his hand, and wore a laurel crown on his head. He was surrounded by lictors and slaves who lined the street with golden bowls of rare perfumes that were burned to fill the air with fragrance. On his way to the Senate, he would pause to offer a sacrifice to the gods, consisting of a splendid horned bull.
But look at Jesus! He was surrounded by crowds that did not even comprehend the true significance of the occasion, and that soon would clamor for His blood. He was seated on a donkey—a symbol of peace, unlike the horse and chariot, which are symbols of war. There was nothing degrading about riding on a donkey, but it signified his meekness, humility, and nonviolent intentions. There were no trumpet blasts, no flowers on the pathway, no incense fragrance filling the air. The only sacrifice was the one that He Himself soon would make in behalf of others.
If you had been a Roman bystander observing this incident, you surely would have considered this entrance to be somewhat cheap, second-rate, and even laughable. It lacked the pomp and circumstance so typical of human invention. Surely you have noticed the element within churches of Christ in our day that is attempting to refurbish worship and doctrine. Some wish to include solos, choirs, and worship teams who use microphones and electronic synthesizers to “enhance” the song service. They want to lift up their arms and sway to the music. They want to choreograph dramatic performances, and even incorporate orchestral and instrumental music. Can we not see that such self-centered, self-serving activity does not represent or please God? God’s handling of the promotion and propagation of His will lacks the hype, the bells and whistles, the smoke and mirrors, and the theatrics of humanly instigated religion. God does not approve of “showbiz religion” or “Hollywood hallelujahs” (Matthew 23:5-7; Mark 5:15). Our culture is entertainment oriented and emotion driven. Hence, the tinsel and glitter associated with physical stimulation and fleshly pleasure in the world has made its way into many congregations, and Christians are falling prey to the false notion that “God is pleased when we’re pleased.” But Jesus’ words in Matthew 15:9 still ring relevant today: “In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
Third, do we understand the genuine joy, the happiness, and the gladness that is ours in Christ? When we sing “hosanna,” we ought to be conscious of the fact that we have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus in the waters of baptism. His triumphal entry into heaven has paved the way for us! Salvation is available to us! The cry, the earnest plea for God to save us, is realized in the person of Jesus Christ our Savior, Who gave Himself on our behalf and extends perfect peace and complete satisfaction to us if we will but obey the Gospel plan of salvation and live the Christian life.
I wonder how many people were in the multitude that escorted Jesus into Jerusalem? Scores? Hundreds? But we know for a fact that all of that seemingly genuine religious expression was short lived, if not fake. The people were just going through the motions. They must have felt extremely religious and right with God. But human feelings never have been a trustworthy barometer of one’s spiritual status.
Are you a Christian? Have you submitted yourself to the specific prerequisites enjoined upon us before we can receive the atoning benefit of Christ’s blood? Have you confessed your faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (John 8:24; Romans 10:9-10)? Have you repented of your sins, and turned to God Almighty (Acts 26:20; Luke 13:3)? Have you scripturally acknowledged the Lordship of Jesus in your life by implementing your penitent trust in the waters of baptism (Acts 2:38)? Do not be influenced by family or friends. You must make the decision on your own, and refrain from being influenced by the opinions of mere humans. When the Pharisees heard the crowd referring to Jesus as the King Who comes in the name of the Lord, when they heard the cries of “hosanna to the son of David,” they called to Jesus from the crowd and urged Him to rebuke the people for making such statements. Jesus responded, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40). Oh yes, you and I must render submission to the King of kings, even if everyone else forsakes Him.
As a Christian, are you merely going through the motions? Do you worship sincerely? Do you seek to serve other people every day? Do you strive to eliminate from your mind and life those things that are unbecoming of a child of God? Do you know that as Jesus drew near to the city of Jerusalem, with all of those people expressing apparent recognition of His person, He began to weep over the city’s inhabitants because He knew they just did not understand. He offered them forgiveness, blessing, and peace, but their failure to embrace and practice genuine Bible religion meant He would give them instead judgment, wrath, and destruction. May none of us fall short of His intention for us, and may we be willing to do what it takes. May we sing with genuineness the words of Carl Tuttle:
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest;
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest;
Lord, we lift up Your name,
With hearts full of praise;
Be exalted, O Lord my God,
Hosanna in the highest.

Evolution Can’t Explain “Smart” Plants by Kyle Butt, M.A.

https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=3762

Evolution Can’t Explain “Smart” Plants

by  Kyle Butt, M.A.

Lisa Krieger recently wrote an article titled, “How Do Flowers Know to Bloom in Spring? Now Humans Know, Too.” She reported about research on flower blooming that is being done by plant molecular geneticist Jose Luis Riechmann from the California Institute of Technology, published in Science magazine. Riechmann’s research centers on the ability of flowers to know when to bloom to take advantage of the proper weather conditions to reproduce. It turns out that for plants to survive, timing is everything. As plant biologist Jorge Dubcovsky of UC Davis stated: “Flowering time is one of the most important traits in breeding because it affects the yield of crops. Too early and you are killed by frost; too late and you are killed by heat” (as quoted in Krieger, 2010).
Reichmann believes he has identified the tiny protein that is responsible for setting blooming in motion. The protein is named APETALA1, or AP1. This tiny wonder “regulates more than 1,000 genes” and “serves as the door that opens the way to flowering” (2010). Without this amazing protein, the plant world as we know it would not exist. The importance of this single protein becomes clear, when we realize that “almost everything we eat is a plant, or something that just ate a plant” (2010).
This petite protein poses a powerful problem for the theory of evolution. According to the theory, all plants and animals evolved over billions of years by chance, random processes that were not directed by any intelligence. Although evolution has been repeatedly shown to be false (see Butt and Lyons, 2009), research like Reichmann’s continues to add more weight to the fact that evolution is scientifically impossible.
First, it should be noted that no research ever done has shown us how random processes can produce a protein like AP1. Second, even if random processes produced AP1, which they cannot, how many times of trial and error would we need to grant the evolutionary process to allow it to finally strike upon the perfectly timed sequence to bloom? If the plants that were supposedly evolving bloomed at the wrong time, they would die or fail to reproduce. While that would be bad for those individual plants, it would also be devastating for the alleged evolutionary process, since evolution would have to start over trying to randomly assemble protein AP1 after every failure. Since all evolutionary scenarios are imaginary, and not backed by real scientific evidence, it is easy to propound a scenario by which natural selection somehow “chose” the plants that happened to bloom at the right time and have the proper protein sequence. But in reality, the first wrong turn would have sent plant evolution (although there really is no such thing) back to the drawing board, as would each additional wrongly timed blooming.
In truth, there never have been millions of years of gradual, chance mutations and natural selections that produced the “intelligent” flowering plants that we see today. The intricate design of plants, as manifested by tiny proteins like AP1, testifies to the fact that an intelligent Designer created flowering plants. Plants “know” exactly when to bloom simply because, when God created them, He endowed them with the ability to perpetuate their kind. As Genesis 1:11 states: “Then God said, ‘Let all the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth’; and it was so” (emp. added).

REFERENCES

Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2009), “Darwin in Light of 150 Years of Error,” Reason & Revelation, 29[2]:9-15, February, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240057.
Krieger, Lisa (2010), “How Do Flowers Know to Bloom in Spring? Now Humans Know, Too,” [On-line], URL: http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_14803818?source=rss.

Autonomous Control of Creation by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=4154

Autonomous Control of Creation

by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Autonomous Control and "Mother Nature"

Engineers regularly work with control systems. Autonomous control is a step beyond remote control. Remote control applications allow manual issuing of commands through some sort of transmission device (i.e., a remote controller) that controls something else (e.g., a robot or television) located some distance away from the controller. Autonomous control, on the other hand, uses a computer program to issue the commands. The computer becomes the controller, instead of a human being. It is common knowledge in the engineering community that autonomous control is a subject that is of particular interest today. From autonomous control of ground vehicles (Naranjo, et al., 2006), to autonomous missile guidance systems (Lin, et al., 2004) and aerial vehicles (Oosterom and Babuska, 2006), to autonomous aquatic vehicles (Loebis, et al., 2004) and satellites (Cheng, et al., 2009), and even to autonomous farming equipment (Omid, et al., 2010), notable success is being made in this area of technology.
The amazing thing from a Christian perspective, however, is that many engineers—the designers of the scientific community—are becoming aware of the fact that the world around us is already replete with fully functional, superior designs in comparison to what the engineering community has been able to develop to date. Biomimicry (i.e., engineering design using something from nature as the blueprint) is becoming a prevalent engineering pursuit. However, some engineers are not interested in copying creation in their designs since they simply cannot replicate many of the features that the natural world has to offer. They are realizing that the created order oftentimes comes equipped with natural “sensor suites” whose designs surpass the capability of engineering knowledge to date. Animals possess amazing detection, tracking, and maneuvering capabilities which are far beyond the knowledge of today’s engineering minds, and likely will be for many decades, if not forever. An insect neurobiologist, John Hildebrand, from the University of Arizona in Tucson, admitted, “There’s a long history of trying to develop microrobots that could be sent out as autonomous devices, but I think many engineers have realised [sic] that they can’t improve on Mother Nature” (Marshall, 2008, p. 41). Of course, “Mother Nature” is not capable of designing anything, since “she” is mindless. The Chief Engineer, the God of the Bible, on the other hand, can be counted on to have the best possible engineering designs. Who, after all, could out-design the Grand Designer? In spite of the deterioration of the world and the entrance of disease and mutations into the created order, after some six millennia, His designs still stand out as the best—unsurpassed by human wisdom.

Controlling the Living

Recognizing the superiority of the natural world, the scientific community has become interested in learning how to remotely control living creatures instead of developing robotic versions. This line of thinking certainly adds new meaning to God’s command to mankind to “subdue” and “have dominion” over the created order (Genesis 1:28). One of the ways in which animal remote control is being done is by implanting electronics in animal bodies that are subsequently used to manipulate the movements and behaviors of the creature. Hybrid creatures such as these are known as bio-robots or cyborgs. Cyborg research has been conducted since the 1950s, when Jose Delgado of Yale University implanted electrodes into the brains of bulls to stimulate the hypothalamus for control purposes (Marshall, 2008). Since then, the list of remotely controlled animals using electrode implantation has grown to include:
  • sharks (i.e., spiny dogfish; Gomes, et al., 2006; Brown, 2006)
  • rats (Talwar, et al., 2002; Li and Panwar, 2006; Song, et al., 2006)
  • monkeys (Brown, 2006; Horgon, 2005)
  • mice (“SDUST Created…,” 2007)
  • chimpanzees (Horgon, 2005)
  • frogs (Song, et al., 2006)
  • pigeons (“SDUST Created…,” 2007)
  • cats (Horgon, 2005)
  • gibbons (Horgon, 2005)
  • cockroaches (Holzer, et al., 1997; “Researchers Develop ‘Robo-roach,’” 2001)
Cornell University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan, and Arizona State University at Tempe are working on developing flying insect cyborgs, including hawkmoths and green June beetles (Ray, 2010; Sato, et al., 2008; Sato, et al., 2009; Bozkurt, et al., 2008). The University of Florida in Gainesville used electrodes to remotely control rats specifically for detection of humans (for search and rescue scenarios) and explosives (Marshall, 2008). Non-invasive remote creature control projects are underway as well. M.I.T. used virtual fencing coupled with Global Positioning System (GPS) for tracking and autonomously herding cows by implementing auditory cues and shock reinforcement to keep cows within a desirable area (Correll, et al., 2008; Schwager, et al., 2008).
There is beginning to be more interest in the prospect of remotely controlling canines as well (“Grand Challenge…,” 2010). Engineers realize that dogs can traverse a variety of terrains more efficiently than humans or robots and are effective at guarding territories, carrying out search and rescue missions, as well as providing guidance for the visually impaired. They also have an amazing sense of smell that makes them capable of detecting explosives, narcotics, tobacco, pipeline leaks, retail contraband, and even cell phones and bed bugs (“Detection Services,” 2010). Since engineers have not developed a device that can compare with a canine’s ability to detect odors, the use of canines for these applications is attractive. Although other creatures, such as rats (Marshall, 2008), have a keen sense of smell, canines are more appealing, especially due to their innate ability to interact with humans. Thus, using canines for these purposes is attractive to engineers, and the ability to remotely control a canine for many of these purposes is an even more attractive goal. Many scenarios could be envisioned to illustrate cases where the presence of a dog handler alongside a canine could be an impossibility (e.g., tight areas in search and rescue operations) or undesirable (e.g., scenarios where the handler should not be visible or in harm’s way). In a recent event in Afghanistan, a bomb detection canine detected an explosive a moment too late. The canine handler lost his left leg and received other serious injuries (“Grand Challenge…,” 2010). Remote control capability or autonomous guidance likely would have significantly altered the outcome of this unfortunate event, as well as many others.
Since engineers cannot yet develop an adequate robotic solution to this problem, the Office of Naval Research funded a research project to develop such a solution—a research project I was heavily involved in at Auburn University while engaged in doctoral studies. The Canine Detection and Research Institute (CDRI) at Auburn University demonstrated that detection canines can be remotely controlled using a canine vest we developed that was equipped with a tone and vibration generator (Britt, et al., 2010). However, many cases could easily be envisioned where the canine would be out of sight from the handler (e.g., moving behind a distant building), at which time remote control capability becomes useless. Therefore, the next natural step was to automate that remote control capacity (i.e., autonomous control of the canine).
Since canines can traverse a variety of terrains more efficiently than humans, and possess a natural array of “sensors” used to detect and locate items of interest that robots are not readily equipped with, many aspects that pose problems to unmanned ground vehicles are inherently removed with the canine. Canines can execute the low-level decision making that is necessary for rerouting their local path to avoid obstacles or unfavorable terrain. We proved with notable success that canines can be tracked using GPS, inertial sensors, and magnetometers (Miller and Bevly, 2007; Miller and Bevly, 2009a; Miller and Bevly, 2009b), as well as be autonomously guided along desired paths to distant end points (Miller, 2010; Britt, 2009). More important, this system was designed without having to develop the technology that would be required for a complete robotic solution. Instead, a pre-designed creature, already developed by the Chief Engineer, was utilized. In the interest of not plagiarizing Him, I happily reference His incomprehensible work, although, unfortunately I cannot speak for all of my doctoral colleagues.

CONCLUSION

How ironic that those who are designed, design based on the Designer’s designs, while simultaneously claiming that those designs are not designed. How could mindless rocks, dirt, gas, or slime bring about the amazingly complex designs we see in the World? Personifying inanimate materials such as these with names like “Mother Nature” does nothing but tacitly admit that some Being is in control of the natural order. The frontlines of the engineering community today—bringing about unparalleled technology, more advanced than any society in the history of mankind—cannot come close to replicating the designs around us. Engineers are forced to borrow from God’s design portfolio (oftentimes plagiarizing Him—not giving Him due credit for His designs). What a testament to the greatness of the Chief Engineer’s created order! We may be able to try to fix some of the damage that has been done to the created order due to sin and entropy, but in the words of John Hildebrand, quoted earlier, we certainly “can’t improve on” God’s design. Rather than plagiarizing Him, let all engineers know, “He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4, emp. added).

REFERENCES

Bozkurt, A., R. Gilmour, D. Stern, and A. Lal (2008), “MEMS Based Bioelectronic Neuromuscular Interfaces for Insect Cyborg Flight Control,” IEEEMEMS2008 Conference, pp. 160-163.
Britt, W. (2009), “A Software and Hardware System for the Autonomous Control and Navigation of a Trained Canine,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Auburn University, Summer.
Britt, W.R., J. Miller, P. Waggoner, D.M. Bevly, and J.A. Hamilton (2010), “An Embedded System for Real-time Navigation and Remote Command of a Trained Canine,” DOI 10.1007/s00779-010-0298-4.
Brown, S. (2006), “Stealth Sharks to Patrol the High Seas,” New Scientist, 2541:30-31, March 4.
Cheng, C., S. Shu, and P. Cheng (2009), “Attitude Control of a Satellite Using Fuzzy Controllers,” Expert Systems with Applications, 36:6613-6620.
Correll, N., M. Schwager, and D. Rus (2008), “Social Control of Herd Animals by Integration of Artificially Controlled Congeners,” Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Simulation of Adaptive Behavior, pp. 437-447.
“Detection Services” (2010), Amdetech: Protection Through Detection, http://www.amdetech.com.
Gomes, W.J., D. Perez, and J.A. Catipovic (2006), “Autonomous Shark Tag with Neural Reading and Stimulation Capability for Open-ocean Experiments,” Eos Trans. AGU, 87(36), Ocean Sci. Meet. Suppl., Abstract OS45Q-05.
“Grand Challenge: Smart Vest for Detector Dogs” (2010), National Aerospace & Electronics Conference, http://www.naecon.org/challenge.htm.
Holzer, R., I. Shimoyama, and H. Miura (1997), “Locomotion Control of a Bio-Robotic System via Electric Stimulation,” International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, Grenoble, France.
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Li, Y. and S. Panwar (2006), “A Wireless Biosensor Network Using Autonomously Controlled Animals,” IEEENetwork, 20[3]:6-11.
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Loebis, D., R. Sutton, J. Chudley, and W. Naeem (2004), “Adaptive Tuning of a Kalman Filter via Fuzzy Logic for an Intelligent AUV Navigation System,” Control Engineering Practice, 12:1531-1539.
Marshall, J. (2008), “The Cyborg Animal Spies Hatching in the Lab,” New Scientist, 2646:40-43, March 6.
Miller, J. (2010), “A Maximum Effort Control System for the Tracking and Control of a Guided Canine,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Auburn University, Winter.
Miller, J. and D.M. Bevly (2007), “Position and Orientation Determination for a Guided K-9,” Proceedings of the IONGNSS, Ft. Worth, TX.
Miller, J. and D.M. Bevly (2009a), “Determination of Pitch Effects in Guided K-9 Tracking,” Proceedings of the JSDE/IONJNC, Orlando, FL.
Miller, J. and D.M. Bevly (2009b), “Guided K-9 Tracking Improvements Using GPS, INS, and Magnetometers,” Proceedings of the IONITM, Anaheim, CA.
Naranjo, J.E., C. Gonzalez, R. Garcia, and T. Pedro (2006), “ACC+Stop&Go Maneuvers With Throttle and Brake Fuzzy Control,” IEEETransactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, 7[2]:213-225.
Omid, M., M. Lashgari, H. Mobli, R. Alimardani, S. Mohtasebi, and R. Hesamifard (2010), “Design of Fuzzy Logic Control System Incorporating Human Expert Knowledge for Combine Harvester,” Expert Systems with Applications, 37:7080-7085.
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Sato, H., C.W. Berry, B.E. Casey, G. Lavella, Y. Yao, J.M. Vandenbrooks, and M.M. Maharbiz (2008), “A Cyborg Beetle: Insect Flight Control Through an Implantable, Tetherless Microsystem,” IEEEMEMS2008 Conference, pp. 164-167.
Sato, H., Y. Peeri, E. Baghoomian, C.W. Berry, and M.M. Maharbiz (2009), “Radio-Controlled Cyborg Beetles: A Radio-frequency System for Insect Neural Flight Control,” IEEEMEMS2009 Conference, pp. 216-219.
Schwager, M., C. Detweiler, I. Vasilescu, D.M. Anderson, and D. Rus (2008), “Data-Driven Identification of Group Dynamics for Motion Prediction and Control,” Journal of Field Service Robotics, 25[6-7]:305-324.
“SDUST Created Remote-Controlled Pigeon” (2007), Shandong University of Science and Technology, http://www.sdkd.net.cn/en/news_show.php?id=65.
Song, W., J. Chai, T. Han, and K. Yuan (2006), “A Remote Controlled Multimode Microstimulator for Freely Moving Animals,” Acta Physiologica Sinica, 58[2]:183-188.
Talwar, S., S. Xu, E. Hawley, S. Weiss, K. Moxon, and J. Chapin (2002), “Rat Navigation Guided by Remote Control,” Nature, 417[6884]:37-38.

Christianity, Democracy, and Iraq by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1538

Christianity, Democracy, and Iraq

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

For some fifty years now, the “politically correct” crowd has used strong-arm, Gestapo-like tactics to deprive Americans of the right of self-government so paramount in a Republic. Implementing their agenda of secularism through judicial coercion and social intimidation, they have literally bullied the Moral Majority into silence and spiritual paralysis. Their objective continues to be to drive all vestiges of the Christian religion and Christian morality from the public square. Especially in regard to moral issues, like abortion, school prayer, and same-sex marriage, social and political liberals have sought to overturn the rules under which the nation lived for 180+ years. Observe that this aggressive assault on religious expressions in the public sector is as intolerant and monolithic as those extremist elements that seek to bring America down by violence and terrorism. The will of the majority of Americans (for the moment) on a whole range of moral issues is being trumped by a leftist judiciary, politically liberal legislators, secularist educators, and morally bankrupt entertainers.
Even as America seeks to export its singular brand of “democracy” to other countries (e.g., Iraq), sinister forces within are chipping away at America’s foundations to bring about her demise. In the process, the very reason for America’s success and prosperity has been overlooked. Do you remember the euphoria created by the collapse of communism in Russia? The prevailing view was that the way had been cleared for Russia to achieve for its people what America has achieved for its own people, i.e., “freedom” and “economic prosperity.” Has it happened? No. Why? Why is alcoholism rampant in Russia (Brissenden, 2003)? Why is drug addiction soaring there (Koshkina, 2003; “Drug Intelligence...,” 2003)? Why have crime, poverty, and mortality rates continued to increase (Walberg, et al., 1998)?
The average American appears to believe that America’s prosperity was the inevitable result of our democratic approach to governing. We seem to think that since we possess personal freedom, engage in free elections, and engage in the free enterprise of capitalism, it was inevitable that our country should come into being and flourish. When our leaders speak of exporting the American brand of democracy to other parts of the world (e.g., “Elections in Iraq,” 2005), they appear to share the widespread notion that the cause and source of America’s unprecedented success is the direct result of our democratic institutions of government. So if we can just get dictators out of the way (e.g., Saddam Hussein), and give the people a chance to express themselves at the ballot box, presto, little America’s will spring up all over the world that will soon manifest the same prosperous, secure, free way of life that American’s have enjoyed for so long. Right? Wrong! There are two reasons why this rationale is dead wrong: (1) the Bible says it is wrong, and (2) the Founding Fathers said it is wrong.
The Bible claims that national existence is dependent on commitment to the instructions, directives, and moral principles of God’s Word (Psalm 33:12). The Bible claims, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). The Bible maintains that “the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17). God said to the nation of Israel, “if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, and worship them, then I will uproot them from My land” (2 Chronicles 7:19-20). The Bible claims that national security, economic prosperity, civil order, and personal happiness are centered solely in the population’s spiritual commitment: “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” (Psalm 144:15). This concept is emphasized over and over again throughout Scripture. America owes its incredible progress to its historic commitment to the one true God to the exclusion of all other gods, religions, ideologies, and religionless philosophies.
What about the Founders? Did they claim that national success was dependent on “democracy,” “free enterprise,” “free elections,” and “freedom?” Absolutely not. In the first place, they did not claim to be establishing a “democracy.” For example, our second President, John Adams, wrote in an 1814 letter to John Taylor: “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide (1850, 6:484). Signer of the federal Constitution and two-time President of the United States, James Madison, explained: “[D]emocracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths” (Hamilton, et al., 1818, p. 53).
Why did the Founders have such disdain for a “democracy”? Because the source of authority for a democracy is simply the whims, opinions, and fluctuating feelings of the majority. The people are essentially a law to themselves and the sole source of ascertaining right and wrong. In a democracy, homosexuality may be deemed wrong today—but right tomorrow. The Bible frequently alludes to this very negative social circumstance (e.g., Exodus 23:2; Jeremiah 10:23; Judges 21:25).
In stark contrast, the Founders claimed to have established a republic. A republic differs from a democracy in that it operates on the basis of set laws that transcend the will of the people—unchanging moral principles that apply to all people, in all places, in all times. Where did the Founders believe the source of that law lay? The Creator—the God of the Bible. Specifically, the Founders and Framers insisted that the American republic rests on the foundation of the laws and moral principles of the Christian religion. In the words of Founder Noah Webster: “[O]ur citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion” (1832, p. 6). In 1775, Alexander Hamilton, a signer of the Constitution, observed that human laws must be aligned with God’s laws: “[T]he law...dictated by God Himself is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity if contrary to this” (1961, 1:87).
This means that the Founders believed that freedom, free enterprise, and economic prosperity rise solely from the foundation of Christian morality. Charles Carroll, signer of the Declaration of Independence, insisted: “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure...are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments” (as quoted in Steiner, 1907, p. 475, emp. added). In an 1829 letter to James Madison, Noah Webster declared: “[T]he Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government....and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence” (as quoted in Snyder, 1990, p. 253, emp. added). The first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Jay, maintained; “Only one adequate plan has ever appeared in the world, and that is the Christian dispensation” (1893, 4:52, emp. added). George Washington proclaimed to the entire nation in his farewell address that religion and morality are the indispensable supports of political prosperity, the great pillars of human happiness, and a necessary spring of popular government (1796).
Shortly after America had its revolution, France had theirs. They, too, claimed to establish a “republic.” But did they? They could not have established a republic like America’s—because a sizable percentage of the French population was amoral and atheistic. America’s Founders recognized this fact, as did the Courts at the time. The State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania made this very point in 1824 in the case Updegraph v. the Commonwealth:
No free government now exists in the world, unless where Christianity is acknowledged, and is the religion of the country.... Christianity is part of the common law of this state.... Its foundations are broad, and strong, and deep: they are laid in the authority, the interest, the affections of the people. Waiving all questions of hereafter, it is the purest system of morality, the firmest auxiliary, and only stable support of all human laws (Updegraph..., 1824, emp. added).
Patrick Henry declared: “[T]he great pillars of all government and of social life: I mean virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible” (1891, 2:592, emp. added). Samuel Adams said: “Religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness” (1905, 4:74, emp. added). Benjamin Franklin asserted that “only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters” (1840, 10:297, emp. added). Signer of the Declaration, John Hancock, insightfully observed:
Sensible of the importance of Christian piety and virtue to the order and happiness of a state, I cannot but earnestly commend to you every measure for their support and encouragement.... Manners, by which not only the freedom but the very existence of the republics are greatly affected, depend much upon the public institutions of religion (as quoted in Brown, 1898, p. 269, emp. added).
Even Thomas Jefferson weighed in on the same point, in an 1809 letter to James Fishback:
The practice of morality being necessary for the well-being of society, He [God—DM] has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral precepts of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses (1904, 12:315, emp. added).
Signer of the federal Constitution, and Secretary of War under both Washington and Adams, James McHenry affirmed:
The Holy Scriptures....can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability, and usefulness. In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses (as quoted in Steiner, 1921, p. 14, emp. added).
Observe that McHenry insisted that the Bible—not the Quran, the Hindu Vedas, or Buddhist Pitakas—is indispensable to American society, courts, and government.
A good summary statement of the views of the Founders and Framers of American institutions is found in the words of Joseph Story, one of two men who share the title “Father of American Jurisprudence,” who was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President James Madison, and who served on the High Court for 34 years:
The promulgation of the great doctrines of religion; the being and attributes and providence of one Almighty God; the responsibility to Him for all our actions; founded upon moral freedom and accountability; a future state of rewards and punishments; the cultivation of all the personal, social, and benevolent virtues;—these never can be a matter of indifference in any well-ordered community. It is, indeed, difficult to conceive how any civilized society can well exist without them. And, at all events, it is impossible for those who believe in the truth of Christianity as a Divine revelation, to doubt that it is the especial duty of government to foster and encourage it among all the citizens and subjects (1833, 3:722-723, emp. added).
Many other Founders could be cited that express the same viewpoints. According to both the Bible and the Founders of the American republic, can countries like Iraq reproduce the freedom and democratic institutions historically enjoyed by America? No, they cannot. Iraq is built upon Islam—not Christianity. Its values are firmly embedded in Islamic values. While there is some overlap, Islam is not Christianity.

CONCLUSION

Consider these sobering thoughts from the Bible that so clearly express the sweeping scope of human history:
Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the Lord our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day? Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren.... Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time (Deuteronomy 4:5-9,39-40, emp. added).
In uncanny anticipation of the liberal social forces in America today, with their agenda of abortion, homosexuality, and hostility toward Christian values, the second President of the United States, in articulating the degeneration that occurs when a republic shifts to a democracy, issued a solemn warning that ought to haunt every American—since it closely resembles the very direction America has taken:
[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man’s life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit, and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few (1977, 1:83).

REFERENCES

Adams, John (1850), The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, ed. Charles Adams (Boston, MA: Charles Little & James Brown).
Adams, John (1977), The Papers of John Adams, ed. John Taylor (Cambridge: Belknap Press).
Adams, Samuel (1905), The Writings of Samuel Adams, ed. Harry Cushing (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons).
Brissenden, Michael (2003), “Russia—Alcoholism,” ABC News Foreign Correspondent, [On-line], URL: http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/stories/s932631.htm.
Brown, Abram (1898), John Hancock, His Book (Boston, MA: Lee & Shepard).
“Drug Intelligence Brief: Heroin Trafficking in Russia’s Troubled East” (2003), U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, [On-line], URL: http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/intel/03053/03053.html.
“Elections in Iraq” (2005), The White House, [On-line], URL: http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/elections/.
Franklin, Benjamin (1840), The Works of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Jared Sparks (Boston, MA: Tappen, Whittemore and Mason).
Hamilton, Alexander (1961), The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Harold Syrett (New York, NY: Columbia University Press).
Hamilton, Alexander, John Jay, and James Madison (1818), The Federalist on the New Constitution (Philadelphia, PA: Benjamin Warner).
Henry, Patrick (1891), Patrick Henry: Life, Correspondence and Speeches, ed. William Henry (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons).
Jay, John (1893), The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, ed. Henry Johnston (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons).
Jefferson, Thomas (1904), The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Albert Bergh (Washington, DC: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association).
Koshkina, E. (2003), “Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Among the Russian Population,” [On-line], URL: http://www.eldis.org/static/DOC9364.htm.
Snyder, K. Alan (1990), Defining Noah Webster: Mind and Morals in the Early Republic (New York, NY: University Press of America).
Steiner, Bernard (1907), The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry (Cleveland, OH: Burrow Brothers).
Steiner, Bernard (1921), One Hundred and Ten Years of Bible Society Work in Maryland, 1810-1920 (Baltimore, MD: The Maryland Bible Society).
Story, Joseph (1833), Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston, MA: Hillard, Gray, & Co.).
UpDegraph v. the Commonwealth (1824), 11 Serg. & Rawle 394; 1824 Pa. LEXIS 85.
Walberg, Peder, Martin McKee, Vladimir Shkolnikov, Laurent Chenet, David A. Leon (1998), "Economic Change, Crime, and Mortality Crisis in Russia: regional analysis," PovertyNet Library, [On-line], URL: http://poverty.worldbank.org/library/view/12740/.
Washington, George (1796), Farewell Address, [On-line], URL: http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/documents/farewell/transcript.html.
Webster, Noah (1832), History of the United States (New Haven, CT: Durrie & Peck).

From Jim McGuiggan... God's kingdom and Revelation 11.15-17

God's kingdom and Revelation 11.15-17

Whatever they make of the blowing of the seventh trumpet most commentators judge it to something that was future at the time John was writing the book of Revelation. I'm interested particularly in Revelation 11.15-17 which says this (NIV):
" 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.' And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, 'We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.' "
All the other versions agree with the sense given by the NIV in 11:17 that the Lord God Almighty took his great power and began to reign. The ingressive first aorist is in the indicative (ebasileusas) and follows God's act of taking his power. Of that a perfect is used (eleiphes), which in association with the finality of the reign of Jesus probably speaks of permanence; that is, God at this point once and for all took his power and began to reign.
This raises a series of questions only two of which I'm interested in here:
1) What does it mean that God "took his great power"?
2) How does it come that he "began" to reign at this point?
Both phrases seem to suggest that God was without power or kingly sovereignty prior to the blowing of the 7th trumpet. That impression is only a surface one and it is incorrect. God has never been without power and his kingly rule is unbroken from eternity to eternity.
For our purposes here it doesn't matter to me whether one believes that the 7th trumpet is sounded at the end of human history or at 70AD or any other date after the appearance of Jesus Christ. My own view is that it speaks of God's judgement on the Roman Empire as it is represented by the emperor Domitian; but for now that is of no consequence. What are we to make of the claim that at the sound of the 7th trumpet God "took his great power" and "began to reign"?
Since the Bible everywhere insists that God reigns without limit over all that there is and has always so reigned and will always so reign, how are we to understand the two phrases?
We are to take it that these are specific manifestations of that already existing power and royal sovereignty. The power God always had simply by virtue of his being God was exercised in a specific way. Whatever we make of the event(s) in view in the 7th trumpet it was not at that moment that God became Almighty or gained his almighty power. It was at that time that God expressed or showed or exhibited his almighty power.
Let's say we know beyond dispute what the 7th trumpet sounding meant. Let's call it X. The passage says that at X God took his great power and used it in a certain way to gain a certain object.
That act of God—his taking his almighty power—is further explained in the phrase "and began to reign." The idea that God had not already been reigning prior to X makes no biblical sense at all. It would certainly make sense if we were to say that God began to reign through a certain individual at X or that he began to exercise his dominion in a certain way, a way in which he hadn't been exercising it before or that he was publicly exhibiting his already existing reign. All those would make sense but to say that God was not reigning prior to X makes no sense! Bless me, nothing can exist or continue to exist if God doesn't enable it to exist (Revelation 4:10-11) so how can he be without power or royal sovereignty at any point?
So what is the passage not saying? The passage is not saying that God was without controlling power or kingly sovereignty prior to the sounding of the 7th trumpet. Yes, but the passage does say he began to reign at the sound of the 7th trumpet. This is true but we're faced with a choice between an actual beginning of the reign of God or a particular expression of the reign of God and there's no doubt in my mind which we are to go for.
11:15 tells us that at this point "the kingdom of the world" has become the kingdom of the Lord (and of his Christ). The empire that expressed the world spirit at this time was Rome (Revelation 17:9, 18) in keeping with Daniel 2 and 7. He who established these kingdoms on the earth (Babylon—Rome) promised that he would come in judgement on that four-fold structure and smite it in its Rome phase (be sure to see Daniel 2:31-45 and 7:1-27).
God's judgement on Rome was the public demonstration of God's sovereignty and not its beginning. It was God who raised up Rome (compare Daniel 4:17 with 2:37 and 7:2 with the wind as divine stirring) and when he judged her he was expressing the same sovereign power that he showed when he raised her up. So when we're told that the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of the Lord we're not to be fooled into thinking that it wasn't already under God's sovereign power. He did then what psalmists of old asked him to do over and over again when they asked deliverance from their enemies. They asked God to show his sovereign power over the nations. That's what happens in Revelation 11:15-17 in light of 6:9-11 and see 18:20 when the city of Rome is seen to be destroyed.
And as surely as we are not to think that God's reign over Rome began with Revelation 11:15-17 we are not to think Jesus' reign began at 11:15-17. Jesus had already been made Lord of All (Acts 2:36, Ephesians 1:19-22; 1 Peter 3:21-22; Philippians 2:9-11, and everywhere else) prior to the writing of the book of Revelation. But who believed it at the beginning? Rome and the nation of Israel had conspired against the Lord and his Christ (see Psalm 2:1-9 and Acts 4:25-28) but failed to keep Jesus off the throne of the universe under God. For their pains and in demonstration of their failure God judged both Israel and Rome. See the above link.
The 7th trumpet in Revelation 11, as you will notice, contains the 7 bowls (as the 7th seal contained the 7 trumpets) and the seven bowls are the full outpouring of the plagues of God on the Roman Empire (the images are taken from the plagues poured out on Egypt at which time God was vindicating his "son"—Israel, and confirming his reign over Egypt and the world). Rome that claimed to be the divine city and persecuted the city of God (the people of God) claimed universal dominion and God in judging her made a public proclamation that he had universal dominion and that he had invested it his Son, Jesus the Christ. 11:15-17 teaches us that what was already true was publicly demonstrated when God exercised his almighty power and made his sovereignty visible.


©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

From Gary... Bible Reading July 7





Bible Reading  

July 7

The World English Bible



July 7
2 Kings 7-9

2Ki 7:1 Elisha said, Hear the word of Yahweh. Thus says Yahweh, Tomorrow about this time a measure of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.
2Ki 7:2 Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if Yahweh should make windows in heaven, might this thing be? He said, Behold, you shall see it with your eyes, but shall not eat of it.
2Ki 7:3 Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die?
2Ki 7:4 If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there; and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall to the army of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die.
2Ki 7:5 They rose up in the twilight, to go to the camp of the Syrians; and when they were come to the outermost part of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no man there.
2Ki 7:6 For the Lord had made the army of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great army: and they said one to another, Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come on us.
2Ki 7:7 Therefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their donkeys, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.
2Ki 7:8 When these lepers came to the outermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and ate and drink, and carried there silver, and gold, and clothing, and went and hid it; and they came back, and entered into another tent, and carried there also, and went and hid it.
2Ki 7:9 Then they said one to another, We aren't doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we hold our peace: if we wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us; now therefore come, let us go and tell the king's household.
2Ki 7:10 So they came and called to the porter of the city; and they told them, saying, We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but the horses tied, and the donkeys tied, and the tents as they were.
2Ki 7:11 He called the porters; and they told it to the king's household within.
2Ki 7:12 The king arose in the night, and said to his servants, I will now show you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry; therefore are they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive, and get into the city.
2Ki 7:13 One of his servants answered, Please let some take five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city (behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel who are left in it; behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel who are consumed); and let us send and see.
2Ki 7:14 They took therefore two chariots with horses; and the king sent after the army of the Syrians, saying, Go and see.
2Ki 7:15 They went after them to the Jordan: and behold, all the way was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste. The messengers returned, and told the king.
2Ki 7:16 The people went out, and plundered the camp of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of Yahweh.
2Ki 7:17 The king appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned to be in charge of the gate: and the people trod on him in the gate, and he died as the man of God had said, who spoke when the king came down to him.
2Ki 7:18 It happened, as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be tomorrow about this time in the gate of Samaria;
2Ki 7:19 and that captain answered the man of God, and said, Now, behold, if Yahweh should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? and he said, Behold, you shall see it with your eyes, but shall not eat of it:
2Ki 7:20 it happened even so to him; for the people trod on him in the gate, and he died.
2Ki 8:1 Now Elisha had spoken to the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go, you and your household, and sojourn wherever you can sojourn: for Yahweh has called for a famine; and it shall also come on the land seven years.
2Ki 8:2 The woman arose, and did according to the word of the man of God; and she went with her household, and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.
2Ki 8:3 It happened at the seven years' end, that the woman returned out of the land of the Philistines: and she went forth to cry to the king for her house and for her land.
2Ki 8:4 Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Please tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.
2Ki 8:5 It happened, as he was telling the king how he had restored to life him who was dead, that behold, the woman, whose son he had restored to life, cried to the king for her house and for her land. Gehazi said, My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life.
2Ki 8:6 When the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed to her a certain officer, saying, Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now.
2Ki 8:7 Elisha came to Damascus; and Benhadad the king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come here.
2Ki 8:8 The king said to Hazael, Take a present in your hand, and go, meet the man of God, and inquire of Yahweh by him, saying, Shall I recover of this sickness?
2Ki 8:9 So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of every good thing of Damascus, forty camels' burden, and came and stood before him, and said, Your son Benhadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, Shall I recover of this sickness?
2Ki 8:10 Elisha said to him, Go, tell him, You shall surely recover; however Yahweh has shown me that he shall surely die.
2Ki 8:11 He settled his gaze steadfastly on him, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept.
2Ki 8:12 Hazael said, Why weeps my lord? He answered, Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: you will set their strongholds on fire, and you will their young men with the sword, and will dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their women with child.
2Ki 8:13 Hazael said, But what is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing? Elisha answered, Yahweh has shown me that you shall be king over Syria.
2Ki 8:14 Then he departed from Elisha, and came to his master; who said to him, What did Elisha say to you? He answered, He told me that you would surely recover.
2Ki 8:15 It happened on the next day, that he took the coverlet, and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his place.
2Ki 8:16 In the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign.
2Ki 8:17 Thirty-two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.
2Ki 8:18 He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab as wife; and he did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh.
2Ki 8:19 However Yahweh would not destroy Judah, for David his servant's sake, as he promised him to give to him a lamp for his children always.
2Ki 8:20 In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves.
2Ki 8:21 Then Joram passed over to Zair, and all his chariots with him: and he rose up by night, and struck the Edomites who surrounded him, and the captains of the chariots; and the people fled to their tents.
2Ki 8:22 So Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah to this day. Then did Libnah revolt at the same time.
2Ki 8:23 The rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
2Ki 8:24 Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David; and Ahaziah his son reigned in his place.
2Ki 8:25 In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah begin to reign.
2Ki 8:26 Twenty-two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Athaliah the daughter of Omri king of Israel.
2Ki 8:27 He walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, as did the house of Ahab; for he was the son-in-law of the house of Ahab.
2Ki 8:28 He went with Joram the son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramoth Gilead: and the Syrians wounded Joram.
2Ki 8:29 King Joram returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Syria. Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick.
2Ki 9:1 Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said to him, Gird up your waist, and take this vial of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth Gilead.
2Ki 9:2 When you come there, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brothers, and carry him to an inner chamber.
2Ki 9:3 Then take the vial of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus says Yahweh, I have anointed you king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee, and don't wait.
2Ki 9:4 So the young man, even the young man the prophet, went to Ramoth Gilead.
2Ki 9:5 When he came, behold, the captains of the army were sitting; and he said, I have a message for you, captain. Jehu said, To which of us all? He said, To you, O captain.
2Ki 9:6 He arose, and went into the house; and he poured the oil on his head, and said to him, Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, I have anointed you king over the people of Yahweh, even over Israel.
2Ki 9:7 You shall strike the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of Yahweh, at the hand of Jezebel.
2Ki 9:8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; and I will cut off from Ahab everyone who urinates against a wall, and him who is shut up and him who is left at large in Israel.
2Ki 9:9 I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah.
2Ki 9:10 The dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. He opened the door, and fled.
2Ki 9:11 Then Jehu came forth to the servants of his lord: and one said to him, "Is all well? Why did this mad fellow come to you?" He said to them, "You know the man and what his talk was."
2Ki 9:12 They said, "That is a lie. Tell us now." He said, Thus and thus spoke he to me, saying, Thus says Yahweh, I have anointed you king over Israel.
2Ki 9:13 Then they hurried, and took every man his garment, and put it under him on the top of the stairs, and blew the trumpet, saying, Jehu is king.
2Ki 9:14 So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi conspired against Joram. (Now Joram was keeping Ramoth Gilead, he and all Israel, because of Hazael king of Syria;
2Ki 9:15 but king Joram was returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him, when he fought with Hazael king of Syria.) Jehu said, If this is your thinking, then let no one escape and go out of the city, to go to tell it in Jezreel.
2Ki 9:16 So Jehu rode in a chariot, and went to Jezreel; for Joram lay there. Ahaziah king of Judah was come down to see Joram.
2Ki 9:17 Now the watchman was standing on the tower in Jezreel, and he spied the company of Jehu as he came, and said, I see a company. Joram said, Take a horseman, and send to meet them, and let him say, Is it peace?
2Ki 9:18 So there went one on horseback to meet him, and said, Thus says the king, Is it peace? Jehu said, What have you to do with peace? Fall in behind me! The watchman told, saying, The messenger came to them, but he isn't coming back.
2Ki 9:19 Then he sent out a second on horseback, who came to them, and said, Thus says the king, Is it peace? Jehu answered, What have you to do with peace? Fall in behind me!
2Ki 9:20 The watchman told, saying, He came even to them, and isn't coming back: and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he drives furiously.
2Ki 9:21 Joram said, Make ready. They made ready his chariot. Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot, and they went out to meet Jehu, and found him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite.
2Ki 9:22 It happened, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? He answered, What peace, so long as the prostitution of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft abound?
2Ki 9:23 Joram turned his hands, and fled, and said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, Ahaziah.
2Ki 9:24 Jehu drew his bow with his full strength, and struck Joram between his arms; and the arrow went out at his heart, and he sunk down in his chariot.
2Ki 9:25 Then said Jehu to Bidkar his captain, Take up, and cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite; for remember how that, when you and I rode together after Ahab his father, Yahweh laid this burden on him:
2Ki 9:26 Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, says Yahweh; and I will repay you in this plot of ground, says Yahweh. Now therefore take and cast him onto the plot of ground, according to the word of Yahweh.
2Ki 9:27 But when Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled by the way of the garden house. Jehu followed after him, and said, Smite him also in the chariot: and they struck him at the ascent of Gur, which is by Ibleam. He fled to Megiddo, and died there.
2Ki 9:28 His servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his tomb with his fathers in the city of David.
2Ki 9:29 In the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab began Ahaziah to reign over Judah.
2Ki 9:30 When Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her eyes, and attired her head, and looked out at the window.
2Ki 9:31 As Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Do you come in peace, Zimri, you murderer of your master?
2Ki 9:32 He lifted up his face to the window, and said, Who is on my side? who? There looked out to him two or three eunuchs.
2Ki 9:33 He said, Throw her down. So they threw her down; and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trod her under foot.
2Ki 9:34 When he was come in, he ate and drink; and he said, See now to this cursed woman, and bury her; for she is a king's daughter.
2Ki 9:35 They went to bury her; but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands.
2Ki 9:36 Therefore they came back, and told him. He said, This is the word of Yahweh, which he spoke by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall the dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel;
2Ki 9:37 and the body of Jezebel shall be as dung on the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel, so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel.



Jul. 6, 7
Acts 6

Act 6:1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, a complaint arose from the Hellenists against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily service.
Act 6:2 The twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not appropriate for us to forsake the word of God and serve tables.
Act 6:3 Therefore select from among you, brothers, seven men of good report, full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
Act 6:4 But we will continue steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the word."
Act 6:5 These words pleased the whole multitude. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch;
Act 6:6 whom they set before the apostles. When they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
Act 6:7 The word of God increased and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly. A great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Act 6:8 Stephen, full of faith and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.
Act 6:9 But some of those who were of the synagogue called "The Libertines," and of the Cyrenians, of the Alexandrians, and of those of Cilicia and Asia arose, disputing with Stephen.
Act 6:10 They weren't able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.
Act 6:11 Then they secretly induced men to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God."
Act 6:12 They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, and came against him and seized him, and brought him in to the council,
Act 6:13 and set up false witnesses who said, "This man never stops speaking blasphemous words against this holy place and the law.
Act 6:14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us."
Act 6:15 All who sat in the council, fastening their eyes on him, saw his face like it was the face of an angel.