12/4/15

From Mark Copeland... "JESUS, THE WAY" Jesus, The Way To God


                            "JESUS, THE WAY"

                         Jesus, The Way To God

INTRODUCTION

1. In the last lesson, we saw that by His death on the cross, Jesus made
   possible the forgiveness of our sins

2. When our sins are forgiven, we are no longer the objects of God's
   wrath - Ro 5:9

3. As wonderful as being justified by the blood of Jesus may be, we need
   more than this...we need the kind of close friendship that existed
   between God and Adam before the "Fall"

4. But if a close relationship is to exist between God and ourselves, we
   must understand God and feel comfortable in approaching Him

[When we contemplate the difference between God and man, we can see that
this is not easy...]

I. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOD AND MAN

   A. CONSIDER THE DIFFERENCE...
      1. When we consider the nature of God as revealed in the Bible and
         nature, we see:
         a. One with unlimited power, unlimited wisdom, unlimited
            holiness
         b. One who is the creator of all things, the sustainer of all
            things, the knower of all things
         c. One who is eternal, immortal, and invisible
         d. Indeed, this Supreme Being fills the entire universe with
            His presence - Jer 23:23-24
      2. On the other hand, man is...
         a. Mortal, finite in knowledge and understanding
         b. The created one, sustained by God who supplies all his needs
            - cf. Ac 17:24-28

   B. THE DIFFERENCE IS OVERWHELMING...
      1. The difference between God and man is so great, it ought to
         overwhelm man with awe
      2. Note the reflections of David as expressed in Psalms 
         - cf. Psa 139:1-12
      3. In the Bible, whenever man came even close to approaching God
         in His Glory, it was terrifying!
         a. E.g., when God first spoke to Moses, he was afraid 
            - cf. Exo 3:6
         b. E.g., the Israelites at Mount Sinai were terrified 
            - cf. Exo 20:18-21
      4. How then can man hope to comprehend God and approach Him in a
         close relationship during this life?
      5. This difficulty was experienced and expressed by Job 
         - cf. Job 9:32-33

[But what may have been true in Job's day (that there is no "daysman",
or "mediator") is no longer true today!  Jesus is the means by which man
can comprehend God and also approach Him in such a way as to enjoy a
loving relationship with Him!  Let's see how...]

II. HOW JESUS IS THE WAY TO GOD

   A. BY HELPING US COMPREHEND GOD...
      1. In coming to this earth, Jesus declared or manifested God to us
         - Jn 1:18
      2. How was Jesus able to "declare" (manifest) God?
         a. For one thing, He came to this earth from God, and is the
            only one who has truly seen Him - Jn 6:46
         b. But also, He is God Himself!  - cf. Jn 1:1-2
            1) Who is this "Word" that was with God and was God?
            2) The One who came in the flesh! - cf. Jn 1:14
            3) The "Word" was Jesus!
      3. Therefore, it is in seeing Jesus that we are able to comprehend
         the Father
         a. Just as Jesus told His disciples - Jn 14:7
         b. In similar fashion, the apostles of Jesus proclaimed that He
            was the complete manifestation of God - Col 2:9; He 1:1-3
      4. Yes, it is in Jesus that God is revealed in terms that mortal,
         finite man can comprehend and personally relate to
         a. Therefore, as we study the gospels, we see Jesus and His
            attributes (power, wisdom, holiness, love, mercy, divine
            wrath)
         b. As we see Jesus, we see God and His attributes!

   [But Jesus also provides the way to God...]

   B. BY HELPING US APPROACH GOD...
      1. This we touched upon in our previous lesson
      2. How that by offering Himself as a propitiation for our sins
         Jesus has made it possible for a sinful man to approach God who
         is supremely holy and just
      3. Jesus helps us to approach God in yet another way, as our High
         Priest in heaven
         a. Though Jesus was truly God (as stated by John and Paul), by
            becoming man He fully understands our difficulties - He 4:
            14-15
         b. With such a wonderful high priest, One who is both God and
            has been man, Jesus makes it possible for us to approach God
            with great confidence - He 4:16

[Yes, through Jesus we can both comprehend God and approach God, making
it possible to have a close relationship with our Heavenly Father,
enjoying all the blessings such a relationship provides!

To better appreciate the beauty of this relationship available with God
through Jesus, let's briefly notice some terms used in the New Testament
to describe this relationship...]

III. TERMS USED TO DESCRIBE THOSE WHO ARE IN JESUS

   A. A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR HEAVENLY FATHER...
      1. First, there are terms which proclaim a special relationship
         with our Heavenly Father
      2. E.g., we are called the "children" of God - Ga 3:26; 4:6-7
      3. Also, we are called the "house" (family) of God - 1Ti 3:15

   B. A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A HOLY, SUPREME BEING...
      1. There are also terms which proclaim a special relationship with
         a Holy, Supreme Being
      2. One describes us as a special dwelling place of God:  the
         "temple" of God - 2Co 6:16
      3. Another speaks of our role in service to God:  a "royal
         priesthood" - 1Pe 2:5,9

CONCLUSION

1. Other terms might be considered, but these suffice to show that it is
   possible for those who were once lost in sin to enjoy a new,
   personal, intimate and fulfilling relationship with the Majestic God
   in heaven!

2. And what a wonderful relationship it is! One that offers promises
   that overwhelm you; for example, this one where God promises:

         "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (He 13:5)

3. But let us be clear in our understanding...
   a. Jesus is the "The Way", the only way to God - Jn 14:6
   b. Only those in Jesus have the assurance of enjoying this wonderful
      relationship with God!
   c. How can we be sure that we are in Jesus, and as such the children
      of God?

4. By taking to heart and life the truth of God's Word...!
   a. E.g., becoming the children of God through faith and baptism 
      - Ga 3:26-27
   b. E.g., remaining the children of God by abiding faithfully in the
      teachings of Christ - 2Jn 9

Have you become a child of God by receiving Christ in faith and baptism?
If not, why not today?

If you have, are you maintaining your relationship with both the Father
and the Son by abiding in the doctrine of Christ? If not, why not be
restored to God today (through repentance and prayer)?

Only in so doing can you let Jesus be your way to God!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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The Origin of Peoples by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=115

The Origin of Peoples

by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.

As we look among the peoples of the world—from the Inuit to the !Kung, from the Norwegian to the Greek, and from the Indian to the Tutsi—we see a mind-boggling array of skin color, hair type, stature, and facial features. On top of all that physical diversity, we must add differences in culture and language. With technological advances, humans have lived (if only for a short time) at the South Pole, on the peaks of the Himalayas, and beyond Earth itself. Even before the advent of modern science, we have occupied the remotest islands, the driest deserts, and the coldest steppes. It is difficult to imagine any other creature that has been so successful at colonizing so many different parts of this planet (we’ll give the cockroach its due!).
For all these differences, we constitute a single, biological species. Men and women with roots in different continents meet, marry, and have healthy families. This unity frustrates any attempt to parcel the world’s populations into distinct subspecies or races. We perceive great diversity because our brain is so cleverly designed to detect patterns and distinguish among individuals of our own kind. Such heightened perception of the human form is something we cannot ignore, and shapes a host of psychological responses such as physical attraction and group identity. Still, at the biological level, this variation reflects minute differences in our genetic code. We see a few of these in our physical appearance, but find many more only at the cellular or molecular level. One person may have resistance to a particular disease, while another is able to digest milk as an adult. Whether on the inside or outside, the combination of many subtle differences makes you and me stand out as individuals within a group, and our similarities identify us with humanity as a whole.
How did these differences arise? Like Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories, we could spin all sorts of tales to explain why different peoples are the way they are. We could tell a story about how the Scandinavians became tall, and another story about how they became light-skinned. The goal for this traditional Darwinian approach is to answer the following question: How does a particular trait enhance survival value, or enable the production of more offspring? One anthropology textbook emphasizes the “pervasiveness of adaptation in the microevolution (small-scale differentiation) of man” (Keesing and Keesing, 1971, p. 51). As we will see, this turns out to be more of a hope than a claim based on evidence.
There is the assumption, also, that we need a lot of time to explain human variation because evolution works at a steady, snail’s pace. Charles Darwin took this as a matter of principle, but not all evolutionists agree. A few dissenters, citing examples from the fossil record, believe that species arise during brief moments of intense change, rather than by slow accumulation of new features (e.g., Eldredge, 1985, pp. 21-22). So, too, within human populations, distinct groups might arise during significant natural or cultural events. In addition, more evolutionists are expressing concern about the “molecular clock.” This was supposed to represent the rate at which genetic differences have accumulated in two related species. However, the calculation depends on knowing the date of the presumed common ancestor. Not everyone may agree on this date, or even on whether the two species are closely related. In any case, evolutionists assume that humans have diverged from each other at about the same rate we diverged from chimpanzees—our supposed closest relative. However, a closer look at families of known lineage has revealed mutation rates that are almost twenty times higher than previous estimates (Gibbons, 1998). The upshot is this: we cannot trust the Darwinists’ intuitions on the time it would take to produce the differences we see in human populations. The rate may be neither slow, nor steady.
For the moment, I would like to set aside the question of time (but see my sidebar article), and focus on the biological bases for some of the differences that have arisen among our kind.

IN LIVING COLOR

The difference we tend to notice most is coloration, which depends almost entirely on the relative abundance of melanin. This is a pigment of the hair, skin, and irises. It seems to play a role in protecting the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Exposure to the Sun increases melanin, causing that tanning effect so prized by light-skinned Westerners. At first glance, it looks as if the inhabitants of equatorial regions, where sunlight bears down with the greatest intensity, would have the most melanin. After all, sub-Saharan Africans, and Australian Aborigines, have more melanin than northern Europeans.
Around 1913, Charles Davenport suggested that humans carried two genes for color, and that each gene consisted of “black” or “white” alleles (one allele from the mother, and one from the father, for each gene). Hence, our coloration depends on the number of black and white alleles we received from our parents. Davenport noted correctly that children inherit these genes independently of other characteristics, such as straight versus curly hair. This explains why albino Papuans look different from albino Scots.
As usual, the advance of science has revealed a far more complicated story. Geneticists now believe that almost half a dozen genes have a significant effect on pigmentation (Wills, 1994, pp. 78-79). These genes reside in the nucleus of every cell in our body, along with copies of all the other genes we inherited from our parents. However, color genes express themselves in only one place—the melanocytes. These are specialized skin cells that have a monopoly on melanin production. Each melanocyte is an incredibly complex chemical factory, transforming raw materials into granules of melanin, which it delivers to neighboring cells.
Also, there is more to the making of skin color than turning genes on or off to make black, white, and a couple of shades in between. We all possess the essential ingredients for making melanin; all of uscould be black or brown (the only exceptions are albinos, whose bodies make no melanin at all). Actual coloration varies according to the pigment package delivered by the melanocytes. The end product depends not only on slight genetic differences, but also on environmental stimuli (such as exposure to strong ultraviolet radiation).
The story does not end there. Skin also includes keratin—a fibrous protein that contributes to the toughness of the skin, and which grows to form nails and hair. Because this substance has a relatively high concentration of sulfur, it adds a yellow hue to our palette of skin colors. Asians (especially from the Far East) happen to have an extra thick layer of keratin which, when combined with melanin, contributes to the yellow-brown color of their skin.
The science of genetics helps us understand how small changes can account for the rainbow of human coloration. Truly, when we consider the magnitude of these differences at the genetic level, our obsession with skin color seems blown out of proportion.

NATURAL SELECTION AND HUMAN VARIATION

We know that there are variations in features such as skin color. Why, or how, did these variations arise? As noted earlier, a knee-jerk response is to invoke natural selection, but there are a few good Darwinian tales.
For instance, around 40% of the people in equatorial Africa carry an abnormal hemoglobin gene that deforms red blood cells into a crescent or sickle shape. Anyone who carries this trait, plus a normal copy of the gene, may appear to have the best of both worlds. For a start, the normal gene is dominant, and so counteracts the recessive mutated gene. Then, if malarial parasites invade the red blood cells, there is a tendency for the cells to deform and die, along with their unwanted guests. Unfortunately, people who have two copies of the abnormal gene develop sickle-cell anemia, and will die an early death unless they have access to good medical treatment. Finally, anyone not “lucky” enough to inherit the abnormal gene has no anemia, but no immunity from malaria either.
Of course, the picture is not all rosy for the people who carry just one copy of the sickle-cell gene. If they marry another carrier, some of the children could inherit two bad copies, and suffer from sickle-cell disease (see diagram below). With this in mind, it is callous to speak of the sickle-cell trait as a “good” or “beneficial” mutation. Nonetheless, the trait persists because the threat of death from malaria appears to outweigh the threat of death from sickle-cell anemia. In this instance, nature may have preserved a particular trait because it confers a survival advantage.
Sickle-cell genetics
Sickle-cell genetics: In this example, two parents each have a normal (Hb A) and an abnormal (Hb S) hemoglobin allele. There is a 1 in 4 chance that a child will have normal hemoglobin (Hb A/Hb A), a 1 in 2 chance that a child will be a carrier for the sickle-cell trait (Hb A/Hb S), and a 1 in 4 chance that a child will have sickle-cell anemia (Hb S/Hb S).
For most variations that give human populations their distinctive characteristics, it is difficult to know what forces of selection have been at work. For instance, scientists used to think that the Pygmy people of southern Africa were short because food was scarce. Further studies show normal levels of growth hormone, but reveal a genetic defect that prevents their bodies from using the hormone to its fullest extent (Fackelmann, 1989). But the question is this: Did nature select this mutation because it offered survival advantages, or did this characteristic arise as a result of random variation?
The answer is not so obvious, because we know so many exceptions to the rules of natural selection. Take the Japanese, for instance. Their teenagers are considerably taller than their grandparents ever were. The difference is a matter of improving diet, not genetics. For hundreds of years, the people of Japan have survived without nature’s selecting mutations for smaller stature. So how do we know that a scarce food supply was responsible for the survival of growth-limiting changes in the Pygmy?
The list of just-so stories is endless. Why are the Inuit relatively short and bulky? Because this helps them retain heat. Why are some groups in Africa relatively tall and slender? Because this helps them lose heat. In each case, we could list a dozen exceptions. What about those tall peoples who have survived quite well in cold areas, like the Dutch? And what about those short peoples who have done just fine in hot areas, like the Pygmies?
If Africans have less hair to keep them cooler, as some have suggested (Folger, 1993), then how have Asians done so well in cold climates with relatively little body hair? Asians also have an epicanthic fold—an extra layer of skin on the upper eyelid. We could spin a story about their eyes adapting to the winds of the Mongolian steppes, or the bright glare of snow. Even so, is this enough? Are variations in the structure of the eyelid a matter of life and death? Were individuals who had this epicanthic fold much more likely to survive than those who lacked it?
Similar questions confront the origins of skin color. Precisely how has natural selection worked to preserve dark and light skin coloring? The traditional explanation makes what seems to be a sensible link between the strong sunlight of the tropics, and the protective powers of melanin. Natural selection, so the argument goes, has favored the survival of dark-skinned people in equatorial areas. If light-skinned people lived in the tropics, they would suffer from higher rates of skin cancer. Then what prevented Africans from migrating to higher latitudes? The answer, we are told, lies in vitamin D. To make this important substance, humans need exposure to ultraviolet light. If people in higher latitudes were too dark, their skin would not be able to make enough vitamin D. A shortage of vitamin D results in rickets, which has a severe effect on bone development. So everything works out perfectly: light people get a little melanin to avoid rickets; and dark people get a lot of melanin to avoid skin cancer. Whatever the explanation, many researchers remain convinced that some sort of evolutionary process must be responsible for lighter and darker strains of humans (see Wills, 1994, p. 80).
The story seems less plausible, however, when we try to imagine how selection might have worked. For instance, skin cancer is deadly; it is something that afflicts lighter-skinned people who spend much time in strong sunlight. People of European ancestry living in the sunny climes of Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii suffer the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. As we look back in history, however, the danger of dying from basal cell carcinomas and melanomas hardly would compare to the vagaries of childhood diseases, plagues, strife, starvation, and natural hazards. It is hard to imagine that in a mixed population of light-and dark-skinned people living near the tropics, evolution selected the traits for dark skin because cancer gradually eliminated their lighter-skinned neighbors.
Unlike the skin cancer scenario, the ability to produce sufficient vitamin D is a definite survival advantage. However, exposure to the Sun is not an absolute requirement. Oils from cod, halibut, sardines, salmon, and mackerel provide a rich source of vitamin D (Sackheim and Lehman, 1994, p. 516). Not surprisingly, such fish figure prominently in the diets of Scandinavians and the Inuit. With the right foods, they are able to overcome a disadvantage of living in areas where the Sun is weaker, and in which the cold climate dictates many layers of protective clothing.
Still, this does not explain why Africans remained in tropical zones. They could have moved northward, and endured doses of cod liver oil as much as any European child. Today, thanks to vitamin supplements, people of African descent survive in England and Canada without a high incidence of rickets. When we look to the original population of the Americas, the story blurs altogether. People of brownish complexion live across every climatic zone, from Alaska in the north to Tierra del Fuego in the south. Apparently, no mechanism has been at work to sort skin color by latitude.
There are many other problems with the climatic theory of skin color (Diamond, 1992, pp. 114-117), and still, we have barely touched the rich storehouse of human variety. Perhaps apparently neutral characteristics will turn out to have some survival advantage (Patterson, 1978, p. 70). For example, researchers have found a correlation between ABO blood groups and resistance (or susceptibility) to different diseases. Further, blood groups seem to have a strong geographic distribution. We may discover that a particular blood type became concentrated in a region where it offered a slightly better chance of survival. On this point, however, all we have so far is another Kiplingesque story. No doubt, natural selection has had some impact on human history, but it seems largely inadequate to explain a good portion of the variations that exist between different human populations.

THE MAKING OF A PEOPLE

If natural selection has played a minor role in human history, then how do we explain the range of observed features? One possible mechanism is a phenomenon known as the “founder effect.” We see this most often in small, isolated communities that have an unusually high incidence of rare, inherited disorders (Diamond, 1988, p. 12). After some genealogical detective work, medical researchers are able to trace their patients’ ancestries to a single couple or a small group of close relatives—the founders. This seems to be the case with French Canadians, particularly those of eastern Quebec, whose ancestors emigrated from the Perche region of France in the 17th century. Small pioneering groups, together with early marriages, large families, and isolation, have created a pronounced founder effect. One study found that only 15% of the settlers contributed 90% of the genetic characteristics in people suffering from one or more of five genetic disorders (Heyer and Tremblay, 1995).
Settlers
Pioneers in Chicoutimi (c. 1886), which is now the modern administrative center of Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean. This part of Quebec was settled by a few, closely related families. Today, 9 or 10 rare genetic diseases are relatively common among the people of the region.
It is only natural that much of our information on founder effects should come from the study of debilitating, and often fatal, diseases. If medical researchers can pin the problem to a faulty gene, then this may suggest a treatment or cure. Also, genetic testing can tell prospective parents whether they will pass these mutations on to their children. If the effects of the disease will come later in life, people may want to start certain medical treatments, or make changes in diets, that will ease or delay the worst symptoms.
However, the record books include a few cases not related directly to diseases. In a now classic study, H. Bentley Glass (1953) found that the Dunkers—a community of German Baptist Brethren in Pennsylvania’s Franklin County—are, in most respects, very similar to other people of European descent. Their religious customs require them to dress a certain way, and marry within the community, but otherwise their physical appearance is not unusual. Although there have been some outside marriages, most of the surviving members are descended from fifty families that emigrated from Germany in the early 1700s. Glass found that the frequencies of blood types and other genetic traits among the Dunkers differ from the frequencies of these features among U.S. and German populations. It seems unlikely that any selective forces were in operation to favor the survival of Dunkers with blood group A, for instance. Therefore, Glass concluded, the founding population of Dunkers included, purely by chance, an unusually high proportion of people with blood group A.
The founder effect itself is part of a broader concept known as genetic drift, which occurs anytime the frequency of a genetic trait changes within a population. If, in the case of the founder effect, the emigrating group carries a set of unique or rare traits, then those traits will be that much harder to find among the people who stay behind. In other words, there will be a drift away from those characteristics.
In some cases, a highly prolific individual or family may skew the genes of a relatively diverse population, and this may occur in combination with some other form of genetic drift, such as the founder effect. For example, groups of Ashkenazic Jews moved eastward out of Germany in the 17th century, and were isolated culturally from the surrounding population. Several rare inherited disorders, such as Tay-Sachs disease, afflict this group at high rates. Evolutionists have thought this to be a sign of natural selection at work. Perhaps the population hung on to these genes because they offered some survival advantage, such as resistance to tuberculosis and other maladies of the crowded ghettos in which they lived (Diamond, 1991). However, Neil Risch believes otherwise, at least in the case of idiopathic torsion dystonia, which occurs at a rate of one in three thousand among the Ashkenazim today (Glausiusz, 1995). First, migration patterns favor genetic drift via the founder effect in these people. And second, historical records show that wealthier couples had more children. If a mutation arose in one of these families, as Risch infers from the genetic data, then it could become more frequent in later generations. This is a matter of misfortune, not adaptation.
Of all the forms of genetic drift, population bottlenecks are the most dramatic. Typically, these occur when wars, natural disasters, epidemics, and other catastrophes wipe out all but a small remnant of the original population. For instance, a flood could drown an entire tribe, except for a fortunate few in a remote village. These survivors would bequeath their genetic characteristics to subsequent generations. If there were a high degree of relatedness among the survivors, then their descendents may appear quite distinct from neighboring peoples. Of course, the Bible shows the Flood of Noah to be the greatest bottleneck of all time. According to the Genesis account, all of us must trace our ancestry to Noah’s three sons and their wives.
Finally, another piece of the puzzle may be mate selection. We are quick to point out the ways in which we differ from our spouse, and we see a positive side to that. “Opposites attract,” so the saying goes, but the Beach Boys knew better. “I seen all kinds of girls,” the Californian band harmonized, but “I wish they all could be California girls.” Underneath the superficial differences lie the grand similarities. Not always, but more often than not, we marry someone who grew up nearby, speaks the same language, and belongs to the same cultural, religious, social, and political group (Diamond, 1992, pp. 99-109). The result is a barrier, obvious or otherwise, that may exist between two neighboring peoples, or even between groups who live cheek-by-jowl.

THE BIBLICAL VIEW

Evolutionists may argue that an explanation for human diversity simply is unavailable to anyone who adopts a literal interpretation of the Bible. They may reason that creationists have no access to any mechanism that would cause change, because this means accepting evolution. This is a common misunderstanding. Creationists object, not to microevolution, but to macroevolution. One works by natural selection acting on mutations to create limited variation; the other assumes unlimited variation. One seems to work; the other is highly problematic. For our present purposes, we need account only for variation on a small scale, and within a single species at that. There is no reason to eliminate adaptation out of hand, especially as it seems to work in cases like sickle-cell anemia.
Further, many evolutionists imagine an entirely Darwinian plot. This may seem to threaten the biblical view on the grounds of time, assuming that adaptation implies a slow, gradual process. Not everyone agrees on this tempo of change and, certainly, genetic studies are revealing ample non-Darwinian strategies.
The key biblical event must be the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). Up to this point, as far as we can tell, three lines of descent were living in close proximity, and then a miracle occurred. God gave them different languages so they could not work together on the Tower (11:7). They could have dug their heels into the rich soil of the Fertile Crescent, and trained a few good translators, but God “scattered them abroad” (11:8).
We cannot be sure on what basis the partitioning occurred. In the Table of Nations (Genesis 10), each line of descent appears by family and language, according to their lands and nations (10:5,20,31). It seems most likely, therefore, that the division occurred by the principal family units present at the time of the confusion and dispersion. This corresponds to the time of Peleg, in whose days “the earth was divided” (10:25). It is at this point that the mechanisms described earlier must come into full force. If the human population scattered over the face of the Earth, then there was a sudden outpouring of founding groups. Each extended family, isolated from others by language, would carry its own set of genes into the world. From these groups, and within these groups, developed the peoples of the world.

REFERENCES

Diamond, Jared (1988), “Founding Fathers and Mothers,” Natural History, 97[6]:10-15, June.
Diamond, Jared (1991), “Curse and Blessing of the Ghetto,” Discover, 12[3]:60-61, March.
Diamond, Jared (1992), The Third Chimpanzee (New York: HarperCollins).
Eldredge, Niles (1985), Time Frames: The Evolution of Punctuated Equilibria (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Fackelmann, K.A. (1989), “Pygmy Paradox Prompts a Short Answer,” Science News, 136[2]:22, July 8.
Folger, Tim (1993), “The Naked and the Bipedal,” Discover, 14[1]:34-35, November.
Gibbons, Ann (1998), “Calibrating the Mitochondrial Clock,” Science, 279:28-29, January 2.
Glass, H. Bentley (1953), “The Genetics of the Dunkers,” Scientific American, August. Reprinted inHuman Variation and Origins (San Francisco, CA: W.H. Freeman), pp. 200-204.
Glausiusz, Josie (1995), “Unfortunate Drift,” Discover, 16[6]:34-35, June.
Heyer, E. and M. Tremblay (1995), “Variability of the Genetic Contribution of Quebec Population Founders Associated to Some Deleterious Genes,” American Journal of Human Genetics, 56[4]:970-978.
Keesing, Roger M. and Felix M. Keesing (1971), New Perspectives in Cultural Anthropology (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston).
Patterson, Colin (1978), Evolution (London: British Museum/Cornell University Press).
Sackheim, George I. and Dennis D. Lehman (1994), Chemistry for the Health Sciences (New York: Macmillan).
Wills, Christopher (1994), “The Skin We’re In,” Discover, 15[11]:76-81, November.

Shrewbot’s Synthetic Whiskers Detect God by Kyle Butt, M.A.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=4210

Shrewbot’s Synthetic Whiskers Detect God

by Kyle Butt, M.A.


Tiny shrews use their whiskers to locate prey and navigate.
The Etruscan pygmy shrew is a contender for the smallest mammal in the world. But its diminutive size does not detract from its amazing design. Since this little critter is blind, it must rely on its whiskers to navigate and find food. The whiskers of this tiny shrew are highly sensitive and extremely efficient. In fact, the shrew’s whiskers work so well that researchers have been studying them in an attempt to equip robots with similar technology.
Robotics experts from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in England have been working on a new machine they call Shrewbot. Shrewbot is a small robot fitted with synthetic whiskers that mimic those of the Etruscan shew (Moon, 2012). The primary advantage of this “touchy” technology is that the bot does not rely on vision. Researchers suggest that the sense of touch will enable the bot to explore “dark, dangerous or smoke filled environments” (2012).
When scientists copy designs in nature, it is called biomimicry. At Apologetics Press, we have written several articles about this field of research (see Biomimicry). Each new instance of this practice underscores the intelligent design within the natural world. The implication is simple. If brilliant scientists find complex, proficient designs in nature that are more efficient than any man-made designs, then the Designer of the natural world must be more intelligent than any human designer. It is ironic that one of the world’s smallest mammals provides such a “big” piece of evidence for the existence of God—the Intelligent Designer.

REFERENCES

Biomimicry, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&topic=66.
Moon, Mariella (2012), “How the Etruscan Pygmy Shrew Inspired a Bewhiskered Disaster Relief Robot,” http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/technology-blog/etruscan-pygmy-shrew-inspired-bewhiskered-disaster-relief-robot-154004920.html.

Evolution and the Blame Game by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=1403

Evolution and the Blame Game

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Adam blamed Eve (Genesis 3:12). Eve blamed Satan (3:13). The Israelites blamed Moses (Exodus 14:10-12). Saul blamed the Israelites (1 Samuel 15:15). Ahab blamed Elijah (1 Kings 18:17-18). Since the beginning of time, man has sought to shun personal responsibility by shifting blame elsewhere for his sinful actions. Children pick up on this early in life as they frequently look to siblings for a way out of trouble. “Ricky made me do it....” “Rachel started it....” “Lance dared me to....” Normally, discussions on shifting culpability to others are negative in nature. Blameworthy individuals who refuse to admit their wrongdoings are acting sinfully and irresponsibly (1 John 1:8-10; cf. 2 Samuel 12:13). Among atheistic evolutionists, however, the blameworthy become the blameless; anything and everything can be chocked up to “the overpowering forces of evolutionary genes.”
In 2000, Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer authored A Natural History of Rape in which they alleged that “[e]volutionary theory applies to rape, as it does to other areas of human affairs, on both logical and evidentiary grounds. There is no legitimate scientific reason not to apply evolutionary or ultimate hypotheses to rape” (p. 55). They continued: “Human rape arises from men’s evolved machinery for obtaining a high number of mates in an environment where females choose mates” (p. 190, emp. added). Although Thornhill and Palmer “would like to see rape eradicated from human life” (p. xi), they are forced to conclude, in essence, that nothing is ultimately wrong with the practice (see Butt, 2005 for more discussion).
Fast forward six years to the 2006 meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Prague, Czech Republic. According to the society’s official Web site, evolutionist Dr. Laurence Shaw argued that teenage sexual promiscuity and subsequent pregnancy should be accepted as normal since they are simply “consequences of evolution” (“Teenage...,” 2006). He stated:
[B]efore we condemn our teenagers for having sex behind the bike sheds and becoming pregnant, we should remember that this is a natural response by these girls to their rising fertility levels. Society may ‘tut, tut’ about them, but their actions are part of an evolutionary process that goes back nearly two million years; whilst their behaviour may not fit with Western society’s expectations, it is perhaps useful to consider it in the wider context (“Teenage...,” emp. added).
Allegedly, when pre-marital sexual relations and teenage pregnancy are examined in view of the “wider context,” namely, our alleged evolutionary heritage, they are perceived simply as natural, normal, and acceptable. That is, pre-marital sex is not wrong, and teenage pregnancy is not a blight on society.
Dr. Shaw’s comments are just another example of how destructive evolutionary thought really is when taken to its logical conclusion. If there is no God, and man evolved from slime, then there are no universal, timeless, moral truths. Right and wrong exist only in a world where an infinite, eternal, Almighty God exists. If our alleged mammalian, reptilian, and amphibian ancestors did not restrain themselves sexually, why should we? If our supposed ape-like ancestors could mate whenever, wherever, and with whomever, without feeling a twinge of guilt, so can we! What’s more, to criticize individuals for acting a certain way (i.e., engaging in pre-marital sexual relations) is intolerable and reveals a lack of intelligence. Dr. Shaw even mocked those who “condemn” sexual promiscuity and teenage pregnancy by saying they “tut, tut” about something without sufficient awareness of the past.
Although Christians increasingly are viewed as unenlightened and shallow minded, they actually are the ones who understand where irrational, atheistic evolutionary thought ultimately leads. If sexual relations outside of marriage are merely “natural” and “part of an evolutionary process,” then what about the many other things man may desire to do? It may be “natural” for a person to covet (and take) what another possess. Stronger animals are often seen taking what weaker animals possess. Should we tolerate theft, reasoning that our “actions are part of an evolutionary process” that goes back millions of years? It may be “natural” for people to have a desire to kill someone for making them upset (e.g., being cut off by someone in traffic). Since our animal ancestors killed each other, and since animals today continue to kill, why shouldn’t we? Can you imagine if such argumentation—“I’m not guilty because my animal instincts made me do it”—was used in theft and murder trials? By taking atheistic evolution to its logical conclusion, one can see how repulsive and destructive the philosophy really is. Evolution naturally leads to lawlessness and social anarchy.
Since sin entered the world, man has compounded the error of his ways by seeking to circumvent the consequences of his actions. Sadly, evolutionists have taken the blame game to a whole new level. If we can legitimately blame sexual promiscuity, teenage pregnancy, and rape on our animal heritage, how could we ever be held responsible for anything? Perhaps this “freedom” from responsibility is the major attraction to evolutionary philosophy: “Accept our naturalistic explanation of things and you will never have to feel guilty for anything again.”
In reality, sin can never be cured by shifting culpability to anything or anyone other than self. It was not until King David owned up to his sin that the Lord forgave him (2 Samuel 12:13). Only when Peter humbled himself and confessed his sin was he fit to fish for men (Luke 5:8-11). Even Christians must continually confess their sins in order to be cleansed of them by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:8-10). Truly, a guiltless life begins, not in the acceptance of a temporary, godless, lawless, hedonistic philosophy like atheistic evolution, but in the submission to Almighty God, Who graciously offers guilt-free, eternal life through His Son (John 3:16; Revelation 22:17).

REFERENCES

Butt, Kyle (2005), “Rape and Evolution,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/306.
“Teenage and 60-Year-Old Mums are Consequences of Evolution” (2006), European Society of Human Reproduction & Embryology, [On-line], URL: http://www.eshre.com/emc.asp?pageId=795.
Thornhill, Randy and Craig T. Palmer (2000), A Natural History of Rape (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).


Now that Same-Sex Unions Have Been Legalized by Melvin Otey, J.D., M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=5177

Now that Same-Sex Unions Have Been Legalized

by Melvin Otey, J.D., M.Div.

[NOTE: Auxiliary staff writer Melvin Otey served in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C. as a Trial Attorney in the Review and Policy Unit of the Organized Crime and Gang Section, responsible for reviewing all RICO and VICAR prosecutions nationwide. He also taught at the University of the District of Columbia Law School. In addition to writing for Apologetics Press, Otey now serves as an Associate Professor of Law at the Faulkner University Jones School of Law in Montgomery and as an adjunct professor at Amridge University.]
There are watershed moments in the history of any nation, and America is no different in this regard. Critical turning points have included armed conflicts like the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. They have included speeches like Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” address to Virginia’s delegates in 1775 and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963. The course of affairs in America has also been decisively impacted by court rulings like Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade. On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court reached a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that will surely qualify as yet another watershed moment in American history.

WHAT THE COURT HAS DONE

With the Supreme Court’s mandate that all 50 states recognize homosexual “marriages,” American authorities have once again declined to restrain evil and decided instead to sanction what Jehovah clearly condemns (but see Romans 13:3-5). Make no mistake: whatever popular opinions may be in society today, whatever novel theories are bandied about in the halls of academia to explain homosexual conduct, and whatever laws are passed by men, this is sinful behavior. It is one of several behaviors for which unrepentant sinners will be eternally lost (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Jehovah, the Creator of mankind and marriage, is as clear on this matter as He is on any subject. “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22, ESV). “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them” (Leviticus 20:13). While many today seemingly accept the notion that people are “born homosexual” (without any scientific support), homoerotic behavior is really a consequence of people turning away from Jehovah to worship themselves and lower aspects of His creation. In Romans 1, the apostle Paul explained:
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committingshameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty fortheir error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done (emp. added).
Of course, in the first century when Paul wrote, homosexuality was common and accepted in the Roman Empire, just as it is becoming more common and more accepted in America and Western Civilization at-large. Remember, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34; cf. Ezekiel 16:49-50).
The Court’s decision is merely the latest in a line of critical markers for the accelerated and abysmal moral decline of the United States. It follows on the heels of the introduction of the theory of evolution into school curricula, the legalization of abortion on demand, and the proliferation of no-fault divorce. Our society is at war with our God, and the Court’s decision once again crystallizes the stark contrast between God’s law and man’s law. This decline in our national morality does not bode well for our national future: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).

WHAT CHRISTIANS MUST DO

More than ever before, it is absolutely vital that Christians in America grasp the reality of our circumstances. Whatever ideals one may hold about what America used to be, and whatever dreams one may have about what it will become, we must walk circumspectly in these evil and decadent days (Ephesians 5:15-16). We live in Sodom and Gomorrah. This is Babylon and Rome, and we must develop realistic expectations in order to prepare for what is forthcoming. All those who resist this latest ordinance of the State and speak against homosexuality as the Bible does should anticipate mounting aggression and increasingly overt hostility from his neighbors and the authorities. “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Of course, aggression and hostility and persecution have been evident for some time now (albeit at a relatively lower level). Those who have dared to voice concern with their employers’ “diversity” campaigns, designed largely to compel acceptance of homoerotic behavior, have been sent to “sensitivity training” or fired. Business owners who have declined to sell flowers or cakes for homosexual wedding ceremonies specifically because of their religious convictions have been sued, fined and driven out of business. People from all walks of life are publicly excoriated and harassed if they even suggest that this particular sin is unnatural and unhealthy for individuals, families, and society-at-large. Increasingly, everyone is thought to have freedom of speech in America except those who disagree with homosexuality, and the tide is unlikely to change in the near future.
There is room to lament and decry what is occurring, but Christians cannot expend inordinate energy in this regard because we cannot afford to be inert any longer. We must move forward. In light of what is occurring in American society, in general, and the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding same-sex unions, in particular, Christians must consider how the church should proceed in the days to come.

Preach the Truth

We must preach and teach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It will make us unpopular, but we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29) and bear the consequences for preaching and teaching Christ (Acts 5:40-42). Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that Biblical speech opposing homosexual behavior is a “hate crime” in February 2013. It is seemingly only a matter of time before American courts do the same, and well-funded advocates of the homosexual agenda are aggressively marshaling their resources to ensure that they do.
Following their latest victory in the Supreme Court, these advocates will ramp up their focus on policing speech in the workplace, schools, businesses, and public squares across America. Consequently, the costs for teaching “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) on matters of marriage and sexuality will increase dramatically. People are going to be sued and convicted as criminals for merely saying what the Bible says; they will be fined and ultimately jailed. Still, we must not waver or compromise; rather, we must “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Protect the Church

Of course, being committed to speaking and living the truth does not mean Christians should be ignorant of or unprepared for the consequences. We are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). Those promoting acceptance of homoeroticism are doing it largely through the courts, and this means they will continue suing people. Consequently, church sermons and Web sites will be scoured for statements disapproving of homosexuality. Also, preachers and churches will increasingly receive inquiries from litigious individuals concerning their willingness to perform same-sex weddings, and they must take proper precautions.
In anticipation of inquiries like this, preachers should strongly consider adopting an announced policy of refusing to officiate wedding ceremonies where he has not personally provided pre-marital, Bible-based, spiritual counseling to those wanting to exchange vows. This is advisable for several reasons, but a consistent practice in this regard will require those seeking the preacher’s assistance for a homosexual union to submit to several sessions of counseling on what the Bible teaches about marriage. Those who are not interested in entering a union guided by the Scriptures are unlikely to participate in such a series. However, even if two men or two women participated in the series (which would be great), a preacher could still decline to officiate the ceremony if the parties are unwilling to repent of their sin, just as he would decline to officiate if he discovered that the union would be adulterous (e.g., Matthew 5:31-32, 19:9). The basis for refusal, then, would be the parties’ express intention of entering into a union that does not conform to the teachings of Scripture, which he is duty-bound to uphold.
Congregations should also be proactive and adopt insulating language and policies before trouble of this kind darkens its doors. For instance, every church’s bylaws should include a statement of faith regarding marriage, gender, and sexuality and clearly identify the Bible as the final authority for all matters of faith and practice. A church might also adopt a policy limiting the use of its facilities and grounds to the religious purposes expressed in its bylaws. If its buildings and grounds are to be used for weddings, the church should amend its bylaws to expressly state that weddings conducted by church staff or on church grounds are “religious ceremonies” (because they involve acts of prayer, singing hymns, reading Scripture, and an exchange of vows in which a man and woman enter into a covenant with God and one another; see Matthew 19:6 and Malachi 2:14-15) and limit the use of church facilities to ceremonies involving “members in good standing” (and perhaps “their children” or “immediate family members”). As long as the limitation is not based on sexual orientation and is consistently applied, the congregation is likely to either avoid a lawsuit or successfully withstand a legal challenge if it comes.

CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS

The Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges will certainly lead to increased pressure on the church. Those who support the homosexual agenda will target conservative preachers and churches (they have already been targeted in other countries), and the ones saying “no gay marriages” are surely going to end up in litigation, whether civil or criminal. Of course, this does not change our responsibilities one iota; we must stand with the Lord in speaking and teaching the truth. Along the way, we must be prudent and wise in protecting the church because, even if churches successfully defend against lawsuits of this kind, the drain on resources that comes with being swept up in litigation would distract its members and significantly undermine its work.

Water in the Earth’s Mantle by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=659&b=Genesis

Water in the Earth’s Mantle

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

One question that many have asked through the years is, “Where did all of the Flood waters go?” If, as the Bible indicates, the entire Earth once was covered completely with water (Genesis 7:17-24), what happened to all of the water? Skeptic Bill Butler posed this question in an article he wrote, titled “Creationism = Willful Ignorance” (2002). Allegedly, one who believes in the trustworthiness of the biblical Flood account is ignorant because, for one, he cannot logically explain where the Flood waters went.
Apologetics Press has previously answered Butler’s accusations (see Lyons, 2002), but in light of recent findings it seems appropriate to reconsider one of Butler’s criticisms. He wrote:
If the earth’s surface were covered by an additional 29,000+ feet of water, how do you get rid of it? Water is less dense than the rock of the earth’s surface. Thus it would not drain down below the surface. Even if you forced it down, where is it? No oil or gas well has ever hit a subterranean ocean 29,000+ feet thick.
As is often the case with Bible critics, time is not their friend. Repeatedly throughout history, time has helped exonerate Bible writers. Whether it is archaeologists finding remains of a particular biblical people, which critics once alleged never existed (e.g., the Hittites; cf. Butt, 2002), or scientists finally learning why the eighth day of a child’s life would have been the perfect day to perform circumcision (cf. Genesis 17:11; Holt and McIntosh, 1953, p. 126), again and again time has turned out to be a friend of the Bible and a foe to the ever changing theories of man (cf. Harrub and Thompson, 2002). Consider Butler’s comments. He confidently asserted that the Flood waters would be unable to “drain down below the surface.” He then asked, “even if you forced it [the Flood water—EL] down, where is it?” Apparently, in 2002, no one knew about great amounts of water below the crust layer of the Earth. With the passing of time, however, scientists have learned differently.
Livescience.com staff writer Ker Than reported that “[s]cientists scanning the deep interior of Earth have found evidence of a vast water reservoir beneath eastern Asia that is at least the volume of the Arctic Ocean” (Than, 2007, emp. added). “The discovery,” Ker Than added, “marks the first time such a large body of water was found in the planet’s deep mantle” (2007, emp. added). Butler criticized the biblical Flood account because the Flood waters supposedly “would not drain below the surface” of the Earth, yet a large amount of water has been discovered “in the planet’s deep mantle.” What’s more, “researchers estimate that up to 0.1 percent of the rock sinking down into the Earth’s mantle in that part of the world [eastern Asia—ELis water” (Than).
Once again, time has become the foe of Bible critics. Although no one can be certain what happened to all the water that once flooded the Earth, it is very possible that God sent some of it to reside “in the planet’s deep mantle.” Regardless, it is unreasonable to reject the Genesis Flood account because one assumes the floodwaters could not have relocated beneath the Earth’s crust. One wonders how Flood critics will react to news of a “vast water reservoir beneath eastern Asia.”

REFERENCES

Butler, Bill (2002), “Creationism = Willful Ignorance,” [On-line], URL: http://www.durangobill.com/Creationism.html.
Butt, Kyle (2002), “Hidden Hittites,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1750.
Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson (2002), “No Missing Links Here...,” Reason & Revelation, May, 1[5]:20-R, [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2509.
Holt, L.E. and R. McIntosh (1953), Holt Pediatrics (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts), twelfth edition.
Lyons, Eric (2002), “Where Did All of the Flood Waters Go?” [On-line], URLhttp://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1803.
Than, Ker (2007), “Huge ‘Ocean’ Discovered Inside Earth,” LiveScience.com, [On-line], URL: http://www.livescience.com/environment/070228_beijing_anomoly.html.

From Jim McGuiggan... LUKE 15, THE PARTY

LUKE 15, THE PARTY

Maybe we have, but I can’t help thinking we’ve never really felt happiness until we’ve felt the astonishment of being someone who knew and felt beyond any doubt that you had no “right” to be at a magnificent party that’s filled with the sights and sounds of celebration; and yet there you are.
Not only have you found yourself there but you found yourself to be the source of all the joy—the source of all the JOY
No conquering hero you! You haven’t been to war and carried yourself gallantly, no bronze star, no purple heart, no medal of honor, no citations for self-sacrifice; you’ve done nothing to make your Father proud. So why are you there? Why were you almost carried into the home and ushered later into a hastily put together celebration?
This is a party where everybody fusses over you, cries over, laughs over, dances with you until you come to believe the incredible—it isn’t a dream; you really and truly are wanted; sincerely loved and sincerely welcomed!
You finally believe [almost altogether] it isn’t tolerance you’re hearing—it’s joy! The smiles are real! Happy chaos, laughing bedlam and perhaps hardest of all to believe is this: your presence is the engine that drives the entire thing! You're why the Father has thrown this party!
See that man over there? The older man who’s grinning from ear to ear; you’re now and then catching phrases and words that he’s half shouting above the noise as he makes the rounds through the happy crowd—“Yes…came…night before…” “Have no words…” “My…heart…all joy…I…beside myself…” You recognize him, of course, that’s your Father. The only one in that crowd that hasn’t quite “got it”—even yet—is the one knows in his bones that he has no right to be there—you!
But outside the house, out there in the dark of the evening when parties are enjoyed, in the “darkness outside” there’s a man who’s not only stunned but one who’s filled with resentment that one such as you should be made so much of. You, the one who not long ago generated so much pain in the Father’s heart; the sulking outsider rages at it all. 
He knows you, don’t you see—he has “the facts” and he has heard “the story” that has made the rounds about you. Some of the things he has heard are indeed true and no one knows that better than you; no one feels the shame as you do. The one thing he never knew and the one thing he might never understand is this: your Father’s love is fathomless and ceaseless and that is the sole grounds for the lighted house, the music and dancing, the eating and drinking, the laughter and the sound of your name that’s called over and over again in a happy tone. Poor thing, because he doesn't love you he sits outside in the dark and will not come in despite the Father's longing and so, awful image, he continues outside in the dark.
But it isn’t only you that aggravates him—there’s something about the generosity of the Father that he can’t get his head around. Such generosity is beyond him because, God pity him, such love is beyond him. This means he's only able to think that such a party should be thrown only for someone like him. People without heart not only doubt the Father, they doubt the friends of a Father like that. [“Soft on sin, don’t you know.”]
Listen, there’ll always be someone who thinks you shouldn’t make it to the party! And you may be tempted to condemn yourself to misery because you know they’re around, hovering, keeping their distance, hinting a fault, suggesting, implying, speaking by their coolness, rolling their eyes when they see you smile—all the while hoping that they’ll steal your joy, a joy your Father and his friends wish you to experience. And you, still not able to fully believe because your past haunts you, allow their opinion to be as powerful as the Father’s warm embrace.
It may be extremely difficult and it may take a long time for you to get used to the lovely clothes the Father has put on you or the honored place in his presence he has given you, but do your best. The Father’s opinion of you, the joy he says you bring him, the happiness in his heart that you have returned is worthy of your trust. 
Trust him! For he is the one who watched the road day after day, longing to see you coming home. Your critics didn’t watch out for you, hoping for your return; they didn’t call you into the Father’s heart and they didn’t die for you.
There’s no denying your ragged and pig-stained clothes when you first came back up the road from who knows where but there’s no denying either the best clothes and the party! So as often as you can for as long as you can, put on your silly hat, inflate your balloons, ring your little bells and blow your whistle and take His word for it—you’re home and loved beyond measure. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength and live out your life in peace and commitment.
Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan