Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Modern Day Miracles

Recently I was in the Seattle airport with time to kill so I wandered through the Borders bookstore in the concourse. I usually check to see if the most recent books from my favorite authors are out in paperback—so I can go home and buy them on-line. I was happy to see C.J. Cherryh's latest book "Deliverer" available in paperback. I made a mental note to check its price online and left the store.

For the next hour and a half, I was busy using my laptop, but the thought kept intruding that I should buy Cherryh's book—now. Likely this was instant gratification talking, but could God be trying to get my attention? My boarding time was drawing near when the thought popped up again—time for action.

Often I will flip a coin with these sorts of decisions—I trust God's ability to control the spin of the coin more than my ability to determine the right thing to do. [Prov 16:13] This time I decided to make the "buy it now" option tougher than 50-50. I quickly settled on picking the last digit of pi that displayed on the engineering calculator on my laptop. Yes, I am a geek. If the last digit shown was five, I would buy the book. This was the result:

For this “coin flip” the odds were 10% that my choice would be correct—not a miracle. Most people would judge it a coincidence. However, I’m convinced that God wanted me to buy that book before I boarded—I don't know why. Perhaps to motivate me to write this post...

I was over Greenland on a flight back from Europe when I experienced another coincidence. I was reading, without headphones on, when I felt the distinct mental nudge to look up at the TV. The next thing that came on was an interview with my friend Stan Ebel on his Llama ranch. Stan lives about 15 miles from me in Colorado. I had no idea he had even done an interview. The odds of this happening seem below 10%—but again, most people would judge it a coincidence.

I wish God would do astonishing "fire from heaven" sorts of miracles today. I would love to see loaves of bread and fish multiplied to feed a crowd of thousands. Apparently, God chooses to not do big miracles today, at least not in places where they can be captured by scientific instruments, cell phone cameras, or network news crews. Why is that?

Are miracles missing because science has managed to turn everything into probabilities and processes? Quantum physics tells us that a loaf of bread in Jerusalem can spontaneously transport to the shores of the Sea of Galilee—it’s just very unlikely. Scientists invoke random processes to explain the mind-boggling successes of DNA and photosynthesis—with natural selection weeding out the failures. A tumor disappearing is not a miracle, it's just the body’s defense mechanisms finally discovering and annihilating the enemy.

Perhaps God is skipping miracles because of our unbelief. Jesus did many miracles to validate who he was, but many eyewitnesses did not believe. In some regions he did fewer miracles because of their unbelief.

Even though we don't seem to get the capital "M" miracles anymore, God still interacts with us. If we are paying attention and obedient He uses "coincidences" to show us that He is present in our lives, He is in control, and He is showing us the way. These are modern day miracles.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Slogans

This Easter my 4 year old granddaughter went to church with her parents and little sister. Hailey agreed to go to Sunday school and afterwards Kendra, my daughter, asked her what they had done. Hailey said that they had let some balloons go into the sky while they were all saying three words. Kendra asked what the three words were. Hailey thought a moment and said: "He's In Prison."

Saturday, March 08, 2008

What is Truth?

I used to view myself as having a pretty good grasp of reality. This picture disabused me of that.

Original Website:

I didn’t believe its claim that the squares marked A and B are the same shade of gray. I printed out the image. I still didn’t believe it. I cut out the A and B squares and brought them together—they match.

Below are the two squares cut out with Microsoft paint

Since my perceptions are clearly wrong with a simple image, I don’t think I should be confident that my perceptions on other things (like people) are accurate. Clearly, when senses and human frailties are involved truth can be elusive.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Bible Meme

I was recently tagged by Stephen over at Undeception for the Bible Meme. I highly recommend his series of posts on inspiration, inerrancy, and hermeneutics

1. What translation of the Bible do you like best?

I generally don't worry too much about translations--I know I can consult with the Authors (I AM writing assignment) on tough problems. I am impressed with the ESV website --it's fast and smart. The advanced search allows restricting the search to portions of the Bible (e.g. the gospels).

I do like the way the ESV handles Samuel 13:1 --it makes it really clear what's in the source documents and what's not:

Saul Fights the Philistines

13:1 Saul was . . . [1] years old when he began to reign, and he reigned . . . and two [2] years over Israel.


[1] 13:1 The number is lacking in Hebrew and Septuagint
[2] 13:1 Two may not be the entire number; something may have dropped out

2. Old or New Testament?

For years I rarely read the Old Testament except for Proverbs, however a couple of years ago I started meditating, sometimes for months, on Old Testament passages. Specifically:

3. Favorite Book of the Bible?

  • Proverbs--all 31 chapters are interesting and if I'm in doubt on where to read I can always read the chapter that matches the day of the month.

4. Favorite Chapter?

It must be Genesis 3 based on the number of posts that I have written on it:

5. Favorite Verse?

  • "What does the Lord desire of you but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly before the Lord."

6. Bible character you think you're most like?

  • Zechariah (John the Baptist's father). In spite of being visited by an angel at the temple within the Holy of Hollies he still wants to know "How can I be sure of this?"

7. One thing from the Bible that confuses you? Only one thing? How about two:

  • Genesis 11:5-6 "And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them"

8. Moses or Paul?

I must admit to being somewhat annoyed with Paul right now. Generally I love his stuff, but the occasional passages cause no end of trouble (e.g. prohibition against women teaching, long hair, etc.)

Moses' humility is very impressive. When confronted by discontents his first response is often to "fall on his face" in dismay.

9. A teaching from the Bible that you struggle with or don't get?

In some ways I wish Genesis 1-3 didn't exist. The world would definitely be a different place if the Bible started after the garden. I love these passages, yet they cause so much controversy--controversy that appears to detract, and distract from the message of Christ.

10. Coolest name in the Bible?

Epaphroditus--Just rolls off your tongue

I am only going to tag one blog: zj7t, authored by mysterious blogger 7t, with this meme. I would love to see what he (or she) would have to say.