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Over the past decade or so, several scientists, authors, and speakers have joined forces to promote their observations that indicate life originated with a designer. Cells are just too complicated, they say, to have arisen by chance. Spontaneous generation, disproven centuries ago, remains the naturalist’s only option for the origin of biological life. Yet the odds against even a simple single-celled organism arising by chance are astronomical. The molecules have to line up all at once to form proteins, which have to line up quickly into the cells. DNA is a complex code for building life: made up of simple proteins, the series communicates a baffling level of information. Intelligent Design usually rests their case for an original designer at this point, picking back up after life has begun to debate Darwinism’s explanation for the variety of life we witness on earth.

But they could take the matter farther. Even if the remotest of far-fetched chances (this is before mutation or natural selection or heredity can have any impact on the process) came true and all the chemicals and molecules lined up, the language DNA writes still had to come from somewhere. It has no meaning without an Author. That age-old question, “Why?” asked by every two year old since humanity began, remains: both inside science and in the realm of philosophy.

According to the theory of evolution, mutations and natural selection account for increasing complexity and increasing variety among living creatures. (Evolutionists have precious little to explain the acquisition of new information in the DNA; all observable speciation, mutation, and variation consists of loss of information, reduced parameters for variety in future generations.) Evolutionists usually posit that all life arose from a single simple organism (which found sufficient nourishment, reproduced, and gave us the definition of life as we know it). Intelligent Design scientists point out that among the known species, there are many examples of features too complex, too perfectly adapted to be attributed to chance. The advent of each of these mechanisms would have been almost as miraculous as the first life, according to the mathematics. Take vision, wings, migration instinct, sex. Some creatures demonstrate irreducible complexity: all the new parts have to be present and perfect immediately to be functional. In some cases, the slightest difference means death for the creature in whom the feature was derived, and we know that dead creatures don’t pass their genes to future generations.

Complexity, information, and observed natural processes and their limitations are the data. Statistical probabilities are the analyses. Impossible is a logical conclusion. But life exists whether we can explain it or not. So some, purely on scientific grounds, conclude that there may be a designer. If we include this intelligence in the list of natural phenomenon; in other words, accept it as an observable* part of our world, humans can keep studying this marvelous, orderly world, drawing conclusions allowing for design and occasional if not constant intervention by a creative and powerful force.

*Scientists observe evidence for design in other fields (outside of ‘natural science’) all the time. Forensic science, for example, searches for clues that will tell an investigator whether a crime was committed. We not only judge whether there was intelligence, but degrees of intelligence using science. Consider archaeology. We may find a rustic clay pot, or a ziggurat aligned with constellations. Both represent intelligence, but of varying degrees.

Nor does it take a scientist to observe evidence for design. You are walking on the beach. Lying in the sand is a watch. With its gears and correspondence to what you call and measure as time, you conclude that the watch was designed, intelligently. Here most people explain our conclusions using a contrast with something “obviously” not designed, like the sand on the beach. The casual observer can see nothing about the form of the sand that stands out, that indicates someone intentionally smoothed it out and drew in ripples. In fact, we can even explain the tiny size of the particles, their smoothness, and the ripples by natural, consistent, observable events.

Here’s where I differ. Just as we have no explanation (using forces exclusive of a designer) for life, so science cannot explain the origin or structure of these tiny rocks. Under a microscope these crystals and substances reveal a mastery of molecular architecture. Each different rock is functional and unique from other kinds of rock. We’re taught that everything is composed of atoms, those busy bits whirling and attracting and repulsing with a reliability that we need every moment. What keeps the atoms together? What gives them weight? Why are there so many different substances? Even if “naturalists” are right, and the universe began with a big bang, what exploded, why and how? Where did the “what” come from, or the energy for the explosion? Why are there laws, and why are they repeatable? Taking our illustration of the sand, how did it get in the sea to be beaten into fragments, smoothed along a beach, and shaped by the waves breaking on the shore? Why do waves break, and how?

I argue that there is no such thing as naturalism without a designer, because every bit of nature is inexplicable without a designer. The laws of the universe represent order and harmony and intelligence. A cell may be more complex than a grain of sand, but only as the ziggurat is to a clay pot. Both are designed. And everything “natural” is so elegantly structured that its aesthetic far outweighs the clumsy pot made by man.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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In recent years outcry has been growing against the biased mainstream media.  This generally encompasses newspapers, broadcast television, and cable news channels, who have been shown to favor a political candidate in their reporting over his opponent, or to spin coverage of wars and international relations.  We should not be surprised at how easy it is to sway an audience.  The tone of an article, inclusion or omission of certain facts, the way questions are asked to acquire facts, and even the use or frequency of positive or negative buzz words all contribute to manipulating an audience.  And we must admit that it is impossible to prevent bias from appearing in our media.  Some gross abuses may be avoidable; news coverage should not be fabricating stories, and ought to check that they have reliable sources.  What bothers most people is the apparent monopoly in the media by one side of American culture, namely, the more liberal side. 

 

This is not a new phenomenon.  During the Revolutionary War underground printing presses published pamphlets, propaganda for the masses who were otherwise uninformed about the masses of people discontented with British oppression.  Media has been used in such ways, then, for centuries.  100 years ago the newspaper moguls such large and influential cities as New York and Chicago, far from being true competitors, met in the legendary smoke-filled rooms to agree on policies to support, on news to cover, that would best protect their power and influence.  For my purposes today I cannot describe how these men gained their power.  Yet they had it, and motive to keep their power. 

 

But how could their power be threatened?  One threat that goes deeper than we may at first imagine is the possibility of real competition.  Suppose an enterprising young reporter had started his own printers, and published his own version of the news.  More than likely he would have started small.  Such a man could have made certain news available that was not to be found in any other papers.  And so he could gain an audience.  There is obvious economic pressure on the established media to maintain their audience.  The nature of free markets dictates that larger corporations can afford to have lower prices.  They have the advantage of an incumbent, brand recognition and loyalty already strong among their patrons.  With more reporters, they can cover more territory, and produce more writing.  And, of course, they have the ear of the people, and can tell them what they will about their opponent’s or the facts the other news sources report. 

 

This competitive atmosphere is a familiar fixture in the market.  And media giants have the advantage in every respect.  Why would they be worried?  Power.  The more this different voice gains the respect of the people, the more power is taken from the others.  The new voice creates few new readers, garnering the majority of its business by persuading the subscribers to the other papers to transfer their interest and attention.  There are only so many news consumers to go around.  And if readership falls below a certain level, the influence of that paper is strikingly less.  In a democratic society, the majority rules.  If one news source ceases to control the majority, they are in danger of losing everything. 

 

Risk goes beyond that simple math.  The more media is divided, and choice is required of the consumer, the less power is wielded by the media as a whole.  Think of a large room.  If one strong voice is projecting its speech in an otherwise silent room, the people will hear him.  They are more likely to believe him.  Many voices in chorus produce the same effect.  If the whole room erupts in conversation, not only will you scarcely be able to hear the person right next to you; you will not be able to hear the one large voice, either.  You will have to make a choice.  Who do you wish to hear?  The friend next to you, or the intelligent man across the aisle?  The woman discussing a topic of interest, or the man with the microphone?  Are you going to heed the voice on the stage or the voice by the door?  How do you know if these people are even telling the truth?  Suddenly no one has power to manipulate you, and once more you are an individual with private responsibility. 

 

Today we have just such a room full of voices.  The traditional media is losing large portions of its audience.  Technology has made it possible for thousands of people to broadcast their thoughts and information.  Newspapers proliferate.  Old radio companies moved into television and cable.  Conservative talk radio now has a strong following of people dissatisfied or bored with the traditional “mainstream” media.  News magazines are published weekly.  Millions have access to the internet, with free host services for blogs that can be searched and linked. 

 

Acquiring information on which to report is a much broader road today.  Rather than waiting for the communication carried by a single ship, months delayed, as was nearly the case during the Revolutionary War, we now have satellites and long distance telephones, cell phones, email, airmail, etc.  If I were to witness a robbery, a friend in another state could know of it in minutes.  Google and similar search engines have made it possible to search for the information you wish to share, eliminating part of the need to filter the competing voices on the overwhelmingly large and loud media stage. 

 

Many are taking advantage of this new world of information.  Some who have escaped the education system able to think for themselves have been creating these competing voices and sustaining them for decades until we reached this point.  They investigate sources and find them reliable or not.  Combining information offered by various outlets, an individual can draw his own conclusions and just as easily share them with others.  Nevertheless, the majority of people remain addicted to the single voice.  Unpracticed in discernment and logic, many people embark on an increasingly difficult course of clinging to the familiar one voice.  It won’t last long.  Market forces are at work.  A house divided against itself will fall. 

 

I’m not saying that radio will cease to exist, or that TV will go out of business, or even that the blog and web news fads will blow over.  The influence is what is crashing in on itself.  There is a possibility that it won’t.  More on that in a moment.  If it does, however, there seem to be two choices: either the people who don’t want to choose will wake up and think for themselves anyway, or a new power will come in and control them.  Humanity craves leadership.  It has found leadership without media in the past, and can persevere in its quest once again in a world where media is weak. 

 

Recall those newspaper editors in that room, drinking and smoking cigars.  They don’t want to lose their power.  They don’t want the media empire to fall.  These men know that strong competition, especially when faced on more than one front, reduces their power and eventually destroys it for all of them.  What do they do? 

 

The only chance of survival for the entrenched media is to fight back so hard that opposition is silenced.  In this global technological age, I’m not sure that is possible.  China is finding censorship a difficult problem to conquer.  News businesses may strong arm their competition out of existence through economic competition, or they could if the internet weren’t essentially free.  They can resort to sabotage, eliminating their foes with violence and vandalism and threats.  Some of these new voices might be enticed into joining the club, the chorus.  Or they can utilize their still-strong voices to change the laws.  Laws are changed by wealthy special-interest groups all the time, and markets are controlled by big business using little laws to regulate small business into insignificance.  So with media. 

 

Do not doubt it: the powerful in the media have already begun to work.  Using the government, members of which they helped to their election (and can slander out of power just as easily), they have begun to censor the freedom of speech. 

 

         Broadcast TV, beginning this January, will be a thing of the past in January.  Everything will be published in High Definition, and the government will take control of the airwaves for their own uses. 

         Cable and Satellite TV, though offering many stations, are ultimately controlled by a select few established companies. 

         In the 70’s and 80’s there was a law in effect endearingly called the “Fairness Doctrine,” requiring that radio stations offer all sides of an issue in their programming.  This is both impossible and economically suicidal, as there is not an equal audience for all opinions.  If reinstated, which the upcoming administration has considered, talk radio would be gone.  (It is the nature of laws that they are not always evenly enforced.  Though there may be a law against protesting on public property, the police and district attorneys decide who will be held accountable for violations.  Therefore though the “fairness doctrine” may apply to all radio stations or even other media, enforcement can be targeted at specific stations or genres.) 

 

I don’t know of any plans to censor the printed press or the internet, but watch for it.  You will either see increased censorship or the demise of media as a superpower. 

 

Doesn’t the Constitution guarantee free speech?  Of course!  But how is the government to be held accountable for trespass of the Constitution?  How will you even know they have done so if no one tells you?  Does the government own the airwaves?  Broadcast equipment?  Your TV or radio?  In principle, they don’t.  In practice, they absolutely do.  And if you’re like me, you’re starting to think you’ve heard of other countries where there was one national media, publishing at the will of the government.  Independent media entrepreneurs are not the only ones in history who have noticed that a single voice signifies singular power. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Earlier this week I was talking to an old friend.  As long as I’ve known him, he’s been talking about ways to make the most out of all the information in the world.  What it comes down to is community: I can’t read all the books and you can’t watch all the movies, but if we do a little of each, and then share the summaries or highlights, we’ve both benefited from double what we could have done ourselves.  Another thing he brought up was the difference between knowledge and wisdom.  Wisdom knows value.  Wisdom can make choices. 

 

You get on the internet and how do you decide whether to read the article about the presidential race or the news story about international affairs?  You go to the library: upstairs or down?  Fiction or nonfiction?  M’s or Biographies?  There’s so much you couldn’t hope ever to get to, yet gaining knowledge is good.  What makes you read Jane Austen over Dickens?  Why did you pick a mystery today, but a book about Iceland last week?  Or we could look at your household.  How do you decide between Monopoly with your kids, a movie with the family, or any of the hundred chores and projects you could do around the house? 

 

The choice is wrought by wisdom: your wisdom or someone else’s.  My same friend is an excellent story-teller.  He has the wisdom to know what details are essential to letting you feel right there a part of the story.  When I get on the internet most days, I’m not thinking of choices that are life-shattering.  “What’s this about?” I ask and click.  I found all of my favorite blogs by linking out of curiosity.  Why did that article catch my eye?  I believe this is providential grace.  Do I always see purpose in my trips to the library, the museum, or the web?  Are all of my conversations with friends evidently headed in a direction good for both of us?  I believe that, though I can’t always point to it. 

 

Fruit in our Christian life is a matter of wisdom.  It isn’t dutifully devouring the books in the library shelf by shelf until we are filled with useless facts and exhausted by blurry lines on the pages.  Christianity is walking in the Spirit’s wisdom.  And the Spirit produces fruit in our lives. 

 

Luke 10:27-42 contains two stories: the first is the Good Samaritan.  The second is one we’ve been studying in Sunday school for several weeks, Mary and Martha.  This week we’re got a glimpse of the context of Mary and Martha.  We can tend to see Jesus’ reproof of Martha as a call to abandon work almost entirely.  Churches today are so afraid of legalism that they can be afraid to tell people to work.  Who was most spiritual in the Good Samaritan story?  Who was most Christ-like?  Who obeyed the greatest commandment?  It’s significant that Martha’s story follows the account of the lawyer (asking the question, “Who is my neighbor?”) who wanted to “justify himself.”  He wanted to earn credit from God.  That’s not what ministry is about.  Let’s look at a proper perspective on service. 

 

Last week in Sunday school we talked about having “living room intimacy” with God.  A few weeks ago one of our teachers shared a little of what her living room is like with friends.  She’ll serve them, but wants them to help themselves to refills or anything they need.  I love most to visit my friends and spend the day with them, changing diapers, folding laundry, etc.  What I’m getting at is intimacy that goes beyond sitting at Jesus’ feet, beyond the time of prayer and meditation on His words.  Intimacy with Jesus is an active intimacy, too.  It doesn’t turn off when we get off our knees, or when the kids wake up, when we’re at work, driving, relaxing, or even when we’re on vacation. 

 

We work as a result of being with Jesus.  We can’t do everything, so we need wisdom to know which works to choose.  Follow Jesus’ example (taken from Joanna Weaver’s Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World).  He ministered in three ways:

 

         as He went on His way

         as He went out of His way

         in all kinds of ways

 

 

In Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby writes that we should look for God at work and join Him there.  In John 5:19, Jesus describes His walk in the same way: So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.”

 

We don’t get the impression from the gospels that Jesus published an itinerary.  His disciples rarely even knew where they were going or when.  Jesus was like a living pillar of cloud and fire that the Israelites followed.  Jesus knew where He was going, and the gospels even report at times that He had to go somewhere (Jn 4:4).  

 

Even in the story of Martha and Mary, when Jesus got to Bethany, He was on His way to Jerusalem.  What does this joining God at work look like? 

 

I’ve worked at the same office for seven years.  Over that time I’ve met some favorite patients and some least favorite.  Last week we saw one of my least favorite, a man who when he came last year was a test of my Christian love.  I didn’t want to love him, to want him to be saved, to be nice to him or anywhere around him.  I wanted him punished.  But I struggled with that, and prayed that God would help my weak heart to love my neighbors no matter who they were. 

 

This year when I saw his name on the books I started to pray, but my prayers were all different.  I prayed for an opportunity to share the gospel, and for the approach to take with the gospel.  Our patient needs Jesus, no question about it.  And for all the times I’ve asked God to never let this man come back to our office, God has brought him back year after year.  God doesn’t make me miserable for no reason, so I believe God is at work in that man’s life.  I didn’t get to share the gospel.  He came in and left without even stopping. 

 

But he came back the next day, and my gifted-evangelist brother shared the gospel with him.  How incredibly cool is that? 

 

Remember the story of the Good Samaritan?  He wasn’t out on a charity field trip.  He didn’t build a shelter for beaten and unconscious penniless men to recover if they could make it.  Luke 10:33 – “But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.”  The Samaritan was on his way, paying attention to the needs of others.  He ministered on his way. 

 

But the difference between the Samaritan and the other, “religious” men in the story, was that after he met the needy man on the road, the Samaritan didn’t just toss him a drink or some money; he went out of his way to help him, just like Jesus would. 

 

Joanna Weaver points us to Matthew 14:1-22  for Jesus’ example.  The first part of this chapter describes the death of Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist.  John was the first to proclaim Jesus as the ‘Lamb of God,’ and actually baptized Jesus.  In response to news of his friend’s execution, Jesus goes apart by Himself.  The crowds find Jesus, but He doesn’t immediately send them away.  Instead, according to verse 14, Jesus “saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”  Note the word “compassion.” 

 

“He laid aside his hurt so he could pick up their pain.  He laid aside his wishes so he could become their one Desire.  He laid aside his agenda so he could meet all of their needs.”  – Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World

 

There’s a lot of emphasis these days on our passion for ministry.  What do you just love doing?  God created you to be passionate about certain types of service, truths about Him, or people groups.  As youth leaders at church we’ve been talking about that.  And when you’re building a team with a mission, that’s good.  You want those passionate about interaction to be doing the fellowship, the teachers to be teaching, the servants to be running the snack bar or sound booth, the loud and energetic ones to be leading games.  God gave the body spiritual gifts, and He gave varieties to different people so that we could work together and be the best and strongest. 

 

But we’re not talking just about targeted long-term missions. 

 

Compassion is different from passion.  Compassion is why Jesus went out of His way to meet the needs of the multitudes.  Compassion is why Jesus went out of His way to make me His.  And compassion is willing to serve wherever needed. 

 

Jesus ministered in all kinds of ways. 

 

What if Jesus had said, “Blind people aren’t my ministry; I heal the lame”?  Or “You’re a Roman; I only help Jews”? 

 

Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, healed lepers, taught Pharisees, fielded questions from lawyers and peasants.  Jesus played with kids and cleansed the temple.  Nothing and no one was off limits to Him. 

 

Yeah, you say.  That’s Jesus.  Of course He could do everything. 

 

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

 

God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the same Spirit from whom we get the terms “spiritual gifts,” and “fruit of the Spirit.”  So no excuses.  If God is leading you to a ministry, whether for five minutes, five days, or for a lifetime, He’s going to supply the gifting.  Remember the idea of spiritual gifts is that they are supernatural.  If we could do it without God, they wouldn’t be spiritual gifts.  Ministry is God’s power working through us.  And that Power, that God, is exactly what the world needs. 

 

Remember the story of Peter and John from Acts 3:6-9 where they heal the lame man?  Peter offers the man first Jesus and second healing.  We need to have that intimacy with God (from spending particular time with Him) that gives us insight into physical and spiritual needs of those around us.  They need Him more than money, free food or good counseling.  Even the people not like the Samaritan’s neighbor, not at death’s door, desperately need to believe that there is a God with Power that they can trust. 

 

So we’re serving out of our intimacy with God, continuing the journey and joining Him in His work.  We serve and bear fruit as we go, when we embrace God’s interruptions of our plans and go out of our way to help, and reach out in all kinds of ways.  You see a person in need.  What do you have to offer? 

         Compassion that comes because God loves them.  When we spend time with God, we get His heart.  We start to love people because God loves them, and because we love what God loves.  The word compassion is an overflow of feeling.  If it doesn’t produce action, it isn’t compassion. 

         Compassion that sees their need as more than outward.  Going through our daily lives with God is a good way to keep in mind that there’s more to life than what we see or feel.  People have needs that are physical, and God calls us to care for those in distress.  But God left us on earth to spread the good news. 

         Passion for God’s glory that can’t hold it in.  Getting to know our God produces more and more enthusiasm for who He is.  Then we can’t help sharing it.  Everyone should know about God; He should get credit from everyone for the goodness that He is and does. 

 

This whole lesson on fruit is based on the idea of abiding in Christ, summed up in John 15:5 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  When we have that intimacy with Jesus, we’re like a zucchini vine.  Joanna Weaver writes, “Fruit happens.  You get connected to the Vine and pretty soon you’ve got zucchini – tons and tons of zucchini.  So much zucchini you just have to share!”  If our fruit doesn’t point back to the vine, though, we’re just working.  We’re Marthas, cumbered about with that load of rocks (acts of service or ministry) God didn’t give to us, trying to earn credit from God for all the good things we do.  We’re trying to tackle the whole library.  Christian work is from “walking in the Spirit” (that living room intimacy picking up and moving through the whole house), the Spirit who glorifies Himself, and who gives people what they need and not a cheap substitute.  If all we have to offer the world is our love by ourselves, or our money, or our help – they’re not getting nearly what they need. 

 

Jesus promises that men will recognize His followers by their love (John 13:35), and sure enough, Peter and John were identified as Jesus’ disciples because they boldly healed the lame man in Jesus’ name, and would not be deterred by the religious incumbents, though the apostles were untrained and uneducated.  Jesus had made a noticeable impact on their lives (Acts 4:13). 

 

We had elections in this country last week.  Compare the US to China.  In China the Christians are often officially persecuted for their faith.  But most of them aren’t fighting to transform the government.  They know their real mission – and only hope – is to transform lives.  God changes lives when He is known in His people’s love.  “Chinese Christians devoted themselves to worship and evangelism.  They concentrated on changing lives, not changing laws.”  – Philip Yancey

 

Does the world know WHOSE you are? 

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Have you seen this website?  Abort73.com 
The website is Christian, immense, well-documented, with some videos and some articles and a lot of facts.  Their idea is to educate the youth about what abortion is.  When women are at the abortion clinics, they’ve already made a decision.  They’re already desperate.  They have a “friend” with them to keep them from changing their mind.  And they have been counseled to ignore the lying lunatics outside with signs, flyers, and offers of help.  But what if, before the decision ever came up, everyone knew what the “choice” really looked like?  What if most people chose ahead of time to never have an abortion, because it would be horrific murder of a real live human person? 
Abort73 is trying to get the word out via t-shirts and gear students have at school.  I’m linking it in my blogs to spread it as well. 
What’s more, if you need a fact about abortion, this is a great resource.  Use the search box right at the top to look up your topic, be it birth control, the law, the history of abortion, statistics on abortion, scientists on the progression of life…  Use this to inform yourself and those you know. 
The newest video they made is like a commercial for the personhood amendment we’re hoping to get ratified in Colorado this year. 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn
Thanks to Hank from Lawn Gospel for introducing me to Abort73

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