A FATHER’S LEGACY

On September 7, 1968, just five days after my tenth birthday, I was lying in a hospital bed with an IV in my arm. At the time, I had no idea how serious my condition was. No one wanted to tell me.

It was late on a Saturday afternoon. I had been developing symptoms over the summer. I became very ill when I ate my birthday cake a few days before, but did not know what was going on. As I was lying there in that hospital bed, my parents were not sure if I was going to survive. I did not know they felt that way until several years later.

I could hardly move. I was severely dehydrated, so my father could only give me ice chips to suck on. While he stood beside my bed giving me the ice, he told me that I needed to build my vocabulary. “What does ‘vocabulary’ mean?” I asked him. I did not even know what that word meant. Looking back, it seemed kind of strange that he would talk about that. I suppose he was simply trying to take my mind off the gravity of the situation, and the pain of having a needle stuck into my nearly-collapsed veins.

The diagnosis came back childhood diabetes, now known as Type 1 diabetes. Needless to say, my vocabulary increased dramatically during those two weeks in the hospital. I had to learn lots of medical terminology and learn a great deal about human anatomy. At age ten, I had to become and adult and learn to treat my own condition. I could not be discharged from the hospital until they watched me prepare and give myself an insulin injection.

So began my quest for knowledge. My father brought me books of crossword puzzles while I was still in the hospital. He said that they would help improve my vocabulary. One thing I learned is that it takes vocabulary to do crossword puzzles. I never mastered them, but I do like the game of Boggle and the Jumble Puzzle in the newspaper. I have become quite adept at plays on words in speech.

About three years later, my father also gave me some more advice. While I was preparing my four year plan for high school, he told me that I needed to study a foreign language so I could go to college. With the options of Latin, French, or Spanish, I chose Spanish as the most practical. At first I struggled with it because I could not find a way for it to stick in my mind; but once I found the system, I began to augment my vocabulary in two languages.

When I was sixteen, my father took me on my first mission trip to the Mexican border. I was hooked. I discovered quickly how little Spanish I actually knew after only about two and a half years of study. I came back determined to learn the language well. I drove Mrs. Gibson crazy in high school. I asked lots of questions that she would not answer in class. She told me in private that I was asking questions that were too advanced for the level of class I was in. She gave me lots of resources so I could learn on my own. All the way through high school and college, I never made less than an A in Spanish. When she retired, she gave me the actual teacher’s copies of the books she had used to teach me in class.

My life would never be the same. I had changed forever. From travels to Mexico I began going to Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Belarus, Ukraine, and Thailand. Most of this was to do mission work, while some of it was for simple traveling vacations. These experience have made me the man that I am today, and I can trace it all the way back to that conversation I had with my dad as my life hung in the balance.

Your dad may not be perfect, but he has left an impact on your life. He may have done some wrong things, even some bad things; but nevertheless, he loved you. This Father’s Day, if your father is still alive, think of all the positive things that your father did for you. It is often too easy to focus only on the negative. If your father is no longer alive, remember the good and forgive the bad.

If you are a father with children still living at home, think about the legacy you are leaving your children. How do you want them to remember you? What will you want them to be able to say at your funeral? Then begin living like that today. Leave a positive legacy for your children.

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Why Creation Is Important

Church people and even church leaders often consider the doctrine of creation as a secondary matter. What difference does it make if you believe in a young universe, an old universe, or an eternal universe? What you believe about creation says a great deal about what you actually believe about Christ because he was involved in the creation story.

How does one’s understanding of creation affect the doctrine of the deity of Christ? In Colossians 1 Paul explicitly points out that Christ created all things, but that Christ himself is uncreated, as we saw previously regarding John 1:3. In Colossians 1:9-20, Paul uses various forms of the Greek word for “all” thirteen times.

Verses 16-18 state: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (KJV). This clearly teaches that Christ created all things.

The 1984 edition of New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, otherwise known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, adds the word “other” in brackets in verses 16-17. That indicates that the word “other” is not in the original text, but has been added, as they say, for clarity. That is a valid translation device so long as it truly aids the understanding and does not alter it.

For example, take the Spanish question, ¿Cuántos años tienes? The equivalent English interpretation would be “How old are you?” A literal translation would be “How many years [do you] have?” Notice that the words “do you” are in brackets. That is because even though they are not actually in the Spanish text, they are implied by the verb conjugation. The word for “do” would never appear in the Spanish because that is not how the Spanish language works. Spanish translators know this.

Now let’s look at the NWT version of this passage. Their online version reads, “because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All other things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all other things, and by means of him all other things were made to exist, and he is the head of the body, the congregation. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might become the one who is first in all things” (https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/nwt/books/colossians/1/) Notice that in the online version, the word “other” is not in brackets. That would give the impression that the word is there in the original language, which it is not. That is deceiving.

Four times in these verses they have added “other” to the Greek word “all,” but not to the other nine occurrences in the passage that we discussed earlier. In other words, they are inconsistent in their usage. There is no grammatical reason to add the word. There is no misunderstanding. What this passage teaches is so clear that they had to alter the Bible to fit their doctrine. Does this say the same thing as the original, or does it change the meaning?

In discussing this with one of their elders many years ago I said, “Suppose my wife has a bad day at work. She comes home and says, ‘I hate all men!’ Would that include me?” He said, “Yes.” I continued, “Suppose she comes home and says, ‘I hate all other men!’ Would that include me?” He said, “No.” “So in effect,” I said, “she is actually saying two completely opposite things, isn’t she?” “So what are you saying?” he asked. “Are you saying these verses teach the deity of Christ?” I said, “Yes, exactly, but that’s not my point. My point is, who gave you the right to change the word of God?” No answer.

We do not have the authority to alter the word of God because it does not support our doctrine. We need to draw our doctrine from the scriptures themselves, even if we may not like what they teach. We need to tailor our doctrine, not the word of God. Instead, people are content either to alter the scriptures or to ignore them altogether if they place their own doctrines and church teachings above the scriptures.

The doctrine of creation teaches us about the nature of Christ. If he is the Creator, then he is worthy of our worship. To say that he is a created being, as the Watchtower does, or that he is simply a prophet or a good teacher, as many false religions, cults, and sects do, is blasphemy. If he is the Creator, then he is truly the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Why Creation Is Important Part 2

The Bible opens with the declaration: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 KJV). How you interpret that passage will affect a great deal of your theology. The Hebrew word translated “heaven” in King James is plural in Hebrew.  The “heavens and the earth” was the biblical phrase that would indicate what we call the universe.

In giving Moses the Ten Commandments God wrote concerning the need for the Sabbath: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11 KJV). Here the same word for heavens is used again in the plural. Whatever you believe about creation, the Bible is very clear that God created the universe and everything in it in six days. You may not believe it, but that is what the Bible unmistakably teaches.

Genesis 1:16 teaches that “he made the stars also” (KJV). As I wrote about creation the last time, the New Testament affirms that Christ was the agent in creation, and that nothing came into being that he did not create. The Bible clearly teaches that God created everything that exists, “by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” (Colossians 1:16 KJV). It was not a team effort by a plurality of gods. He did not fashion just the earth out of pre-existing materials. He created the entire universe.

Now if all religions teach the same things, contrast this with The Book of Abraham 3:24, “And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell.” Notice that one who “was like unto God” (perhaps Christ) and those who were with him went down and gathered up pre-existing materials to form the earth. While the Book of Abraham clearly teaches that one like unto God created this earth out of pre-exiting materials, the Bible says, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3). In other words, God spoke the world into existence and did not make it out of pre-existing materials.

Consider further this teaching from Lorenzo Snow: “As man now is, God once was: “As God now is, man may be.” (In Eliza R. Snow Smith, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow (1884), 46; see also “The Grand Destiny of Man,” Deseret Evening News, July 20, 1901, 22.) This teaching implies that the God we serve was once a human being on another planet, lived, died, and was resurrected and exalted to Godhood. This also means that other gods existed before him. Another god created whatever planet he may have lived on before he came here and fashioned this planet. One day other gods will exist after him, for human beings will be exalted to godhood as well.

Now this is what God said in the Bible: “before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour” (Isaiah 43:10-11 KJV).

“Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6 KJV).

“Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God; I know not any” (Isaiah 44:8 KJV).

“I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me” (Isaiah 45:5 KJV).

“And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me” (Isaiah 45:21 KJV).

The Bible abundantly teaches that the God of the Bible was not preceded by another god. Neither will he be followed by any other gods. He was never a human on a planet that predated him, and one that he did not create. He did not become God. He always was, always has been, and always will be God. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:2 KJV).

As for God having been as we now are, Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent (KJV).

These two teachings about God cannot both be true. They can both be false, but they cannot both be true. This means that all religions do not teach the same truths. In fact, these two are diametrically opposed to each other. If we suppose one is true, the other must be false. A false god, then by definition would be an idol, and those who serve a false god would be idolaters. Revelation 21:8 teaches that “idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (KJV). Which God are you following? The God of the Bible or another god?

TITANIC FOSSILS?

The sinking of the RMS Titanic has captivated minds for decades. Its tragedy has served as the backdrop for several movies, the most famous being James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster Titanic. Many factors contributed to its being one of the most devastating, yet avoidable maritime disasters of all time.

In April 14, 1912 on her maiden voyage the RMS Titanic violently struck an iceberg at 11:40 pm, and sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean floor on April 15. On the way down, it split into two pieces, finally coming to rest at a depth of 12,415 feet. Along with her, approximately 1500 people perished.

Although the bodies of some of those who perished were later recovered from the water, some sank to the ocean floor with the debris from the doomed ship. The water temperature at the ocean surface was 28º F. At the ocean’s bottom, it was probably much colder.

In 1985, seventy-three years after the wreck, explorers Jean-Louis Michel and Robert Ballard led an expedition that discovered the wreckage. The debris field from the wreck contains hundreds of thousands of items that fell from the ship as it sank (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wreck_of_the_RMS_Titanic). Many of those items will be on display at New Mexico Junior College from July 28—November 26. Visitors will be able to see pieces of the ship itself, as well as personal items from the passengers and crew, such as clothing and shoes.

One thing you will not be able to see is fossilized remains of the victims. Any bodies that went down with the ship have long since either completely deteriorated or consumed by sea creatures. No fossils exist (Ibid.).

This event would likely provide an observable process of fossil formation. Scientists say that the fossils that we find are the result of animals dying in or near a body of water and sinking to the bottom. The water would have to be reasonably warm for animals to survive near that water. You would not expect large dinosaurs to live near the Arctic Circle. When the bodies come to rest, sediments slowly cover their bodies. Then after many millions of years, their remains become fossilized with the fleshy parts gradually turning into stone. The process is so slow that it takes millions of years to form fossils.

With the Titanic wreck, we find bodies that sink to the ocean floor in water cold enough to inhibit bacterial growth, although bacteria do exist there (Ibid.). After seventy-three years, explorers found human artifacts, such as shoes, that had not been covered with enough sediment to obscure them from sight. The human remains in them disappeared in less than a century; and given a little more time, the artifacts will themselves disappear, including the ship itself.

Given that scenario, why are there no Titanic fossils, yet the earth has a great number of fossils of large land-dwelling and ocean-going animals? Because fossils cannot form as the scientists say. Suppose that some 205 million years ago a plesiosaur was swimming in the warm waters of the infamous inland sea that once covered parts of North America. Suddenly it suffers cardiac arrest and dies with no trauma. Slowly it sinks to the bottom of that relatively shallow inland sea. Slowly the sediment covers its large body until it is completely covered. Gradually the pressure of the weight of the sediment build up so much that it turns into a fossil. This is such a common process, that over millions and millions of years, the earth is covered with fossil beds containing the fossilized remains of billions of animals (That does not even count “fossil fuels”).

Observable science? Hardly. Nowhere on earth is such a scenario taking place. For a list of fossil sites, go here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fossil_sites. Yes, there are many fossil sites around the world, but none that have fossils actually being formed in the way scientists have led us to believe.

The wreck of the Titanic was an observable process of what actually happens, and takes place virtually everywhere a creature dies in water. If the animal sinks, it is usually devoured long before sediment can cover it. Other animals and scavengers pick off the flesh. If any bones survive, they might sink to the bottom, but they will disappear relatively quickly, certainly less than a million years. Yet fossils are supposedly hundreds of millions of years old.

The only way that you could get a fossil of an animal large enough for the Jurassic Park franchise would be if, say, a T Rex were to sink to the bottom of a body of water and be covered rapidly before something could eat it. As observed with the Titanic we can see that does not happen in the natural uniformitarian model of geology today. Maybe once in a great while we should expect to find one fossil, but there are billions of them known today. Not only are there so many, they cover vast areas that could not be explained by large numbers of land-dwelling creatures living near the edge of a vast inland sea.

What do we actually see? We cannot observe the process of fossilization taking place. We see large graveyards of extinct animals all buried together in layers of sediment. (Think water. That’s where sediment comes from.) We have not observed what they ate. We have not observed how they lived. All of it is speculation, not observable science.

What does the Bible say about fossils? Well, that word is not in the Bible. (You can refer back to my previous articles about words not found in the Bible.) However, the Bible does describe an event so catastrophic that it can explain the formation of most, if not all the fossil beds. That event was the worldwide flood found in Genesis 6-9. There it says: “And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: all in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark” (7:19-23 KJV). This hardly describes a local river flood.

That event can explain the evidence that we see today, whereas the other scenario cannot. Such a world-wide catastrophe could rapidly bury such a large number of animals, both great and small, quickly enough to prevent predators or scavengers from eating them. That would give them time to fossilize. Only the Bible gives adequate insight to explain such a world-wide, man-made climate change.