The Butterfly Effect

I am neither a physicist nor a mathematician, but from what I have read about the “butterfly effect” is that it has to do with a seemingly inconsequential event or incident having momentous consequences. The “ripple effect” is similar in that it states that a single incident or occurrence may have consequences and ramifications beyond the scope of the original phenomenon. Apparently, these two concepts are part of “chaos theory.”

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What was I thinking?!?

When I think back at all the foolish, and even dangerous things I have done in the past I have to question my common sense (or sometimes my sanity).  Then there are the politically correct things that I violated time and time again without thinking.

 

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One time while playing in the neighbor’s field, I decided to start an ant farm, so I put as many ants in my pockets as I could and brought them home to show my mother.  You can imagine how she reacted.  At an even younger age, I decided the dining room walls needed some extra color, so I rubbed butter all over one of them.  The grease stain remained there for years as a reminder of my earliest art work.  As I approached my teen years, my neighbors and I discovered the excitement of rock fights.  Unlike today’s video war games, people could actually be physically injured.  Yet that didn’t stop us.  And remember that girls had “cooties” and people with glasses were known as “four-eyes.”  Later, when I became an adult coach, we were just leaving a competition,  when one of my runners decided to drop his shorts and flash his backside at the other team’s bus.  I gave him a choice, to get thrown off the team or submit to one of the killer hill workouts designed by his teammates.  We ran him the next day until he literally cried.  Can you imagine the lawsuits that would be filed against me today.  Yet, we never had another incident like that.  His parents were in agreement with what happened.  And the young man remains a friend to this day.  And, if you can imagine, my wife and I always hosted a sleep-over for the boys’ and girls’ teams at the end of the season.  I wouldn’t dare try that today.  Different times, different perceptions.
Yet even as a successful coach, I always believed that God, family, character and education always came before sports.  I tried to portray that in my life and in my relationship with each of my runners–male and female.  At the end of one our of the state championship seasons, the teams presented me with a sweatshirt that said, “Test Your Faith Daily.”  As a math teacher, I tried to help my students avoid the “weapons of math destruction.”  And not to be so open-minded that their brains would fall out.  Because it was important to learn that everything is black and white.  There are no “fifty shades of grey.”  Sin is sin and one sin is not more sinful than another.  And it is sin that separates us from God.  It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.  (Isaiah 59:2)
Modern man attempts to explain away belief in God and His redemptive hand.  Some even use logic to conclude that on the off-chance that God exists, isn’t it best to live a good life?  That way if He does exist, they will be covered.  Even in the Book of Acts, as the followers of Christ were having more and more of an impact,  a Pharisee named Gamaliel said to the religious leaders,  So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown;  but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)  Church tradition says that Gamaliel became a follower of Christ, so he knew what he was talking about–even if the others didn’t.
Remember that all knowledge comes from God. For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.(Proverbs 2:6)  And, if you want to live the kind of life God wants for you, you simply have to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
But what about those sins “that so often beset us?”  Especially those that we have the hardest time with?  I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.  Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Decide to follow Him always.  What have you got to lose?

Behold the Man!

Men have tried for years to prove or disprove what the life and death of Jesus meant to the world.  The recorded events of prophesy and of His life are explained in detail in the Bible.  Yet there are many who sincerely refute this historical record.  Unfortunately, they are sincerely wrong.    Here is a written snapshot of one man’s sincere belief:

‘Neath starry skies, the shepherds came

Led by the angel choir.

A child was born to take our shame

And set our souls on fire.

———-

When as a child, He tried to teach,

The wise men were surprised.

To find a boy who knew to preach,

With words so undisguised.

———-

For many years He worked with wood

Until the time had come

For Him to serve the common good

His Father said, “My Son.”

———-

A mountain top He went to pray.

The devil tempted Him.

The spoken Word kept him at bay.

and kept the Lord from sin.

———

 Twelve men he chose to spread the Word–

The first of many more.

They weren’t too sure of what they heard,

But they could not ignore.

———-

The miracles that He performed–

He called Himself God’s son.

The tortured lives that He transformed

Made Him the Holy One.

———

He taught His followers to pray,

First giving God their praise.

Believe in Him, and come what may,

His answers would amaze.

———

The leaders of that ancient time

Felt threatened by this Man.

The Son of God charged with a crime

Yet this was still God’s plan.

———-

The Roman court soon heard their cries.

He knew it was His time.

They nailed HIs hands and then His feet,

Just like a guilty man.

———

His human life came to an end.

For all the world to see.

Then down to hell He did descend

To set the captives free.

———

His Father’s plan was incomplete

Until He rose again.

Both death and hell He did defeat

To God He did ascend..

———

He promised them before He rose

That they would have a place

To give them peace from all their foes

And see Him face to face.

———-

The promise that to them He gave

Still works for us today.

He came to earth to heal and save

Forever and a day.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

And why  isn’t even more written about what He did?  Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written. (John 21:25)

“When the answer Is simple, God is speaking.” (Albert Einstein)

2 Corinthians 11:3 – But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Getting to know God through Christ should be–and is–simple.  Simple enough for little children to understand.  Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them.  But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:13-14)

So let’s summarize the basic plan…

How it started

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Genesis 1:31).

How it was supposed to be

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply.  Fill the earth and govern it.  Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.  And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good (Genesis 1:28-31)

Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.  (Genesis 2:15).

The one rule God gave

The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die (Genesis 2:16-17)

How temptation entered

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”  “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied.  “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”  “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman.  “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5)

How sin entered

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too (Genesis 3:6)

The immediate consequence of sin

Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth.  And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.  And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you.  All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.  It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains.  By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made.  For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:16-19)  Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it?  Then they will live forever!”  So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. (Genesis 3:22-23)

The eventual consequence of sin

For in the day that you eat from it, you will surely die (Genesis 2:17).  For the wages of sin is death (Romans : ).

Where man stands today

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) No amount of soap or lye can make you clean. I still see the stain of your guilt. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken! (Jeremiah 2:22)  For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. (II Peter 2:4-9)

How to avoid the penalty of death and hell

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household. (Acts 16:31)  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (II Corinthians 5:21)  There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

Summary

God made everything and He is good.

Man messed up.

Separation from God, suffering, death and hell resulted.

Man still sins today.

Jesus paid our penalty and conquered hell and death.  His is the only acceptable sacrifice.

We accept his sacrifice and avoid spiritual death and hell or we don’t accept it and have to pay the penalty ourselves for all eternity.

The choice is simple.  Any questions?…

Six Degrees of Separation?

Six Degrees of Separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any person in the world, so that a chain of a friend of a friend statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.  In the Old Testament, God spoke through His prophets, who then spoke to the people, who then may have or may not have shared the message with others.  Regardless, no one ever made that direct, face to face connection.  Moses came close and the power and glory of that near meeting was such that Moses had to wear a covering over himself because the Israelites couldn’t bear the reflected residual glory of God.

Jesus changed all that with His arrival in the New Testament.  It’s amazing to know that God was willing to send his son to make that personal connection to Himself available to each of us.  It may still require a series of others to enable each of us to get to that point.  But once there, it’s more than just the knowledge that  we’re vaguely connected to someone–perhaps in a different part of the world.  We are directly connected to God the Father through Jesus His Son.  The best that six degrees of separation can hope for is an indirect connection six times removed.

How does this take place?  It’s simple.  Each of us has to make a decision to trust and believe in the saving power of Jesus Christ. We must believe that He is the Son of God and that He died for our sins and then put our lives in His hands.  His death and resurrection has made that direct connection to Abba Father possible.  So why hasn’t everyone taken that step?  The saddest reason is that some simply haven’t been told.  Romans 10:14 says, But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  My greatest wish is make sure that all I say, do , and think proclaims Jesus to all around me.  My greatest fear is that everything is my life does not. But knowing I am directly connected to the One who created all things–including me–helps me to set aside my fears and strive to make my wish come true.