Friday, August 12, 2016

Of Mice and Men and Science

mouse-portrait

Did you see this  article in the news some time ago ?

I always love when science 'catches up' with the bible. After multiples tries and many discarded, amended, adjusted attempts at understanding  the world we live in and defining how things work, science does sometimes confirm the truth.

In Gen. 9:2 God says this .. "and the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air , on all that move on the earth.... "   

I used to wonder how this could be since God originally created animals to be Adam's 'friends', yet something changed when God told Noah after the flood that, from then on, animals would fear man So how is it that today animals still  fear man, unless with patient retraining they are 'tamed'?
What happened that permanently changed the animals' instinctive trust of man to an instinctive fear of man?

Seems science has found the answer.

Using foot shocks lab mice were trained to fear a fragrance resembling orange blossoms.  To the surprise of the scientists somehow there was a transfer of information regarding the 'danger' of this fragrance into the sperm of the trained mice.
This ensured that the 'fear'  response to that particular scent  was passed on to their young.   The other surprising result was that the successive generations had an even greater fear response to the 'smell' and needed a smaller amount of fragrance to trigger the response.

Interesting to note, isn't it, that  next time a wild animal flees from you in fear you can know that it is still displaying something learned by its ancestors that lived in Noah's time. It  is literally the 'smell' of man that triggers the fear of man in animals, just as the mice in the quoted experiment were trained by a 'smell'.

God's word is true, and it is always true, no matter how long it takes science to figure something out!!

I was wondering ....
God says in Duet. 5:9 that the iniquity of the fathers is passed down to the children, to the third and fourth generations.  BUT those who love God and keep His commandments experience God's mercy.
We have indication in our language usage  that people are aware of this 'passing down' - from parent to child - of characteristics , behavior patterns, addictions etc.
Familiar phrases are .. "Like father, like son..."  or "he's a chip off the old block" , or "that's a family trait".

From the initial brainstorming work of two scientists, Moshe Szyf, a moecular biologist and geneticist at McGill University in Montreal, and Michael Meaney, a McGill neurobiologist,  there spawned a whole new field, behavioral epigenetics.   This study has shown that our DNA is permanently changed by what we experience in our childhoods - negative or positive -  be it abuse or deprivation or loving affirmation.  

While God meant it for our good -- that our DNA would carry in it the pattern of the good example our parents modeled before us, so that it would be easier for us to 'do and live right' -- it also works against us if less than a good example is lived out by our childhood caregivers. Then our DNA is changed to follow a negative pattern, and we follow our parents'  tendency toward depression, or violence or anxiety. 
   
But isn't it reassuring, and comforting to know that all negative patterns that affected us in our growing up years  can be overturned by God's grace? 
 If we look to Him as our Savior, we are given a new start, we are a new creation, and are given a new example to follow.   Jesus  showed us the way,  He expressed God's love toward us, and when we come to Him in our brokenness,  He heals our hearts minds and spirits.
He gives us a new identity and  writes HIS DNA on our hearts.  


"I will give you a new name..."
 Isa_62:2 
 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
 I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." 
Eze_36:26 


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Sunday Moth


My husband and I were driving to church on Sunday, a beautiful blue-sky kind of day.
Suddenly, I caught movement in my left eye's  peripheral vision,  and before I could think to see what it was, something landed with a small thump on my glasses, and all I could see was a big smudge. Yes, it was a moth and my husband happened to have his camera beside him to quickly snap a photo. I'm sorry the photo is blurred but it does prove the event!

Knowing me well,  my husband voiced my thoughts ... "You'll have to write a post about this."
I smiled and replied, "I'm already thinking."
I had my 'application lesson' in mind before we drove onto the church parking lot.

Moths in the bible are always spoken of as something that is destructive, destroying what is good or valued.
 Some  passage references  are ...
Job 4:19 - "How much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed before a moth?"
Matt. 6:19 - "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy..."
James 5:2 - "your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten."

But my inspiration  passage is found in Isaiah 51:7,8

"Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, 
you people in whose heart is my law,
Do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their revilings, 
for the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool, 
but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation."

In this passage the Lord is encouraging His people and contrasting them to the people who would reproach and revile them. 
It is the 'moth' that symbolizes the destruction coming upon those who reject the Lord and despise His law and His people.  

In this passage there is something the Lord wants us to know. 
 When the Lord says, "Listen to Me!", do we listen? or do we have selective hearing ....  

What does He want us to know that is important enough that He snaps us to attention -
"Listen to me!".
If you are a mother you understand perfectly how you need to make sure your child is focused and attentive if you  want him to remember what you are about to say.   

When the moth landed on my glasses, I was very happy I was wearing glasses that prevented the moth from flying into my eye.  
So also in the Isaiah passage the Lord is saying that we have protection from the 'moths' that would threaten us with intended harm.  

What is this protection over us?   Righteousness.

Our righteousness is two-fold. 
First it is the righteousness of Christ, a gift that covers us when we accept Him as our Savior.
Secondly, we must walk in that righteousness by doing the things that please the Lord, obeying the things He has commanded us to do. It is not enough to just be hearers of the Word , we must also be doers.  His laws are not a list of 'dos and don'ts' to make our days difficult , but rather God in His wisdom wrote a manual that instructs us on how we should live to be safe and happy and holy - a delight to our heavenly Father in the same way an obedient child is a delight to his parents. 

I am not aware of my glasses as I go through my day, but it is through them that I view everything around me.
In the same way,  we are to view the world around us through the 'glasses' of our righteousness.
If we "know righteousness and have God's law in our hearts" we will see clearly with wisdom and discernment. The 'moths' of this world will not be able to get past the protection that keeps us in peace, thankfulness and joy.

If we do not have our 'glasses' of righteousness on, our vision is blurred - we do not see clearly and we are vulnerable to all the enemy would bring against us. We are easily fooled by his lies, his deception, his temptations - all of which sound so good and reasonable to an 'unprotected' mind.

We know bad things happen even to good people, and pain or difficulties can cause a distracting 'smudge' to hinder our vision, but we can be assured of the faithfulness of God's promise  that as long as we 'wear' our righteousness the 'moths' of destruction will not be able to hurt us. They may touch our physical body, but not our soul or our spirit.

When we find ourselves in trouble, maybe the first question we need to ask ourselves is ... Were we protected by  'righteousness' to keep the 'moths' from harming us, or did we think we could get away with compromising godly righteousness and exchanging it for the counterfeit of the world's wisdom, so-called?

"My righteousness will be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation."
Herein we are safe, both in this earthly life and the eternal life to come!
.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Why Don't You Sing?

I enjoy watching the hummingbirds that come to drink of my flowers and my feeders on the patio. I hung the feeders for the pleasure of watching the beautiful birds they attract, but that I should learn life-lessons from them was unexpected.

I sat watching them the other day, and noted one bird tucking himself out of sight  in a corner, under the eaves,  obviously on guard watching for the other hummingbirds coming to drink at HIS feeding stations, There are more than one feeder,  but hummingbirds aren't into sharing.  I see them diving at one another and chasing each other away with their built-in swords pointing!

The only time I see any hummingbirds together is when a mother is teaching her young how and where to find food.  The rest of the time the only social interaction involves angerly chasing each other away from the feeders.
 Watching them I wondered if they feel emotions the way we do ... judging from their body language I have to conclude that they do.
It made me feel sad that such delicate, beautiful birds spend so much time fostering angry, greedy or other negative emotions against each other.

Then it occurred to me that hummingbirds don't sing - they have no song , just an angry snapping of their beaks when they want to warn someone that they better get out of their space!

I thought about the birds whose melodies wake me every morning, and I realized that every one of the little songsters are social birds that love one another and happily share food sources. The Western Tanagers, the Black-headed Chick-e-dees, the Juncos,, the Black-headed Grosbeaks, the warblers  all love one another and their joyful chorus bursts forth at the first flicker of morning light.  Every day they tirelessly sing the praise that God put into their little hearts.

Is 'unity' needful before we can have 'harmony' ?
Do angry feelings squelch the song in our heart?
Do you feel like singing when you are filled with angry feelings against someone - be they justified or not?   I know I don't.
It is a sobering thought  --  I don't want to be like the hummingbird.  I want God to hear my joyful praise every day - because I can't NOT express in song the joy He has put into my heart - the joy that overrules anger and hatred and greed.  Joy that is stirred into song, "because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts"~Rom. 5:5

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; 
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.
Psa_98:4  

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Where are you, God?


Where is God ?
When the darkness ‘round me closes in,
When fear and anxiety drum my heart’s din,
When all goodness is squeezed from my life,
When pain and suffering slash like a knife,
I fall,
I fail,
I call out in vain….
My tears drop like the rain…
Oh God, were can you be?
The answer is soft,
“I’m too close to see!”
                         julie klassen,2016

I was thinking about how  far away God seems at the darkest times in our life. When we need Him the most, we grope in vain to find Him. 
Through my mind paraded bible heroes of  faith, and I realized how they too went through 'dark' times when God seemed to be far away.  Yet, in hindsight,  we know their stories from God's perspective  and can easily see that God was the closest to them in the worst times. He was working out what was needful for His highest purpose in their lives. 

I thought of Joseph, suffering in prison for a crime he did not commit - then, when hope finally came, it was dashed for two more long years.  He was forgotten - no family, no friends - where was God?  He was preparing Joseph for the 'moment' when he would step into the role of second-to-Pharaoh - ruler in the land. Through Joseph, God would save the people.  The telling of his story has captured the imagination of thousands of generations!    

I thought of Elijah, who stood alone against a wicked king and his even more evil queen who wrathfully threatened his life.  Elijah fled in fear ... where was God?  God was so close He was in the whisper. 

I thought of Naomi, who fled with her family to a foreign land, to escape the famine and then lost her husband as well as her two sons.  She returned home , empty and feeling forsaken by God, with a heathen daughter-in-law who insisted on going with her. Had He forsaken her?  Oh no, God was too close to see - He was walking alongside putting the details in place for Naomi to be blessed through her daughter-in-law, Ruth, to be the grandmother of King David and in the genealogy of Jesus. 

I thought of David whose psalms express his heart's cries when he felt abandoned, unable to find God.  Yet, we know, God was close ... looking upon David as a 'man after His own heart' - a king who pre-figured the coming King of kings, Jesus! 

I thought of Job, who cried out for God and wished for death, unable to bear the darkness of his lonely pain and suffering.  Where was God? Close ... very close.. about to speak to Job in audible voice. God knew this short time of testing in Job's life would be written about and be God-glorifying for millennia to come.

I thought of Esther, who faced a life and death situation - in her words, "If I perish, I perish."   Where was God?   Hovering very close, about to use Esther "for that moment of purpose" where she would save her people. 

I thought of Abraham, climbing the mountain with his beloved son, ready to sacrifice him according to God's command.   Where was God?  Oh, so very close - about to provide in  prophetic picture the supreme sacrifice He would make in the death of His own Son. 

I thought of Jesus Himself , at the moment of His full humanity, when He cried out .. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?"    Where was God?   Oh...   so very close !  His love, through His Son, reaching out to save the whole world. 

God recorded these stories of bible characters for us, so that we can be encouraged and strengthened - so that we can be inspired to deepen our faith, having the assurance that even as God did not abandon them, neither will He abandon us in our time of need but will draw  near to us...  so near that He is too close for us to see. 

Duet. 31:6 "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear, nor be afraid of them, for the Lord you God, He is the One, who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."

Heb. 13:5b,6 "... For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you', so we may boldly say, ' The Lord is my helper, I will not fear, what can man do to me?' "

Malachi 3:6 .. "For I am the Lord, I do not change!"