One Minute Bible Study Road Trip 2019

Trip Bible Studies

Joan and I spent Friday at Arlington Cemetery. I will put together some thoughts later on down the road. We have a campsite NW of Manassas. I spoke to the Manassas church Saturday morning and then we went off in two directions. Joan and I went downtown. Here is a recap of my encounters:

Sanderval’s, a couple, English/Spanish speaking in front of medical clinic, waiting for their turn. I share some Spanish lingo: Mi esposa habla Espanol muy bien. They choose “Affordable Healthcare”: him: all mess up and we should learn from our mistakes Me: leads to clear annunciation of the gospel and Christ’s death on the cross. They pray a prayer of salvation. I point to the church across the church. They ask where my wife is. She is off in the distance. We return and she introduces herself as they talk some Spanish.

A couple taking a cigarette break. Maybe owners of the flower shop we are at the side of. He gives me a nice guy break and allows me to do one with him, 50 Shades of Sin. He gets the message: sin destroys. We talk a bit as Joan talks with the woman. Friendly man who kept the door open.

I see an athlete jogging by me. He finishes and goes into a walk. He looks like a boxer, I catch up with him, “hey boxer”. He takes his ear plugs out. I ask him if he is a boxer. Yes, and soccer also. We talk. He chooses “Clear Mind”. He tells me his church history. He used to go to the Sat. evening mass with his father. Now nothing for anyone in his family. I tell him how I used to go to the Sat. evening mass with my father because it was the fastest mass in history. He laughs and agrees. I ask him about his future. He says he had a long term relationship that did not work out, bringing pain into his life. He describes his current girlfriend and he uses word “chivalry” to describe her. I think he means there is something old fashion about their dating. We talk of the importance of doing things right. I give him opportunity to go further; but end with an encouragement to let God help him create his future.

I head over to the farmer’s market here in Manassas. I find a man in the shade at the entrance. I ask him if he works here. He says he is working at taking up this shade. We talk. I am wearing my father’s red USMC hat to honor his life over the memorial weekend. Our man was a chaplain in Korea and Viet Nam. His wife approaches and gives us space. We do “healthcare”. He knows the scriptures. Pleasantness to the encounter. Wife respectfully joins him as I bid them God’s blessings.

Walked the “midway” I found two Jehovah Witnesses at the main entry. They are bit annoyed that I want to do a bible study with them. They let me know that they probably know everything I might have to share and suggest them sharing what they have with me. I press a bit. I mention the 10 rules of dating. Do they know the 10 rules. The one man starts off right: no touching, then adds chaperone, group dating, watching the person from afar, spiritual judgments, moving towards marriage…I break in as he runs out of steam. Rule # 1 and Rule #2-10. They are still not happy with how this has gone, I am distracting them from potential customers; I am not one. I take my leave.

I come across a young couple with their dog. The man is coughing. I say “this too shall pass” as I enter their orbit. Would you do a one minute bible study with me? The man lets me know that they probably shouldn’t since they do not know anything about the bible. I say “all the more reason to” and I ask again and he says yes. He picks the enjoyed marriage. They both seem interested. I ask them if they are married. They are not. Maybe we should start with the 10 rules of dating. I say no this is good to see what the goal is. The first verse states “who can find a woman of virtue, her husband’s heart safely trusts in her”. The woman seemed to be drawn to the verses. Husbands love, wives submit (no opposition) dwell together in understanding and finally Isaac “loved her”. I ask about Isaac. They don’t know. I explain the situation. I return to the goal, to have husband and wife who will love each other. My marriage: 35 years. Love God, love my wife and enjoy the life that God has given us. They seemed pleased about the encounter. We talk dogs, I share some literature.

I stand at the fence to a playground. I ask the man sitting about 15 feet away if he would do a study with me. He says “why not?” I motion him over and he chooses Clear mind. I pause at the last one: bringing every thought into captivity to Christ. I mention all of the heart aches of life and the healing power of bringing them to Christ before letting them get to us. He shares some of his worries and frustrations. He mentions church. They only go once in a while, he and his girlfriend because of distance. I encourage him. Mention the local church. Mention marriage, he knows. He thanks me saying it has brought some encouragement to him.

I run into a family on bikes at the plaza. I ask the father. He says yes, the family freezes. He chooses clear mind. I let him know this is the internationally top choice. I do the bible study. Attentive family. He thanks me, calls me brother, and thanks me for my service. I speak of my Dad. Then, thanks for honoring your father. That is the proper Christian response, it should always be “yes”.

I speak with another family on a bench who had just shown up to Manassas from Wisconsin. The man picks clear mind. The wife talks about how they used to go to church years ago. Maybe the time has come again. I give them some church lit.

Another family at another bench at the plaza. My request brings a squeal of delight from the oldest girl. Again we do clear mind, nothing much to go on but enjoyed the two daughters taking interest in their Dad as he did the bible study.

I have been talking with a 25 year Marine vet here for possibly the last Rolling Thunder. The pastor starts talking with him and I excuse myself to do a Spanish bible study with two men. They choose “Una Mente Clara”. They read the verses. I speak my broken Spanish, they speak some broken English. We establish that they are there looking for girls. Esposas? They will take what they can get.

My final Saturday encounter was with a family sitting on a bench. Two young girls and Mom and Dad. I make my request and the man takes the phone from me. He picks “Enjoyed Marriage” and begins to read the verses to his wife. Too good! Meanwhile, Joan has come to be to help her access the Spanish version. The girls ask me what she wanted. I tell them and ask them if they speak Spanish. They don’t but they speak Russian. I get animated an speak one of the few Russian words I learned while in zdravstvujtye (ZDRAH–stvooy-t‘eh). Mom, comes alive, we talk Russia. She is from Belorussia. We talk church, family and making life work. I invite them to church.

That evening we all met at the downtown pavilion for some food and fellowship.

Sunday we preached for Pastor Rocky Colona and his wife, Ingrid, south of Alexandria. I had done a revival for him about 12 years ago when he was just starting out. The church has done well and his wife Ingrid went overseas to Miramar for 4 years. They were able to set up camp back in their old church. They planted Joseph and Mi Hwa in Manassas where we did our outreach Saturday. We had met them for dinner at their house Friday night (home made Korean cooking) and now preached the evening service for them. They have a great group of people. We went to ice cream afterwards. We said our “goodbyes” and spent our last night in the campsite before leaving in the morning.

We got an early start and headed out Highway 50 through Middleburg and Uppertown. It is Southern horse country. Stopped to read the Civil War markers. Jeb Stuart had battled twice in Uppertown, both times shielding Lee’s movements. The cemetery there was marked with Union and Confederate flags on this Memorial Day Monday. We slowly made our way to Winchester, site of three Civil War engagements. Spent a two hour Starbucks stop, seemed like the Sunday took more out of us than we realized. I wrote my post from yesterday as Joan just enjoyed the break.

We explored the town and I did a bible study with three young skaters. They chose “Pokémon”. I explained the search for wisdom that was part of the verses. They thought they were referring to the search for “Pokémon” things. As we talked things got interesting. One of the young men was saved and went to church; even getting his two Catholic friends to accompany him a couple of times. We shared knowing looks as I talked to the other two. Does God do that? Does he send gospel messengers to the people I am praying for and ministering to? The answer for this young man today is “yes”. Last note: when the young men introduced themselves it was cool, they all had different last names that ended in …son.

We visited a cattle auction before heading over the mountains on 50. Found a family restaurant for a meal. We made Romney. The town, an important railroad junction, during the civil war had changed hands 50 times during the war. We drove around in the mid-afternoon heat but never ran into anyone. We went down to the river, these are the headwaters of the Potomac. I had planned on staying a while, but we pushed onto Grafton.

Grafton is described as a poor, deteriorating town. We made our way to the old downtown along the river. There was the magnificent 5 story or more old brick hotel. Beautiful but unused. I stopped to do a bible study with two young men walking. I pulled ahead of them and got out of the car coming around to them. As I called to them I stepped over the 6 inch curb that turned out to be 12 inches. Down I went as I totally flipped as I rolled out of the fall.

Tough to turn down a 64 year old man for a bible study after seeing a fall like that. They showed proper concern and helped me to my feet. I recovered my composure and asked them to do a bible study. They said “yes”. They chose “Affordable Healthcare”. Knowing what I had read about Grafton, the verses seemed to fit. Grafton was described by one writer as one of the poorest of poor West Virginia cities. The verses pointed to the ideas of returning and repenting which would lead to a healing of body, soul and land. Dakota and Nick listened and Dakota took the lead after I asked them how long they had lived here. I was assuming I would be talking to young people who felt trapped in a dying town. No they both had moved here. Nick had moved here a couple of years ago with his family. He is 15 now. Dakota’s family had been transplanted here from Jacksonville NC by the Federal Government after the hurricane of last summer.

We talked some about life. Found out that Dakota had worked for a company that seals mine shafts. He excitedly exhibited his knowledge of the chemical miracles that went into sealing these shafts. He has worked for them as a temp and needs to get a driver’s license in order to be hired full time at 19 an hour. So what’s the problem? We talked about getting things done and making it happen. I challenged them both, Dakota to ask God to help him get it together to get his job and Nick to ask God to help him at school. I had already given them my testimony and now I explained salvation, separate from them asking God to help them. The question would God hear them and help them? Even if they are not saved?

Their families had gone to church when they were young. How appropriate were the verses, “I will heal your backslidings” for the town and these two young men. Joan would have an excellent witness with a young man as we charged our phones at McDonald’s before heading out to a state campground south of town for the night.

It poured rain through the night. We decided to head up to Wheeling where we would dry our things, do some bible studies before heading to the Cunningham’s in New Philadelphia OH where I will preach Wed.

We stopped at a commercial laundromat in Wheeling where we washed and dried everything we could. Joan did a bible study with a lady while we waited. I checked out the weather and it looked like we were heading for more heavy rain. I called Tom and asked if we could show up early. We would spend two rainy nights with the Cunningham’s.

I have always wanted to explore Wheeling. We had taken 70 over the river and through the city several times over the years but had never stopped. We went downtown and had a nice lunch at a coffee place: Sarah’s on Main. We then went south from downtown doing some bible studies with different people. The atmosphere seemed depressed and this section of town could use a redo. We headed east and I did one with a young vet. We talked future outside some kind of location for vets. My most upbeat study was with a basketballer on the island between West Virginia and Ohio. This has some beautiful restored mansions as well as plenty needing restoring. We did the bible study and he explained to me about his recent operation on his brain. He showed me the scar. He seemed Ok to me, but what shined through was his spirit that believed that God would help him. It was encouraging.

Pastor Cunningham welcomed us in his grand style. We had been fellow pastors in the Northwest but we became best of friends in Zambia. He is a walking revival everywhere he goes. We had come together to New Philadelphia to scout out the land. He and his wife would come back to their home town to start a new church about 5 years ago. When we first visited we ran into three different people who remembered Tom and wanted to talk with him. The most memorable was the owner of a candy shop who heard us talking in his store from the back room. In a booming voice he shouted: “I’d recognize that voice anywhere; Tom Cunningham”. He is a known man in this town.

I only did one bible study while in town with an older rancher. We talked my Pastor, Dave Robinson, cowboy extraordinaire. The visit turned into a time of relaxing and fellowshipping. We preached Wed. night for his church and had a last cup of coffee together as we headed west Thursday morning.

My original sense of meandering through the towns along Highway 50 wasn’t quite happening as I planned. We would spend the weekend in Sparta, sleeping in our own bed. So I planned to visit with a pastor friend, Tom Rushline and his wife Rose, in Brazil Indiana where we would do bible studies in the park before meeting them for dinner in Terre Haute. We then continued west that night to spend the night in Lincoln Trail State Park in Illinois.

Our Brazil outreach was pleasant. We stopped by their church. He had left the door open. We got some literature as well as some onion bulbs that someone was giving away. The park beckoned. I made a mistake that I made only once on the trip. Here is the mistake: “Would you please do a one minute bible study with me?” This is a straightforward request that gets a clear yes or no. I have learned from experience to thank a person who says no and move on. When I don’t, it is a disaster. It becomes me trying to turn their no to a yes and never works out. I am used to always getting “yes’s” on basketball courts. Part of it is my confidence of association with the sport. I have interrupted games to do my bible study, even did it in Germany. So I was shocked when two young guys gave me a no at the basketball court. I should have let it go but I tried to drum up something and walked away reminding myself not to do that anymore. I recovered.

Joan, in the meantime, was using her Pokémon skills to do bible studies all over the park and had some great times of ministry. I would end up doing several also. One was with a worker at the golf course. We did the bible study while a golfer looked on trying not to show interest. As I walked away the golfer followed me to start a conversation. He was afraid of what kind of Christian I was; but now wanted to hear and see how the idea worked. We had a good conversation.

Friday we would be heading to Sparta. Once again, I picked a town to stop in to do bible studies. We chose Salem, IL. Sometimes I sub for the special schools where the kids are not allowed back into the regular high schools for a given amount of time. I remember one kid talked of his home town Salem. He described it as a town where everyone was on drugs. It is at the crossroads of interstate 57 and hwy 50. We have driven through the town many times without ever stopping. Today we would investigate the town a bit. We did bible studies at the park, had a great breakfast at a local diner south of town; but the highlight was running into the teachers and students who were doing their driver’s ed. We caught them as one group came in and the other went out. The kids all said yes and the teacher’s said yes also. One of the teachers was from a local Christian college in Greenville. She thanked Joan over and over again for doing the bible studies. It wasn’t the beat up town described by my student.

We slept in our own bed Friday, Saturday, Sunday and even Monday since we had some business to take care of Tuesday morning. Our Sparta outreach was a quiet affair. We drove around the town like we have done many times before. It was nice throwing in the knowledge that we were in the middle of a cross country trip doing these bible studies. Some of our church people met us for some food at the park as we ended the outreach. I would then preach Sunday for our church.

Time, energy and money could be allotted to our journey in such a way so as to involve and touch more people. This would not be that journey. This was me as Jonathon and Joan as my armor bearer:

I Sam 14:6 Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.” 7 So his armorbearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart.”

What a wife!

Monday we did a quick strike into Ferguson, the infamous suburb of Saint Louis. We did many bible studies. Joan had a great one with a young girl who was coming home from her first day of summer school. After the bible study she would pray with Joan and we ended up talking with her for quite some time. A young person with hope for the future.

Tuesday we would head west again. I decided to shoot for a campground north of Pittsburg KS where I would preach Wed. night for Pastor Ryan Burtch and his wife April. We would stay in the campground Tuesday and Wed. nights. We went through flooded Jefferson City and stopped in Sedalia on Highway 50 before heading south. Joan and I wandered the old downtown. She did several bible studies. I stepped into a Christian Bookstore to purchase a discounted student bible dictionary to give to Julia our oldest grandchild in Reno. I started talking with the owner and we talked about Biblesoft. Missouri had been one of the states I sold the software. He remembered those days, he doesn’t carry any bible software anymore. I don’t think many stores do nowadays. One thing led to another and we did a bible study. He got all the info and said he would introduce it to the church he pastors. It was a fun visit in a cool town.

As was our custom we set up camp in the dark and prepared to go into Pittsburg KS the next day. We stopped for breakfast at the Eastside café in Gerard. We would do a couple of bible studies in the town square. Pastor Burtch has had good outreaches in this town. The café coffee was great, when the waitress was asked about it she beamed with pride as she described the freshly ground coffee they serve. I took notice of one of the workers. He was talking with a customer at the register. She asked how long he had been working here. He answered and then said: “Same pay, different place; just living the dream”. It was his cynical confidence about his understanding of life that struck me. I didn’t say anything to him; but I wait for the day when a young person would grab the vision that goes with the Christian walk and run with it. Think about a 1000 young people making their way along Highway 50 doing bible studies as they went. I’ll bet they would be living the dream.

We made our way to town and spent the morning with the pastor. He is a young man with energy to spare. We ended up sitting and talking for several hours before meeting April and his daughter for lunch. He is a skater, singer, high tech guy who pastors the church in Pittsburg. He has made his church a sanctuary for the tweakers with the patient support of the older saints.

Joan and I would outreach around town before going back to camp to change for church. I did a bible study in Spanish with three Guatemalan men. As I was walking through the park back to the car to rendezvous with Joan I was being buzzed by a drone. I looked around but could only see one person sitting with their head down. As I got closer to the car I realized that this person sitting with her head down was actually flying the drone while her goggles allowed her to see and control the flight while being in the drone. Too cool! We talked about it. They had just moved from Colorado, too expensive. She had completed therapy and now this was her therapy. I mentioned David’s famous phrase: “Oh if I had wings of a dove…” She was able to fly away at times. We did a bible study, talked some more, Joan showed up and I introduced her. We had a good church service that night followed by some ice cream.

Thursday turned out to be a driving day. We explored Fort Scott and did a few bible studies. We spent a long day driving through Kansas. We camped out that night in Colorado, John Martin Reservoir. The next day we went into La Junta for coffee. The coffee shop happened to be next door to our fellowship church. I talked with a local pastor in the coffee shop who knew our fellowship pastor. We did a few bible studies in the park and headed for Colorado Springs. We would be camping out Friday and Saturday in a private campgrounds just south of the city in the foothills of the mountains.

We zeroed in on Memorial Park. We did lots of bible studies in the park. We would walk around the lake in the park three times over the next two days. I would let people know we were living out of the trunk of our car. Everyone was helpful and friendly. I was talking with one homeless couple. As we talked I asked him if he was going upstream or downstream. We settled on treading water. He then said: “I think I need to start swimming for shore”. It was funny they both knew what that involved; it involved working again.

We would have dinner Friday night with Pastor Lowell Guzman and his wife Judy. They are the picture of competence. He is an ex-paratrooper IT specialist and she is a successful marketer in anything she gets involved in. Their church is filled with professionals like themselves. The official Saturday outreach would have the pastor and his wife handing out flyers and Joan and I accompanied by David going around the lake. Our outreach turned out to be eventful as David and I made our way around the lake. We would run into people who knew Joan and I at this point. We went up to a group of people. The woman chose “The Enjoyed Marriage”. I read the scriptures. They let us know they had come down to the park with their friends to celebrate their fifth year of marriage. It was a well timed moment.

We would meet up that night at 6:00 to share some pizza at the park with David, the Doctor from Bermuda and another tech worker from the church. Sorry, names escape me at this moment. It was a pleasant get together in every way. The doctor is the spitting image of Doctor Okello in our Mazabuka, Zambia church. He is the dentist for the the maximum security prison in Canon City. El Chapo would be coming soon. He has many stories to tell. Church would prove what outreach method is best. Would it be doing bible studies (yay) or handing out flyers (boo)? We had visitors from the flyers that the pastor handed out.

Joan and I made our way west after the morning service. I even received two Pentecostal handshakes after the service. We had lunch in Pueblo, stopped at the Gorge and made our way to Gunnison to camp out for the next two nights. The second night in Colorado Springs it had rained some and mainly was windy and noisy through the night. It was our first cold night of the trip. It was cold each night in Gunnison, plus it was our first camping spot without showers. We spent some time in Montrose and viewed the canyon and made a good hike. I had taken the advice of a travel book and booked a motel for two nights in Grand Junction where we would preach for Pastor Antonio De Leon and his wife Angelia. We took their family out to dinner Tuesday night after walking the town. They were a great family. His kids were well behaved at the restaurant and they have a great attitude about life and the ministry.

The cold had taken a toll on me more than Joan. Our nights in the hotel were worst than our campouts. The first night, loud fan and no cooling equals no sleep. The next night et least the cooling was working. We gave it a slow outreach on a very hot day that Wednesday before service. I talked with one man in the park and did “Overcoming the Dark Side”. I could feel the darkness of life squeeze the man. The scriptures point to just a little bit of faith. It was a lifeline being extended to the man. We had a good service followed by: you guessed it: ice cream.

Joan would drive the last two days of driving from Grand Junction to Great Basin National Park in Nevada just cross the Utah border and the final jaunt to Reno. We stopped in Delta Utah for some Mexican food. We did some bible studies in the park. I happened to do one with the only black man in Delta. He actually was an African. We shared African notes and he asked me to speak a word in an African dialect. The only word I used and now remember is “Dalumba Kapate” or thank you. I didn’t get to Mormonism with him.

We got the last primitive campsite in Great Basin National Park. It was a nice visit. We drove as high as we could, hiked a trail of a diverted stream, for gold mining in the day and slid into our campsite. Woke up and Joan drove us up to Reno. We were going to spend time in Ely; but our energy levels were low and the grandchildren were beaconing.

We spent the Saturday having fun with the grandkids. In the afternoon we helped their father, Billy, set up for a skater park outreach. We had to leave mid outreach to meant with Pastor Mike Zapata and his wife Stephanie. Each time we started to possibly outreach more of his church people would call and say hold on. We ate pizza and I addressed the church and we did a question and answer. Stephanie asked if I would share my testimony. I did and it seemed like a perfect evening. It was low key and it fit my low key energy level.

I would preach for Pastor Mike’s young church Sunday morning and Pastor Oliver’s church (he was out of town) Sunday night. I would drive back to Sparta 15 hours on Monday to the far side of Denver and 13 hours on Tuesday to get in at 9:00. Jesus and Audra had showed up Sunday and Joe and Laura Michelle showed up Tuesday. Joan would be with our three daughters, their husbands and our six grand children till Saturday with a Thursday night adventure at the rodeo.

Concluding thoughts: I had sent a thank you email to the churches that I preached and outreached for. Here is part of that thank you:

“thanks for giving me the opportunity to preach to your folks on our evangelism trip. We took 24 days to travel from Manassas to Reno, a distance we drove in 3 days leaving and returning to Sparta. We did bible studies in Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah and Nevada with over a hundred people. We camped out 14 nights, stayed with a Pastor Cunningham 2 nights, spent 4 nights in Sparta and stayed in a motel for 2 nights. We did outreaches for specific churches in Manassas, Brazil IN, Sparta, Pittsburg, KS, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction CO, and Reno.

I have no great insights to share; we walked by faith not by sight with every bible study we did just as we do in Sparta. We trust God and His promises concerning His word going forth.

It would be exciting for a ministry to take on the project of repeating the trip multiplying the travelers, and organizing events at the Saturday stops. The impact of a 1000 people traveling along Highway 50 doing bible studies and rendezvousing for Saturday events could be multiplied by God for His glory.”

I am not sure if I was looking for fireworks, but I came home and it was over and yet it wasn’t. I am still on the trip I am just back in Sparta. I mowed the church lawn this morning. As I was returning home, the road was blocked as some young people were talking with someone in a car. The black guy slowly moved out of the way of my slowing vehicle as I went around. I stop. “Would you do a one minute bible study with me?” Yes, I ask him his age. 18, in fact I had done with him when he was 16 in Cool Valley. He chooses 10 rules. We talk a bit. I point to the church. Let Tyree know if he shows I’ll buy McDonalds and life goes on…for eternity.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“I can feel it coming in the air tonight, Oh Lord”

Scott Johnson of Powerline commented upon an article for “The Claremont Review of Books”. It was by David Gelernter: “Giving Up Darwin”.

Enjoyed reading the article. Let me try and combine this with another article: “Back Row America”, by Chris Arnade at “First Things”.

I have used a memory quote from George Gilder from a Wired article in 1999 that I have never been able to find online. The quote was elicited from Gilder as one of many who was asked about what changes we would see in the new century. He said there would be a cultural shift  of some kind as people realize that they had been lied to about the “fact” of evolution.

Lied to is pretty strong; but lets face it there is no foundation left to uphold evolution. When Francis Crick helped discover DNA he knew the gig was up. What does he believe instead of evolution? Life came from outer space; anything but God.

Welcome to the revolution David Gelernter. A little late; but great to have you on board. This incredible thinker has finally seen through the haze of Darwinian evolution to realize there is nothing there. It was nice that the work of Stephen Meyer had a lot to do with this transformation (they wanted to take away his doctorate because he gave them the right answers but didn’t believe them).

But, he doesn’t seem happy about it.

Let me get some quotes from “Giving Up Darwin”:

Darwinian evolution is a brilliant and beautiful scientific theory. Once it was a daring guess. Today it is basic to the credo that defines the modern worldview. Accepting the theory as settled truth—no more subject to debate than the earth being round or the sky blue or force being mass times acceleration—certifies that you are devoutly orthodox in your scientific views; which in turn is an essential first step towards being taken seriously in any part of modern intellectual life. But what if Darwin was wrong?

He then tells us how sad he is to lose this beautiful theory. Seems like only now is it described as a theory.

This is sad. It is no victory of any sort for religion. It is a defeat for human ingenuity. It means one less beautiful idea in our world, and one more hugely difficult and important problem back on mankind’s to-do list. But we each need to make our peace with the facts, and not try to make life on earth simpler than it really is.

Darwin’s Doubt (Stephen Meyer) is one of the most important books in a generation. Few open-minded people will finish it with their faith in Darwin intact.

 

It does underline an obvious but important truth: Darwin’s mission was exactly to explain the flagrant appearance of design in nature.

I guess I am one of the “naifs”.

As for Biblical religion, it forces its way into the discussion although Meyer didn’t invite it, and neither did Darwin. Some have always been bothered by the harm Darwin is said to have done religion. His theory has been thought by some naïfs (fundamentalists as well as intellectuals) to have shown or alleged that the Bible is wrong, and Judeo-Christian religion bunk.

“one of the most important intellectual issues of modern times”…with this statement he is catching up with Gilder.

Fundamentalists and intellectuals might go on arguing these things forever. But normal people will want to come to grips with Meyer and the downfall of a beautiful idea. I will mention several of his arguments, one of them in (just a bit of) detail. This is one of the most important intellectual issues of modern times, and every thinking person has the right and duty to judge for himself.

 

But, as Berlinski points out, the fossil record shows the opposite: “representatives of separate phyla appearing first followed by lower-level diversification on those basic themes.” In general, “most species enter the evolutionary order fully formed and then depart unchanged.” The incremental development of new species is largely not there.

 

Darwin’s theory is simple to grasp; its simplicity is the heart of its brilliance and power. We all know that variation occurs naturally among individuals of the same type—white or black sheep, dove-gray versus off-white or pale beige pigeons, boring and sullen undergraduates versus charming, lissome ones. We all know that many variations have no effect on a creature’s prospects, but some do. A sheep born with extra-warm wool will presumably do better at surviving a rough Scottish winter than his normal-wooled friends. Such a sheep would be more likely than normal sheep to live long enough to mate, and pass on its superior trait to the next generation. Over millions of years, small good-for-survival variations accumulate, and eventually (says Darwin) you have a brand new species.

 

The advent of molecular biology made it possible to transform Darwinism into Neo-Darwinism. The new version explains (it doesn’t merely cite) natural variation, as the consequence of random change or mutation to the genetic information within cells that deal with reproduction. Those cells can pass genetic change onward to the next generation, thus changing—potentially—the future of the species and not just one individual’s career.

The engine that powers Neo-Darwinian evolution is pure chance and lots of time. By filling in the details of cellular life, molecular biology makes it possible to estimate the power of that simple mechanism. But what does generating new forms of life entail? Many biologists agree that generating a new shape of protein is the essence of it. Only if Neo-Darwinian evolution is creative enough to do that is it capable of creating new life-forms and pushing evolution forward.

 

Your task is to invent a new gene by mutation—by the accidental change of one codon to a different codon. You have two possible starting points for this attempt. You could mutate an existing gene, or mutate gibberish… If you tinker with a valid gene, you will almost certainly make it worse—to the point where its protein misfires and endangers (or kills) its organism—long before you start making it better…The mutated sequence can then be passed on to the next generation, where it can be mutated again. Thus mutations can accumulate on the sidelines without affecting the organism. But if you mutate your way to an actual, valid new gene, your new gene can create a new protein and thereby, potentially, play a role in evolution.

 

To say that your chances are 1 in 1074 is no different, in practice, from saying that they are zero. It’s not surprising that your chances of hitting a stable protein that performs some useful function, and might therefore play a part in evolution, are even smaller. Axe puts them at 1 in 1077.

In other words: immense is so big, and tiny is so small, that neo-Darwinian evolution is—so far—a dead loss. Try to mutate your way from 150 links of gibberish to a working, useful protein and you are guaranteed to fail. Try it with ten mutations, a thousand, a million—you fail. The odds bury you. It can’t be done.

 

There are many other problems besides proteins. One of the most basic, and the last I’ll mention here, calls into question the whole idea of gene mutations driving macro-evolution—the emergence of new forms of organism, versus mere variation on existing forms.

To help create a brand new form of organism, a mutation must affect a gene that does its job early and controls the expression of other genes that come into play later on as the organism grows. But mutations to these early-acting “strategic” genes, which create the big body-plan changes required by macro-evolution, seem to be invariably fatal. They kill off the organism long before it can reproduce. This is common sense. Severely deformed creatures don’t ever seem fated to lead the way to glorious new forms of life. Instead, they die young.

 

Evidently there are a total of no examples in the literature of mutations that affect early development and the body plan as a whole and are not fatal.

 

Darwin would easily have understood that minor mutations are common but can’t create significant evolutionary change; major mutations are rare and fatal. It can hardly be surprising that the revolution in biological knowledge over the last half-century should call for a new understanding of the origin of species.

 

The exceptional intricacy of living things, and their elaborate mechanisms for fitting precisely into their natural surroundings, seemed to cry out for an intelligent designer long before molecular biology and biochemistry. Darwin’s theory, after all, is an attempt to explain “design without a designer,” according to evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala. An intelligent designer might seem more necessary than ever now that we understand so much cellular biology, and the impossibly long odds facing any attempt to design proteins by chance, or assemble the regulatory mechanisms that control the life cycle of a cell.

 

…suggests to Meyer that an intelligent designer must have been responsible. “Our uniform experience of cause and effect shows that intelligent design is the only known cause of the origin of large amounts of functionally specified digital information,” he writes. (“Digital” is confusing here; it only means information represented by a sequence of symbols.)

He still can’t quite get this “intelligent designer”. For a biblical scholar he shares no sense of the fall in the garden.

Granted, they might each have contributed genes to our common stockpile—but could hardly have done so in the most efficient way. What was his purpose? And why did he do such an awfully slipshod job? Why are we so disease prone, heartbreak prone, and so on? An intelligent designer makes perfect sense in the abstract. The real challenge is how to fit this designer into life as we know it. Intelligent design might well be the ultimate answer. But as a theory, it would seem to have a long way to go.

His conclusion:

I might, myself, expect to find the answer in a phenomenon that acts as if it were a new and (thus far) unknown force or field associated with consciousness…I have no evidence for this idea. It’s just the way biology seems to work.

Although Stephen Meyer’s book is a landmark in the intellectual history of Darwinism, the theory will be with us for a long time, exerting enormous cultural force. Darwin is no Newton…And Darwin’s intellectual daring will always be inspiring. The man will always be admired.

He now poses a final challenge. Whether biology will rise to this last one as well as it did to the first, when his theory upset every apple cart, remains to be seen. How cleanly and quickly can the field get over Darwin, and move on?—with due allowance for every Darwinist’s having to study all the evidence for himself? There is one of most important questions facing science in the 21st century.

Just David Glernter accepting a “truth”; although half heartingly, encourages me. I was also encouraged by Chris Arnade. In a world that seems so hostile to the “truths” of the gospel I am encouraged. Thus the title of the post.

I had read a few posts and reviews of “Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America” by Chris Arnade. Since most of the reviewers were writing without that “gospel” knowledge that Andrew Klavan touches on in “Can We Believe”. They cannot discern or even see spiritual things. Chris Arnade is touching the spiritual and as the bible says is “groping” to find it.

I preached using some quotes from his article this last Wednesday. Here are the quotes I used:

That is where I met Stephon. We bonded over smoking weed, drinking, and making fun of the ­Bible-thumpers in the crew. Mostly that meant teasing Preacher Man, who was a minister and a custodian. He was the leader of a group of people who used their free time to pray. During our short breaks or when work got slow, he put on his tiny round glasses and read from the Bible to other workers who were sitting on bare mattresses, crammed into half-painted dorm rooms, or sitting on upturned buckets around a custodial closet.

When I look back now at Preacher Man and the others praying, I see people striving for dignity in a harsh world. I see mothers working minimum-wage jobs, trying to raise three children alone. I see a teenager fingering a small cross and a young woman abused by an addict father. I see Preacher Man living across the tracks in a beat-up shotgun shack, desperate to stay clean, desperate to make sense of a world that has given him little. Their faith may not be true, I tell myself, but it is useful.

Everyone I met there who was living homeless or battling an addiction held a deep faith. Street walking is stunningly dangerous work, and everyone has stories of being cut, attacked, and threatened, or stories of others who were killed. Everyone has to deal with the danger. Few work without a mix of heroin, Xanax, or crack. None without faith. “You know what kept me through all that? God. Whenever I got into the car, God got into the car with me.”

For many back row Americans, the only places that regularly treat them like humans are churches. The churches are everywhere, small churches that have come in and taken over a space and light it up on Sundays and Wednesdays. They walk inside the church, and immediately they meet people who get them. The preachers and congregants inside may preach to them, even judge their past decisions, but they don’t look down on them. They have walked the walk and know the shit they are going through, not from a book, not from a movie, not from an article, not from a study, but from their own lives or the lives of their friends. They look like them, and they get them.

There are rules to follow if you join, but they don’t require having your paperwork in order or having proper ID. They don’t require getting grilled about this and that. They say, “Enter as you are,” letting forgiveness wash away a past that many want gone. You are welcome as long as you try. The churches understand the streets, understand everyone is a sinner and everyone fails. The rest of the world—the courts, the hospitals, the rehab clinics, the welfare office, police stations, and even some of the non­profits and schools (especially the universities that won’t even let you on campus without the police being called)—doesn’t understand that. That cold, secular world of the well-intentioned is a distant and judgmental thing.

The churches are also the way out of addiction, a way to end the cycle. The few success stories told on the streets are of relatives, friends, or spouses who found God, got with the discipline and order of a church, and moved away: “Princess met a decent man who was dedicated to the Scripture. She got straight, got God, and last we heard was on a farm upstate.” “Necee went to her grandmother’s and found God, and she now has her one-year chip.”

To the believers I met I would say, “I appreciate the power of faith,” or “I understand the power of the Bible.” To the more direct and blunt questions, “Yes I read the Bible now and then, but I wouldn’t call myself religious,” or, “I have not been saved, but I do read the Bible.”

None of it was a lie, but the more direct truth was that even after I had come to see how useful religion was, I still attended services as an outsider trying to understand why faith drew so many people to it. Why it seemed to comfort those who needed it the most. In the language of the church, I wasn’t yet saved. In the language of my friends, I was a scientist trying to understand religion.

I could no longer ignore the value of faith, not as a scientist, not as a person who claimed to want to learn from others. Yet I still saw it as a utility—something popular because it worked. Still, after attending hundreds of different services I was beginning to realize there was more to it than that. My biases were limiting a deeper understanding: that perhaps religion was right, or at least as right as anything could be. Getting there required a level of intellectual humility that I was not sure I had.

When I read this I was blown away. Something is going on! And I am excited!

So where am I? Getting ready for our cross country personal evangelism trip using One Minute Bible Studies. You are welcome to join us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Presidential Pardon

I became aware of Conrad Black through the writings of Mark Steyn. Mark did a great job in describing the miscarriage of justice that landed Conrad Black in prison for 3 years.

Well, he got a call from the president. You can read about it here: “A Full Presidential Pardon”.

When I began to see articles written by him, I found his confidence noteworthy. Here is how he ends this article:

The American criminal justice system is frequently and largely evil; I was convicted for attempted obstruction of injustice. It was never anything but a smear job.

For my friends, no explanation was ever necessary; for my enemies, none would ever have sufficed. As I told the trial judge at resentencing: I always try to take success like a gentleman and reversals like a man. On to better things and brighter days.

Prov 22:9  Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.

That word “excels” includes a sense of overcoming as water finds away around, over, under or through every obstacle that is put in its way.

Thus, Conrad Black stands before kings.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Refreshing

I want to point out this article by Andrew Klavan: “Can We Believe?”.

I read Klavan’s journey to salvation in his “The Great Good Thing”. One of his complaints is that the voices of conservatism tend to be voices minus the personal faith in God (Jesus).

I loved his description of Jordan Peterson (not the one in the article): “Jordan Peterson is the Gateway drug to salvation.”

This gives us a glimpse into our present reality:

Then there’s Pinker’s frequent praise for “moral realist” philosopher Peter Singer, whose utilitarian defense of infanticidal euthanasia is both poorly reasoned and morally barbaric. The ugly truth is that we can live quite happily in a world of scientific miracles even as we transform ourselves into moral monsters.

Something so good to read in the midst of sound reasoning:

In this scenario, we can think of all material being as a sort of language that imperfectly expresses an idea. Every aspect of language is physical: the brain sparks, the tongue speaks, the air is stirred, the ear hears. But the idea expressed by that language has no physical existence whatsoever. It simply is. And whether the idea is “two plus two equal four” or “I love you” or “slavery is wrong,” it is true or false, regardless of whether we perceive the truth or falsehood of it.

This, as I see it, is the very essence of Christianity. It is the religion of the Word. For Christians, the model, of course, is Jesus, the perfect Word that is the thing itself. But each of us is made in that image, continually expressing in flesh some aspect of the maker’s mind. This is why Jesus speaks in parables—not just to communicate their meaning but also to assert the validity of their mechanism. In the act of understanding a parable, we are forced to acknowledge that physical interactions—the welcoming home of a prodigal son, say—speak to us about immaterial things like love and forgiveness.

Hopelessness described; hope prescribed:

A West whose ethicists coolly contemplate infantile euthanasia, whose nations roll back their magnificent jurisprudence to make room for the atrocity of sharia, whose historians argue themselves out of the objective reality of human rights because they have lost faith in the numinous basis of those rights—such a West may not be heading for disaster as much as it is living in the midst of one, a comfortable and prosperous disaster to which our default atheism makes us blind, a dystopia in which we are increasingly happy and increasingly savage at the same time.

It need not be so. Outside the Enlightenment Narrative, there is absolutely no reason to abandon the faith that created our civilization. The flowering of the Western mind took place under the Christian sun. The light that led us here can lead us on.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Phone Call During Revival Service

da, dada, da, da   da, dada, da, da da, dada, da, da

It was the theme music from “Bad to the Bone”. It was a ringtone and it was coming from a phone that was desperately trying to be found by Mary Lou Sanders. Right when the evangelist Tom Quinlan was directing us to reach out and find Jesus from deep within our souls. I loudly chimed in “let’s here the whole song”.

That brought silence as Mary Lou got the phone turned off. With all eyes upon her and the evangelist speechless she quietly said: “Jesus was calling”.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Van Morrison

I am fasting today. I am going to do my end of year books. I wanted to listen to some Christian music while doing the books to create a new play list. I did this for my Christmas music list which we ended up playing through the holiday season and at our Christmas party. I spent a day mostly listening to music and when one played that I liked I put it on the list.

My problem is that I don’t get excited about most Christian music. Why? There seems to be something lacking when I hear the music. I know what it is. It seems that I am always looking for a cry from the heart in music. I possibly fool myself in that I think I can recognize it when I hear it, but maybe not.

My playlist that I listen to is interspersed with Bob Dylan and Van Morrison spiritual songs. Bob Dylan’s three Christian albums seemed to be him preaching to the recording industry and I loved all three albums. Van Morrison, on the other hand, seems to insert his searching and longing into his songs, with many of them striking that chord in my own soul. I recently preached a message to the church playing “A Soul in Wonder” (might not be the title) from his album “Inarticulate Speech”. “Inarticulate” is the word some translators use in describing speaking in tongues where the bible says “groanings that cannot be uttered” from Rom. 8:26.

My best friend from High School visited Joan and I in Wickenburg early in our marriage. Bryan Parker was married to Linda whom he had met in Germany and now they were married. In his visit I remember preaching as hard as I could at the public event and doing my utmost in private conversations to get him saved. He seemed hard as a rock. He would go home and a month later call me up and say that he knew everything I said was true and he prayed with me over the phone and started going to a church in Lubbock.

His church life wasn’t as kind to him as mine has been. His pastor at one point abandoned the ministry to sell funeral plans and Bryan went along with him. One thing led to another and he found himself in Federal Prison. We visited him along with Linda and he was a changed man, for the worse.

Years later he would visit us in Seattle. The edge was off of him and he seemed to be at peace with God, yet without any real direction. He started playing his Van Morrison albums that included his spirituals. It was the first time I had ever associated Van Morrison with Christian music.

All of that to say that I thought I would start my list creation with a search for Van Morrison spiritual/Christian songs. I came upon this article. Kevin T. Dicamillo wrote this article for Crisis Magazine, a Catholic magazine, entitled “The Most Religious Singer-songwriter of the past 50 years”. Just something I wanted to share before I get back to life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why Thanksgiving?

I read an article about the rise of abstinence among teenagers. The author looking for a reason pointed to the isolation inherent in our online lives; while discounting any impact the church might be having.

This was followed up with an emergency sub job the two days before Thanksgiving. I had 5th graders and we did every kind of Thanksgiving theme worksheet we could squeeze in. I noticed no mention of God and in a video and some of the worksheets an equating of the Pilgrims experience of Thanksgiving with the worldwide harvest festivals.

This is all kind of linking back to my opening statement.

At one point we had a good talk about Thanksgiving, and since I had a few things to impart including the life of Squanto; I caught their interest and they began to ask questions. Then, I asked them a question: Who were the Pilgrims thanking?

No answer. Silence. The guesses started coming. Finally, the Jewish boy hesitantly, and apologizing for being wrong; asked if it might be God.

The class was dumbfounded to hear the truth. How can the church make impact in society where God and faith are so marginalized?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment