"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

No One Is Told Any Story But Their Own

A world cursed with sin produces people caught in pain.

In my experience, my emotions are most traumatized by pain in others. I often handle better my own trauma than I do seeing others in pain, particularly those close to me. Maybe you feel the same.

"What was God thinking when those thugs raped my daughter?"  "Where was God during my husband's horrible accident that left him paralyzed?" "Why didn't God prevent the car wreck that killed my sister and her husband and left their three kids orphans?" "How can God allow my grandson to suffer through life with his physical deformities?" "How will God provide for my son and his family after he lost his job?"

The frustration and pain we feel for others is often more intense than the pain we feel for ourselves. Adding to our stress in empathy is the despair we feel over events like what happened in Nice, France last week, or Dallas, Texas, the week before, or Baton Rouge, Louisiana yesterday. The deeper our creation descends into darkness the more it seems we have questions for the Creator of light.

Why, God?

I love C.S. Lewis. His writing causes me to think. In his little known book  The Horse and His Boy, there is comfort for we who feel for the pain in others. A friend suggested I read The Horse and His Boy to help families who watch someone they love suffer through a terminal illness. Those standing around the bed of a loved one who is dying are asking the question, "Why?"

C.S. Lewis, in my opinion, has given the definitive answer in The Horse and His Boy.

Lewis tells the story of two young slaves, Shasta and Avaris, who are riding their talking horses to the Land of Narnia. The attempted escape to Narnia began for Avaris when she poisoned her stepmother's servant, the one responsible for keeping Avaris in captivity. Avarice fled and then met Shasta on the road north, joining him in the escape to Narnia.

Several times disaster almost befell the two escapees. Each time a Lion intervened to rescue them. On one occasion, enemy forces came close to capturing Shasta and Avaris, but the Lion spooked the talking horses, causing them to run faster to escape the trouble. However, in spooking the horses, the Lion's paw injured Avaris. Her wound, though not fatal, scarred her.

After safely arriving in Narnia, Avaris and Shasta discover that the Lion's name is Aslan, and He has been their Protector. After they discuss events during their journey where Aslan protected them from doom, Shasta asks a probing question about her injury.

The Lion, whom Lewis intended to represent Jesus Christ, answers Avaris:
"The scratches on your back, tear for tear, throb for throb, blood for blood, were equal to the stripes laid on the back of your stepmother's slave because of the drugged sleep you cast upon her. You needed to know what it felt like."
The Lion revealed to Avaris that her physical suffering was intended to shape her inner character (see Romans 5:3-5). But, like we all have a tendency to do, Shasta turned her mind toward the injury and physical pain of another. She asks a question about the slave girl she drugged to begin her escape.
"Will any more harm come to her by what I did?"
The answer that Aslan the Lion gives to Avaris should be written on the templates of our minds and sealed in our hearts until we see Christ personally at the resurrection. He said:

"Child, I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own."
It seems to me much of my maladjustment in a sin-cursed world comes from wanting to understand the reason for other peoples' pain. God is not in the business of cluing me in on any story but my own.

In Hebrews 11, some of God's people conquered kingdoms, victoriously defeated the enemy, and prospered in this life; but others were imprisoned, beheaded, and suffered mightily, not receiving the blessings others of God's people received because "God had planned something better..." (Hebrews 11:40).

God has the answers for the reasons for trauma and pain in all our lives. But no one is told any story but their own. It goes without saying then, that if He's uninterested in telling me any story but my own, then I should be intentional in not attempting to give answers to "Why" to those I love.

I don't know; only they do - or will - and they will only know when Aslan tells them, not me.

Jesus has the answers for the reasons trauma and pain are present in this   cursed world. He alone can tell me my story from the position of Protector. He will not tell me any story but my own.

I'm learning to listen to Him when it comes to my story and to trust Him when it comes to somebody else.

Christ, Columbus, Cortez, Coronado and Christians and How the Love of Money Is the Root of All Evil

"Most of us spend too much time on the last twenty-four hours
 and too little on the last six thousand years." Will Durant

The typical Christian in America feels no connection to the world as a whole. After we hear the message on Sunday morning, we will leave the corporate gathering thinking how the verses apply to us - today! While that's good, too many of us have no idea how to trace the practical application of a text throughout world history. 

Let me give an example from James 5. 
"The time has come for you plutarchs to mourn and weep because of the miseries in store for you... You have had a magnificent time on this earth, and have indulged yourselves to the full. You have picked out just what you wanted like soldiers looting after battle. You have condemned and ruined innocent men in your career, and they have been powerless to stop you."   James 5:1, 5-6 Philip's Translation
We read James' passage and see it as a caution similar to one from the Apostle Paul: "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" (I Timothy 6:10). We tend to reflect on these admonitions as it applies to us individually, or at most to our family.

But it seems to me an even fuller understanding of this passage comes from a knowledge of world history and our connection to it.

James, the author of the book in the Bible, was one of Christ's early disciples. Millions of Catholics believe that after the death and resurrection of Christ, James traveled to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) to preach the Good News to the Hispanic people (Hispanic is the Roman Latin word for Iberian). James has always had a special place in the hearts of the Spanish people because of his trip to Iberia. Santiago is the Hispanic name for James, and the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) is a pilgrimage to the Santiego de Compostela Cathedral in northwestern Spain to pay homage to the alleged relics (bones) of St. James. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Way of St. James was considered by Roman Catholics a pilgrimage on par with one to Rome or Jerusalem.

It is without doubt that the gospel of Jesus Christ  came to the Iberian Peninsula soon after the resurrection of Christ. Paul himself speaks of his wish to go to Spain (see Romans 15:24). The Good News spread quickly in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, and the Hispanic people living in the southwest corner of Europe converted to Christianity. As the Iberian people began to follow Christ and His teachings, it seems logical that they would pay particular heed to the writings of James' and Paul's. These two apostles loved Spain, and they had both issued cautions about the evil that come from the love of money.

But as Christianity grew in numbers in Spain, the established church in Iberia became rich and fell in love with money. Church treasuries burst with silver and gold. Church bishops and leaders received appointments through patronage (e.g. "their gifts to the church and king"). The rich began to rule and lord over the poor in the church, a direct contradiction of James' warning (James 5:1, 5-6).  The Iberian church treasured their silver and gold more than their Savior and God.

The Evil Began in A.D. 711.

Like 9/11 in America, an event occurred in Iberia (Spain and Portugal) in A.D. 711 that traumatized the Christian people. The Muslims from North Africa, called the Moors, invaded the Iberian peninsula. With 10,000 soldiers, the Moors used violence and threatened to kill anyone who refused to convert to their Islamic religion and beliefs.

As the Moors (Muslims) moved from south to north, seven bishops of the church gathered at Porto, a little sea port on the western shore of the Iberian Peninsula. The bishops brought with them the wealth of the church, vast caravans of precious stones, jewelry, gold, silver, fortified wine and other riches. Wine connoisseurs know that fortified wine is wine with brandy added, a practice originally begun to help preserve the wine, but which continues because of its unique and rich taste. What many people don't know is that fortified wine gets its name Port Wine from the city of Porto, the place from where this wine was first shipped to the world. The full name of the city of Porto is Porto Cale, or literally "Port of the Gaels," from which the name Portugal is derived. The nation of Portugal comes into existence only after the Europeans defeat the Muslims and retake the Iberian Peninsula during the Reconquesta.

But before the Reconquesta, when everything looked dark and hopeless, seven bishops boarded ships and left Porto and sailed west into the unknown Atlantic ocean. All they wanted to do was get away from the Muslims - with their wealth. Remember, these were the "pastors" of the Iberian Christian churches. Sometimes the greater evil in a country is not the spread of radical Islam among a people as much as it is the subtle and deadly seduction of Christian churches and leaders to the love of material things over spiritual things. 

Where did these bishops go?

The Legend of the Seven Cities of Gold

For the next several centuries the people of Portugal and Spain believed the seven bishops left Porto and settled on an island called Antillia. In A.D. 1492, German geographer Martin Behaim (1436-1507) constructed the earliest globe of the world, one still in existence today.  On that globe, Behaim shows Antillia in middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  In the same year of A.D. 1492, Portuguese cartographer Martinho da Boemia presented to Portugal's King John II a map of the known world. It, too, contained the island of Antillia, representing the fabled island of the seven cities, and the furthest west anyone from Europe had ever sailed (see map below).

Near the island of Antillia on the map above, the Portuguese cartographer placed the following description of Antillia:
"In the year 734 of Christ, when the whole of Spain had been won by the heathen (Moors) of Africa, the above island Antilia, called Septe citade (Seven cities), was inhabited by an archbishop from the Porto in Portugal, with six other bishops, and other Christians, men and women, who had fled thither from Spain, by ship, together with their cattle, belongings, and goods."
Europeans were captivated by the stories of the Seven Cities of Gold. Not only was it said the Iberian bishops arrived on Antillia with their riches, but the bishops found more gold on Antillia. Some Europeans believed that the bishops had rediscovered Plato's legendary Atlantis. Rumors only increased--and in the minds of many solidified--when a few sailors reported they'd seen the island of Attillia for themselves during their Atlantic travels. In A.D. 1414 a Portuguese ship returned to Portugal and the captain and his men reported to Prince Henry the Navigator, King of Portugal. They said they had actually landed on Antillia and seen with their own eyes the Seven Cities of Gold. The reason these sailors are the only ones to have reported the discovery of Antillia to the King is recorded by English author H.C. Adams writes in 1883:
During the generations which had intervened since the settlement of the bishops on Antillia, a few Portuguese navigators had at one time or another, reached the island; but they were unable to return to Portugal, having been detained by the descendants of the bishops; who, understanding that Spain was still ruled by the infidel, were afraid that their place of retreat might be discovered, and invaded by the enemy (e.g. Muslims). The mariners affirmed, that while part of the crew were in church, the others gathered some sand on the sea shore, and found, to their astonishment, that one-third of it was gold dust. The islanders were anxious that the ships should remain until the return of the governor, who chanced to be absent. But the captain, who had heard of the detention of his predecessors, and was probably afraid that the same policy would be pursued towards himself, returned to his ship, and weighed anchor. Prince Henry on hearing the story of the mariners, expressed it is said, great displeasure at their having quitted the island without having obtained fuller information, and sent orders requiring them to return and ascertain everything of importance concerning it. It is probable that the mariners had privately learnt something of his intentions; for they took their departure on a sudden, and before his message reached them. Nor were they ever heard of again.
Adams, H. C. 1817-1899. Travellers’ Tales: a Book of Marvels. London, New York: G. Routledge, 1883.
Whether you believe the story that seven Christian bishops left Porto on the Iberian Peninsula during the 8th century with a vast amount of wealth,  fleeing their people and country during a period of severe Islamic persecution, and eventually founding an island nation in the middle of the Atlantic with a vast of gold and silver is irrelevant.

There is one key person in world history who did believe the story.

Christopher Columbus ( b. October 31, 1451- d. May 20, 1506)

Born in Genoa, Italy, Columbus entered the world during a time Europe craved the spices and silks of southeast Asia and China--not to mention gold and silver wherever it could be found. The Europeans traveled the famous Silk Road over land to trade with the Chinese. Ever since the day of Marco Polo (A.D. 1254-1324) and the Chinese leaders Ghengis Khan and Kublia Khan, the Chinese welcomed great caravans of Europeans who wished to trade with Cathay (China) and Cipangu (Japan).  The Silk Road route was long and dangerous, but it was often traveled since the days of Marco Polo because of the spice and silk trade. However, in 1453, two years after Columbus' birth, the Ottomons (Turks) captured Constantinople, the starting point of the Silk Road for Europeans, and renamed the city Istanbul.  The Ottoman Turks then forbade European trading caravans from crossing from Europe through Constantinople onto the Silk Road that led to China. European and Chinese trade virtually came to a halt.

That's when the great Spanish and Portuguese ocean explorers of the 15th century began looking for a ship route west across the Atlantic to avoid crossing the Ottoman Empire lands Asia Minor (Turkey). Contrary to what you learned in grade school, 15th century oceanic explorers knew the world was round, but the early explorers who attempted to go west from the Iberian Peninsula across the Atlantic invariably failed to get far due to the ferocious headwinds.

It was Christopher Columbus who discovered that you must begin your oceanic trip westward from a point further south, near the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa (near the modern day Western Sahara). From there, a ship's sails could catch trade winds blowing from the east (from behind) as the boat sailed west, and then on the return trip to Europe, the boat would take a more northerly route, catching the western trade winds that had made sailing west  from Europe so difficult. Columbus moved from Italy to Portugal, married a Portuguese woman, and was living on the Portuguese Island of Madeira  when he had the revelation of sailing to the unknown west from the south, beginning near the Canary Islands.

When Columbus finally received funding from Spain's Ferdinand and Isabella to sail west to discover a sea route to Cathay (China) and Cipangu (Japan) after his own Portuguese king, King John II, had denied funding, Columbus was encouraged by many to find the island of Antillia as he crossed the Atlantic. As far as everyone knew, the island Antillia and the Seven Cities was the only piece of land between Portugal and China to the west. The continent of America was not yet known to exist in 1492. 

So, when "Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492," becoming the first European to make the transatlantic trip, and landed on a remote Bermuda Island on October 12, 1492 he thought he had found ancient Antillia, either an island paradise or a group of islands that contained on them the Seven Cities of Gold. For this reason, to this day, the large islands of the Caribbean are called the Greater Antilles (from Antillia) and the small islands are called the Lesser Antilles.

The lust for gold intensified when the Indians (misnamed "Indians" because Columbus thought he was closing in on the country of India) who met Columbus in the Antilles wore gold earrings and gold nose rings. Columbus eventually left a few men in the Antilles to search for gold and sailed back to Spain in early 1493. 
The rush for gold was on. 

Hernándo Cortés (b. 1485 - c. December 2, 1547)

Hernando Cortes was born in A.D. 1485 in Spain. He studied law, but at the age of nineteen, Cortez sailed to the Spanish colony of Greater Antillies (Haiti and the Domincan Republic). In 1511 Cortes took part in an expedition to conquer Cuba.
In 1519 Cortes led an expedition to the Mexican mainland.

With only 600 men Cortez conquered the ancient civilization of the Aztecs still seeking the mythical Seven Cities. The Spaniards had guns, horses (animals unknown to the Aztecs), and armor foreign to the Aztecs. The Aztecs believed that their god Quetzalcoatl had once left Mexico by sea and had promised to return. According to legend the anticipated year of the coming of the Aztec's Messiah was 1519 - the year Hernando Cortes arrived.

The Aztec emperor Montezuma feared that Cortes was Quetzalcoatl. He dared not attack a god and so took no action against the Aztecs. By the time the Aztecs realized the truth it was too late. When the Spaniards first arrived Montezuma, King of the Aztecs, welcomed the Spaniards as friends and housed them in a palace in what is now Mexico City. However after a week Hernando Cortes took the emperor hostage and demanded that Montezuma come with him and stay with the Spaniards - or face death. 

Cortez March to Defeat the Aztecs at Their Capital (Mexico City)
The emperor gave in and from that moment he was a Spanish puppet. The Spaniards were now in control of Mexico. The Spanish conquistadors stole all the gold and silver of the Aztec civilization and pillaged the land they now called "New Spain."  Cortes was appointed New Spain's first governor. 
Cortes brought in priests of the Roman Catholic Church to "Christianize" the Aztecs. Unfortunately, due to war, disease and famine, the Aztec population dropped by an estimated 90% as the people were wiped out by the Spaniards. Cortez would return to Spain in 1541 and die in 1547 at the age of 62.
Francisco Vázquez de Coronado y Luján  (b. 1510 – d. September 22, 1554)

The legend of the Seven Cities of Gold was revived during the 1530s.

Four people survived a shipwreck on the Gulf Coast of modern Texas of the failed Narváez expedition and managed to walk back to New Spain. One of the survivors, a man named Estevanan, told a colorful story upon his return. His Narváez expedition, which began in 1527, was aimed at the colonization of Florida. In 1528, while attempting to sail from Mexico to Florida, the crew was shipwrecked on the coast of Texas. The men who survived were captured by the indigenous people. After four years in captivity, the men managed to escape, and for the next four years wandered across what is today the southern United States. When they finally encountered Spanish soldiers at Sinaloa in modern day Mexico, only four men were left, out of an initial force of 600. Through their years of wandering, the men encountered numerous indigenous tribes, and one of the legends they heard was about seven cities laden with gold, said to be located somewhere in the Sonoran Desert (the southwest portion of what is now the United States).

Coronado was the Governor of the Kingdom of Nueva Galicia (New Galicia), a province of New Spain located northwest of Mexico and comprising the contemporary Mexican states of Jalisco, Sinaloa and Nayarit. In 1539, he dispatched Friar Marcos de Niza and Estevan , the survivor of the Narváez expedition, on an expedition to present-day New Mexico. When de Niza returned, he told of a city of vast wealth, a golden city called Cíbola, whose Zuni residents were assumed to have killed Estevan. Though he did not claim to have entered the city of Cíbola, he said he stood on a high hill and that it appeared wealthy and as large as Mexico City.

After receiving a report of the possible location of the seven cities, Spanish conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado was appointed to lead an expedition to conquer the area. That expedition, gathered at Compostela for Mendoza's review in February 1540, included 1,000 men, 1,500 horses and mules, and cattle and sheep for the expedition commissary. Two vessels under command of Hernado de Alarcón were sent up the coast to support the land forces.

Coronado's exploration of modern New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma in 1541--80 years before the Pilgrim's landed in Plymouth--brings to a full circle Spain's attempt to find the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. Coronado's expedition ended near modern Wichita, Kansas without finding any of the seven cities, but from A.D. 711 to A.D. 1541 - 840 years of time - the quest for the Seven Cities of Gold captured the imaginations of the Portuguese and Spanish explorers and conquistadors.

Though some would have you believe the Roman Catholic Church came to the new world to "convert the pagans to the Christian faith," the literal truth is the hunt for gold drove the explorations west.

The Apostle Peter once said, "Silver and gold have I none," but it wasn't long before the church built by Christ on the rock of Peter couldn't say that anymore. The "love of money" led to the Seven Fabled Cities of God, and from that love of money came:

1. The subjugation, enslavement and death of hundreds of thousands native American peoples.
2. The pillaging and plundering of foreign lands and resources for personal gain.
3. Wars and battles between "Christian" forces and "pagan" forces instead of peace.

It would seem to me that much of the East vs. West and Islam vs. Christianity conflict over the past 1,500 years is simply fulfillment of the warning "the love of money is the root of all evil."

It seems not just an axiom for a personal life; it is an eternal truth for the nations.

America's Problem Is One of Culture, Not Race

© Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News
Any American who watches videos of a police officers shooting someone being placed under arrest is sickened. Likewise, any American who hears the news of five police officers being killed in cold blood during a racial rally in Dallas is sickened. We have a problem in America.

But that problem is not a racial one.

Racial problems in America occurred decades ago. Years ago people of color couldn't play sports with whites. Today America's biggest sports icons are people of color - just ask fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Years ago it was illegal for people of different races to marry in America. Today many marriages, not just a few, are mixed-race marriages. It used to be different races in America didn't worship together. Today, our churches are often more integrated than not. Last Wednesday night at Emmanuel we heard a wonderful Bible study, taught by one of our pastors. He's a man of color, but that doesn't even enter our minds. We don't have a racial problem in America. A black man holds the highest office in the land. Decades ago this would have been unthinkable. We are all human beings, created in God's image, and we are all people of color; some of us just have less pigment than our brothers. We don't have a racial problem.

We have a culture problem.

This culture problem transcends race. It affects all Americans, regardless of color, gender or socio-economic status. Culture is defined as "the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively." The problem in our country is that most Americans can't even understand the definition of culture, much less contribute to its display.

We have become an ignorant people. We are collectively ignorant of world history. We know our favorite sports teams, but we can't tell you about ancient Athens or Rome. We are collectively ignorant of classical literature. When most Americans hear the word Homer they think Homer Simpson instead of the first published poet of western civilization. We are clueless about world geography. We think the world revolves around America because we haven't seen the world. Most Americans are ignorant of the Bible. We'd rather play video games and watch our favorite game than spend an hour reading the Scriptures.

We have a culture problem.

When Abraham Lincoln miraculously became the President of the United States, there was a real, not imaginary, racial divide in our nation. Ironically, people considered Lincoln, the man who would eventually end American slavery, an ignorant backwoodsman. He was - at least by the standards of his day. Lincoln had no formal education. He lived on the frontier. He spent more time chopping wood than he did in class. Yet, at night, Lincoln read by candlelight. He read Aesop and Shakespeare. He studied geometry by reading Euclid. He memorized poetry. His favorite book to read was the Bible. As a young man, Lincoln taught himself Law by reading Blackstone's Commentaries on the Law, and he eventually become an auto-didactic lawyer in Springfield, Illinois.

Lincoln led our nation through our darkest hour because he was a man of culture.

He believed in honesty which meant his word was his bond. He treated other people with respect because he devoured the teachings of Jesus, and considered every human being a valuable person created in the image of God. He understand world history and therefore never took his place in history too seriously. He was self-deprecating and took very little offense at what others said of him. Yet because knew his own soul was damaged by laughing at others, he avoided scorn. Lincoln would rather be quiet and learn than be asked to speak and teach. He crafted his words succinctly (think Gettysburg) and thus every word bore potency.

Lincoln was a man of culture.

Culture is not obtained through the bestowal of educational degrees. Abraham Lincoln had no formal education. Culture is inner character characterized by personal humility and life-long learning. Culture is collectively displayed in a nation where citizens consider each other more important than themselves and eagerly listen and learn from what others have to teach.  During our nation's darkest hour, we overcame because people--regardless of color--had culture.

We've lost culture in America.

When culture is lost in a nation, people become ignorant, self-absorbed, and hostile. The loss of culture is a little like the loss of red-blood cells in the human body. When red blood cells disappear, the body turns on itself and dies from within.

Our nation is dying.

Thank God that He is in the business of raising the dead.

Keeping Clear the Memory Holes of Our Past

It's our custom on long car drives to listen to audio books on history. Recently Rachelle and I drove back to Enid from Florida and listened to the 12 hour audio book Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick. The New York Times named this book one of the ten best books of the year (2006) and it became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History.

Rarely have I enjoyed an audio book more than this one. Tidbits of information about the Pilgrims and their journey to the New World came fast and furious. One particular piece of information fascinated me.

Edward Winslow (1595 - 1655) was one of the original 102 passengers on the Mayflower and a leader of the English Pilgrims who landed on the shores of America on November 11, 1620. Winslow would serve as the governor of Plymouth Colony in 1633, 1636 and then again in 1644.  In 1624, not yet four years after the Pilgrims came to America, Winslow wrote an account of the early years. His book,  Good Newes from New England, or a True Relation of Things very Remarkable at the Plantation of Plimouth in New England, is not only primary source material about the Pilgrims, it details many customs and traditions of the Native Americans (Indians).

By the year 1624 Winslow had become a close friend of Chief Massasoit and his Pokanet Indian tribe, the people most historians credit with helping to save the Pilgrims from starvation during that first cold winter of 1620/1621. Winslow recounts taking a long walk on an Indian trail with a Pokanet Indian and learning for the first time how Pokanets preserved their history for posterity through memory holes. Winslow wrote:
Instead of records and chronicles, they take this course, where any remarkable act is done, in memory of it, either in the place, or by some pathway near adjoining, they make a round hole in the ground about a foot deep, and as much over, which when others passing by behold, they inquire the cause and occasion of the same, which being once known, they are careful to acquaint all men, as occasion serveth therewith. And least such holes should be filled, or grown up by any accident, as men pass by they will oft renew the same: by which means many things of great antiquity are fresh in memory. So that as a man travelleth, if he can understand his guide, his journey will be the less tedious, by reason of the many historical discourses will be related unto him.
Using these memory holes the Pokanets shared important events in their history with their children and grandchildren as they walked, telling tribal stories and passing down their heritage as they paused to keep the memory holes clean from overgrown brush. The Pokanet Indians seemed to have understood the importance of preserving past in order to maintain the cultural cohesiveness and intellectual unity of their people.
Could it be that one of the reasons our nation seems to be falling apart at the seams is because we have refused to keep clear and clean the memory holes of our past as a nation? As Independence Day 2016 approaches, I think God that my parents and educators instilled within me a love for America's forefathers and our nation's heritage.

"A nation's posterity knows prosperity only when the nation's principles held dear are made clear and the nation's past is made fast." W.Wade Burleson

15 Words and 15 Seconds That Save Any Marriage

A remarkable number of marriages will end in divorce. Every marriage is susceptible. The path to divorce is never short; it's a winding trail that often circles upon itself again and again. However, I've never met a couple on the journey toward separation who didn't at some point wish to jump off the trail and heal their marriage. The problem is usually discernment, not desire. Few couples seem to know the proper way to maintain a healthy marriage or to heal a broken marriage.

I recently toured a wine factory in Morocco. The wine master walked us through the very tedious and precise manner in which Moroccans make their fine wine. There is a formula. Those who don't know the formula--or refuse to follow the formula--cannot produce fine wine. Likewise, there is a formula to maintain healthy marriages and to heal broken marriages. Though every person and every marriage is as different as snowflakes, the formula works regardless of the person or couple who follows it.

The formula involves 15 words and 15 seconds.

The Fifteen Words

"You are neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within me."

Say this to your spouse. Say it out loud. Say it intentionally. Say it thoughtfully. Say it lovingly. You may not at first believe it; but say it. When you walk into a room that's dark, you don't understand how electricity works, but that doesn't keep you from flipping the switch. You don't have to understand how light works to enjoy its effects. So too, these words are a panacea for broken marriages. You may not understand how they work, but don't let it stop you from saying them.

Most couples spiral downward because each spouse points the finger at the other. "You are the problem!" "If you would only ...." "You never..." "You...you...you..."

Your spouse is never the source for any turmoil within you; neither is your spouse the solution for the pain you feel within

There's no doubt that the actions of the one you love can be hurtful or painful; but the Apostle Paul said, "I have learned to be content (i.e. "self-sufficient") in who I am" (Philippians 4:11). Many English translations wrongly translate Philippians 4:11 as "I have learned to be content in whatever state (or circumstances) I am" but the words "state" or "circumstances" are not in the original. Paul learned to be self-satisfied in who he was.

So, who are you? 

Many men receive their identity from work; but that's not who we are, it's what we do. Many women receive their identity from those to whom they are related. "I'm Mary, the mother of..." or "I'm Suzy, the wife of ..." But that's not who you are; that's to whom you are related. I tell women all the time they better not get their identity from their husbands or kids because for eternity they'll neither be married (according to Jesus) and their kids will be the same age as they are. 

Likewise, men, until you get your identity from some place other than work, you'll never understand what it means to be content in who you are. 

So, again, who are you? 

The Apostle Paul said, "I am who I am by the grace of God" (I Corinthians 15:10). Your identity is to come from the incredible grace of God. Who are you by the grace of God? You can only begin to answer that question by saying, "I am...."

I am loved by God's grace. I am adopted by God's grace. I am guided by God's grace. I am forgiven by God's grace. I am justified by God's grace. And on, and on, and on. That's who you are by God's grace.

When you understand who you are by the grace of God, then you are "self-sufficient" regardless of your circumstances. You may have a spouse whose actions cause all kinds of trouble; but your spouse is never the source of or solution for the trouble or pain within you.

God is both the source and solution for what ails you within.

The Fifteen Seconds

After you speak those fifteen words lovingly, intentionally, and thoughtfully, kiss your mate for fifteen seconds. Don't pull back. Push in. Push in sweetly; softly; sincerely. 

Kissing is intimate. It is an intimate expression of your love. As you move in to kiss for fifteen seconds, you are communicating "I love you as you are; for who you are; and not for what you give. I have all I need in Christ, independent of you.  I am loving you as God loves me."

The words are the principle by which you live; the kiss is the passion by which you love.

You'll find that it's not nearly as difficult to love your spouse as God loves you when you stop blaming your spouse for what you feel inside. 

When the love of God in Christ becomes your Source, and when Jesus becomes your "balm in Gilead," the healing takes place within which only He can bring. It is only when you are filled up with God's love (see Ephesians 3:19) that you begin to leak His love to those you love.

In my experience, the major reason marriages end is because someone on the trail toward divorce never steps off and assesses the situation from the perspective of God's grace for them. We are called to "live a life consistent with our calling" (Ephesians 4:1). That means graced people should live gracious lives. 

God never designed your spouse to be the source of your fulfillment nor the solution for your pain. 

God's grace is sufficient, You are who you are by His grace.

Remember the 15 words and the 15 seconds next time you feel yourself wanting to blame your spouse for your internal unhappiness.

God is your Source, not your spouse.

"I Have No Silver or Gold" - The Coming Economic Collapse and the Abundant Riches of God's Grace

Dr. Ron Paul is warning Americans of an impending economic disaster. This former U.S. Senator and others like him believe that everyone should purchase "silver and gold" in preparation for the dollar's imminent collapse. His advice may be sound, but contrary to those who believe financial catastrophe is a bad thing, I take the position it is ultimately good.

I believe many people will only seek the riches of God's grace when they've lost their material riches. Comedian Joan Rivers used to joke "My friends are all dropping like flies," says Joan. "I go to the funerals of my girlfriends and I hear the minister say, 'She’s in a better place.' What? Are you kidding me? No, she’s not. She had a house in the Hamptons!"

As long as you have a house in the Hamptons, you'll never look forward to a home in heaven. As long as you are fixated on material things, you will never focus on spiritual things. When a lame beggar sat at the entrance to the Temple asking people for money, Peter and John passed by, and Peter said, "Look at us!" When the lame beggar fixed his eyes on the two men and noticed they weren't well dressed or rich in attire, Peter said,  "We don't have any silver and gold in our possession, but what we do have we give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk." (Acts 3:6). 

Every miracle in Scripture is a parable for your life. Like this lame beggar, you and I will will never be able to live well until we understand what real wealth is and from where real wealth comes.

Paul wrote a letter to followers of Christ who lived in the city of Ephesus and reminded them that they were at peace with God and forgiven of all their mistakes and screw-ups in life "according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). He later writes that this gift of redemption and the "forgiveness of sins" is freely given to them "so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:7). This verse (Ephesians 2:7) is my favorite verse in the Bible. Heaven is not a perpetual church service; it is Christmas morning every day for eons to come. God unwraps for us each new day "the riches of His grace in His kindness toward us." Heaven is nothing more, nothing less, than the Creator's kindness toward those in Christ. Paul says his entire ministry is to share with people "the riches of God's grace" in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:7). 

The Greek word translated "riches" is ploútos. The root of this Greek word comes from sailing, where the sail is "full" (Gr. pleo) or "abundant" with wind. When a person is full of material things they are considered "full" or  "rich" or "wealthy" in this life. But the Bible cautions us against finding our fullness  (e.g. fulfillment) in material riches. Jesus said, "the deceitfulness of riches (ploútos) choke desire for the Word of God out of you" (Matthew 13:22).  Paul told Timothy to "command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" ( I Timothy 6:17).

Joy and fulfillment come from discovering the wealth and riches that are found in God's grace toward us in Christ Jesus. The Apostle Paul was so convinced that real joy is to be found in the riches of God's grace in Christ Jesus, he prayed that:
"The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: That the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints..." (Ephesians 1:17-18).
Do you understand the "riches of God's grace" for you in Christ? Do you know the specifics of those riches? Have your "eyes of understanding been enlightened?"

Recently I completed an online book entitled Radically New: The New Covenant Will Change the Way You Think and Live. I am in hopes of getting it published in soft cover soon. This book is my attempt to describe "the riches of God's grace for you in Christ Jesus."

My desire is that we all might discover, as did the lame beggar in Peter's day, that real fulfillment in life comes from not accumulating silver or gold in preparation for an economic collapse, but from discovering the riches of God's grace for you in Christ Jesus in anticipation of eternity.

Don't Let Your Facebook Feed Become Big Brother

I have many friends on Facebook. Some are Muslim, some are Christian, some are straight, some are gay, some are conservative, some are liberal. They're all my friends. I read what they write. I learn from their writings. I don't always agree with what they write, but I celebrate their freedom to write what they think and what they feel. Facebook is a wonderful tool. It keeps people connected. However, Facebook can also become dangerous (in my opinion) - very dangerous. It can become a tool for Big Brother. I'm not referring to the television show.

Big Brother originally entered English vocabulary with George Orwell's book Nineteen Eighty-Four. Written in 1949, Nineteen Eighty-Four was a futuristic novel about the world turning (by 1984) into a dystopia, a place "opposite of utopia." Orwell believed totalitarian governmental leaders (e.g. Big Brother)  would seek to control the way people think.  Orwell's novel takes place in Airstrip One, the country formerly known as Great Britain, but now a satellite of the superstate Oceania. Orwell portrays the world in a perpetual state of war with omnipresent government surveillance with public manipulation by the political elite. Those in control (e.g. Big Brother) persecute individualism and independent thinking. Any opinion, thought, or spoken word that opposes the party line is considered thoughtcrime and prosecuted. Big Brother goes after individualism and independence, manipulating the population into political correctness.

Nineteen Eight-Four was Orwell's attempt to warn western civilization.  Eric Authur Blair (1903-1950), who took the pen name George Orwell, didn't write in a vacuum. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Orwell's wife Eileen started working in the Censorship Department of the Ministry of Information in central London, and Orwell himself would often write against British support of fascist, communist, and socialist governments. Orwell explained his writings in an essay called Why I Write:
'Every line of serious work that I've written since 1936 has been written directly or indirectly against Totalitarianism."
Totalitarianism by definition means "the ideology of the whole is superior"  (total - whole - arian - superior - ism - political ideology). Orwell was frightened that Big Brother would eventually be able to manipulate and control the thoughts of people to establish a collective political correctness and lead the world into Totalitarianism.

The adjective Orwellian connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past, making certain ideas literally unthinkable. Several words and phrases from Nineteen Eighty-Four have entered popular language. Newspeak is a simplified and intentional confusing language designed to make independent thought impossible. Doublethink means holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously. The Thought Police are those who suppress all dissenting opinion. Prolefeed is homogenised, manufactured superficial literature, film and music, used to control and indoctrinate the populace through docility. Big Brother is a supreme dictator who watches everyone. Facebook can become Big Brother's tool

2016 has become Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Yesterday, Florida's Assistant State Attorney was suspended from his employment for a Facebook post he wrote after the horrific Orlando tragedy this past week, Prosecutor Kenneth Lewis wrote on Facebook:
"Downtown Orlando has no bottom. The entire city should be leveled. It is void of a single redeeming quality. It is a melting pot of 3rd world miscreants and ghetto thugs. It is void of culture. If you live down there you do it at your own risk and at your own peril. If you go down there after dark there is seriously something wrong with you. Disney does everything in its power to shield visitors of Disney from its northern blight. That doesn't change reality. Disney may be the happiest place on earth but Orlando is a national embarrassment. If this is an act of domestic terrorist it is so important that we don't publish the religion, name, or motive of the terrorist as not to offend anyone."
One may not agree with what Kenneth Lewis wrote. That's not the issue. The freedom for Kenneth Lewis to think, say, and feel differently than the whole is the only way we keep America from descending into Orwellian dystopia.

You, too, may be contributing to the Orwellian nature of political correctness when you demand everyone on your Facebook feed think and write the way you do. If you really cherish freedom - not just say you do, but really cherish it - then celebrate the fact you have friends who disagree with you. Let them write what they think without de-friending them or humiliating them. That will be your contribution to building the utopia we call America.

Don't let your Facebook feed become Big Brother

Distant Reflections on the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention by Benjamin Cole

Ten years ago this month, I lent my voice – and what some have considered my strategic parliamentary acumen – to affect change in the Southern Baptist Convention. I worked day and night, on countless phone calls, teleconferences and in-person meetings to alter the course of the nation’s largest protestant denomination.

I have since left the SBC with no intention of ever returning. But I retain, perhaps stubbornly, a distant interest in the health and wellbeing of the churches and people who helped shape my childhood and subsidize my theological education.

Today, ten years hence from a thousand miles away, I had a tremendous sense that these efforts – joined by many – were not in vain. There is no small degree of irony that they were made possible, in large measure, because of a man I opposed so vehemently in the historic presidential election of the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention, held in Greensboro, NC.

Having been removed many years from active participation in Southern Baptist life, and removed even further from so much of the theological and cultural adiaphora I once championed, I have a few brief reflections on the actions today of my erstwhile brethren – some estranged and yet wounded – who have spoken and voted with great courage to do the right thing in a world that desperately needs men and women of courage to do the right thing.

First, I owe my thanks to Ronnie Floyd. On the issue of racial reconciliation, he has led with boldness and vision. This week, for the first time in Southern Baptist Convention life, he convened a panel to speak honestly, humbly and openly about the tremendous racial divide that still infects the religious, cultural and political context of the nation. Watching the proceedings from an office in Washington, D.C., I was wistful about an earlier iteration of my denominational engagement. And I was also hopeful, recognizing as men ought often recognize that change of a substantial and lasting effect does not happen in a fortnight.

Today, Southern Baptists have taken a stand on the right side of history when it comes to the issue of race. Pastor Ronnie Floyd guided that evolution with grace and strength in a way that only a man of deep prayer, faith and character could.

Second, I found myself simultaneously saddened and encouraged by the convention’s repudiation of the confederate flag in a resolution proffered by Rev. Dwight McKissic of Arlington, TX.

First, why I was saddened.

As will doubtlessly be reported more often than necessary, Houston Judge Paul Pressler, an architect of the conservative movement in the Southern Baptist Convention and a man of tremendous Christian charity and genteel manner stood to object to the resolution. He was frail, emotionally animated, and clearly angry.

Flashing across my monitor I saw a man I know well, and deeply love, reduced to a shell before the convention messengers, many of whom will never know the price he paid, the arrows he sustained, nor the scars he bears having put his name, his family, and his reputation on the line for a cause in which he deeply believed over the last half century.

He was a lion in winter. Having built his life’s witness and work on a reputation for correctly adjudicating the hills upon which a man should offer his life, he chose this last one very poorly.

It is likely that Southern Baptist’s last public memory of Judge Pressler will be these few moments yesterday in St. Louis. For those of us who have known him well – whose lives have been marked by his kindness, counsel, and courtesies – it is but a passing moment, albeit painful to behold, when a man who might and should have known better wrongly judged the momentum against which he summoned his strength and voice.

And then, why I was encouraged.

For many years I have known Georgia pastor James Merritt. Years ago, as a young seminarian, he encouraged me individually and personally in ways I have never discussed or written. In recent years, my appreciation and admiration of him has grown as I’ve observed him – listened to him – and learned about his integrity, though I myself am far removed from the natural orbit of his influence.

Today, without any forewarning, I saw him stand and speak. He spoke boldly – as he always does. He managed to alliterate – at which he is famously unparalleled. But above all, he threw down a gauntlet before the Southern Baptist Convention with no certainty about whether he would be reviled or revered.

Headlines today coming out of the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention will surely acknowledge, with singular interest, the messenger’s unmitigated determination to repudiate the last emblem of racist bigotry from it’s storied past. It is unlikely that Merritt will receive the credit, but it is certain that he wasn’t seeking it.

Some months ago I was asked to attend this year’s Southern Baptist Convention. Until last week, I contemplated that possibility.

Today, I’m glad I chose to stay in DC and watch from afar. I saw, without question, the end of an era that needed its final chapter closed, and the rise of a statesman from yesterday’s battles who spoke with eloquence and precision to nudge the convention toward an unequivocal stand on the right side of history when it comes to the matter of race.

Orlando, Gun Control, and Principle over Emotion

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family members of the 49 killed in the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. Unless you've experienced the emotions of suddenly losing a loved one to random violence, it would be difficult to understand these families' pain. We can collectively feel for these families, and we do.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those suffering through the effects of this horrific crime. 

Newspapers and social media are now filled with articles on why America ought to have strict gun control. I completely understand reacting to the emotional trauma we all feel, but I would caution every American to take a position on gun control on the basis principle, not emotion. 

After the Sandy Hook massacre occurred, I wrote an article explaining why I was against gun control on the basis of principle. The timing for publishing such articles like mine is often questioned by those advocating gun control, but this is precisely why I believe it's important to re-publish what I wrote a few years ago. 

Water in one's eyes often obscures clarity in one's mind. 

When our country was founded, our nation's Founding Fathers believed in what is called Natural Law. Natural Law is a view that certain rights or values are inherent in or universally known by human reason. The best summary of Natural Law is contained in the following seventeen word statement:
"Do all you have agreed to do and do not encroach on other persons or their property." 
In the early days of our nation, when a criminal encroached on another person or their property, the courts of the United States established the precedent that restitution would be made to the victim(s).

In the case of murder, the murderer would be swiftly brought to justice via execution. In cases of encroaching on property (i.e. theft, vandalism, etc...), restitution would be made by the robbers to the victims as ordered by the judge.

Over time, a series of decisions in the courts of the United States established what we call common law. Judges would look at previous legal decisions in similar cases to make a ruling on restitution that would be fair and equitable to the victim. It's important to note that in the early days of America, the people encroached upon were the victims, not the state. Therefore, the criminals who encroached made restitution to the people, not the state.

Amendment II of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution gives to citizens of the United States "the right to keep and bear arms" for two very important reasons.

(1). Our nation's forefathers knew there would be occasions when criminals would not make restitution to their victims as ordered by the courts.

When this happens in a country built on Natural Law, outlawry is invoked. Outlawry is the ability for citizens in a civilized society to pass judgment and punish those criminals who refuse to make court ordered restitution to their victims.

Most of us understand the term "outlaw," but few of us understand that it is derived from the word outlawry. Outlawry means criminals who run from court ordered restitution are handed over to society and placed "outside the protection of law." This is what it meant for an outlaw to be Wanted: Dead or Alive.

It did not matter how the outlaw was captured. When you brought the outlaw in before the judge, dead or alive, you received a bounty for the capture. The outlaw was outside of "the protection of the law."

In the old days, prisons were fairly empty.

Incarceration was limited to those awaiting trial. Once a court ordered the terms of restitution, the criminal was released in order to work and pay for his crimes. If the criminal ran from his responsibilities, he was turned over to society (by the courts) as "an outlaw."

Our Founding Fathers understood the need for civilized society to "keep and bear arms" because a society of free and civilized people were ultimately the highest power in the land. The citizens of the United States would need to keep and bear arms because of outlaws. Natural Law demands the principle of outlawry.

A modern version of outlawry would be a free and law-abiding citizen in a school or a club, armed with a weapon, shooting and killing a murderer in the act of encroaching. The citizen doesn't wait on "law enforcement" to take action--for our Constitution, built on Natural Law, demands citizens take action.

Many believe a country is more civilized when free citizens don't have guns. Our Founding Fathers believed just the opposite. A free society, according to Natural Law, makes the free people of that free society the highest authority--not the state or the government. Government is of the people, by the people, for the people.

Could law-abiding citizens in a free society make a mistake in dealing with they deem to be an outlaw? Of course, but the checks and balances on a free people is the knowledge that you yourself might be deemed an outlaw if you violated Natural Law and encroach on an innocent person.

Natural Law is as much a science as biology, physics and math. It is understandable regardless of one's religion, because it comes from Nature and Nature's God. Natural Law says the victims are those who experience the crime of encroachment and the criminal is the encroacher.

Unfortunately, our government has assumed the role of victim.

Statism, sadly, has become the expected form of government by the American people. The government of the United States - in practice - is replacing the people of the United States. Statism says the criminal pays his or her debt "to the state" instead of to the victims of the crime.

When a state usurps the governance of a free people by the people themselves, then the state (government) will eventually devolve into a fascist state. Fascism (e.g. Nazi Germany) does not arise overnight. Just like Germany in the early 20th century, fascism progresses slowly as more and more power is handed to the state and more and more freedoms are taken from the people.

One of the fundamental requirements for a fascist state to exist is for its citizens to not be armed. I oppose gun control in the United States for the principled reason of resisting the rise of fascism in the United States.

(2). Our nation's forefathers understood that there could be an occasion when the state violates Natural Law (by encroaching on free people), and it would be the duty of the free citizens of that state to rebel.

Very few Americans know that the rationale of the Patriots - the men and women who fought the British government during the American Revolution - was a rationale built upon Natural Law.

People like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams, and others believed that England's monarchy (the King of England) was encroaching on the people and property of the colonists. The Patriots rebelled because Natural Law was being violated.

America's Patriots believed a nation of people should always be able to keep and bear arms because there always needs to be the ability for a free people in a free society to revolt against a government that violates Natural Law. England violated the principles of Natural Law, and in obedience to Nature and Nature's God, the American colonists revolted against England.

Thomas Jefferson, when writing the draft of the Constitution of Virginia, wrote "No free man shall be debarred the use of arms."  Alexander Hamilton wrote, "The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed." (The Federalist Papers, pages 184-188).

Abraham Lincoln, declared at the commencement of the Civil War"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it."

These men understood that any government which removes the right to keep and bear arms from her free citizens takes a gigantic step toward statist facism.

So, though we grieve over the mass murder of those in Orlando, and though we deplore acts of violence by criminals throughout our land, we should resist with all our might any intrusion by the government to take weapons from us.

Natural Law, America's Constitution, and freedom's fight against facism all demand that America's citizens have the right to be armed.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I may choose not to bear arms, to turn the other cheek, and to live like Jesus Christ lived.

But as an American, I must resist any effort by the state to take weapons from her citizens.

String Theory and the Beautiful Music of Your LIfe

Your life is designed to be a beautiful piece of music. God designed it that way. He's the Conductor; your life is the music. The universe is the great symphony. Following the Father's lead is the key to people hearing the music being played by your life.

Both science and the Bible agree that your life is designed by God to be music in a grand symphony. Let me first show you the science and then I'll show you the Scripture.

The scientific M-Theory, otherwise known as Membrane Theory, posits that the sub-atomic particles we see in nature (e.g. quartz, electrons, etc...)  are nothing but "musical notes" on a tiny vibrating string. According to theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, the universe is a symphony of vibrating strings. Physics is nothing but "the laws of harmony that you can write on vibrating strings." Chemistry is nothing but "the melodies that you can play on interacting vibrating strings." 

People are nothing but melodies. We are cosmic music played out on vibrating strings and membranes.  Kaku declares that Einsteins "Mind of God" or The Theory of Everything is simply the consummate music written and performed through multi-dimensional hyperspace.

God is the Great Conductor. 

Theoretical physicists who hold to M-Theory prefer the mathematical equations of science to be in eleven dimensions (e.g. ten dimensions of space and one dimension of time). The only other possibility, proposed by theoretical physicists at Harvard, is mathematical scientific equations in twelve dimensions (e.g. ten dimensions of space and two dimensions of time), otherwise known as F-Theory. 

F-Theory (the one to which I hold) has a universe of double time. If we live in a double time universe, it would be possible to walk into a room and observe people "frozen in time" while moving to the beat of different time that is perpendicular (or eternal) to traditional time. We see evidence of this time travel in Scripture (Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration in Jesus' time, Old Testament saints walking among the living after Christ's resurrection, etc...). 

When the mathematical equation for The Theory of Everything is finally solved,  it will either be math in eleven dimensions (M-Theory) or twelve dimensions (F-Theory).  The math doesn't work out in space/time dimensions that are greater or smaller than eleven or twelve. 

So modern science has come to believe that the universe is composed of vibrating strings that form different styles of matter (music) which produce the symphony of creation. 

If God is the Great Conductor, then man becomes the great interrupter. War, racism, murder, suicide, and crime are chaotic disruptions of the symphony of God's creation.  A life lived in opposition to the Father/Creator is a life ill-lived.

Let me show you from the Bible.

The Greek word sumphonos, from which we get our English word symphony, is clearly seen in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), a story that illustrates a life lived "far from God."

In this parable, a son demands his inheritance before his father dies. The father consents, and the son leaves for "a far country" - a country far from his father. In this far land, the son wastes his inheritance through prodigious (e.g. excessive, wasteful) living. Finding himself without any means of support, the son feeds pigs for a living. One day, he "comes to his senses" and realizes that he would do better as a servant in his father’s house. 

So the son sets out to see his father.

When the lost son arrives home to his father, those in the fields begin to hear the celebration led by the father. Literally, it is a sumphonos they hear,  "a symphony" of music begins to be played (Luke 15:25

Here's the point. Both science and the Bible speak of your life being a great symphony of music. Your life is designed by God to be beautiful music. But you must follow His lead.  The question is whether or not the beautiful music of your life is being disrupted by you forsaking the Conductor's lead.

Jesus said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). Jesus is the Great Conductor of your life, the Father of Creation, and the one who leads the vast orchestra of vibrating strings we call the universe.

When you surrender your life to Jesus Christ and follow the lead that He sets, you will find the beautiful music played through by your life fits seamlessly into the wonderful symphony of creation. 

On the flip side, a life apart from Christ is a chaotic, dissonant life that ends in brokenness.

Science and Scripture, like always, fully agree.