Reflecting on….a time of renewal!

Wow.  Kellie and I had just a great time together as a couple.  We enjoyed most of all just the time to be relieved of our day to day responsibilities and to just enjoy each other’s company.  What a blessing!

Below are a few pictures from our 20 year anniversary trip to Quebec city!

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Something to look forward to…

Kellie and I are looking forward to celebrating 20 years of marriage in Quebec City this  summer.   We are looking forward to being immersed in a different culture, hearing the beautiful french language spoken all around us.  We are looking forward to strolling the cobblestone streets of a 400 year old city, enjoying a fine dinner and mostly we are looking forward to having time together as a couple!

Why is it so imortant to have something to look forward to ?  Because life can be stressful!  There are long stretches of the mundane…responsibilities piled upon responsibilities.  We all need a break!

To be honest, we are living in constant stress right now. 

Let me share with you the lyrics to a song I’m listening to right now.  (In fact, I’m updating this blog while in flight, logged on the internet, and listening to my Mp3 player!  We live in amazing times!).

Weary of earth, myself and sin
dear Jesus set me free
into thy glory take me in
for there I long to be

Let a poor laborer here below
when from his toil set free
to rest in peace eternal go
for there I long to be

Burdened, dejected and oppressed
now wither shall I flee
but to thy arms for peace and rest
for there I long to be

Empty, polluted, dark and vain
is all this world to me
may I a better world obtain
for there I long to be

I hope those lyrics don’t sound too dark.  In fact, they are of great encouragement to me because I know that I have within me the ultimate hope!  I have the hope of eternal life!  I do get weary of myself, the world and sin.  One day I will be set free from the sin within me, the tempatation around me (the world) and from this sin cursed world which will be liberated in a new heaven and new earth!

By the way, thanks Joel & Brenda for so graciously watching our children so that we can have a wonderful celebration in Quebec!

Jesse & Kellie write: What would we give to know Christ more?

Jesse and I set out on this blog to “encourage one another”. We have been so incredibly encouraged by the life and suffering of Andrew Mark, and his young wife and family (Grace’s Journal), that we are compelled to encourage you with the encouragement we have received.

As some of you may know, Andrew, after a 2 year battle with cancer, is now free from suffering and present with the Lord. He was 27 years old. Andrew held an especially dear place in my heart as his suffering resembled so much the suffering of my brother, Michael, both in duration and intensity. Even the description of Andrew’s final hours on this earth brought back memories of Michael’s last moments. My brother came to love his Savior vastly more in his hours of suffering than in his time of good health and earthly treasures. We witnessed this in Andrew’s life as well and countless souls have been stirred as a result.

How can God be holy and good in our suffering? To understand this seeming paradox, listen to a powerful sermon from Andrew’s brother-in-law, and our dear friend, pastor R.W. Glenn from Redeemer Bible Church . Please take the time to listen to the sermon titled, “Reflections on the Suffering and Death of a 27 year old man”.  It is only 41 minutes long and it has challenged our view of life, of suffering, and what it means to love Christ.

Phil 3:7-11 is a beautiful and powerful description of Andrew Mark’s testimony:

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. ” (Phil 3:7-11)

Jesse writes: Portrait Lighting Class

Kellie and I are learning about portrait lighting techniques at a local photography workshop.  It’s a lot of fun to be able to use a professional studio with state of the art lighting.  Below are some of our recent photos.  The challenge will be to recreate the lighting techniques with off-camera lighting (that is portable – and affordable!). 

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Kellie posts: 2008 A Year in Review

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Jesse writes: Am I a scientist or a person of faith?

“Joy may be inarticulate, but reflection is empty without understanding.   There is delight to be had merely by looking at the world, but that delight can be deepened when the mind’s eye can penetrate the surface of things to see the connections within.”  
– P.W. Atkins, Chemist, fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. 

What a beautiful description of chemistry!  I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to increase my delight of the world around me by understanding the molecules that are present in everything we see, taste, touch, breathe, drink, etc..  In essence, everything that we experience with our senses, has an “unseen”, abstract molecular structure behind it.

The quote above is taken from a book entitled, “Molecules”.  The book presumes no previous knowledge of chemistry and explores the structure of molecules for everyday substances such as cofee, fats & oils, air, taste, smell, vision and even some pharmaceutical molecules.  It is one of my favorite books on Chemistry because it makes the abstract and unseen real.  It is practical, because we can all relate to the common everyday senses, but may not have known the molecules responsible for the visible phenomenon around us.

It also increases my respect for P.W. Atkins, who I first read as the author of “Physcial Chemistry”.  Physical Chemistry is a course well known in undergraduate institutions for causing chemistry majors to switch their major field of study!  The course deals with difficult abstract concepts such as quantum mechanical explanations for previously explained chemical concepts that were more classical or “model-based” in order for the concepts to be understood and easily explained.  Anyone who can write a textbook on Physical  Chemistry and also write an easily read book on molecules is clearly someone who has the “intelligence that enables them to simplifiy”.

I recently saw P.W. Atkins in Ben Stein’s movie, “Expelled”.  If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it.  In fact, I own the movie, the book on Molecules, and I still have my textbook on Physical Chemistry.  If you come over to visit, you are welcome to borrow any one of the three!  In the movie, P.W. Atkins reveals his personal view on religion by stating that

“Religion is a fantasy.  It’s completely empty of any explanatory content…and it’s evil as well.”

While I don’t consider myself to be a scientist of the status of P.W. Atkins, the statement from Atkins coupled with the seeming endorsement of the majority of the scientific community poses a conflict for me. 

Am I a scientist or a person of faith?

In the movie, “Expelled”, Ben Stein shows the real persecution that occurs in the scientific community for anyone who would dare to consider Intelligent Design, let alone creation, as a plausable hypothesis for the origin of life.  The scientific freedom to explore the designer for the great design seen everywhere around us is strictly forbidden.  This, despite any plausable theory on the origin of matter (let alone life) from all the experts that Ben Stein interviewed.

The battle is drawn as science vs. religion.  This is an unfair framing of the conflict.  It is in fact the worldview (Darwinian evolution) of some scientists vs. the worldview (in my case, as a creationist) of other scientists.

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What can we consider logically?

There are three possibilities for the origin of the universe:

1.  The universe created itself.

2.  The univese always existed.

3.  The universe was created.

Consider (1) – Do we know of anything that can create itself?  Has this been observed?  Or can nothing create something?  Are these the logical or scientific assumptions that we are comfortable starting with?  What does the natural law of cause and effect teach us?

Consider (2) – Knowing that the universe is in constant decay (2nd Law of Thermodynamics) a state of  eternal matter or an eternal universe would not be sustainable resulting in a “heat death” for the universe long before now.

Consider (3) – It is logical and reasonable to assume that the incredible design all around us (including us!) was in fact designed by an intelligent creator.

Consider what scriptures say about this topic:

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickeness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” – Romans 1:18-20

Think about it.  God who is a spirit, has literally surrounded us with tangible evidence of His existence and of His invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature.   God has surrounded us with things that we can literally see, touch, hear, taste, smell…experience with all of our senses.  In fact, the more we understand about what we see around us, the more we are amazed at how intricately designed everything is.  The “simple” cell is a nanofactory that is so complex it is a world that Darwin could never have imagined.  In fact, the cell is not like anything that we see in our macro/physical world.  It like a micro galaxy of information and productivity.

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” – Hebrews 11:3

I am a scientist and a person of faith.  A scientist by training, a person of faith by the grace of God.  How do I explain the difference in world view between me and a respected scientist like P.W. Atkins?  I am not intellectually superior, or superior in my use of logic.  It’s only by God’s grace that He has allowed me to understand who He is and what He has done for me through his Word and through His creation.

“Joy may be inarticulate, but reflection is empty without understanding.   There is delight to be had merely by looking at the world, but that delight can be deepened when the mind’s eye can penetrate the surface of things to see the connections within.”  

…And might I add that delight is deepened even more when one knows the creator!

Give Thanks!

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This year, for our thanksgiving feast, we tried roast duck with the traditional “fixins” (twiced baked potatoes, sweet potatoe pie, green bean casserole and stuffing).  It was delicious!

We are thankful for our health, our friends, neighbors, family members, church family…so much to be thanful for!

This morning’s sermon was on Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”