Devotion

The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

Psalm 29:4-5

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Hebrews 1:3

Why do we love the hero in a movie? The guy who has the ability to beat the snot out of the bad guy and yet restrains himself to do the right thing. We love the hero because we admire power under control, power used for good.

If we understood the power of God, we would cower in fear—and we should—if that’s all God is. But He is also humble. Instead of shouting at us with a voice that would break our ear drums, He uses a small whisper. Oh, He has immense power, but He controls His power and uses it for our good and His glory.

When Jesus came to earth, He had that same power within him, and yet He was the ultimate example of humble obedience. The lamb of God. He went to his own death on a cross to fulfill God’s plan for us. He should be our model of how to use the power God has given each of us—the wisdom of the Holy Spirit inside us along with our talents and gifts. Whether it’s singing, preaching, baseball, math, or even writing, we should use it all, in humble obedience to Him.

Dear Lord, I confess that sometimes I want to use my gifts for my own glory. So others will notice me and praise me. Create in me a pure heart that wants nothing more than to please You. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Advertisements

Fun Science Fact

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
ID 11859869 © 1971yes | Dreamstime.com

Did you know there isn’t any carbonated soda or ice cream on the International Space Station? No ice cream because there is no freezer. No soda for two reasons: 1) too hard to keep the carbonation from leaching out of the containers and 2) belching is yucky in microgravity.

While in space, or microgravity as scientists like to call it, astronauts can burp, but it’s uncomfortable. Because there is no gravity, the contents of your stomach don’t settle, so food hangs out near the top of the stomach and close to the valve separating the stomach from the esophagus. This valve is a muscle that works with gravity, so in space, it doesn’t close completely. If an astronaut burps, it becomes a wet burp and I suppose he (or she) gets to taste the food all over again (with a little stomach acid as a condiment). Doesn’t sound tasty to me.

 

Reference: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/people/journals/space/kloeris/05-01-01.html

 

 

Our Tilted Earth

dreamstimefree_198392

 © Foto_jem | Dreamstime Stock Photos

It’s the end of March and I’m desperately wishing for spring, but spring has shunned us here in Iowa. I woke this morning to yet another 17 degree day with snow on the ground. Sigh.

And yet, I know someday spring will come, then summer and I’ll be popping the popsicles trying to get cool. How do I know this? Because God gave our universe order.

Many people think winter and summer change with how close the earth is to the sun. But this is incorrect. The earth tilts at an angle of 23.5 degrees (and is held at that angle in part by the moon). Whichever hemisphere is tilted toward the sun experiences summer. When that hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, it experiences winter. Interestingly, the Northern hemisphere, where I live, is slighly closer to the sun during wintertime.

Thanks to the gravitational pull of the moon, the earth’s tilt varies no more than two degrees. Without the moon, the gravitational tug of other large bodies in the solar system would cause the earth’s tilt to change over the years, fluctuating anywhere between 0 and 90 degrees. Think about what that would do to our weather, as the tropics and Arctic regions expanded and contracted. Would the whole world be in Monsoon season or waiting out the longest blizzard in history?

What if the seasons weren’t predictable? What if we never knew how long winter and summer would last? We might still survive, as humans did through the Ice Age, but it wouldn’t be easy. Endless winter would make growing crops almost impossible. And constant summer (like at the equator) would breed super bugs and disease.

Thankfully, the perfect tilt of our planet, stabilized by the moon,  gives us the diverse environments needed for life to thrive. Praise the Lord for making our home a predictable, constant and tilted place.

 

Reference: Faulkner, Danny. (Jan-Mar 2014). The Perfect Partner. Answers In Genesis, 9(1), 68.

Devotion

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.

James 1:2-4

Have you ever wanted something so badly and then had it ripped away? Two years ago, I sat in a chair at a writer’s conference across from an agent, wondering if my dream of being a published writer would ever come true. The agent, who I waited two years to talk to, told me I could submit a proposal to him but he would probably reject me for reasons x, y, and z. I felt like my heart had been shredded.

Would God have given me this dream without a way to fulfill it? I had to believe the answer was no, even in the face of rejection. Later that day, a few people asked how the conference was going. I didn’t lie. I told them how hard it was, but I also told them I trusted in God’s timing. In sharing my faith and my struggles, I made close friends that I wouldn’t have made any other way.

I don’t think the above Bible verses mean we have to enjoy our trials, but we can have joy knowing what our trials will produce—patience, endurance, perseverance. And we can also take comfort in knowing our trials are not just for us. When we go through hard times, we are squeezed. What comes out of us under pressure will be what we already have inside. And if trust in God comes out, it will impact people for God’s kingdom.

A year later, I went to another conference where I met the agent who accepted me. She believes in my work and I’m grateful to have her, but without the difficulties of the previous year, I might not have progressed in my writing enough to attract her interest. While I’m not a published author yet, every trial helps me grow, so that if I ever become one, God’s grace will be squeezed out of me under the pressure.

Don’t waste your trials, wishing they would go away. Use them for His purposes.

Dear Father, thank you for your love and care. You hold our hand through our difficulties and with each one You bring joy out of the pain. Help us to submit to the transforming power of our trials. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Fun Science Fact

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

ID 14506000 © Milan  Martaus | Dreamstime.com

DNA is made of chemical building blocks called nucleotides. These building blocks are made of three parts: a phosphate group, a sugar group and one of four types of nitrogen bases. These nucleotides are linked into chains to form a strand of DNA.

The four types of nitrogen bases found in nucleotides are: adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C). The order, or sequence, of these bases determines what biological instructions are contained in a strand of DNA. They effect everything from what color eyes we have to whether we get certain types of diseases.

Each DNA sequence that contains instructions to make a protein is known as a gene. The size of a gene may vary greatly, ranging from about 1,000 bases to 1 million bases in humans. The complete genome for a human contains about 3 billion bases and about 20,000 genes on 23 pairs of chromosomes.

Three billion bases, and none of it is “junk” (more on this in later posts). This information, stored in our own cells, is all the proof we need of our amazing and creative God!

Source: https://www.genome.gov/25520880

 

 

 

 

Fecal Samples

Cow in Val di Scalve, Alps mountains, Italy

© Elisa Locci | Dreamstime Stock Photos

My previous job was in the field of hydrogeology. One project I helped with involved the collection of fecal samples. Yes, I said fecal, also known as poop. It wasn’t the most glamorous part of the job, but it had a purpose. We wanted to compare the bacteria in the fecal samples to bacteria we found in water. In natural waters, it’s common to find fecal bacteria, especially in the Midwest. I used a swab, the kind you might see on CSI, to collect samples of poop from cows, deer, pigs and geese. Until I started this project, I didn’t know that when a cow first stands up it will usually poop right away. So I spent quite a bit of time prodding cows to their feet. Knowing all this may not enrich your life, nor did it mine, but I was fascinated by the goal of the project.

We analyzed the DNA from the bacteria in the fecal samples and compared it with the DNA of the bacteria we found in the water to see if we could identify the source of the bacteria. Sometimes the source came up cow, often geese, and sometimes pig, depending on the watershed. The different DNA wouldn’t match up exactly, but it would fall into rough groups according to the source of the bacteria. Why would this happen? Because different kinds of bacteria inhabit the guts of different kinds of animals, and their DNA (of the bacteria) gives them away, just like the color of my hair, the slope of my nose and the shape of my eyes gives me away.

My DNA is quite literally the instructions on how to make me. Similar to a recipe, only instead of making brownies, my DNA makes Janice Boekhoff. Where does all this information come from? Well, simply put, intelligence organizes information. We don’t find flour, oil, eggs, water, sugar and cocoa organizing into brownies on their own (only in my most favorite dreams where I’m swimming in a pool of brownie batter). Some sort of intelligence is needed for that. Why would we think the building blocks to make a human being would organize on their own?

God, the ultimate source of information, gave DNA to everything that needed instructions, even bacteria. More information is stored in DNA than can be found in a thousand books. Could a thousand books write themselves (and actually make sense as instruction manuals) through random processes?

Where all this information came from is an issue everyone has to address in some way, because the information is here. We exist.

Devotion

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2

Homely

What is wrong with this word? Nothing, unless you know that I meant to type Holy. Only a difference of two letters and yet the meaning is completely changed.

Our lives can be the same way. We might be doing pretty well in our spiritual walk, only hiding a few things from God. But those small things will make a huge difference, affecting every facet of our life, including our witness for Him. If you haven’t completely surrendered all parts of your life to Him, I urge you to do so. Why would you want to settle for less than the great plans He has for you? Plans that can only be fulfilled if you and He work together.

Dear Lord, search my life, help me to confess anything that does not conform to Your will. Please use me for Your eternal glory. In Jesus’s name, amen.