Devotion

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17

I have wondered if I had lived during Jesus’ time (and if I would have been Jewish), would I have been a Pharisee? Would I have leaned on the law as insurance of my divine fate without understanding the intention behind the law? The love behind the law?

Would I have thought I was good enough to get to heaven because of the stuff I had done?

We all like to believe we are good people. Thinking about how we’re sinners isn’t much fun. But Jesus said he came to call not the healthy but the sick—not the righteous, but the sinners.

He came to call those who knew they couldn’t be good enough.

Dear Lord, keep us from relying on ourselves to conquer our sin issues. Remind us that we need you as our spiritual doctor. And let us spread the good news to sinners everywhere. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Wild Wind Farms

DSC00229

I’ve been going with my husband to visit his parents in their small town in north-central Iowa for about 18 years. In most of that time, few things have changed there, except for maybe the name of the town restaurant. But in the last few years, the landscape surrounding Wellsburg, Iowa has been transformed.

What was once flat farm land stretching to the horizon has turned into a series of giant wind farms. Sprouting from the fields like gargantuan corn stalks, the turbines stand hundreds of feet high, their propellers spinning with the constancy of a metronome. From a distance, it’s hard to gauge how high they really are or how fast they’re spinning. They seem to me all at once terrifying (what if one of those blades breaks off) and beautiful, especially at sunset. But then it doesn’t matter what I think. I’m not living next to one.

DSC00227

My in-laws aren’t living right next to one either, although they now have many turbines within two miles of their house. Because I’m insatiably curious, I did some research and found out some stuff you might not know:

  • Windmills have been in use since 2000 B.C. and were first developed in Persia and China
  • Modern wind turbines have 3 blades which can reach speeds at the tip of over 200 miles per hour
  • The largest wind turbine in the world is located in Hawaii and stands 20 stories tall with blades the length of a football field
  • A single wind turbine can power 500 homes
  • Wind power does not use any water, so by the year 2030 wind energy will save about 30 trillion bottles of water in the U.S.
  • As many as 1,300 eagles, falcons and hawks are killed each year due to wind turbines
  • By 2014, more than 46,000 wind turbines were in operation
  • There’s enough on-shore wind in America to power the country 10 times over

The magnificent wind is created by processes that God set up on our dynamic planet. He gave us the breeze for our enjoyment—to feel it blow through our hair on a hot day—but also for our use. We can be better stewards of our God given planet by investing in wind power.

What do you think? Do the benefits outweigh the costs (like dead birds, bats, noise, risk of airplanes hitting them) for developing wind energy?

 

References: http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/various-wind-energy-facts.php, http://www.windenergyfoundation.org/interesting-wind-energy-facts

Photos taken by me in Grundy County, Iowa.

Devotion

“He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

Matthew 27:42-44

Sometimes I’m amazed at how Jesus was mocked while He was dying on the cross, even by the robbers who were being crucified next to Him. Those who insulted Him were challenging Him to show them He was God.

How arrogant to think they could demand anything from the God of the Universe? Of course, they didn’t know that He was already showing them He was God, through what He would do for them.

Do we ask God to perform for us and show us His power on demand? Like some sort of cosmic genie?

When something bad happens, do we question why God didn’t step in and fix everything the way we thought He should?

Why are we so arrogant as to think we have everything figured out about God? If we could do His job, then He wouldn’t really be an all-powerful, all-knowing God, would He?

The cure for arrogance is humility. God wants us to ask according to His will, but also to be humble enough to accept that His plan is the best plan, even when we don’t understand it.

Dear Lord, increase my faith in You and Your plans. Break down my pride and help me to humbly submit to Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Spring Break!!

Hi everyone! Here in Iowa it’s Spring Break and I’m going to take a break from blogging for the week to spend some time with my family. Hope you all have a great St. Patrick’s Day and Spring Break, too (if your’s is this week also).

I will be back here with a devotion on Tuesday, March 24th.

Blessings,
Janice

Fraud for Funding

DSC00216

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a scientist? Sometimes people believe scientists sit around all day thinking about things. In actuality, very few of them have that luxury. Most of them are working hard to pay their own salary through funding for their research. Those of you in sales or marketing know what it’s like to be forced to sell your ideas in order to get paid.

This leads to temptation. Especially in a system where most scientists work at a university and are required to publish if they want to keep their position or receive tenure. Many of you have heard the phrase “publish or perish.” That describes life for a great number of scientists.

Temptation leads to fraud. Not for all of them, but some scientists will give in. They will compromise their ethics to make it ahead in the academic world.

Why are we surprised? We frown on this failure in a scientist but applaud it on television (Breaking Bad anyone). Our entire society has adopted a “flexible” model of ethical behavior and scientists are also affected by this world view.

I imagine a cartoon of a homeless scientist standing on a street corner with a sign that says “Will commit fraud for funding.”

Why are we surprised? Because we put scientists up on a pedestal. We believe everything they say, after all they’re smarter than most people. They must know better. But does smarter make you more ethical?

Some of you are saying to yourselves that I’m exaggerating and there can’t possibly be that many fraudulent scientific papers out there. Well, here’s some data for you: One online repository for preprinted articles (arXiv) started flagging manuscripts for plagiarism in 2011. Since that time, it has flagged 3% of the more than 300,000 articles for plagiarism (over 9,000 of them) and has also found that 1 in 16 researchers has an article flagged. Some might be accidental plagiarism, but not all of them. And that only deals with plagiarism.

In 2012, another study analyzed 2,047 retracted articles (ones pulled from magazines after being published) for the cause of the retraction. They found three-fourths of the retractions were for outright fraud, including falsification and misrepresentation of the data. In fact, an online website dedicated to reporting retractions, called Retraction Watch, says in their Frequently Asked Questions that they have trouble keeping up with the volume of retractions they need to report.

Why are we surprised? We shouldn’t be. So, the next time you’re tempted to blindly believe what’s presented as science, remember scientists aren’t perfect—they’re people.

 

Reference: http://retractionwatch.com/, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/02/science/study-finds-fraud-is-widespread-in-retracted-scientific-papers.html, http://news.sciencemag.org/scientific-community/2014/12/study-massive-preprint-archive-hints-geography-plagiarism

Devotion

In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.

Exodus 15:13

Do you ever have moments of doubt?

Do you ever worry about how life will turn out?

Do you wonder if you’ll ever fulfill the dreams in your heart?

I have those moments, more often than anyone knows.

In times when I’m being honest, I realize these doubts are a faith issue. Despite God’s grace and mercy, sometimes I don’t believe He has my best interests in mind. I’d rather worry and fret because that keeps my illusion in place.

The illusion that I control my life.

And trust me, it’s an illusion. If we open our eyes wide, we’ll see who’s in control.

Him.

Not us.

Every once in a while, I have those moments where my sense of control is shattered—someone I know is diagnosed with cancer, my father-in-law has a heart attack, my newborn daughter is whisked off to intensive care.

It’s usually only when my illusion is smashed that I fully rely on the One who’s best suited to have control.

Dear Lord, help me to remember every day that You lovingly orchestrate my life, even during hard times. Give me the strength to surrender to the reality of Your control. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Unicorn of the Sea

Fotosearch_k2514342

3D computer rendering of a Narwhal

How many of your out there have seen the Sprint commercial with the cartoon characters singing about Narwhals? If you haven’t (and actually want to), click here, but be warned—the song may not leave your head the entire day. It goes something like this:

Narwhals, Narwhals swimming in the ocean

Narwhals, Narwhals causing a commotion, because they are so awesome

Narwhals, Narwhals pretty big and pretty white, can beat a polar bear in a fight

Weird, huh? I watched it the other day with my 11-year-old son and he went nuts for the song. He looked at me and said, “You know a Narwhal is a real thing, right?”

Uh, actually, no I didn’t know that and it stinks when your kid is smarter than you, but don’t tell him I said that. So, of course, I had to go look it up. And I’m glad I did because these guys are seriously one of God’s most amazing creatures. The above picture is just a computer rendering, but the real thing is awe inspiring. Please, please, please click here to see the pictures taken by Paul Nicklen from National Geographic. They are stunning.

A Narwhal is actually a type of whale with a bony protrusion coming out of its head. Because of the protrusion, which can get up to 10 feet long, it’s sometimes called the Unicorn of the Sea. This tusk is actually an enlarged tooth with millions of nerve endings. Most males develop tusks after the first year of life when it starts to grow outward, twisting in a counter clockwise direction and leaving a hollow interior. This is a sensory organ, not an instrument for breaking through the ice, as I first thought.

They live in the Arctic waters of Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia where ice is prevalent. They eat halibut, cod, squid and shrimp and can spend up to five months below the ice, breathing through the cracks.

You might notice the Narwhals in the commercial are white, which is the color for old Narwhals. They are born blue-gray, juveniles are blue-black and adults are a mottled gray. The name Narwhal means “corpse whale” in Old Norse, perhaps a reflection of its skin color.

These majestic animals weigh up to 4,200 pounds and can grow as long as 17 feet in length. And they can also dive in the ocean a mile-and-a-half deep.

I never cease to be amazed by the creatures that God has created. How many more live in the oceans that we’ve never seen? They say it’s the final frontier.

 

Reference: http://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/unicorn-of-the-sea-narwhal-facts