Shan Church Plant Sermon – May 3, 2015

Shan Church Sermon – May 3, 2015 – (through translator)

Introduction ———————————–

Good Morning everyone.

My name is Troy Roberts, and I’m a teacher at Chiang Rai International Christian School.

My family and I moved to Chiang Rai from Alaska in America in August, and we love living and teaching here.

You probably can figure out who my wife and kids are, but my wife is Cora, my son is Chanan, and my daughter is Rinnah.

They keep me laughing!

We’ve made Chiang Rai our home and we plan to serve God here for years and years to come, if He let us stay.

The Word of God ———————————–

I’m humbled to have a chance to share a story from the Bible with you.

I really don’t know if I deserve to be heard by you.

I’ve only met a few of you, and I haven’t been able to serve you at all. But these stories are the word of God.

The same God that made the world from nothing and made each of us in His image has given us these stoires from him so that we can know him.

He loves us, and he wants us to know Him better.

I don’t know you well enough to tell you how to think and how to live your lives, but He does,

I hope today, as we learn these stories together, that you’ll hear Him teaching you through the stories, and not just me.

Opening Prayer ————————————-

Let’s pray.

Father, you are great! You made the world and you made each of us. Thank you!

Please help us to understand what your Son, Jesus is teaching in these stories.

Speak only what is true through me, and send yoru powerful Holy Spirit to change us as we learn.

We ask all this for Jesus sake.

Story Practice —————————————

I’m going to act out a story for you two times, and when I am done, I’d like you to tell the story to someone near you.

I’m a teacher, and I’ve learned that people, adults and kids, learn better when they are doing more with what they are learning.

So today, we are going to play and learn at the same time.


Please try to follow along.

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18 paraphrased) —————————————

Jesus told this story to a group of people who were very confident in their own goodness.
[chest pat and a thumbs up]

Jesus said, “Two men went into the temple to pray.”
[two fingers up………………………….pray hands]

One man was a religious leader and he prayed “Thank you God that I am not like other men.”
[one finger up, hands on hips……………………………………………………………wave “no” hands. Shake head no]

“I do not have many wives. I am not a thief or an evil person, like this tax collector”
[pinch pull motion…….angry face with fists….point down to tax collector’s spot]

“I fast, and I give my money away.”
[block mouth…hand out motion]

But the tax collector stayed far away and did not lift his eyes to look up.
[motion backwards……………………………….cover eyes head down]

He beat his chest and said, “Have mercy on me, a sinner”
[hit chest with fist]

Jesus said, “the tax collector went home forgiven and reunited to God, not the religious leader.”
[guesture to tax collector spot and shake head yes. gesture to leader spot –up high- and shake no.]

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
[thumbs up hand pushed down. Fist beating chest lifted up.]

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Teaching) —————————————

In Jesus’ story, two men went to the same place, to do the same thing, but with very different lives and very different hearts.

The religious leader was called a Pharisee, they followed every law of God.

They even made up extra rules to make sure that they never got close to breaking a rule.

They were always doing good. As the Pharisee said, he didn’t do evil, he fasted, and gave money often.

Pharisees were looked up to as very important men.

But the tax collector was thought of as a traitor and a thief.

During Jesus’ lifetime, Romans ruled over the Jews, Jesus’ people.

And the Romans took taxes from the Jews.

Tax collectors were Jews that helped to collect the money for the Romans.

Helping the Romans made the tax collectors seem like a traitor to their own people.

And many tax collectors demanded extra money to keep for themselves. They were thieves!

Most Jews hated tax collectors.

Yet when the good Pharisee prayed, he was not forgiven, but when the tax collector prayed, he was forgiven.

So why?

Because the tax collector was humble!

He felt so sorry for his evils that he could not lift his head and he hit his own chest in sorrow.

He humbled himself.

He came to ask for mercy.

The Pharisee though came to tell God about all the things that make him good already, without any help from God.

The Pharisee didn’t think he needed God’s mercy because he thought he could be good by his own work.

But all the good work, fasting, and money giving in the world will not forgive our evil deeds.

We have all lied (even small ones)

We have all thought about hurting someone (Jesus said that hate is the same as murder.)

We have all been jealous of someone else’s things

We have all ignored God at times

We have all done evil, but God wants to exalt the humble.

We need to stop thinking about how good we are, and remember for a moment the evil we have done.

We need to lower our heads and ask for mercy from God because of Jesus.

He has done everything to make sure that we can have mercy immediately,

He doesn’t care what evil you have done. He can still forgive you because Jesus died to pay for our crimes.

In fact, Jesus gave mercy to a thief as he hung on the cross dying.

The Criminal on the Cross (Luke 23 Paraphrased) —————————————

Jesus and two criminals were led up the hill to be hung on crosses.
[1 finger and two fingers move uphill. Fingers make a cross]

The Roman soldiers nailed the three men to the crosses
[hammering motions]

The soldiers and the crowd insulted Jesus and made fun of him
[point and laugh]

They yelled, “If you are the king of the Jews, then save yourself”
[…………………………….put on a crown………flex your arm muscles.]

One criminal beside Jesus said, “Yeah, save yourself and save us too!”
[lift arms as though on a cross………….Nod head to Jesus. Nod head up.]

The other criminal said, “Don’t you fear God?”
[step over and make cross arms]

We have done wrong and we deserve to be punished, but He has done nothing wrong.”
[x motion with hand shake head yes……………………………….X motion with hand shake head no]

“Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.”
[………..point to your brain/head…..put a crown on your head]

Then Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
[step to center. gesture to criminal. Pat chest. Two arms up to heaven.]

This man was an evil man, a sinner. He even admitted it in front of Jesus and the crowd.

This man was about to die. He only had a few hours left to live.

He had nothing to offer Jesus. He had nothing to give Him.

But he humbled himself before Jesus.

And asked Jesus to remember him in the His kingdom.

He treated Jesus like a king.

He believed Jesus, and Jesus promised him that he would see paradise with him before the day was over!

A dying criminal with nothing to offer is given a free ticket to heaven because he feared God, humbled himself, and treated Jesus as a king.

My Dad’s Faith in Jesus —————————————

My dad died of cancer five years ago.

He left my mother and I when I was a boy, but I found him again as an adult and we started talking on the phone.

I told him about Jesus, but he doubted the story.

One day, he called and told me that a friend had told him about the thief on the cross,

and that he had called out to Jesus and trusted his life to Him.

We spent the rest of the conversation talking about how amazing it was that Jesus would die for us and that he rose form the dead.

We talked about the joys that God has planned for us in paradise.

It was a great talk with my father and with a new brother in the family of God.

The next time I called to talk, my father was being rushed to the hospital where he died.

My father had done many terrible things in his life, and he had only trusted in Jesus for two weeks before he died.

But like the thief, my father humbled himself and called on Jesus, and he was promised paradise.

He’s here now.

I hope you won’t wait as long as my father did.

I hope you’ll call out to Jesus today.

Whether you know Jesus or not, please humble yourself, admit your crimes to him, and be forgiven and changed forever.

Ask someone here to pray with you, and begin to learn more about God through his Bible.

Closing Prayer —————————————

King Jesus, we are sinners. thank you for dying for us

Please help us to humble ourselves and to treat you like the king you are.

Please remember us in your kingdom.

I hate Hell and Rabies

I hate that there is a Hell. That’s why I live the way I do. I try to give people the option not to go there.

I also hate Rabies. I wish it didn’t exist, but it does. If I tell someone with rabies, “Drink apple juice three times each day, and you’ll feel better in two weeks,” then they will die. It doesn’t matter whether I believe it passionately. It doesn’t matter how perfectly they follows my instructions. Nothing will counter the fatal chemical sequence of rabies except a 6 shot series. Apple juice doesn’t correct what is causing their death.

Jesus is the same. From Human #1 we have rebelled against God, the Creator. We can’t fix that relationship anyway that we want. We fix it the way He wants.

The world hates Jesus (and his forgiveness because He is the one narrow, difficult way) in the same way that people hate shots as a treatment.

Most of us prefer to sip the apple juice.

A Nothing is Better Anthem

“I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;

I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;

I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;

I’d rather be true to His holy name

Than to be the king of a vast domain

And be held in sin’s dread sway;

I’d rather have Jesus than anything

This world affords today.”

~Rhea F. Miller


We may choose to prefer other things at times, but…


Nothing is better than Jesus.

Science’s Two Greatest Mysteries Solved


…In one chapter!


Dr. Michio Kaku is a respected and renowned theoretical physicist and agnostic who recently completed his latest book entitled The Future of the Mind. Despite his agnostic status, I have to thank him for teeing up the ball for God to confirm the predictions of the book of Genesis in this short video on the existence of human consciousness:

Michio Kaku: Consciousness Can be Quantified


Quotes and Responses:


Dr. Kaku:

“In the entire universe the two greatest scientific mysteries are first of all the origin of the universe itself. And second of all the origin of intelligence.”



“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…[and]…God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1 ESV)

Not to be overly simplistic, but, mysteries 1 and 2 plausibly solved by the testimony of historical document.


Dr. Kaku:

“Believe it or not, sitting on our shoulders is the most complex object that Mother Nature has created in the known universe.”


Mother Nature? (See previous response)


Dr. Kaku:

“our brain only consumes about 20-30 watts of power and yet it performs calculations better than any large supercomputer.”


The Tianhe-2 is the backbone of the Chinese Defense Network and was the fastest supercomputer in the world in 2013, scoring a massive 33.86 petaflops supercomputer! Wow, seriously!

And the human brain runs at 1,000 petaflops…Yep, that’s right, 30 times faster than the fastest supercomputer in the world.

You get the performance of this …

For the price of the energy needed for this…


People who believe that God made the world often throw around the Watchmaker analogy. The idea that if you found a watch in the woods, but had never seen a watch before, you would still assume that a watchmaker made it. It would be silly to think that a series of natural and unintelligent events built such a fine-tuned machine. However, the situation is even more insane than a watch.

Here’s the truth:

You are walking across Antarctica in a down snowsuit (don’t ask why, just focus), and you stumble upon 30 Tianhe-2 Chinese Supercomputers networked together adn running…and they are being powered by a 9 volt battery! That’s the same battery that runs my alarm clock.

If I were to ever stumble across such a sight, my first thought would NOT be, “Out of the primordial ooze rose the first…” …nope!

But, maybe…perhaps, “There is a ridiculous, unstoppable, infinitely intelligent computer engineer somewhere, and I want to shake His hand because he just annihilated every modern technology company and solved the energy crisis in one shot!…And He did it in the middle of Antarctica.”

That’s right, Antarctica! No, that’s not the point, focus!


Dr. Kaku:
“When you look at the brain and all the parts of the brain they don’t seem to make any sense at all. The visual part of the brain is way in the back, for example. Why is the brain constructed the way it is? Is this nothing but an accident of evolution?”

Actually, the visual processing of the brian makes overwhelming sense and points to a clear design. Yes ,the portion of the brain that processes imagery for our consideration is in the back of the skull’s space, but the pictures we see have to make a stop in the middle of the brain before we get to think about what we saw. That part in the middle is called the superior colliculus. The superior colliculus is nicknamed the visual reflex center, or as I like to call him “Flinchy”.

See, when a rock flies at my head, I do NOT think. Rock…wow, that things movin’!…Wait, rocks hurt my head when they are moving fast…Do I duck or block? Ahh, duck or block? Duck or block? Duck or block?…High school did not prepare me for this kind of … *sirens approaching in background*

Rather, when a ball flies at my head, I flinch. Period. And so do you because Flinchy screens the visual pictures sent from our eyes and notes any immediate dangers before sending the picture on to the rear brain to be processed for higher thinking. In fact, Flinchy doesn’t even ask your opinion. He send a “freak out” command directly to the spinal cord who alerts the nervous system to DEFCON 5, releasing adrenalin into the blood stream, and send a “evasive maneuvers” message to a ton of muscle groups. Thus, you spaz out and look like and idiot, but you also generally survive to facebook the video.

Rather than not making sense, the visual processing procedure of the brain is the most sophisticated system imaginable. How many machines can turn on evasive auto-pilot and high performance fuel additives in a split second to respond to an emergency?

It would be…uh…”hard”…to call the visual processing of the brain an “accident of evolution”. It is an engineering marvel, and we ought to be marveling most at intellect and power of the Engineer.


Dr. Kaku:

“Well one way to look at it is through evolution.”


Given the whole brain and eye thing, I don’t recommended it.


“the back of the brain is a so-called reptilian brain. The most ancient primitive part of the brain that governs balance, territoriality, mating. And so the very back of the brain is also the kind of brain that you find in reptiles.”

Similar structure usual implies a designer of a particular style. The fact that DNA, physical structures, and yes, brain organization is similar among many animals is evidence that God has style – or at least a style. Cars all have engines, but that doesn’t mean that RC cars became mopeds became Priuses, became Ford trucks, became Mack semis became CAT bulldozers. It just means motors were a good idea. Brain were a good design, so God stuck with it.

There might be a Pixar movie in there somewhere.


Dr. Kaku:

“And when you ask yourself a question where am I anyway. The answer is right behind your forehead. That’s where you really are.”


Unless you’re a born again believer in the Lord Jesus, then you are sitting in the heavenly places with Jesus. (Ephesian 2:6)

Ok, this comment was way off topic and Dr. Kaku is hyperbolically correct, but I couldn’t keep that thought in. Christ makes criminals and rebel into family and heirs. We have to talk about that whenever we can.


Dr. Kaku:

“Well, I’m a physicist and when we physicists look at a mysterious object the first thing we try to do is to create a model. A model of this object in space. And then we hit the play button and run it forward in time.


1. God created the heavens and the earth…”Play”…Prediction: things ought to be very finely tuned and well made…Yep!

2. God made man in His image…”Play”…Prediction: man should be very unique and bear the marking of a higher being…Yep!

3. God flooded the world…”Play”…Prediction: sea shells on mountaintops, huge debris of death (coal and oil deposits), huge canyons, lots of water leftover…Quadruple yep!

4. Jesus died for sinners to have the chance to be reborn…”Play”…Prediction: lives should be changed from the inside out when someone turns their life over to Jesus Christ…Yep!


“[Consciousness Level #0] think of the consciousness of a thermostat… [Consciousness Level #1] And then we have a flower… [Consciousness Level #2] And then finally we go to the reptilian brain…Then we have level 2 consciousness, the monkey consciousness. [Consciousness Level #3] As humans we are at level 3 [Consciousness Level #4].

Here an interesting comparison:

Consciousness level 1:     Physical objects

Consciousness level 2:     Plants

Consciousness level 3:     Animals

Consciousness level 4:     People

This sounds familiar…Oh!

Creation Day 1:                    heavens and earth (matter/physical objects)

Creation Day 3:                    Plants

Creation Day 5-6:                Animals

Creation Day 6:                    People

Levels of consciousness and days of creation seem a bit similar, and by a bit I mean identical. So that’s neat, and another prediction of the Genesis creation story that matches present reality.


Dr. Kaku is a great presenter and a dazzling intellect, but he has truly missed the forest for the trees. He has seen the wonders of creation and half-heartedly referred to accidents of evolution and Mother Nature, but he has sadly missed the glaring arrow pointing to the Creator spoken of in the Bible.

[Prayer} God, send your Holy Spirit to save Michio Kaku by faith in the death and resurrection of your Son, for Your glory.

I too wonder at the glories that the scientific method has revealed to us, but my wonder leads me to worship a great God who gave His perfect Son. There are many great thoughts, feelings, and sights to thrill us in this universe, but none compare. It can never be said enough that…

*Nothing is better than Jesus.

15 Reasons NOT to follow Jesus

• Matthew – death by sword in Ethiopia

• Mark – dragged through the streets until dead in Egypt.

• Luke – hung on a tree in Greece

• John – banished to an island

• James – beheaded in Jerusalem

• James the Less – thrown from the top of the temple

• Philip –  hung up against a pillar until dead

• Bartholomew – thrashed to death

• Andrew – bound to a cross until dead

• Jude – shot with arrows

• Matthias – stoned, then beheaded

• Barnabas – stoned to death

• Paul – tortured, imprisoned, and beheaded in Rome

• Thomas – speared in India

• Peter – crucified upside down in Rome

…I don’t even like needles. O.O

These dudes witnessed Jesus and then stormed the world screaming about His kingdom and His resurrection until people everywhere killed them. If these deaths be true, then these witnesses believed the message and the miracles of Christ, and that belief demoted survival to secondary status to make room for telling the world about the Christ and His teachings as THE priority.

Perhaps you and I need to do some demoting…?

We ought to live like such men, moved by the Spirit of God to offer our lives, even to death, in the belief that…

*Nothing is better than Jesus.


There is debate about the authenticity of the disciples martyrdoms since they are often recorded by historians that were affiliated with a church, cited in rejected apocryphal writings, or written by scholars who were not witnesses of the events, but what is undeniable is the long and ever growing list of souls that have declared that nothing is better than Jesus at the cost of their lives:

~Martyrs then:

~Martyrs now:

*Pray for those who hide in the dark, hike miles into the bitter wilderness, and risk their lives for a chance to read a Bible. Our privilege is our calling.

The World’s Prayer. My Prayer?

Sometimes I fear that my thoughts sound like this:

My genie, who I invented,

hollow is your name.

My kingdom come,

my will be done,

on earth as it is in my head.

Give me this day my daily extravagance

And forgive me my debts

Even when I won’t forgive the debts of others

Lead me not into conviction

But deliver us from inconvenience


Oh, that the mouth, mind, and hands would agree and say:

“Our Father in heaven,                                       (all of us together)

hallowed be your name.                                    (set apart as better)

Your kingdom come,                                          (You reign please)

your will be done,                                                (You get want you want)

on earth as it is in heaven.                                (In my daily life)

Give us this day our daily bread,                   (meet my needs)

and forgive us our debts,                                 (forgive my crimes)

as we also have forgiven our debtors.        (in the same way I forgive)

And lead us not into temptation,                  (keep me faithful to you)

but deliver us from evil.                                    (only you overcome evil)

(Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4 ESV)


*Not my, ours

*Not genie, Father

*Not hollow, hallowed (make holy)

*Not head, heaven

*Not extravagance, bread

*Not inconvenience, evil

*Not me, Him


John the Baptist, who Jesus called greatest among men, said this.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”  (John 3:30 ESV)

And that’s why John was the Greatest.

He must increase in our mind until…

Nothing is better than Jesus.

Sorry Cassius Clay.

Would You Really Die for Jesus?

Peter, faithful to the death:

“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear.” (John 18:10 ESV)

Peter, fearful of death?

“The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”… Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed. (John 18:17, 25-27 ESV)

Ignore the rooster for now…Focus!

Question: Why did Peter deny Jesus three times?

Answer: Because Peter was ready to die for Jesus, but not ready to live for Him.

Are you ready to live for Jesus?

Or is Jesus only about death for you?

Please read the last two lines again slowly, then stop and really thing about it…


Remember, Peter actually saw Jesus. Peter left home and work to follow Jesus the rabbi, listened to Jesus speak the words of the most powerful book ever, walked on a sea with Jesus, saw Jesus glowing in glory with Moses and Elijah, and sword slashed the ear off a man to protect Jesus. And then Peter betrayed his faith in Jesus. After all of that, then he betrayed the Christ who he say was “…the Christ, the son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16 ESV)

Peter was ready to sacrifice everything at any moment for His powerful and present Jesus, but what about the maligned, despised, and departing Jesus.

Can we say that we would do any better to stand with a Jesus that seems to be a failure? What do we do when the world calls him a failure to our face and labels us “Christian” with all the misunderstandings, presuppositions, and stereotypes that come with the label? No, forget the “world” challenging you. What about a friend? What about family? A boss? A customer? A girlfriend? A random person that sits beside you?

The lie that I often have told myself is that if I had to give my life for Jesus, I would do it. Well, what is “it”?  Do I mean that if I were being threatened with a gun to deny Jesus, then I would speak up about my faith in Jesus? Is that what I think? Is that what many other Christ-followers think?

How is that any different from saying, “I won’t speak up for Jesus unless someone puts a gun to my head?”

“Will you die for Jesus?” And the crowd screams, “YES!!!”

“Will you go to a hard place to live and serve people who you don’t know?” …Crowd?

“Will you give away your entertainment money to help others know Jesus?” …Crowd?

“Will you risk embarrassment to share Jesus with another?” …Crowd?

“Will you serve others who treat you like dirt?” …Crowd?

This is the real question that we must ask ourselves if we will follow Jesus before He returns to take us home: Will we live our smallest moments for the Jesus that we are willing to give our lives for? …Our smallest moments for Him?

[Prayer] God, help us to live eternally and to live every moment until then for Your Son and by Your Spirit that You will be celebrated by all.

To do less than this seems odd because…

Nothing is better than Jesus.

Did Nye Lie About the Trees

Nye Ham

No. He just leaved a few things out…[did you get it: “leaved”. Like a tree has leaves!…Yeah, I liked it too.]

Trees are dated by counting rings, and as such the oldest single tree in the world, by ring count, is a bristlecone pine in California that is currently unnamed and is about 5,000 years old (3). Don’t worry, research don’t cut them down. They just drill a hole.

Unnamed Bristlecone Pine

The oldest tree’s age of about 5,000 matches very closely with a literal timeline for the Bible’s flood that God used to kill almost everyone on the planet because…

“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”  (Genesis 6:5 ESV)

The trees that Nye mentioned are clonal trees meaning that they spread by cloning themselves into new sprouts that shoot out of the roots. Thus a huge grove can be a set of clones. That means that you can get a tree with a ring count of 96 years, but it is actually older by attachment to older clones, but no one can be sure how much older because we don’t know how many clone generations came before it. The tree below that Nye showed is very young (even “new” by tree standards), but the roots are a little older. I mean, look at it. It’s like a sad, lonely, balding, baby Christmas tree. It makes me a little emotional. *tear*

Old Tjikko is an allegedly 9,550-year-old Norway Spruce tree, and is the world’s oldest living individual clonal tree. The tree was carbon dated by the root system under the tree, not counting tree rings. (2)

Nye’s Old Tjikko was dated 9,550 years old using carbon dating, a method of dating that is very wild in accuracy as Ham explained and gave examples of in the debate, and apart from assumptive carbon dating (1), these tree age dates are often very rough estimates; we’re basically guessing. For example, the oldest clonal tree according to Wikipedia is assumed, in line with evolutionary assumptions, to be 80,000 or maybe 1,000,000 years old. That’s pretty accurate…-ish…Nope, nevermind.

It’s amazing to get into some of the research and see how many times small tricks like this were played on listeners during the debate. The meme at the top would draw many to believe the rings were counted all the way to 9,550 years to disprove the flood of Noah, when actually, the oldest trees in the world, California’s bristlecone pines, align perfectly with the timeline of the Bible and a worldwide flood about 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.


If the Bible is trustworthy in its testimony of an event as outrageous as a worldwide flood, then does it tell the truth about the Son of God too?

You know where I stand: Nothing is better than Jesus.





Lying about the President (Part 1)

You mean people lie to save face, and get a little attention?…I’m shocked, aghast, and other cool synonyms.

Put simply, we are all liars.

To suggest otherwise is not optimism, it is either ignorance of people because you are still a toddler or it is a willful denial of nearly observable fact. We should all be optimistic that people won’t lie in a given situation (The world would halt without trust), but let’s not P.C. and sugar coat our criminal records. We’re liars.

King David knew it:

“I said in my alarm, ‘All mankind are liars.‘”  (Psalm 116:11 ESV)

That’s why God made it one the ten most basic moral laws (The Ten Commandments):

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  (Exodus 20:16 ESV)

Come on, you remember “that” time. Think about your past. It wasn’t the only one, but you remember “that” one. I’d bet that we all remember our “one” lie.

A personal favorite from my own long wall of shame was when I arrived in Idaho and, for fourth grade Show and Tell, I shared a song that I “wrote” about the Mario Bros. that bore a striking resemblance to the theme song of the Mario Bros. Cartoon. Coincidence? I know right! I was shocked too – that I would create a song that was almost identical to the theme song of a syndicated cartoon. What are the odds? Mind. Blown…or Morals. Sold.

Even now, in my vast sea of maturity and character, I fight the urge to exaggerate things that totally don’t matter at all, for a better laugh, a better image of me for others, or a better angle for me to escape conflict. I have at times been willing to do a little bad to do me a little good, and that is scary.

The human will sell his or her integrity readily for a little attention and a little self-glorification. And this is one reason why God, in justice, will dump His wrath on us and send us all to Hell. That’s right; Liars go to Hell. Hitler, Charles Manson, the Teletubbies, and Liars:

“A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.”  (Proverbs 19:9 ESV)

“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”  (Revelation 21:8 ESV)

Does that sound extreme to you? Well, you’re right to feel that way. Jesus summed up the moral expectation of law this way:

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:48 ESV)

Ok, be good all the time everybody, but “lying”? Hell? really?

Yep, in fact lying is why Hell came to exist and why Hell is open to human immigrants?

But that’s for Part 2.

Babies and the Best Knitter Ever

Title #2: Why you didn’t die at birth.

As my wife and I both looked at our newborn daughter,…

Wife:   “She has your nose.” Me:

[internally] “I’m sorry, daughter. It’s not your fault.”

When we parents think about our newborns, we often consider inherited features, meconium (don’t Google it.), Baby announcements, and the like, but after seeing two babies born in bedrooms in the sticks of North Idaho, I’m just wondering how they survived the process. With all due respect to my tornado of boom (2.5 year old boy) and squeaky paperweight (1 week old girl), the biology behind their births leaves me floored that they are still among the living. Of course, they were simply showing off by surviving in such cute fashion, but my point is there are some serious miracles to consider here. And seeing as you were probably born also, this applies to you as well:

**   Note: I’m not even gonna touch the miracles of DNA combining from two organisms to form a code to build and self-repair the most advanced neurological organism on the planet.

1. Why didn’t you die before implanting?

When you first entered Mommy’s uterus, your name was blastocyst, which sounds surprisingly manly, but not so in real life. You only consisted of several cells that were considered an intruder by Mom’s national guard. If a white blood cell were to discover you, well, let’s just say you wouldn’t be reading this list.

2. Why didn’t you die at birth?

Consider this. A prelaunch baby is well on his or her way to a scuba diving certificate after 9 months in amniotic fluids. All air arrives via Mom’s blood; thus, no lung breathing. In fact, baby lungs are usually filled with fluids and their own practice poops and pees. Even wilder, the heart doesn’t even pump blood to the lungs to pick up air. The heart has a gaping hole connecting the top two chambers, that if you had it still today would kill you, and another valve that diverts blood away from the lungs and back to the body. The lungs are not a part of your body’s working system. But, as soon as you hit the air, you expelled the fluids from your lungs, inflated them for the first time cuing your heart to seal both of the life-threatening holes in your upper chambers forever and diverting blood to the completely unused arteries leading to the lungs, where red blood cells collected oxygen for the first time. In your first breath, your body instantaneously and automatically recovered from conditions that should have lead to suffocation and cardiac arrest. No big deal though.

3. Why didn’t you die when the placenta separated?

The placenta is where mom and baby trade nutrients and waste through the blood. Baby’s survival is entirely tied to the umbilical cord. When you were born the cord was still attached to mom, but you switch your heart plumbing to solo mode. Blood still flows through the placenta to the Baby when suddenly the placenta inside mom severs from the uterus, leaving both mom and baby bleeding. At this point, Mom has significant internal bleeding and baby has one of the largest arteries in their body open like a garden hose. Yet again, instantaneously and automatically muscles on mom’s side and the baby’s side begin contractions to stop the bleeding.

4. Why didn’t you die when you cried…all…night?

God gives mom a drug that makes her love you forever, and He gives dad drugs that make him really like mom. In short, you barely made it.

5. Why didn’t you die in your teens?

The punishment for murder in most states is very harsh. That’s pretty much the only reason…Sorry about ages 13-17, Mom.

So let’s check the score:

Should have been killed by a white blood cell, but you weren’t.

Should have suffocated, but you didn’t.

Should have had a cardiac arrest, but you didn’t.

Should have bled to death, but you didn’t.

Please know that the last four lines do not come lightly. I have been sarcastic and whimsical to this point, but thinking of these dangers and the inexplicable life in my two bright-eyed children (and even in myself) causes me to type over the lump in my throat. These are miracles, and for such a description the word miracle should be reserved:

“A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency : the miracle of rising from the grave.”

Now reconsider the over-read and underappreciated glory of God in these verses:

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”  (Psalm 139:13-14 ESV)

Despite the way I often hear it read, notice that these verses aren’t about us; they’re about the Maker. Ever line speaks of the Maker except for the last. We should look at ourselves in mind, body, and soul, and our construction should cause us fear and wonder at the fact that this is all the work of a Maker. Our souls should know well that He is worthy of our fear, our wonder, and our praise.

I have to admit though. When I see that someone has actually knit a pair of gloves or a sweater that doesn’t look like a cat’s hairball, I’m impressed, and when someone knits something that looks like they bought it at a store, then I’m honestly awed. It is awesome to perfect a craft as intricate and complex and knitting can be.

Yet, I’ve see people everyday of my short life on this earth, and my response to them usually sums to about, “meh.” But the people I see daily are a confederation of miracles. A nearly endless parade of miracles brought each one of them into existence, through the birth canal, and into an oxygen-rich environment where they now exist as an imponderable orchestra of biological efficiency working in harmony so that we’ll probably survive the walk to the kitchen on our next snack run.

If I can be awed by a cable knit sweater, then how should I respond at the sight of a human?

If I can awe at the mastery shown by a knitter, then how should I respond to a God who “formed and made” (Isaiah 43:7) the human and breathed life into it’s nostrils (Genesis 2:7).

How then should I feel, how then should I respond, when I look at the helpless form of my newborn daughter or the closed eyes of my sleeping son?

Answer: I feel overwhelming, joyful thankfulness, and I respond by teaching them this same view of the world as made by and for Jesus, so that we can someday say together in praise:

Nothing is better than Jesus.


“[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible… all things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:15-16 ESV)