Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Miracles of Life

Seeing that it is Easter, it's appropriate to discuss the miracles of life. At Easter, we Christians celebrate the miracle of resurrection life. All four gospels have an account of Christ's resurrection - here is the account from Matthew 28:1-10 (NIV, emphasis is mine):

1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."

8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

First Corinthians 15:3-5 (NIV) gives a good summary of the gospel story:
3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.

The bodily resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead is a crucial truth of the Christian doctrine. Without it, the world would be without hope. In 1 Corinthians 15:12-28 (NIV), Paul continues his discourse on the importance of the resurrection of Christ.
12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

Praise be to God, for Christ has risen indeed!
Because Christ led the way (as the firstfruits), we who believe in Him have the hope of the miracle of resurrection life. One day we will be given resurrection life (with a new body) and will reign with the Author and Giver of Life, who is the Supreme Authority, to the praise of His glorious name!

Resurrection life is a wonderful miracle of God. Let's move on and consider another miracle of life - the miracle of physical life. This miracle begins it all for us humans. The conception, development and birth of a new, precious human being. This past week, I read this passage in Job 10:8-12 (NIV):
8 Your hands shaped me and made me.
Will you now turn and destroy me?

9 Remember that you molded me like clay.
Will you now turn me to dust again?

10 Did you not pour me out like milk
and curdle me like cheese,

11 clothe me with skin and flesh
and knit me together with bones and sinews?

12 You gave me life and showed me kindness,
and in your providence watched over my spirit.

This reminded me of the passage in Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV):
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Both of these passages talk about the miracle that we humans are, of how special we are in all of God's creation. We are each a beautiful and unique work of art, crafted by the Creator. God has a plan for each one of us, even before we were born. Wow!

As amazing, wonderful and beautiful as our human bodies are, with their vast number of parts, systems, etc., what is more amazing to me, and what separates us from the rest of God's magnificent creation, is the fact that with each human being conceived two things are created - a body and a spirit. One is mortal and the other is immortal. The body will some day die and decay but the spirit of a person will live forever, either in eternal death or in eternal life, depending on the relationship of that person with God.

Every time I think about this, it blows my mind. Science has studied, documented and filmed the physiological process by which male and female DNA combine to create a new human being. Yet they are only dealing with and observing half the miracle, that is the creation of a physical body. What they cannot study or observe is that somehow, somewhere in the conception process, God creates a brand new spirit out of nothing to go with that body, and that spirit, again created from nothing, will last for all of eternity! Wow! What a miracle! Praise be to a wondrous God!

Before I move on the the third and last miracle of life in this post, this seems to be a fitting place to officially announce that my wife and I are expecting our fourth little miracle to join us in the world toward the end of October. You can see the first bullet item of her post here.

The third miracle of life bridges the gap between the conception and birth of a human and the resurrection life that a Christian will receive upon death - it is the miracle of eternal life. Eternal life is closely related to resurrection life but must proceed it and is experienced by a person from the moment of belief in Christ, not being delayed until the death of the physical body. Romans 6:23 (NIV) says,
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

To have a better idea of what a miracle eternal life is, let's look at some Scripture passages.

Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV):
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

1 John 4:10 (NIV):
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

John 1:12-13 (NIV):
12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

The miracle of eternal life is that God so loved us that He sent Jesus to die for our sins and offers it to us free, without charge. Once the offer is taken by faith in Jesus, eternal life begins immediately! We become children of God and have a personal relationship with Him that will last for an eternity. Wow!

What an awesome God we have! He works the miracles of life:
  • The miracle of the creation of a wonderfully made physical body with an eternal spirit to go with it which accompanies each new person conceived.
  • The miracle of eternal life (as opposed to eternal death, which we deserve due to our sin) which grants us peace with God, purchased by the bloody and painful death of Christ on the cross.
  • The miracle of resurrection life, in which we will reign with our conquering Lord in heaven, made possible by His miraculous resurrection from the dead on a Sunday morning long ago.

A blessed Easter to all my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lab Results

On Friday we got word that Benjamin's lab results came back negative - praise God!

My post is not actually that much shorter than my wife's on the same subject, which is surprising.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Vacation Euphoria

I don't know about you, but when I leave work on a Friday afternoon for a normal weekend, the feelings that generates are far different from the feelings I get when I leave work to start vacation. For a normal weekend I'm always glad that the weekend is here and look forward to spending time with my family. However, when I walk out of the door to start vacation, it is usually accompanied by feelings of euphoria. There's an extra spring in my step and the day seems all of a sudden better.

It's kind of surprising for me to think of how much of a psychological difference the distinction between "normal weekend" and "vacation" time makes on my emotions. I've also realized that it does not take much of a vacation to invoke these feelings of happiness.

Take this past Friday for instance. I took a half of a day of vacation on Friday afternoon. We were not going anywhere, I was just staying home with the kids while Stephanie went to a doctor's appointment. So I extended my weekend only by four hours or so. Yet when I walked out of the office at lunch time, the air smelled fresher, the sky seemed bluer and I could not help but smile big. It did not hurt that it was probably the nicest day of the week, being a fairly warm and sun shiny day.

If I could only train myself to think of weekends as two-day mini vacations, I could be singing the James Brown song, "I Feel Good" every Friday.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Facebook [Conf | M]usings

This weekend I signed up for Facebook. You heard right. My friend Marc (the other half of the half that blogs at Cardiff Central) sent me an invitation a couple of weeks ago. I'd been mulling it over and finally decided to take the leap. And boy was it a leap into uncharted territory.

Seeing as I'm a computer programmer by trade, I'm no dummy when it comes to computers (but that does not mean that I know nearly everything about computers or the world wide web that there is to know, as I was soundly reminded on Saturday, so I may not know how to fix whatever problem you are having with whatever application or peripheral you are trying to use). However, I found using Facebook very confusing. Signing up is easy, but there's no "Welcome" or "Beginners" tutorials. Sure there's the help pages but they just give brief definitions as to what things are - they don't begin to explain how you should do things or what the Facebook culture expects of you.

Networks, groups, requesting friendships, pokes and the "What are you doing now" status are just some of the things that all work together to provide a confusing experience for this novice. What's "The Wall" and what's "wall-to-wall" (before you leave comments explaining, I think I've figured it out now)? Applications, mini-feeds, gifts and various little pictures and graphics just add to the chaos. Oh, and there's the whole discontinuity thing with the wall posts - you usually only see part of the conversation that's going on between two individuals in their wall-to-wall posts. It feels like you've come in on a conversation at just the wrong moment.

All that being said, I think I'm beginning to make sense of some of it, after reading the help and looking at how my friends are using their "profiles". And I have connected with some friends whom I have not talked with in a looong time, which has been good.

There is one other down side of Facebook that I forgot to mention - the strong competitive urge it raises in me to be the ONE with the most "friends", regardless of whether or not you really know them or just recognize the name. So far, I've resisted the urge and have only requested friendships from those people whom I actually know.

The social networking is an interesting aspect of Facebook. I signed up because Marc invited me. So he was my only friend for a few minutes. So I looked at his friends and found ones whom I knew, so I added them. Then I searched for other people whom I knew had Facebook profiles. These led to other people. And then there's the people whom I had not found yet but who found me and requested friendship of me. And so the list of friends grows.

What remains to be seen in the long term is will I have time to keep posting to this blog, read other blogs, check my Facebook account and interact with all the friends there and do all the things I need to do after the kids go to bed? I'll give a whirl and try not to burn myself out.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Prayers for Ben: Answered

Thank you to all of you who have been praying for my son Ben - it made a difference. This morning he had a colonoscopy where they found and removed a polyp. They believe that was the source of the bleeding. That's an answer to all of our prayers. The polyp and some other biopsy samples they took of some bumps in his intestines are being sent to the lab. We'll know the results in a week or so. I'll send you over to my wife's blog for a few more details.

Ben is doing well and recovering fairly quickly. He's been a real trooper and showed a whole lot of bravery through out the past three and a half days. I'm very proud of him. His bottom's sore from the colonoscopy and the removal of the polyp, of course. Due to his age, they put him to sleep to do the procedure. The waking up process was not much fun for him, so it was a good thing mommy was there to hold him. He ended up taking about a forty minute nap snuggled up with her in the recovery room. He told me tonight that he was glad to be back with his whole family. We're glad to have him and mommy back.

P.S. A correction on my medical terminology on the last post - on Thursday Ben had a meckel's scan, not a merkel scan. That came back negative. This test was in some ways worse than the colonoscopy because they taped him down to the table so that he would not move during the scanning. He definitely did not like that at all. And the imaging device was positioned only a couple of inches above him, adding to it. He cried for a few minutes and then calmed down, eventually falling asleep. It took about half an hour to do the actual scan.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Update on Benjamin

Thanks for your prayers and your patience in waiting for an update. I have spent all day at the hospital. The day was pretty much a waste. Ben feels fine and he and I got to spend a lot of time play together, which was nice. However, the hospital could not seem to make up it's mind what to do with Ben. He is not in pain and shows no outward signs of any issues. They would have preferred to send us home and make us set up some out-patient appointments. Our pediatric practice however, fought to keep us in so that they would have to do something with us, to try and find out what was causing the bleeding. Which we appreciate, though it stinks that we have to sit around in the hospital twiddling our thumbs.

As a brief bit of history that I did not include on the previous post, Ben has had one previous episode before, about 2-3 months ago. It was almost exactly the same as far as how long it lasted, the blood, the blood clot, etc. The first time it happened, it happened in the evening. We talked to the on-call doctor for our pediatric practice. He had advised waiting until the morning to see if the bleeding continued. It did not, so no follow up happened. When it happened again a few months later, it was definitely more concerning.

I'm tired, so I won't go into all the details. Ben will be in the hospital at least through Friday. Tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. he has a merkel scan. Friday at 1:00 he has a colonoscopy. I never thought I would be taking my three-year old to have a colonoscopy. Both of these are for the purpose of trying to figure out where the bleeding comes from.

Please continue to pray that the doctors will discover what caused the bleeding. Also pray for Stephanie and Ben who will be spending at least three nights in the hospital. Poor Ben. He really wanted to come home this evening. He was fine until I left to pick up Will and Ellie from our friends' home.

Thank you for all of us,


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pray for Benjamin

I would like to ask you to pray for our son Benjamin. Earlier today he had a lot of blood with his bowel movement, including a blood clot. So Stephanie called the pediatrician and got an appointment at 5:00 p.m. to bring Ben in. The result of that appointment is that Stephanie is currently on her way with Ben to Hasbro Children's Hospital, to the emergency room. The pediatrician said it could be a number of things and that the hospital would run some tests. If it had been earlier in the day, she would have tried to get us into see a GI doctor. We don't know how long it will take or if they will have Ben and Stephanie stay the night.

We would appreciate your prayers for Benjamin, Stephanie and the doctors.

Thank you,


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Welcome to the Hallowed Halls of Man-dom

Scott, over at Honey, I Fed The Kids!, is hosting a "Tour of Scary Garages", including a Mister Linky (who is this character anyway?), in which he invites men to publicly share pictures of their kingdoms (man-doms as I always say, er... just started saying for this post), a.k.a garages, which they have long held dear and private, sequestered from public scrutiny for many long ages, now to be examined by unknown strangers in the world wide web, potentially to be ridiculed and made fun of, or to be pitied, or to be congratulated by like-minded macho men, requiring the sucker who posted the pictures to come out of his shell and risk being shown to be the messy that he is, thereby possibly requiring years of therapy, or ten gallons of vanilla fudge swirl ice cream, which ever is preferable, (yes, I am going for the record of the longest run-on sentence in a blog with the most random links in it), though it is possible that after displaying the chaotic state in which their domain exists, some of the other men may be shamed into cleaning up, which I'm sure is what the stuff of dreams are made of for their wives, but I'm not sure why they would want to do that unless it is to be able to find one of the many items that garages are useful for storing, such as hand tools, wood, fasteners, power tools, rodents, spare parts (i.e. broken things), paint, sand bags, lawn furniture, a swimming pool, insulation, umbrellas, tables, toys, flammable substances (see if you can identify which of these items are in the pictures below), tarps, implements of destruction, dirt, grass clippings, rarely used yard maintenance equipment, and various persuasions of used cloth (i.e. rags) - all residing in one of the few places a man can really rule over - the man-dom (come on, you know you like that catchy new word) that is his garage! (Whew! I'm tired - I kinda ran out of steam on the whole crazy link thingy)

Now, without further blathering, I humbly submit my pictorial presentation of my scary garage (warning, the images below should not be viewed by the faint of heart, such as those with extreme OCD personalities - unless you want to volunteer to come over and organize it, with the agreement that you will throw nothing away without my express approval).

This is looking in from the side door.

This is looking towards the front of the garage from the side door.

Notice the propane tank (sitting on top of dry wood) and the broken faucet which I thought I would try to fix, but yeah, that's not going to happen. Maybe I could do some kind of MacGuyver thing and use the faucet and the propane tank to make a flame thrower!?

This is looking in from the front of the garage. We've only parked the car in here one time in the five years we've been here - I think it was in the first week that we owned the house.

Our church meets in a hotel conference room, so we help store some of the tables and chairs for the church, used for church fellowships and other gatherings.

My table saw, scrap wood basket and sand bags to add weight to my rear wheel drive pick up during winter.

Not enough room in the garage for the wheel barrows to go in side by side.

Toys, tables, rooftop carrier and a compound miter saw (if I could get to it to use it).

Stuff. 'Nuff said.

Even the rafters are being used!

The most organized part of the garage.

The latest victim to succumb to the lure of peanut butter. I noticed it a week or so ago when I popped in to grab something. Who knows how long it was there before that. Since it's winter, I just left it - I figured it would keep =)? I did remove him yesterday after taking the picture.