Wednesday, October 5, 2016


The following books are recommended:

Pure Grace:  The Life Changing Power of Uncontaminated Grace.  Clark Whitten

We have been freed from sin so that we can be transformed into the image of God, Jesus Christ.  We cannot be transformed by trying to manage sin by human effort.  We have been totally forgiven of ourselves and assigned the righteousness of Christ.

 The Rest of the Gospel:  When the Partial Gospel Has Worn You Out.  Dan Stone and David Gregory

We are called to be saints, not sinners.   We live "above the line," setting our thoughts on things above in the unseen realm, where we have been declared perfect, by the grace of God through Christ.  We do not live "below the line," setting our thoughts on things below in the seen realm, where we are in the natural -- "confessing" (i.e., declaring) ourselves to be sinners.  Let us confess the grace and promises of God of our declared perfection through Christ rather than a "pious" display of our fleshly inadequacies.

Transformation:  The Heart of Paul's Gospel.  David A. DeSilva and Michael F. Bird 

Paul's gospel (good news) is one of transformation into Christ and not a gospel of continued justification, in which we continually look for something to do so we might keep (maintain) our justification by our own works.

The Good and Beautiful Community: Following the Spirit, Extending Grace, Demonstrating Love.  James Bryan Smith

The church is made up of Christians in unity, serving and following Christ, and not individuals in isolation or small groups who can interpretatively agree with one another (for now).

Creation: The Apple of God's Eye. Justo L. Gonzalez
This relatively short book touches on the "Who" and "Why" of creation, which are the questions that the Bible addresses.  God's love is shown in the creation. Fretting about "how" God did the creation is way down on the list of questions with eternal significance.
Grace Rules: Living in the Kingdom of God Where... Steve McVey


The Secret of Grace: Stop Following the Rules and Start Living.  Steve McVey.

Also, books by Andrew Farley:

Relaxing With God: The Neglected Spiritual Discipline.

The Naked Gospel: Truth You May Never Hear in Church.

God Without Religion: Can It Really Be This Simple?

Heaven is Now: Awakening Your Five Spiritual Senses to the Wonders of Grace.
These (and other) books by Andrew Farley and his radio program (The Grace Message) focus on the grace and forgiveness from God and on how we nevertheless continue to try and earn our forgiveness from "the Law," while all the time denying we do that.

Books, videos, lessons, lectures and other material by Dr. Michael S. Heiser including books available on Amazon.
Dr. Heiser considers the spiritual dimensions behind some difficult-to-understand scriptures that are often glossed over because we don't know how to interpret them or what to do with the content.

The authors of these publications -- books, blogs, A/V presentations, etc. -- explain spiritual concepts more clearly using a less confrontational-sounding approach. 

Some blogs are also recommended:

Some of these URL's refer to an individual post, but one can go back to the home page or index from there. and

And, it is even remotely possible that someone might find additional writing (by the same drtheophilus bloginator person) to be of interest. If so, that site is:

In the above blog, posts are organized under a tree structure of titles in the header at the top.  There are about 200 posts on this site.  At about 3000 words/post, that's roughly equivalent in rhetoric to 6 books of 30 chapters each.  

Somnolence Warning:  Prolonged exposure may cause drowsiness. Not advisable to read (or listen to) while driving or operating heavy machinery (or light machinery).  

Monday, August 15, 2016


A friend died on Wednesday, August 10, 2016, ending a seven month bout with cancer.  He was only 68 years old.  One of his daughters wrote a tribute to him on Facebook, published on Sunday, August 14th.  It began, "We laid my Dad to rest yesterday."  The tribute continued with special memories of her dad and the loving things he did for the family.  The tribute ended with ...
Dad was a great man of faith. He was ready to go home and be with Jesus. I, however, was not ready for him to go. Mom and my brother and sisters were not ready. The grandkids were not ready. We all love him and miss him so very, very much. I'm not really sure where to go from here, but I know that Dad would want us to keep walking forward and do something good with our lives. My personal goal is to try and become the person that my Dad already thought I was.
RIP Daddy. See you on the other side.
The last sentence, "...become the person that my Dad already thought I was," is profound, because that is a description of God the Father for us.  

First, it is obvious that all fathers would want to be like this - a model of God the Father for our wife and children.  That is what the family from out of a God-ordained marriage covenant is all about (Eph. 5:22-32). 

But, more, it describes one relationship of one human father that is everything to one family, representing a tiny glimpse of an entire universe of fulfillment of the foreordained plan of God, made before time began and going forward into eternity.

When we choose God's plan and remain faithful, we glorify God, we are transformed into His true righteousness and holiness (Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), and we bear witness to the world of the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10).

God blotted out our sins (Col. 2:3-13-15) so we could be unencumbered to keep eyes on Jesus and run the race before us (Heb. 12:1-2).  Our sins from the shortcomings of the human nature, trying in the flesh to be like God, have been removed so that we can grow by the control of the spiritual nature into the fullness of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:12-16).

Like the daughter's tribute to her Dad, by the grace of God in accordance with His foreordained plan, we yield to the power of transformation so that we can become the person in the earthly realms that God has predestined us to be in Christ (Eph.1:4) and be the person that He has declared we already are -- seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6). 

Thank you, Rex, for leaving such an eternal endowment for the future of your family and for an example of how it is supposed to be done.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. (John 14:27)

If there would be a geographical area on earth where the highest density of human conflict, violence, and bloodshed has occurred - in ancient history, in more modern history, and continuing today -- what might that area be? This is the same general area where the above words of Jesus were spoken. What happened?

The region of the Golan Heights has been, is now, and likely always will be the epitome of conflict between people and nations over political control, rights, and ownership. Nations have attempted to work out treaties, agreements, promises, whatever seemingly with one hand holding a pen and the other a hidden knife. Why does conflict and chaos seem so entrenched in this region? Perhaps it is because it was prophesied to happen (Gen. 16:11-12) and because the answer, that had been provided to change the outcome, Jesus, was rejected and asked to leave - go away - get outta town - leave us alone - we don't want you around here; you mess everything up.

Mark 5:1-20 relates an event in Jesus' ministry of the healing of a man possessed by a legion of demons. The demons had made the man powerful and fearsome, and he was uncontrollable. Jesus cast the demons out of the man and allowed them to enter a herd of pigs. The possessed pigs ran down the hill, over the cliff, and into the sea where they perished. The people who lived in the area came out to investigate, and, upon seeing the healed man, who had been possessed, and the deviled ham in the water, they were afraid.

"Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region." (vs. 17).

And He did. He got back into the boat and left. (vs. 18)

This region to the east side of the Sea of Galilee is the Golan Heights. About 2000 years ago, the people of that region wanted the Prince of Peace to go away and leave them alone. "We don't want your kind around here." Jesus did leave, physically and symbolically, and it doesn't seem like He has ever been invited to return. The words of Jesus give peace, but in the world there will be trouble (John 16:33).

So, what about the region called the Golan Heights? What rules - the peace of Christ or the trouble of the world? What filled the vacuum created when Jesus was asked to get out? Could those spirits of 2000 years ago still inhabit the area? By what power could the influence of demonic elements be driven out?

So, what other regions or territories could the Golan Heights symbolically represent? How about where we live?

How many families have virtually nothing but a consistent generational conflict produced by the consequences of self-perpetuating bad decisions? Alcohol, drugs, crime, prison, abuse - just one stupid thing after another. Jesus is not the Prince of Peace in their lives. And, if asked, it's certainly never their fault - they're the victims. On the other hand, many families have had generations of blessings after a key family patriarch allowed Jesus to enter their life, thereby introducing peace and changing the future course for those who would follow.

What about a society that can determine its future destiny by present choices? What about a society that decides for itself whether Jesus is invited to stay or told to leave? What about a society that increasingly tells Jesus to "make like a tree and get outta here?" (said by Biff from "Back To The Future")

The past President of the United States said "American is no longer a Christian nation," and some people got upset. Why? It's not true because he said it; he said it because it's true.

It's promoted like an agenda. Let's get Jesus out of the schools; let's get Jesus out of the books; let's get it forbidden to pray publicly in Jesus' name; let's get rid of prayer altogether (unless it's addressed to some other deity, or non-deity). Let's get Jesus out of our vocabulary, unless it's used as profanity in the media. Let's get nativity scenes off any public property - certainly governmental, but also schools, libraries, and firehouses. Let's get Jesus out of Christmas and have a "Holiday Season." Now, the "reason for the season" is consumer debt. Let's get Jesus out of any consideration of people for public office - elected or appointed. Let's make it offensive to someone to have to hear the name of Jesus uttered in their presence, unless it's embedded in a curse word. Let's complain about Jesus represented in name, in appearance in paintings, pictures, or statues; let's complain about God being on our coins and in our pledge. Let's wonder why our government is so functionless and why greed and pride and self-idolatry prevail. Let's promote anything anti-religious in the media and put an evil slant even on good things that might be related to Christianity.

Let's wonder why there are school shootings and political calls to confiscate guns and beheadings that are called "workplace violence." Let's make peace by not offending anybody no matter what they might say or do - as long as it doesn't promote anything like that Jesus person. Let's wonder why the destruction of the home continues - until it begins to become the "norm."

Let's allow and even promote Satan worship because we don't want to appear like fundamentalists or bigots. Let's live in fear because someone might call us that name or another one.

So, as a society, let's just purge ourselves of this Jesus person. We're afraid of Him (capitals are mine); He interferes with our lifestyle, economics, and choices; we are smarter than that. So, we don't plead with Him to get outta here; we tell Him. Oh, yeah, and we're sweeping out our church buildings, too.

What fills the vacuum that is created when Jesus is told to leave? What happens when Jesus is not recognized as the Prince of Peace ... but maybe more like Beelzebub? (Mark 3:20-30). Uh, oh, better read verse 29.

Well, one could say, "The world is doing it to itself. At least the church isn't saying 'Jesus be gone.'"

And just what makes that statement correct? Who has been called to be the presence of Jesus on earth? Who is supposed to make up the body of Christ? Is the body of Christ shaped like a million parcels of real estate?

The church doesn't create the vacuum, like saying, "Let there be vacuum." The church allows the vacuum to happen because the church does not fulfill its mission to be the presence of Jesus - the body of Christ - the temple for the Spirit of God - the kingdom of God on earth. Vacuum exists when the influence of the Spirit of God in the church is not present.

Pigs, arise?

This could be a horror movie. Instead of "Lord of the Flies" it could be "Spirits of the Pigs" or "When Pigs Fly." See the moonlit shapes of the ugly demonic critters as they claw their way back over the cliff and slither around looking for someone to possess who has removed Jesus from their life. The demons of the region had ruled until Jesus arrived and exercised His authority over them. What did the demons do when the people in the city asked Jesus to leave? The demons asked Jesus to not send them out of the region, so did the demons return after they finished the bacon? Speculation - has peace ever come to that region or not? Maybe the demons stayed in the region. Maybe they came back. Maybe the influence is still there.  Can I get an "a-pig" for that out of the porcine corner?  How about "that's a big '10-oink good piggie?'"

What do we want for ourselves and for our children and their children? Order, peace, justice, righteousness, and true freedom, or chaos, conflict, discrimination, and bondage? What is on the increase; what is trending up? Is it peace or conflict?
  What is the word often used to characterize the methods people use on social media or the press to argue against one another?  Isn’t it the word, “demonizing?”

On Friday, September 26, 2014, the Wall Street Journal published an article "Mass Shootings On the Rise," describing casualties in active-shooter incidents increasing 1-2 orders of magnitude since 2000. "The FBI said more gunmen have tried to kill large numbers of people in recent years, with shooters seeking 'an act of catastrophic violence.'" And those data didn't count violence using knives or bombs.  Have things gotten better after 2014, or have mass shootings of all types increased even more?

We still have choices, but it is the beneficial and positive outcomes of our choices that are becoming less probable when choices are made to benefit self. A choice to continue good will have a high probability of producing a good outcome. However, a choice requiring a turnaround and recovery from a history of bad choices expends a lot of energy trying to correct things, and the remaining energy to benefit a quality outcome is reduced.  Inertia, resistance, inefficiency, distraction .... social entropy.

"Keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:3). Any unity in the Golan Heights? Any bond of peace? Any unity in the church? First Church of the Golan Heights? Has the church headed toward unity or toward creating more division over that last 100 years? 200 years? 2000 years?

"If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." Mark 4:23

Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil. 1:2; Col. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:2; 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Tit. 1:4; Philemon 1:3; 2 John 1:3; Rev. 1:4-5)

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Cycles ‘r us. There are many cycles in nature, without which there couldn’t be any life – water cycle, weather cycles, oxygen/carbon dioxide cycle, nitrogen cycle, etc. These cycles are related to the flow of gases or liquids, changes of state, or transfer of heat. They are types of thermodynamic cycles. There are many anatomical structures in plants and animals that have the design of a circle, sphere, or coil. Rotation of planets and moons in their orbits are cyclic. Seasons are cyclic. Moon phases are cyclic. Many insect and other animal life patterns are cyclic. Hormones go up and down in cyclic fashion. Atomic structure is made up of electrons traveling in space in special areas of probability that are cyclic in shape – sphere, ellipse, dumbbell, etc. The smallest cycle on record comes from string theory. All these cycles operate according to natural law. 

The same principles operate both in relatively simple cycles as well as more complex ones. That is why the observations of the life cycle of a bacterial colony isolated from an outside source of energy is relevant in principle to larger, more involved cycles. Cycles of smaller frequencies make up cycles of larger frequencies which make up still larger and larger cycles.  It difficult to conceive that a cycle of seasons in a year would be composed of millions upon millions of smaller cycles that all add up in a very precise way and in an integrated pattern, all under the same laws of nature. Heat transfer – thermodynamics. We get our outside energy from the sun – heat transfer. There are solar cycles, also. 

Thermodynamics. The concept of cycles takes on a metaphysical character in considering economic cycles, business cycles, political cycles, social cycles, cycles of dress style, cycles of moral ethics – all of which are based on human behavior and attitudes – mainly from brain and mind functions of humans. But all these go back to the thermodynamics of neurotransmitter chemistry and how humans think about the environmental cycles they find themselves in. Cycles do not dictate or control human behavior; humans are in control of their behavior by the choices they make based on their reaction and thinking about the physical cycles. 

Perhaps there should be a book written, The Effect of Thermodynamics on the Sociopolitical Cycle Named “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.” The Rise and Fall of Capitalism. The Rise and Fall of Organized Institutional Religion. But social cycles involve the thermodynamic principle of entropy and energy just the same as prevailed over the bacterial culture. Niall Ferguson has written books on the rise and fall of empires with special emphasis on the West and present America – Civilization (The West and the Rest), Colossus (The Price of America’s Empire), and The War of the World (Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West). 

Social cycles seem long compared to our life time but not in the span of civilization .

Some social cycles were mentioned as examples in previous posts – a life cycle, a church cycle, a business cycle, a population cycle, and the cycle of Noah and the Great Flood. 

In this post we will consider two more sociopolitical cycles – a historical one from the period of the Judges of Israel described in the Old Testament and a second one under current public circulation. 

[1] The Period of Judges 

Joshua led the Israelites into an organized and systematic conquest of the Promised Land (Judges 1). The people were faithful to God throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the first generation of elders who outlived him, because they had seen the great things God had done for Israel (Jdg. 2:7). But then another generation grew up that did not know God or what He had done for them, and they began to disobey and to follow idols. Some of the tribes had not completely driven out all of the inhabitants of Canaan as God had commanded, and God said because of this disobedience these people and their false gods would be a constant problem for the Israelites. 

After this declaration, the Israelites went through almost 300 years of sociopolitical cycles with the same repeating pattern – things go well, Israel gets complacent, Israel disobeys and worships idols, God withdraws protection, Israelites get overrun by Canaanites, Israel gets oppressed, Israel recognizes and repents, Israel turns and cries out to God, God hears and raises a judge who fights the oppressors and delivers Israel, Israel enjoys period of peace, judge dies, Israel gets disobedient. Leaders between Joshua and Saul (King) were Othniel (Jdg. 3:9), Ehud (Jdg. 3:15), Shamgar (Jdg. 3:31), Deborah (Jdg. 4:5), Gideon (Jdg. 6:36), Abimelech (Jdg. 9:1), Tola (Jdg. 10.1), Jair (Jdg. 10:3), Jephthah (Jdg. 11:11), Isban (Jdg. 12:8), Elon (Jdg. 12:11)), Abdon (Jdg. 12:13), Samson (Jdg. 16:30), Eli (1 Sam. 4:18), and Samuel (1 Sam. 7:15). 

Typical phrases during these cycles were “the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the Lord;” “the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, so He ………. ;” “…and they were subject to ….. for …. Years;” “and Israel cried out to the Lord who raised another deliverer…..;” “and there was peace in the land for …. years;” “again Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”

Similar cycles persisted throughout the period of kings and captivity. 

[2] The “Tytler Cycle” 

Another example of a sociopolitical cycle with many similarities to a bacterial life cycle is the so-called “Tytler Cycle.” This is the subject of a lot of semi-correct/semi-hoax emails that are used to promote a particular political position under the misname “Tyler Cycle.” Tytler was a real person and he said some real things that are interesting, but the shape of the story has morphed, particularly in the last 12 or so years. 

Alexander Fraser Tytler (1747-1813) was a Scottish lawyer, historian, writer, and Professor of Universal History and Greek and Roman Antiquities at the University of Edinburgh. Tytler was very critical of democracy as a workable political philosophy, not necessarily because the method couldn’t work, but because it would always be corrupted by people who would make it fail. He said the Athenian democracy worked only for upper classes who were in control and could exercise corruption and plunder the public money. He said that a democracy “never did, and never could exist” because man maintains a self interest and love of power characteristics of “inferior animals.” 

Tytler believed that democratic forms of government such as those of Greece and Rome have a natural evolution from initial virtue toward eventual corruption and decline. In Greece, for example, Tytler argues that "the patriotic spirit and love of ingenious freedom ... became gradually corrupted as the nation advanced in power and splendor." Tytler goes on to generalize: "Patriotism always exists in the greatest degree in rude nations, and in an early period of society. Like all other affections and passions, it operates with the greatest force where it meets with the greatest difficulties ... but in a state of ease and safety, as if wanting its appropriate nourishment, it languishes and decays." ... "It is a law of nature to which no experience has ever furnished an exception, that the rising grandeur and opulence of a nation must be balanced by the decline of its heroic virtues." 
 About 200 years later, Tytler was “helped” to express these views a little more “modernly” in the 1970’s by people taking other quotes from 20-30 years before and forming a summary quote and a diagram of a cycle. 
A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:
The diagram below is commonly known as the "Tytler Cycle" or the "Fatal Sequence." The first known, and apparently original, publication was in a 1943 speech "Industrial Management in a Republic” by H. W. Prentis, president of the Armstrong Cork Company and former president of the National Association of Manufacturers. 

Since 2000, the cycle diagram and the editorialized Tytler “quotes” have been posted and emailed in criticism of the person who happened to be President at that particular time. 

Although the cycle diagram and the quotes do not seem to be of genuine verbatim Tytler authorship, the more recent creations do capture the gist of Tytler’s view of the eventual fate of a democracy being related to the moral failings of a human society. Humans begin to impose their basic competitive, selfish, and greedy nature on the structure of the government, and they devise methods of control and corruption to get their way and to get an advantage of power over others. Tytler’s reference to the “law of nature” that a nation’s opulence and prosperity is inversely related to its moral and ethical structure is a description identical with what we are calling social, political, or ethical entropy. That which is isolated (left to itself) will degenerate and decay. 

If Tytler’s statement that "It is a law of nature to which no experience has ever furnished an exception” applies to social entropy, then an eventual corruption and decay within society is inevitable, if the society is left to itself without any spiritual or moral power source outside the isolated system. Things left to themselves naturally run down. 

The purpose of showing Tytler’s cycle is not to discuss the politics of a democracy. There are several points that can be made from the cycles representing changes in society – (1) relationship between cycle characteristics and an energy/entropy cycle, (2) comparison of the progression of behavior in the cycle with the works of the flesh and the works of the Spirit listed in scripture, and (3) comparison between the sociopolitical cycle and the life cycle of a bacterial colony. 

Effects of energy vs. entropy on a society.

As a generalization, society behaviors that are on the right side of the cycle diagram resemble those described as “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5) or characteristics of the “new self controlled by the Spirit” (Eph. 4). Those behaviors on the left side of the cycle resemble descriptions of the “works of the flesh” or the deeds of “the old man of sin.” Works of the flesh are associated with increasing social entropy, while fruit of the Spirit is associated with a supply of energy from outside the system. 

In addition, there are similarities between the progression of the Tytler (or a similar) cycle and the life cycle of a bacterial colony. Both situations have essentially the same cycle characteristics when operating in a system isolated from an outside energy source. To survive, the bacterial colony needs the intervention of an outside source of superior intelligence and supernatural energy; and the colony of human society needs the same. Otherwise they both develop into the death phase of accumulation of entropy – one is chemical entropy and the other more of a social or spiritual entropy. 

But the need for an outside energy source is one of the parallels from the laws operating in physical realm and the spiritual realm. God has revealed how He operates in both realms, but it takes both physical and spiritual discernment to see the relationship.
1 Cor, 2:12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
If any should be able to see these relationships between the physical and spiritual realms it would be Christians. How are we doing with that? Are we too busy protecting our private interpretation from scientific contamination to see the truth? Are people too busy trying to find fault with those people who believe in something supernatural? What about if the truth is in both and incomplete in either one by itself? Both sides of the argument are blinded to anything but their view and cannot see the value of the other side. If a blind man leads himself, he may fall into a pit. “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” Matt 15:14) 

What about a society that became so successful and resource-rich that it began to credit itself for the accomplishments rather than an “outside source of energy” -- God? What if this “great society” even began to redefine the past to make history in education more consistent with present human self-glorification? What if this society began to reinterpret not only history, but also the law, so that the separation of church and state should become not a protection of religion but a separation and isolation of religion as a clearer target for discrimination? What, if through political, academic, and legal means, the role or meaning of God were removed from public places -- such as in courthouses, parks, and schools -- and this action was favorably portrayed by the media as smart and good? If the outside source of energy for society is removed, what is left to take over? Entropy. The snowball gets larger as society continues to do it to itself. 

1 Cor. 1:17  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 
20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

Some observations from the above verses – God’s wisdom and ways are not the same as what humans considered wisdom in their own eyes. Power is represented in the cross of Christ, which is nonsense to those whose understanding is limited by physical thermodynamic laws. These people have chosen to not avail themselves of the power of God that transcends the laws of the physical universe. They ridicule it. Yet, because of their chosen isolation, they are perishing. But they are not aware of it, because they are too “wise.” “Perishing” is in the present tense, not future, as in eternal judgment. Why do natural things “perish” in a system of thermodynamic isolation? They are subject to the destiny of natural entropy. The cycle of human effort, wisdom, and entropy will continue to play out over and over, just as in the past. 

One might ask, “If we have the sun as an outside energy source for the earth, then we are not thermodynamically isolated. We have the sun; why do we need the Son? In the following passages Jesus differentiates between those things that are of this earth, and subject to entropy, and those things which are outside of the physical reaches of natural law. 

Matt 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Deut. 8:3  …man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Matt. 6:19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Show me the sermon. All of this discussion about isolated physical system subject to entropy and supernatural spiritual power which is not subject to natural law are based on the scripture and include examples of sociopolitical cycles that seemed to follow these rules. Everything fits into a nice package of presentation, but by itself it doesn’t mean anything. It’s all theoretical until somebody or some group demonstrates that it is true. “Let’s see your power. Let’s see you be different and have different outcomes than everyone else. Let’s see you rise above entropy. Let’s see you make this real by living it out in front of everyone to see. Let’s see if you believe your own message.” 

Who are we talking to? The church. When the church lives in Holy Spirit power and demonstrates the outside energy of God to overcome entropy in the world as Jesus did and when the world can see the difference between the physical and the spiritual, all of these scriptures and interpretations fall into place. If there is little/no difference between the church and the world, if the values of the world invade the church with postmodern humanism, if the church shows nothing more than what the world can see in itself, then all these scriptures and interpretations about supernatural power can RIP. “If they don’t make any difference in your life, why should I think it would make a dime’s worth of difference in mine?” 

Any signs of entropy? 

The “I’m against that” theology. Christians have established a greater reputation in the world for what they are “against” than for demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ and what difference that makes in overcoming entropy. Christians are known more for being against science, against genetic research, against environmental protection, against discovery, against abortion, against “alternate lifestyles,” against miracles today, against, against, against. “Well, Jesus was against some things.” Yes, but that wasn’t what He was known for and that is not what He prayed for in John 17 --that His followers would be known for their love, peace and unity in the body of Christ. If the church were known are for something that is working so well that it is obvious to everyone (like righteousness, truth, love, peace, unity, and joy), we wouldn’t have to be “against” so many things. In fact, we would be so busy doing what glorifies Jesus that we wouldn’t have time to concentrate on the “Ministry of What We Are Against.” Instead of wearing the letters “WWAA,” Christians could place more meaning behind “WWJD.” 

There are a number of sinful behaviors that are contrary to scripture that the church is (or has been) “against.” But, instead of “speaking the truth in love” (a sign of maturity of the church Eph 4:15), the church comes out “against” certain things, and the church opens itself up to attacks of hypocrisy and intolerance. These are not true but are responses back to the rather judgmental approach that the church has taken. So, what is the church doing? Instead of renewing its approach to conform to the love of Jesus, the church begins to tolerate the sin -- and not only tolerate the sin in the church, but adopt it as such in their doctrine and appoint those with that behavior to the ministry and “clergy.” 

Instead of changing from preaching to the world in an unloving way to a more Christ-like approach, the church responds to charges of being judgmental by slowly adopting what the world does. That’s not the reason to leave behind a condemning attitude – the reason is that Jesus didn’t condemn (John 8:11, 15; 12:47), and not because the church negotiates the scripture and takes on the world’s behavioral standard.  Has this increased the respect of the world for the church?  How many has this approach brought into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ?

Postmodern humanism has been seeping into the church. Now much of the institutionalized church is opening the door and inviting the human value system to come in so it can be made the standard operating procedure instead of the scripture. What was considered bad behavior becomes more acceptable. More people do it; it becomes the norm. This is like replacing the power of the Holy Spirit with natural entropy. 

Irresponsible use of freedom. Freedom is based on responsible behavior in the use of the freedom. A small fraction of those with bad behavior take advantage of the freedom of everyone else by their selfish immorality. This corruption gets laws passed that place restrictions on the freedom of the entire group (think airport security), or sometimes the freedom may be cancelled altogether. The old law pointed out sin, and that made everyone want to sin or see how close they could get to it. More laws define the limit of behavior, so people push to see what they can get away with, whether it is the athlete trying to get an illegal move past a referee, a person buying booze and cigarettes with food stamps, or a misrepresentation of a product to get more sales. More bad behavior gives more laws which give more bad behavior of a higher sophistication and technology (think identity theft). This is moral entropy. As bad behavior continues, its effects accumulate. It is not self-correcting. The effects of bad behavior in a society build up like DDT in the liver.

Prov. 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.


This post (#111) is the first in a series of five posts about spiritual entropy in behavior, society, and the church.  If anyone wants to read more, these posts have been collected together here:

  • Spiritual Thermodynamics and Overcoming Entropy
  •     (Post #111 is the only one of the five that has been independently published)   


        [115]  THE LAW OF PHYSICAL ENTROPY AND THE LAW OF SPIRITUAL REGENERATION - The Christian’s view of thermodynamics


Tuesday, September 27, 2011


There are few ways that a church can better develop the attributes of Jesus Christ than by forming and maintaining a culture of peace.  A culture of peace is when forgiveness and reconciliation become so much of the fabric of a church that conflicts are resolved before they spread into chaos, disorder, and division.  The “reinforced behavior” of the church is peacemaking, the harvest of which is righteousness, rather than unforgiveness, indignation, and anger, the product of which is sin and destruction.

Pictured against the black background is a Colt Percussion Revolver 45 caliber, 6 cylinder civilian model pistol dated around the time of the civil war.  It is a predecessor to the newer Colt pistol pictured against the brown background (from Wikipedia), manufactured for the US Army until about 1892.  By the end of its manufacture, this gun had earned for itself a nickname, “The Peacemaker.” 

With such a tool of enforcement, Clint Eastwood might have said, “Just back off and shut up, or else I’ll give you a new understanding of ‘peace.’”  (In this instance, it might have been called the “piecemaker?”)

However, using the scriptural definitions discussed in previous posts, this pistol would have been called, “The Peacekeeper,” not “The Peacemaker.”  Making the peace of Christ, it did not.

Moving now from guns to bulletproof vests.  A little over a year ago (~2010), a story was published in the Daily Oklahoman about a Pottawatomie County sheriff's deputy who was shot four times in the chest at point blank range during a routine traffic stop and who was saved from serious injury by wearing a bulletproof vest.

Wearing a bulletproof vest is a preventative measure that must be taken ahead of time.  Putting on a bulletproof vest after one has been shot doesn’t help much.   The year before, two of the deputy’s partners, who had been shot and killed, were not wearing protective vests.

So it is with the protection of the culture of peace.  With this culture in place, peace, a fruit of the Spirit, has been developed before an assault takes place.  Peacemaking is often used for damage control, and it is certainly of value anytime it is used.  But if damage can be prevented or minimized from the start, then the enemy will not be able to use his tools of disruption, chaos, division, and hate as effectively.   In this way peace is the bond for unity (Eph. 4:3).  Peacemaking keeps unity intact when enemy assaults attempt to generate division. 

The diagram depicts how a bulletproof vest, such as the one worn by the deputy, works to protect the body from a projectile attack.  The energy from the bullet is projected laterally by the composition of fibers within the vest so that the force is absorbed by the material instead of penetrating through it.

 Satan, the adversary of the church and the accuser of the brethren, issues a projectile fueled by works of the flesh toward the body.  If the projectile penetrates the armor of the body, it will produce damage to the body and, perhaps, even be fatal.  The projectile is conflict and its damage will be chaos and division.

But the projectile of Satan hits a culture of peace that blocks penetration into the body.  The culture of peace is an established way of thinking in which people, when offended or hurt by something or someone else, first think of the love of God for them and for the other members of the body before thinking of a damaging reaction out of the flesh.  Peace and unity in the church are too important to be sacrificed on the altar of idolatrous selfishness, pride, and greed.  These peace generating channels are already in place.  Rather than defaulting to the behavior of the nature of Adam, people default to the behavior of the nature of Christ.

Love, peace, and unity have to be continually practiced and taught and reminded, else these processes will “run down” if left alone.  Peace leaks.  (This will be discussed further in future posts on the church and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.)

The role of peacemaking and maintaining a culture of peace is consistent with many other passages that deal with Christian behavior.

In a spiritual analogy to the bulletproof vest story, a “headline” was created to describe an opportunity during the last several years the Quail church has had to learn a lot more about the importance of peacemaking.  The actual “headline” is only representative, but the lessons are very real.

God used Peacemaker Ministries in a significant way.

Peacemaking can be very helpful in resolving conflicts even when used like calling the fire department to put out a big fire.  But a culture of peace is more like having fire retardant in place so that the fire doesn’t spread in the first place and can be easily extinguished.  

Where’s Smokey the Bear when you need him?

Oftentimes, there will be roots of bitterness from previous conflicts (products of peacekeeping?) buried just beneath the surface, waiting to be inflamed again.  Then, combustible materials are spread around over the surface, just daring a spark of conflict to occur. 

Teaching about love, peace, and unity is preventive action.  Practicing these is growing to be like God.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Part 1-The Illustration

This is another illustration of how our personal universe is limited and how we often are perfectly happy to never know what we are missing.  This complacent, status-quo protectionist attitude is not only detrimental to our own spiritual development, but also to that of our mission.

When I was in high school (yes, back when dinosaur eggs were sold in grocery stores), I would occasionally go “downtown” to my father’s business office.  My father had a fish aquarium in his office – about 15 gallons – with the usual gravel, fluorescent light, heater, some plants, a snail, and a filter. 

All the fish in the tank were inexpensive guppies.  Guppies are “live-bearers,” meaning that instead of laying eggs on plants, etc. to hatch, the eggs hatch inside the female such that very small baby fish are expelled that are immediately swimming around and having to “fend for themselves.”  Those baby fish that survive grow pretty quickly to adult size.

The filter in the tank was one of those with the angel hair and the activated charcoal and with bubbling air coming from a little air pump.  The bubbling action would help circulate the water for oxygenation and also created a decreased pressure in the bottom of the filter.  This caused water to be pulled through the slits in the filter top, through the angel hair, across the charcoal, and out the bottom, with sediments and debris having been filtered out.  These types of filters did a good job, but that meant they would need to be cleaned periodically or else they would get pretty dirty.  The filter in my father’s fish tank looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in a very long time.

One day I finally asked, “Why don’t you clean that filter?”  To which, my father replied, “I can’t.  There’s a fish in there.”

I looked closely, trying to see past the algae coating the filter walls, and, sure enough, there was a fish swimming around inside the filter, in the space between the filter top and the collapsed gross angel hair.  I asked the obvious question, “Why don’t you let him out?”

To which my father replied, “Why?  He’s spent his whole life in there.  When he was small, he was sucked into the filter, and he grew up in there.  Now he’s too large to swim back out through the slits in the filter top.  So, he just stays in there.”  I must have had an incredulous look, because my father continued, “Look at him swimming around in there.  He’s perfectly happy.  He doesn’t want to get out.”

I looked at the fish doing his guppy-thing, swimming about and “making his rounds” like all the others.  He certainly had enough to eat, and, although the quality might be considered questionable, he never knew the difference.  He didn’t look unhappy, although I didn’t know what a happy guppy should look like. 

My father then finished addressing my concerns by saying, “He probably wouldn’t know what to do if he did get out.  All he’s ever known has been inside that filter.  He’s been protected his whole life.  He probably wouldn’t know how to socialize with the other fish.  They might pick on him.  It’s in his best interest to stay right where he is.”

The lessons from that fish in the filter were not lost on me.  That fish never got out of the limited environment he grew up in.  There was a vast aquarium out there, and he never knew about it.  And even more, he never knew that he didn’t know about it.  And he was perfectly happy to not know.  He never knew what he had missed because he never got out of his protected, finite, limited mini-universe.  His basic needs were met, but nothing more.  His sights were set low, but he had no way of knowing that, because he had remained trapped by some prior fateful event.

I have wondered many times since, in what areas of my life could I be trapped inside an aquarium filter, missing spiritual opportunities because of my continued self-limiting choices?  Could I become so used to my comfortable surroundings and beliefs that I am content to swim around within the boundaries of the filter walls, never aware that there is a whole universe out there that I will never discover?

In what ways do we limit ourselves?  In what ways does the church limit itself, preventing itself from growing into the fullness of Christ as a unified body?

 Part 2-Why can’t we just resolve to get ourselves out?

Maybe we don't want to.  Could we grow up inside a vast 15 gallon universe and never knowing anything about it, or even that it exists, because of being trapped in an aquarium filter?  How vast could this universe be?

Think of the realms in which we live, the expanse of the creation that was from the mind of God, and the spiritual realm, of which we know almost nothing and struggle to understand what little we do know.  Read passages about the Spirit of God in creation, the heavenly realms, everything conforming with God’s will, the great power and strength of God available to us, able to do incredibly more than we ask or imagine, battle in the spiritual realms, the Spirit searching the mind of God and consider how vast the spiritual realm must be (Gen 1:1-2, Eph. 1:3-12, 1:17-23, 2:6, 3:8-11, 4:23-24, 6:12; Col 1:15-17, 2:2, 2:9; 1 Cor. 2:10-13; 2 Cor. 3;17-18, 2 Cor. 4:18; and many more).

There’s a big, big aquarium out there.  Is this fearsome territory to tread?  Are we like the (modified) scene in the original Star Wars when Luke said he had to face Darth Vader -- ?

Luke:     “I’m not afraid.”

Yoda:     “You…will be.  You … will be.”

Luke:     “Uhhh, on second thought….. I ....I … think I’ll just stay inside my little filter.”

Or, could we be like the title of the book that J.B. Phillips didn’t write, “Your Filter Is Too Small.”

Sometimes a larger aquarium would have two filters, separated in each back corner (like across the street corner from each other like a Walgreens and a CVS).  Let’s say that these two filters represent two denominations.  Each filter has fish trapped inside, but the fish inside one filter would never associate with the likes of those fish in that other filter.  Each fish group has different doctrinal beliefs, and neither group would consider accepting the other group’s doctrine, and certainly neither would ever extend the filtered fin of fellowship to the other. 

Then one day they realized that the same water passed through both filters and it was the same water that sustained both fish groups.  The groups agreed on a name – it was “the living water.”  Each group made a united swim toward the filter lid, hit it at the same time, and knocked the filter up on one corner.  When they escaped from their respective filters, they found that their common bond in the living water far surpassed any differences they might have had.  Both groups gained an entire universe in which to explore and gain knowledge.  And the oxygen tension was higher around the plants, so they lived better and grew even more.

Is searching risky?  Why?  Do we fear that we might find a lot more than we expected?  Could what we find present an inconvenience or in some way mess up our lifestyle?  Do we fear discovering something that might challenge our traditional teachings, our doctrine, or even our salvation - if it has been built on the biblical interpretations of a tribal filter committee?

Why can’t the body be united because of Christ, instead of being separated because of individual doctrinal interpretations about Christ or opinions on how to get to Christ - preliminary maneuvers that only we do right?

If the members of the body are allowing themselves to be kept in separate little aquarium filters, what (other than ignorance or misinformation) is preventing the members from changing their focus to the head of the church, Jesus Christ, and releasing themselves from the bondage of the filter?  Jesus didn't say, "In my Father's house are many filters, one reserved for each of you." 

What would we risk?  Losing a competitive edge that is a part of the old nature that needs to be taken off and removed, anyway?  What would we gain?  Growing into the fullness of Jesus Christ and becoming like God, which is the foreordained destiny of the new creation (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10).

It is the grace of God that frees us from sin and from the bondage of the filter.  You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.

God's grace is freely given, but we must choose to accept God’s grace.  God’s grace continues after initial salvation (justification).  God's grace works for the church, too.  The grace of God can free the church from the bondage of division, allowing the church to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3).  Do we in the church ever choose to keep our bondage imposed by division rather than accepting God’s grace to the freedom of the Spirit?

We will individually grow to be like God as the one church grows to be like God, when the members, in community, practice love, peace, and unity toward one another.