Thursday, December 20, 2012 1 comments

The Earth Controls Heaven

It's been a while since I last posted last. Sorry about that. Now that the semester is over, it's time to post again.

During this winter break, I am reading a book called The Prayer Ministry of the Church by Watchman Nee. This was the title of the first section in the first chapter of the book:

The Earth Controls Heaven

Those four words piqued my curiosity immensely. According to my thought, God created the earth and God dwells in heaven, so therefore, heaven controls the earth.

But that thought misses the principle of prayer, which is that God does not act if man does not pray. The move on the earth (men praying) precedes the move in the heaven (God acting). God has limited Himself to man's prayer. Of course, men cannot make God do what He does not want, but men can prevent God from doing what He wants by failing to pray.

Can you believe this guy controls heaven? Well, actually, the people who live on this guy.
That may sound kind of crazy, so I want to present three verses that show the principle that the earth controls heaven:

1. Exodus 17:11 - "Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed." Here, God in heaven is causing the Israelites to defeat the Amalekites, but only when Moses, who is earthbound, lifts his hands.

2. Ezekiel 36:37 - "Thus says the Lord God: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock." Surely God wanted to increase His chosen people, but He would not do it unless the house of Israel asked for it in prayer.

3. Isaiah 45:11 - "Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: Ask me of things to come; and concerning my children and the work of my hands, command me." Have you ever thought of praying as commanding the Lord? This is the earth controlling the heaven.

Realizing that the earth controls the heaven is key to understanding the importance of prayer, but it also raises a deeper question: 

Why did God limit Himself to man's prayer?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 2 comments

Your Life in Three Words

Imagine an older version of yourself, looking back the many years that have passed. You're trying to sum up your life in three words. You have two options:

1. Vanity of vanities

This was the phrase used by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:2 to sum up his existence apart from God. It's important to note that Solomon's life would be considered quite full by anyone's standards. Most people on the earth today are seeking some combination of wealth, pleasure, fame, and wisdom. Solomon had it all.

Wealth? Solomon had it. This article compares Solomon's wealth to that of Bill Gates. Solomon's yearly salary in gold would be worth close to a billion dollars today.

Pleasure? Solomon had it. First Kings 7 tells us all about his lavish house, which he took thirteen years to build in comparison to seven for the temple. Solomon also had a thousand wives (First Kings 11:3).

Fame? Solomon had it. News didn't travel as fast back then, but Solomon's fame spread all the way to Ethiopia, where the Queen of Sheba decided to make a special trip just to see the man for herself (First Kings 10).

Wisdom? Solomon had it. God promised to give him a wise and understanding heart like no one in the history of mankind, before and after him (First Kings 3:12). Most of the wise statements in the book of Proverbs came from Solomon.

However, Solomon's conclusion at the end of his life was that it was all pointless: there was nothing new under the sun; everything was vanity and chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:9, 14). Solomon realized that God had put eternity in his heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Nothing temporal could fill that void; only the eternal One, God Himself, could satisfy him.

It takes most people longer than this kid to realize there's nothing new under the sun.

Once Solomon found the eternal One, his life became the...

2. Song of songs

This is the title of the book directly following Ecclesiastes, also written by Solomon. This book is about a loving, personal, affectionate relationship between a king and his bride, which represents the loving, personal, affectionate relationship between God and man.

This relationship stems from man's enjoyment of God. Just like a woman enjoys her husband's presence, God intended that man would enjoy His presence. Psalm 16:11 says that in the presence of God is fullness of joy. Not temporary joy. Not limited joy. Fullness of joy.

In fact, as believers, we can enjoy not only God's presence but even God Himself, like the psalmist who wrote, "God my exceeding joy." (Psalm 43:4). This psalmist may have had other joys, but only God was his exceeding joy.

I sincerely hope that at the end of our lives, we won't have to say, "My life was vanity of vanities because I never found the eternal God." I hope we can say, "My life was song of songs because I enjoyed the eternal God."

Thursday, July 26, 2012 3 comments

The Christian Life is a Race

Let the games begin!

The Olympics are right around the corner and the entire world is abuzz. This quadrennial event is especially exciting for track fans. Even though it's been more than a year since I hung up my distance running spikes, I still have an intense passion for the world's oldest sport. Running fans are few and far between, but nothing unites us quite like the Olympics. The Olympics are track's opportunity to shine on the big stage that is typically hogged by basketball, baseball, and football.

No court or field can compare to the purity of the 400 meter oval. This is entirely my opinion, but I believe that the Bible backs it up.

In his second epistle to Timothy, Paul compares the Christian life to that of an athlete (2 Tim. 2:5). Here Paul was not speaking about shooting three-pointers or catching touchdowns. Based on his other writings, Paul was almost certainly drawing similarities between living the Christian life and running a race.

So, what are the similarities?

Before starting a race, it's a good idea to know the distance of the course. According to Hebrews 12:1-2, the race set before us requires endurance. The Christian life is more like a marathon than a sprint.

Running can be a casual activity, but in races like the Olympics with prizes involved, competitors get quite serious. 1 Corinthians 9:24 tells us that this is the way we should treat the Christian life as if running after a prize. There is no room for passive getting-into-shape jogging. We must pursue after our prize, which is Christ Himself, with the dedication and consistency of a world-class runner.

Unfortunately, in a race there can be hindrances, anything from losing a shoe to tripping over another competitor. Similarly, in the Christian race there can be hindrances, primarily from God's enemy. In Galatians 5:7, Paul laments that the Galatians, who were running well, had been hindered. Certainly the source of this hindrance was Satan.

Near the end of his life, Paul was able to say in faith that he had finished his race as a Christian (2 Timothy 4:7). By the Lord's mercy, we will be able to say the same thing in the twilight of our lives.

As you can see, Paul touched on the concept of the Christian life being a race often throughout his writings. I  would like to supplement his thoughts with one of my own from my experience as a competitive runner. I always, without fail, was able to push myself harder through workouts and races when I had others running with me. The mentality of the pack says, "If he can do it, I can do it." In the Christian race, we need companions to keep us running and pushing forward as well.

So when you turn on the TV next week and watch race after race on the track in London, don't forget that your life as a Christian is a race as well.
Sunday, July 8, 2012 6 comments

A Prepositional Comparison of the Old and New Testaments

Prepositions, though short, are some of the most important words in the English language. Modifying a single preposition can drastically change a sentence. Just imagine telling your friend to meet on your house instead of in your house.

Recently, I watched a video from a Christian conference held in Anaheim, California. One of the points from the message utilized the modification of a single preposition to cleanly compare the Old and New Testaments. Understanding the difference between the two testaments is crucial for any young, Bible-believing Christian.

Here it is:

The history of God with man is found in the Old Testament. The history of God in man is found in the New Testament.

This guy is thinking about what I just said. You should think about it some more, too.
In the Old Testament, God was there with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, even appearing to wrestle with Jacob. As the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud, He was with Moses and the children of Israel fleeing from Egypt. He was also there in the tabernacle and eventually the temple, dwelling with the children of Israel. Through the many failures of their kings and the period of captivity in Babylon, God remained with His people, faithful to restore them.

Yet all this time, with was the best God could do. It wasn't until the New Testament that with could become in.

The age of the New Testament was the result of a fundamental shift in the way God interacted with man. No longer was He limited to helping man outwardly, but he could actually enter into man as the Spirit.

The history of God in man started with Jesus Christ, who said that the Father was in Him (John 10:38) and that the Father dwelt in Him (John 14:10).

Through Jesus' death and resurrection, the way was paved for God to enter into more people. The history of God in man has continued through the apostles and countless other Christians. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, the apostle Paul asked the Corinthian believers, "Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?"

Thank God that now He can be not only with us, but also in us!
Monday, June 25, 2012 14 comments

From Nanometers to Gigaparsecs

Nanotechnology is hot these days. This summer, I've been immersed in this fascinating area of science doing a research internship in Minneapolis. In nanotechnology, smaller is (almost) always better. My project is to fabricate a device containing nanochannels for DNA experiments. By definition, a nanochannel has two dimensions that are on the order of 100 nanometers.

How small is that?

Well, you could fit about a million nanochannels inside a single human hair!

This is a close-up of a strand of human hair. It doesn't really look like hair, but it is.
Nanotechnology is the science of small. Cosmology, on the other hand, is the science of big. Cosmologists investigate solar systems, galaxies, and even the entire universe and its origins. The observable diameter of the universe is about 28 gigaparsecs.

 Each gigaparsec contains a billion parsecs. I always thought a parsec was something George Lucas made up for Star Wars, but it's actually a real distance. Each parsec contains 31 trillion kilometers. Each kilometer contains a million millimeters. And each millimeter contains a million nanometers.

An artist's rendition of the universe. Because, of course, nobody can actually photograph the entire universe.
If you told me that you could fathom the difference in size between a nanochannel and the universe, I would call you a liar! Yet science spans this vast difference, crossing many orders of magnitude from the miniscule to the mammoth.

Can anything else span this difference? Or...anyone else? How about Christ?

Ephesians 3:18 tells us what the dimensions of Christ are. But Paul couldn't quite come up with the right numbers. All he came up with was "width, length, depth, and height." That's because Christ is literally immeasurable. Even the seemingly infinite universe can be made finite with units like gigaparsecs. You can't do that with Christ!

But what about Christ being small?

Fewer people consider this side of Christ. I had a tough time finding a verse reference saying that Christ could fit inside a nanochannel, but the thought of Christ being small still pervades the Bible.

In Matthew 15:25-28, a Gentile woman refers to the Lord as bread crumbs. He doesn't respond negatively, but instead commends her, saying, "Great is your faith." Bread crumbs are not measured in nanometers, but among foods, they are about as small and lowly as you can get.

In First Kings 19:11-12, a strong wind, an earthquake, and a fire pass by Elijah, but God didn't exist in any of those things. Instead, he existed in a still small voice.

Finally, in Philippians 2:5-8, we see that Jesus Christ, the infinite God, chose to humble Himself to the lowest of humanity by taking the form of a servant and dying the death of a cross.

Praise our Lord who is so big and yet so small!

Thursday, May 31, 2012 9 comments

Puerto Rico or Yosemite?

It's almost been a week since I returned from a trip to Puerto Rico. Some of my friends on the trip have already posted about Puerto Rico and the beautiful places in Puerto Rico. The beauty of the island was absolutely stunning, especially the beaches. I love natural beauty. But is Puerto Rico the most beautiful place I have ever visited? After going through a mental checklist, I narrowed the choices down to Puerto Rico and Yosemite National Park in California. I couldn't make a decision between those two, so I'm going to leave it up to you all. Check out the pictures below and leave a comment answering the question:

Which is more beautiful?

Puerto Rico


The picture credits go to Joseph Hernandez, Chris Chan, Garrett Ghent, and myself.
Thursday, May 3, 2012 1 comments

The Bookends of the Bible (2)

(This is the second of two posts on the bookends of the Bible)

In my previous post on the bookends of the Bible, I discussed the dearth of Satan and sin, man having image and dominion, the tree of life, and the river. This time, I want to highlight two more crucial items that tie Genesis 1-2 together with Revelation 21-22, as well as the rest of the Bible.

The first item is the building. The second is the couple.

This is an unfinished building. Kind of like the church. Sorry, no pictures of the couple for now.

The building actually doesn't appear in the first two chapters of the Bible, but the building materials do. In the garden of Eden, there were three valuable building materials: gold, bdellium, and onyx stone (Genesis 2:12). In the New Jerusalem, there are once again three valuable building materials: gold, pearl, and twelve different kinds of precious stones (Revelation 21:18-21). Along the way, Paul also writes about three valuable building materials: gold, silver, and precious stones (1 Corinthians 3:12).

Through careful examination of these verses, you can see a progression. In Genesis, the building materials are scattered throughout the garden of Eden. In 1 Corinthians, the building materials are in the process of being built on the foundation of Christ. Finally, in Revelation, the building materials are fully built into the holy city, the New Jerusalem.

This building process seen throughout the Bible mirrors the building of the church. This desire was on God's heart from the beginning of time. The Lord Jesus promised to build His church in Matthew 16:18. But the building didn't really begin until the Lord had died and resurrected. Then, all the believers could participate with Paul in the building up of the church through their speaking (1 Corinthians 14:26). This building work is still being carried out today, and in the future the New Jerusalem will be the consummation of the building of the church.

But what about the couple in Genesis 2? Everyone has heard of Adam and Eve. Could their story possibly be related to God's desire for the church as well?

The first key is the verb in Genesis 2:22, which says that Eve was built from Adam's rib. Sound familiar? The church is being built just as Eve was built. The story of Eve's creation concludes two verses later in Genesis 2:24, which is quoted directly by Paul in Ephesians 5:31. Then Paul goes on to explain in the next verse that what he's really not speaking about the marriage between a man and a woman, but about the marriage between Christ and the church. Romans 5:14 says that Adam was a type of Christ, which further strengthens the connection between Adam and Eve and Christ and the church.

Fast forward to Revelation. Christ is the Lamb (John 1:29), but He is also the bridegroom (John 3:29) and in Revelation 19:7, the Lamb is the bridegroom, getting married to His wife. In Revelation 21:9, an angel tells John, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." But what is shown in verse 10 is the holy city, the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem is the wife because the New Jerusalem is the church and the wife is also church. The story of Christ's romantic love for the church can be seen throughout the entire Bible (if you are a hardcore reader, check out Isaiah 54:5), beginning with the type of Adam and Eve and ending with the marriage of the Lamb with the New Jerusalem.

Note: If you would like to know more about the significance of each of the building materials, find a way to get in contact with this blogger.
Thursday, April 26, 2012 5 comments

The Bookends of the Bible (1)

(This is the first of two posts on the bookends of the Bible)

You can get a pretty good idea about most books simply by reading the beginning and the end of the book. It’s no different with the top-selling book of all time - the Bible.

This isn't the beginning or the end, but I think you get the idea.

The first two chapters in Genesis describe the garden of Eden. The last two chapters in Revelation describe the New Jerusalem. These descriptions contain some striking similarities that relate to themes which persist throughout the entire Bible.

Perhaps most importantly, Satan and sin do not appear in these four chapters. Throughout most of the Bible, Satan lurks like an annoying pest. But in the bookends, he is nowhere to be found! Satan enters the scene in the first verse of Genesis chapter 3. In the following verses, Satan corrupts mankind, starting a downward spiral from God's original intention for man. God has to find ways to deal with the problems Satan creates. However, in Revelation 20:10-15, God permanently eliminates Satan, death, and Hades by casting them into the lake of fire. This is just in time for Revelation 21 and 22, the last two chapters in the Bible.

What is God’s original intention for man?

We have to look no further than the bookends of the Bible for the answer.

Genesis 1:26 reveals that God created man to bear his image and to have dominion over the earth. Though Satan corrupted man, this intention is finally realized in full with the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 and 22. The New Jerusalem is the consummation of the church, the bride of Christ (v. 9-10). Its appearance is like jasper (v. 11), which is like the appearance of God on the throne (Revelation 4:3). That's God's image! Meanwhile, Revelation 22:5 says that those in the New Jerusalem will reign forever. That's dominion over the earth!

How do we get to the point where we can bear God’s image and rightfully have dominion over the earth?

Once again, back to the bookends! It’s a matter of eating and drinking. Eating and drinking are related to two items that appear in both the garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem.

First, we have the tree of life. The tree of life makes its debut in Genesis 2:9, in which God places the tree of life in the middle of the garden for man to eat. The tree of life makes its final appearance in Revelation 22:2, where it grows on both sides of the river like the vine tree, which signifies Christ (John 15:1). God intends that man would eat the tree of life to be organically constituted with Christ Himself. The idea of eating Christ is also seen prominently in John 6.

The second item is the river. In Genesis 2:10, the river waters the garden of Eden and flows to the four corners of the earth. In Revelation 22:1, this same river proceeds out of the throne of God. This river also surfaces in Psalm 46:4, Ezekiel 47:5-9, and John 7:37-39, where Jesus reveals that the rivers of living water are actually the Spirit. God wants us to eat Christ as the tree of life, and He also wants us to drink the Spirit as the river of life (1 Corinthians 12:13).

Be on the lookout for the next post for more themes that begin in Genesis 1-2, continue to develop throughout the entire Bible, and reach a climax in Revelation 21-22!

Sunday, April 8, 2012 1 comments

Who is Christ to you?

Who is Christ to you? Is He merely your Savior, your Redeemer, or is He much more?

To the author of the following hymn, Christ was at least 71 different wonderful things. I bolded each aspect of Christ mentioned in the hymn and added a verse. Thanks to everyone who helped me find the verses. You know who you are! 

What’s the bottom line? Christ wants to be everything to us!

I’ve found the One of peerless worth (Song of Songs 5:10-16),
My heart doth sing for joy;
And sing I must, for Christ I have:
Oh, what a Christ have I!

My Christ, He is the Lamb of God (John 1:29),
Who full salvation brings;
He is the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2),
With healing in His wings.

My Christ, He is the Tree of Life (John 15:5, Revelation 22:2)
With fruit abundant, sweet;
My hunger He doth satisfy;
Of Him I daily eat.

My Christ, He is the smitten Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4)
Whence living waters burst;
He is the fountain in my heart (John 4:14)
Which quenches all my thirst.

Christ is my life (Colossians 3:4), my light (John 8:12), my way (John 14:6),
My comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3) and my health (Psalm 42:11),
My peace (Ephesians 2:14), my rest (Psalm 62:1), my joy (Psalm 43:4), my hope (Colossians 1:27),
My glory (Colossians 1:27) and my wealth (Ephesians 3:8).

Christ is my wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30) and my pow’r (2 Corinthians 12:9),
My boast (2 Corinthians 10:17) and righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30),
My vict’ry (1 Corinthians 15:57) and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30) sure,
My truth (John 14:6) and holiness (Revelation 4:8).

Christ is my Savior (Luke 2:11), Shepherd (John 10:11), Lord (Philippians 2:11),
My Advocate (1 John 2:1) above,
My Counselor (Isaiah 9:6), my Father (Isaiah 9:6), God (Isaiah 9:6),
My Brother (John 20:17), Friend (John 15:15), and Love (1 John 4:8).

Christ is my Captain (Hebrews 2:10) and my Guard (2 Timothy 1:12),
My Teacher (John 3:2) and my Guide (Revelation 7:17),
My Bridegroom (John 3:29), Master (Ephesians 6:5) and my Head (1 Corinthians 11:3);
In me doth He reside.

Christ is my Prophet (Matthew 13:57), Priest (Hebrews 4:14), and King (Revelation 19:16);
My Prophet full of sight;
My Priest that stands ‘twixt me and God,
My King that rules with might.

Christ is the Author of my faith (Hebrews 12:2),
And its Perfecter (Hebrews 12:2) too,
My Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), Guarantee (Ephesians 1:14),
And faithful Witness (Revelation 1:5) true.

Christ is my everlasting home (Psalm 90:1),
My all-sufficient land (Colossians 1:12, 2:6-7);
My fortress (Psalm 91:2), tower (Psalm 94:22), hiding-place (Psalm 119:114),
And my eternal stand (2 Corinthians 1:21).

Christ is my sabbath (Colossians 2:16-17) and new moon (Colossians 2:16-17),
My morning (2 Samuel 23:3-4) and my day (Colossians 2:16-17),
My age (Isaiah 26:4) and my eternity (Hebrews 1:8)
That ne’er will pass away.

Christ is my trust (2 Corinthians 3:4) and my desire (Psalm 73:25),
In comeliness replete,
My satisfaction (Psalm 132:15, John 6:35) and delight (Psalm 37:4),
Who all my need doth meet.

My Christ, the all-inclusive One (ALL THE VERSES!!!),
My Christ what shall I call?
He is the first (Revelation 1:17), He is the last (Revelation 1:17),
My Christ is All in all (Colossians 3:11).

Since such a treasure (2 Corinthians 4:7) I possess,
My heart doth sing for joy;
And I must sing, and sing again;
Oh, what a Christ have I!

Source: Hymn 510