Tag Archives: growth

DNA and the Beanstalk

One thing I miss in our current condo is having a garden. I even miss the fall clean-up. I remember trying to untangle the climbing bean stalks from the poles and trellis I had set up for their growth. The beans stalks grew round and round the poles and each other, then onto anything nearby including the tomatoes. The plants had kept us in fresh green beans almost until first frost. They grew so dramatically high that if I had been able to install a two or three story lattice work they would have climbed to the top. As it was, I had to use a step ladder to pick the topmost.

And all this growth from a few little bean seeds. How did those seeds know to climb when my bush beans didn’t? How did they know they weren’t soy beans? How could they climb so high? My climbing beans reminded me of the magic beans described in the story of Jack and the beanstalk. I can see why the imagination of the writer went wild.

The information packed into the DNA of those seeds is incredible. How does God do these kind of things? A bean stalk ten or twenty feet long. An apple tree from an apple seed. And what about a giant sequoia? Moving from plants we could ask the same questions about a whale or a butterfly. As Werner Gitt points out in his book, In the beginning was information, there is no known natural law or process or phenomenon through which matter can give rise to information. And without encoded information there can be no life.

I’ve been writing about a bean seed, but what about the information stored in human DNA? We are told that every kind of life and every organ of every living thing uses specific proteins. In our bodies there are about 50,000 different proteins. Wow! The result of billions of years of chemical accidents? A product of evolution? Sorry, I’m just not that credulous. I’d rather go with David and praise our Creator God because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14) Do we know that? Do we know Him?

(Let me know your thoughts on this subject. Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright –– )

 

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Winter Moon – Reflected Glory

When the winter moon rises over a snowy countryside it casts a magical spell unequalled by any creation of Hollywood. Its soft light highlights every tree. It illumines the tracks of coyotes and turkeys and even the lowly vole.

And yet the moon creates no light of its own. It reflects the brilliance of the sun.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In a similar way we are to reflect through our lives the grandeur of God. God created us in His image to reflect His glory.

By writing in Psalm 84 that “The Lord God is a sun,” the psalmist means God is the ultimate source of all light and life. He is the infinite, eternal, unchangeable fount of all goodness, grace, mercy, compassion, holiness, justice, wisdom, and truth. All creative genius flows from Him, as does the impetus for moral and ethical well-being. (See also James 1:17)

As His image bearers we should reflect into the world around us the moral attributes of God. “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for [to reflect] the glory of God”(1 Cor. 10:31). Tragically, we have “all sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom.3:23) by yielding to our fallen nature. What can we do?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is only through fleeing to Jesus Christ to confess our sins that the dark cloud of our sinful selfishness that obscures God’s glory can be overcome. Once we have been cleansed through the work of the Holy Spirit, then we can become reflectors of God’s glory. “We who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”(2 Cor. 3:18).

How does this work in practice? “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise [glorify] your Father in heaven”(Matt. 5:14,16). As we give generously to others, we reflect God’s goodness. As we forgive others, we display the undeserved grace God bestows on us. As we have compassion on the poor, on refugees, motherless children, and widows we manifest the Lord’s tender heart. When we refuse to exaggerate, deceive, or lie we shed abroad the light of Truth. When we make wise decisions about our purchases and refusing to embrace debt, we shine light into theOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA confusing world of modern finance. Transformed people shine God’s glory into the darkness of our decadent world.

Lord, like the moon which reflects the sun’s light, help us to reflect your glory through how we live. May we be honest, generous, compassionate, forgiving, creative, and wise–all through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The Mysterious Power of Growing Things

???????????????????????????????Out for a walk recently, I noticed something startling. The path on which we trod had been recently paved. And there sticking up through the pavement were little plants; plants determined to force their way into the sunlight.

One wonders how soft plant material can possibly thrust itself through tough asphalt, but it does. The innate power of growing things is visible throughout our world. Trees growing out of temples in Cambodia. Oat grass reclaiming dunes in the Carolinas. Tree roots lifting concrete paving slabs in our cities. Living things in the natural world exhibit an incredible vigor.

Much more potent is the spiritual power of God as manifest in the transformation of sinners into followers of Jesus Christ. When I was converted by God as a 19 year old, my life began to change overnight. Swear words dropped??????????????????????????????? from my vocabulary. A concern for others began to slowly break up the hardness of my pervasive selfishness. Hope and faith began to chase away the clouds of gloom and discouragement that periodically engulfed me. As Jesus taught me his standards of right and wrong, I felt a compulsion to confess my stealing to a store manager where I’d pilfered some items. To this day, God continues to woo me to embrace change. Sometimes he has to shake me out of complacency.

The life-principle imparted by God transforms. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come”(2 Cor. 5:17)! That life comes through Christ. “In him was life, and that life was the light of men”(John 1:34). Christ explains; “I am the way, the truth and the life”(John 14:6). The new life he imparts to a repentant sinner is potent with potential! “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full [abundantly]”(John 10:10). Nothing can resist the implanted power of new life in Christ. Drug addiction? No. Lust? No. The desire to control others, to abuse them, to steal from them? No. Fear of death? No.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThroughout history and all over the world today the power of new life in Christ continues to transform people. Licentious Augustine became a godly bishop and gifted theologian. God moved C.S. Lewis from agnosticism to faith. And in our day, Muslim jihadis become loving disciples. Drug addicts break free from their habit. Hypocrites become sensitive and humble. Tribal men and women in Ethiopia joyfully cast off their fear of death and witch doctors. A cutthroat money trader becomes honest and generous in giving. A single mother bound in poverty and despair rises up with new faith in God’s ability to provide.

Living things reflect the Creator’s power to initiate change in humans. The change begins when we embrace the gospel and ends when we pass into heaven. Meanwhile, are you and I resisting or rejoicing in the flow of life eternal in us and through us? Are we open to positive change or resistant to the alteration of our lives, as the Spirit works to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ?

[For descriptions of books such as Through A Country Window, and Eric’s newest suspense novel,Riptide, please see http://www.countrywindow.ca]

Sometimes Life Is Like A Swamp

Sometimes life is like a swamp: boggy, muddy, wet, full of biting insects. Can any good come out of these times of distress?

??????????????????????Swamps may appear pretty in the spring when clothed in marsh marigolds. But many consider swamps as useless land, good for nothing. And so, for centuries we have been draining swamps and bogs to create more tillable land or to enable buildings to be erected. Millions and millions of acres have been reclaimed to gratify our human view of progress. For example, the Florida Everglades have been reduced from eight million acres to just two million.

Like much else in our created world we have failed to understand the importance of conservation. In this case, in losing wetlands, we lose their incredible capacity to act as sponges filtering out harmful pollutants. We also lose their effect in absorbing flood waters. And so we harm ourselves.

We also disrupt the balance of creation by destroying the habitat for algae, zooplankton and all the higher creatures that feed on them. Wetlands create OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAan ideal environment for a host of creatures from snails to salamanders, frogs and lizards. Swamps create an ideal home for many birds and mammals: herons, ospreys, rabbits, otters, bobcats, deer, beavers, raccoons, and black bears.

Admittedly, swamps also harbor insects such as mosquitoes…but these feed a wealth of birds as well as annoy us.

Swamps can be viewed as a metaphor for difficult times in our lives. We’re journeying through sunlit fields of ripening grain, singing as we hike along shady forest paths and then suddenly we plunge ??????????????????????into a swamp. The ooze sucks at our shoes. Mosquitoes feast on our face and necks. A snake slithers across our boggy path.

Life has been good. We’re healthy and strong. Our children act like cherubs. Our pay cheque swells. We holiday in Rome and Venice. Friends multiply. Then suddenly the climate changes.

A child falls sick with a life-threatening illness. We are demoted at work. The catalytic converter on our car needs to be replaced. The washing machine packs it in. We develop headaches. Sleep eludes us at night. The doctor is mystified. The chiropractor can’t help.

Why Lord? Why so much all at once? What have we done to merit a swampy experience? The whys reverberate in our minds. The heavens are as brass. Silence from above. We suffer anguish without understanding purpose or cause.
We may need to remind ourselves that, like swamps, there may be a myriad of good effects hidden from our superficial sight.???????????????????????????????

Painful swamp experiences bring to the surface the pollutants that lurk unacknowledged in our characters: impatience, arrogance, doubt, laziness, aimlessness, tenuous grasp of God’s purposes, and self-confidence in place of trust in the Master. Trials and suffering give us a chance to acknowledge our terrible flaws and sins and bring them to the only one who can forgive and heal us.

Swamp experiences teach us to empathize with others in similar circumstances. God is the one “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God”(2 Cor. 1:4).

???????????????????????????????Swamp experiences, if we bow to Christ in submission, give the Holy Spirit opportunity to reform our character into the image of Christ. Out of bad, even evil, He makes a host of good to arise. “We rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us”(Romans 5:3-5).

But Lord, we are frail. Help us to remember you are always with us and help us to be a blessing to others for your glory.

Can We Only Learn Grace Through Suffering?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWHY SUFFERING #8
On the surface, suffering seems meaningless—wasting precious human vitality, creativity, and energy. But are there things we can only learn through suffering?

Anguish and puzzlement about the purpose of suffering reverberates down through the centuries. Perhaps we can understand why some Christians who manifest immaturity, selfishness, or pride need the stern rod of suffering. But surely mature Christians such as the apostle Paul didn’t need to be subjected to this painful tutor? Well yes, he did, as he himself explains in Second Corinthians.

“Lest I be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:7-10).

Evidently, even the fearless apostle of grace could only learn about the sufficiency of God’s grace through enduring some chronic Our house, last year...we still hope for snow this year.infirmity. Why? Paul was highly educated, a Pharisee of the Pharisees. He had a dramatic conversion and learned the gospel through direct revelation from the resurrected Christ. Grounds for pride. He could have easily trusted in himself instead of praying constantly for the help of the Holy Spirit. But his infirmity kept him dependent on God’s grace.

If Paul needed something to remind him to keep humble; so do we. God has to often use adversity to remind to bend the knee in humble dependence. Mary Helen and I had to learn it often in Pakistan. And, slow learners that we are, we keep relearning that, “He is able to make all grace abound to [us]” (2 Cor.9:8).

Do we doubt this necessity? Then consider the fact that even Jesus, though the Son of God, in his human nature suffered that he might realize how challenging it is for sons and daughters of Adam to learn obedience in a fallen world. “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering” (Heb. 2:10).

Think of it. The Son of God laid aside the robes of His deity to come at Christmas as a helpless baby. Ponder how he grew in grace and in favour with God and man. His human development e demonstrated his identification with us! Human perfection through suffering!

And since Jesus “shared in [our] humanity…[and] because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted”(Heb. 2:14,18). Do we despair in the midst of pain? Are we fainting with weariness because of some suffering? We need to cry out to Jesus who understands and can moderate our suffering or give us the strength to endure it. He alone, who bore our humanity, knows how much we can bear. He alone understands that our emotions ebb and flo as we grapple with troubles.

What about the role of Satan in suffering? See #1 in this series on suffering for a description of the cosmic dimensions of suffering. See : http://www.ericewright.com/why-suffering

In this fallen world, we need to ask God to help us develop an ironclad Sunsetdependence on the sufficiency of His grace and the reality of His presence. From beginning to end, salvation is by the undeserved grace of God. We are saved by grace. We are kept by grace. We grow in grace, not by our education or skills or discipline or effort. Lord, help us to never forget this reality.

Contentment Vs Grass-Is-Greener Syndrome

??????????????????????While walking one day, Mary Helen spied a very unusual sight; a tiny flowering plant growing in the top of an old post. The aged post was one of a number holding up a guardrail near a bay off Lake Ontario. In more affluent times, road crews would have replaced it. We’re fortunate they didn’t. The tiny flower reminded us to prosper where we’re planted.

From Eden when Adam and Eve scorned the hundreds of fruit trees they could enjoy to lust after the one forbidden tree, we have all been afflicted with a grass-is-greener syndrome. If only we had a house by the sea. If only we had more money. If only we had better health. If only we had more interesting jobs. If only our church was more spiritual. If only we could win the lottery. If only our children were more thoughtful. If only we had a retirement plan like Joe’s.

We tend to be discontented people. We look around and imagine things different—better somehow. But God says, grow in grace where you are, in whatever circumstance you find yourself. Show love. Experience joy. Minister kindness. Give thanks. Learn patience.

As Ann Voskamp writes, “As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible, Joy is always possible. Whenever, meaning—now; wherever, meaning —here. The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. The joy wonder could be here! Here, in the messy, piercing ache of now.” (One Thousand Gifts, p. 33)

No, joy is not found in some exotic location. Or even in a more convenient house. We’ve had our present property up for sale in hopes of moving to a smaller place in town where we can live without stairs or outside maintenance. But interest has been abysmal. The weeks drag by without showings.

Oh, it’s not wrong to change our circumstances; to try and tailor our housing to OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAour health. Within each of us is a latent desire to improve our surroundings, to beautify, to invent, to create. This is part of being image-bearers, created in the image of God, the Great Creator. Being content is not about being satisfied with the mediocre. It’s more about living joyfully today instead of being miserable because tomorrow hasn’t come. It’s about being patient with current circumstances.

So, Lord please help me to curb my discontent. Help me to become a blessing to You and others here, where you have planted me, now in this day you have given.

Planted by Streams of Water

We live on a country road which winds up a gentle hill. On the downhill side of the road the trees are especially healthy and prolific. During summer the canopy throws the glade into deep, cooling shadow. The closer the trees grow to the stream at the bottom of our property, the taller they grow. Many rise 50 or 60 feet into the sky.

Having studied forestry as an undergrad, I love trees, especially the white pine, hemlock, cedar, maple, oak, and beech that grow on our acre and a half. I would not deny that there is beauty everywhere on earth: in the arctic, across the great plains, in the pampas of the Argentine, among the shifting dunes of the Sahara, and in the craggy granite heights of great mountains. But trees are special. Not only are they the lungs of the planet but they also clothe the skeleton of earth with grace and beauty.

For there to be healthy trees, there must be abundant water. Fortunately, we live near a perennial spring that feeds our little stream throughout the year.

The other day, I was reading Psalm one when I realized that our property graphically illustrates this passage. The person who delights in God’s law “is like a tree planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1:3). The blessed man or woman “does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1,2).

How does the blessed person avoid hurtful associations? Like the towering trees on our property, the person who delights in God’s Word, drinks in the life-giving sustenance of divine wisdom day and night. This Bible-saturated soul bears the fruit of grace and holiness through imbibing God’s principles and exhortations and truths. Among the vast array of benefits is discernment about how to avoid the kind of friendships that destroy while embracing those that edify.

Times of severe trial may come, but the faith of the blessed person does not wither, focused as it is on a stream of meditation that connects the believer to the very heart of God. By contrast, the unforgiven who scorn the Bible find their lives, like the leaves of fall, withering and blowing away with the winds of adversity. They will not stand during the final judgment.

The habit of daily Bible reading and devotional prayer has often rescued me from discouragement or making foolish decisions. Join me then, in renewing your delight in the Bible and embracing the practice of daily meditation.