Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rejoicing in the Word.

Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts. Jeremiah 15:16.
There is constant need of patience, gentleness, self-denial, and self-sacrifice in the exercise of Bible religion. But if the Word of God is made an abiding principle in our lives, everything with which we have to do, each word, each trivial act, will reveal that we are subject to Jesus Christ, that even our thoughts have been brought into captivity to Him. If the Word of God is received into the heart, it will empty the soul of self-sufficiency and self-dependence. Our lives will be a power for good, because the Holy Spirit will fill our minds with the things of God. The religion of Christ will be practiced by us; for our wills are in perfect conformity to the will of God.
Some who profess to have true religion sadly neglect the Guidebook given by God to point the way to heaven. They may read the Bible, but merely reading God’s Word, as one would read words traced by a human pen, will give only a superficial knowledge. Talking of the truth will not sanctify the receivers. They may profess to be working for God, when, were Christ among them, His voice would be heard, saying, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). Such cannot know what true religion means.
“The words that I speak unto you,” said Christ, “they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Jeremiah testifies to the Word of God, saying, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart.” There is divine healing in God’s Word, which the so-called wise and prudent cannot experience, but which is revealed to babes. “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130). If this Word is enshrined in the heart, it becomes the treasure-house of the mind, from which we bring forth things new and old. We no longer find pleasure in thinking of the common things of earth, but say, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (verse 105).—The Review and Herald, May 4, 1897.
This devotional is taken from Ye Shall Receive Power by Ellen G. White.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Can Snoring Ruin a Relationship?

If you lie awake at night as your partner saws the log, you're far from alone. Although snoring can affect anyone, it's most common in males and those who are overweight. According to the National Sleep Foundation, this nighttime disturbance affects 37 million Americans on a regular basis.
Sure, loud snorers can be humorous, but the act have an ill effect on other's sleep habits. According to a study conducted by Richard Day Research, half of all snorers' bed partners reported that snoring made it impossible for them to get a good night's sleep, and 40 percent confessed to sleeping in separate beds. Furthermore, a Mayo Clinic study found that snorers' spouses woke up an average of 21 times an hour.
Health Business Week noted the following statistics:
  • Snoring affects nearly 50 million U.S. households;
  • One in three people who sleep with a snorer say that  snoring is among the top three things they'd like to change in their mates;
  • Three out of five snorers say they've woken up themselves because of the sound of their own snoring;
  • More than three quarters of snorer's bed partners have tried to nudge or poke their partners to make the snoring stop.

Can Snoring Affect Your Relationship?

While some may view snoring as a negligible nuisance, others find it as an issue that has real repercussions. A lack of sleep can affect daytime energy and mood. Often when someone is tired throughout the day, they can become snappy--often leaving a mark on that person's daily interactions.
The daytime sleepiness affects all aspects of life, says Dr. Paul O'Keefe, a psychiatrist at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City because it leaves sufferers cranky and irritable. "It can definitely affect your personal relationships," he says. "But there are many medical interventions for it."

What To Do If You Snore

If you the snoring culprit, try the following tips provided by the National Sleep Foundation:
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Avoid tranquilizers, sleeping pills and antihistamines before bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol for at least four hours and heavy meals or snacks for three hours before retiring.
  • Establish regular sleeping patterns.
  • Sleep on your side rather than your back.
Your doctor may recommend:
  • A visit with a sleep specialist, who might conduct a sleep test to see if you have sleep apnea
  • Sleep position training
  • Treatment of any allergies
  • Oral appliances made by a dentist
  • A CPAP, the treatment of choice for sleep apnea, is a continuous positive airway pressure appliance that blows room air into the back of the throat to prevent it from collapsing.
  • As a last resort, surgery on the back of the throat and the roof of the mouth

What to Do If You Are the Partner of a Snorer

Convince your mate that the snoring is interfering with your life and could even have a detrimental effect on your relationship. Encourage the snorer to seek help.
If the snorer doesn't' believe you, try sleeping in another bedroom for a few nights and see if you feel more well rested the next day. If your mood and your daytime alertness improve, you'll have convincing evidence for the snorer that your life is being affected by second hand snoring.
Invest in a pair of ear plugs. This often helps, but obviously if you have young children in the house, it's not a great option.
Once the snorer seeks treatment, you'll both enjoy a better night's sleep and when you feel alert and clearheaded during the day, your relationship with your partner may look brighter than ever.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Changing the Habits of thought

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)Let none imagine that without earnest effort on their part they can obtain the assurance of God's love. When the mind has been long permitted to dwell only on earthly things, it is a difficult matter to change the habits of thought. That which the eye sees and the ear hears too often attracts the attention and absorbs the interest. But if we would enter the city of God, and look upon Jesus in His glory, we must become accustomed to beholding Him with the eye of faith here. The words and the character of Christ should be often the subject of our thoughts and of our conversation; and each day some time should be especially devoted to prayerful meditation upon these sacred themes.

The Heavens Declare the Immensity of God

Today I want to share with you some of the glories of the universe.  As a professional astronomer and a Christian, I feel God has called me to share with others in the church the wonderful things in God's creation, things we hardly knew about until the last few decades of astronomy research.  Many times these new discoveries are presented in the newspaper or on television within a context of overt atheism, or at least without any mention of God.  Today I want to share these things with you in the context of worship, with God as their creator.
As we dim the lights, I'd like you to recall a time when you were far from city lights at night, and you looked up and saw the stars. Maybe you were out camping or traveling through a rural area.  As you looked up, you saw the sky strewn with brilliant stars, many many more stars than you can see in Grand Rapids at night. Maybe you even saw the Milky Way spread across the sky! 
Slide: Milky Way
Here's a long-exposure photograph of part of the night sky, showing a portion of the Milky Way, with even more stars than you can see with just your eyes.  When David was sitting in the hills of Judah and looked up at the night sky, he would have seen the Milky Way too, and it inspired him to sing “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1).  If David only knew then what we know now about our universe, he might have written a much longer psalm!
Slide: Saturn
With the development of the telescope, we were able to see beyond just the stars at night.  We discovered the beauty of the planets in our solar system, like Saturn. The wide ring system is so beautiful with its many colors, yet it is so thin you can see through it to the planet beneath.   This photo is from the spacecraft Voyager which moved up beside Saturn, and could see the shadows cast by the planet on the rings and even the shadow cast by the rings onto the planet.
Slide: Eagle Nebula
With modern telescopes, we also learned more about objects beyond our solar system.  This is a thick dust cloud in the Eagle nebula, which is about 7000 light years away from our Sun.  That means that if you were traveling at the speed of light, it would take you 7000 years to get there.  The dust is so thick in spots that no light from behind can get through.  Other telescopes which are sensitive to infrared light are able to see through the dust, and have detected stars deep inside these clouds, stars just in the process of forming.  Within these pillars, and in other places in our Galaxy like them, God is making brand new stars.  n fact, regions like this are like “stellar nurseries,” where many new stars are forming at once.  The star light from new-formed stars reflects off the gas and dust in these clouds to create the beautiful colors we see.  This dust cloud is bearing testimony to us, speaking to us about God's ongoing creativity, in making new and beautiful things in our universe.
This nebula is 7000 light years away, still within our own galaxy.  I'm going to show you more and more distant objects, beyond our own galaxy, so try to keep in mind the great distances of these objects.
Slide: Andromeda galaxy
This is the Andromeda galaxy. It was less than 100 years ago that we learned that our galaxy was only one of many galaxies.  Andromeda is the nearest large galaxy to our own, about 2 million light years away (that means it would take 2 million years for you to get there, if you were traveling at the speed of light).  Our own galaxy looks something like this.  You can see the spiral arms of stars and dust wrapping around.  Many of the stars at the edges of the picture are just foreground stars in our own galaxy, but the blob at the bottom is actually a dwarf galaxy in orbit about the main one!
Slide: Whirlpool galaxy
Here's another galaxy, called the Whirlpool galaxy, which is 22 million light years away.  That's ten times further away than the last galaxy I showed you.  Galaxies like this are sometimes called “Grand Design” spirals by astronomers, referring to the way they appear to have been laid down in a perfect spiral pattern by a master craftsman.  Through modern science, we can learn how God crafted this beautiful pattern!  It has to do with density waves traveling through the galaxy, causing new stars to form along spiral lines.  The waves are related to the satellite galaxy on the left, and computer simulations of the two galaxies have reproduced this exact spiral structure.  So we have a reasonably good scientific understanding of how this spiral structure came to be.  Does that mean it is any less glorifying to God? No! It means we can think God's thoughts after him and understand at least some of his work in the universe.
But these are just a few of the many galaxies in the universe.  How many galaxies are there?
Slide: Hubble Deep Field
This picture gives you some idea.  This image is called the Hubble Deep Field, and comes from the Hubble Space Telescope orbiting the Earth.  The telescope spent several days of observing time looking at this one tiny patch of the sky, a patch which appears to be basically black when viewed in a ground-based telescope.  This is the one of the most sensitive photographs of the sky ever made.

Look at the thousands of galaxies strewn about.  You can see spiral galaxies (like the ones I already showed you), galaxies in red, white, and yellow, and small blue blobs which are baby galaxies, just in the process of forming.  God is making whole new galaxies too.  And this image is just a tiny part of the sky – there are probably 10 billion galaxies in our universe!  This picture is like one of the ways God must view the universe – all  the galaxies dancing and spinning through space, governed by him and following his grand design.
This picture can also make us feel really small.  After all, we live on one little planet, orbiting one star in a galaxy of billions of stars, and our galaxy is just one of billions of galaxies in God's creation.  Some people react to this by feeling profoundly insignificant: they think maybe God is just some idea we puny humans thought up to make us feel better, or an idea which can't possibly have relevance in this huge universe.  They think that if God did exist, he couldn't possibly care about us while he is governing this whole huge universe.
But my Christian faith teaches me to react to this picture in a different way.  This picture of the huge universe reminds me how big God is.  The Christian faith has never said God was restricted to our planet, we've always claimed God is outside his creation and thus in a sense bigger than all of his creation.
But if God is so huge, how can he care about our little planet?  And about my little life on this planet?  This question isn't new.  In Psalm 8, David says “When I consider your heavens and the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars” and the galaxies and the quasars and the whole universe, “what are humans that your are mindful of us? how can you care for us?” The question of human significance in the face of the cosmos has been with us for thousands of years.  David answered it by remembering that “God has made us a little lower than the heavenly beings, crowned us with glory and honor, and made us ruler over the works of his hands.” So one reason we are significant is that God gave us a special role in creation, to study it and care for it.  He has asked us to be partners with him in governing his creation.  We are not insignificant.
Since David's time, we have learned so much more about God through his revelation to us.  God himself chose to became human, like one of us. He sacrificed all of us glory, held back all of his power, and died to show us how much we matter to him.  The same God who governs the galaxies all across the universe also loves each one of us enough to die for us.  Looking at this modern scientific picture of the universe through the eyes of faith has shown me how incredibly huge God's love is.  The heavens declare not only the glory of God, but his creativity, his power, and his immensity.
So here's the message I hope and pray that you'll remember as you leave today: 
The universe is huge, but God is even bigger. 
We're incredibly tiny in the universe,
but God's love is huge, deep, and personal for each of us.

(Close with “How Great Thou Art”.)
Milky Way Galaxy
Milky Way

Saturn Saturn

Andromeda Galaxy
Andromeda Galaxy

Whirlpool Galaxy Whirlpool Galaxy

Eagle Nebula Eagle Nebula

Hubble Deep Field

 For God so love you and me that He gave the best gift, His one and only son Jesus Christ that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life(John3:16). This is only a glimpse of what Christ gave up for us.
Deborah Haarsma
November 16, 2000