Thoughts by Doug

Charles Hard Townes received the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics for his work in helping to develop the maser and the laser in 1960.  He died in 2015 at the age of 99. 

Laser technology is all around us and is something we now take for granted. Townes was once asked if he had a tremendous sense of achievement at all the amazing applications of the invention.  He said, “Not really.”  He said he could identify with the beaver in this story…

A beaver and a chipmunk came upon the Hoover Dam while out strolling one day.  They were surprised when they saw the magnificent structure and were completely overwhelmed with amazement and awe.  After the beaver had collected his thoughts and regained his composure, he said to his chipmunk companion, “Well actually, I didn’t build it myself, but it’s based upon an idea of mine.”

Like much of scientific advancement, spiritual growth is a building process.  We take the spiritual training of our parents and build upon that.  And when we have kids of our own, we want them to build on the spiritual training we give them.

The apostle Paul spoke of this process in 2 Timothy 1:5, “I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”  Paul called Timothy his “fellow worker” and his “beloved and faithful son in the Lord” (Romans 16:21; 1 Corinthians 4:17).  We’re left to wonder if Lois and Eunice ever imagined all the great things that their little boy Timothy would accomplish for the cause of Christ in his lifetime!

The Lord “counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.  Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.” (Psalm 147:4-5) God’s wisdom and might is beyond our ability to comprehend!  Not only does God know how many stars there are in the universe, but He also has a name for each one.  Even in our age of the Hubble telescope and in all our space exploration -- both manned and unmanned -- we don’t even have an idea of how many galaxies exist, let alone the total number of stars.  Of course, God made each one of the stars, which was much more involved than just being able to count them.

A current trend nowadays is the opportunity to name a star -- after yourself or a loved one (how romantic!) -- for a price.  Do a Google search if you have five minutes, and you’ll find several official-looking sites that offer star-naming services…

  • · ($19.95 - $124.95)
  • · ($19.95 - $49.85)
  • ·$29.90- $89.90)
  • ·

None of these commercial companies are “official.”  And NASA has nothing to do with any of them, nor does NASA engage in the business of naming stars.  If you do decide to “buy a star” or “name a star” and lay down your hard-earned dollars, your name will not be listed in any file except the one the company that takes your money maintains.  By the way, one such company has recently been cited for deceptive advertising by the State of New York Department of Consumer Affairs.

In fact, the only internationally-recognized organization that publishes and maintains a star registry is the International Astronomical Union, or IAU.  But instead of using names, the IAU assigns each star a number (not a name) and catalogues them by specific coordinates.

God, in His word, makes multiple claims about His power and might.  Here are a few...

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, Measured heaven with a span And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales And the hills in a balance?  Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has taught Him?  With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, And taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, And showed Him the way of understanding?  Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, And are counted as the small dust on the scales; Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing. (Isaiah 40:12-15)

The old saying is true: “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it!”

Life is full of choices, and what you make of them determines to a large extent the kind of life you will live.  Some will decide to be VICTIMS, and some will make the choice to be WINNERS.  In the “Handbook of the Sociology of Mental Health,” sociology professors Catherine E. Ross and John Mirowsky describe how some people “attribute the events and conditions of their lives to their own actions, while others believe their lives are shaped by forces external to themselves, like luck, chance, fate or powerful others.” 

Those who accept responsibility for both their successes and for their shortcomings believe they have a say in how their lives are shaped; while others feel that regardless of what they do, external forces will dictate their future.  In other words, Choice versus Chance.  The former are empowered, the latter are powerless.

“Responsibility” is a contraction of the words “response” and “ability;” in other words, your ability to positively respond to all the bumps in the road that we all experience.  Notice James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  Just as athletes work out doing resistance training with the mindset of “no pain, no gain,” the Lord does not keep us from life’s storms but gives us the power and ability to weather those storms.  But if we don the cloak of victimhood, the same storms come and go, but we learn nothing; we gain nothing. 

When God confronted the naked Adam and Eve post-sin, “Have you eaten from the tree…?” here came the excuses and shifting of blame.  Adam: ‘The woman whom You gave me, she made me eat.’  Eve: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate,” (Gen 3:11-13).  King Saul, after being confronted by Samuel about keeping the best of the flocks of the slain Amalekites, offered the lame excuse, “They have brought them...for the people spared the best.,” (1 Sam 15:15).  Oh yes, they made me do it!

Why not just admit the sin, accept the consequences and get on with your journey?  Note the contrast when David was confronted by Nathan the prophet after his sin with Bathsheba, and after having her husband Uriah killed by the sword of the Ammonites: “I have sinned against the Lord,” (2 Sam 12:9-13).

Do your find yourself shifting blame to others when you’ve done something wrong, or complaining, or making excuses?  Or do you accept blame when it’s your fault, take your licks, and determine to do better next time?

A young boy stood next to his father’s recliner.  The father was studying the sports section of the newspaper, while the boy pounded the palm of his baseball glove, trying to get his dad’s attention.  Frustrated, the boy finally announced, “Either play with me or trade me!”

Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner (1917-2005) was a Russian-born American developmental psychologist, who was heavily involved in the formation of the Head Start program in 1965.  His research also indicated how much time fathers actually spent playing and interacting with their small children, as opposed to how much time they thought they did.  Fathers estimated (on average) that their time with their kids amounted to fifteen to twenty minutes per day.  After the fathers were observed and recorded, the results were shocking: “The average dad-child time was 37 seconds a day.”

In Genesis 31, Jacob had decided to leave (actually, to escape) Laban’s house.  When he broke the news to his wives, “Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, ‘Is there still any portion or inheritance for us in our father's house?  Are we not considered strangers by him? For he has sold us, and also completely consumed our money.’” (31:14-15)

Families all across our nation are suffering from the epidemic of absentee fathers.  36% of children in the US do not live with their biological fathers.  Some 70% of juveniles and young adults in correctional facilities did not live with both parents while growing up.  Absentee fathers have been blamed for as many as 75% of teen suicides and 80% of teenage psychiatric admissions.  Over 30% of births today are to unmarried women, and most of these kids will live in single-mother homes.  About half of all children in the US will see their parents get a divorce.

The Lord lays on fathers the responsibility of training their children!  “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).  “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.  Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.  Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col 3:19-21).

Three boys were arguing about whose father was the best.  The discussion turned to who their fathers knew.  One said, “My dad knows the mayor.”  Another upped the ante by claiming, “My dad knows the governor.”  The third boy thought for a moment, then declared, “My dad knows God!”  My prayer for our fathers - all fathers - is that our sons and daughters could say the same for us.

by Doug Martin

According to Yahoo news, a Thai YouTuber is facing criminal charges - which could end in jail time - for criticizing a Miss Universe dress designed by the king's daughter.

Charges have been filed against Wanchaleom Jamneanphol, a popular YouTuber and TV presenter, under Thailand's notoriously strict laws, which make it illegal to say anything negative about the monarchy.  She had criticized the dress designed by Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana which was worn by the Thai entrant in the Miss Universe pageant, Sophida Kanchanarin, which was held in Thailand in December 2018.  She called the dress ugly, according to The Guardian newspaper and Khaosod news, a Thai outlet. They said the criticism was in a Facebook post that was later deleted. 

Thai millionaire businessman and aspiring politician Kitjanut Chaiyosburanato filed charges against Jamneanphol this week, The Guardian reported.  "I cannot accept that a well-known individual in the online world expressed negative opinions that affect the country's reputation," Chaiyosburanato told reporters, describing the post as "irresponsible behavior," he told reporters.

The charges were filed and accepted by the Thai police's technology crime suppression division, according to The Guardian. This could result in full legal proceedings.

Jamneanphol issued an apology on Facebook on Monday, where she said she "did not have any intention to insult or disrespect" the monarchy.  "I deeply regret and feel guilty for my actions," she said. 

Thailand's monarchy is protected by a harsh set of laws designed to shield them from criticism in Thailand, following a principle known as lèse-majesté.  Under the laws, anyone convicted of defaming, insulting or threatening the king, queen, heir or regent faces between three and 15 years in prison on each count.  The law is routinely interpreted to include criticism that touches on any aspect of the monarchy, according to AFP.

The United Nations has previously been critical of the law.  In 2015, it attacked the "shockingly disproportionate prison terms" of 30 and 28 years which Thai military courts imposed on two people for insulting the monarchy.

Here in the USA we are (or should be) very grateful for our constitutionally-acknowledged, God-given right of free speech.  However, as Christians, our speech should “always be with grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6); we should “always be ready to give a defense” for what we believe (1 Peter 3:15); and always be “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  And in all our interactions with others -- whether in person or online -- let us always remember that in That Day we will be held accountable for even every “idle word” that we speak (Matthew 12:36).

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