The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

The end-times predictions continue

Harold Camping was wrong; the rapture did not occur on May 21, 2011. As shown in the graphic, the Rapture countdown on www.wecanknow.com is down to 0 months 0 days, and 200,000,000 Christians did not mysteriously disappear from the planet. A few, however, were quite a bit poorer after spending money on Rapture billboards and other advertising.

This hasn’t stopped the Hal Lindsey/Left Behind crowd from continuing with their prognostications. I took a look at World Net Daily (your Christian source for wild conspiracy theories) tonight, and one of their headlines reads Savage: Bible shows what’s next for Israel.

“Ezekiel is predictive of what’s going to happen,” Savage said as he read from the Hebrew scriptures on the air. “There will be a war.”

I have no doubt that war is a real possibility in any given year or decade in that part of the world, but that doesn’t mean that Ezekiel is speaking directly about this or that 20th/21st century conflict. I also have no doubt that Christ is coming again and that the Bible speaks about that glorious (or disastrous, depending on where one stands before God) event. But I am rather weary of the whole end-times pick-a-date and pin-the-tail-on-the-antichrist game. It is wrong when Camping predicts a time table, and it is wrong when the Bible prophecy “experts” predict a time table.

Grace and Peace

May 22, 2011 Posted by | Apologetics, Christianity | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Harold Camping, the return of Christ, and my plans for May 22nd

Jesus: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,  but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36 ESV)

Harold Camping of Family Radio: The Rapture will be on May 21, 2011 (The “rapture” is the idea that Jesus will take his Church off the Earth before judging the world).

I’ll go with Jesus’ teaching over Camping’s.

Christ is coming; I don’t know when. It could be May 21st. It could be 100 years from now. It could be 5000 years from now. Jesus didn’t claim to know. I don’t know. Harold Camping doesn’t know.

I’m planning on going to church on Sunday, May 22nd. The message will be from the book of Job, and knowing my pastor, it will point people to Christ as the Righteous One who suffered on my behalf.

Beyond May 22nd, I’m planning on continuing to write, teach, serve, pray, and love others. I’m planning on dying some day. Unless Jesus comes first.

Grace and Peace

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From Albert Mohler: The End is Near? The False Teaching of Harold Camping

If you know the Bible and this statement [from Camping] confuses you, you are in good company.

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Camping’s mathematical formula “involves, among other things, the dates of floods, the signals of numbers in the Bible, multiplication, addition and subtraction thereof.” As many have noted, the math seems to make sense only to Harold Camping.

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Christians are indeed to be looking for Christ to return and seeking to be found faithful when Christ comes. We are not to draw a line in history and set a date, but we are to be about the Father’s business, sharing the Gospel and living faithful Christian lives. We are not to sit on rooftops like the Millerites, waiting for Christ’s return. We are to be busy doing what Christ has commanded us to do.

From Cyberbrethren: Will the World End on May 31? Maybe. Remain Calm, Don’t Panic. Here’s Why.

We’ve all been hearing about the predictions being made by Harold Camping, a serial liar and deceiver, who has pulled the same stunt before, announcing that the end of the world will occur on such-and-such a date. He’s doing it again. This time he says the rapture will take place on May 21 and then, this October, the world will finally end. He is a liar. He is a false prophet.

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As the end of the world draws closer, each day the Lord gives us is one more day to serve Him and to be a part of the great effort to proclaim the Gospel. This is the great mission Christ has given His church: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). Our Lord promises to be with us until the end of the world (Matt. 28:20), as we continue to tell the good news about Jesus (Acts 8:35).

Finally, our Lord wants us to be watchful for His coming. We have the assurance that because of His death and resurrection for us, we have the full and free forgiveness of our sins. We may not know all the details about the end of the world, but we do not need to be anxious about them. Nor should we get all caught up in speculation about the end times. We live in the great period of the “now” and the “not yet.” We have salvation in Christ right now. But we do not yet have the final blessing of our salvation: life forever with the Lord in heaven.

May 19, 2011 Posted by | Christianity | , , , | 2 Comments

Billings Gazette geology videos

The Billings Gazette has three short videos on the geology of the Billings, Montana area featuring Rocky Mountain College geology professor Derek Sjostrom:

Geology of the Beartooths — Montana’s highest mountain range (Granite Peak, 12799 ft, 3902 m) has a core of 3.2 billion year old metamorphic rocks.

Geology of the Pryors — The Pryor Mountains (East Pryor Mountain, 8786 ft, 2678 m) south of Billings are formed mostly of blocks of Paleozoic sedimentary rocks.

Geology of the Rimrocks — The Rimrocks are Cretaceous sandstone cliffs on the north side of Billings. The fossils and structures indicate that the Eagle formation formed in a barrier island setting, much like modern Padre Island in Texas.

These are at a very basic level, but I still enjoyed them, and it looks like there are more to come in the series.

WordPress won’t let me embed these videos.

May 18, 2011 Posted by | Billings Geology, Geology, Montana, Montana Geology | , , , | Leave a comment

50 things I am thankful for

Here is a brief list of things that I have been blessed with in my first fifty years of life. Many of these items could themselves be expanded to lists of hundreds of things to be thankful to God for.

  1. God’s grace expressed to me in and through Jesus Christ.
  2. My beautiful wife. We’ve been dating for only 33 years, and married for 27 years. Off to a good start.
  3. My four wonderful children, each of whom is an incredible blessing to me.
  4. My parents. My father has passed on but my mother is doing great.
  5. My brother and sister.
  6. My grandparents, all of whom are now gone.
  7. Having been a part of Christ Community Church since we moved to St. Louis in 1988.
  8. The other churches I have been a member of, each of which has played an important role in my growth as a Christian: Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd (Billings), Grace Bible Church (Bozeman), Community Evangelical Free Church (Pullman), and Biserica Trinitatea (Bucharest).
  9. The Bible.
  10. Many good Bible studies and other small groups over the years.
  11. People who pray for me.
  12. The role Campus Crusade for Christ played in clarifying my understanding of the gospel.
  13. A good education in the Billings public schools.
  14. Close friends in high school, especially Ken, Jeff, and Scott.
  15. Having a great girlfriend in high school. She is special enough to get mentioned again (see #2).
  16. Books.
  17. My first two years of college at the University of Utah. It wasn’t the best years of my life academically, but I had good friends and enjoyed the skiing.
  18. While at Utah, I skipped a few days of classes to go to Canyonlands N.P., which resulted in my change of major to Geology.
  19. My remaining years of college at Montana State University. The first year was lonely, but I had good friends in my second year, and the third year was spent in marital bliss. MSU was a great place for field geology, not only for summer field camp, but for afternoon field trips.
  20. My graduate education in Geology at Washington State University. I had lots of good Christian fellowship within the Geology department, and I am thankful for the foundation that was laid in Geology.
  21. Thirteen years of working at a cartographer and geographic information systems (GIS) professional, primarily in the production and maintenance of topographic maps and associated databases.
  22. Great coworkers.
  23. Working as a high school science teacher for eight years. I loved being able to teach a variety of subjects, especially high school Earth Science, Biology, and Chemistry.
  24. The schools I have taught at: Providence Christian Academy (St. Louis), St. Louis University High, and Bucharest Christian Academy.
  25. The students I had in my eight years of teaching, many of whom I have been able to stay in contact with through FaceBook.
  26. The best friends I’ve had in my adult life in Bucharest, Romania.
  27. The privilege of serving with ReachGlobal (the international mission of the Evangelical Free Church of America).
  28. Traveling in Europe, especially to Austria, Germany, and France.
  29. Growing up in Montana.
  30. Moving back to Montana soon.
  31. A better than average amount of international travel: Canada, Mexico, Italy, Romania, Netherlands, Hungary, Austria, Germany, France, South Korea.
  32. Lots of travel around the United States, both as a child and as an adult. I’ve been in 46 states.
  33. That I don’t have to travel for work very often.
  34. Skiing as a youngster (Red Lodge, Bridger Bowl, Big Sky, Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Vail), and cross-country skiing now that I am a bit older.
  35. Hiking in the Beartooth Mountains, including a six-day backpack trip from Cooke City to East Rosebud.
  36. Christikon camp south of Big Timber, three summers.
  37. Growing up close to Yellowstone National Park.
  38. My adult Sunday School class on the book The Reason for God earlier this year. I was in my niche.
  39. My year of unemployment in Colorado. It was a difficult year, but not a bad place to be when you don’t have work.
  40. My cats: two are still with us (Gracie and Cinder) and two have moved on past their nine lives (Buddy and Graywacke).
  41. Four seasons, each of which is the best season when it comes.
  42. Many material blessings — food, clothing, shelter, electricity, luxuries — that I take all too often for granted.
  43. Laughter.
  44. Food.
  45. Work. I don’t intend to ever truly retire.
  46. The Earth that God has given us, with its geology and wonders of life.
  47. The readers of The GeoChristian.
  48. Did I say my children? They bring much joy to my life.
  49. Did I say my wife? Marriage started out good, and has gotten better with time.
  50. Did I say Jesus? I could lose everything else on this list, and I would still have Jesus.

I could go on.

Grace and Peace, and Thank You

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Misc | Leave a comment

Stephen Hawking, eternal life, and fairy tales

I look for the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come.
–Nicene Creed

Stephen Hawking, physicist and author of A Brief History of Time, recently had this to say about the notions of heaven and eternal life:

I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

How is a Christian to respond to this? Is our belief in eternal life a fairy tale? Have we invented a story about everlasting paradise because we are afraid of the darkness of annihilation?

A good starting place is to recognize that Hawking has never died, and so he really doesn’t know one way or the other whether heaven and eternal life exists. Hawking did not come to his conclusions regarding heaven or everlasting life through observation, experience, or anything resembling the scientific method. He did not run an experiment that demonstrated that humans have no eternal soul. Nor did he derive a mathematical equation that somehow eliminated God.

Of course, similar statements could be said about Christians. We have not come to our conclusions about heaven and eternal life through science. But if science were the only way to know anything, then we really could not adequately address questions such as, “What happens after we die?” We could speculate, which is all that Hawking has done, but we really would not have definitive answers.

As a Christian, my belief in heaven is based on my acceptance of the larger package of the Christian faith. I have dozens of reasons why I think Christianity is true; here are two of what I see as the strongest arguments:

1. Christianity has a good answer for the fundamental question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” I wrote about this last year in my brief post about Hawking’s latest book, The Grand Design:

This goes back to the cosmological argument for the existence of God. Every effect has a cause. What caused the universe? If the answer is, “the multiverse” or “the laws of physics,” then all the authors [Hawking and Mlodinow] have accomplished is to put the question back one step. What caused the multiverse to exist? Has it existed forever? If so, why and how? Did it cause itself to exist? The same questions need to be asked of the laws of physics, or perhaps of the deeper, underlying laws of the multiverse. What is the origin of these laws?  …

To propose that “God” is the answer to these questions is certainly at least as rational as to propose that the multiverse has existed forever or that it created itself. I would say that the “God option” is in reality the most rational answer, as the first option—the multiverse has existed forever—doesn’t answer the “Why is there something rather than nothing?” question, and the idea of a self-creating multiverse is inherently illogical.

Even if Hawking were correct about M-theory, strings, and the multiverse spawning baby universes, he has not explained where the multiverse or the laws that govern the universe came from.

2. A strong case can be made for the historical truthfulness of the Gospel accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I gave an outline of the Christian case for Christ’s resurrection in my recent post The reality of the resurrection. Something extraordinary happened on that first Easter in 30 or 33 AD, and each attempt to come up with an alternative to the resurrection has serious problems.

If there is a God who created the universe (point #1), and if he raised at least one person from the dead (point #2), then it is by no means a stretch to accept the idea that we, too, can experience eternal life. This life comes through faith in Christ:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. — John 3:16 ESV

I have great respect for Stephen Hawking for his professional accomplishments and for his perseverance through great suffering. His ventures into philosophy and theology, on the other hand, fall a bit flat.

Grace and Peace

The Guardian: Stephen Hawking: ‘There is no heaven; it’s a fairy story’

Yahoo News: Stephen Hawking says afterlife is a fairy story

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” — Psalm 14:1 ESV

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Apologetics, Christianity | , , | 3 Comments

Montana

I moved from Romania to Colorado in 2008. I moved to Missouri in 2009. I’ll be moving “home” to Montana in a few weeks.

John Steinbeck wrote, “I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love.” Here are three videos from Leadership Montana that hint at why Steinbeck may have felt this way:

My work on the blog could be a little sparse in the upcoming weeks.

Grace and Peace

May 11, 2011 Posted by | Montana | 3 Comments

   

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