Archive for January, 2016

Planet Nine & the Christian’s Orbit

January 30, 2016

       Recently a credible new scientific paper came forth suggesting the existence of a “new planet nine” in our solar system. It’s the new nine because a few years ago Pluto’s status was demoted to “dwarf planet.” If this was a German publication I could start a whole pun run, but it isn’t and I’m not supposed to write as a pundit in this column anyway. Oops, one of those puns got away from me. But I digress.
      I’m excited by this planet nine theory. Interestingly we have evidence of it’s effect but no actual visual evidence of the planet itself. We have no pictures of it and no verifiable data it is there as of yet. Even Pluto in its diminutive state was visible long before the New Horizons probe gave us amazing close-up pictures this past year. This new planet nine is projected to be 10 times the size of Earth (whereas Pluto is 1/6th our size). We assume this large planet exists by the orbits of smaller objects.
     What we know is that there are six objects that are aligned on the same axis and have their orbits affected by the same gravitational pull best explained by that of a nearby planet. Emily Lakdawalla, Senior Editor of the Planetary Society, says that for this to happen by chance would be 0.007%. Scientist Journalist Bob McDonald says, “It’s like seeing a disturbance on the surface of water but not knowing what caused it. Perhaps it was a jumping fish, a whale or a seal. Even though you didn’t actually see it, you could make an informed guess about the size of the object and its location by the nature of the ripples in the water.”

     As a pastor and, more simply, a Christian this intrigues me. Scientists are now going to study this phenomenon with great interest and have calculated quite a bit of info from something we don’t actually know exists. They believe it exists (by a margin of 99.993% no less) because of how this invisible heavenly body affects just six small objects by its orbit out of a gazillion in the Kuiper Belt. Yet some would mock that Christianity is a myth about a heavenly body that affects the lives of those who follow God’s orbit, if you will.

     The Bible did say, “The heaven’s declare the glory of God.” And my prayer is that the more Christians actually align their orbit faithfully with God that others will see our data and look for that mysterious and wondrous Lord at our center.

       It reminds me of a scene from the movie “A Beautiful Mind” between genius John Nash and his fiancé about love. He says, “I need some kind of proof; verifiable empirical data.”

“Well, how big is the universe?”


“How do you know?”

“Because all the data indicates it.”

“But has if been proven?”


“Have you seen it?”


“How do you know for sure?”

“I don’t. I just believe it.”

Reflecting Resolution for the New Year

January 2, 2016

I don’t mean to brag but I am known for my brain power. When it comes to interesting biblical tidbits particularly in grammar, history, and culture I’m rather sharp. But when it comes to remembering personal life events or names and such things I suffer from Teflon-of-the-Brain; it just doesn’t stick.

Every Thanksgiving when I was growing up my mother had a tradition to encourage us to be grateful. She would take dried Indian corn kernels and divvy them up between the family members. We took turns sharing one memory at a time from the past year and placing the kernel in the dish. It was a lovely tradition. I hated it. I would furrow my brow all day thinking, reflecting, and trying to conjure up memories to share that evening at dinner, hoping mom had dropped a few kernels before they got to the table. It isn’t that I am not grateful, I just have a difficult time remembering.

The Psalms are filled with history lessons. Some are Laments where the writer remembers when God came to their aid in the past and look to God’s faithful help again. Others are Thanksgiving Psalms that recount the heroic deeds of God for his people that helped define a nation and a religion. Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” I’d adjust it to say, “a life without reflection wasn’t one.”

When we come to New Years it is good to reflect upon the past year recounting the blessings and losses, the trials and triumphs, both great and small. It is important to remember those moments where God felt close and those times he silently led us through shadow-covered valleys. But if you are like me sometimes it is hard to keep track of such things and the end of the year seems like just another revolution around thus sun – different year with the same view.

So, this year I’m going to try something new and thought I would share with any of you who may also suffer from Cranium Teflonitus. I’m not one for keeping a personal journal so I’m going to keep a jar with a pen and post-it note pad or maybe use the unused Reminders app on my phone. When something happens (be it a prayer answered, a personal moment of blessing or loss, etc.) I am going to jot down the date and brief description. Now I know I will not be good at keeping a daily resolution but my goal is a couple random notes a week and forcing myself to think of at least one from the past week every Sunday. Then come next December I’ll have hopefully 50-100 or so memories to read under the glow of the Christmas lights with my wife and children. And, if my mom brings those pesky corn kernels, I can impress her too. But mostly it’s for me to know that through gain and loss God was with me yesterday and will be again tomorrow.

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