Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I'm Sure Peter and John Preached the Prosperity Gospel! (Acts 3:1-10)

One day Peter and John were going to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put everyday to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money
(Acts 3:1-3,

Previously, the writer told us that “many wonders and signs performed by the apostles” (Acts 2:43) and here is one of the examples. As Peter and John went one day into the temple, some people (probably his relatives) were just bringing in a beggar. It is said that this man had been born lame and was now over 40 years old (see Acts 4:22). To beg in the temple area is equivalent today as begging in the church’s open doors (except hardly we see any beggars came to our churches, I wonder why not). Almsgiving and mercy assume greater in the religious settings rather than in the shopping mall areas. So this place was the most strategic area. Plus, the temple gate is called “Beautiful.”

Seeing Peter and John, he immediately asked them for “money” (3:3). He may not realize that Jesus’ disciples were mostly poor or not rich, particularly these two disciples. So no wonder “Peter looked straight at him, as did John” (3:4). “Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them” (3:4-5). This is funny! When I read “Look at us!” I imagined these two tone of voice: First, surely a strong command; and secondly, a disbelief response like, ‘What do you expect from us? Look at us! We’re poor too!’ They didn’t have much money – or none for this purpose – but they did know the power of God and so was able to give something far better that afternoon than all the rich people who entered the temple.

So Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). In the name of Jesus, Peter took hold of the lame man’s hand and raised him up. Immediately he received strength and began to walk and jump. For a man born lame, these descriptions in Acts 3:7-8 is simply amazing. What great power “the name of Jesus” is! At that moment, I’m sure that the man finally realized that to know the Lord Jesus Christ is far better than to have all the money in the world. He asked for “money” but he got far better, namely, healing in the name of Jesus. No wonder he “walking, jumping and praising God” (4:9). Begging-helpless voice now had turned into shout of praises. The people there “were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him” (v.10). No doubt!

Two things I learned from this text: #1 Jesus is the wisest prayer we can ever ask for. This man asked for what he thought the best he can possibly have – money, but instead he got better – Jesus. Jesus is more precious than silver and gold. When we asked for a certain thing [this man was simply asked, I think that’s the key: Ask], God may give us something else better than what we wanted at first. We must trust His wisdom, love and power whenever we pray. Ask; and #2 Jesus’ name bring complete spiritual healing to those who believe. I know that the man was physically healed and I’m not trying to ‘spiritualize’ this text. But this man’s healing was a good example of how God rescues us from our sin: 1) The man was totally hopeless since the beginning; 2) The healing took place by a direct word of command in the name of Jesus; 3) The healing was instantaneous, not gradual; 4) The healing was permanent, not partial or temporary; and 5) The healing was not in secret but was publicly acknowledge – this is the saving power of God!

Because of these two lessons I learned, I say this poor lame beggar is rich in the Kingdom of God. Surely, Peter and John preached the prosperity Gospel!

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Simple Book Review: To Explain the World (The Discovery of Modern Science)

To Explain The World: The Discovery of Modern Science (2015) by Steven Weinberg

Weinberg hope to answer these questions in his book [very ambitious, but he tried]: How did we come to understand the world? How did we learn physics and astronomy? Matter and poetry? Music and mathematics? Motion and philosophy? And the connection and influence (or not) of science and religion? “I chose ‘Discovery’ instead of ‘Invention’,” writes Weinberg, “to suggest that science is the way it is not so much because of various adventitious historic acts of invention, but because of the way nature is.” This book is divided into 4 parts: 1) Greek Physics, 2) Greek Astronomy, 3) The Middle Ages, and 4) The Scientific Revolution, and about 90+ pages of technical notes such as Thales’ Theorem, The Pythagorean Theorem, Irrational Numbers, Terminal Velocity, The Theory of the Rainbow, etc. Don’t assume that I know all of these things (I wish I can!) but it is such an amazing read to try to understand how the universe work!

Here are some of interesting knowledge that I want to share with you: #1 Thales, one of the first philosophers of ancient Greek claimed that everything is made of water. Then, Anaximander identified it as a mysterious substance he called the unlimited, or infinite. Anaximenes then came out with air, and Heraclitus assumed it was fire. Empedocles thought of all matter is composed not of one but of four elements – water, air, earth and fire. But Democritus finally claimed that all matter consists of tiny indivisible particles called atoms that moving in empty space. Wow! [Btw, now we know better that an atom is not the smallest matter nor nucleus nor proton nor electron but quark. And an atom is about 99.99999% empty space!];

#2 It seem that the rise of religion had something to do with the decline of original work in science. “Once one invokes the supernatural, anything can be explained, and no explanation can be verified.” I agree to some extent; #3 What excite me is that many theologians of the middle ages were also scientists!; and #4 The author claims that Isaac Newton was the climax of the scientific revolution. I simply love this one chapter The Newtonian Synthesis. John Maynard known to write, “Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind which looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10,000 years ago.” He learned Latin and theology, arithmetic and geometry, a little Greek and Hebrew, and he began his education with Aristotle’s works. He wrote many books in which none can match the history of physical science, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) or shortly known as Principia Mathematica. Here are some quotes on Newton by his friends:

“Then ye who now on heavenly nectar fare,
Come celebrate with me in song the name
Of Newton, to the Muses dear; for he
Unlocked the hidden treasuries of Truth:
So richly through his mind had Phoebus cast
The radius of his own divinity,
Nearer the gods no mortal may approach.”


“Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night;
God said, ‘Let Newton be!’ And all was light.”

Overall, I learned so much from this book. I have to study some of the subjects in the internet and YouTube for illustrations and imaginations. I recommend this book to any curious readers out there who love science!
[P.s: Since I admires Albert Einstein more than Isaac Newton, I was amused when I read this additional two more lines on the praise of Newton many years later, “It did not last: the Devil howling ‘Ho, Let Einstein be,’ restored the status quo.” :P]

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Simple Book Review: Isaac Newton (Giants of Science)

Giants of Science: Isaac Newton (2006) by Kathleen Krull

What qualities best characterize Isaac Newton? How about secretive, vindictive, withdrawn, obsessive and – most definitely – genius! This book give a compelling portrait of Newton, the bitter-sweet contradictions and all, but nevertheless a story about a man who was and is known as the greatest scientist of all time. He was born on January 1642 (some say 1643) as a premature infant “so tiny that no one expected him to make it,” writes Krull. His father died three months earlier before he was born, his mother deserted him (married again) and he was under the care of his grandparents until he went to Grantham Grammar School and soon entered Cambridge University. As youngster, he was known as absent-minded and unsociable. “From childhood on, much of his time was spent silent and alone. Thinking. Always thinking.” Many biographers assume that Newton suffered a mental illness known as bipolar (or manic depressive).

Newton was very curious and inventive. In young age he learned about herbs, studied Greek and Hebrew, logic, arithmetic, geometry, Biblical studies, very skilful with his hands, experimenting with kite (he don’t consider it as playing kite though), creating a miniature windmill, studying the sun, the moon, the planets and the rivers, taught himself about catching birds, melting metal, making fireworks, learn how to draw, experimenting with sheep’s blood to make inks, drying herbs and berries to make portions, etc. As he grow older, he have massive appetite for physics, astronomy and mathematics. In fact, to figure out some scientific explanations, he invented a new branch of math called calculus as we know it today [And invented a better telescope to study astronomy and popularizing “the scientific method” to the world of science]. Once, he almost blinded his eyes when he looked straight to the sun and poking his eye ball with needle to study optics and colours.  

Newton loves to read books. He devoured books by Plato, Aristotle, John Milton, Nicolaus Copernicus, John Bate, Galileo Galilei, Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes, his own lecturer, Isaac Barrow, and many more. The only man that I can think of being so curious to study everything is Leonardo da Vinci. “I never knew him to take any recreation or pastime either in riding out to take the air, walking, bowling, or any other exercise whatever,” witnessed his assistant, “thinking all hours lost that was not spent in his studies.” Here are some sad things about Newton: he have very few friends (maybe close to none), very sensitive to people’s criticisms (such as from Robert Hooke’s), and probably never had any, in his lifetime, serious relationships with anyone (people sometime accused him as homosexual, but I don’t think so).

But all of these pale in comparison with his greatest success namely, the creation of his chief work, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica also simply known as Principia Mathematica or Mathematical Principles explaining elliptical orbits, the gravitational force and more. His second great book is Opticks which mainly deals with the property of light. Because of these ingenious discoveries, John Locke, English philosopher, thought of him as a god. Alexander Pope, a poet composed, “Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night; God said, ‘Let Newton be!’ and all was light.” In later years, he became obsessed with alchemy, especially “the processes by which one substance changes into another” (maybe due to the fabled Philosophers’ Stone which was believed to have the power to turn worthless metals into gold). This is somewhat weird interest of his.

What amazed me, even though he is the physicist of the physicists, he believes in the existence of God. God was never out of Newton’s genius mind. Krull writes nothing he discovered ever shock his faith. “In the absence of any other proof,” Newton claimed, “the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence” [Btw, he doesn’t believe in the Trinity, only God the Father]. Because of his faith, no surprise he was also obsessed in the interpretation of Biblical passages, especially, with the idea of the end of the world [Newton predicted that year 2060 is the end of the world. Very safe prediction indeed]. So many things I learned from this book, too much that I may bore you, but let Newton end this review on himself:

I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

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