Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Oil Leak -- A Little Perspective

I'm a math person and the other day I heard someone compare the amount of oil spilled into the gulf to the comparable amount of oil it would be in a bathtub. I was skeptical of the numbers and since I love to work with numbers, I thought I would do my own calculation.
Now nothing about these findings should be construed to minimize the financial, emotional and environmental impact of this spill on the people in the gulf or the nation as a whole. Eleven lives were lost, thousands of jobs were lost, billions of dollars of economic damage has been inflicted and the environmental impact is huge. But nevertheless, there needs to be some perspective on the amount of oil which has leaked into gulf.
So here goes the math part. According to CNN on 7/28/10, the total amount of oil leaked was 220 million gallons. According to the website, the volume of the gulf of Mexico is 643 quadrillion gallons. That's 643 with 15 zeros after it.
Before I go on, we need a little math lesson for those who forgot their high school math. In order to keep from using such long numbers, I'm going to use notation that just tells us how far to move the decimal point one way or another. For example, instead of writing 220,000,000 for the number of gallons of oil, I'll use 2.2E8. That means, to see the actual number you would move the decimal point 8 places to the right and fill in zeros along the way. If the number after the E is negative, like this 5.1E-2, that means move the decimal to the left. In my example the number would actually be .051 because I had to move the decimal 2 places to the left.
So here goes the math. If you want to see the bottom line, go down to the very bottom. Otherwise follow along with me on my math and maybe you'll find I made a mistake along the way somewhere.

Amount of oil spilled =2.2E8 gallons
Water in gulf = 6.43E17 gallons
Water in my bathtub when filled to the brim = 22 in. x 15 in. x 50 in = 67 gallons

Fraction of oil in the gulf= 2.2E8 / 6.43E17 = 3.4E-10
Use that fraction to figure gallons of equivalent oil in the bathtub = 3.4E-10 x 67 gal = 2.3E-8 gal
Change that to quarts by multiplying by 4 because 4 quarts in a gallon = 9.1E-8 quarts
Change that to pints by multiplying by 2 = 1.8E-7
Change that to teaspoons by multiplying by 96 (there are 96 tsp in a pint) = 1.7E-5 tsp
Change that to drops by multiplying by 120 (there are about 120 drops in a tsp) = 2.1E-3 drops

That last number turned into a number you would recognize is .0021 drops of oil. That is about 2 thousandths of a drop! That means you take a drop of oil, divide it up into a 1000 little droplets and use 2 of those in your bathtub. That is how much oil proportionately has spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.

No wonder CNN is reporting that they can't find the oil.

Remember what I said at the outset. This in no way minimizes the impact that this spill has had on the lives and economies of people. But let's also remember how big the earth is and let's remember how big our God is that even though we have created a huge problem here, He has created a world that is capable of handling much of the abuse that we in our ignorance and sinfulness heap on it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jesus My Glory -- A Puritan Prayer

I came across this Puritan prayer this morning and thought it was worth sharing.

O Lord God,
Thou has commanded me to believe in Jesus; and I would flee to no other refuge, wash in no other fountain, build on no other foundation, receive from no other fullness, rest in no other relief.

His water and blood were not severed in their flow at the cross, may they never be separated in my creed and experiences;

May I be equally convinced of the guilt and pollution of sin, feel my need of a prince and saviour, implore of him repentance as well as forgiveness, love holiness, and be pure in heart, have the mind of Jesus, and tread in his steps.

Let me not be at my own disposal, but rejoice that I am under the care of one who is too wise to err, too kind to injure, too tender to crush.

May I scandalize none by my temper and conduct, but recommend and endear Christ to all around, bestow good on every one as circumstances permit, and decline no opportunity of usefulness.

Grant that I may value my substance, not as the medium of pride and luxury, but as the means of my support and stewardship.

Help me to guide my affections with discretion, to owe no many anything, to be able to give to him that needeth, to feel it my duty and pleasure to be merciful and forgiving, to show to the world the likeness of Jesus.

From the Valley of Vision, a Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, page 24

Monday, July 26, 2010

Memorization Monday - War a good Warfare

Ephesians 6:10, 11
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hymn of the Week -- Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above

Sing praise to God Who reigns above, the God of all creation,
The God of power, the God of love, the God of our salvation.
With healing balm my soul is filled and every faithless murmur stilled:
To God all praise and glory.

What God’s almighty power hath made His gracious mercy keepeth,
By morning glow or evening shade His watchful eye ne’er sleepeth;
Within the kingdom of His might, Lo! all is just and all is right:
To God all praise and glory.

The Lord is never far away, but through all grief distressing,
An ever present help and stay, our peace and joy and blessing.
As with a mother’s tender hand, God gently leads the chosen band:
To God all praise and glory.

Thus, all my toilsome way along, I sing aloud Thy praises,
That earth may hear the grateful song my voice unwearied raises.
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart, both soul and body bear your part:
To God all praise and glory.

Let all who name Christ’s holy Name give God all praise and glory;
Let all who own His power proclaim aloud the wondrous story!
Cast each false idol from its throne, for Christ is Lord, and Christ alone:
To God all praise and glory.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What is the Gospel? -- Part 4

We are working through a discussion of the question “What is the Gospel?” Earlier postings can be found here. We’ve been discussing the fact that for the gospel to be accepted as the good news that it is, we need to understand the depth of the problem that the gospel is meant to solve. If we don’t think we have a problem, then we won’t be very interested in hearing the solution and it won’t seem like good news to us.

I posted several articles relating to the depth of our sin problem. And then, because it’s hard to wade through so much negative news at once, I summarized in part 3 how God has provided an external righteousness for us to replace our unrighteousness.

Because of the fact that there is a tendency in our culture to look at ourselves as pretty good, it is necessary to continue the review of God’s assessment. It’s not a pretty picture so read at your own risk, keeping in mind the good news that I began to unfold for us last time.

Genesis 6:5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Psalm 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

Jeremiah 30:12 “For thus says the Lord: ‘Your affliction is incurable, Your wound is severe.

Matthew 15:18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.

Ephesians 2:1-3 you …were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

This represents a portion of those passages from the Bible that tell us of our predicament. This is why we need the grace of God and His gift of righteousness. We cannot produce it on our own and if we persist in offering God our own efforts as evidence on Judgment day, we will find ourselves being condemned because our own goodness can never measure up.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What is the Gospel? -- Part 3

Several weeks ago I started a series on the topic of “What is the Gospel?” You can access previous articles here. One of the difficulties in trying to explain why the gospel is such good news is that it’s important to understand the depth of the problem we have so that we will see that the Bible presents us with the only good news that will provide the solution we need. The difficulty in explaining the depth of the problem is that it is very depressing and it’s difficult wading through the bad news in order to get to the good news. So before we continue with God’s description of our predicament, maybe we should take a sneak peak at the good news God wants us to know.

Because God’s standards are so high and there is no way we can live up to them, God decided to provide us with the righteousness we need. This is what Paul refers to in Philippians 3:9 where he says that he wants to be “found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”

This is also what Paul is teaching us about in Romans 3:20ff. “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.”

God’s plan involves replacing our sinfulness with the righteousness of Christ. Our own goodness is not worth hanging on to. If we cling to our own righteousness, it will fall short of God’s expectations and we will end up being lost. But if we run to the Judge of the earth who has offered us His pardon, we will be given God’s righteousness as a gift, and that alone will meet God’s expectations on judgment day.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Memorization Monday -- Endure Hardness

Hebrews 12:3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Our Lord Prays for His Own

The book my wife and I are reading for our morning devotional is called, "Our Lord Prays for His Own" by Marcus Rainsford. It is a study of the Lord's prayer for His people in John 17. This morning's reading was based on John 17:6 "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word."

Here is what Rainsford writes:
How it must have amazed His disciples to hear such words! What a world of grace must have been opened out to their understanding! The Lord here reveals to them, and to us, the very secrets of His Father's heart. He opens to us all the purposes of the everlasting covenant, and points out the subjects and objects which it embraces. "Men" -- not angels, nor archangels -- but men, and sinners. "The men which you gave me"; the men--Your specially chosen and beloved ones among the sons and daughters of men. From whence were they taken? "Out of the world." It was not that they were better than others: they were "of the world"; they were "in the world"; they "had followed the course of this world"; they had been like the world, carried captive at his will by "the prince of this world"; blinded as to their understanding by the world and its glittering nothingness; guilty, "children of wrath even as others," condemned, enemies of God, no love for Him, no desire towards Him, no knowledge of Him; yet loved with an intensity that only God can be conscious of and given to the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved in Him with an everlasting salvation. "Thine they were, and thou gavest them to me." Seven times in this prayer Christ reminds His Father that He had given His people to Him.
Evidently He regarded this gift as the greatest proof of His Father's love to Him; even as the Holy Ghost teaches the believer to regard the gift of Christ as the greatest proof of our heavenly Father's love to us.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Everlasting Love

Last night at our men's Bible study at church, the teacher said that sometimes we struggle trying to do enough to make God love us more. He pointed out that if we are His children, God loves us as much as He loves Christ. He cannot love us more. And furthermore there is nothing we can do that will cause Him to love us less. Wow!

That made me think of a couple of verses.
In John 17:23 Jesus prayed, "I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." (Italics added)

Jeremiah 31:3 "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."