Taste & Hear to Discern Good & Evil

Our five senses should inspire us to be thankful
to our glorious Creator for their amazing design and function.

“Awakening of the senses is important
to appreciation of life itself”—French Culture Minister Jack Lang.
With their input, our Spirit in Man better
“knows the things of a man” (1 Cor. 2:11).

More important, the Holy Spirit unites with our Spirit in Man
so we can know “the things of God.”
God wants “those who by reason of use
have their senses exercised
to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14).

Taste

has been downplayed as “the poor cousin of the five senses.”  Taste buds look like microscopic rosebuds and function as a chemical process.  They are scattered throughout the oral cavity rather than being just on the tongue.

Haagen-DazsThose of you who love ice cream might be surprised to hear that, as food must be liquefied before real taste occurs, so the creamy treat is pretty tasteless until it melts in the mouth.  Then a sweet-taste receptor transmits a minute electrochemical current via cranial nerves to the gustatory terminals in the brain.  The brain’s analysis:  YUM!

Interestingly, the Hebrew word da’at meaning “knowledge,” used 90 times in the Old Testament, serves up a double entendre:  “taste.”

Adam & Eve 2So in Gen. 2:9 about “the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” Adam and Eve disobeyed and tasted its fruit!  Comments Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words:  “In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of the tree whose fruit if eaten would give them the experience of evil and, therefore, the knowledge of good and evil.”  Maybe the place should have been called the Garden of Eatin’!

Heb. 6:4-5 cooks up a spiritual warning:  “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away.”

Hopefully we have had our fill of the false chef’s world (2 Cor. 4:4) and can’t stomach it any more! (Rev. 18:4).

Hearing

Nadal
Recently I couldn’t wait to watch highlights from Rafael Nadal’s 11th French Open tennis victory.  But though other videos had proper sound, nothing on his!  He’d reach for a corner shot and no sound of rubber squeaking on the clay court.  A full stadium but no crowd noise.  Nadal would bounce the ball about 20 times before serving and no sound of impact.   True, there were no annoying grunts like even some pros do on every hit, but as much as I wanted to watch the great action sequences, I couldn’t stand hearing nothing!  I quicky turned it off.

For the first time in my 67 years, I felt some insight into how a deaf person might experience life we take for granted.   Only they can’t afford to turn it off or ignore it.

If we stop listening to God, it leads to withdrawal from His way of life.  Woe if we become “dull of hearing”! (Heb. 5:11).  It’s not talking about decibels.

“I Am Joe’s Body,” by J.D. Radcliff, the most successful series ever printed in the history of Reader’s Digest, called “the flap of tissue on the side of the head … a triumph of miniaturization.  Nowhere in his body is so much crammed into so small a space.”  The outer ear is “nothing but a sound gathering trumpet.”  Maybe you feel like yours is a tuba!

The ear canal has “a profusion of hairs and 4,000 wax glands act[ing] as a flypaper trap for insects, dust and other potential irritants” and guarding against infection.  We must listen for spiritual pollutants in music, movies, YouTube and social media.

To give a flavor of how intricately designed an ear is, in the middle ear, three tiny bones called the anvil, hammer and stirrup amplify sound-bearing waves from the eardrum 22 times.  The auditory nerve contains more than 30,000 circuits.  The ear hears, but the brain unscrambles the data into meaningful sound.

Few realize that our sense of hearing is on automatic pilot to keep us balanced, lest we get dizzy or topple over.  To my wife Mary’s delight, her new hearing aids not only restored her hearing but stopped her getting dizzy going around corners in the car, which she has suffered all her life.  Now I can drive as fast as I want!

Merritt B. Jones in is book Speak, Listen, Communicate:  “Listening is sometimes confused with hearing.  They are not synonymous.  Hearing is the perception of sound … listening implies conscious attention to sounds for the purpose of identification or understanding.  Listening is active.

The average student is engaged in some form of communication 70% of his conscious ours, broken down:  45% listening, 30% talking, 18% reading, 9% writing.  Of 20 skills needed for management, listening is ranked #1.

So “be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19).

Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice … and they follow Me” (John 10:27).

Because Job responded to God’s correction in Chapters 38-39, God was able to continue on in Job 40 which meant more growth for Job.  As the Matthew Henry Commentary put it so well:  “Those who daily receive what they have heard from God, and profit by it, shall hear more from Him ‘not to catch at comfort too soon!'”  God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable!

James 1:22, 25 sums up what our hearing means spiritually:  “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves…. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

Exercise taste and hearing to discern good and evil

Temptation AdYes, we must want God’s way so bad we can taste it.   David and Daniel prayed three square meals a day (Psa. 55:17, Dan. 6:10).  “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).  Reject spiritual junk food and harmful empty calories.

Yes, we must schma—hear, O Israel to the extent of listening, heeding and obeying.  We must prioritize God’s instructions over all the distorting noise.   Spiritual balance is a must.

Let’s come to our senses!

Next and last post in this three-part series,
we’ll take a look at seeing, touching and smelling.

Part 3:  Now See Here, Touch & Smell to Discern Good & Evil
Part 1:  What’s It Mean:  Exercise Our Senses to Discern Good & Evil

world map 64 countries final

What’s It Mean: Exercise Our Senses to Discern Good & Evil?

I’ve always dreamed of having a real mountain stream running through my property.

On my bedroom wall hangs

An amazing picture

of a roaring river.  And you hear the roar!  Cardinals and bluejays sing.  Insects chirp.  The water looks like it’s flowing mightily on down a waterfall.

I think there’s a belt looping inside the frame, but I have no idea how it makes the water look like it’s flowing so realistically.  I don’t know how a human could create and market a more realistic river.  Too bad WordPress free version won’t let me upload the video.

Poudre RiverBut my wall river can’t compare with camping out this past weekend next to the Poudre River west of Ft. Collins and filling up my senses at the Mountain Park campground.

As soon as I pitch our tent in the site closest to the river where the roar is the loudest, I hurry on down to my spot on the riverbank to begin my annual therapy and give God glory for His marvelous creation.

Heb. 5:14 writes about “those who by reason of use

Have their senses exercised

to discern both good and evil.”

♦   Our five senses of taste, hearing, seeing, touch and smell are incredible testimonies of our Creator—and should inspire us to thankfulness!
♦   Exercising our senses enhances life physically.
♦   Exercising our senses has spiritual applications in the Bible.

In verse 11 Paul laments his readers becoming “dull of hearing.”  He wasn’t talking about decibels!  In verse 12, he writes “For though by this time you ought to be teachers … you have come to need milk and not solid food.”  They were not tasting and eating spiritually like they should.

We want to know God, and our senses are designed to help us.  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words writes of “the knowing which comes through experience with the senses, by investigation and proving, by reflection and consideration (firsthand knowing).”

French Culture Minister Jack Lang noted, “Awakening of the senses is important to appreciation of life itself.    Body, soul and senses, they’re all part of the learning process.  Food appreciation is part of the enjoyment of life.”

And a huge part of a campout!  And at the core of God’s Holy Days—called Feasts!

The Bible urges its readers to hospitality

“And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had … they shared their meals with great generosity” (Acts 2:44-46).  We’ve all experienced how much more you really get to know somebody when you are invited to their home and share in how God blesses them.

Fellowshipping and sharing meals!  The tastes!  The savory smells!

As I sat by the Poudre River, I gave my full attention to unleashing all five senses.

Temptation AdMountain bluejays darted and zoomed like Air Force jets just above the waves.  A whirring copter sound drew my eyes to a hummingbird.  We assume their 80 flaps per minute are up and down, but with a closer look we might observe their figure eight motion.  A tawny bird lands about 10 feet away on a boulder—such a plain color I’d hardly ooh over, until he started twerking better than Miley Cyrus ever thought of!  He’d jump to a nearby rock and stage another show.

But for sheer awe, while watching two hawks glide and soar so effortlessly, suddenly one flew straight toward me, albeit about 50 feet above.  I looked up and just as he was overhead, the other hawk arrived from the opposite direction and they do-si-do’ed!

Wow!  Our senses make us alive!  We need to come to our senses!  God said His creation was “good” so perhaps the biggest way to exercise our senses to discern good from evil is to exalt our Creator!

In the second post of this three-part series,
we’ll look at our senses of taste and hearing in detail

for how they glorify their Creator
and enhance appreciation of life both physically and spiritually.

world map 64 countries final

 

 

You Don’t Have to Be a Preteen to Want “God’s Vision for You”

Mary and I just returned from serving on staff at the 9th Camp Colorado for preteens, held June 17-20 at a beautiful camp resort in Allenspark, Colorado.  The theme was “God’s Vision for You.”

Here I will recap the spiritual Compass Check & Christian Living messages that were presented to the preteens, which would be good for anyone of any age to heed.

Camp Director Mark Welch pointed out some of the marvels of God’s creation and asked the preteens whom He had designed and created it for.   For them!  And us!  David (Psalm 8) and Paul (Heb. 2) said we were created to inherit “all things” which is often translated “the universe.”

Visualize your future family and kingdom

Jorge deCampos challenged the preteens to visualize the future and pursue it.  God is preparing us to be in His royal family to serve under Jesus Christ in His coming Kingdom on earth.    How fitting that campers wore royal blue shirts.

Around the campfire, Oliver Hooser explained how James said the tongue is like a fire and needs to be used for good.  Our words are so important.

Matthew McDonald said camp is wonderful because all around are those who have the same vision as you and inspire you to pursue it.  He introduced a new word “emulate” and challenged the preteens to emulate God the Father and Jesus Christ our Brother.  During his talk, suddenly the entire audience jumped up and dashed for the windows to see a moose sauntering across the meadow!  Broose the Moose never attracted such attention.

Dr. Marty Henderson, a veterinarian, explained that he has never seen an animal self-conscious.  God made us that way in hopes we will choose agape love—a unselfish outgoing concern even if it has to be at our own expense.

I shared the story of Samuel, a young man who stayed obedient and respectful to his parents and his elders (Eli the priest), and He answered God’s calling.  Each day, however many God gives us, we need to respond to God:  “Lord, your servant is listening.”  Not just hearing but listening and then heeding!

A corollary is to ask God each day, “What would you like me to do to serve You today?”

If you’d like a prayer answered

Samuel was born and named (meaning “heard of God”) as a result of his mother Hannah fulfilling the major ingredient the Bible gives to have our prayers answered.  She pleaded with God for a son she could dedicate to God’s service.  James 5:16 promises:  “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  God doesn’t want vain repetition or sleepy-time prayers.  He wants us to talk from the heart.

Dr. Natalie Englebart-Hooser challenged the teens to have God’s perspective.   For a natural prop she referred preteens to look out the window at Mt. Meeker, the second highest summit in Rocky Mountain National Park.  At “only” 13,916 feet, it doesn’t quite measure up to Colorado’s 58 “14ers”—the most of any state.

Dr. Englebart talked about how we make a Mt. Meeker out of a molehill.   We should ask, “I wonder what God thinks about my problem.”  He promises to move our mountains (Matt. 17:20) and cast them into the sea.  In faith we should already hear the splash!

Walk on My high heels

Sometimes God helps us scale our mountains.   He promises to never leave or forsake us.   He promises to give us sure-footedness when we walk on “high hills” (Hab. 3:19).  She got a big laugh when she accidentally said “high heels”!

When we get to the summit, we can look all around and better see God’s perspective of our problems.

Mr. Welch closed out camp by reminding the preteens that “the reason you’re here is you’re loved by God and others.”  To fulfill God’s vision for us, one of the most important keys is to be thankful.

I suspect 81 preteens, parents and staff were thankful to have gone to Camp Colorado this year and are planning to return next year.

world map 64 countries final

 

Just Got Off Noah’s Ark

Ark full lengthBroose the Moose here, just back from Noah’s Ark!

I know an expert on the search for the real Noah’s Ark who believes the “mountains of Ararat” are in modern Iran and he’s planning to travel over there in about a year to find it.  I’ll settle for this amazing replica.

Back in 2325 B.C. God called for the animals to gather two by two and board the Ark.  It was a small price to avoid distinction.

Mary and I felt an irresistible urge to drive to Williamstown, Kentucky to see the Ark Encounter.   We already knew the admission, and $38 apiece for a senior citizen plus $10 parking didn’t seem like the end of the world.  We spent way more than that to get there and back from Colorado!  Like the antediluvian trek, this was going to be a one-time boarding!

The Ark Encounter aims to be

An exact replica of Noah’s

Honestly, I don’t comprehend cubits any better than metrics.  All of the stats about the volume went in one of my big ears and out the other.

ark frontBut that baby was big!  Three decks high!  510 feet long, 85 feet wide, 51 feet high!   I’ve heard it described as the size of a modern ocean liner.

But don’t get carried away!  You won’t on this boat!  It wasn’t designed to float.  Propping up the aft are buildings that provide electricity and modern amenities to keep tourists happy.

Replicas were shown of “arks” from the major flood myths—and their obvious fatal design and flaws that would mean none of us are here to give thanks that God’s instructions work and we must faithfully follow them like Noah and his family did!

The most interesting part to me was seeing the enactment of how Noah, his wife, three sons and their wives could have taken advantage of mechanical means and gravity to make it way easier to care for the 7,000 animals (about 875 animals for each crew member).

All “kinds” of room

A key factor is that Noah’s Ark housed Bible kinds (families) rather than specific species.  So alas, there was no moose on board ‘sides me, but seven pairs of deer who would later breed into one.

An interesting theory is that God would have “herded” in a Mickey Rooney giraffe in the most healthy condition rather than a Wilt the Stilt one to accomplish the same survival result in less space.  Maybe that was true for the eight sailors!  So Randy Newman could later sing his big hit.  The Bible doesn’t say, except not believing the Bible is the height of folly.

Mrs. Noah

The Bible names the four men but doesn’t name the women.  The Ark Encounter admits that it’s speculation but gives them names and pleasing images to make it more interesting for the tourists.

Mrs. NoahSome speculate that Noah’s wife was named Barthenos.  The Book of Jasher says Naamah, but it’s considered a forgery.  The Ark Encounter likes calling her Emzara (from The Book of Jubilees) and named their restaurant after her.  Emzara may mean “ancestor of Sarai.”

I think I’d go with Emzara over Joan of Arc.

The Ark Encounter features interesting exhibits showing the folly of evolution.  It promotes “Young Earth” 6,000 years creation, meaning dinosaurs had to be housed on the Ark.  The Ark seems spacious enough with the dinosaurs, so for those of us believing the “creation” 6,000 years ago was actually a re-creation and the dinosaurs had vanished sometime before—talk about roomy!   Noah didn’t start the small house movement, but he did know layout efficiency and cages.

My favorite exhibit was a video of Ham—the Ken one who heads up Answers in Genesis and the Ark Encounter—debating Bill Nye the non-science guy on one specific point about Greenland ice dating.

Like we found at the new Bible Museum in Washington, D.C. when we visited a month ago, people were excited and even thrilled to see the Ark Encounter promoting the truth of the Bible.   While there people treated each other kindly and patiently, noticeably better than in other public places.   Believing in God and the Bible promotes a higher level of golden rule living than evolutionary thinking.

Noah … the Flood … Jesus and Peter said they occurred.  Noah and family lived on the Ark for one year and 10 days.  Four hours helped bring them to life for me!  The Ark Encounter is the only way I’d want to experience it!

Funny, I think every visitor on the boat imagines himself on it along with Noah and his family.  But few consider that Noah was called the only righteous person alive on the earth then, a faithful preacher of righteousness for 120 years no doubt enduring unending derision for building a boat out in the middle of desert where it probably hadn’t rained on Methuselah!   Plus God spared his family.

It was special to ponder the Ark’s door that God Himself closed on the outside evil world so Noah didn’t have to shut out family, friends and neighbors.    Some speculate that Methuselah ended his 969 years clawing at the door!  Jesus is the only door for survival today (John 10:9).

“As it was in the days of Noah,

so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man (Matt. 24:37, New International Version).

Does Noah’s day (Gen. 6:5, 11) sound like our day?

“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).

Perhaps you’d like to read the chapter of What’s It All About?
covering Noah and the Flood
Chapter 14:  As in the Days of Noah

world map 64 countries final