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Tuesday, February 23 2016

"By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God's command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen." (Hebrews 11:3 NLT)

University of Cambridge theoretical physicists recently simulated how a  ring-shaped black hole could cause Einstein’s theory of relativity to break down. Ring-shaped black holes were “discovered” in 2002.  Now their dynamics have been successfully simulated using supercomputers. Should this type of black hole form, they say it would lead to a“naked singularity", causing equations behind general relativity to break down.

Einstein’s theory—the foundation of modern physics—tells us that matter warps its surrounding spacetime. Gravity is the name we give to the effect of that warp. Understanding of gravity forms the basis of the estimation of the age of the stars and GPS signals we rely on to help us navigate.

Relativity theory has been accepted as absolutely true for the last century. But now physicists admit one of its limitations is the existence of singularities--points in space and time where gravity is so intense that the laws of physics do not apply.

General relativity predicts that singularities exist at the center of black holes. Those black holes are surrounded by an event horizon--the "point of no return" where gravitational pull is so strong that escape is impossible (meaning they cannot be observed from the outside). A Cambridge researcher stated that as long as singularities stay hidden behind an event horizon, general relativity holds. Theoretical physicists believe this is always the case, because of what they name "cosmic censorship conjecture.”

But what if a singularity existed outside an event horizon? It would be visible from the outside and would represent an object that has collapsed to an infinite density, a state causing laws of physics to break down. Theoretical physicists hypothesize that such a thing, called a naked singularity, might exist in higher dimensions. We think of the universe as existing in 3 dimensions, plus a fourth dimension of time, together referred to as spacetime. But in some branches of theoretical physics, the universe could be made up of as many as 11 dimensions, which are inferred in high energy experiments.

If naked singularities exist, physicists admit that the theory of general relativity breaks down. If general relativity breaks down, it would throw everything upside down, because it would no longer have any predictive power and would no longer be considered a standalone theory to explain the universe.

It is evident that Christians are not the only ones who live by faith. Theoretical physicists research on the basis of theories, prediction, and conjecture. Supercomputers simulate theories. Einstein’s equations are based on theory. Einstein said, "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere."

Here are a few questions for the researchers. If singularities and event horizons cannot be observed from the outside, how can we know for sure they actually exist? What force designed “cosmic censorship”? Does the predictability of the universe not lend credence to the existence of God? Why do some scientists ridicule Christians who believe in the unseen God, while they conduct research on the basis of what cannot be observed? Since no one can demystify the cosmos, is it not wise to worship its Creator? Does the fundamental principle of quantum physics ("First you believe, then you see") not indicate scientists also operate by faith?

In our humanity, we should be humble to the point of admitting our ignorance before the omnipotent and omniscient Creator. Einstein said, "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind. That deep emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God."

"Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together." (Colossians 1:15-17 NLT)

Johnny R. Almond

Interim Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church; Fredericksburg, Virginia


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Wednesday, February 17 2016

Syria -- Sadness without Solution?

“As he was approaching Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him.”

(Acts 9:3 NLT)

After five years of devastating civil war in Syria, the same old sad pattern of despair drags on. Talks do not solve the tragedy. Words do not end the war. Diplomacy does not stop the dying.  

The Munich Security Conference has scheduled a “cessation of hostilities” brokered by the United States and Russia. This is supposed to happen by the end of the week, but combat is only intensifying.

The agreement requires opposition groups to stop fighting, but allows the assault on Aleppo to continue for another week. It permits Russia to keep bombing rebels opposing Syrian President Assad. Senator John McCain says this is “diplomacy in the service of military aggression.”

Many doubt that the cease fire will hold, considering the dominant role of Russian airstrikes. Syrian government and Kurdish forces, under cover of Russian air strikes, are encircling the eastern half of Aleppo, which is under rebel control. Since Assad’s authoritarian regime has ruthlessly murdered over two hundred thousand of his own people, it is difficult to imagine peace as long as he is in power. Millions of refugees are fleeing their homes, feeling they have no other choice if they are to save their lives.  

Monday morning, a children’s hospital and school in northern Syria were struck by missiles thought to be delivered by Russian planes, killing 14 people. Later in the day, a Doctors without Borders hospital in northern Syria was hit by four rockets, killing nine doctors and workers and leaving five staff members unaccounted for.

News reports indicate ISIS is using chemical weapons against its enemies. Saudi Arabia is poised to enter the fray, using its military jets to fight Islamic State militants. Turkey and Qatar are considering deploying ground troops. Turkish artillery is attacking Syrian government forces. Mercy Corps, an humanitarian aid group, is frustrated trying to deliver food to residents in besieged cities. An American State Department official described all this as “a confused situation.” Indeed.

Syria (Aram, “the high land” in Hebrew), about the size of Scotland, is mentioned over 150 times in Scripture, mostly in the context of war. Abraham, on his way from Mesopotamia to the Promised Land, lived in Syria temporarily. Balaam, hired to curse Israel, called Syria home. David subdued Damascus. Israelite kings Joash and Jehoash managed victories over Syria’s rulers. Syria has been governed in turn by Assyria, Pharaoh Necho, Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Seleucus, Rome, Persia, the Turks, Crusaders. Saladin, Tamerlane, the Ottoman Empire, Bonaparte, and Turkey. In 1868, Syria was attacked by the Druses, who killed 12,000 people and destroyed hundreds of villages.

The current fighting is supposed to cease by week’s end. Will the pandemonium give way to peace? Will suffering people “living in a land where death casts its shadow” see a great light? (Isaiah 9:2)

Luke mentions that when Jesus was born, Quirinius governed Syria. Matthew refers to Isaiah’s prophecy concerning God’s Servant who will bring justice to the nations, one whose name will be the hope of all the world (Matthew 12:17-21). On the road to Damascus, Saul was transformed into Paul—emissary for One able to bring peace to human hearts, a peace he himself experienced.   

Damascus, reputedly the oldest continuously existing city in the world, serves as capital to Syria, a country that has known very little tranquility. Followers of the Prince of Peace pray that diplomats attempting to negotiate cease-fires in that perpetual war zone will discern a light from heaven—illuminating their minds with wisdom to broker more than a temporary truce. Believers in the One whose name is above all other names hope God will speed the day when Christ rules heaven on earth from the capital of the new Jerusalem—the long-awaited time when the world’s government will rest on his shoulders and finally there is lasting peace in a world for so long heartbroken by war.  


Johnny R. Almond

Interim Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church; Fredericksburg, Virginia


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Wednesday, February 10 2016

"May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace." (Numbers 6:24-26 NLT)

In the name above all other names we are blessed beyond words with lavish provision—life, health, spouse, children, friends, and heaven. The Lord spangles our nights with constellations, not just single stars. He fills our life with blessing after blessing, not just an occasional token. He designs our days with hours for celebration, not merely a moment of joy once in a while. Enjoying God’s gifts, we experience true prosperity—so we live thankfully.

In the name above all other names we are blessed with round-the-clock protection. Our Savior watches over us 24/7 and holds us in omnipotent hands. Overshadowing us with wings of unfailing love, Christ guards us from dark forces intent on our destruction—so we live trustingly.  

In the name above all other names we are blessed with God’s pleasure. Our Heavenly Father blesses us by his friendly smile, always looking favorably on us; He blesses us by his encouraging smile, shining graciously on us; He blesses us by his smile of approval, rewarding us at mile markers of progress—so we live triumphantly.

In the name above all other names we are blessed with the Lord’s pardon. Through Jesus’ death in our place, we have mercy and eternal significance. We could not live without him; we are glad we do not have to. Honest to God, we are forgiven—so we live transparently.

In the name above all other names we are blessed with dependable promises. Pessimists size up the world situation as hopeless; but with eyes of the heart we detect faint rays of the dawning of heaven’s bright future. When paradise is restored, we will realize peace was not achieved because of military or political strategies, but because God kept his Word. We trust the God who cannot lie—so we live tenaciously.

In the name above all other names we are blessed with perfect peace—heaven’s enduring gift, not the world’s temporary high. This peace of mind defies explanation and definition, but we experience it as we focus our thoughts on the Prince of peace. Because of Jehovah’s benediction, we are at ease—so we live tranquilly.

Johnny R. Almond

Interim Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church; Fredericksburg, Virginia


This devotion based on Day 79 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Posted by: Pastor Almond AT 10:09 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, February 04 2016

“If any of the people betray the Lord by doing wrong to another person, they are guilty. They must confess their sin and make full restitution for what they have done, adding a penalty of 20 percent and returning it to the person who was wronged.” (Numbers 5:6-7 NLT)

Crime against humanity is sin against God. When we wrong others, we also wrong their Creator. When we break faith with people, we break faith with God. When we are uncaring toward people, we are unfaithful to Love.

The result is guilt. Our heart is heavy. The sky is dark. Our soul aches with regret for having hurt others and remorse for having trespassed against God.

God forgives us not because we deserve it, but because we desperately need it. When we confess our wrongdoing, our Heavenly Father cleanses our hearts. At his mercy, we experience joy. Heaven’s miracle of redemption enables us to survive moral catastrophes. Storm clouds vanish and the sun shines again.

Then the Holy Spirit prompts us to do more than apologize—to search for ways to set matters right and improve our relationships. We should allow our transformed internal life to show in our external fairness and honesty in dealing with others. 

Here’s how we can make it up to people we have wronged—make up for not listening by loving, for rudeness by reaching out, for inattention by interest, for impatience by investment, for criticism by caring, for hurting by helping, for being distant by kindness, for grudging by gentleness, for exasperating by encouraging, for stealing by sharing, for selfishness by serving.

The Lord Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our wronging God—so we can relax. We pay the penalty for wronging others—then we can be at ease.


Johnny R. Almond

Interim Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church; Fredericksburg, Virginia


This devotion based on Day 78 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Posted by: Pastor Almond AT 10:20 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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    420 Enon Road | Fredericksburg, VA 22406 | PH: 540.371.4124