Friday, July 13, 2018

The Gospel of Nitrogen

The Gospel of Nitrogen

Everything is made of molecules. Some are small and others bigger.
Some are simple and others complex. Proteins are very large and
complex molecules. Proteins are made out of smaller molecules called
amino acids, and Nitrogen is an essential part of all amino acids.
However, nitrogen as a part of an amino acid is an atom. All
molecules are made out of atoms. Other molecules that contain nitrogen
are all nucleic acids (which provide energy and genetic information),
and most plant pigments involved in photosynthesis. Which implies
that plants need lots of nitrogen. The most common component of
plant fertilizers is, in fact, one of two forms of nitrogen - nitrate
(NO3-) or ammonium (NH4+) ions—both usable forms of nitrogen for
plants.

With a concentration of about 78 percent, nitrogen gas comprises the
largest component of earth's atmosphere. It has at least a million
times more nitrogen than found in all living systems combined. The bad
news is that all of this atmospheric nitrogen consists of molecules of
N2 — that is, two atoms of nitrogen bound tightly together by, what
chemists call, three strong covalent bonds. Unfortunately, it takes a
great deal of energy to break the triple bond. Because plants can't
use molecular nitrogen (N2), nitrogen has to transform into one of the
two absorbable ions. When you break the bonds between the molecular
nitrogen, each nitrogen ion is open to attract and attach other atoms
and form different molecules. So, before the nitrogen can bond with
other elements like oxygen or hydrogen it has to become an ion itself.
Let us try to reiterate: the two nitrogen atoms are attracted to each
other, very strongly. Once bonded the nitrogen atoms cannot bond with
anything else unless that bond is broken. When the bond is broken,
the nitrogen will have open spaces to bond with other ions. Now,
notice that the symbol for nitrate has a negative sign and the
ammonium has a positive sign, this is why they are called ions and not
molecules. Both nitrate and ammonium have open spaces to bond as
well.

Back to nitrogen: it requires a lot of energy to break nitrogen's
triple bond. In His wisdom, the Creator provided several ways to
convert atmospheric molecular nitrogen into usable forms that will
dissolve in water so that plant roots can absorb it. The immense
energy of lightning easily breaks triple nitrogen bond, turning it
into nitrates and washing it down in the rain of a good thunderstorm.
Have you noticed how green your lawn is after a lightning strikes?
Even more critical, many types of bacteria convert nitrogen from one
form to another. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria convert atmospheric nitrogen
to the more plant-friendly ammonium ion (though it is toxic in large
concentrations). Other bacteria, called ammonifying bacteria, also
create the ammonium ion, but they do it by decomposition of plant and
animal matter. Check out the smell of your compost pile. It reeks of
ammonia. Fortunately, another family of bacteria called nitrifying
bacteria transforms the ammonium ion to the safer nitrates. (As you
might guess, the cycles are more complicated than what I am
describing.)

It is not uncommon for atoms in a "multi-atom" molecule to behave
differently than when they were a mono-atom molecule. As previously
mentioned, the bonds in molecules of compounds are very strong. The
atoms that compose the molecules now yield to one another. They work
as one. Whether, in ammonium or nitrate, nitrogen no longer behaves
as nitrogen. For example, water is not flammable. But, the two
elements that compose water – hydrogen, and oxygen - on their own are
very flammable.

This has a spiritual application. Let us go step by step. Before
conversion, the disciples could not bond. Before the crucifixion,
they were fighting for supremacy. That ceased after the ten days in
the upper chamber. Luke described what happened then, "And when the
day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one
place" (acts 2: 1). Ellen White describes the events in the following
quote,
"After Christ's ascension, His disciples--men of varied talents and
capabilities--assembled in an upper chamber to pray for the gift of
the Holy Spirit. In this room 'all continued with one accord in prayer
and supplication.' They made thorough work of repentance by confessing
their own sins. Upon them was laid no burden to confess one another's
sins. Settling all differences and alienations, they were of one
accord, and prayed with unity of purpose for ten days, at the end of
which time 'they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to
speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.' {7MR
94.4}

There was a definite change in them. This change was reflected in all
their followers: "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one
heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he
possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with
great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord
Jesus. And great grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:32, 33, NKJV).

What happened? When the Holy Spirit began working in them, He broke
their bond to Sin or self. It takes the mighty grace of God to do
this. Now, they have open space to bond with Christ and with each
other. Christ could not use the disciples in their natural state.
They had to become spiritual ions to be able to bond with other
spiritual atoms.

So, the disciples laid aside all their ambitions. Now instead of
fighting, they were convicted by the Holy Spirit to die to self. The
words of Paul became a reality in them: "…be not conformed to this
world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind," and do not
think more highly than he ought to think of himself (Romans 12: 2 –
3). God is waiting for us to let the Holy Spirit do the same work in
us.

Raul Diaz


Endnote: Portions of this commentary were taken from David A. Steen's
book "God of Wonders" page 235.


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Raul Diaz
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Friday, July 06, 2018

Witnessing

Witnessing

Matthew 12:41-44 related a story we've probably all heard. It says,

Matt. 12:41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the
people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
Matt. 12:42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two
mites, which make a farthing.
Matt. 12:43 And He called unto Him His disciples, and saith unto them,
Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all
they which have cast into the treasury:
Matt. 12:44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her
want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

What a lesson for us about witnessing. The poor widow's humble witness
still carries until this day the message of the Gospel. She loved God
supremely, and her neighbor as Christ loved her, and that is why she gave
all she had to the treasury. She gave quietly. Not one word was said. No
announcement was given. No press conference held. In fact, had it not been
for Christ pointing out her action, it would have been dismissed. She gave
witness to those who heard the story then, and to those who hear it now.

So is it our actions which give witness, or is it our words? Is it possible
to really give an accurate witness of what we've seen, heard and
understood, without both? Our fast paced and driven world loves the doers.
Yet, if you are an accurate witness, would you not be able (or enabled as
we shall see) to relay your experience in such a manner that others too
will see, hear and sense it? After all, what is the use of a witness
without a judicial system to utilize the testimony given?

Christ calls on all His sheep to give witness, a testimony as it were, to
His benevolence, and goodness, as well as to His character of Love-- to the
Universe. As well we know, the Godhead is the "One" on trial. If you were
in His cosmic shoes, would you not desire the truth to be told about you?
Of course, the master strategist, and "accuser of the brethren" desires a
false witness to corroborate his view of things, and so the battle ensues.
In order
not to be deceived into testifying to a lie, the believer--the true
witness-- needs power, for he is no match for the adversary. Hence Christ
advises His disciples (and us) in Acts 1:8:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and
ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in
Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Notice how the author worded the sentence. It does not say that we are to
do witnessing activities, such as hand out tracts, knock on doors or
ingather. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with these particular
activities. Instead, notice how the scripture stipulates that it is with
the Holy Spirit's power coming upon us that we shall be witnesses. Notice,
in the following verses, that the disciples were to wait together, in
prayer, for the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence, and power.

You know, there is a big difference between the concept of being - which is
an inside job - and that of doing which merely implies taking action. Today
there is such an emphasis on methods, techniques and numbers that we may
have forgotten how Christ won people to Himself. According to Sister White
as
quoted in our Sabbath School lesson recently, Christ mingled with men as
One who desired their good. It was not His method to make them feel good,
which is what is often interpreted from the quote, but instead desired that
they might be with Him eternally (John 14:1-6, John 3:16).

When we try to witness to others with our activity, most of the time they
will feel something is missing. Unless we demonstrate unconditional,
self-denying love for them -not to be confused with acceptance of their
ungodly attitudes and behavior- we shall be branded phony, insincere and
hypocritical. Haven't you ever met someone whom you sensed had an agenda,
and whose motives
were ulterior? Didn't you just want to get away from that person as quickly
as possible?

As much as we'd like to view Apostle Paul as the driven, go-getter
disciple, outside of John the beloved, it is he who discusses in depth the
love the follower of Christ will have through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
He not only describes it, but he also implores us to allow the Spirit to
give it to us by faith. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that
Paul was enabled to be all things to all people, and win them to Christ.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:
1 Cor. 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself
servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
1 Cor. 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the
Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain
them that are under the law;
1 Cor. 9:21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not
without law to God, but under the law to Christ) that I might gain them
that are without law.
1 Cor. 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am
made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
1 Cor. 9:23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker
thereof with you.

He did not mean by this that he was an Oscar-winning actor. Ellen White
says that he shaped His message to the person and the particular
circumstance, just as Christ did. The Spirit enabled Paul to be aware of
each person's needs, and prompted him with the content of the message
(gospel) as well as when and how to deliver it. Sister White adds that we
should be many-sided men (and women), not just having one approach for
everyone we meet. Being filled with the Spirit does not mean negating the
study of various
methods and techniques to win souls. On the contrary, it means being led by
the Spirit as to our target audience as well as what sources and timing to
use.

The Holy Spirit coming upon, and abiding in us bears fruit. Then we become
witnesses of what we have seen and heard, rather than a group of
individuals merely engaged in "doing" witnessing activity. While this does
not guarantee conversion, the truth about the character of the Godhead - as
that of
unconditional love, mercy, justice, and grace - will have been told by
those of us who love Him. The scripture says, " and they will know we are
His disciples because we embody His love." The question now is, will you
let the Spirit come upon you so you can become a witness?



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Raul Diaz
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