Missing Pieces

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1

Just read.

The sound of single gunshot in the bckyrd woke his fmily. The uncomfortble proximity lso bruptly pulled him wy from his erly-morning ptio coffee. Pushing his mug side he stepped cutiously to his fence nd peered into his neighbor’s yrd. There ws Joe lying on his lwn, with gun in his hnd. The 911 Opertor received two ner simultneous clls reporting   shooting.

Every death investigation first determines the cause: accident, suicide, or homicide. In this case, every piece of evidence suggested suicide. One piece, however, remained absent.

The investigation had gathered the elements needed to explain what happened that morning. But when you read a paragraph with a vowel omitted from use or assemble a jigsaw puzzle only to find one piece missing, you get frustrated . This kind of thing just gnaws at an investigator. While, in itself, a lack of evidence is not evidence, a casing does not get up and walk away by itself.

Analysis indicated a semi-automatic handgun fired the fatal shot. A spent casing would eject from the weapon. Yet several searches of the thick St. Augustine lawn, using varying search patterns and metal detectors, yielded no casing.

But the fictional super-detective Sherlock Holmes did say, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Further inquiry revealed the missing casing had indeed walked out—in the boot tread of a responding Emergency Medical Technician at the scene. Case solved. Thank you Sherlock!

I suppose it would be cool if a divine being divulged the secrets of every crime scene with clear, precise, no-pieces-missing detail when I walked in. That is not a reality I currently enjoy. Unless we blatantly refuse, most of us do have the ability to fill in the blanks and read the first paragraph.

I have worked several crime scenes in my career in which physical evidence was minimal. But the fact it wasn’t there was a fact. In training investigators to deal with frustration I use the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle. We have more than enough pieces of the puzzle to see what the picture is. Look for the missing piece but don’t get frustrated if you can’t find it. Sometimes it’s not humanly possible. Frustration only hinders other aspects of the job.

I could have obstinately refused to continue the investigation because one piece of missing evidence. The need for a new career would quickly follow the epic stupidity. But as in all choices, I could have. Instead, by using the God-given ability to reason, my capacity to analyze crime scenes increased. The gift to determine truth for myself grows with each scene I work.

Faith works in a similar manner. But in the exploration of faith, there is a Divine Being willing to walk us through the mysteries of creation pointing out clues in written scripture and personal revelation.

Most people desire a deep understanding of the truth in the universe around us. The Spirit of God plants a seed of faith deep inside us. We instinctively know something or someone exists beyond just us.

I am no different. But the reason I have the faith I do, as noted many times on this blog, is because I objectively investigated the statements and claims of the Holy Bible for myself. My faith in them has only grown. God has given me the investigative capacity for examining the clues He has provided, “no matter how improbable.”

This yearning to know drives the growing field of Christian apologetics. Christian apologetics has been around since Christianity began. The Apostle Paul adeptly defended his faith on Mars hill in the book of Acts. The field holds great importance because some refuse even the possibility of biblical truth. They fear a revelation and actively oppose it. Cultural dominance of social media and global connection makes a defense of our faith, with gentleness and respect, more important than ever.

As with the ability to read the first paragraph, God gives most people sufficient investigative ability in matters of faith. I am, as the writer of Hebrews 11:1 related, assured in my faith because the evidence I have found convicts me of the truth it reveals.

I have been blessed by being part of the book launch group for the revised and updated edition of: Evidence That Demands A Verdict by Josh and Sean McDowell. Evidence is a deep archive-level “bible” of Christian apologetic knowledge. Navigation through the greatest mysteries in existence could be greatly aided by this book. It might provide you with the missing pieces of  your  puzzle.  I encourage everyone to read it upon publication.

Please allow the same advise I give new Crime Scene Investigators. Just because you don’t have all the pieces to complete the picture puzzle at once, don’t get frustrated. You can enjoy the picture you do have immensely. Earlier I said it might be nice if answers to all the questions were handed to us with no missing pieces. I think that would rapidly become boring though. I do love working my way through a good mystery. Do you?

Under All That Paint – Yep That’s Jesus


God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.  – Acts 5:31

Saul and David by Rembrandt
Rembrandt’s Saul and David

The painting above is titled Saul and David.  It hangs in The Hague Mauritshuis Museum as a work of the Dutch master-artist Rembrandt van Rijn. However the authenticity of the masterpiece has been in question since an expert raised doubt in the 1960’s.

According to a CBS news report Carol Pottasch, a restorer at the museum, understood the doubt. She was quoted, “I guess that was the biggest problem that he faced. He couldn’t see a painting by Rembrandt because there was no painting to see,” she said Tuesday. “And now we’ve taken off all these layers now you can actually see the original paint again and then there’s no doubt.”

Many attempts to restore the time-dulled original beauty caused the confusion and doubt. But painstaking work and investigation revealed the truth of the matter. A Rembrandt did actually exist underneath all that paint.

When I read this story I was happy to see hard work reveal the truth about the painting. I like truth. In my field careful, complete, and objective examination reveals it in a crime scene.

But objectivity is not the popular trend. It hasn’t been for thousands of years. People believe what they want to believe. Even if they have to alter the facts to make that possible they will do it. Then when those people find others with similar desires they become “experts.”

Many paint over the reality of who Jesus Christ is to make Him more appealing to their tastes, politics, affiliations, and even religions. Some of the first were the Gnostics.

For instance, I have read and heard many things about Jesus Christ that attempt to alter his image. Things like:

  • “Jesus died too soon. If he had lived to my age he would have repudiated his doctrine.” — Friedrich Nietzsche     
  • “There couldn’t possibly be just one way . . .” [Lady in the audience: “What about Jesus?”] “What about Jesus? . . . Does God care about your heart or does God care about if you call his son Jesus?” — Oprah Winfrey

As a personal aside, to Oprah Winfrey’s quote: If my beloved son sacrificed himself so someone else could live…I would be real, real upset if they didn’t care who he was or what his name was. 

  • And some college students think?

I have learned from investigating thousands of crime scenes that the truth can be found by only objective investigation. I myself made a thorough investigation of the authenticity of Jesus Christ. Men like Lee StrobelJ. Warner Wallace, and many others have made investigations. The same conclusion is drawn. Coincidentally the same one the people who personally knew Him  drew. His disciples and Apostles penned eyewitness accounts of the truth in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only One in whom we can find salvation. Under all that confusing paint, Yep that’s Jesus!

To maintain objectivity (which is vital) in a crime scene investigation any presumptions must be tossed out. So, toss out the factor of who you want Jesus Christ to be. Then make your own investigation. Look at who He actually was by fist reading His words and about His actions in the four Gospels. Look underneath the many layers covering the original masterpiece. You just might find Jesus Christ is not exactly who you thought He was. He is Supremely more!

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RESISTANCE RADIO! RESIST! the urge to hate.

And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.                                                                                         — Mark 7:20-22

When it concerns my work as a CSI, I do not speak about cases under investigation. I do not speak to the media about any aspect of my job unless it has been cleared by my chain of command. Careless words spoken about a Crime Scene Investigation can ruin its findings in court. Incomplete or slanted information about the findings to media can provoke public outcry and anger. This has been clearly evidenced in several police shootings in recent years.  Make no mistake, there are individuals, businesses, and authorities who use this tactic to turn a profit.

Recently, Amazon Prime Video promoted their original series The Man In The High Castle.  I must say I have enjoyed the series. It is well acted and produced. The writing is a good adaptation of the original work by Philip K. Dick.

The commercial (above), objectively, did its job. In a very similar way to the original War of the Worlds radio broadcast, it struck a nerve and brought a lot of attention to the product. Sometimes attention is not a good thing. If you’ve ever suffered inflamed nerves, you know how easily pain erupts with the trigger of the slightest touch.

I doubt Amazon’s intention was to spark the vitriol of hate that soon erupted in social media.  Those supporting the current president of the USA – Donald Trump perceived an attack of hatred and malice. Those not, perceived fear and ignorance in his supporters.

In a previous post about hate, in particular, mass-murderer Dylan Roof’s, I pointed out that each of us has the potential to let it rule our lives. In another post, I wrote about fear.  Our world, with its billions of people, varied cultures, religions, and personal preferences, has commonalities. The worst, hate and fear, take our childish hands and lead us down a dark tunnel.

Is it a coincidence that the original “resistance radio” was aired by Jesus Christ to a world of people very similar to us?

According to Jesus’ words, broadcast from a hill to a large crowd of listeners, what we take into our bodies does not spiritually defile us. The information our eyes and ears take in, benign or malicious, filters through our heart, then comes out in our words and actions. If our hearts are full of hate and fear, our actions will promote hatred and fear.  There is a lot of both in our world.

The only, and I repeat ONLY, way to stop fear and hate from controlling our words and actions is to change our hearts. Unless we do there is no hope for us. Fortunately, the original Resistance Radio DJ, Jesus Christ can change hearts, take away fear, and end hatred. Tune your receiver to Him.

As the Apostle John said: do not imitate or promote what is evil, but instead what is good. Don’t be so quick to pull the trigger that enflames hatred and fear.

What triggers do you have? How are they related to your hates and fears?


Full disclosure: I do have an Amazon Affiliate link on this site. This post, however, is not purposefully related to it.