Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mission Accomplished?

In May of AD 30, the risen Savior, Jesus Christ, told his disciples:

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 Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Eighteen centuries and 15,000 miles away, on the tiny Island of Rata Iti, this task was accomplished:

"Rapa, on the southeast radial from the centre, is the most southerly island in tropical Polynesia and is sometimes included in the Austral Islands. Like the Austral Islands, Rapa had been so neglected that Stokes, who went there from Raivavae, found the myths and traditions scanty and confused. The few fragments that were gathered are interesting as remnants of a richer oral literature that was not committed to writing by the early native missionaries who were preoccupied with spreading the new theology.

The Reverend Davies, who visited the island in 1826, stated that the religion of Rapa was the same as that of Tahiti but without the parade and show. There were no regular religious structures, but a few stones were regarded as sacred shrines with magic power. No images in stone or wood were found, the the gods Paparua and Poere were represented by material objects." -- Vikings of the Sunrise, by Te Rangi Hiroa, chapter 13

After the gospel had spread throughout the civilized world, the London Missionary Society had set out to reach the heathen of the uncivilized world. A British sea captain, George Vancouver, rediscovered the island in 1791 on his circumlocution of the globe. Though better known for his exploration of the American Northwest, his voyage took him to Hawaii and Australia and around Africa back to England. Along the way he observed the island without much interaction. This was a "whirlwind" tour at the end of a short life (he died upon return to England at age 40).

The missionaries, though, used this discovery a generation later to reach this island that is the furthest point of land away from Jerusalem! The natives were eager to learn new ideas, and soon abandoned their old belief system. Unfortunately, the gospel was not the only thing that came from Europe. Diseases unknown to this far land ravaged a population of around 2000 people -- down to about 300! We can only hope that those who died had embraced the new faith. Our Lord is sovereign, so I am sure that in that generation HIS people were indeed brought into the kingdom.

Today a third of the inhabitants are members of the "Tahitian Choir" which spreads the gospel in their unique language - in their unique sound -- a widening audience (thanks to the worldwide web!) Of course, without translators, the wider audience will not benefit from the message. However, reviewers seem enthralled by the sound.

And now, if those in Jerusalem can just reach their own backyard!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas in Heaven - a short story

The newcomer looked around. Everything was glorious - so very glorious! The apostle John had attempted to describe it, but his words had been but an earthly attempt at describing the indescribable! This was the presence of the Lord!

Or at least it was the "outer court" where saints of all ages awaited the great day of resurrection only hours away (in heavenly terms). In their spiritual bodies the millions visited, reminiscing about the blessing. And lamenting the "mistakes." Here those of whom legends were written met with misguided "believers" with the facts that revealed the truth.

One such saint was Nicholas of Myra. A kindly man who had forsaken the world's riches to serve Christ. In giving away his wealth he had build memories embellished through the centuries. His generosity had been the basis of legends - even "fairy tales" - of annual visits by beings that friends of his day would never have recognized!

"If I could but turn back time," Clement Moore lamented, "I would never have written such nonsense." He spoke, of course of his famous portrayal of "Saint Nick" in "A visit from St. Nick," known around the world as "The Night Before Christmas." Though only a small percentage of he saints present had actually heard this story, the new comers of the past few heavenly "hours" were eager to know the truth.

"Don't feel bad," Nicholas said, "for you were only reflecting the combined fantasies of generations of ignorant people looking for hope and love in a world gone mad."

"But even when we knew it was make-believe," one new comer assured the repentant minister, "we enjoyed the 'spirit' of the story."

"But behold," Nicholas declared, "the Light of the world!" He directed attention toward the brightest light in the universe - where heaven met earth, where eternity touched time. This was the light of the nativity - seen by lowly shepherds in a heavenly army of God's angels, and by distant royalty as a star, which led them to the child born savior of the world!

The Real St. Nicholas

On a day when many question the true nature of Christmas, we speak lightly of a man who has been so distorted by myth and legend. Most will admit that such a man as Nicholas DID exist, but feel that he was insignificant when it comes to Christmas as such. While "Christmas" was not observed in his day, Nicholas of Myra WAS there when the human nature of Christ was "settled" to most of the church's satisfaction. This was at the council of Nicea, when the Nicene creed was first set down on paper. It was subsequently amended, but the first and second clauses stayed essencially then same:

The "Nicene" Creed

We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Nicholas was a short man, with apparently a short fuse. One story has it that while at the Council of Nicea he was so angry at the heretic on trial, Arius, that he slugged him across the face, knocking him to the ground! He had previously shown this zeal against the pagan worshipers of Artemas ("Diana") - to the tearing down of the temple in Myra - that the church is said to have adopted HER birthday as Nicholas' feast day (since he did not suffer martyrdom).

His kindness and generosity among believers, though, was "legendary." And thus, his nature as a giver of gifts survived through the ages. Read about the saint at the wikipedia article.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Energy Independence

One of the winning points on Mike Huckabee's platform is energy independence:

"The first thing I will do as President is send Congress my comprehensive plan for energy independence. We will achieve energy independence by the end of my second term."

That's right folks, not ten years, but eight! Of course, from NOW it would be ten (2009-2017). But that would mean the Democrats would have to pass Huckabee's plan now to give him a headstart. How about it Senator McCain? Representative Paul?

Well, not friends to the governor, the folks at the New York Times ran an article that supports the NEED he sees. The good folk in the oil producing countries are energy independent in a big way. Within the next decade some of the United States' major suppliers will become importers instead. It seems that they actually WASTE fuel! Go figure, huh?

We CAN do it, folks. With concerned men like Governor Huckabee and U.S. Representative Bob Inglis on the job, leading the way, this goal is possible!

The text of a bill authorizing an "H-Prize" (co-sponsored by Rep. Inglis (R. SC)) is found here.

By the way, my friend Bob Inglis has recently endorsed Mike Huckabee!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

On a Cold Christmas Eve

Here is a new twist to "The Night Before Christmas" that I come by accident:

I am not sure of the setting - an officers home in Afghanistan, perhaps - but the sentiment is lovely.

They called it GREEN-land!

Following a link with an interesting headline, I ended up reading about opportunities to fly to Greenland to see "evidence for global warming." It occurred to me that there must me a reason that island is called "Green-land." Indeed, back when the Norsemen discovered and exploited it, it was indeed a large GREEN island with mild winners and short summers. For hundreds of years the colonies there were prosperous!

"Cores taken from the ocean bottom west of Iceland show evidence that the ocean conditions between the 8th and 12th centuries were relatively calm and that little sea ice was present to hinder navigation. The build-up of sea ice beginning in the 13th century correspond with evidence from ice cores whose layers of annual snowfall show isotopic evidence that the 14th century had the coldest climate known in Greenland during the past 700 years."

-- from an article at the Museum of National History website.

This PAST climate change is quite apart from the industrial revolution. For four hundred years - in the middle of the dark ages when NO-ONE had machines and the population was in the low hundreds of millions worldwide! And now, a full SEVEN hundred years later, things are turning around for the giant step child of the Vikings! Maybe we'll be planting winter wheat there to feed the starving BILLIONS affected by rising seas!

Honestly, folks, if we would manage the planet like we are supposed to -- no clear cutting, no wasteful harvesting of wildlife, etc. -- we would not have to worry about the "pollutants" of carbon dioxide and water vapor ("natural" products of combustion). Plants thrive on the carbon dioxide that animals produce as bi-products of simply living. As we release this gas from "carbon" fuels, we are returning the earth to a state it hasn't seen since it was FIRST over-run with people back in "the days of Noah." Those people were evil to the core, but mankind was given another chance. We're it. Let's take advantage of the improving temperatures (where we have them), and try to make this a better, slightly warmer world.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

"Get a horse!"

Some environmentalists decry modern technology for its deadly pollutants. Never mind the fact that true pollutants, that made people sick, have been reduced to near nothing in the civilized West. Anyway, some have advocated literally going back to horse drawn vehicles. Not so fast!

In this article we find some interesting facts about nineteenth century problems with horse manure! Gary DeMar quotes original sources from the days when automobiles were rare and horses ruled the roads. It was, to put it mildly, a mess. Consider this:

"[A]s the health officials in Rochester calculated in 1900, the 15,000 horses in that city produced enough manure in a year to make a pile covering an acre of ground 175 feet high and breeding sixteen billion flies" [Joel A. Tarr, “The Horse—Polluter of the City,” The Search for the Ultimate Sink: Urban Pollution in Historical Perspective (Akron, OK: University of Akron Press, 1996), 323–324.]

Yuck! The job of cleaning this up went to the sanitation workers, who often skipped "regular" garbage to deal in the lucrative fertilizer business selling horses manure! The streets were less than pristine, if you get my drift. :-)

The "carbon footprint" of yesteryear was far bigger than anything our imperfectly burning engines will ever produce. The carbon dioxide - which is as essential to plant growth as was manure in 1900 - was once considered "safe," since it poisoned no one, and in fact was considered beneficial. And what about water vapor, the other, more prevalent "greenhouse gas," which is also the byproduct of burning "fossil" fuels? Is it not preferable to liquid water, with added chemicals, which graced the ground in the wake of the animals that knew no better?

Global warming may be occurring, but at what rate? And to what harm in the long run? Let us concentrate not on the "danger" of some gases changing life as we know it, but instead on "taking care" of those great gifts that God has given us - including horses!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A late entry into the Bible Code derby

As promised, here is the code. I marked the code in different colors, though "excellent spirit" did not show well in th graphic below. Go here to view the original jpeg.

As I said, "for what it is worth." I have found that the Equal distant sequences DO yield quite a bit of information far beyond chance. However, here we have straight text with no gaps! It may mean nothing, but you've got to admit, it is amazing!

Homeless in New Orleans

Twenty-seven months ago, the god of this world faced the God of the universe and lost. A category 4 hurricane named "Katrina" (possibly from Greek katharos, "pure," denoting a purification?) slammed into the "Big Easy" after showing itself for about a week. The governments involved - local, state, and federal - responded dismally. And so, now there are twice as many homeless and the "big bad government" is set on making that number bigger by kicking free-loaders out of trailers to find rental property that is still being build (and over-priced).

A Ms. Tracy Bernard is featured in this story from the New York Times. The author, Susan Salsny, paints a bleak picture - including protest squatters at city hall and responsibility being laid at the federal government's feet for sub-par levees. After 1381 words, Ms. Bernard is quoted as saying:

“I know I’m going to find something,” she said. “I have faith. I know God’s going to work something out for us.”

That's right, the last sentence, just eight words from the end, mentions God. Nothing is said of the work of the church along the coast. Only once is a family with a home mentioned as a place to stay. Government must be there - the god of this world that lost when it mattered most! Even now, the church needs to stand in the gap. One day, it will be an ultimate choice - God or government? - which will it be for you?

For what it's worth, an amazing little tidbit from the "outer limits" - a "Bible Code" - might have tagged this one. To simplify this blog, I will include the basic code in the next blog.