[by Earl Blacklock] One of the most polarizing issues of our time is the issue of global warming. Or is it climate change? No, the newly minted description is climate disruption. It’s like a supermarket that regularly rebrands so as to convince gullible consumers that they can stop being mad at it for poor service, misleading advertising, and prices that keep rising. But that’s not why I’m a skeptic. And before I continue, let me make clear that I know that the climate is changing. It has ever been thus, and when I lived in Canada’s North I saw firsthand the evidence. The North, and in particular the Mackenzie Valley, is noticeably warming. Areas of permafrost are giving way to semi-permafrost, roadways are buckling, and foundations that were built on permafrost are no longer secure. So why am I a skeptic? For these reasons:
[by Earl Blacklock] The next time you have an x-ray, you may want to pause a moment to give thanks for Mihailo Idvorsky Pupin. His invention of the fluoroscope cut x-ray exposure times from about an hour to mere seconds. He also discovered secondary x-rays, the product of atoms struck by primary x-rays. Pupin’s invention of the Pupin inductance coil increased the distance a long distance telephone call could be transmitted by amplifying the signal along the line without distortion. His oscillating circuit made it possible for telephone companies to send several messages simultaneously on a single line. He sold to the Marconi Corporation patents for a process of electrical tuning and an invention for the conversion of high frequency electrical waves, which allowed clearer radio signals over long distances.
[by Dean Smith] Just before Christmas, the Palestinian Authority rewrote history. It has become a bit of an annual event in Palestine. Over the past few years, a few days before December 25th, the Palestinians roll out a number of officials who make statements claiming Jesus was a Palestinian. This year was no different. According to the Wafa News Agency on December 22, 2014, Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas said: “We celebrate the birth of Jesus, a Palestinian messenger of love, justice and peace.”
[by Sandy McIntosh] Nehemiah is a leading character in the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, and an important character in Jewish history. He lived long before Jesus, and his calendar did not start with a new year on January 1. It didn’t even have a January. For sure he never specifically wished anyone a Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year at the end of December. Or did he? If we can get past the superficial materialism and drunken partying, there is wisdom from God for this time of new beginnings in December, and Nehemiah was a great teacher on that subject.
[by Barb Smith] I hadn’t been feeling well, still, I was determined to have a nice supper for our family gathering. I had rested in bed most of the day and managed to prepare a couple of dishes in the evening thinking I would finish the rest of my preparations the next day. Morning came and my strength continued to wane. Then it began, the barrage of self-degrading thoughts:
There is much debate on why December 25th was chosen as the day Jesus was born. There is little Biblical evidence that reveals the date of Jesus’ birth. Luke 2:8 refers to shepherds in the fields suggesting Jesus’ birth took place in the spring when shepherds were with their flocks during lambing. Maybe not coincidentally, John refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29). Clement of Alexandria (150 AD – 215 AD), an Egyptian Christian teacher, had cited May 20th and April 20th or 21st as possible dates of Christ’s birth fitting the spring theory. By 400 AD, December 25th along with January 6th were considered the dates for Christ’s birth. December 25th was the leading contender and eventual winner. The December date was listed as Jesus’ birth on an ancient Roman almanac from the 4th century that listed the death dates of early Christian martyrs. The most popular reason given as to why December 25th was chosen is because the church was Christianizing the pagan celebration of Sol Inviticus — a sun-god — that …
[by Dean Smith] Both my parents served in the Canadian military during World War II, and because of this I have always had a keen interest in that war. As I was watching a program on the war a while back, I learned an important lesson on deception. In John 8:44, Jesus describes Satan as the father of lies and in the devil’s first attack on humanity deception was the key to his success. Eve admitted to God she had been deceived by Satan in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:13). Deception in its simplest form is having a person believe one thing, when something else, sometimes the complete opposite, is the truth.
[by Earl Blacklock] May 15 is the date that marks Israel’s independence, and in 1967 thousands of people gathered at Jerusalem’s Nation Hall to hear songs commissioned for the occasion. Jerusalem was at the time divided, in the hands of Jordan to the east and Israel to the west. The Mayor of west Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, had asked that one of the songs be about Jerusalem. Naomi Shemer responded to his call. Shemer’s Polish parents had taken her as a child to a number of Jerusalem’s biblical places that were closed to Jews in 1948. She was inspired to write a song about the Jerusalem that Jews from Israel could never see – the Wailing Wall, the temple, and even the “Dead Sea by way of Jericho”. She called her song Jerusalem Made of Gold. [A YouTube version of the song is available at the end of the article.]
After a woman asked for volunteers to sing at Rivertown Mall in Granville, Michigan in December 2014, she received 250 RSVPs and another 750 showed up unannounced. The group, who sang Amazing Grace, also handed out the words of the hymn in the form of Gospel tracts. The video was posted to YouTube on December 13, 2014.
I Chronicles 12:23 – 40 gives us a record of David’s great army which was assembled at Hebron. We read of the thousands of warriors who came from every tribe. There were 6,800 from the tribe of Judah bearing shield and spear and from the tribe of Simeon, 7,100 mighty men of valor fit for war. The tribe of Zebulun is recorded to have 50,000 warriors who were expert in all weapons of war and who could keep ranks. Amidst that list of thousands of mighty men, we read of the small number of chiefs from Isaachar. Only 200 men, but they had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do. A great number of warriors is not needed for a battle if there are those who have understanding the times and seasons. These are the ones who carry the “strategy” within them that will defeat the enemy. Noble Bereans The Apostle Paul found a synagogue of Jews in Berea and discovered they were a people who “received the word with all readiness, …
[by Dean Smith] The 800-year old Icelandic Hymn “Heyr himna smiður” sung as the back drop on the opening credits for a documentary on the 1973 volcanic eruption on Iceland. Kolbeinn Tumason (1173-1208) wrote the words to the hymn. A devout Christian, he spoke about hope in times of hunger, sickness and fear. The music was written by Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson (1938-2013). Kolbeinn was a powerful chieftain or goði on the island in the 12th century. He reportedly wrote this poem on his death-bed after he was injured during a battle. Part of the hymn includes a plea for healing, perhaps his own. The words in English are:
[By Earl Blacklock] Have you ever wondered why countries spend hundreds of billions, perhaps even trillions of dollars on non-military space exploration? Many of the usual explanations – our instinct for exploration, the advancement of science – seem to be suspect since the cost is so astronomical (pun intended). Surely we can find less expensive ways to satiate our instincts and increase our knowledge. In fact, the news media explanation that space exploration is to “discover the origins of life and the universe” is likely the most accurate. Not satisfied with any explanation that does not preclude a divine origin to – well, everything – the scientific industrial complex works apace to fill in all the holes in the narrative of how we came to be. And there are a lot of holes. One that is most troubling is the explanation of how our life-sustaining oceans came about. Simple, we have been told. Comets contain water and when they impacted the earth, they acted as a water delivery method. Over centuries and eons, they delivered …
[by Dean Smith] Many look at the heart as little more than a muscle used to pump blood through our body, but evidence suggests it may have a bigger impact than we realize. An article in the National Post looks at an interesting phenomena that happens when people have heart transplants. They actually sense the person who donated their heart. Though it doesn’t happen to everyone, it occurs enough that medical researchers are taking note of the phenomena. As well, it doesn’t seem to show up with people who receive other types of transplants such as kidneys.
[by Earl Blacklock] I was driving down the street, almost oblivious to anything other than my plans for the day. Going down the street in front of my destination bookstore, I spotted the only parking spot, an angled spot directly in front. Life was good! After I parked, as I was about to open my door, I heard, then saw an outraged man shouting – nay, screaming at me. He was almost incoherent, but I managed to hear the words “You cut me off!” The man was raging at me with all the venom he could summon, demanding that I open the car door – something I quickly decided would be imprudent. Talking through the closed window, watching his clenched fists, I wondered whether he would break the window to get at me. Thankfully, after sharing with me the full extent of his expletive-filled vocabulary, he finally departed, likely thinking me properly rebuked.
[by Barb Smith] About a year ago, I came to a new understanding of the biblical term “dying to yourself.” It seemed every time I said “no” to a request for help or an outing, I felt guilty if I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my time and deny myself for the sake of someone else. Often, I over commit and say “yes” even when my body is screaming “don’t do it!” The reason I say “yes” is because I feel so guilty when I say “no.” This is an ongoing struggle and I am in a constant process of finding a balance that is right, not out of selfishness, but out of the need to function as an emotionally healthy woman. I realized my sense of worth was determined by what I did for others. The verse “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies,” as I understood it, meant I must die to everything, all the time, as a spiritual sacrifice to God.
[by Dean Smith] Bacteria wasn’t discovered until 1676, when using a single-lens microscope he had built, Anton van Leeuwenhoek saw the world of microscopic creatures. At the time, some wondered if these invisible creatures could be responsible for disease transmission. This theory was not fully developed until Italian Agostino Bassi conducted a series of tests between 1808 and 1813 that showed these invisible creatures or bacteria were directly responsible for disease. However, centuries earlier when you look at the Old Testament we see an understanding of Leeuwenhoek’s discovery in practice through clean and unclean.
According to The Telegraph, Russian scientist Vladimir Lipunov from Moscow University says he discovered an asteroid the size of a mountain that passes through earth’s orbit every three years. The asteroid — which Lipunov named ‘2014 UR116’ — is a much more serious threat to earth than the asteroid that exploded in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia on February 15, 2013. One thousand people were hurt by exploding shards of glass as a result of that explosion. Lipunov says there does not seem to be any threat ‘2013 UR116′ will hit earth, but he added that asteroids’ trajectories are often changed by the gravitational pull of other planets they pass by.
[by Dean Smith] Land has an unusual place in Scripture. It was God’s “Promised Land” that enticed Abraham to leave Ur and follow God’s calling. For the patriarch and his descendants, this new land would not only be a place of destiny, but blessing as well — overflowing with milk and honey. But it seems land can also be affected by the sinful actions of men and women who walk upon its soil. After Cain murdered his brother Abel, God said, “Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10 NASV). This verse suggests that when horrific crimes occur, the effects are embedded in the soil. In Leviticus 18:24-28, God speaks about the land being defiled by man’s sin. Filled with iniquity, it can reach a point where the land will vomit out its inhabitants. The “Promised Land” eventually did this very thing to Israel.
[by Earl Blacklock] Elizabeth Gray Vining was an experienced American teacher who, in 1946, had the opportunity of a lifetime – to be the English tutor of the Crown Prince of Japan. Emperor Hirohito had specified the qualifications she was to meet. She was to be a Christian woman, “but not a fanatic”. Japan was recovering from a devastating military defeat; the Emperor had been permitted to remain as a figurehead ruler. Real power, however, rested with the Allied commander General Douglas MacArthur, and the Emperor wanted the Crown Prince readied for this new world. Elizabeth was told her purpose was to open windows to the world outside Prince Akihito’s household and culture. Elizabeth’s influence went beyond her lessons.
[by Dean Smith] An interesting thing happened on the set of the movie “Unbroken” being filmed in New South Wales, Australia. It is a film on the life of Louis Zamperini, a born-again Christian, who died this past July at the age of 92. At a news conference in New York City last week, Cynthia Garris — the daughter of Louis Zamperini — said in the middle of filming actress/director Angelina Jolie dropped to her knees in front of the crew and prayed. On one of the last days of filming, the crew needed clear skies to complete the final shot. It had rained the whole day.
[by Sandy McIntosh] Are you stressed by your employment? Most of us are. Security and a good paycheck are hard to find these days. Some of the safest jobs are now unstable. I have worked in places that were solid for a lifetime, and now they are gone, and I have seen people suffer in their employment. I remember a single mother, struggling with divorce and raising two small children, but she had a job with IBM; as safe as a bank. When IBM cut back in her city, she lost that rock-solid job, and the results were painful to watch. So if you have a problem with your work:
[by Dean Smith] In an interview with Wade-O Radio, Christian rapper Jackie Hill-Perry, 25, told the world she was formerly a lesbian and that God had changed her life. According to an article in the Washington Times, as the news spread through social media, she faced mixed reaction – about 60% responded positively to her announcement and 40% were critical. Jackie has about 65,000 social media followers. She spoke of a number of tweets from one girl who called Jackie “delusional, in denial and brainwashed.” It all started when Jackie responded to a song by rapper Macklemore who speaking of same-sex relationships said “I can’t change even if I tried, even if I wanted to.”
In John 14:27, Jesus said He came to give us peace, but added His peace was not the same as the world’s. Jesus’ peace was different. To the world, peace can only take place when there is no conflict and in this crucial way Jesus’ peace was different. He gives us peace in the midst of conflict. Conflict or trouble can come in various forms — from terrorism to health to financial to family. Jesus told us when He died, He would send us a Comforter. One of the emblems used in the Bible to picture the Holy Spirit was a dove. And even today, the dove represents peace. When we accept Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells within us and He wants to fill us with God’s peace. But too often we put up walls preventing this.
A survey of 2,000 families commissioned by the English organization Christmas Starts with Christ found over 30% of the children (aged 10 to 13) did not know Christmas was associated with the birth of Christ and 51% of adults do not believe Jesus is important to Christmas. The organization blamed the political correctness creeping into English schools for much of this lack of awareness. This includes removing mentions of Christ from Christmas so not to offend and no longer displaying nativity scenes or if they do including everything from Elvis to Aliens in the scene.
A recent article in a major newspaper reveals the disturbing and dark side of science. The Times of London is reporting a group of scientists had decided that pesticides were the reason for the declining honey bee populations and with this bias firmly in place set out to find evidence and write reports that fit their beliefs. And here we thought it was the facts that determined the science, not scientists pre-determining the facts. Silly us. The Times received notes of four high-ranking scientists from a meeting in 2010 where the group allegedly discussed how they could convince European Union (EU) regulators to ban “neonicotinoid pesticides.” They even outlined who would write the articles and how they could co-ordinate their efforts for greatest effect. They also discussed the increased impact of convincing a major scientific journal to publish these articles.
[by Dean Smith] The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is sure to rankle a few activists. It has just released a statement providing guidelines for male circumcision that involves the removal of the foreskin from the penis. In the process, the CDC was essentially promoting the procedure. The Jews have practiced circumcision for thousands of years after God instituted the practice with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-14) as a sign of a covenant between God and His people. However, as religious rite it was lacking in some ways. It was largely unseen and only involved half the population. I have always suspected God chose circumcision because it also provided health benefits. I believe many aspects of the law were health related.
[by Dean Smith] In this YouTube video, a Muslim imam warns his followers that saying “Merry Christmas” was a mortal sin. In fact, he described it as equal to murder. Imam is a term used to describe a Muslim leader, particularly those who lead prayers at a Mosque. On the video the imam says: “[saying “Merry Christmas”] is worse than fornication and drinking alcohol and killing someone, because you are approving of the biggest crime ever committed by the children of Adam’s sin.” So what is the big crime in the eyes of this imam?
[by Dean Smith] There used to be a time, a long time ago, when parents in troubled marriages stayed together for the sake of their children. Sometimes those marriages actually turned around. Other times they struggled through. But those days are long gone. Today divorce is easy. If the billboards in North America are right, you can get a simple divorce for $399 and sometimes they go on sale. But those prices are deceiving because for children, depending on their age, the cost of divorce can sometimes be very expensive. Some end up paying for their parents’ divorce the rest of their lives. Resolution is an English legal organization made up of 6,500 lawyers who specialize in family law. They recently commissioned a survey to find out how divorce affected children. They surveyed 500 kids (aged 14 to 22) in England and Wales asking them pointed questions on the impact of their parents’ divorce.
[by Dean Smith] On April 2, 2004, R&B artist Marcus Stanley was walking out of a store, having forgotten his wallet, when he was approached by a man standing on the sidewalk with a group of men. After a brief conversation, the man pulled his gun and shot Stanley at point-blank rank. The man shot Stanley seven more times as he laid on the ground in what was later revealed to be a gang initiation.
[by Sandy McIntosh] Is your job bugging you? Are you unfulfilled and frustrated with your career? Do you want to turn it all around? Here’s a start; Don’t be a lazy dreamer. I have been guilty of lazy dreaming, and I know there is always a price to pay. Probably you are guilty with me. When I was younger I looked into education that would give me a vocation, a career for the long term. At a big university I visited a professor to talk about possibilities, and during the conversation he looked at me and said “Would you like to join our doctoral program?” I heard him and felt a stab of fear, so I quickly said no. Now, looking back, I should have ignored the fear and asked questions. A doctorate might have been a good thing. Sometimes I think about that road not taken and I wonder. I had a dream for something better, but it was feeble and lazy, and it couldn’t connect with real opportunities. The professor gave me a …
[by Earl Blacklock] Imagine a spy who, trained by the British Intelligence Service, could emerge from capture and captivity by the Gestapo crippled but unbroken in spirit and faith. A man whose reported exploits made one reviewer say that, compared to him, all other spy tales were about rank amateurs. You don’t need to imagine it. You can simply read the book “The Man Who Wouldn’t Talk” by noted war correspondent Quentin Reynolds (available on Amazon). The book is about George DuPre, a British-trained spy who parachuted into occupied France to help shot down RAF fliers and the resistance in the guise of a half-witted Frenchman. DuPre’s tale was one of heroism, thrilling exploits, and then, after his capture, indomitable faith in God as he suffered torture and privation. It captured the imagination of millions looking for a hero. The book flew off the shelf. The November 1953 Reader’s Digest ran a condensation of the story.
[by Dean Smith] Google, the web’s largest internet search engine, is predicting Ouija boards will be a popular item this Christmas. Google is basing its prediction on search engine data requests. The number of search requests for Ouija or spiritual boards in November 2014 had increased by 300% since October leading Google to state in its commerce blog that the Ouija board will be “one of the hottest gifts likely to sell out this season.” It attributed the Ouija board’s renewed interest to the horror movie “Ouija” released in October. The Ouija board was the fifth most searched Christmas item behind American Girl, My Little Pony, Paw Patrol and Lego Friends. The Ouija board, invented in 1890, has letters and numbers imprinted on a board. It also comes with a pointing device (often heart-shaped) on which people place their hand. The participant asks a question and a spirit will answer the question by guiding the person’s hand to the letters on the board. The communicating spirits are generally believed to be those of dead people, …