Darwin Vs. The Octopus

There are lots of interesting articles about on the Internet. This one is on the Chuck Colson website, Breakpoint with movie graphics: “The Tentacles of a Dilemma: Darwin Vs. The Octopus.” Don’t like the octopus? Don’t watch the graphics! Just read the script.

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Posted in Apologetics, Articles, Origins

US President Sings America’s Favourite Hymn “Amazing Grace”

Says Eric Metaxas on the Chuck Colson website, Breakpoint: ““Amazing Grace” is arguably the best-known and most-sung hymn in America—maybe the world. It has deep meaning for millions, across all races and backgrounds, and has long united and comforted our nation in times of sorrow. On any given Sunday, there are thousands of congregations singing it, even 236 years after it was published. But lately, it’s made something of a comeback—if that’s even possible for such an immortal song.

“The strains of “Amazing Grace” took on a voice few Americans were expecting late last month when President Obama visited Charleston, South Carolina, to honor the nine victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting. After delivering a moving eulogy, Obama did something few presidents have ever done: He broke into that timeless first verse, sung with the traditional, lilting style of black gospel choirs. As he sang, a tearful crowd of clergy, parishioners, and members of the community sang along with him.”

Says Metaxas, “it is hard not to tear up watching it—especially in light of the supernatural forgiveness members of Emanuel AME Church showed Dylann Roof, the shooter who killed their friends and family just a few weeks ago.

“Whether that young man received it or not, he was offered amazing grace. And I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to the lives lost or to the God who saves wretches, than that hymn.

“I’ve got to tell you,” says Metaxas, “it is hard not to tear up watching it—especially in light of the supernatural forgiveness members of Emanuel AME Church showed Dylann Roof, the shooter who killed their friends and family just a few weeks ago.”

“Whether that young man received it or not, he was offered amazing grace. And I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to the lives lost or to the God who saves wretches, than that hymn.”

Posted in Forgiveness, Gospel, Hymns, Second Advent, The New Birth

Scheer Memorial Hospital Helps In Nepal Tragedy

It’s good to read of Adventist Hospitals in the news. Nepal’s Scheer Adventist Hospital was another that was new to me until the earthquake; then I read that it is partnering ADRA, which we have all been raising funds for in the UK to help towards relief of the suffering in Nepal. We seem to have established hospitals in some of the poorest countries in the world, supported by the larger hospitals in the Western world. Haiti Adventist Hospital back in 2010 was untouched by the devastating earthquake  and, able to provide support for the Haitian community along with the many other aid agencies that came to help Haitian’s in their tragedy. More recently we have read of the involvement of Cooper and Waterloo Adventist hospitals with staff fatalities from the Ebola Virus Crisis, and reading about Masanga Adventist Hospital in Sierra Leone being in the front line of the Ebola Crisis.

Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have been dealing with the deadly Ebola Virus, and Haiti and Nepal have been recovering from their destructive, deadly earthquakes; all 5 nations come into the category of the world’s poorest nations. It’s good to know Adventist hospitals have been established in these places and remain undamaged and, along with ADRA, have been able to provide immediate assistance to their peoples. ADRA & these hospitals with their dedicated staff need our prayers and our whole-hearted support.

Although not as full a biography as that of Dr. Harry Miller and Run Run Shaw Hospital, it is good to read of the dedication and commitment of those who pioneered with the health ministry in Nepal that eventually brought Scheer Memorial Hospital into being, which we can read in this short history.

Posted in Articles, Christian Mission, Faith & Works, Health, Suffering, Tragedy

ADRA & Humanitarian Aid In Nepal Tragedy  

Several Seventh-day Adventists from around the West Midlands were either travelling or directly involved in humanitarian work in Nepal when the earthquake struck. With the second earthquake more than 8,000 are feared dead and around 20,000 injured.

Professional photographer James Watson, the son of Pastor Malcolm and Mrs Naomi Watson from the West Midlands were worshipping in the Kathmandu Adventist church on Sabbath, 25 April, when the first earthquake struck. A frightening experience the worshippers including children managed to reach the church exit, but were eventually able to stay at the church until the Monday, where over sixty slept in the church Saturday and Sunday nights.

James, with fellow photographer and friend Rich Jones, and James’ mother Naomi, had trekked up to and back from Everest Base Camp between 27 March and 10 April. Naomi had joined James and Rich to celebrate eight years of life after breast cancer. Naomi missed the quake, flying to Bombay on Friday, 24 April.

Audiologist Elaine Harlin, a member of Tamworth church, was part of an International Nepal Fellowship Team in Rolpa, West Nepal.  During her stay, their audio testing, medication and surgeries served Victor Hulbert hundreds reports Adventist Media Director. It was at the end of her three-week humanitarian trip when the quake struck, temporally delaying her flight home.

James and Rich Jones chose not to return to the UK but stayed in Nepal to help with relief efforts. Together with a team of friends they have also been raising donations via FB.

“Since Thursday, 30 April, they have been buying supplies of food, tarps and tools. They have supplied rice to an orphanage and in villages they have been erecting shelters. During this current week they have been assisting the village of Ramcot, near Kathmandu, that has had no other help. Malcolm states in an email, “They are the life-line for this village. So far they have erected 15 shelters. The tools they bought are well used, plus they have bought tools for the villagers to replace those lost in the quake.” The BBC reported on Richard and James’ activities here.

“James and Rich postponed their flight out of Nepal as they wanted to ensure good use of the generous donations they have received – including from all 12 of his next-door neighbours. Having raised over £4,000 they are reaching an area currently untouched by government help,” reports Victor Hulbert. Surviving the second earthquake their story is on James’ Facebook page

Meanwhile ADRA Nepal staff is working around the clock to deliver much-needed tarps and food to families in remote villages in Dhading and Kavre.

ADRA has so far distributed 1,278 tarps in Dhading district, 900 tarps in Kavre, 50 tarps in Kathmandu, and 64 tents in Lalitpur. Plans are in place to begin food distribution in addition to continuing shelter distributions. Help support ADRA in Nepal by donating now via the ADRA Website or text ADRA00 £10 to 70070 to donate £10 and make a difference today.

ADRA will be cooperating with other International Aid Agencies for a long time to come as the people of Nepal to help rebuild their lives, homes, families and communities. This link to the ADRA FB will remind us of the desperate need in Nepal.

Posted in Health, Suffering, Tragedy

Fascination With Worms

I wish I had a scientific mind; I’m fascinated with DNA and its immense complexity. DNA played a major part in converting the much published atheist author Anthony Flew, to recognising a form of theism, although not Christian theism.

A little while ago I subscribed to The Discovery Institute – this week I got an email that shares two fascinating videos on YouTube that provide evidence “that the cosmos is a product of design, many point to the fine-tuning of our vast universe or the huge number of novel animal body plans that arose in the Cambrian Explosion. But now a tiny worm just a millimeter long is providing powerful evidence of intelligent design. It was the idea of Intelligent Design that convinced Anthony Flew to give up on his atheism and write the book, “There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.”

Says Discovery Institute, “Meet C. elegans, a roundworm that you’ll probably find in the compost heap in your backyard. Two videos produced by the Center for Science and CultureHow to Build a Worm and Switched on Worms , show the intricately patterned development of C. elegans, from a single cell to finished creature, through processes that aren’t explained by Darwinian theory and point undeniably to design.  It’s just a little worm…but with huge implications. And our short videos on YouTube effectively present the compelling case for ID through a medium that has the potential to reach a large audience.  In fact, the two videos together have already had more than 5,500 views in the first week!”

The Discovery Institute don’t do ‘God talk’ but there are really only two beliefs about origins, one includes evolution; intelligence arose out of inanimate material: the other is creation, Intelligence produced the material universe, and all that is in it. The latter for me is the more credible and persuasive of the two beliefs. Click to know more about The Discovery Institute.

Posted in Apologetics, Articles, Origins, Uncategorized

“Precious Lord, Take My Hand” Thomas Dorsey

Thinking about the previous post set me wondering about others who might have contributed richly to hymn writing through their own suffering or adversity, or through some traumatic unwelcome circumstance with which others can identify in some way in their own lives. Thomas Dorsey is one such person who through his music and personal experience found resonance with a wider public.

Dorsey had a fairly long life. He was born at the end of the 19th century, in July 1899, and he died in late January 1993, which would have made him 93 years of age. Thomas Dorsey is recognised as ‘The Father of Gospel Music’. His music is said to be loved around the world, although it is also said that, “his journey to this title and fame was a very difficult one,” so difficult that it included two breakdowns and a family tragedy.
By the age of eight, his mother, a church organist and piano teacher had taught Thomas to play both instruments. But later in his teens he learned the syncopations of blues and jazz when he visited the nightclubs of Atlanta, where musicians taught him their techniques for playing the piano.

His love for jazz and blues took Thomas outside the church to the jazz and blues halls of Chicago. His childhood Christian teachings conflicted with his striving in the secular world where he made a living for himself playing at rent parties and composing blues songs. Credited with more than 400 songs to his name Dorsey was best known under the name ‘Georgia Tom’.

In 1920 Dorsey’s skills were in high demand at night in Chicago when the blues music was at its height. He worked at other jobs during the day and continued to use all his spare time to study music. The ‘Jonah’ imagery was used of him, of being swallowed up by it all going against God’s will for his life.

His mother often appealed to him to stop playing secular music and “serve the Lord”: those appeals were ignored.

But though immersed in composing the secular, Dorsey still had one foot in the gospel world and continued to compose gospel songs.

However, at the age of 22 Thomas is said to have given his life to Jesus. Giving up the jazz clubs he begun writing Gospel music. His reputation began to grow both as a songwriter as well as a church music director.

Although churches had resisted Dorsey’s style of music Dorsey brought gospel music together in the 1920s and in the early 1930s became a band leader for two churches.

But it is through suffering and grief that he left us the legacy of his most well known song. In1932 Dorsey’s wife, Nettie, died in childbirth. Two days later the child, a son, died. It left him in deep depression doubting God’s goodness and vowing never to write another hymn again.

It is reported that, “A week after that horrible, life-changing day, Thomas was deep into his grief, sitting alone at a piano, in a friend’s music room. Into the room came a heavy peace such as he had never known before. As that peace enveloped him, Thomas felt the urge to play the piano. His fingers found a familiar melody and the words to Precious Lord, Take My Hand began to well up from his heart and to spill out of his mouth. God had given him a song that would not only lift him from despair, but would also change the course of his music career.”

It s said that by obeying the voice of God and utilizing his gifts, Thomas A. Dorsey, revolutionized sacred church music and ushered in a new genre: gospel.

For someone who suffered from two severe breakdowns and an awful tragedy that brought so much grief Thomas Dorsey would through his music and lyrics find a response from fellow humans from all walks of life. Certainly, there would be many who take comfort and solace from a fellow traveller in life, who was not just skilled in a type of music and lyrics but was someone who shared in the difficulties and frailties of human experience.

Dorsey’s works are said to “have proliferated beyond performance, into the hymnals of virtually all American churches and of English-speaking churches worldwide.” And that one song, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord, lead me on, let me stand”, is published in more than 40 languages.

Sources:

http://www.lyrics007.com/Gospel%20Lyrics/Take%20My%20Hand,%20Precious%20Lord%20Lyrics.html

http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Music/hymns-the-songs-and-the-stories/precious-lord-take-my-hand,-the-song-and-the-story.html

http://www.pbs.org/thisfarbyfaith/people/thomas_dorsey.html

http://www.inspirationalchristians.org/biography/thomas-dorsey

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Take_My_Hand,_Precious_Lord

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_A._Dorsey

Posted in Biographies, Gospel, Suffering, The New Birth, Tragedy

Beneath The Cross of Jesus

‘Beneath the Cross of Jesus’, was written in 1868 by Miss Elizabeth Cecilia Douglas Clephane. The inclusion of ‘Douglas’ in her forenames identifies her with the famous ancient Douglas clan of that noble house from the Scottish Lowlands. She was the daughter of Andrew Clephane, Sheriff of Fife, and Anna Maria Douglas Ashenhurst.

Elizabeth Clephane suffered all her life from ill health. She was a Scottish Presbyterian who took her faith in God seriously. Besides giving time to Bible study she also helped the needy in the community and feeding the hungry.” Despite her ill health Elizabeth is said to have had a personality that made her cheery and refreshing to be around. “Although sick, she always had a smile.”

Elizabeth had two older sisters named Anna Maria and Anna Jane Douglas. Anna Maria lived to the age of 72 and Anna Jane Douglas to age 85. But Elizabeth died aged 38.

The three sisters dedicated themselves to the service of God. They gave to charity all their belongings except what they needed to support themselves. Due to her cheerful disposition the community referred to Elizabeth as, “The Sunbeam”.

Elizabeth had a gift for writing poetry. The year before she died she was asked to write a poem for a children’s magazine, the Scottish Presbyterian Magazine entitled “The Family Treasure”.

She wrote other poems, the majority of which were published in the magazine in 1872, three years after her death on February 19, 1869. It is said she left us a legacy that stands higher than life itself.” Considered to be the greatest of her poems, “Beneath The Cross Of Jesus” is a well-loved hymn in our own day, and appropriate for the Easter Weekend.

It was Charles Maker, a renowned organist in the city of Bristol in southern England, who composed the music for this hymn entitled, “St. Christopher”.

In 1872 the editor of the magazine, Mr. W. Arnot wrote these words about the hymn and about Elizabeth Clephane: “These lines express the experiences, the hopes and the longings of a young ChristianA. “ Approaching 150 years down to our day we have the privilege of sharing in those same hopes and longings that she wrote about for her time.

The words of the hymn are very appropriate for Good Friday. For one who had not enjoyed good health all her life one can appreciate sharing her thoughts on the eve of her young life, that reflecting on the cross finds “rest upon the way, from the burden of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.” The following year from writing this she would lay down life’s burdens.

The poem is all very personal: It Begins, “Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand.” And then she writes in the second verse, “The weary dying form of one, who suffered there for me.” And she closes with the words, “My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.” The poem is a personal reflection on the cross and on one’s own mortality.

While we can share in the sentiments collectively, the acceptance of Christ as Lord and Saviour has to be experienced personally, as Elizabeth expressed at the end of verse 2: “And from my smitten heart with tears, two wonders I confess, the wonders of redeeming love, and my own unworthiness.”

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_C._Clephane

http://www.gaffneyledger.com/news/2013-02-22/Other_News/Stories_Behind_The_Hymns.html

http://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-beneath-the-cross-of-jesus

Posted in Biographies, Christ's Sacrifice, Gospel, Incarnation, Jesus, Salvation, Saved By Grace, Suffering