Tuesday, November 24, 2015

November 24: The Death of John Knox (1572)

knoxJohnNo Wonder He Was Weary.
Our post today, an account of the death of John Knox, is taken from the essential biography written by Thomas McCrie:—
Monday, the 24th of November [1572], was the last day that he spent on earth. That morning he could not be persuaded to lie in bed, but, though unable to stand alone, rose between nine and ten o'clock, and put on his stockings and doublet. Being conducted to a chair, he sat about half an hour, and then was put in bed again. In the progress of the day, it appeared evident that his end drew near. Besides his wife and Richard Bannatyne, Campbell of Kinyeancleugh, Johnston of Elphingston, and Dr. Preston, three of his most intimate acquaintances, sat by turns at his bed-side. Kinyeancleugh asked him, if he had any pain. "It is no painful pain, but such a pain as shall, I trust, put end to the battle. I must leave the care of my wife and children to you (continued he,) to whom you must be a husband in my room." About three o'clock int he afternoon, one of his eyes failed, and his speech was considerably affected. he desired his wife to read the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians. "Is not that a comfortable chapter?" said he, when it was finished. "O what sweet and salutary consolation the Lord hath afforded me from that chapter!" A little after, he said, "Now, for the last time, I commend my soul, spirit, and body (touching three of his fingers) into thy hand, O Lord." About five o'clock, he said to his wife, "Go, read where I cast my first anchor;" upon which she read the seventeenth chapter of John's Gospel, and afterwards a part of Calvin's sermons on the Ephesians.
After this he appeared to fall into a slumber, interrupted by heavy moans, during which the attendants looked every moment for his dissolution. But at length he awaked as if from sleep, and being asked the cause of his sighing so deeply, replied, "I have formerly, during my frail life, sustained many contests, and many assaults of Satan; but at present that roaring lion hath assailed me most furiously, and put forth all his strength to devour, and make an end of me at once. Often before has he placed my sins before my eyes, often tempted me to despair, often endeavoured to ensnare me by the allurements of the world; but these weapons being broken by the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, he could not prevail. Now he was [sic] attacked me in another way; the cunning serpent has laboured to persuade me that I have merited heaven and eternal blessedness, by the faithful discharge of my ministry. But blessed be God who has enabled me to beat down and quench this fiery dart, by suggesting to me such passages of Scripture as these, What hast thou that thou hast not received? By the grace of God I am what I am : Not I, but the grace of God in me. Being thus vanquished, he left me. Wherefore I give thanks to my God through Jesus Christ, who was pleased to give me the victory; and I am persuaded that the tempter shall not again attack me, but, within a short time, I shall, without any great bodily pain or anguish of mind, exchange this mortal and miserable life for a blessed immortality through Jesus Christ."
He died in the sixty-seventh year of his age, not so much oppressed with years, as worn out and exhausted by his extraordinary labours of body and anxieties of mind. Few men were ever exposed to more dangers, or underwent such hardships. From the time that he embraced the reformed religion, till he breathed his last, seldom did he enjoy a respite from these, and he emerged from one scene of difficulties, only to be involved in another, and a more distressing one. Obligated to flee from St. Andrews to escape the fury of Cardinal Beatoun, he found a retreat in East Lothian, from which he was hunted by Archbishop Hamilton. He lived for several years as an outlaw, in daily apprehension of falling a prey to those who eagerly sought his life. The few months during which he enjoyed protection in the castle of St. Andrews were succeeded by a long and rigorous captivity. After enjoying some repose in England, he was again driven into banishment, and for five years wandered as an exile on the continent. When he returned to his native country, it was to engage in a struggle of the most perilous and arduous kind. After the Reformation was established, and he was settled in the capital, he was involved in a continual contest with the Court. When he was relieved from this warfare, and thought only of ending his days in peace, he was again called into the field; and, although scarcely able to walk, was obliged to remove from his flock, and to avoid the fury of his enemies by submitting to a new banishment. He was repeatedly condemned for heresy and proclaimed an outlaw; thrice he was accused of high treason, and on two of these occasions he appeared and underwent a trial. A price was publicly set on his head; assassins were employed to kill him; and his life was attempted both with the pistol and the dagger. Yet he escaped all these perils, and finished his course in peace and in honour. No wonder that he was weary of the world, and anxious to depart; and with great propriety might it be said, at his decease, that "he rested from his labours."
The Life of John Knox, by Thomas McCrie, p. 130.
Words To Live By:
it is the Lord God who raises up His faithful, humble servants and employs them in powerful ways to advance His kingdom. Pray that He would yet again shake the kingdoms of this earth with the fervent preaching of His glorious Gospel. Our God has done this time and again in the past, and He can and will so move yet again. Are you so praying and watching expectantly?

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Italian police: Muslim refugees threw Christians overboard

November 20, 2015

By Mark Ellis
Passengers rescued
Passengers rescued
On a crowded rubber boat filled with refugees traveling from Libya to Italy, Muslims threw 12 fellow passengers overboard — killing them — because the 12 were Christians, Italian police said Thursday.
Italian authorities arrested 15 people on the boat and charged them with murdering the Christians at sea, police in Palermo told CNN.
The original group of 105 people left Libya on Tuesday. Sometime during the trip north across the Mediterranean Sea, the alleged assailants — Muslims from the Ivory Coast, Mali and Senegal — threw the 12 overboard, police told CNN.
Other people on the voyage told police that they themselves were spared “because they strongly opposed the drowning attempt and formed a human chain,” Palermo police reported.
Man arrested for throwing Christians overboard
Man arrested for throwing Christians overboard
The boat was stopped by an Italian navy ship, which removed the passengers and placed them on a Panamanian ship. That ship reached Palermo on Wednesday, after which the arrests were made, CNN reported.
The 12 who died were from Nigeria and Ghana, police said.
Thousands of refugees make the treacherous journey each year from North Africa to Europe’s Mediterranean coast, often aboard vessels poorly suited for such a trip. Many are trying to escape war and impoverished circumstances in Africa and the Middle East.
More than 10,000 people arrived on Italian shores from Libya since last weekend alone, the Italian coast guard reported to CNN.
Many die each year while attempting the voyage, often after their boats capsize. Last year at least 3,200 died attempting to make the trip. Since 2000, according to the International Organization for Migration, almost 22,000 migrants have perished trying to cross the Mediterranean.
On November 19th, another boat sank trying to make the journey. Only four people survived of the original 45 aboard, bringing the estimated death toll this year to nearly a thousand.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Books read in November 2015

For the summer months there have been no reviews. I had though not stopped reading. I had turned mainly to reading light fiction and being generally rather less than active But after a most refreshing fortnight in the U.S. I am thankfully in better form.

1.  Travel through Wales  – by John Aaron (Author), Gwyn Davies (Author), Brian Edwards (Editor)

I have read and own a number of these Day One guides. They are more than well illustrated travel guides. They give the reader lots of church history. This volume on Wales is no exception. Famous name from church history in Wales are here together with the more obscure. As usual in the series there are fine illustrations. This is a book to encourage some tours round the principality to see the setting of the history . There is though one sad note struck but the information that such and such a chapel or church building has now been put to secular use. True spirituality has declined with time. Finally there is a helpful glossary concerning Welsh place names and one can learn about the denomination which is native to Wales, Calvinistic Methodism.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Canon Andrew White believes the only answer to Islamic State (ISIS) it to ‘radically destroy them’

'If you want to make peace, you can’t just do it with the nice people. Nice people don’t cause the wars’

By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
Canon Andrew White useLONDON, UK (ANS – November 18, 2015) – Canon Andrew White, the UK-born Anglican priest who is affectionately known as “Vicar of Baghdad”, has dedicated his life to making peace.
For many years he headed St. George’s Church in Baghdad, located in one of Iraq’s deadliest sectors, he has watched hundreds from his congregation killed or tortured.
Raised a Pentecostal, he says that more than 1,200 men, women and children who worshipped with him have been killed in recent years, he says. Four boys he knew were beheaded because they refused to swear allegiance to Islam. The church caretaker was forced to watch as his five-year-old boy was cut in half.
White has captured by terrorists, and also survived death threats, as well as a huge price on his head, all while battling his own debilitating multiple sclerosis.
Eventually, White had to be ordered to leave Baghdad by his close friend the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby.
“He said to me, ‘Andrew, look, what you are doing is so important and the reality is you are more use alive than dead. Come out of there. Don’t die.’” he revealed in a recent interview in London with Cole Moreton in The Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk).
White says that his new home in in Jordan, and says, “I see myself as the pastor of the Iraqi refugee community in Jordan. I am providing them with food, housing, education for their children and a clinic to give them healthcare.”
Canon Andrew White in his Baghdad officeIt was during his extraordinary interview with Morton, shortly before the deadly Paris terrorist attacks, that he revealed his views about the only way to deal with Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
White said that there used to be 1.5 million Christians in Iraq but now there are only 260,000.
“Some are calling it genocide. Surely he no longer believes that negotiations with ISIS could work?” Moreton told White, who then replied, “Can I be honest? You are absolutely right. You can’t negotiate with them. I have never said that about another group of people. These are really so different, so extreme, so radical, so evil.”
So what is to be done? “We must try and continue to keep the door open. We have to show that there is a willingness to engage. There are good Sunni leaders; they are not all evil like ISIS,” he said.
White then made his dramatic statement, saying, “You are asking me how we can deal radically with ISIS. The only answer is to radically destroy them. I don’t think we can do it by dropping bombs. We have got to bring about real change. It is a terrible thing to say as a priest.
My Journey so Far“You’re probably thinking, ‘So you’re telling me there should be war?’ Yes!”
He went on to say, “It really hurts. I have tried so hard. I will do anything to save life and bring about tranquility, and here I am forced by death and destruction to say there should be war.”
Moreton wrote that “some will be outraged by the views of the Anglican priest, but Canon White does not care. He really does believe in loving his enemies – even when they put a price on his head, and when war seems inevitable.”
White concluded by saying, “Sometimes the impossible can happen. “If you want to make peace, you can’t just do it with the nice people. Nice people don’t cause the wars.”
At present, Andrew White is on tour in the UK promoting his new autobiography, My Journey So Far (Lion), and he has a home and a family in Sussex, England, but says these two weeks are his longest visit to Britain in years.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The irony of IS attacking Paris

In the West we have a concept of religion and state which is not found in Muslim thought. Islam they will say is not a religion, something about private belief. It is a comprehensive philosophy of life where the religious and the political are in no way separate. The islamic garment is a seamless robe. So, France is to IS a part of the western crusader enemy. Western and Christian are synonyms in IS thinking. So here is the irony. France is perhaps the most secular, least Christian country in the public square in the whole of Europe. Its revolution was not only against the monarchical, aristocratic regime, but also fiercely anti-clerical. So this most secular of states is the prime target for IS which sees it as a crusader regime. Also it would appear that those who think that abolishing all religion would lead to a better world have no comprehension that Islam is not a mere religion.

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tandoori Chicken - my signature dish

This is a favourite for church pot luck dinners and family meals. I have made it for many years and have reverted to following my late mother's  culinary ways. Ingredients were not measured. She knew what to put in by experience. Here goes.

Take a packet of frozen chicken, defrost, skin and score each pice twice each side.

Prepare the marinade. To a large pot of yoghurt add two heaped tablespoons of tandoori spice and two tablespoons of vinegar and lemon juice. For a hotter dish add a teaspoonful of chilli powder, or more if you like it very hot hot.  Mix then mix in the chicken. Marinade for four hours or overnight. Cover and cook in a medium oven for 90 minutes.

Take out the chicken and grill it, turning when well browned. Use the marinade poured onto the chicken to moisten it and keep the marinade warm. Serve the pieces separate from the marinade which serves as a sauce.

Eat with rice, naan, poppadums. We have coleslaw for a vegetable but one can use any veg, curried or not. For church I double the amounts.


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Update from Nigeria

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Replacement theology?

I was recently accused by a Facebook friend of posting replacement theology. It all started when I said that the name 'Israel' refers to a person or a people, not to the land. I do not believe that the present land and nation of Israel are a fulfilment of prophecy for I see God's prophetic promises are contingent upon the repentance of the covenant people. Israel today, whether in the land or diaspora, is a Messiah rejecting people so the establishment of the state of Israel is not a fulfilment of promise. The promises are for the spiritual, Israel the church. Israel according to the flesh is I believe, in lines with Rom 11, simultaneously an elect nation because of covenant promises and a cursed one because their messiah is rejected.Please do not take the last sentence as antisemitic. One can speak against Zionism but not dislike Jews. After all not all Jews are Zionist. But this morning I read this passage and it registered in a way I had not seen before.

“‘And gI will give you shepherds after my own heart, hwho will feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16 And when you have multiplied and been fruitful in the land, in those days, declares the Lord, they shall no more say, “The ark of the covenant of the Lord.” It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again. 17 At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lordiand all nations shall gather to it, jto the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart. 18 kIn those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land lof the north to mthe land that I gave your fathers for a heritage.- Jer 4:15ff ESV

Those who want a rebuilt temple are in error. No ark to be restored means no temple. Yet God is to be present in Jerusalem and worshipped by all nations. There has never been a reunification or return of the two kingdoms. I do not expect one as the church is the spiritual recipient and fulfillment  of these promises now.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Blessed are those when men block them on Facebook

I have AFAIK just been blocked for the fourth time by a Facebook 'friend'. Interestingly none of these blockers know me in the real world, only the virtual. Two are men from the USA, two in Scotland. The first was a pastor in Las Vegas who did not like my critique of gambling as a sinful recreation. Next was a German, living in Scotland who differed from my views on many things like the Allied bombing in WW2 and the right of EU foreigners to vote in the Scottish referendum. Next I had a Scottish journalist who disliked my comments on the late I R K Paisley. He unfriended me despite me giving a favourable review of a book he had authored. Lastly today a liberal pastor in USA did not like me asking him to define fundamentalist which seemed to be his favoured pejorative word. In the past I have held elected office in local government. The contrast between personal relationships in the political sphere, civil and friendly, contrasts greatly with the sphere of church and relations between christians. Why cannot Christians who differ remain civil and friendly? Finally I should say that I have deduced the reasons I was blocked. It is unlikely that any of these four men will read this but if they do, I am open to correction if they believe I have misrepresented their views here. Others may have blocked me but these four are the ones known to me.

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A reflection on events in Paris

It seems to me that since the West has largely abandoned any Christian worldview  and the transforming gospel it has nothing to combat the ideology of Islam. A reformation of the religion of peace is a vain hope. The West's ideologies of secularism and multiculturalism have no ideological weapons capable of eradicating or controlling this malign force. Only the Christian gospel does.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

The voluble Hitchens brothers and their tussle over fai

By Anthony Gutierrez and Mark Elli

Christopher (left) and Peter Hitchens
Christopher (left) and Peter Hitchens
To inaugurate his atheism, 15-year-old Peter Hitchens burned his Bible outside his Cambridge boarding school in 1967 in front of a group of curious and enthusiastic fellow students.
The desecration turned out to be anti-climatic. The Bible didn’t catch fire in the hoped-for dramatic fashion. As a matter of fact, the thick stack of paper pages were poor kindling and the wind put it out. Only with much coaxing and much patience did it partially burn. His friends, eager to gawk at the anti-God defiance, lost interest and drifted away.
Today, Peter Hitchens, has come full circle. After enlisting with Troskty communists and championing atheist causes, he is now back to Christianity. His older brother Christopher, a media darling and atheistic provocateur with a best-seller God is Not Great, never came back to faith.

Peter Hitchens
Peter Hitchens
The brothers faced-off in a 2008 debate in Grand Rapids over the existence of God. Peter had answered his brother’s jeers against God with his own book, The Rage Against God. The spirited debate was watched keenly: It was more than a clash between two Titans of undisputed intellect from polar extremes; it was two fiercely feuding brothers.
Christopher died in December 2011 from esophageal cancer, a condition provoked and exacerbated by hard drinking. At 64, younger brother Peter maintains good health, still cycling on public roadways at some risk to life and limb.
Peter’s journey back to God started after the young English gentleman, born of a British Naval officer, became a full-fledged activist from the left who clashed with police and got arrested for breaking into a fallout shelter.
By his own admission, Peter was a foul-mouthed juvenile delinquent who mocked his elders and anyone perceived to be weak. He raged against police and experimented amply with drugs. He was a card-carrying member of the Trotskyist International Socialists from 1969 to ’75.
“There were also numberless acts of minor or major betrayal, ingratitude, disloyalty, dishonor, failure to keep
A tale of two brothers
A tale of two brothers
promises and meet obligations, oath-breaking, cowardice, spite or pure selfishness,” admits the UK Daily Mail columnist.
“I have passed through the same atheist revelation that most self-confident British members of my generation — I was born in 1951 – have experienced,” he says. “We were sure that we, and our civilization, had grown out of the nursery myths of God, angels and Heaven. We had modern medicine, penicillin, jet engines, the welfare state, the United Nations and ‘science,’ which explained everything that needed to be explained.”
But his enthusiasm for the secular state began to founder when he worked as a reporter based in Moscow, where he saw the utter lack of morality and even manners – the result of decapitating God from society.
“The biggest fake miracle staged in human history was the claim that the Soviet Union was a new civilization of equality, peace, love, truth, science and progress,” he wrote in The Rage Against God. “Everyone knows that it was a prison, a slum, a return to primitive barbarism, a kingdom of lies where scientists and doctors feared offending the secret police, and that its elite were corrupt and lived in secret luxury.”
Today, he decries the violence of England’s rough neighborhoods in which “practical atheists” kick rivals’ heads “as if it were a football.”
“If you venture into the areas where these people live, you will find a complete absence of any kind of moral feeling whatsoever, a complete absence of self-government among the strong, among the healthy, among those who are able to take control and take advantage of their neighbors,” Peter said in the 2008 debate. “Christianity and everything that went with it have vanished from among them. They are practical atheists.”
But if Russia, North Korea and the cruel streets of England exposed the fraud of the great social experiment, it was a simple piece of artwork that reignited his faith.
At 30 years old, he was admiring Rogier Van Der Weyden’s 15th-century painting “Last Judgment” with naked figures hurtling towards hell, when suddenly he was overcome, not with a mystical presence, but with a simple impression that Christianity is not an outmoded fairy tale adopted to explain the mysteries of the world. It realized it is a reality of present day importance.
“I gaped, my mouth actually hanging open. These people did not appear remote or from the ancient past; they were my own generation,” he noted in The Rage Against God. “I had absolutely no doubt I was among the damned.”
At about that time, he let himself be charmed Christmas again. “I had pretended to dislike Christmas for many years,” he wrote. “I was enjoying it, although I was unwilling to admit it. I also knew I was losing my faith in politics and my trust in ambition and was urgently in need of something else on which to build the rest of my life.”
His girlfriend, who was not a Christian, wanted to get married in the Anglican church, and when the ceremony was performed, feelings long suppressed began to reassert themselves in his heart.
When he began to attend church, his journalistic cronies scoffed at him.
“For many years I was more or less ashamed of confessing to any religious faith at all,” he says.
Meanwhile, Christopher had taken up residence in America, digging deeper into his trademark God-bashing. He called believers “stupid” and a doting liberal media described him as “one of the four horsemen of the non-apocalypse” – along with Richard Dawkins. A movement called “New Atheism” was born, and Christopher was at the forefront.
The chasm between brothers didn’t open with their tussle over faith. It had existed since childhood and only grew wider.
As children, elder and younger fought like Cain and Abel. The painful dueling go so intense, their father imposed a peace treaty upon them. But it was Peter who tore up the familial contract displayed on the wall in a fit of rage.
Both were journalists who left their youthful leftist leanings and became conservative.
Their turbulent squabble has vented in publications and counter publications. “The complex relationship between me and my brother has been public property,” Peter rues.
The Grand Rapids debate was a showdown for which many pundits had yearned, proposed and heralded. But if they expected that one of the gladiators would die in agony, they were disappointed. Actually, before the debate, the brothers shared a friendly meal cooked by Christopher.
They engaged energetically on issues and accused each other of intellectual hypocrisy but retained a mutual cordiality.
The relationship was thawing, and the unfortunate progress of the cancer in Christopher seemed to help both to leave their differences and concentrate on enjoying those things they had in common.
“We got on surprisingly well in the past few months – better than for about 50 years,” Peter wrote in the Daily Mail.
When Christopher passed to his eternal destiny, Peter praised his courage to fight issues, even if the wrong ones and in the wrong way.
A Twitter account heaped praise on Christopher and disdain on Peter: “The wrong Hitchens brother died,” Terry Frost tweeted.
Though tactless, he was right in another way. One brother was ready to meet his Maker, the other ill-prepared for eternity. Indeed, the wrong Hitchens brother died.
Anthony Gutierrez is a student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015


From an American grandmother friend. 

Cleverly done!!!

T'was two months before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.
Why the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas - no one could

The children were told by their schools not to sing
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would
December 25th is just a ' Holiday '.

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, cheques and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CD's from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-Pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Fran-ken & Fonda..
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was nowhere to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-is-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton,
Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.

And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
not "Happy Holiday "!

Please, all Christians join together and
wish everyone you meet

Christ is The Reason for the Christ-mas Season!
If you agree please forward, if not, simply delete.
Remember we as Christians are to represent what Peace looks like!

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Monday, November 09, 2015

Amy Carmichael

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Latest from Nigeria

Things seem to have settled on the Plateau and we are no longer on red alert. Quite a number of B/H were caught and the Fulanis and locals have promised not to fight but promises are easily broken so we need to pray for peace.
In the NE over 200 women and children were released from the Sambisa Forest and are now in Maiduguri. There are still bombs going off from time to time in Maiduguri . The soldiers are trying hard and keep finding B/H camps and destroying them.Pray that they may be successful.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

USA holiday 15usa

Tuesday 3rd November the Larsons drove us the 260 miles to Baltimore and the airport. Once again a fine sunny day. We have had only one wet day all holiday and temperatures have been warm. There is still some autumnal colour but most leaves have fallen. Three hours wait at the airport as our incoming flight was late so we were an hour late departing, Plane full. Entertainment system not working.

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USA holiday 14

Monday 2nd November in the morning we went into town to the excellent Heinz Museum. The food king established his empire from here in the late 19th century. He was a good Methodist, caring for his workers so Heinz was strike free until 1927. But before the company’s part of the museum we first looked at the floor devoted to the British, French and Indian war. This settled North America as British not French. Zit was described as the first ever world war. next we looked at exhibits on the local glass industry and then a ’Slavery to Freedom’ exhibit. It was informative but sadly missed two vital facts. Europeans did not catch Africans to enslave them. They traded with the local Africans who had enslaved fellow Africans. Secondly there was no mention of the more prolonged, bigger trade of Muslim Arabs enslaving Africans from the east of the continent, not to mention north african Barbary Corsairs enslaving Europeans for five centuries. In the evening we had FaceTime with Debbie, newly arrived in Sacramento via Seattle

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USA holiday 13

Sunday 1st November we went to Hampton Presbyterian (PCUSA) near Alison Park, the Pittsburg suburb where the Larsons live. Elliott taught a good adult Sunday School on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The building is modern and they have three morning services. Ours was the last one, traditional format, good liturgy, robed choir and pastor as was hid female assistant. Sermon was expository on God always with us. Communion was a little strange. H broke a loaf of bread before us but the plate passed had small squares of shortbread then what I call thimbles of grape juice. No coffee after but we went into the city to an unusual fish eaterie which mainly sold wet fish. Then we went up the Duquesne incline, a funicular railway cliff lift. It took us up the Washington Heights overlooking the city with its three rivers and many bridges. A football game was in progress at Heinz Field. We could see part of the crowd and hear them too. This was originally the site of a French Fort in the mid 18th century. The local indians were their allies but we defeated them and named the settlement below after the British premier, Pitt the Elder.

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

USA holiday 12

Saturday 31st October I had a lazy day staying at home in Mansion Larson, the only house I have seen with a five car garage. Katy went for a walk with our host while I saw the rugby world cup final live on TV, a broadcast I only found thanks to a tweet from Russell Crowe on BBC News website. I am for the first time ever sorry to see an Aussie team lose. my usual way is to support England and any team playing against Australia.

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95 Theses

Real title, "Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences," .

Key Statements

Here are 13 samples of Luther's theses:
1. When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, says "Repent ye," etc., he means that the entire life of the faithful should be a repentance.
2. This statement cannot be understood of the sacrament of penance, i.e., of confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priesthood.
27. They preach human folly who pretend that as soon as money in the coffer rings a soul from purgatory springs.
32. Those who suppose that on account of their letters of indulgence they are sure of salvation will be eternally damned along with their teachers.
36. Every Christian who truly repents has plenary [full] forgiveness both of punishment and guilt bestowed on him, even without letters of indulgence.
37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has a share in all the benefits of Christ and the Church, for God has granted him these, even without letters of indulgence.
45. Christians should be taught that whoever sees a person in need and, instead of helping him, uses his money for an indulgence, obtains not an indulgence of the pope but the displeasure of God.
51. Christians should be taught that the pope ought and would give his own substance to the poor, from whom certain preachers of indulgences extract money, even if he had to sell St. Peter's Cathedral to do it.
81. This shameless preaching of pardons makes it hard even for learned men to defend the pope's honor against calumny or to answer the indubitably shrewd questions of the laity.
82. For example: "Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love … for after all, he does release countless souls for the sake of sordid money contributed for the building of a cathedral? …"
90. To suppress these very telling arguments of the laity by force instead of answering them with adequate reasons would be to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies and to render Christians unhappy.
94. We should admonish Christians to follow Christ, their Head, through punishment, death, and hell.
95. And so let them set their trust on entering heaven through many tribulations rather than some false security and peace.
Within two months, Johann Tetzel fired back with his own theses, including: "Christians should be taught that the Pope, by authority of his jurisdiction, is superior to the entire Catholic Church and its councils, and that they should humbly obey his statutes."
Reprinted from "Protestants' Most-Famous Document," the Editors of ChristianHistory.net. Click here to read the original article and for reprint information.

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USA holiday 11

Friday 30th October we drove the about 10 miles into Pittsburgh and visited Phipps Conservatory, a large greenhouse complex with various rooms like Japanese, desert, tropical and orchids. In the evening we went to Heinz Hall for a classical concert, first a composition from a 21 year old pianist. He was very accomplished but once you are past the 19th century the music is not for me. (Elgar is an exception.) Next was Gershwin. Very much the jazz age but best of the evening for me as the last piece was Richard Strauss.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

USA holiday 10

Thursday 29th October the Larson's RV took us on the four hour journey through Pennsylvania to their Pittsburgh home  which is a veritable mansion in the woods, shared with son Paul, his wife Alysia and their five children. Soon there will be seven children with two to be adopted from Ghana. The five are at present homeschooled. The sun shone on our journey with varied autumn colours though many trees have already shed their leaves.

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USA holiday 9

Wednesday 28th October we stayed at the Gettysburg RV camp. It was our first wet day but no problem. We were taken on a tour of the battlefield area. It is a national park and the town has not been expanded too much since 1863. Gettysburg was a three day battle which put a stop to the Confederate invasion of Union territory though the was dragged on two more bloody years. IMO Robert E Lee should have been the victor but mistakes were made. He lacked the counsel of his most trusted general, Stonewall Jackson, who died from friendly fire at Chancellorville, unlike the film which has him present. We had a guide all to ourselves and the Larsons and he drove their car. This battlefield and its museum are far far better than anything in Europe. What have we in the UK except Culloden and in Europe Waterloo is not a patch on this. The battlefield has more memorials than any other in the world. Veterans started coming back soon after the was ended. But it was not until 1917 that Lee got his statue. Pictures have been uploaded including some to the Cyclorama in the museum. It is the largest painting in North America and over 100 years old. The museum is very educational with a film of the battle and many exhibits telling the story of the war's bloodiest battle with 51,000 casualties.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

USA holiday 8

On Tuesday 27th the Larsons took us in their RV to Harpers Ferry in West Virginia. At the outbreak of the Civil War this was the location of the Federal armoury and arsenal. It is located at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. Before the war the ferry was replaced by a rail bridge which was a casualty in the war when the town changed hands eight times. It was famous before the war for the attack by abolitionist John Brown. He killed a local free back man, was captured and hanged. Later in the afternoon we drove to the Gettysburg RV Park and in the evening watched the second DVD about the terrible battle where over 50,000 died.

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