Friday, October 2, 2009

When does Sabbath begin in the Arctic?

Recently a friend wrote to me regarding an email he'd received from a friend of his. The topic was, when does the Sabbath begin (and end). I have thought and studied long on this subject, since we are living in the Arctic region and sunset comes so early (or so late) here. I ended up writing a long response to him, and I have edited it into an article for your enjoyment (and hopefully edification) here.

First, no matter where you are on earth there is a 24-hour cycle. How that cycle is measured may differ. At the poles, in mid-winter (Around December 21), you will observe a slight decrease in the darkness every day. That should correspond to Sunrise, Noon, and Sunset, all at once (though the sun will never actually rise). In mid-summer (Around June 21), you would observe a slight decrease in the light every day as the sun dips in it's cycle around the horizon. That should correspond to midnight.

In the Arctic regions in mid-summer, the sun will visibly travel around the horizon, from North (midnight) to East, to South, to West, and back to North. In mid-winter, the sun (if you are far enough south to even see it) will appear briefly over the Southern horizon then dip back over the horizon.

Before the advent of railroads, people's time was actually more correctly kept by the sun. You could set your clock to 12 noon when the sun was high overhead. But that was inconvenient for railroads to keep track of, because if you traveled some distance your pocket watch would be off by some unknown number of minutes and you would end up missing appointments, etc. The railroad decided to use time zones, so when you arrived in a new time zone you could reset your watch by a whole number of hours, instead of some unknown number of minutes.

In the process of using time zones, governments have put an unnatural influence on the time system, which God intended to be based on the sun. While it is convenient, it is completely artificial to have time zones as we do today. For instance, when Alaska first was "time zoned" there were three different time zones, based on dividing the width of Alaska by the distance covered by the sun in one hour. Since the earth is about 24000 miles in circumference, the distance in each time zone should be about 1000 miles. Alaska is not 3000 miles across but it is more than 1000 miles across, so part of Alaska was in each of three time zones (with the majority of it in the middle time zone). However, for convenience' sake the government has now put all of Alaska into the same time zone. This means that the sun is highest in the sky for us, not at noon (as it should be) but about 2 pm.

Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, before his death due to cancer, wrote an article dealing with this subject. I recommend reading it before you continue reading this post. I highly respect Dr. Bacchiocchi, but I differ with him on several points.

First, considering how the government has played with time zones, not only in Alaska but in other areas where it is convenient, it is clear that the "time" does not always correspond to the actual "sun time". This is especially true when Daylight-saving Time (DST) is in effect.

Due to this, I differ with Dr. Bacchiocchi's argument that in polar regions the Sabbath should be kept from 6 pm to 6 pm. (Though I might see some sense in keeping it from the average Sunset to Sunset-- which would actually be about 8 pm in our region due to the skewed time zones).

Bacchiocchi also makes a couple of other points I differ with:

1. Bacchiocchi appears to claim that the Old Testament does not specify when Sabbath should begin, and that we only have New Testament custom to determine that. He does mention the "even to even" specified regarding the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:32) but seems to think that the other Sabbaths' starting/ending times would have gone unspecified. I have a hard time believing God was that vague. He specified the day as "The Evening and the Morning" for the first through sixth days (Genesis 1:31) and rested the Seventh day (Genesis 2:2-3), so the evening-to-evening specification of a day seems clear enough.

2. Bacchiocchi makes a quite a point of needing to work the other six days according to the fourth commandment, as though we'd be breaking that commandment if we are unable to work for an employer because of our Sabbath observance. There are a number of flaws in this argument:

God never commanded us to work for an employer. We could take Jesus question "Are there not twelve hours in the day" and combine that with "Six days you shall labor". If Bacchiocchi is right, we should be laboring for 6x12=72 hours a week, and Bacchiocchi implies that it must be for some employer other than ourselves (otherwise, we could simply ask for Friday off and work for the Lord, preparing for the Sabbath). The real issue is, doing that would be inconvenient for most people living in the temperate zone, much less in the arctic.

There is nothing wrong with asking your employer for two days off, especially since God designed the sixth day to be the Preparation for the Sabbath. Maybe we really should not be working for an employer on that day anyway. That would leave us free to keep the Sabbath from Sunset to Sunset wherever we live. At least, we should make sure we are prepared for Sabbath before Sabbath begins.

If you take Bacchiocchi's argument as true, people living even as far south as Seattle would be working until after the Sabbath began, since Sunset this year (2009) in Seattle is as early as 4:17 pm. How far do you want to take this argument? It doesn't make sense to advocate 6 pm to 6 pm for the arctic region, but not for Seattle as well. If you make that claim, then we might as well all observe Sabbath from 6 pm to 6 pm.

I think it is better to take the Bible as it reads, even if it is inconvenient for our schedule-driven society. It's a good reminder that our schedules are subject to God, not our own wills. Yes, it may be inconvenient in Seattle to ask to get off as early as 4 pm (3 pm if you want to get home before Sabbath, in traffic, Noon if you want to have any Preparation time). Here in Selawik, it's also inconvenient when the sun sets at 2:41 pm. Farther North in Barrow, you don't even have any actual sun. You might have to use the lightest point in the day (dark as it is) as your sunrise, noon and sunset all in one. (For reference, the earliest ending of twilight in Barrow in December 2009, is at 2:54 pm).

Now that I've made my counter arguments, I want to make it clear that I don't think God is so much interested in us measuring the precise moment the sun goes over the horizon, as the principle of letting God rule our schedule. Your horizon might differ from mine, depending on how high a hill you live on, and how high the mountains are between you and the sun. But God can still be master of your life and mine if we let Him.

I believe there are several practical reasons God had for starting the day in the evening. Bacchiocchi brought out some of them, such as a family gathering from their work. I also think there is a psychological start to your day in the evening. If you go to bed with your secular thoughts, you will likely awake with them as well. God wanted us to retire for the night, having already welcomed the Sabbath, so when we awake, we would be ready to commune with Him in a special way.

As for how our family celebrates the Sabbath, we have decided to keep Sabbath for more than 24 hours. In the summer, we begin Sabbath observance at our supper meal, even though the sun will not set until 2 am Saturday morning. This is because of the aforementioned psychological reason I believe God had for the Sabbath beginning before you go to bed. We want to make our Friday evening meal a special one even if it is not technically Sabbath yet.

In the winter, though Sabbath may be technically over as early as 2:41 pm, we may not have finished potluck yet, and we certainly don't want to stop celebrating and enjoying the Sabbath hours. So we end up celebrating it until later in the evening. Since Sabbath is a delight to us, we do not see any reason to limit it to a mere 24 hours, though I wouldn't try to keep it all week as some Sunday keepers claim they do. Clearly there is a place for the 6 days of labor, but I don't think that should mean we cannot keep a few extra hours of Sabbath to guard it's edges.

In conclusion, I've outlined my scientific, Biblical and practical reasons behind how we observe Sabbath as a family. However, I also feel it is important to leave some of these details up to the conscience of others. While I am happy to share my reasons and beliefs with others, I wouldn't want to impose my specific method on others. I would rather that others find Sabbath to be a delight, than that they burden it down with legalistic rules for when it should begin and end. I hope that by my example, others can find the joy of true Sabbath observance, which begins in the heart, with a relationship with the Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus Christ.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Theory of Creation

Recently, Verity and I have been watching an online controversy over a Christian school teaching evolution. In the ensuing online discussion, someone posted a challenge of sorts:

But yes - please, someone, show me a good, credible, well founded scientific account, that accounts for all of the evidence (rather than picking at the edges of a few pieces of it) and is consistent with recent creation, and I'll be enormously grateful.

I responded to that post with the following response. My method starts with the Bible to build my scientific theory, but uses scientific evidence to bolster the theory, and attempts to account for all actual, observable evidence (as opposed to other theories which do not start with the Bible). It is my claim that, though I may not have all the evidence (I don't) and the theory is open to change (like any theory), the basic points the Bible teaches need to be the foundation for truth.

I would like to hear of evidence you feel contradicts this theory (or that would support it, for that matter). I know I need many more references to back what are "founded" assertions (but without references provided). I will try to add these as I have time or assistance from others. With that intro, here is my theory.

The Age of the Earth

First, the physical rocks of the earth, created in the beginning by God, must have been created instantaneously. Polonium halos are found in the granite rocks of the earth, which demonstrate that the rocks must have formed instantaneously. If the rocks had been left over from a big bang, gradually cooling to granite, the results of polonium isotopic decay would not be visible for us today:

Second, the common idea that scientific dating methods make a long age of the earth certain, is in error. New research shows that "Instead of radiometric dating being a challenge to creationists, it is now a challenge to uniformitarians."

See for details.

Radiometric dating depends on three main assumptions:
1. Known quantity of initial isotopes. (e.g. we know how long the candle was to start with).
2. Constant decay rate (e.g. we know how fast the candle was burning, and it remained the same the whole time).
3. Closed system (equilibrium).

Surprisingly, the second assumption is the one most wrong (contrary to what skeptics had long alleged). There is good evidence of accelerated decay in the past.

So far, we've only dealt with the evidence regarding dating of rocks and fossils. Now, to continue with the theory, guided by the Bible account of creation and the flood.

The Structure of the Earth

At creation, the Bible states that the earth consisted of a core covered with water (no continents visible). Thus, there must have been a large quantity of water on the surface until the dry land was made to appear. Revelation 21:1 tells us the new heavens and earth will have no more sea (meaning, no giant bodies of water). The weather we currently experience is largely governed by ocean currents and temperatures, and evaporation over the ocean provides atmospheric moisture for rain. Atmospheric heating and cooling is then responsible for wind which carries moisture laden air over landmasses where elevation cools the air and precipitates the moisture out of it. This supplies water for rivers and streams to water the surface of the continents.

It is reasonable to conclude that the original creation also had no sea, especially since Genesis 2:5 tells us that it had not rained yet at that point (and likely would not have until the flood).

Okay, skeptics are already laughing. No rain? No sea? Well, it is largely because humans are so used to life on *this* planet that we have a hard time imagining life in any other situation. But a simple survey of the universe should show us that things like the water cycle are not universal on every planet. They depend on a certain set of circumstances, ones which the Bible tells us were not there in the beginning.

Where did the rivers come from, to water the land? (Genesis 2:10)

To understand this, we must digress. Here are some of the factors which cause our current water cycle:
1. Atmospheric temperature fluctuation due to the rotation of the earth, and an atmosphere thin enough to permit significant solar heating
2. Large bodies of water (oceans) to evaporate.
3. Large land masses (continents) with changes in elevation (mountains) to trigger cooling and precipitation.
4. Heating and cooling cycles caused by the rotation of the earth in relation to the sun.

Parts of the world even today do not frequently experience our water cycle. We call them deserts.

Since the Bible states it had not rained in the beginning, our theory must conclude that there was no sea (which agrees with the description of the new earth in Revelation). Now, if there was no sea, where did all the water covering the earth in Genesis 1:2 go? Several places:

1. Some water went above the "firmament" (Genesis 1:6-7). The "firmament" or expanse or atmosphere did not simply contain evaporated water (like at present) but separated the waters. Some have speculated that there might have been an ice layer around our earth, which was destroyed in the global flood. While skeptics like to laugh this off, you must keep in mind that there are other planets which do have frozen gas layers of various kinds around them. Something of this nature may have shielded the earth from harmful radiation, unlike at present, and may have also served to equalize the earth's temperature much more. You may have noticed that on cloudy days, the day does not get as hot, but on cloudy nights, the night does not get as cool either.

Genesis 7:11 refers to the windows of heaven being opened. This could be describing the collapse of the trapped frozen layer of water above the earth. While it might not take 40 days and nights for that water to rain down, continual re-evaporation could prolong the process (as happens in modern rain forests, when it rains for months on end without stopping. Nobody would claim that is impossible-- it happens all the time).

2. Some water went below the surface of the ground (Genesis 1:9 says the waters were gathered together in "one place"). We've already established both Biblically and scientifically that there must have been no large bodies of water before the flood (else there would have been rain). And it would be consistent of God to promise a new earth like the original earth had been (no sea).

What would a large body of water under the earth do? We know what small bodies of water under the earth do today. Many places on earth benefit from naturally heated water. Greenland and Iceland benefit from geothermal energy for much of their energy needs. My theory is that God originally had a large circulatory system for the water under the earth. Instead of ocean currents causing hurricanes on the surface (as they do today), under-continent currents would heat the earth's crust evenly from below. Springs of water (artesian wells, geysers, etc.) would come forth at various locations to water the surface of the earth (see Genesis 2:10). The rivers produced enough evaporation to cause a light mist (dew) to form on the surface of the earth every night, but no heavy rains (Genesis 2:6).

So far, this is all theory, but there is good scientific evidence that the surface of the earth in the polar regions was once warm enough for large plants (e.g. giant ferns) to grow. I live in Alaska, where we regularly find fossils of this nature.

Now we've answered the question, "Where did the rivers come from?". There was a water cycle, but not the one we know today. Clearly the earth has changed much since it was created "Good, Good, Very Good".

The Inhabitants of the Earth

Now, we can make sense of some of the other things skeptics like to laugh at. Why did early people live so long?

1. Having just been created with great vitality, human life took a long time to wear out (barring accident or murder). Disease was practically unknown.

2. Having a radiation barrier, mutation-causing defects would be rare. It is interesting to note that it is only after the flood that barrenness (e.g. Sarah and Abraham) begins to happen. It may be the case that the flood stirred up a large quantity of previously buried radioactive material, which was now much closer to the surface. This could have decreased life spans, caused barrenness and birth defects, etc. As could the increased radiation from space.

3. At creation, there was no death. Skeptics like to point out animals (and even plants) which appear to be designed to be carnivorous, parasitic, or harmful in some way. However, deeper study can show alternate explanations for these cases. For instance, the case of thorns, it has been shown (I wish I had the article reference, but it was in Creation Magazine) that the genes which produce thorns are the same as those which produce leaves, only tightly curled in on themselves. Original creation was thorn-free, but God designed the ability for rapid, limited adaptation into each kind, in order for them to deal with the situations they would find themselves in.

In much the same way, humans did not eat animal flesh originally. It has been shown in scientific studies that human intestines actually lengthen in a matter of weeks when given a primarily vegetarian diet, and shorten when given a meat diet. This is (of course) to deal with the differing time needed to digest fiber-rich foods (plants) versus meat (which will stagnate and putrefy in a longer intestine). This is why people switching their primary diet from meat to vegetarian will claim they have less strength (they do for some weeks time).

The change away from a plant-based diet decreased lifespans after the flood.

The Global Flood

You already know my theory holds the Biblical flood of Noah's time actually occurred. Skeptics like to point out "flaws" in this idea. They claim that:

1. Noah could not have fit all the species in the ark.
2. Noah's boat would have sunk in the storm.
3. Water could not have covered the highest mountains.
4. All life could not have been destroyed and then grown back in such a short time.

And probably more objections I can't think of at the moment. I will first deal with these objections, then point out how the flood actually provides an excellent explanation for many things we see in nature today.

Answers to Flood Objections

1. Evolutionists know about diversification of species but seem to think that creationists do not believe in it. Fixity of species is not a Biblical viewpoint, and Creationists recognize that Noah would only have had to take one of each original Bible "kind" into the ark (Genesis 7:14). What exactly these kinds were, we don't know, but there are some things we can be fairly sure of. The idea held by some Theistic Evolutionists that the original kinds were at a high level classification (such as "mammals", "birds", "reptiles") and then they evolved from there, does not fit the fossil evidence. Since these "kinds" of creation were the same "kinds" to be taken into the ark (letting the Bible interpret itself), it is not surprising that the fossil record contains a large number and variety of animals, much as we have today (and many which have since gone extinct). However, if there were only a few basic types created, "mammals", "birds" and "reptiles", etc. we would expect to see only a few basic prototypical "kinds" in the fossil record (assuming you place the flood near the beginning of evolution). Or if you place the flood in the recent past (but still with long ages of evolution before it), then you would expect to see only a few basic kinds alive today (not having had enough time to evolve).

All that said, Noah could have taken one "horse/zebra/zorse/donkey/zonkey" etc. pair, one "cat" pair, one "dog" pair, and even pairs of the major dinosaur kinds (as eggs perhaps, or small juveniles). There have been a number of positive results of feasibility studies of Noah's job, given what we know about technology of the past.

2. Technology of the past was much greater than most people realize. Archeology has revealed that early cultures knew about smelting iron, some techniques we don't even know how to replicate in modern times. They knew about batteries, and possibly about winged flight (airplane-shaped models found), certainly about hot air balloon flight.

With decent technology and 120 years to build, Noah could do quite well building the barge. Barge? Yes, the design of the boat as given in the Bible is much like a modern barge, designed not to be steered but to be stable in high waters and rogue waves. Even modern ships are hard pressed when a wave nearly 100 feet high hits them:

But Noah's boat was designed for that (by God's instructions), and of course we must not discount God's supernatural protection (if you believe in God, as I do).

3. Water could not cover the mountains we have today, but as Genesis recounts, in the beginning, water covered the entire planet. Even now, there is plenty of water to cover the planet, if the continents were leveled and the undersea plates were raised. My theory is that the undersea plates cover vast collapsed basins which once held the water God gathered "into one place" (Genesis 1:9). It is interesting that the deepest sea (Marianas Trench) is geographically near the highest mountains (the Himalayas).

Evolutionists of course believe that raising new mountains takes eons of time, especially for ones of non-volcanic origin. But there is significant evidence overlooked (or ignored) by evolutionists. In a number of mountain ranges (one in Italy comes to mind) the granite rocks are twisted in an interesting pattern, a tight whorl, which proves the rocks must have been in a soft state (though non-volcanic). Evolutionists claim these layers were laid down slowly over millions of years, then plunged below the crust to be heated, softened, and twisted into their present shape, then brought back to the surface and raised to their present height as mountains. However, the flaw in their theory is that the individual layers have been preserved. They would have been melted together if they had been in a molten state when they were laid down. The flood explanation fits much better, with the rocks previously being mud layers laid down in the flood, then raised up while still in a soft state, to their present mountain height.

The objection might be raised that granite cannot have formed from mud! However, this is simply uninformed opinion. That mud can mineralize in a short period of time has been demonstrated in a number of locales around the world.

In summary: My theory is that as the Bible claims, the flood covered all the highest mountains of the time (which were much lower than the highest mountains around now). The water to do this now exists in the current ocean basins. These basins were formed when existing surface plates sunk into the space occupied by the "fountains of the great deep". The subterranean cataracts of water that broke forth, combined with the water raining from the vapor barrier above the earth, caused the worldwide flood which destroyed all breathing animals not in the ark. Some marine life did survive (though many were also entombed in under water mud slides, etc.) Of course, many insects and microbes were able to survive amidst the debris floating on the surface, as well as by being free-loaders on the ark.

4. Regarding the rapid recovery of life on the earth, it has long been claimed by scientists that all humans can trace their Mitochondrial DNA back to a single woman (known in popular media as Mitochondrial Eve. Recent research has shown several problems with the assumptions this theory was based on. Read the details here:

Summarizing the article, the mitochondrial clock will have to be recalibrated such that "*Using the new clock, she would be a mere 6,000 years old (1998, Science)*". But the author goes on to reject this, saying "no one thinks that’s the case".

Several other areas of science have shown that a recent recovery from the flood makes sense. By reverse-extrapolating current population growth rates, we can conclude that there was a small group (say, eight) individuals about four thousand years ago. Interestingly, the Mayan calendar had a "year zero" which produces an age of the earth less than one hundred years different from that calculated by Bishop Ussher's Chronology.

Flood contributions

The flood does provide some good explanations for what we observe in nature today. The vast beds of fossils, laid down by rapid deposition in water, demonstrate floods of at least a local nature were in play. In many cases, fossils protrude through more than one "layer" which would otherwise be assumed to be millions of years apart.

The claim by evolutionists that the layers demonstrate the age of the fossils has another explanation possible. In my Bible-based theory, the fossils were laid down as any modern flood would do with rocks. When dealing with rocks, gravel and sand, the finest sediment ends up on top due to the weight and turbulence of the water. The same thing happens when animals are buried in modern floods. The idea that less developed animals were buried millions of years before later developed life forms is flawed. The same evidence can be explained by a single global flood occurring merely thousands of years ago.

Flood waters are also much more powerful than people had assumed. Some recent floods (one in Iceland I believe) demonstrated the power of flood waters to erode solid concrete and rock through cavitation (the same phenomena that damages ship propellers). The same thing has happened to dams that have washed out.

Features such as the Grand Canyon could have eroded in short order, especially considering that what is now rock was once layers of mud. But even the solid rock could erode rapidly when confronted with cavitating water moving at great speed and pressure, such as would have occurred if there was a lake behind the canyon area.

I could post much more on this subject but will stop now due to limited time. If you have more questions or objections, I'd be happy to respond.


I'm sure there are many other objections to be raised by those who disbelieve the Bible account. You have to take off your "evolutionist glasses" in order to see the same evidence through the lens of God's worldview. Once you do that, you will find that the same evidence which is "proof" to an evolutionist often turns out to fit well into a young earth creationist framework. Some times there are challenges to the young earth creationist views, but more often than not, there are significant evidences in favor of the young earth view taught by the Bible, which are overlooked or ignored by evolutionists.

I challenge you who are on the edge between believing what God says literally, or believing the conjectures of most science, to give the literal Bible record a chance. I'm not asking you to believe it outright, though I think it would be wonderful if you did. Jesus said, "Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29). However, I am asking you to at least take what the Bible says as the starting point of a theory, then see how well you can fit the evidence into it. This is the same process used by evolutionists to develop their theories, so why can't you use it to start your own Bible-based theory? If you do that, I suspect you will be amazed to see how the evidence *does* support the Bible, if you give it a chance.

God bless as you study his works.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork." (Psalm 19:1)
"The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple." (Psalm 19:7)

Bible-believing: Minus the Bible

It is with great sadness that I realize many who are in church are believing and teaching the lies of the devil. If it was confined to believing, it would be sad enough, but to be teaching others these things is very tragic. We have come to a time when we need to stand firmly for the truth of the Bible. What seems unusual about the situation is that now people are claiming to believe the Bible while teaching things clearly contrary to the Bible, even to the most casual observer.

Verity and I have been watching an online controversy over a Christian school teaching evolution. One church member defending this practice eventually admitted many other things he also no longer believes from the Bible (while still claiming to be a Bible-believing Christian).

This post is a response to some of his "no-longer-beliefs", not to prove him wrong (though I believe he is) but to demonstrate that his "not-beliefs" are incompatible with clear statements of Scripture.

I no longer believe that God created the earth less than 10,000 years ago to look like it is billions of years old. Why would he lie?
In response to this and other Evolution-related beliefs, I have written another post introducing My Theory of Creation.

Even though a scientist doesn’t acknowledge God, I no longer believe it is possible for him to be outside of a relationship with God. How can devoting your life to understanding how God works be anything other than worship?
Romans 1:22,25 "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools ... Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator..."

I no longer believe I would have made a different choice than Eve. I agree with Eve, I would rather know, than to not know, and I would rather know the difference between good and evil than to be naïve.


If knowledge of God is the greatest good, then Eve made the right choice.

Genesis 3:5 records the devil's assertion that "God knows that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Is it safe to follow the logic of the devil? I think not.

I no longer believe that sin separates man from God. ... I think it is fear that separates.
I no longer think that either my sin, or my death bothers God much. ... He isn’t sorrowful. He is joyful.
In contrast Isiaiah 59:1-3 says, " Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid [his] face from you, that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness."

I no longer feel it is important for me to struggle against sin and my bad habits.

This one is tricky because it is true that we cannot overcome sin in our own strength. But Jesus came into the world to free us from both the guilt and the power of sin. I John 2:4 warns us that "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." I appreciate the promise of Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" and Malachi 3:3, "And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness." (Read Malachi 2:17-3:6 for the context).

God wants us to overcome sin and He promises to do it through His power. So yes, stop struggling in your own strength, but as Hebrews 12:4 says, "You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." So we do need to resist sin through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our lives.

I no longer believe that preaching the gospel or saving souls is the most important thing for me, or the church to do.
But Jesus last words to His disciples (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8) included that commission. It is perhaps even more important for your salvation than it is for the salvation of those you reach. If you don't do it, God will find another, but you yourself may be lost if you refuse God's call on your life. (Esther 4:14)

Ezekiel 33:6 warns, "But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand."

I no longer believe that God has a plan for your life or mine.
But God says, "For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

I don’t think you can expect God to intervene to prevent your death.
This misunderstands the purpose of life and death here on earth. God desires our life but is constrained by the accusations of the devil to leave us with only a time of probation here and now, prior to Heaven and the New Earth.

I'd rather take the attitude of the three friends of Daniel prior to their trial by fire, which was basically, "God is able to save us, but even if He does not, we will not worship your gods" (Daniel 3:17-18). God did honor their commitment to to Him with intervention to prevent their death. I know God has intervened personally in my life to prevent my death. No, I don't expect eternal life in the here and now, but I do trust that God has my life in His hands and I do not fear death because I know it can only happen when He sees the time is right. And I have hope for eternal life at His coming.

I don’t know if there is heaven or hell after death, but I know there is heaven and hell here and now. Don’t miss the heaven here, while hoping for the one in the future.
I would rather miss the heaven here in order to prepare for the one in the future. Jesus promised blessing on those who are persecuted for righteousness sake (Matthew 5:11-12), and Paul tells us that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. " (2 Timothy 3:12)

It is true that Jesus gives us peace in the here and now, regardless of our external circumstances. But this peace is not the peace the world gives (John 14:27). I think of the many Christians who have been at peace while in the midst of persecution, prison, and threat of death. But I fear that if you are enjoying heaven in the here and now, it may be because "You have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton [wasteful]; you have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. " (James 5:5)

Many of us have been living in comfort while others in the world are starving, suffering from disease, etc. and we have done little or nothing to help them. How much better if we had chosen to live in simplicity, sharing our surplus with those in need, both in our local communities and in the world at large. We cannot claim ignorance of world needs, when modern media has made us very aware of them. But I fear we have become callous to the pain of the world. Jesus wants our hearts to hurt with the suffering of those in pain, so we can be in sympathy with Him and care for them as He does.

I pray that everyone who reads this, myself included, will resolve to believe the Word of God as it stands, and by the grace of God, choose to live by every Word of God, as Jesus did and calls us to do.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back in Touch

My last post feels like a lifetime ago, I have passed through so many phases. May was a month of questions for Warren and I. June was wonderful and we stayed outside as much as possible.

July found us in Anchorage attending suicide prevention meetings and house-sitting, followed by campmeeting. We were so blessed to get acquainted with the newest Arctic Adventurers headed for St. Lawrence Island and Bethel. It is such a thrill to see the mission growing. Lee Venden's meetings also touched us greatly with a sense of God's amazing love. You can listen to God is passionately in love with us and would rather die than live without us. I am so full of awe as I think of it.

After we returned, we spent a week cleaning the house and the church because a group of kids decided to have an extended homebrew party here. It finally got us motivated to do a much needed church rearrangement. We now have a computer lab ready for Warren to teach others computer and electronic finance skills.

August kept us in the garden and on the tundra picking berries as well as visiting friends. Sharing from our garden and of homemade bread gives us such a feeling of wealth. We also moved back into our schedule and started school. I am very much looking forward to another of discoveries with the girls.

The radio project is doing so well. I wanted to write about it earlier this summer, but some things were still up in the air. The software is quite stable now and Fritz Pleier is excited about his part in assembling the kits into their cases. We also have another network becoming interested in the project. I love watching God bring all the pieces together at just the right time.

Warren is also finishing installing wind turbines and wiring them. I am so looking forward to having wind-generated electricity.

But the greatest joy of all came yesterday. Warren had downloaded a three part series Lee Venden did on the Holy Spirit following Operation Latter Rain a couple of years ago. We were so blessed by what we learned. I had began to feel that I had lost my focus, but I didn't realize how much until this series touched me in a new way. Please pray for us to be filled with the spirit and we will sense his leading as he fills us with love, energy, and boldness for the tasks gives us. We can easily be distracted and are often tired, but knowing God is that one thing that fills our souls. Move us out, Jesus, is my prayer.

Jesus only,

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dillingham Developments

Here are excepts from an e-mail sent to us from Judy Thompson. For space I have to leave out a lot. So, if you see Judy, ask her about the pizza miracle, it's good!


"In February, we were thrilled to witness the baptism of the parents of one of my students at school. Eric was born and raised an Adventist, but has not been a part of the church for many years. But recently, the Lord has been working on their hearts, and when Misty and Missy and the others started the children's church here a few months ago, they decided that maybe this was the time to recommit their lives to the Lord. We certainly praise the Lord for the dedication of our young people here!

In March, S from Togiak, committed his life to Jesus in baptism. This was our first baptism in the Togiak church, and one that we've waited a LONG time for!!It is so thrilling to see people stepping out of the crowd and committing their lives to the Lord.

Dillingham SDA School is the last Adventist school in “Bush” Alaska. It is located about 300 miles southwest of Anchorage in Bristol Bay. We are maybe the only true mission school left in the United States. Only two of our students come from Adventist homes, and almost half of our students have to be sponsored by local church members, on top of the regular subsidy that the church pays to the school every month.

In spite of the financial challenges that present us at the school, church and conference levels, we want to see the work here grow forward and NOT backwards. The [school] board committed to hiring two teachers again for next year, and also starting a Pre-K program as well!!! We have been looking into the idea for a while, and a couple of months ago, placed an ad on the GC website looking for someone to volunteer to get everything up and running next year. We don't have a single penny to put into it. In fact, as a school, we've been on a "no purchases" program now since Christmas! Somehow the Lord supplies all our needs, and the fuel bills are getting paid, one at a time. But we have been impressed that there is a need here for a good Christian Pre-school program, and that this will contribute to our enrollment as well. So we figured if we could get another volunteer up here for next year, we'd have them work on getting that running. This will give us one room with Pre-K and Kindergarten, one with Grades 1-4, and one with Grades 5-8. We've had two wonderful volunteers the last two years, Misty who was here last year, and is STILL here, working as a court secretary now, and Missy (we call them M&M :) , who is here at the moment teaching Grades K-2 for us. Missy has one more year of college to finish her teaching degree, and is planning to do that next year. We've been teasing her all year that she might change her mind like Misty did, but she has been determined to graduate next year....

Anyway..... a few weeks ago, Misty and Missy got together, and discovered that they had both been impressed over the previous few days that THEY should be the ones to volunteer next year in the Pre-K program!! They were very surprised to discover that the Lord had been prompting each of them separately along the same lines, and started talking about what it would take to do that. Missy began inquiries with Southwestern Adventist University to see how much of her studies for next year could be done by distance, and found out that she can do ALL of it that way!!! So they came up with a plan that they presented to the board: Misty will move into Missy's one bedroom apartment (that Jim has agreed to donate again, rent free), and they will share expenses; she will quit her good paying job at the Court House, and they will work together to get the Pre-K program running. Missy will do her studies by distance part of the time, and help as well. They figure with two of them working part time, that should equal one person working full time. So once again, we are thrilled at the way the Lord works when we step out in faith and follow His leading!!! Oh, that there were more young people as dedicated to the Lord as the two we have here!!!!!!!!

Another big event that happened about three weeks ago, was that we finally made it down to Chignik Lake to install a radio station there!

Friday evening (last night), we had another wonderful celebration! A couple from Togiak that we have been working with for a while.....who have been having a real struggle with alcohol and drugs, were married in our church :) . About three months ago, M was convicted that he shouldn't be living with his girlfriend, who is also the mother of at least one of his children, unless they were married. But he didn't want to marry her, unless she made a commitment to follow Christ like he had. So he moved out. She got mad, and moved to Dillingham with the kids and refused to have anything to do with him. Finally about six weeks ago, he came over here for something, and the booze got the better of him, and he got drunk. He was at the grocery store here making a scene, and finally threatened to kill someone, so they had him arrested. He spent a month in jail, and when he was finally released, he ended up at K's place here in Dillingham. They were having a real hard time of it, and finally the court took their children away from them for the last time. This totally devastated both of them, and finally drove them both to seek the Lord again. I got a call from M at school one day, saying that they would like to come to Pastor Brian's meetings at the church, but didn't have a car. So I let the pastor know and they and others have been working hard to get them to all the meetings since then. Pastor Brian has also been spending time with them nearly every day, going over the other meetings that they missed, and giving them studies in preparation for baptism. Last week, they decided to get married, and we have all been rushing around trying to help them put together a wedding at very short notice, and no money :) . And it turned out very beautiful! They asked me to take the photos, so that kept me busy, and then we had a pot luck meal for the reception. On Thursday, K gave Pastor Brian her last pack of cigarettes, and said she wanted to be baptised. So today, we celebrated their life commitment to the Lord!! What a wonderful weekend!

Love you all!!!!!!!!!!

Judi and Gavin :) "

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Full Circle Mission

Last month two teenagers returned from their Marantha mission trip to Chile with Jim Kincaid. We were so excited, this is what we have been longing for since before we arrived. Jim showed the church some slides yesterday and we were much encouraged at how much the girls enjoyed the trip. We didn't want to press them too much and they have not shared anything about their experience with us. But we are hopeful that this will be a positive beginning for them. We hope that they and others will also begin to go on mission trips regularly and positive change will come to Selawik.
I know the God can use mission trips to be a guiding force in our lives. I have seen it in my life. Everytime I think of the picture of my Borneo mission trip I discovered in the church, I feel confirmation of I our mission here. After I returned from that trip a teacher showed our class a video of some guys backpacking in Alaska. The movie left me with disdain of the thought of Alaska and cold. I was sure that I was headed for warmer, more exotic locales. Then I met Warren and began to know I was headed for Alaska. Still when it came time to choose our place to minister, I avoided the thought of living the Arctic until I visited here on a VBS trip. After we moved here I discovered pictures which I slowly began to recognize as from my Borneo trip. Now I know God lead me here. God is doing great things here in Selawik even if we can't see what they are now.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's Time to Give!

This morning I happened to pick up our World Vision magazine. The letter from the president Rick Stearns was very timely. He recalled his anxiety in October 1987 when the stock market crashed. His family lost a third of their portfolio. He was so tense every night that his children began to be afraid. Finally his wife came to him and reminded him of all the blessings they still had. After praying together, she shocked him with the suggestion that they should give large donations to various charities as a way to remind Rich that the money was God's, not theirs. After they wrote out their donations, he was amazed at the freedom that he felt.

We can identify. God has provided all that we need (we are thankful for everyone who has been part of his providence). We feel so rich in this tiny place; how could we feel otherwise with wants few and blessings many? We came here with enough for one year and we feel no closer to the bottom of the barrel than we when we arrived. Indeed, we don't even think about the bottom anymore. We simply avoid buying things we don't need. Yet we have become quite reckless in sharing our food stocks and such as well as giving to our favorite charities. We believe that soon we may no longer be able to share and we want to make the most of each opportunity. With people in want more than ever before, isn't it time to give?


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Meeting the team

As I was wondering what to write, I realized I have not shared about the meetings we attended in January. We were so thankful for the invitation and help to make it to Anchorage. I enjoyed the Shepherdess' Retreat so much. It was such blessing to get to know the other pastor's wives in Alaska. It was truly a taste of heaven. The focus of the pastor's meetings was on prayer and Warren and I discovered how powerful the ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) model of prayer can really be. This rich spiritual feast finished with special meetings for lay workers like us. We were able to get to know the new Arctic Mission Adventurers Bill and Eloise Hawkes (Savoonga) and Dan Rothoff (Togiak). We are so grateful that the work in rural Alaska is beginning to grow because the people here are so dear to us. I hope to introduce you to many of them when we all gather in heaven, so I beg again that you will pray for us and our strength as well as for God to send more workers into the harvest field. The fields are truly white and the harvest is coming so soon.
In prayer,

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thoughts on Emmonak

Emmonak has recently come into the spotlight because of Nicolas Tucker's letter pleading for help for his starving village. This has generated a wide variety of comments, many of them negative.

One person even suggested that natives should leave the bush. If people left all the disaster prone regions of the world, where would they go? It is just not feasible, even if they were inclined to leave the places they call home.

Another response is to criticize their lack of preparedness. Yet, there were famines even in the old days-- before the modern conveniences to which the natives are now accustomed to. And much of what they are now facing is truly beyond their control. Yes, they could have things somewhat easier if they prepared differently. But I am aware as well that preparedness is not just a native problem. There are people everywhere who do not have even a two-weeks' supply of food at home. Who can blame them for being any different?

I do want to encourage being prepared with plenty of simple, healthy food, because I do believe that healthy food is cheaper than junk food. However, I believe that we as a church should also be prepared to help in genuine emergency like this. I would like to see visible aid centers in every village, places they know they can go to in times of need. I don't know how to move in that direction, but God will show us how if it is His will and timing. I just need to be prepared to follow.