Happy birthday, John Newton

Originally posted on bluebird of bitterness:

John Newton was born in London on July 24, 1725. At the age of eleven he went to sea with his father, a ship’s captain. After his father’s retirement, John signed on with a merchant ship sailing to the Mediterranean. He later served a brief and unsuccessful stint in the Royal Navy, after which he joined the crew of a slave ship bound for West Africa. But the ship’s crew found him troublesome, and they left him with an African slave dealer named Amos Clowe, who gave him to his wife as her slave.

In 1748 Newton was rescued by friends of his father and returned to England. He continued his involvement in the slave trade for many years, despite his own experience as a slave, and despite having undergone a religious conversion on one of his voyages. He did not become a true abolitionist until many years after a stroke had forced…

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Caption: The committee chosen to draft a declaration of independence for the 13 North American British colonies is shown at work in this 19th century engraving. The five members are, from left, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman. On July 1, 1776, the committee submitted their draft to the Continental Congress, which voted on July 2 for final separation, and approved and formally adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4. (© AP Images)

The committee chosen to draft a declaration of independence for the 13 North American British colonies is shown at work in this 19th century engraving. The five members are, from left, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman. On July 1, 1776, the committee submitted their draft to the Continental Congress, which voted on July 2 for final separation, and approved and formally adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4. (© AP Images) (from here)

The Christian Nature Of The American Experiment

In the last post in this series, MUST THERE BE CHOICE BETWEEN GOD AND GOVERNMENT? — PART 2, we left off with a conundrum.

For the sake of our souls, each of us must voluntarily take up our cross and follow Jesus. When people must voluntary take up their cross, and follow Jesus, what is the role of government? What role does government have in a Christian society?

Since we have so much separated the study of history from the study of religion and ethics, I suppose most people these days think the Constitution is our nation’s founding document. However, we celebrate Independence Day, not Constitution Day. Until we take the time to carefully study The United States Constitution, it is a dry and spiritless thing. The Constitution is merely a set of carefully constructed rules, but those who read the Declaration of Independence know immediately the purpose of that document. The Declaration of Independence exists to explain itself, to explain why men risked the lives and fortunes in a long and difficult war.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. (from here)

Note that there is nothing in the Declaration of Independence about spreading Christianity or ennobling the human race. Did some of the men who drafted and signed the Declaration of Independence use government for such purposes? Yes, but for the most part they realized government does not exist for that purpose.

Consider what two of my favorite blogs say the Bible has to say about the role of government.

  • The Role of Our Government. In his study, Rob Barkman focuses upon Psalm 72:1-14 (KJV). Nevertheless, he considers both Old and New Testament passages. He focused on how we choose our leaders.

    The need for us, as Christians, to let our voices be heard in the election process cannot be overemphasized. We should be voting for those who we believe best understand the role of government from God’s perspective. But also, we should be voting for those we believe will look to the Lord for guidance and strength as they attempt to lead our country in these troublesome days.

     wants us to understand that the laws of a society reflects the values of the people. When we do not elect Godly leaders, they do not do a good job of protecting our rights because they don’t care what God thinks.

  • Lesson 4: Dealing with GovernmentDon Merritt‘s post looks at Romans 13:1-7. With gritting teeth,  explains why the Apostle Paul told us to be obedient to the authorities.

     Paul’s message, simply stated, is that human government is ordained by God, and that’s all I should have to say about it. Yet even though human government is ordained by God, human government exists in a corrupted world environment, and we should not pretend to be shocked when it turns out to be corrupt: It happens. What is really instructive in this teaching is that the government Paul was referring to had a nasty habit of persecuting Paul and his readers; yes, maybe we should reflect on that for a while.

When we choose our leaders, we choose people like ourselves to lead us. These people may be highly intelligent and very persuasive, but they are not likely to be any wiser than the rest of us. Therefore, there is not much point in giving them more power than is necessary to protect our rights, especially our right to spread the Gospel of Christ.

So what then is the Christian nature of the American experiment? When the Declaration of Independence was written, much of the population of the American colonies could say they had either come to the colonies to escape religious persecution or they were descended from people who had done so. Therefore, instead of seeing government as an aid to the practice of religion and following the dictates of one’s conscience, they saw government as a hindrance. Such people therefore had good reason to make certain that the First Amendment to our Constitution included the free exercise of religion.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

To Be Continued (next Monday, I hope).

What is to follow? I decided to add a post.

  • Church Versus State
  • Why All Our Songs Are Laments.
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Here of late I have suffered from an aching neck. I sit too much at a desk, and I have a tendency to slouch. I thought about getting a better chair, but I am cheap.  You would think I would learn, but I have never paid enough to get a decent chair, one that would actually give my back proper support.  Grimly, I realized I probably never would. So I puzzled over the matter.  What about an inexpensive standing desk.

I looked at the bookcase we have in the basement. I bought it years ago at Lowes. At the time I thought it a clever design with unfinished wood.  The sides had slots. The beams that supported the shelves fitted snuggly into slots in the sides, and the shelves had grooves in the underside so that they rested securely on the beams.

Wooden pegs made the concept work.. Once I stuck each beam into a slot into the side, I used a wooden peg (hammered through a slot in the beam) to hold it in place.

So I bought what I needed, put it together, and finished it. It turned out to be an easy job, and has set there, trouble free, for years. So I hoped Lowes was still selling those bookcases. With a few modifications, I figured I could easily use one as a standing desk. Unfortunately, I did not have any luck.

So I tried something else. Searching for “standing desk,” I discovered A standing desk for $22.  Here is a picture of the design I copied.

Introducing The Standesk 2200

Since I wanted a contraption that would hold two monitors, I got a cheap coffee table and a longer shelf. So I suppose that makes mine The Standesk 2700?

Anyway, it may have been inexpensive, but finding the parts, putting it together, and convincing my lady I would not break anything took up most of the day.

Of course, I have now rediscovered why people like chairs.  I now need to rest my weary legs. So I now need a barstool that will cost more than The Standesk 2700.


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Here we continue the telling of the story of Petrus and Rona.


As Petrus walked to his home, he became more and more distraught. He had thought his prayers answered.  It had cost him some of his health and strength. Nevertheless, he still had his precious Rona.

Now he remembered the king’s final words.

You will share your strength with me. Tomorrow you will strengthen me, or I will have your head and your woman’s head sitting up on poles. Now begone!

What was he to do? It had been his secret, known only to himself and his Creator. Now the king, his two drinking buddies, and the captain knew. Who else? Soon someone would tell Rona, and she would not accept his sacrifice. He would make it anyway, but what about the king?

What had he told the guard captain, Aage? He would pray, and so driven by desperation he did, but he did not know what to pray. He did not know what to do. He did not know what to ask for.

Petrus walked slowly on the path between the castle and his village. Surrounded by a darkening forest of tall, dark pines, he silently sent his plea to the Almighty, hoping for words from his God.

The forest ended at the edge of the cropland that surround his village. Petrus stopped. He pulled his eyes up from the ground to look. This village was home. His people lived here. Rona lived here with him. These were the people he knew and cared about. Like himself, they too were God’s Creations, and the king abused them all. He suffered, but he was not the only one. The king lacked any restraint. If he saw something — or a woman he wanted — he took what wanted. “God help us! God help us all!”

Did God answer prayers? Petrus thought He did, but he did not know how God would answer this prayer. He just felt less lonely and lost as he walked the rest of the way to his home. He would tell Rona the truth. He would depend upon and act upon the truth. He would depend upon God answering his prayers.

Rona sat outside the home where she and Petrus lived looking up the trail from the king’s castle. When he returned home, Rona’s father, one of the shipyard workers, told her that the king’s guard had taken Petrus to the castle, but no one knew why. Then Rona’s sister, Freja, who supplied the castle with eggs returned with a strange story. One of the kitchen staff had heard Adolf the goði say Petrus’ God had allowed him to share his strength with Rona.

Was that Petrus? She saw him stop and gaze at the village. When he resumed his walk, she was sure, and she ran to meet him.

Once home, Petrus and Rona hugged and talked, talked and hugged.

Rona reacted to Petrus’ confession that he had lent her his strength with horror. “You had no right to do to that without telling me,” she said.

Petrus replied, “you would have done the same for me.”

Then Petrus told Rona what the king had demanded. Rona said nothing. She hugged Petrus and wept quietly. They could not run. The king would have his vengeance. When someone ran, his henchmen tracked down the nearest family members and had two of them killed. Thus, instead of two heads on poles, the king would be pleased to have four.

While Rona sobbed, Petrus remembered when he had become of age. His father had presented him with a fine old sword, a razor sharp, dangerous weapon. But the old king had banned such weapons. Too many drunken brawls, too many angry family disputes, too many robbers demanding your gold or your life….. When the old king promised an end to such violence, many had cheered. The old king had seized all the swords and weapons he could find and put them all in public armories under the control of the throne and local militias. That was supposed to end the violence, but it had not. The violence had subsided only for a brief time.

When the old king died, King Adalbert took the throne. Within a few years King Adalbert and his cronies, men who owed their positions to him alone, had taken control of both the armories and the local militias. Robberies had increased; local bandit gangs now raided and cockily robbed — raping with great malice and glee — their unarmed victims. Sensing weakness, Danish raiders had seized Kalmor, a small coastal town to the south. The raiders had easily killed any who resisted, striped the place bare, and sold half the population off to southern slave traders.

When the raiders had discovered Kalmor”s armory, brimming with weapons, they had laughed. Those weapons were starting to rust, but still lethal. Of course, the raiders took them. They promised better care for these forgotten arms, and they promised to put them to good use.

Teetering Rock, too close to the throne, had not been able hide from such troubles. Whenever the king saw a desirable lass, he demanded the opportunity to relieve her of her virginity. So it is that when the king had seen beautiful Sefa, he had demanded she attend to him at the castle that very night. Sefa’s betrothed, Thord, chose to escape with her across the sea. So it is that perhaps that Thord and Sefa still did not know what had followed their escape. King Adalbert had had their parent’s heads publicly displayed on poles paraded throughout the village. His royal execution team, as the king proudly named it, had then left those four poles staked in the ground at the entrance to the village. And there they remained.

Rona sobbing ended, and Petrus and Rona quietly prepared and ate their dinner. Finally, before they went to sleep, they sat together and prayed. Each spoke in turn.

Petrus spoke of the king, and he begged God to give that man wisdom and self-restraint. He asked for the strength and the skill he needed in the shipyard, and he spoke of few fellow shipyard workers who needed help, Latham with a broken finger and Ralph whose daughter the king had eyed without concealing his lust. Finally, he asked for good weather for the sailors, fishermen, and the farmers who lived in his village.

Rona also spoke of the king. She asked God to soften his stony heart.  Then she offered up a prayer for each of their neighbors: Ake’s aching back, Alva’s sick baby, Helga chickens that would not lay, a new fishing net for Knud, and so forth.

Then both prayed silently. Petrus prayed for Rona, and Rona prayed for Petrus. Afterwards, they went to bed, and they held each, hoping it would not be for the last time.

Having done what they could to make peace with God and each other, they slept.

To Be Continued

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Scientific Data Does NOT Support Climate Change…

Originally posted on I Refuse To Follow Your Blog:

When it comes to the climate of the earth there are many of you fearenvironmentalists that think that I’m off my rocker, but what if a Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist tells you what I’ve been trying to tell you but in a more scientific manner?  

If you don’t believe me, that’s fine…but when you disagree with a man who’s spent his entire life studying physics and scientific data, you’re just pathetic. 

My advice is that you start looking at the REAL data and stop listening to the fearenvironmentalists who are lying to you just so they can get their grant funding from the government. 

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