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Religious Cleansing….

tomb of Jonah destroyed tomb of jonah destroyed2

Sacred Tomb of Jonah is destroyed

Sacred Tomb of Jonah is destroyed

Christians throughout the world should wake up to what is happening to Christians in the Middle East.

Judge speaks out and challenges the Pope and world leaders to stand up for Christians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Middle East is not the only place where Christians are being persecuted. Take a look at this picture in China.

The AP reports the following:   In this photo taken July 16, 2014, a church member of Zengshan Village Christian Church stands near rocks piled up in front of the gate to prevent government workers from moving in equipment to demolish the cross, in Zengshan village, Pingyang county of Wenzhou in eastern China’s Zhejiang province. The red banner invokes the legal protection of religious freedom, saying the church and the cross are protected by the Chinese law. Across Zhejiang province, which hugs China’s rocky southeastern coast, authorities have toppled, or threatened to topple, crosses at more than 130 churches. (AP Photo/Didi Tang)

Christian Church in China

Christian Church in China

The Love of Food….is the greatest love?!

Food“There is no love so great as the love of food”  reads a slogan on a restaurant take out bag.  This is one truism that seems to be a part of every living thing.  Of course we are not including the love for God…or His love for us in this statement.

People just  don’t know when to stop eating…or refuse to eat what is good for them.   Thus, the cries of the health critics.  Every January, the “lose weight” commercials ring in the New Year!    People get out the tape measure and decide if this is the year to “make it happen”.   My hat is off to those who actually follow through and change their health for the better. Sometimes it is truly a matter of life and death. overweight people

School children are told to eat a “healthy lunch” as they pass by the apples and pick up the french fries. I don’t know about yours, but my dog will eat most anything.  Actually,  she spits out his apples sometimes too.

As the world trembles in war-torn areas and food is in shortage, we remember what Mom used to say about the “starving people in Africa”. She would have to add many more nations in her reprimand today. We also  know that a nation of much…is also a nation of waste. Recently, I was served an over-cooked piece of salmon in a restaurant. The waitress insisted that she take it back. That was a hard decision…to pay for something not cooked properly…or know that the returned entree would go in the garbage…unless they had a stray cat out the back door!

I’m a southerner…originally from North Carolina.  There is nothing like a real “country spread”.  Everybody brings their favorite dish.  Recently we had a family reunion.  There was enough fried chicken to sink a battle ship….not to mention the homemade desserts.   Afterwards, we divided it all up…and the coolers were loaded down with another meal for another time. Heavenly!

We also have our favorite foods. I picked up a book the other day entitled “Just Pass the Chocolate and Nobody will Get Hurt.”   I think the book was really about  over-coming stress…not the demands for food.  It was a clever way of getting attention because almost everyone loves chocolate.

 

Scarlett OHara Scarlett OHara,  a character in Gone With the Wind, lived during the Civil War, when everyone was hungry.    She swore “I’ll never be hungry again!”  Another one of her lines was “I’ll think about it another day.”  That’s usually what we say about pushing back from the table.

Food…we love it! How thankful we are that we don’t have to go to bed without it!

There is something about a filled tummy that makes us feel lazy.   Think I’ll go to bed now.

 

 

 

Take a look at these guys…who, by the way, seem to think food is pretty great also.

Choosing to die…that another may LIVE

Dying that another may live is the greatest gift that anyone can give or receive.  This is what our Lord Jesus Christ did for us. His sacrifice for the sins of the world…and for every person is hard to put in words.  Maybe we can understand it better if we put it in a different context.  We hear so much today about the rights of a woman to have an abortion…if she so desires.  It is especially stressed by some, that an abortion would be acceptable if the health of the woman was at risk.  Some women know that risk and are willing to take it that her child might live.   Let me share a true story of one such woman.

Liz Joice and her husband, Max, found out they will have a child after thinking they will not be able to do so.  The mother refuses a test and treatment that may harm the fetus. She loses her own life in this choice, but gives the gift of life to her child and to her husband and family.  Having made this comparison to the greatest sacrifice of our Lord  to  that of a mother and a child, here are some details as told to the news media about Elizabeth Joice and her baby, Lily.

Liz and Baby Lily

Liz and Baby Lily

Cancer survivor Elizabeth Joice was told the chemotherapy that helped her beat sarcoma in 2010 would also leave her infertile, so when she and husband, Max, got the news that she was in fact pregnant, he said, “It very much felt like a miracle,” he tells CNN.

The happy news, however, was short-lived. Just a month into her pregnancy, Joice’s cancer returned, and though surgeons removed tumors from her back, there was no way of knowing how far the cancer had spread without a full-body MRI scan. But the dyes used in the scan could harm the baby, meaning she’d need to end the pregnancy before undergoing the procedure.

Joice opted to continue with her pregnancy but began having trouble breathing in her third trimester; an X-ray revealed tumors in her lungs.  Jan. 23 brought both joy and devastation.   Joice had a baby girl, Lily, via C-section, but “there were tons of tumors…” her doctor tells ABC News. “It had spread all over her abdomen.”

Tumors were also found in Joice’s heart and pelvis. She died six weeks later, on March 9.  Still, her doctor remembers the first time she saw Joice hold her baby. “The joy on her face was just incredible,” she says.

“She said, ‘This is worth itI would do it all again to have this child.'” 

Lily Joice

Lily Joice

Elizabeth Joice died to save her child, Lily Joice.   Jesus died to give us life…and to give it abundantly.  “No greater love has any man (or woman) than to lay down his (or her) life for another.   (as paraphrased from John 15:13)

Common Decency……

Common decency is the requirement of accepted or respectable behavior expected of human beings.   The head of EVERY nation should be demanding that Mr. Putin show common decency toward the families of those who died in the terrorist attack over Ukraine.

MR. PUTIN, RELEASE THOSE BODIES TO THEIR HOME NATIONS AND FAMILIES.  Leave Ukraine and go home to rebuild your nation’s reputation….or are you the same as your predecessors?

Update as of July 23, 2014:    Finally, some of the remains that were found in the crash site in Ukraine have made their way home.   However, even today, the pro-Russian separatists shot down more aircraft.  Mr. Putin has still not ask for the military to stop the fighting.  Because the site was so badly decimated , the critical evidence and probably still some of the remains are yet to accounted for.

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Life and Musical Genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Movie on life of Mozart

Movie on life of Mozart

Child performs as Mozart did at this age

Child performs as Mozart did at this age

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a child who never grew up. His father, whom he depended upon heavily, died leaving Mozart practically  in a state of collapse. His life-long tragedy was he became a man who had few friends.  God-given talent does not assure someone of a happy life.

He  was unable to adjust to the society in which he lived. Always short of funds, undisciplined, arrogant, and full of bad decisions…his life was unsuccessful except for his music…or at least the music attributed to him.

Of course there are those who would argue that Mozart never wrote anything. It seems to me that there are always the nay-sayers. The controversy explorers who would rather make controversy than to simply be delighted in what we can hear that is beautiful…regardless of who wrote it.

But as with his life, his music became darker…discordant .. somewhat mysterious.

Mozart and the dress of the day

Movie of Mozart and the dress of the day

If Mozart was the composer we think he was, he  was a genius.  It was said that he  could compose at tremendous speed: chamber music, piano works, choral, concertos, operas, and  symphonies. All of this before he was age 35.

His death, thought to be from kidney disease, came in 1791. He was buried in an unmarked grave with the cheapest of funerals.   Very little honor for such a talent.

Sick, but still composing

Sick, but still composing

 

 

 

 

The Holy Scriptures tell us ” Whatsoever is beautiful…and of a good report…think on these things.”  This we will do on this Sunday morning.  The words we may give this music are peaceful, soothing, relaxing, calming memorable.  Surely the world needs this as it rocks with violence.

Enjoy the video below.  No one will argue that the sounds are truly music for the soul.

 

Criticism… Sergei Rachmaninoff…and Rhapsody

Criticism is often the hardest to take. It leaves a sting…that often does not leave our memories.  At times, it moves us to press forward toward a better life, talent, or investigation of what could be…if only we were better.

Age 10

Age 10

Born in 1873, Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives Romanticism in Russian Classical music.

Criticism…or poor reports…changed Rachmaninoff’s life.    The following gives an accounting of this:

 “After the poor reception of his First Symphony, Rachmaninoff fell into a period of deep depression that lasted three years, during which he wrote almost nothing…. Sava Mamontov, a patron of the arts, offered Rachmaninoff the post of assistant conductor for the 1897–8 season and the cash-strapped composer accepted. …During this period he became engaged to fellow pianist Natalia Satina whom he had known since childhood and who was his first cousin. The Russian Orthodox Church and the girl’s parents both opposed their marriage and this thwarting of their plans only deepened Rachmaninoff’s depression.”

Rachmaninoff

Rachmaninoff

Here we see that opposition…and again criticism of one’s relationships by family or religious authorities makes life stressful.  Rachmaninoff greatly admired Leo Tolstoy (Author of War and Peace) and was invited to an evening of music in the home of Yasnaya Polyana where Tolstoy was also invited.

 “That evening, Rachmaninoff played one of his compositions, then accompanied Chaliapin in his song “Fate”, one of the pieces he had written after his First Symphony. At the end of the performance, Tolstoy took the composer aside and asked:

“Is such music needed by anyone? I must tell you how I dislike it all. Beethoven  is nonsense, Pushkin and Lermontove also.. (The song “Fate” is based on the two opening measures of Beethoven’s  Fifth Symphony.)

As the guests were leaving, Tolstoy said:

‘Forgive me if I’ve hurt you by my comments'; and Rachmaninoff graciously replied: ‘How could I be hurt on my own account, if I was not hurt on Beethoven’s?'; but the criticism of the great author stung nevertheless.  

The criticism did hurt and it was not long afterwards that Rachmaninoff began taking a course on auto-suggestive therapy from a psychologist.  Finally he regained his confidence and over-came writer’s block.  It was after this that he completed his Piano Concerto N. 2 in C minor, Op 18.

He immigrated to the United States where he gave over a thousand concerts.  He  was buried in New York state in 1943.   He felt that he was “like a ghost wondering the world.” always looking backward to his beloved Russia.   Under Stalin, his music was forbidden in Russia. Wars prevented his ever returning there.

Even after many performances of his 3rd Symphony , the critics once again criticized…”Does Rachmaninoff have a 3rd Symphony in him?”  To Rachmaninoff, ” It was like cutting out pieces of my heart.”

338px-Sergei_Rachmaninoff Great pianist and composerAfter  all the years of performing, composing….criticism still was difficult.

This writing is a shorten part of a great life, but may help us in understanding how much criticism works on the thoughts and perhaps even the soul. The video below is his memories of his beloved country of Russia made for his daughters. He describes the Orthodox Church; his alcoholic father, and the place that inspired  his composing of such beautiful music as Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.   (Give yourself time on this one which is not only the playing of his beautiful music, but the Russian culture and tragedy of war. )

Enjoy the thoughts of one of the great musicians and composers  of our time…Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff

CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY taken over by Pro-Russian Separatists

   donetsk christian university  Ukrainesm
DCU   Ukraine2

It was my privilege to teach a summer English course at Donetsk Christian University in Ukraine. This University rose out of the ashes of the former Soviet Union. Now it seems that the life of a vibrant Christian University is being destroyed by the Pro-Russian Separatist Soldiers who have taken it over. The staff and students have fled. Dormitories are now the new home of the militants.

Kate Tracy writes in Christianity Today the following: “Pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine have reportedly taken over a Christian university in the major city of Donetsk and are using the university to house insurgents in preparation for battle. “They want to accommodate more soldiers, so that place becomes the number one target for the insurgency,” said Sergey Rakhuba, president of Peter Deyneka Russian Ministries and a former board member of the university. “If the Ukrainian army attacks, this Christian university would be destroyed.” Separatists attempting to gain control of the city are using Donetsk Christian University and Gloria Christian School for accommodations, Rakhuba told Mission Network News. Insurgents have also overtaken several other public buildings in the city. Around 20 staff members and their families were initially trapped inside the buildings but were then allowed to leave, Rakhuba said.

Pro-Russians carry icon taken from government office.

Pro-Russians carry icon taken from government office.

Rakhuba says he is concerned for the safety of campus buildings and people in the area during the predicted counterattack by the Ukrainian army. “This place could be turned into hell,” he said. “People are panicking.” Donetsk, whose 2012 population was just shy of 1 million, is not the only Ukrainian city facing a crisis situation. Rakhuba also reports that pro-Russian insurgents have set up strongholds in the cities of Kramatorsk and Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine, cutting off electricity and water supplies and leaving refugee support teams slammed with food delivery and response. “The scope of the trauma and tragedy in Slavyansk and Kramatorsk is beyond comprehension,” reports Rakhuba in a press release. “For the last several weeks, local residents have had no electricity and little food and fresh water.” Rebels since continued into the Donetsk region, retreating from Kramatorsk and Slavyansk as Ukrainian troops regained control. Meanwhile, families are fleeing Donetsk in the wake of the Ukrainian government’s announcement that it plans to reclaim the city, according to the BBC. Civilians and soldiers in the eastern Ukrainian industrial city are calm for now, but a battle is likely on the horizon, reports The Telegraph. The Guardian reports that Russian-speaking separatists declared the city a “People’s Republic” in late April.

Fleeing from Donetsk

Fleeing from Donetsk

Pro-Russian separatist Since pro-Russian militants seized control of the city, at least 423 people have died, and approximately 30,000 people have fled. The separatist conflict in Donetsk has become one of the worst in the former Soviet Union since 1991. ( as of July 11, 70,000 of the Donetsk’s 900,000 inhabitants have already fled as Kiev’s forces move within 20 kilometres (12 miles) of the city.) CT (Christianity Today) has covered the recent conflict in Ukraine, including how the country’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, is a former Baptist pastor, and how Russia blocked Americans from adopting children from Crimea. CT featured the clergy who took a literal stand in Ukraine’s protests, and how they held an all-night prayer vigil, hoping to prevent Russia’s invasion. CT also offered a 160-year Christian history behind the Ukrainian conflict and the Crimean Peninsula.”

"Everything is shutting down," says the man, who did not give his name. "There is nothing to do here. No work -- and it is getting too dangerous." one person said.  Vendors sell what they can in front of St. Nicolas Church

“Everything is shutting down,” says the man, who did not give his name. “There is nothing to do here. No work — and it is getting too dangerous.” one person said. Vendors sell what they can in front of St. Nicolas Church

Now all the good things here have ceased. Chaos and terrorism have taken over.  Freedoms are gone and the people of Donetsk know that greater violence is probably on its way with blessings from Mother Russia. The Video below gives the history and information about Donetsk Christian University.  It is a video made in 2008 describing the mission of Donetsk Christian University and the story of some of its graduates. To understand more about the impact this school and its graduates have had in Ukraine and around the world, it is worth a backward visit.   Oxford University played a part in the curriculum development as well as Christians around the world who sat  on boards and came to give of their teaching time to the young people of Ukraine.   We pray that peace will be established and the University will gain again their property that is rightfully theirs.

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