Thought for the day. My fathers testimony song.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (John 15: 7-10)

My father was a middle school teacher in a city with many immigrants and refugee children from the second world war. There were Finns, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Polish, Serbs and an occasional Jew. Many children came from single moms since this was a textile city.  So naturally he was a flaming liberal. But he had a very developed sense of right and wrong. He had a way with children, so the administrators gave him a large number of children from broken homes. He always tried his best to help them succeed in spite of hardships, and even now, 60 years later they call my mom in thankfulness, even going so far as to say “He saved my life”. Then in the 60’s and 70’s he saw the excesses of a socialist government, year after year taking more than the salary increases in additional taxes, so the take home pay every ear was a little bit lower. Meanwhile we had raging inflation. After his retirement my mom took a job as a therapist for people with cognitive challenges. Many had been in state facilities all their lives. The social administrators decided one day that they too should lead normal lives and gave them a dinner at the town’s most expensive restaurant. Not only did they not appreciate it, but they wanted to go back home and eat what they were used to. When my father found out the size of the bill he said bluntly: That’s it. From now on I am a conservative. But now he had to search out, how shall we then live, so he started going back to his childhood faith, the faith he abandoned as a young man because of the hypocrisy he saw in those to proclaimed to be Christians.

Meanwhile my wife and I had been saved and one of my brothers married a strong Christian, and he searched for the truth.

At his funeral we sang Eventide (Abide with me), and looking through his writings I found this poem:
There is a road that’s leading heaven bound.
A strait and narrow, not like others found.
It ends abruptly at a raging sea,
Don’t doubt, your faith your wanderer’s staff shall be.
That road is leading homeward just the same,
through evil seas of sin, and guilt, and shame.
There is a bridge appearing on the scene;
To land that no-one mortal ever seen.
This land of hope and grace and peace sublime.
Thank God, You let me find that road in time.
Written by my father (in Swedish) in 1978.

©Lars Bilén 1978 (1912-2004), tr. Lennart Bilén 2015

Wow! Looking at the poem I heard the roaring sea and i heard Finlandia in my head for the first verse. Then for the second verse, Eventide became the obvious choice.

My father indeed found the only way, reconciliation through Jesus Christ.  Only a few years later he lost much of his creative abilities, but he was ever thankful God had let him find that road in time.

 

Thought for the day: The origin and journey of the song “How great thou art.”

Clouds have always been my fascination. They come and go, form and disappear, cool by day and warm by night. But most impressive of all are thunderstorms, forming when the temperature and humidity are high, transport a lot of water vapor to higher elevations, there condensing as rain or ice, coming down, cooling and watering the earth. Clouds and thunderstorms are the thermostat of the earth. Without it the earth would respond like climate models, predicting a sharp temperature rise as carbon dioxide levels increase. The models are all flawed, since they predict a hot spot in the troposphere over the equator, but there is none. The thunderstorms in the tropical doldrums take care of that. “Settled science” instead has settled on ignoring the lack of the hot spot, for to acknowledge it would make the global warming claim invalid.

I thank God for providing us with a thermostat that protects the earth from overheating, and especially for thunderstorms!

Such was the case in July 1885, when Carl Boberg,  a 26 year young pastor of a Mönsteråsvikensmall congregation of the Swedish Missionary society was the honored guest of the ladies’ auxiliary annual picnic, held in a meadow near Mönsteråsviken, (a bay of the Baltic Sea in southeastern Sweden). The day was perfect, the sky was clear, pleasant temperatures, the cows were grazing on the meadow, the birds were singing, in short,  a pastoral idyll. Then it happened. In a few short minutes thunderclouds appeared out of nothing. There was no time to go home, so they all sought shelter in a barn close by. The rain came down hard, and lightning struck a nearby tree. Then as suddenly as it started the rain stopped and all was calm. In Sweden it turns much cooler after a thunderstorm, and the birds sing like they got a new lease on life.

They all went home, and the young pastor pondered the events of the day. He

080419-11, digital 28,8 mb RAW, 12-00 Koltrast, Turdus merula Uppland
080419-11, digital 28,8 mb RAW, 12-00
Koltrast, Turdus merula
Uppland

heard the Coalthrush singing its melodic, beautiful drill and in a distance he heard the church bells ringing from Kronobäck’s church. The bay was calm like a mirror, and inspired he started penning the song “O store Gud”. Here is the first verse:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the works Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Refrain:
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

He continued to write and write of all the mighty works that God has made and what He has given us through His word, and continued long into the night. Before going to bed he had penned over twenty verses. The next Sunday he wove the poem into his sermon. They all loved it, but that was about it. Slowly the word got around the poem was pretty good, after much editing down 9 verses were published in the local newspaper Mönsteråstidningen in 1886. Carl Boberg didn’t make any efforts to publish it further, and was surprised when he heard it sung a few years later to a Swedish folk melody (in 3/4 tempo). This was then published in the periodical “Sanningsvittnet” (witness of the truth)  in 1891.

It was translated into German by an Estonian, Manfred von Glehn. Five years later it was translated into Russian by Ivan S. Prokanoff, the Martin Luther of modern Russia. It was published in a book with the title “Cymbals”.

Later, while in the Carpathian Mountains of what is now Western Ukraine the English Missionary couple Hine heard the song sung in Russian, this time as a wandering song in march tempo. He got impressed by God’s great works in the Polish mountains, and as Stuart Hine heard the people singing it on their way to church he penned a translation. This become the second verse:

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Refrain

From now on the English version is different than the Swedish original. This is the origin of the third verse: It was typical of the Hines to ask if there were any Christians in the villages they visited. In one case, they found out that the only Christians that their host knew about were a man named Dmitri and his wife Lyudmila. Dmitri’s wife knew how to read — evidently a fairly rare thing at that time and in that place. She taught herself how to read because a Russian soldier had left a Bible behind several years earlier, and she started slowly learning by reading that Bible. When the Hines arrived in the village and approached Dmitri’s house, they heard a strange and wonderful sound: Dmitri’s wife was reading from the gospel of John about the crucifixion of Christ to a houseful of guests, and those visitors were in the very act of repenting. In Ukraine (as I know first hand!), this act of repenting is done very much out loud. So the Hines heard people calling out to God, saying how unbelievable it was that Christ would die for their own sins, and praising Him for His love and mercy. They just couldn’t barge in and disrupt this obvious work of the Holy Spirit, so they stayed outside and listened. Stuart wrote down the phrases he heard the Repenters use, and (even though this was all in Russian), it became the third verse that we know today:
And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Refrain

The second world war broke out, and the Hines were forced to return back to England, but they continued their ministry. The fourth verse was was added by Stuart Hine after the Second World War. His concern for the exiled Polish community in Britain, who were anxious to return home, provided part of the inspiration for Hine’s final verse. Hine and David Griffiths visited a camp in Sussex, England, in 1948 where displaced Russians were being held, but where only two were professing Christians. The testimony of one of these refugees and his anticipation of the second coming of Christ inspired Hine to write the fourth stanza of his English version of the hymn. According to Ireland:  One man to whom they were ministering told them an amazing story: he had been separated from his wife at the very end of the war, and had not seen her since. At the time they were separated, his wife was a Christian, but he was not, but he had since been converted. His deep desire was to find his wife so they could at last share their faith together. But he told the Hines that he did not think he would ever see his wife on earth again. Instead he was longing for the day when they would meet in heaven, and could share in the Life Eternal there. These words again inspired Hine, and they became the basis for his fourth and final verse to ‘How Great Thou Art’: 

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Refrain

The complete song was soon published, not in England but in the Soviet Union (in English).  The famous Gospel singer George Beverly Shea got hold of it, liked it a lot, but he wanted to change two words in the first verse: Instead of works, he wanted to use worlds, and instead of mighty he wanted to use rolling. Very reluctantly Stuart Hine agreed, but only for use in the Billy Graham Crusades. It was first sung in Canada in 1955. It became so popular that in Billy Graham’s 1956 New York Crusade it was sung at all 99 events, and from there the song spread out through all the world, even back in Sweden where the new version became the popular one.

There have been over seventeen hundred documented recordings of “How Great Thou Art”. It has been used on major television programs, in major motion pictures, and has been mentioned as the favorite Gospel song of at least three United States’ presidents.

How Great Thou Art, How Great Thou Art!

 

 

Thought for the day. The just shall live by faith.

Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him. (Hebrews 10:38)

After having come to faith the first week in February 42 years ago after reading the Gospel of Matthew I grappled with what to read next. I remembered my school years in Sweden, where we had a daily dose of Christianity. Our teacher liked the old stories from the Old Testament, so every morning she drew a map of Palestine, as it was called at that time and talked about Abraham and Jacob and Moses. We were supposed to have Old Testament in grade one and the New Testament in second grade, but our teacher loved the Old Testament so much we never even got around to hear the stories about Jesus. So I read Genesis and Exodus, but when I came to Leviticus, I decided that was too much law for anyone, so I switched back to the New Testament, but which book? Having read the Gospel of Matthew I decided on the letter to the Hebrews, after a brief visit to first Corinthians 13. It was most powerful, but it raised more questions. Am I totally secure in Christ, of are there conditions I have to meet to be fully saved? Then in Hebrews 10:38 it hit me: I must live by faith. I didn’t have to know all the answers, it wasn’t even important I knew the questions. But the second part of the verse started to worry me: if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. I suddenly realized the faith part was not partial, I had to go all in. As a child I was baptized and confirmed, and I wanted to think that was enough; God knows who is his, but this time it was different, I had to take a stand in obedience and testify of my faith in Christ. So I signed up for baptism, and to my delight my wife decided to join, even though she was 6 months pregnant.

Coming out of the pool, I felt a wonderful release, my wife smiled in agreement; yes at that point I fully knew His soul has pleasure in me.

Through joys and hardships this has never left me, I regained my sense of wonder, and I can sing again the old Swedish hymn: How Great Thou art!

Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump worth ten points. He blew it all on skipping the debate in Iowa. A Limerick.

When Palin endorsed, her act bumped Trump up ten.

With Kelley the Trump-killer in it again,

he refused to debate,

lost it all, sealed his fate.

A second place loser, all pain and no gain.

Donald Trump was solidly in second place in Iowa, about 5 points behind Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio was way behind. Then, on Jan 19 Sarah Palin endorsed him, an endorsement worth at least ten percentage points. See graph:Iowa-Republicans-graphThen Donald Trump refused to debate right before the Iowa caucus unless Megyn Kelly was removed as a moderator. Unlike CNN, which caved in to Trump’s demands, Fox News stood their ground and refused to cave in, “on journalistic grounds.” print2The media should never cave in to political pressure. Having skipped the debate, Cruz and Rubio had the leadership fight to themselves, and could shine, all at the expense of Trump. The chart to the left shows the high water mark for Donald Trump.

Between the debate and the Iowa caucus Trump lost all the ground he gained from the Palin endorsement. Ted Cruz held his ground, but the big gainer was Rubio.

It is now a three way race, and this will very likely lead to a brokered convention.

All bets ate off.

I can understand Sarah Palin’s initial endorsement of Donald Trump, with his broad crossover appeal to disenchanted people, then having a chance to win the primaries outright. With his refusal to debate we are almost ensured a brokered convention. Personally I prefer Sarah Palin to enter the race on her own, making it a brokered convention, containing a majority of true conservative delegates.

 

 

 

 

The BDI index hit a twentyfirst new all time low of 297 today. The worldwide economic downturn is gaining speed. Update 2.

The Baltic Dry Index has been in new all time low record territory since Dec 14 2015, hitting its nineteenth all time low.  Before that the all time low was 509 on Feb. 19 2015. Today, February 3, it hit a value of 303, a 40 percent drop since Dec. 14. In the spring of 2008 it hit a record high of 11793 before dropping to below 700 a couple of months before the financial crash of 2008.

What is the BDI you say?

From the Economist:  THE Baltic Dry Index (BDI), which measures the rates for chartering the giant ships that transport iron ore, coal and grain, has long attracted the attention of commentators hoping to take the pulse of world trade. The cost of shifting the basic raw materials that are the ingredients of steel, energy and food supposedly provides a leading indicator of the state of the world economy. If so the forecast would suggest that a storm at sea will shortly make landfall. The index, a composite of rates charged on a variety of important trade routes, has hit an all-time low, after sinking by 65% in the past 13 weeks alone. Even in the depths of the financial crisis shipping rates kept their heads further above water. Why are they so remarkably low now?

That was written Mar. 10 2015. Things are much worse now.

At 303, it stands 40% below its December 14 value, and 97.43% below its all time peak value a few months before the crash of 08.

The worldwide recession is coming, and it will be severe.

Update 1: The BDI index is at 298 on Thursday 2/4, down another 1.65%  a new all time low.

Update 2: The BDI index hit 297 on Ftiday 2/5, a new all time low.

 

 

Hillary Clinton’s emails. From bad to verse, or at least a Limerick.

Why Hillary Clinton’s mail server

will force FBI to soon serve her.

With  the CIA payroll

laid bare like a blogroll.

Will Federal Prison best serve her?

Hillary Clinton’s e-mails are released in drips and drabs, always on a Friday.

Of the document dump last Friday 243 emails were classified at some level, bringing the overall number of classified Clinton emails to 1,583. The State Department also announced Friday that it is withholding in full and into perpetuity 22 emails that contain “Top Secret” information — the highest classification category. In fact, they are so secret, containing “operational intelligence” such as names, whereabouts and methods of CIA agents, so secret the FBI does not have the security clearance to even read them.