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Every year, over 120,000 ships make journey through a narrow spit of the Indian Ocean, passing between the Malay Peninsula and the Island of Sumatra. About one third of maritime trade will slip through these waters, including about 70% to 80% of all oil imported by China and Japan. But the journey is not always safe. On May 28, 2014, ten men armed with guns and machetes stormed Orapin 4, a tanker hauling oil from Singapore to Pontianak. The Thai owners lost contact with the ship for four days before Orapin 4 pulled into the port of Sri Racha. The crew was safe, but the ship was missing 3,700 metric tons of fuel – a value of $1.9 million. It had been siphoned off by the pirates into a smaller cargo ship. This was the sixth act of piracy within three months in the Malacca Strait. And part of a legacy going back centuries.

USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) locates a suspected dhow involved in an attempted hijacking of a merchant vessel off the coast of Somalia. For further information contact Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander 5th Fleet Public Affairs at 011-973-1785-4027 of

A suspected pirate ship prior to being boarded by U.S. naval forces in January 2006. Credit: Kenneth Anderson, uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by Spencer.

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For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:27-29

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11

What does your church look like? Not the building, but the people. Who comprises it? In the Old Testament, only those who were circumcised into Judaism and followed the Mosaic Law were part of God’s blessing and promises. While there were select times when mercy and blessing was granted to those outside of Israel, God’s chosen people were a particular ethnic group, confined within territorial boundaries. While anyone was welcome to join this people, they had to adopt Israelite customs in order to do so. Not anymore.

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By modern numbers, I mean the ten-digit system that we all are familiar with: 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. This is a system now used the world over, but where did it come from? The ten-digit system used now in mathematics is called Hindu-Arabic numeral system, and, as the name suggests, this system emerged in India and Arabia.

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“And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12:11-12

Often in my life, I seem to have trouble articulating my faith. I’ve never been on trial for what I believe, never faced imprisonment for it. Yet I still often have trouble explaining my faith to others. I think, looking at this passage in Luke, that the problem may be is that I am anxious about what to say, instead of relying on God to empower me to speak. So, how can I learn to trust God more in defending my faith? How can you?

I work at Papa Gino’s, a Massachusetts-based pizza chain. So it should come as no surprise that I love pizza, as so many do. Pizza is an American tradition. It seems that the only pie that is more authentically American is apple pie (both foods originated in Eurasia, sorry, the expression is inaccurate!).

But who invented pizza? Where did it come from? It’s from Italy, right?

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“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,  for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-2

Tempers always seem fly during an election year, but this year even more-so than normal.  A large number of Americans are horrified at the vehement and hateful rhetoric coming from Donald Trump, and others horrified at the prospect of a Hillary Clinton becoming president, due to her past and stance on issues. But one of the two is going to win and become president of the United States, and so, no matter which candidate does win, a lot of people will have their fears realized. Many will probably be Christians. So, as a Christian, how do you live in a country with a President that you find appalling?
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History Weekend: The Blog

Considering that this is a blog, I’d thought it would be interesting to look at the history of the blog. How did blogs develop? Why are they called blogs?

The origins of the blog typically are credited to the years 1994 through 1997, when online diaries began appearing. Justin Hall is sometimes called the “founding father” of blogging. He launched an online diary,, in January of 1994, on which he chronicled his daily life. Another early pioneer is Carolyn Burke with her site Carolyn’s Diary, launched in 1995.

Dave Winer also laid much of the early groundwork for blogging in 1994, with his site Scripting News, which developed many early techniques for World Wide Web syndication. In 1997, Jorn Barger, a diarist inspired by Winer, coined the term “Weblog.” This is the origin of the term “blog,” as we shall see in a moment.

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I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13

This is probably one of the most misquoted passages in the Bible. Out of context, it seems to say that God will give you the strength to accomplish anything. And that’s not entirely wrong. But the verse isn’t talking about your next running match or gym competition. The fuller passage reads:

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.”

What Paul is talking about here isn’t really physical ability, but spiritual and emotional strength. In his walk with God, he has learned to be content. Whether praised or ridiculed, hungry or satisfied, needy or well-off, he has learned to be contented with his circumstances. God could have us win a game, but he might also have us lose. What he has promised is that we will always have the spiritual and emotional stamina to see us through if we trust in him.

History Weekend: The Shakers, pt. 3

I originally stated that this series would be in TWO parts, but, after getting into it, I realized that even THREE parts is hard. However, I promise that this will be the last of this particular subject series. (By stringing this out for another week, I also can put off coming up with a new topic!)


Credit: Author unknown, from The Communistic Societies of the United States, by Charles Nordhoff. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by CaroleHenson

Last week, I finished with the organization of the Shakers following the death of their founder, Ann Lee. I also gave an overview of the communities that they establish in the Northeast United States. This week we will look at the Western expansion of the Shakers and their overall history after that, up to the present day.

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Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jer. 9:23-24

What do we boast in? Let me re-phrase the question: What do we trust in? Many people trust in their wealth, the material possessions that they can accumulate. Perhaps power, the ability to command and lead people, and impose your will on others. I like to trust in knowledge and wisdom, to show people how much I know, teach them how to make good decisions. Wealth, power, and wisdom are not bad. They are very useful tools. But, ultimately, should we trust in them, take pride in them, boast in them?

Companies go bankrupt, or the economy collapses and investments become worthless. Elections pull down leaders from positions of power, or you might be passed over for a promotion. Their could be a new finding in your field of study that proves your ideas worthless, or your advice might turn out to have been misleading. You might make a mistake.

But, if you trust in God, what can undermine that? We might lose power, wealth, wisdom. We might even lose our physical life. But what does that matter to our eternal being? What harm can the physical do to the spiritual? If we want trust in something solid, trust in God. Know him, understand him, and act like him. Do the right thing, the loving thing, the just thing. Use what wealth, power, and wisdom you do have to help others. This is a type of boasting that does not draw attention to yourself, but to God.