Adventures in Athens – How We Treat Others

How we treat others matters far more, to the individual and to everyone around, than we can possibly imagine. 

My daughter Anna is getting married in June, so she and I traveled to Greece this past week to adventure together one more time. It has been a marvelous week; we have enjoyed the place and enjoyed each other. I will treasure these few days forever, and I hope that she will do the same. With all of the fun that we had, God used our experiences to build our character and our faith as individuals and as the Body of Christ.

Yesterday Anna and I traveled to Corinth to see where Paul walked and worked. The ruins of the ancient city featured a temple of Apollo, a basilica of Julian, shops, houses, and the Bema where the famous apostle was tried before Gaius. After almost two hours of exploring the ruins, we agreed to finish individually and then meet at the temple to conclude our visit. I stopped by the Pirean fountain and explored the historic road entering the city. Anna finished first and went to the temple. I tried to get to the temple faster by leaving the site through the exit and reentering the main entrance.

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Our Persian Sister

She moved out just over one year ago. Things had been tense for several weeks, especially since her sister had visited. We didn’t know why, but I could hear the tension in Jane’s (not her real name) voice, and see her almost continually locked door in our basement. We tried to understand why she seemed to grow more distant, but the closer we tried to get, the farther she moved away.

Jane was a young Christian Persian woman who I had met on a mission trip to Central Asia in 2011.  She had come to New York City in September 2013, lived in rooms rented from families, and ate out. She linked up with the Persian community and enjoyed the night life of the Big Apple. Perhaps to save money, Jane moved to Virginia to live with us in December 2014.

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Math Days

Mathematics is one of most important fields of study in the modern world, and understanding math must be a foundational goal for every person. Unfortunately, many children, adolescents and adults fear math. It is not easy to understand and so they believe that they cannot understand it.

Families and teachers can celebrate dates that correspond to important mathematical concepts. Using food, games, and prizes, they can teach children, and themselves, that math is fun. In honor of the upcoming Square Root Day (4-4-16), I have provided this list for my readers.

Annual

Golden Ratio Day (1/6) – January 6

For over 2,000 years, scientists and artists have been fascinated with the Golden Ratio. It is defined as two quantities having the same ratio to each other that the larger of the two has to their sum. For example, a line segment AC comprised of segments AB (larger) and BC (smaller) would be in the Golden Ratio if AB+BC is to AB as AB is to BC. The decimal equivalent of the Golden Ratio is 1.618 to 1. Many proportions of the Greek Parthenon are in the Golden Ratio, as is the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. The ratio is also found in music, art and nature. Do something “golden” for yourself, and for someone, else today.

E day (2/7) – February 7

E is an irrational number used in exponential and logarithmic functions. Celebrants can do things relating to e, such as eating foods (eggs, enchiladas, English muffins, etc) and doing activities (like going to the zoo to see elephants or the aquarium to see eels).

Pi Day (3/14) – March 14

Pi, the constant used to calculate the area (πr2) and circumference (2πr) of a circle, is 3.14159…. The Pi date of the century is 3/14/15. Some families serve pies of various types (pizza pie, apple pie) to observe it. Thomas Jefferson School of Science and Technology in Virginia band, cheerleaders and fans used to count down to pi in the fourth quarter of football games (3.24, 3.23…3.16, 3.15, Pi!!!) but the same countdown can be used for any sport.

Tau Day (6/28) – June 28

Some argue that Tau, not Pi, is the real circle constant (T=C/r=6.28318). If you are in this select group, express yourself by celebrating Tau day every June. The Tau date of the century is 6/28/31.

Pi Approximation Day (7/22 or 22/7 military and European notation) – July 22

Summer is a time when children often forget the lessons they learned the year before. The fractional equivalent of pi is 22/7 (3.14285…), and 22 July is almost half way between the end of one school year and the beginning of another. Families can celebrate Pi Approximation Day during the heat of summer with snow cones (V=πr3h/3), scoops of ice cream (V=4/3πr3), and of course, ice cream pies.

Gravity Day (9/8) – September 8

The acceleration due to gravity on earth is 9.8 m/s2, or 32 f/s2. Whether you are a pencil or a rock, neglecting wind resistance, you will fall to the ground at that rate. Do a gravity project, or at least gain some weight, on this happy day.

Light Speed Day (10/8) – October 8

October gets a lot of good math days because scientific notation uses 10x rather than adding a bunch of zeroes behind a number. The speed of light (3×108 m/s or 186,000 miles per second) is a fundamental constant of the universe and deserves celebration. Besides, we believe that the more celebrations, the better.

Powers of 10 Day (10/10) – October 10

The greatest power of 10 day is 10/10/10, but math nerds can celebrate powers of 10 day every year. Do ten things, spend ten dollars, or work ten puzzles. Enjoy your tens!

Mole Day (10/23) – October 23

Avagadro’s Number (6.02×1023) is a fundamental constant in chemistry, describing how many particles of any substance make a mole of that substance. Celebrate it from 0602 to 1802 (6:02 AM to 6:02 PM).

Fibonacci Day (11/23) – November 23

The sequence is 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144,… Each number is produced by adding the two numbers immediately preceding. The next number in the sequence above would be 89+144 = 233. The Fibonacci sequence describes many natural phenomena including the branching of trees and generations of honeybees.

Gross Day (12/12) – December 12

A gross is 144 (12×12), whether a gross of quarters or a gross of candy canes. Families can celebrate Gross Day by making a gross of something (Christmas cookies), collecting a gross of something (beautiful fall leaves after Thanksgiving), or enjoying a gross of time (144 minutes) together (playing, singing, eating or dancing).

Every Century

Special Math Days in a Century

Same Number Day Series Day Square Root Day Pythagorean Theorem Day Odd Day
1/1/01 1/2/03 1/1/01 3/4/05 1/3/05
2/2/02 2/3/04 2/2/04 4/3/05 3/5/07
3/3/03 3/4/05 3/3/09 6/8/10 5/7/09
4/4/04 4/5/06 4/4/16 8/6/10 7/9/11
5/5/05 5/6/07 5/5/25 5/12/13 9/11/13
6/6/06 6/7/08 6/6/36 12/5/13 11/13/15
7/7/07 7/8/09 7/7/49 9/12/15
8/8/08 8/9/10 8/8/64 12/9/15
9/9/09 9/10/11 9/9/81 8/15/17
10/10/10 10/11/12 12/16/20
11/11/11 11/12/13 7/24/25
12/12/12 12/13/14 10/24/26

These days are all occasions to party, but unfortunately most of them have passed for this century. Enjoy those that remain with family and friends, and pass this list on to your grandchildren. They will have a great time.

Advent Tree Family Devotions – December 9

Dove

Genesis 8:6-12; Leviticus 1:14-17; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Galatians 5:15‑25

The dove is mentioned often in the Bible, from helping Noah know when the waters had receded, to serving as a sacrifice for the poor.  The dove is also the most common image of the Holy Spirit.  Do you recall the scripture passages which tell of the Holy Spirit descending from Heaven like a dove? (Matthew 3:16) 

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead.  He is the Comforter of Jesus’ followers, and the Giver of the gifts of the Spirit and the Fruits of the Spirit. 

The Gifts of the Spirit are God-given abilities.  Every believer has at least one, a few have several, and they are all to be used for the building up of the church and the glory of God.  These are not the natural talents, inherent in nonbelievers and believers alike.  Preachers and evangelists often display speaking gifts (prophecy, knowledge, wisdom, teaching and exhortation) and while serving gifts (leadership, helps, giving, mercy, faith and discernment) are frequently found in other groups.  Prophecy is the speaking forth of God’s Word, knowledge is the understanding of His truth, and wisdom is the practical application of that truth.  Teaching is the ability to help others understand a concept fully, and exhortation is the power to effectively encourage.  Of the nonverbal gifts mercy is the ability to empathize and sympathize, faith is an unusual depth of trust in God, and discernment helps the individual distinguish truth and falsehood.

The Fruits of the Spirit are character traits planted by the Holy Spirit and growing in everyone who knows and loves the Lord.  Their presence proves that a man is a Christian, and their absence proves that he is not.   Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are all within our reach. God develops these fruits within us as we read and obey His word, and as we step out in faith. 

The incessant demands of life, especially during this season, can prevent us from developing our spiritual gifts, and slow our growth in spiritual fruit.  The Spirit of God rarely shouts through an earthquake or a storm, but usually whispers to us during our quiet moments.  Lives that overflow with frenzied activity and mountains of material goods will never overflow with the Spirit of love and power.  The dove is not a prince among birds, but in its simplicity and ordinariness it was chosen above all other birds to represent the Holy Spirit. 

Will you develop your Gift of the Spirit this Advent season?  Will you cultivate your soul in trust and obedience so that the Fruits of the Spirit can grow in you?  This Advent season, and any time you see a dove, remember the Holy Spirit of God, and thank him for the gifts He has given you, and in the Fruits of the Spirit available to all.

 

What Child is This?

 

What Child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

Chorus

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies he in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Chorus

So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own him.
the King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone him.

Chorus

 

Life’s Biggest Blessings – A Large Family

Overpopulation is a myth – the world’s real problem now is not enough children. And children are worth to a family and a nation than almost everything else.

My in-laws had two children, one girl and one boy, but my father-in-law always wanted more. My parents had two sons, and sometimes said they wished they had also had a girl. I have often met people in the autumn of their lives who wished they had had more children, but never any who wanted less. Despite this, the fertility rate in America, the number of children per woman, is below the replacement level of 2.1, meaning parents are not having enough children to replace themselves. According to the 2013 CIA World Factbook, the US birth rate is 147th out of 224 countries worldwide. People chatter about how important family is to them, and then endlessly complain about children being too troublesome, too expensive, and too much of an interference with what they want to do. My goal today is to remind readers of a truth that for millennia was taken for granted; children are a gift from God and large families are a blessing.

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“Haves and have nots” or “Do and do nots?”

Our acrimonious political debates often center on class struggle, those who “have” against those who “have not.” Perhaps the conflict is really between those who “do”, who contribute to wider society, and those who “do not,” who take without giving. 

The 2012 Presidential Election campaign is in its final weeks, and while one candidate seems to relish contrasting the “haves and have nots”, the other candidate recently implied that the real division is between the “do and do nots.” One group seems to boil with resentment against those who they perceive have more than they do. Another group seems to boil with resentment against those who they perceive do less than they do. Is either narrative accurate? Are both narratives accurate but incomplete? The debate is not limited to candidates or even parties; large swaths of the American population seem to feel the same way. The structure of the human body can shed light on these questions.

The human body is made of billions of cells, the building blocks of life. The cells are fundamentally the same, including parts such as the nucleus, the cytoplasm, the mitochondria, and the cell membrane. There is also diversity amidst the unity, with cells of hundreds of types and functions, including muscle cells, bone cells, hormone secreting cells, nerve cells, skin cells, fat cells, and many others. They are arrayed in a system of incredible complexity, and work together with precision to accomplish the purposes of the body. The human body is a truly magnificent creation.

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Jesus’ Birth, Childhood, and Family Tree

What was Jesus’ background? Did God the Father arrange the Old Testament to prepare the way for Jesus as the Messiah? 

It is interesting that the one part of Jesus’ life that is most recognized in mainstream American society is His birth.  We celebrate Christmas, and despite the concerted and oftentimes angry effort to take Him out of Christmas, He remains an important part, even for many who may not believe much else about Him.  Both Matthew and Luke provide valid historical accounts.

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