Sunday, January 29, 2012

What a Ham I am (Part 5) - Winter in the Rockies

White Road Black Sky
Work had taken us (me and my OM) many places.

(For non-Hams, OM is lingo for "Old Man" - a guy, a husband in my case.)

This was back in the days when I worked outside the home ... for pay.

One stint was the Rocky Mountain region. We both worked at different sides of town but lived in the country.

Country living did have its advantages - the elbow room, the forests, the friendly neighbors, who were not too close. But there was the downside ... like when we were working in the city ... and the weather would take a turn for the worse ... and there were the nasty road conditions with miles to go before we sleep ...

But there was and still is an old saying in these parts -

If you don't like the weather, just wait a little bit and it will change.

Sometimes for worse ... real fast.

In these environs, we were granted snow days - when officials cancelled school and government offices and businesses dismissed non-essential workers for safety concerns. One time, a snow day was called at the local military bases, yet the school districts had not made that same call for their students. The kids stayed in class. And the big anticipated snow storm did not pan out.

Why does my kid have to go to school and "Rambo" gets the day off?

That was the complaint of one of the callers on a local talk show the next day. Oh, the military would not live this one down! So government and businesses were a little gun shy to a declare a snow day ... which was not necessarily a good thing.

Not long after that "Rambo" call, an Albuquerque Low brought in a ton of snow. Workers were dismissed eventually ... but perhaps a little too late to get home safely before feeling the full fury of the storm.

At that time, I was driving a small car (Toyota Tercel), a 4WD, and thought I was doing real well though I moved quite slowly in the traffic. I finally crept out of town onto a well traveled road passing some major businesses. Only a few more miles to get to my home in the country.

On the more open road, though, the wind was blowing awfully fierce creating white out conditions. I thought I was following the reflectors along the side of the road. But it turned out I was on the wrong side. Then I got stuck ... in my 4WD ... in a snow bank ... in a blizzard. And I did what many other women might have done under these circumstances ...

I cried.

Then this large SUV drove by.

The driver saw me - this woman in distress. He had just dropped a fellow co-worker in the country and was on his way home in town. He picked me up and dropped me off at the edge of town, where I got a room for the night.

I called my OM, who was already home safe. He drove a larger car much like a small SUV (Mitsubishi Montero - which we affectionately called "Monty"), also a 4WD with higher clearance.

Beating me home, OM had been on the air, talking to a Ham with a mobile rig in a big pickup truck trying to find me. He had not heard from me for a while since I had left work. He was glad when I called from the motel and that I was safe. The next day, weather clear, OM picked me up, and eventually we recovered my car - in the large parking lot of one of the big businesses out of town - towed there among many other cars stuck in the snow like mine was.

Why didn't I just call on a cell phone?

This was the 1980s. Cell phones were not yet ubiquitous. What coverage that there was for existing cell phones was extremely limited, such as shown below in this vintage ad:



A mobile ham rig was the thing to have. For you old timers, remember the popularity of CBs, especially in the 1970s? CBers were kind of like Hams, but they didn't have to get a license. (A sore point for serious Hams of that day.)

Fast forward a few years.

When we still worked in town and lived in the country, another storm was forecast to move in one evening. After work, I had a music lesson scheduled, which meant I was coming home later than usual ... about the time the storm was due. This time, OM insisted that I take "Monty" with a 2 meter ham radio rig in it. And I did.

Weather was somewhat decent after work. But after my lesson, conditions changed quickly. The roads were worse than snowy. They were icy ... and most dangerous. But in Monty I was doing fine driving up a main north to south road at the edge of town, which had recently been expanded to a four lanes - two lanes each way with street lights on the dividers.

Why is that car going the wrong way?

That's what I thought when I spotted a pickup truck ahead, stopped in the middle of the two lanes, with lights shining the wrong way - right at me. As I got closer, I saw a woman in the cab with the wheel well of her truck smashed in.

I stopped to assist and learned her story. Her truck had slid on the icy road, spun around a full 180 degrees and struck one of the light poles in the divider between the lanes. She was a little shaken and wanted to get a hold of her husband.

Fortunately, I drove Monty with the 2 meter mobile ham radio rig. I got on the air and called for help. Immediately, I heard the familiar voice of a friend that I knew from the local ham radio club - a Marine Vet (he had fought in the South Pacific during World War Two and knew code really well). Retired and snugly nestled in his man cave, Marine Vet was monitoring the net when he recognzied my voice and call sign.

Meanwhile, my OM was monitoring the net with the ham radio a rig at work and heard me talking with Marine Vet about some accident.

Oh, no! She wrecked my car!

Those were my OM's first thoughts. He broke in, but got quickly up to speed on the situation. And Marine Vet called the woman's husband on the land line and gave our location.

But we were not out of the woods - or should I say - out of the middle of the road, yet.

The truck was still pointed the wrong way - a hazard to all who drove on the ice with reduced visibility. With the smashed wheel well, the woman could not turn the wheels of her truck to move it to the side. So we both huddled inside Monty in a more safe place along the side of the road and waited for her husband.

A Good Samaritan on two wheels?

As the snow was blowing, a most dedicated bicyclist pedaled by us, riding on the snow and ice, much like this guy in the video clip below. But this guy wore the tight black spandex pants with the padding on the seat and was not a bit fazed by the storm. Clearly, bicycling was very serious business to him.



The cyclist stopped at the scene of the accident and heard our tale of the truck and that we were not able to move it out of the middle of the road.

No problem. The man was as skilled at driving a smashed-in truck as he was cycling in a snow storm. Though the bashed in side hindered turning the wheels, he maneuvered the truck off to the side of the road ... something we could not figure out how to do.

Good deed done, this Good Samaritan got back on his mountain bike and pedalled up the road - disappearing into a curtain of snow.

An angel on two wheels?

The Lord works in mysterious ways ...

We waited until the husband came and rescued his wife. Then I drove Monty back home arriving much later than planned.

An eclectic cast of rescuers came together this snowy day. I would not have happened on the scene if I had not been going home later than usual, delayed from taking a music lesson after work. My OM was prescient to insist that I drive his car with the 2 meter rig that day. A retired World War Two Marine Vet happened to be monitoring the net that evening. And an unknown bicyclist happened to come across us, who was willing to help and knew how to drive really well.

And so ends this winter tale of my first emergency use of ham radio by myself.

Question: Any winter tales to share?

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Previous posts in the What a Ham I am series:

What a Ham I am (Part 1) - moving on up! (2011)

What a Ham I am (Part 2) - When lightening strikes (2011)

What a Ham I am (Part 3) - Hams make Contact (2011)

What a Ham I am (Part 4): Have you hugged your Elmer today? (2011)

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Post on similar subject:

Advice for all seasons - Be safe (2011)


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Photo from everystockphoto.com: White Road Black Sky

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Anastasis (part 4) - Back to which Bethel?


Amos

Back to Bethel?

Which one?

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:

And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.


Amos 8:11-12
(King James Version)


What has Bethel have to do with this most unusual famine?

Everything.


The point made in the previous post in the Anastasis series, Famine, was that one of God's judgements is silence.

These verses are the theme of Anastasis, the Forbidden Book Concealed - the first book of the trilogy The Forbidden Book and the Upside Down Kingdom .

Here is the back story on these verses and what I have learned researching the prophet, Amos.


Who was Amos?

Not that much is known about him. He was a Jew living in the southern kingdom of Judah and an Old Testament prophet. Before the Lord called him, he was a herdsman and gatherer of sycamore fruit (Amos 7:14).

Where was he from?

Amos was from Tekoa (Amos 1:1), about six miles southeast of Bethlehem, a hilly ridge overlooking the desert wilderness down to the edge of the Dead Sea.

Map: http://bibleatlas.org/tekoa.htm

When did he prophesy?

He prophesied from about 776 – 763 B.C. during the reigns of Jeroboam II, king of Israel, and Uzziah, king of Judah, two years before the earthquake (Amos 1:1). Two hundred years later, Zechariah 14:5 mentions this same earthquake during the time of Amos.

Amos was also a contemporary of Jonah, Hosea, and later Micah.

Where did he preach?

The Lord called Amos to minister in the northern kingdom where he preached at the king’s chapel in Bethel (Amos 7:13).

Some background on Bethel:

Location:

* Bethel is about 12 miles north of Jerusalem.

* Map: http://bibleatlas.org/bethel.htm

Meaning:

* Bethel means "House of God" from the Hebrew word "beth" for "house" and "el" for "God."

* Its original name was Luz for light (Genesis 35:6.)

First mention:

Bethel is first mentioned in Genesis 12:8, after Abram (later known as Abraham) was called out of Ur of the Chaldeans to the land of Canaan.

Significance:

Bethel had become quite significant to Abraham’s grandson Jacob. When Jacob was fleeing from the wrath of his brother Esau, he fell asleep on a stone and had a dream of a ladder, reaching up to heaven with angels ascending and descending on it. (Hence, from here is derived the term "Jacob’s Ladder.")



Above the ladder, the Lord restates the promises made to Abraham and Isaac, to give Jacob the land and bless his descendants. When Jacob awoke quite awed by the vision, he anointed the stone with oil and called the place "Bethel." (Genesis 28:10-18)

Back to Bethel:

Coming back to Bethel had a greater significance twenty years later. Jacob was fleeing the wrath of his relatives, again. He was surrounded - his father-in-law on one side and his brother Esau on the other.

Feeling distressed in this tightening vise of converging enemies, Jacob suffered a fitful, but memorable night. He wrestled with the Angel of the Lord who changed his name to Israel – God wrestler. Then, Jacob found deliverance from his dilemma as his father-in-law’s anger was abated and Esau had long forgiven him (Genesis 32).

After his latest family feuds came to a resolution, Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi slaughtered the house of Shechem to avenge the rape of their sister. (Genesis 34) With a foul reputation in the land and great fear of retribution for the murders, Jacob returned to Bethel:

And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.

Genesis 35:3
(King James Version)

Jacob built an altar to God as he and his house put away their strange gods, cleaned up their act, and got their hearts right with the God of his fathers. (Genesis 35)

Jacob's return to Bethel is read in the first part of the video clip below:



To this day, "Back to Bethel" is a picture of those who come back to God after leaving Him and getting in the world.

Now, fast forward about one thousand years ...

Jacob, whose name had been changed to Israel, had many descendants. They multiplied to become the great kingdom of Israel and came to a zenith under David and Solomon. (II Samuel 2 – 24; I Kings 1-11; I Chronicles 11 – 29; II Chronicles 1–9)

Under Solomon’s son Rehoboam, a bloodless civil war (a revolt over high taxes) broke out led by Jeroboam I. Israel split in two – the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. (I Kings 12 - 13; II Chronicles 10 - 11)

Judah retained Jerusalem as its capital; Israel’s first capital was Bethel (I Kings 12). Here, Jeroboam I erected two golden calves, one in Dan, the other in Bethel. (I Kings 12:28-29)

Remember the problem the children of Israel had with those golden calves when Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and was on the mountain getting the Law? (Exodus 32)

Here is Hollywood's version from The Ten Commandment (1956) :






You would think after all that drama Moses had finished off those golden calves and their worship.

Those golden calves made a big comeback … back at Bethel.

The leader of the rebellion, Jeroboam I had put up the golden calves and instituted his own priests (as the Levites were the ones under the Law of Moses) for political reasons. He did this to keep the people from going back to Jerusalem to worship and getting any ideas about reuniting with the southern kingdom. (I Kings 12:27) This act is often referred to as the sin of Jeroboam (I Kings 13:32-34)

Back to the Bethel? ... Not!

Instead of putting away idols, like the house of Jacob did in Genesis, these children of Israel were putting up idols and worshipping them, from Jeroboam I to Jeroboam II. Instead of coming back to God, like Jacob had done, they were turning their backs on the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Bethel was a place where those, though very religious, were far from God.

During Amos’s time:

When Jeroboam II was on the throne, the northern kingdom was at its zenith. Bethel was the center of culture and of organized religion. Judaism was in apostasy as the worship the golden calf was reinstituted, where Amaziah was the priest at Bethel (Amos 7:10).

The king’s chapel at the king’s court was the center of golden calf worship. (Amos 7:13)

The Message of Amos:

In the northern kingdom, Amos first launches into the sins and God’s judgment of their neighboring kingdoms –Syria, Philistia, Phoenicia, Edom, Ammon, and Moab. (Amos 1:3 – 2:3) The people didn’t mind that, especially hearing about someone else’s sins. And they didn’t seem to mind that much when he started in the sins of the southern kingdom of Judah (Amos 2:4 - 5)

Then, Amos launched into the sins of Israel - Immorality, Blasphemy, Iniquity– past, present, future. (Amos 2:4 – 6:4). They didn’t like it.




The priest at Bethel, Amaziah deliberately misquoted Amos to King Jeroboam to stir up more trouble. (Amos 7:10 - 11) Then, the priest of the golden calf derided Amos and told him to go away. (Amos 7:12 - 13)

At the time, Amos’s warnings of judgment seemed ridiculous as the northern kingdom under Jeroboam II was the zenith of its power (II Kings 14:23 – 27). But fifty years later, the northern kingdom would be destroyed by the Assyrians, carried into captivity about 740 BC. (II Kings 17)

And hence the ten tribes in the north have become known as "the ten lost tribes of Israel."

The Forbidden Book Concealed?

In the time frame of this historical fiction - the late 14th  century - the Bible has been suppressed - especially in the common language of the people. There is a Famine in the land ... a spiritual famine of the Bread of Life ... for many years.

With the pending of the Forbidden Book, will the people long to go back to Bethel?  And if so, which one?

* The Bethel of repenting and turning back to the God? 

* The Bethel of idolatry?

Come and find out.

Whatever course a man or woman chooses in whatever age ....

Even the Dark Ages could not extinguish the Light.

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The site where free sample chapters can be downloaded and where this eBook can be bought and delivered via wireless:

* Amazon.com (for Kindle)

* Barnes and Noble (Nook)



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For previous posts in this series:

Anastasis (part 3) - Famine (2012)

Anastasis (part 2) - standing up (2011)

Anastasis (part 1) - The Forbidden Book Concealed (2011)

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For posts on similar subjects:

Easter - The Sign of the Prophet Jonah (2011)

Memorize this! (2011)

Beverly Hillbillies and Amos - country folk in the big city (2010)

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Photo from Wikipedia Commons: Amos, the prophet

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

America's Story (part 5) - Amazing Grace

January 16, 2012 marks Martin Luther King Day.

This relatively recent federal holiday celebrates the achievements of its namesake, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , as an influential American civil rights leader. And rightly so. Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech given at the Lincoln Memorial, August 28, 1963 is one the top speeches in America's story.

And I can still remember, as a young school girl, that terrible day in April of 1968 when Dr. King was assassinated and the nation went into mourning.

In the tumultuous 1960s, We Shall Overcome was the anthem of the southern civil rights anthem. Yet, Amazing Grace, one of the most beloved songs in American history, was also used by Civil Rights marchers at that time.

In the clip below, Pastor Wintley Phipps gives the moving story behind Amazing Grace.  The lyrics were written by a former slave ship captain, John Newton. The composer of the melody is unknown, but bears the fingerprints of a West African sorrow chant.




For history of the song Amazing Grace, here is the timeline.

In the 18th century, the United States of America declared her independence from Great Britain, fought a long war for freedom, and won. Among the founding documents, Thomas Jefferson wrote these words, often quoted in the cause of civil rights:

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.

(from the Declaration of Independence)

Yet ironically, after the American Revolution, Great Britain was ahead of the United States in some areas of civil rights.

The story of William Wilberforce and the prime minister William Pitt, the younger struggle to abolish slavery is told in Amazing Grace (2006):




The Amazing Grace story and America's struggle for civil rights can be summed up here: American Anti-Slavery and Civil Rights: A Timeline in Context

If we had only learned from England ... at least on this issue ... we may have averted the Civil War and the deep wounds that have divided our nation. Yet, in our history (as well as others), Amazing Grace speaks to our souls as shown in the clip -




Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost and now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.


* It was used as a requiem by the Cherokee Indians on The Trail of Tears (1838)

* It was sung on both sides of the American Civil War (1861-1865)

* It was sung during gatherings of the Civil Rights movement (1950s, 1960s)

* It was sung for comfort after September 11 (2001)


And the song will endure for ages to come ....

In the world of science fiction, Amazing Grace made it to the 23rd century, such as in this scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), after Captain Kirk delivers his eulogy for Mr. Spock:



The impact of Amazing Grace and the struggle for Civil Rights ... to right the wrongs ... are part of America's Story, which is

to be continued ...

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For other posts in the America's Story series:
 
America's Story (part 1) - The Speech that redefined us, November 19, 1863   (2011)

America's Story (part 2) - Savages!  (2011)

America's Story (part 3) - Over There - 1917, 1941  (2011)

America's Story (part 4) - Christmas 1944, when we said NUTS to the enemy  (2011)

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For other posts on Civil Rights:

July 1776 & July 1863 (2009)

MLK, Malcolm X & Epiphany (2010)

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Photo from Wikipedia CommonsI Have a Dream

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Anastasis (part 3) - Famine



Famine

It is a terrible scourge on any living thing.

And the scarcity of food has many causes.

Some natural.

Crop failure due to drought, depleted soil, insect invasions, plant diseases, hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, freezes, freak acts of nature ...

Some man made.

Poor agricultural practices. Overpopulation. Genocide. Wars. Bureaucratic screw ups.  Ignorance.  Numerous types of blunders and human error ...


Famine has been felt on all continents at different times throughout our history. In its wake are the ravages of malnutrition, starvation, illness, and death.


It's still the F word.





Yet, the Old Testament prophet Amos spoke of a most unusual famine.

Not one of bread, alone ...


Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:

And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

Amos 8:11,12
(King James Version)

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What's the story on this?

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had given Israel His Holy Word. But during 8th century BC, the children of Israel had rejected their Covenant. As evidence of their apostasy, the Israelites in the Northern Kingdom had resurrected the worship of the golden calf (Amos 3:13, 14 and note that Bethel was the site of the golden calf. ) and rejected the words of Amos – God’s prophet.

In the verses above, God speaking through Amos, His prophet, was telling the Northern Kingdom they would no longer have the privilege of hearing His Word.

One of God’s judgments is silence.
 

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These verses from Amos 8:11,12 were chosen as the theme of the first book of the trilogy:

The Forbidden Book and the Upside Down Kingdom

Anastasis - The Forbidden Book Concealed

Anastasis
The setting of this historical fiction is in the tiny kingdom of Opulentia, anno Domini 1375.  Opulentia seems to be at her zenith, but is in great danger of being overthrown by greedy men and from collapsing from within.  

The people outwardly had turned to God during the Great Plague of anno Domini 1349 - known today as the Black Death. But instead of giving praise to God, credit was given to a dead saint, which turned out to be almost as profitable as the kingdom's famous mines.

The Shrine of St. Barbara, which commemorated the Great Miracle of the Passover of the Great Plague, draws many pilgrims and further enriches the Church with their offerings. Likewise, the magnificent Cathedral of Our Lady of the Mines receives visitors throughout Christendom.

The established Church at this time is wealthy, but spiritually wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.  Corruption has infiltrated the Church of the Middle Ages like a cancer.  The business of saving souls has evolved to the big business of selling souls.


Below is a clip of what the spiritual condition may have been like, such as this scene set before the Protestant Reformation:





Like Amos had prophesied to the Northern Kingdom, Opulentia suffers from a famine of the Word of God.  The Bible has been withheld from the common people and forbidden to read for hundreds of years. Sadly, the Gospel has become lost in the Church.

Yet, there still was a small voice – like Amos – which could ignite a revival and truly bring the people Back to Bethel ... which is the subject of the next post in this series.


Even the Dark Ages could not extinquish the Light.

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For more information on the eBook

Anastasis - The Forbidden Book Concealed

Barnes and Noble

amazon


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Previous posts on the Anastasis series:

Anastasis (part 1) - The Forbidden Book Concealed (2011)

Anastasis (part 2) - standing up (2011)

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Previous posts of this subject:

The King James Bible: 1611 - 2011 (2011)

Halloween 1517 (2009)


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Photo from Wikipedia Commons: Irish potato famine