25 March 2011

Contamination

What a mess in Japan. Now today contamination from Japan's quake-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant would be a problem that would last "for decades and decades'', France's Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) said on Sunday.

“It's a problem that Japan will have to deal with for decades and decades to come.'' Major anxiety continues throughout the country. The anxiety was compounded by the Tokyo Government's revelation Wednesday that radioactive iodine in the drinking water was more than twice the level deemed safe for infants, although it remained within safe adult limits.

The news triggered a run on bottled water in shops and the city's ubiquitous vending machines, while the Tokyo government started to give families three 550-millilitre (18.5-ounce) bottles of water per infant.

Back in 2008, a major gas leak here in Australia triggered a mass exodus. And today residents learned they will share $17.25m compensation for a gas leak fiasco, but lawyers will take $6m in fees.  The massive class action over Cranbourne's methane gas fiasco was settled this morning, with hundreds of residents winning compensation.

The Cranbourne Leader reports the settlement is set to be $23.5 million, including $13.5m from Casey Council coffers and $10m to be paid by the EPA. Residents will share $17.25m after a $6m payment for the court costs and fees for law firm Slater and Gordon.

The deal also allows another $250,000 for “exceptional circumstance’’ cases. That leaves the 771 Brookland Greens households in the class action to share $17.25 million - an average of $22,373 each.

Countries across the world have shunned Japanese food imports as radioactive steam leaked from a disaster-struck nuclear plant, straining nerves in Tokyo.

The damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant from the tectonic calamity and a series of explosions has stoked global anxiety. The United States and Hong Kong have already restricted Japanese food, and France wants the European Union to do the same.

Russia ordered a halt to food imports from four prefectures - Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki and Tochigi - near the stricken plant some 250 kilometres (155 miles) northeast of Tokyo.

Contamination is the problem.  Here are some definitions:   
* In food chemistry and medicinal chemistry, the term "contamination" is used to describe harmful intrusions, such as the presence of toxins or pathogens in food or medicinal drugs.
    * In forensic science, a contaminant can be complex materials such as hair or skin particles arising from sources not related to the ongoing investigation.
* In geology and especially geochemistry, it can have similar effects where even a few grains of "modern" dust can distort results of sophisticated experiments.
    * the term "contamination" is sometimes used to describe accidental transfers of organisms from one natural environment to another.

Some Bible verses found in the NIV actually use the same term. All in the same one chapter in the Torah. “If the contamination in the clothing, or leather, or woven or knitted material, or any leather article, is greenish or reddish, it is a spreading mildew and must be shown to the priest.”  (Leviticus chapter 13, verse 49)
“He must burn up the clothing, or the woven or knitted material of wool or linen, or any leather article that has the contamination in it, because the mildew is destructive; the article must be burned up.” (verse 52)
“These are the regulations concerning contamination by mildew in woolen or linen clothing, woven or knitted material, or any leather article, for pronouncing them clean or unclean.” (verse 59)

In this section of Jewish Bible, the seriousness of contamination is clear. Of course the Jewish people received this instruction in the wilderness, on their way to the Land of Israel, about 3500 years ago.

The thing about contamination, whether spent nuclear fuel rods or tainted nuclear cabbage or mildew in woolen clothing in Israel is that there is one way to deal with it. Remove the contaminant, be ruthless, burn it up.

God wants us to be ruthless with those things that will damage us and might damage others. We have to be anti-contaminant in all our dealings with problems and situations. Not hostile to people, ever, but ever removing the things that will destroy us and our nation.

We are so sorry for the troubles in Japan. We are hopeful that the world might go back into the way it used to be.  But in the meantime and in your own life, treat sin ruthlessly. Deal with problems immediately. Don’t let things linger that need to be removed.

Contaminants are like leaven. And as we approach the season of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, (Chag hamatzot), let’s remove the leaven from our lives. It will only fill in the gaps that remain and dominate.

It’s better to be free. Free from sin. Free from evil. Free from those things that hinder and eventually capture us. Be anti-contaminant today and every day. Shabbat shalom!

12 March 2011

Pressure, tsunami, and relief

Large areas of Japan's northern Pacific coast have been swamped by a devastating tsunami, engulfing entire towns following a major 8.9 offshore quake. The massive wave of water, as high as 10 metres in some parts, reached more than five kilometres inland. The quake center was 231 miles northeast of Tokyo, and the Tokyo Narita (NRT) airport has been affected. As a result, airline operations to and from Japan locations have been impacted,

The news agencies are reporting this morning thousands being dead. Trains are lost, ships are missing. it's a devastation.

Now there is major concern for nuclear reactor leakage and the massive risks that will bring.

I'm watching the first live photos from NHK World service, houses are lost, cars burning and washed away. I'm devastated.

Pressures are part of the reason for a tsunami. What causes a tsunami? A tsunami is a large ocean wave that is caused by sudden motion on the ocean floor. This sudden motion could be an earthquake, a powerful volcanic eruption, or an underwater landslide. The impact of a large meteorite could also cause a tsunami. Tsunamis travel across the open ocean at great speeds and build into large deadly waves in the shallow water of a shoreline. Here are some photos to explain.

Most tsunamis are caused by earthquakes generated in a subduction zone, an area where an oceanic plate is being forced down into the mantle by plate tectonic forces. The friction between the subducting plate and the overriding plate is enormous. This friction prevents a slow and steady rate of subduction and instead the two plates become "stuck".
As the stuck plate continues to descend into the mantle the motion causes a slow distortion of the overriding plage. The result is an accumulation of energy very similar to the energy stored in a compressed spring. Energy can accumulate in the overriding plate over a long period of time - decades or even centuries.

So pressures come, and ruptures and energy releases. The earth quakes, the waves surge, the world is different than what we knew two days ago.

This happened in Christchurch, New Zealand last month.

Haiti and Chile. Naming them and their recent earthquakes makes anyone shudder.

The earth is shaking, the political situations in Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain...the world is devastated. 

What are we doing? What is the world doing?

Nuclear reaction and another Chernobyl (1986) is possible. Japan is “on the path of a core-melt accident,” a nuclear expert told Newsmax in an exclusive interview.

The news Friday afternoon that the only nation that ever has endured a nuclear-weapons attack is venting contaminated vapor from a nuclear power plant’s containment core could indicate that the coolant loss is quite serious, says Mark Hibbs, a Berlin-based senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a nonprofit think tank. Hibbs, who works in Carnegie's Nuclear Policy Program, has spent 20 years reporting for nuclear-energy journals and has spoken with Japanese officials in the aftermath of the nuclear plant mishap resulting from the earthquake there.

Japanese officials have evacuated 3,000 residents who live near the damaged reactors as a precautionary measure, according to Fox News. The pressure inside the Fukishima reactor containment domes is 1,000 percent higher than normal, the officials say, although they contend that a last-ditch emergency cooling system is intact.

One thing is sure, when pressures come, they must be released. Either naturally via steam or earthquake or explosion or volcano or tsunami. The world will continue to self-maintain. And that will cost human life. And human enterprise. Cities will be wiped out. What I create will eventually be erased.

How do you hear that? Do you feel like what you do is a waste? That nothing matters? I'll hope not. I wish we could make the world a better place. I wish we could repair what others have ruined. And we work to do such.

But understand this, Shaking on earth is reflective of shaking in heaven. Isaiah, the Jewish prophet, said it this way."Then it will be that he who flees the report of disaster will fall into the pit, And he who climbs out of the pit will be caught in the snare; For the windows above are opened, and the foundations of the earth shake. The earth is broken asunder, The earth is split through, The earth is shaken violently. The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard, And it totters like a shack, For its transgression is heavy upon it, And it will fall, never to rise again. So it will happen in that day, That the LORD will punish the host of heaven, on high, And the kings of the earth, on earth."  (chapter 24.18-21)
 
I'm not saying that Japan is suffering today due to some sin in the government or a bad trade imbalance. I'm saying that the aching in the world, the groaning, the shaking is all indicative that there will be a shaking in the heavenlies. And that this shaking has already begun.

Haggai the prophet said something similar with "For thus says the LORD of hosts,  ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land." (2.6)

Be ready; your world may be shaken soon. Your finances. Your relationships. Your physical space if you live in Egypt or Santa Cruz, California, or especially in Japan. There's no human answer. No seismologist report will save you. No Seismic retrofitting.

You want to be saved? Look up and be saved. God has sent His Son, Y'shua to die for us, to save us from our sins, and from the sure judgment to come.

06 March 2011

Silhouette

Silhouette by bobmendo
Silhouette a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.
Deborah Kline and her husband Vince Iantorno are with us for one more day in Australia. Their singing and concert ministry with words from the Scriptures and from their hearts are inspirational. Their rhythms and sounds are more latino and salsa than most expect.

You won't want to miss out if you are anywhere in Sydney. Today, Sunday 6 March. This morning in Glendenning, just off Great Western Highway. 10:30. West Sydney Community Church. Unit 1, 9 Kilto Crescent. Ring 8678 0220 if you need more info.

Then later today. 5 pm. At 5 pm. In Five Dock at 223 Great North Road, just off Lyons Road. At the Awesome Church (Yup, that's the name they call themselves).

Put these addresses in your NavMan, or Google Maps, and you will join us. Come as you are. It will be the best use of 90 minutes you've spent in a long time.

04 March 2011

Papal exoneration... who is to blame?

Pope Benedict XVI has made a sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus Christ, tackling one of the most controversial issues in Christianity in a new book.
In "Jesus of Nazareth-Part II" excerpts released Wednesday, Benedict explains biblically and theologically why there is no basis in Scripture for the argument that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus' death.
I remember 1965 and the uproar caused by the pope in those days, John XXIII (Isn't this a SuperBowl designation?) In Nostra Aetate, the pope did what popes had done for centuries. He issued a declaration, an edict if you will. He didn't write a book; he made a pronouncement. Then he said a similar thing that the Jews (as a whole) were not responsible for the death of Jesus. And a new era in Jewish-Catholic relations began. 

But many Jewish leaders in those days rejected the papal decree as forgiving us for something we never did. Therefore it was a waste. Fascinating. Thanks for forgiving us, but we never asked!

OK, so who is responsible? Let's consider five units and their role in the crucifixion.

First, God the Father. The Bible says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3.16). Thus the Father who sent the Son (Y'shua) into the world is culpable in the death of Messiah. Again, John 6.57  “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father" Y'shua makes it clear that his living and dying is the Father's responsibility.

Second, the Jewish leadership at the time. The AP article today reports, "Benedict comes to the same conclusion as the 2nd Vatican Council in 1965, but he explains how with a thorough, Gospel-by-Gospel analysis that leaves little doubt that he deeply and personally believes it to be the case: That only a few Temple leaders and a small group of supporters were primarily responsible for Christ's crucifixion." Aha, so the Jews are responsible, but not all Jews of all times. I see. 
The Bible does give some attribution to this 2nd group. Peter says, (Acts 10.39)  “And we are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. And they also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross" Also Peter said earlier  “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead — by this name this man stands here before you in good health." (Acts 4.8-10). Cleopas told the stranger on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24.20) "how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him up to the sentence of death, and crucified Him." 

Third, the culpable party is the Roman government and the actual people who nailed him.  Recorded in John 18.12 "So the Roman cohort and the commander, and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him," Again in John 19.23. "The Roman soldiers therefore, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece." Clearly the actual culprits wer ethe Romans.

Fourth, Y'shua said of his own actions that he was a volunteer. (John 10.18)  “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” Even though He was 'slain from the foundation of the earth' he actually died and allowed them to do so. He could have called thousands of angels down to save him but he didn't. He willingly died.

Fifth, and maybe foremost. You and I. We are responsible. Paul said, (1Cor. 15.3)"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures," and again in Gal. 1.4 "Y'shua  gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father," Even John said, recorded in 1John 4.10 "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." It was we, and our sins, that caused him to die. We are culpable.

It's clear then that the Romans received the Jewish leadership's proposition that Y'shua was a culprit and needed removing on that Passover nearly 2000 years ago. It's clear the Jewish leadership wanted Him removed. And it's clear that it was Plan A from the beginning, that Y'shua would come to earth. And die. And he willingly put his hand up to do so. And the benefits of his sacrifice were eternal and 'usward.' We gain significantly if we believe. 

2Cor. 5.17 "Therefore if any man is in Messiah, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come"
That declaration is better than any papal book can inform me. 

Rom. 5.1 ¶ Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Rom. 5.2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
Rom. 5.3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
Rom. 5.4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
Rom. 5.5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Rom. 5.6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
Rom. 5.7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.
Rom. 5.8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

That's good news, for you and for me. We deserved punishment for our culpability, but God has forgiven us. Hallelujah!