Toad Behavior Predicts Earthquakes

“In the quest to find an earthquake predictor, elephants, horses, wolves, snakes and fish have all been variously put forward.” (see Breitbart.com ) However the validity behind efforts to show that animal behavior can be used to predict earthquakes has been questionable — perhaps until now. Now it appears that toads, male common toads (Bufo bufo) to be exact, may actually give up to five days warning of an impending earthquake. The result of a fortuitous coincidence, a researcher named Rachel Grant happened to be studying the mating habits of toads ten days before April 6, 2009. That was the day when a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the town of L’Aquila, Italy. More than 300 people died as a result of the quake. (see the NY Times Article L’Aquila Earthquake 2009)

Rachel Grant, a biologist, noticed that while the male toads normally congregate at the breeding site and stay for the duration of the mating season, this time 96% of the male toads fled the breeding site five days before the quake. She also noted that numbers of breeding pairs of toads dropped to zero three days before the quake. (see Breitbart.com )

Want to know a good predictor for earthquakes in your life? When your numbers drop, when you’re no longer congregating — at church — you’re earthquake is coming. Over the years as I’ve observed Christians who fall out of fellowship, I’ve found that over time they become a different person, their behavior changes, noticeably, to those who close to them. But, like the proverbial frog in the pot of slowly heated water, the one who has neglected his or her fellowship doesn’t seem to notice. When you drift from God’s pattern of regular fellowship at church and regular fellowship with God through prayer and reading His word you likely won’t notice anything at first.

But slowly, almost imperceptibly, the earthquake will come.

Stay in regular fellowship with Jesus. Stay in regular fellowship with His body, with His people. Stay close to Him.

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;

Psalm 91:2-4

Why Fish the Sea When You Know You’ll Get Seasick?

Went fishing yesterday, not as I usually do, on a lake, for largemouth bass. This time I’m on vacation with my family in Puerto Vallarta which is right on the ocean.  So we hired a local boat from a company called Monkey Business and our Captain, Tori, did what he always does — he took us to where the fish are. This particular day he took us out to the mouth of the Banderas Bay near the Marietta Islands. Wow, it was like we were in a washing machine on heavy duty cycle. The boat was tossed about until I began to feel just a bit queezy, so I took a dramamine and washed it down with some Coca-Cola. It wasn’t long after that, that one of our party lost their breakfast over the side of the boat then another, then another and then I lost my best fishing sunglasses. When I finally could no longer resist the urge to regurge I was so overcome that I had to push the last person whose head was over the side (fortunately he had just finished) out of the way so I could add my stomach contents to the surrounding waters. The taste of coffee, mixed with Coke, mixed with just a pinch of dramamine will be forever imbedded in my memory.

I’m a lightweight when it comes to motion sickness (even as I type this post a day later, the room is rocking and swaying as though I’m still on board Tori’s boat) Knowing this, my wife asked me afterwards,

Why on earth did you, the person who gets motion sick so easily, go out on that boat and fish in the ocean?

OK, so I confess that more often than not when my wife starts a question with, “Why on earth did you…?” it’s usually because I did something stupid. But this time I had a good reason.

Dr. George Vaillant led a Harvard University study that followed the lives of 268 men in great detail for 72 years (one of the men BTW was JFK). Vaillant has come to some very interesting conclusions after poring over the resulting data. George Vaillant says that one of those conclusions is “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” (see The Atlantic)

Yes, I knew I’d almost certainly get sick out there on the high seas, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend time with one of my sons doing something he loves to do, which is to fish. Neither of us had fished the ocean before so it was particularly appealing for me to be there when he experienced this first in his life.

Was it worth it? Yes. If I could do it over again would I still go? Yes. Will I go next time? No way!

My point is this: you and I sometimes become so task oriented that we lose our focus on what’s most important in our lives. I’ve spoken with men so focused on their careers that their wives left them unexpectedly, stating simply that, “you’ve been a good roomate.” These men were so busy getting the job done that they neglected their relationships with their wives who the Bible admonishes us to love as Christ loves the church. (Ephesians 5:25)

Another conclusion Vaillant came to after the Grant study: “What we do affects how we feel just as much as how we feel affects what we do.” Love is something you do more than something you feel. Love is a verb.

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) “And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)

Love God and love people.

1 Corinthians 13

More Than 200 Christians Killed in Nigeria — Video

More than 200 Christians, many, women and children, were killed in Nigeria Sunday, according to Mission Network News. Accounts from neighbors of the dead say that Muslim herdsmen came out of the hills, shot pistols to draw people out of their homes, and then killed with machetes and bows and arrows. Some of the bodies had severed limbs. Many dead children were found entangled in the arms of their deceased mother’s.

Today the dead were buried in mass graves.

The area where the massacre occurred is a location where a predominantly Christian region borders a predominantly Muslim region.

Your Life:

Walk closely with God for it’s not a matter of if you’ll be persecuted for your faith in Christ but a matter of when. Jesus predicted this when He said,

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”

John 15:18-20

I’m not saying that you and your family will be brutally massacred however we all face trials and you and I won’t be exceptions — count on it. That’s why it’s so important to spend time with the Lord now so you’re prepared for the storm.

You won’t regret it.

Jesus also said,

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Best Actress 2010 — How to satisfy your soul

Sandra Bullock won the Oscar for Best Actress at the Academy Awards tonight for her role in The Blind Side. Bullock plays the role of Leigh Anne Tuohy, a Christian conservative white woman who adopts a destitute young black man and helps him to succeed academically and athletically. The movie is based on the true story of Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher. I thoroughly enjoyed it not only because of the uplifting storyline and outstanding performances, but also because the movie portrays a conservative Christian in a positive light — quite a contrast from what is typically seen coming out of Hollywood. I highly recommend it.

According to an article in The Improper, over her lifetime Sandra Bullock’s films have grossed more than 3.1 billion dollars worldwide.

Your Life:

From an excellent sermon I heard this morning at Applegate Christian Fellowship:

In an interview with The Rolling Stone, Brad Pitt said regarding the American Dream,

Man, I know all these things are supposed to seem important to us – the car, the condo, our version of success – but if that’s the case, why is the general feeling out there reflecting more impotence and isolation and desperation and loneliness? If you ask me, I say toss all this – we gotta find something else. Because all I know is that at this point in time, we are heading for a dead end, a numbing of the soul, a complete atrophy of the spiritual being. And I don’t want that.

Rolling Stone: So if we’re heading toward this kind of existential dead end in society, what do you think should happen?

Pitt: Hey, man, I don’t have those answers yet. The emphasis now is on success and personal gain. [smiles] I’m sitting in it, and I’m telling you, that’s not it. I’m the guy who’s got everything. I know. But I’m telling you, once you’ve got everything, then you’re just left with yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it doesn’t help you sleep any better, and you don’t wake up any better because of it.

Rolling Stone Magazine (October 28, 1999)

Brad Pitt has multiplied millions in the bank. He has (or had) Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston. I looked at some photos of Brad Pitt’s house and I don’t know if it can even be called a house. A compound more accurately describes it. You need a helicopter to reach a high enough altitude to see it all at once. And yet Pitt say’s, “I’m sitting in it, and I’m telling you, that’s not it.”

We should listen to him.

Solomon had it all, materially speaking. The Bible says that he “…made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones.” (2 Chronicles 9:27) He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. (1 Kings 11:3) Yet Solomon agreed with Pitt when he said regarding the things of this world,

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

Ecclesiastes 1:2

Anytime you or I try to find satisfaction in life from worldly things we’ll be disappointed. (see previous post Avatar and Your God Shaped Hole) What we’re craving is the person of Jesus Christ. Brad Pitt said, “…I don’t have any answers…” But there is an answer. The answer is Jesus. Jesus told us to follow him and that “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11

Make your joy complete. Follow Jesus. Pray to Him. Acknowledge that you have sin in your life (we all do! Romans 3:23) and that you’re in need of a savior. Accept the work that Jesus did on the cross for you — He loved you so much He died for your sins. Ask Him to become a part of your life. Ask Him to be your Savior and your Lord. Ask Him to help you to walk intimately with Him.

You’ll never regret it.

Your joy will be complete.

Rest — 3 essential ways to rest to keep you at your best

Dick Cheney recently had a heart attack according to a Huffington Post article from February 23, 2010. His fifth since age 37! The heart attack was characterized as a mild one, yet having already experienced four others, the cumulative amount of heart muscle death is troubling. He had surgery at George Washington University Hospital on Tuesday, February 23. His recovery appears to be on track.

Yesterday a New York Times article talked about the pressures that President Barack Obama’s top advisor, David Axelrod, faces. In the article Axelrod’s detractors criticize him for mismanaging the president’s communication with the public. Many say that the pressure in Washington is taking it’s toll on Axelrod whose typical work day starts at 6 a.m. and ends at 11 p.m. Friends openly worry about him burning out.

Your Life:

Rest! According to the Relationship Economy website the amount of digital information we will be subjected to is going to increase 10 fold over the next 5 years. At work we’re interrupted as often as once every 3 minutes. (see Goodreads.com‘s review of The Overflowing Brain) Cell phones, texts, emails, faxes, landlines, pages, tweets, facebook — the pace of life is ever increasing.

I spent the last week at a firefighter and police leadership seminar listening to author and speaker, Dr. Kevin Gilmartin, talk about how expenditure of our energy on one end, a high, absolutely must result in a corresponding low energy phase that can, without rest, result in serious depression.

It’s essential that we follow God’s commandment to keep the sabbath. It’s essential that we set aside one day a week to:

1) Rest in the Lord

Go to church. Relax within the body of Christ. Rest in Him. Be influenced by Him. Gilmartin cites a study that shows that those who attend church regularly are 40% more likely to be happy than those who don’t. Over the years I’ve watched the lives of those who attend church regularly and those who don’t. In the short term the differences may be unnoticeable. But in the long term — it’s a hard road for those who fall into a pattern of apathy toward their church involvement.

2) Rest your body

This might mean passive rest if you worked construction all week. Or active rest, physical exercise, yard work if you enjoy it, or helping a friend to move (a means of finding out who your true friends are BTW) if you sit at a desk all week.

3) Rest your mind

Disengage your mind from your work life. Focus on God and family for a day.

Remember that all of God’s commandments are for our own benefit. It probably seems counterintuitive but you and I will be more effective in the long run if we take one day and rest. Jesus said,

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Mark 2:27