Are Family Lines Like Relay Races?

ARE FAMILY LINES LIKE RELAY RACES?

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

 This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.   (Psalm 102:18)

RelayRace-Starting.little-girl

A relay race requires a team united in their efforts to reach a destination within a certain timeframe. Each relay runner runs part of the race’s total distance.  Besides running, relay races may involve cross-country skiing, swimming, ice skating, or even race-car driving.  A relay race is a team sport – if the team doesn’t work well together, the unsurprising result is a failure to win.

Planning and preparation—including division of labor decisions and logistical support– are important for successfully competing in a relay race. Who will lead off?  Who will run the next “leg”? Who runs the “last leg” of the race? Transferring the baton can “make or break” a success.   Dropping the baton can ruin everything.

RelayRace-passing-baton

Biogenetically speaking, our family lines are like relay races, except the “race” is much slower. Thankfully, our parents transferred the baton of life to us; we do the same to our children.  They must do the same for our grandchildren, and so on.  But what if our parents had “dropped” the baton, procreatively, when we needed them most—so they we would be conceived and born?

No one can “start” any “leg” of the multi-generational race unless and until God Himself procreatively makes that person. That requires literally thousands of years of God’s providential work—the details of which we never learn in this lifetime.  Yet God kindly chose to make each of us the exact individual each one of us is.  There is just one you.  That is how personal God is, as our Creator. Beyond that His Son has provided redemption for our sin.  That’s enough to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!

Psalm139.13-16-FamilyHistory-slide

What a start in life we each have, physically:  planned by God, procreatively constructed—microscopically—in the womb, by God’s own artistic embroidery-like needlework (Psalm 139:15).  And that’s just our physical life!

Psalm102.18-FamilyHistory-slide

Now imagine how God gives each of us a unique personality—a thinking mind, our emotions, our ability to make choices—all of those singularly human traits that pertain to being created in God’s image.  And even before our physical bodies were formed, by the miraculous union of sperm and egg, the spiritual redemption that we each so desperately need (as Adam’s descendants) is already provided for, by Christ’s finished death and resurrection—as a gift which we receive simply by believing His good news about it.  What an amazing start!

But, as members of a specific family, we are members of a team that must all run.  So having a wonderful start is no place to quit.  It is our duty to run with endurance, our assigned “leg” of the race, as we blend our part of the race with that of our family “teammates”.  That includes focusing on Christ Himself—Who is our ultimate goal (Hebrews 12:1-2), pacing our race with endurance (that He provides), refusing to be distracted (by the world), and doing our best to help the next runner(s) to get off to a good start.

RelayRace-ScottishKilts-fromGoogleImages

How well have you appreciated those who “ran” before you, and who (biogenetically) passed a baton that became a necessary part of who—in God’s providence—you are today?   What work did God do to make sure that your father was born the boy he was?  What details of human history made it possible for your mother to be procreatively created as the girl she was?  What about your mother’s parents—what work did God do, in history, to make them who they were?  Why and how did they meet?  What about your paternal grandparents, have you thanked God for their lives?  What family history can you pass on to the next generation, and the next, so they can know what to thank God for?

HudsonJohnson.AD2018-neonatal-hat

Does all of this stretch your mind?  — it should, but the next question is how can you honor God with your own family history? Can you think of something specific you can do, this week, about this?

<> JJSJ     profjjsj@aol.com

Bill-Sonia-and-kids.family-photo

God purposefully made the sun.

God purposefully made the sun, to rule the daytime.

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

God chose to make the sun to rule the daytime, just as is clearly reported in Genesis. (See Genesis 1:16; Psalm 19:4-6 & 136:8; Ezekiel 32:7.)  But how and why did God make the sun, such as how does it “rule” the daytime?  By His own command, on Day #4, God made the sun to give light, especially light to help us (and to help animals) to see, during daytime on Earth.

Also, God made the sun to move in ways that help us to know what time it is, and also to provide earth with seasons (like spring, summer, autumn, and winter). The sun is shining directly on us when it is “day”; when it is “night” the sun is not shining directly on us. Also, God made the sun to “rule” the daytime, such as by providing daytime light and heat that is needed to for plants to live and to grow – and also by providing gravitational attraction so that the earth’s ocean tides move in ways that help life in the oceans and seas.   (For more about this, listen to my podcast, “The Created Sun and Moon”, posted  at http://www.icr.org/article/created-sun-moon-podcast  .)If plants did not use sunlight to grow, and to be warm enough to live, plants could not grow in ways that are needed so that plants can be eaten as food (such as grains, roots, fruits, seeds). When plants use sunlight energy (especially in the chlorophyll parts of green leaves) to convert water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) into breathable oxygen (O2) and carbohydrates (CxHyOz), which they do all over most of the world, the result is plant food containing lots of usable energy. This process is called “photosynthesis”. Accordingly, without sunlight there is no photosynthesis and thus no plant food for animals or for us. Likewise, if there was no photosynthesis, plants could not produce the kind of air (oxygen) that we (and animals) need to breathe. So, without sunlight we would not have enough healthy air for us to breathe. (The same is true for animals, because they need the same kind of air, to breathe, that we need.) God made the sun to help us in many ways; without the sun we could not live on earth.     Thanks, God:   You are great!


 

ON SEEING A PICNIC TABLE-PERCHING ROADRUNNER, FOLLOWED BY EATING BROILED ARCTIC CHAR

ON  SEEING  A  PICNIC  TABLE-PERCHING  ROADRUNNER,  FOLLOWED  BY  EATING  BROILED  ARCTIC  CHAR

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

roadrunner-on-table

To see God’s doings, we’re able,

Like a roadrunner perched on a table,

Or, to eat fish from afar,

Like Icelandic char —

God is good – truly, that is no fable!

arcticchar-on-plate

COMMENTARY: Acts 14:17 reminds us that food itself is a proof of God’s kind providence.  [See “Our Daily Bread:  How Food Proves God’s Providence”, posted at http://www.icr.org/article/our-daily-bread-how-food-proves-gods/ ].  Likewise, the beauty of a wild bird – even a neighborhood roadrunner – illustrates God’s creative genius and bioengineering handiwork.  The beauty of such lively birds also exhibits the variety of winged wildlife that God has given unto mankind, to enjoy observing (Genesis 2:19).


Photo credit (roadrunner on table): Stan’s WINGING IT (Backyard Blast)

Photo credit (arctic char):  Acme Markets / AcmeMarkets.com

Celebrating the Life-Saving Heroism of Alaskan Dog Mushers (and their Sled Dogs)

 Celebrating the Life-Saving Heroism of Alaskan Dog Mushers (and their Sled Dogs)

James J. S. Johnson, JD, ThD, CNHG

sleddogs-alaska-iditarod

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.  Galatians 6:10

Imagine a celebration of Siberian husky sled dogs, harnessed together as a racing team, guided by their human driver (called a “musher”), zooming across frigid snow trails in rural Alaska:  this is what happens in a commemorative festival/event called the IDITAROD TRAIL RACE.  (See the YouTube video footage below.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI3bliK7R94

The Iditarod is an outdoors reenactment-like celebration of dogsled mushing, to remember the heroic relay race – through day and night, blizzard winds, snow, and ice – to save human lives, during a life-or-death crisis in January-February AD1925, when a highly contagious diphtheria plague struck like a serial killer, menacing the almost-unreachable population of Nome, Alaska.

The crisis was a diphtheria epidemic in Nome, a town on the Bering Sea coast of Alaska, during the winter of 1925. The diphtheria antitoxin in Anchorage needed to be delivered to Nome immediately because townspeople were dying of the disease, but the community was unreachable by air, boat, train, or motor vehicle.

A group of 20 mushers (dogsled drivers) and about 150 sled dogs rushed marathon-style in relay teams across blizzard-blown trails—and even over a dangerous shortcut across a frozen part of a Pacific Ocean inlet called Norton Sound—spanning the 674 miles in five and a half days to deliver the precious vials of life-saving serum to a waiting physician in Nome. For dogsledding, this was the most heroic achievement in history [674 miles in 127½ hours!], with speed and distance records set (and still unbroken) and helpless hundreds of quarantined Nome residents saved from the lethal diphtheria epidemic.

One surviving Nome resident was eight-year-old Sigrid Seppala, the only daughter of a Norwegian immigrant, Leonhard Seppala, a well-known musher. His nonstop leg of the cross-country relay covered the worst stretch of terrain, plus the frozen Norton Sound sea-ice that broke up only hours after his dog team traversed it with the serum! Guiding lead dog Togo, Seppala confronted gale-force winds and subfreezing temperatures (30OF with a windchill of -85OF) day and night, covering 91 miles—more than twice the distance of any of the other mushers.

Sigrid and many others sick in Nome were saved by the antitoxin serum. Fulfilling the dominion mandate surely includes such safeguarding of human lives, many of whom later were fruitful and multiplied, advancing human progress toward filling the earth to God’s glory. God’s dominion mandate was advanced as humans literally “harnessed” the service of well-trained animals.

[Quoting James J. S. Johnson, “Siberian Huskies and the Dominion Mandate”, Acts & Facts, 42(6):18-19 (June 2013), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/siberian-huskies-dominion-mandate   —  citing Gay Salisbury & Laney Salisbury, THE CRUELEST MILES: THE HEROIC STORY OF DOGS AND MEN IN A RACE AGAINST AN EPIDEMIC (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 2005), pages 46-245,  and  the interview of Jirdes Winther Baxter, in ALASKA: BIG AMERICA (The History Channel documentary, 2000).]

iditarod-trail-map-usgovt

Thanks to God – and to His servants, both human and canine – for providing the diphtheria plague’s remedy!  Many are alive today — thanks to God and His servants — who are direct descendants of Nome residents who survived the diphtheria epidemic, due to the heroism of the diphtheria serum relay race during January-February of AD1925.

No one has since equaled the dog-mushing distance/speed record set by those heroes, in AD1925. But we can remember their valor, including that of the sled-dogs (some of whom died of exhaustion), every time we see (or think of) another Iditarod dogsled race being run in Alaska.

sleddogs-winterlakelodge-alaska

Sled dogs in snow, Winterlake Lodge (Finger Lake, Alaska)

And one lodge resort (Winterlake Lodge), located at the Iditarod’s Finger Lake checkpoint (Mile 198), has provided us with another way to celebrate that historic (and providential) event – a special protein-and-vitamins-rich recipe – demonstrating Mexican cuisine with an Alaskan accent – by Kirsten Dixon, as published in ALASKA MAGAZINE, 81(1):22 (February 2015).

ALASKA MUSHER’S MEAL

This hearty recipe comes from chef Kirsten Dixon of the Winterlake Lodge at the Finger Lake checkpoint of the Iditarod race. Dixon says, “We make our own adobo sauce and homemade tortillas and serve this dish with freshly diced salsa. For a decidedly Alaskan twist, we add smoked salmon.”

¼ pound Mexican soft-style chorizo, casings removed
2 packages (4 ounces) Mexican dried chiles [a/k/a “chilies”, below, or “chilis” or “chili peppers”]
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground [black] pepper
¾ teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
8 4-inch flour tortillas
½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 cup cooked and heated pinto beans
1 cup fresh simple salsa
½ pound Alaska hot-smoked (kippered) salmon, skinned and flaked
1 small bunch cilantro
½ cup shredded Manchego cheese
1 small bunch green onion, green part minced
1 lime quartered

Preheat the oven to 350 [degrees] F.

Line a 13-by-18-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Crumble the chorizo into a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Cook thoroughly for about five minutes. Drain any grease from the pan. Set the pan aside.

Split the chilies in half, removing any stem and seeds. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat and toast the chilies two or three at a time, turning them while they are heating. They’ll change color slightly in the process.

Soak the chilies in enough water to cover until they’re soft, about 30 minutes. Drain the chilies and pat them dry.

Put a half-cup of water into a blender with the soaked chilies along with the garlic, vinegar, one teaspoon salt, the sugar, and ground cumin. Blend until smooth, adding in a bit more water if necessary to purée. Add the chili mixture into the cooked chorizo.

Heat the tortillas in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Place them onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle the tortillas with the Cheddar cheese. Place the baking sheet into the oven just [enough] to melt the cheese. Remove the pan from the oven and place each tortilla onto a warmed plate.

In a small nonstick sauté pan, melt one teaspoon of butter over medium-high heat until it is frothy. Crack one egg into the skillet and fry until the egg is set, about one minute. Slide the egg onto one fo the tortillas. Repeat with the remaining eggs.

Add some of the chorizo-chili sauce onto each tortilla. Spoon on some of the beans, some salsa, some flaked hot-smoked salmon, and a few sprigs of cilantro. Sprinkle each dish with some Manchego cheese and a little green onion. Season with salt and [black] pepper. Serve immediately with a wedge of lime.

Makes 4 servings.

[Quoting Kirsten Dixon, as published in ALASKA MAGAZINE, 81(1):22 (February 2015).]

alaska-sleddogs-sleeping-winterlakelodge

Sled dogs sleeping, Winterlake Lodge (Finger Lake, Alaska)

After eating a feast-dish like that, accented with Alaska salmon, one is reminded that good food is itself a proof positive of God’s kind and caring providence.

Food provides strong evidence of God’s wisdom and power as our Creator, as well as His goodness in providing for fallen mankind’s physical needs. In fact, the Bible teaches that the providentially programmed production of all food, anywhere and everywhere on earth, is itself a continuing proof that God is a caring Creator. The apostle Paul taught this:

And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, Who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein, Who in times past allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and He gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:15-17, emphasis added)

Think about God’s providence and how it is displayed on earth.

God has demonstrated His immeasurable glory by His many acts of providential care for His creatures, especially humans and animals. Yet some of what God provides is so commonplace that it is routinely ignored, although that ignorance cannot negate the overwhelming proof of God’s providence. . . . .

Likewise, God’s provision of an amazing diversity of foods—around the world, in every age, in every culture, to every people group—is proof positive that God is Creator. Food is absolutely necessary to prolong our physical life.

Why? As a result of Adam’s sin, death entered the human race (Romans 5:12). God’s warning to Adam indicated a double-death penalty: “To die thou shalt die” (Genesis 2:17, which includes an infinitive-imperfect “double verb” in the Hebrew text).

Sin immediately triggered a relational break between Creator and creature, because God is holy. That relational break was a spiritual death, a separation from God that Paul called being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

Also, sin triggered an ongoing process of dying physically—what some scientists call “chemistry eventually wins out over biology”—so our human bodies die. Before birth, even from the time of conception, our physical bodies are dying, yet the metabolic profit we gain from eating food postpones and prolongs that dying process. (If you doubt food’s necessity, try abstaining from eating for two months!

In some humans, physical life is prolonged by food for more than a century.

But, in time, the condition of mortality takes its toll and we all anticipate death, even if we eat every day. Food only postpones the inevitable. But while it does, it is a life-sustaining fuel, an amazing and precious gift from our Creator, as well as a testimony to the amazingly complex and efficient world He designed . . . . .

No random “chance” could provide a satisfactory explanation for the results of God’s providential care,  — and the proof is everywhere, for those with eyes to see, even in every bite we eat. No wonder we are obligated to give thanks to God for our food.

[Quoting James J. S. Johnson, “Our Daily Bread:  How Food Proves God’s Providence”, Acts & Facts, 40(4):8-9 (April 2011),  posted at http://www.icr.org/article/our-daily-bread-how-food-proves-gods   —  quoting Acts 14:17.]

So, next time you hear — or read — about the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, remember what it commemorates — the amazing and historic life-saving heroism of the “Great Race of Mercy”  — accomplished by the diphtheria serum relay racers, a providentially blessed team of brave humans and resilient sled-dogs, who dared and braved the worst of winter weather, during January-February of AD1925, to defeat a serial-killer plague named Corynebacterium diphtheriae.

diphtheria-vaccination-poster-britain

PHOTOGRAPHS & OTHER IMAGE CREDITS:

Iditarod Sled Dogs:   http://helpsleddogs.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/4412510551_94c80e1f51_b.jpg

Iditarod National Historic Trail (U.S. government map / public domain)

Sled dogs in snow, Winterlake Lodge (Finger Lake, Alaska)
Fair Use photo credit: http://d3r6t1k4mqz5i.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/IMG_0086.jpg?f9f931

Sled dogs sleeping, Winterlake Lodge (Finger Lake, Alaska)
Fair Use photo credit: http://www.tordrillonorth.com/images/lodge-05.jpg

Diphtheria vaccination poster   (Great Britain: public domain), available at Wikipedia