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 Article: Broken Arrows Posted on 1-14-2005
WOTR News Article To me, it's amazing the way technology has advanced. It's really not a surprise since the Bible predicted this would happen (See Daniel 12:4), but it is astonishing in every respect as I take a look back through the past century. One of the most incredible aspects of this is the speed at which nuclear capabilities came on the scene. By 1945, the Nuclear Age had already begun, and with this radical advance came a new danger; and with this new danger came a new phrase, more of a codeword actually: "Broken Arrow".

Since 1950, there have been at least 32 nuclear weapon accidents, known as "Broken Arrows." A "Broken Arrow" is defined as an unexpected event involving nuclear weapons being accidentally launched, fired, detonated, burned, or jettisoned. In other words, when something goes wrong with a nuke, the military has a "Broken Arrow" on its hands. It's a pretty sobering thing to consider: misuse, malfunction, or an unforeseeable collision could endanger the lives of thousands, possibly millions of lives; this is without even considering the radiation that may perhaps follow.

The history of nuclear weapons accidents is just about as old as the weapons themselves, with the first official accident taking place in 1950 when a "U.S. B-29 departing Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico crashed three minutes after takeoff. Detonators had been installed on a nuclear bomb on board, but because the capsule of fissile material had not been inserted, nuclear detonation was not possible. The bomb's casing was destroyed and some high explosive burned in the fire." (CNN)

Later that year, the first "Broken Arrow" involving actual nuclear radiation occurred: "The U.S. Defense Department, in its 1980 publication on nuclear accidents, stated the following: "A B-50, experiencing an in-flight emergency, jettisoned a bomb over water (outside the United States) from an altitude of 10,500 feet. The weapon's HE [high explosive] detonated on impact." The report failed to mention that the accident apparently took place just north of the U.S. border in Quebec. According to John Clearwater, a Canadian Defense Department employee working independently on a study of nuclear weapons in Canada, the B-50 jettisoned a Mark 4 bomb over the St. Lawrence River near Riviere-du-Loup, about 300 miles northeast of Montreal. Clearwater told The Canadian Press that the weapon, lacking its essential plutonium core, was detonated above the river. According to Clearwater, detonation of the bomb's high explosives shook the region, scattering nearly 100 pounds (45 kg) of uranium. The U.S. Air Force reportedly covered up the incident at the time, saying a load of conventional practice bombs had been jettisoned by the B-50, which later landed safely at a U.S. Air Force base in Maine." (CNN)

Since that time, a lengthy list of "Broken Arrows" have transpired, some more serious than others. Bombs have malfunctioned, submarines have collided, planes with nukes have crashed, and an estimated 50 nuclear warheads still lie on the bottom of the world's oceans. While this may sound bad, things could certainly be a lot worse when you consider the sheer amount of weapons that have been produced and the number of times they have been transported. During the Cold War, there were years when at least one US bomber loaded with nukes was in the sky at all times. In addition, both Washington and Moscow sent out large fleets of nuclear subs to patrol their waters. With all of this activity, "Broken Arrows" were almost unavoidable!

You may be thinking: This is quite interesting, but how do nuclear weapons relate to Christianity? But I want to ask you: Do you have any "Broken Arrows" in your life? Have there been situations where you've lost control and the results have been unexpected, to say the least? Maybe a drastic change has shattered your health, finances, marriage, or all of the above. Now you're faced with the wreckage of the aftermath and you don't know where or how to begin the process of "cleaning up".

You can find comfort in knowing that Jesus is with you (Matthew 28:20) and He knows all about your problems, for He is the one who formed you (Isaiah 44:2). Not only is Christ aware, but He also holds the key to your solution. Nothing is too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:27). He can calm the stormy seas (Mark 4:38-39) and bring hope out of chaos (Genesis 1). Jesus is able to shine light where before there was only overwhelming darkness (John 8:12). Even a "Broken Arrow" is no match for the God of Heaven!

When a bomber carrying nuclear weapons goes down, the weapons normally are not armed, so the explosion is not as bad as it could have been. However, the radioactive material can still leak out, contaminating the surrounding area. The negative effects can be enduring. When human emotions arise, such as anger, jealousy, lust, passion, etc., the situation can quickly become volatile, even if we never intended for things to get out of hand. Unless we allow Jesus to guide our thoughts and regulate our actions, emotions can erupt into foolish choices leading to disastrous consequences, which may not go away as easily as they appeared. (To avoid "Broken Arrows" in your life, read and apply the counsel that Paul provides in Ephesians 4:17-32)

When it comes to "Broken Arrows" the governments involved usually try their best to keep the situation "hushed". CNN reports "Officially, the governments of the nuclear powers are not very forthcoming with information regarding nuclear accidents." Even the most up to date documentation does not tell the full story, for no additional list of nuclear weapon accidents acknowledged by the Pentagon has been released since 1980, yet nuclear weapons have not gone away. In an effort to avoid details, the U.S. military's policy is to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons in most accidents.

While governments may be involved in covering up the facts, we shouldn't follow that example. If we've had "Broken Arrow" experiences in our past, or if we're going through one now, the last thing we want to do is attempt to cover it up from God's eyes. The Lord knows what we're going through and He longs to help. Proverbs 28:13 says "He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy." There's no sense in hiding your mistakes from God, for He sees what's in your heart and He's ready to wash your sin away (Isaiah 1:18). And if you've wronged others, the Lord may be leading you to make amends instead of hiding the matter (James 5:16; Luke 19:8).

It's a tragic scene when an accident occurs involving nuclear weapons, but those involved realize that it needs to be taken care of, and the sooner the better. A "Broken Arrow" is a demanding problem that won't just go away on its own. Sin is similar. It's as serious as can be and it requires immediate response. Unless our sins are dealt with right away, they begin to grow and multiply until we have an even greater epidemic on our hands. The solution to this is simple: Come to Jesus! (1 John 1:9) If you recognize your weakness and inability to "fix" things on your own, then come to Jesus my friend: "We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan." (Romans 8:28 NCV) If you truly love God, then you can put your hand in His, knowing in advance that even the worst "Broken Arrows" in your life will come out alright in the end with Christ as our Savior.

View an interactive map outlining the history of Broken Arrows

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 Article: Falling Asleep Posted on 1-5-2005
WOTR News Article Sleep is a funny thing, don't you think? Well, maybe funny isn't the best adjective.... Sleep is a very interesting thing, let's put it that way. I think the most unusual aspect of sleep is that we generally aren't aware of the fact that we were asleep until we wake up; and even then, at times, we don't fully realize that we were indeed sleeping.

Anne always cracks me up: she'll be laying on the couch reading a book and I'll be doing something on the computer, and after awhile I'll say something to her, but I won't get an answer. Next comes the classic question, “Are you asleep?” as I glance over to see her startle awake after being zonked out, to which she replies, “No...just relaxin”, as her eyes flutter open.

"But you were asleep, right?"
"No....just relaxin"

She honestly didn't think she had fallen asleep, but sometimes she's have been snoozing for over an hour, and she still responds in that groggy voice “No...just realxin”.

Today, I was thinking about this in connection with what the New Testament says about “sleep”. Now of course real, physical sleep is a good thing (as long as we don't overdo it). It's a necessity. On the other hand, when the Apostle Paul speaks of Christians “sleeping” in a spiritual sense, this is bad news, because he is talking about believers who are slipping away from Jesus and back to life of sin. That's why the Lord says in Ephesians 5:14 "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light."

Is it possible for a Christian to be unaware of their sleepy condition? If you've ever read the parable in which Jesus told about the 10 drowsy virgins, then I think you would agree that the answer is unfortunately yes (Matthew 25:1-13). It seems safe to equate this drowsiness with the lukewarm condition that Christ spoke of in Revelation 3:14-22. The Laodicean church mentioned here feels that they are rich and flourishing, but in reality they were sleeping. Jesus said “you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

The disciples found it hard to stay awake when their Master was preparing for the cross (Luke 22:39-46), and today we are faced with the same temptation as our Master is preparing for His great Return.

Listen to the counsel of Paul in the book of Romans: “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Romans 13:11-14

The solution to this problem of drowsiness is to stay near to the Lord Jesus through prayer, allowing Him to guide and lead us according His Word. Jesus told His sleepy disciples “Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation." Luke 22:46 We need to stay alert and awake, for the coming of our Lord draws near. Look at our world today; the signs are obvious. Now is not the time to be falling asleep! The devil is trying as hard as he can to pull us away from God, as we get busy and distracted by worldly affairs, but if we stay close to Jesus, we can keep our lamps burning in preparation for our Lord's coming.

"Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near--at the doors!

Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming--in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning-- lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"

Mark 13:28-37

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 Christmas Carol Origins Posted on 12-2-2004
WOTR News Article Have you ever wondered about the history of the songs of Christmas? Where did these carols come from? What were the people like who penned these great hymns?

Well, there's a book that I think would be pretty fascinating to read; it's called "Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas" by Ace Collins. The book focuses on the "true, fascinating stories of the inspiration, heartache, trials, and faith that inspired some of the greatest Christmas carols, hymns, and popular songs will enrich the joy and celebration of the Christmas season. Each in its own way expresses a facet of God's heart and celebrates the birth of his greatest gift to the world--Jesus, the most wonderful Christmas Song of all.'

Here's one interesting excerpt:


Angels, from the Realms of Glory - possibly the best-written, sacred Christmas carol of all time - helped launch a revolution that continues to impact millions of lives today. At its heart is its writer, an Irishman born in November of 1771.

James Montgomery was born in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland. Montgomery's father, John, was an Irish Moravian missionary. When his parents were called to evangelistic work in the West Indies, the child was sent to a Moravian community in Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland. By the time he was seven, James was at Fulneck Seminary, Yorkshire, England. Five years later, the parents James hardly knew died on the mission field.

Perhaps because of the distance from and the tragic loss of his parents, Montgomery never was very interested in his schooling. Flunking out of seminary, he became a baker's assistant for a short time. By the age of twenty, the young man was little more than a vagrant, moving from job to job, often unemployed, and homeless for weeks at a time.

Montgomery's only interest was writing. He spent what little money he had on pencils and paper, taking hours to com-pose poetic odes on everything from loneliness to faith. Though no publisher was interested in his work, the radical editor of the Sheffield Register saw something in the young man's raw talent. For the next two years Montgomery got paid to do what he most loved to do - write stories. He also learned firsthand about the hardships of being an Irishman under English rule. At the age of twenty-three, when the newspaper's owner was run out of town for writing radical editorials concerning Irish freedom, the missionary's son took over the Register.

In an attempt to quell the British government's wrath, Montgomery changed the paper's name to the Sheffield Iris. Yet he didn't change its editorial stance. Just as his parents had strongly rebelled against the strict rules and rituals of England's official church, James was bent on carrying on a written war for Ireland's freedom. At about that time, he also became an active leader in the abolitionist movement. His fiery editorial stance twice landed him in prison. Yet each time he was released, he returned to the Iris and continued his printed war for freedom on all fronts.

When Montgomery was not waging an editorial crusade against English rule and slavery, he was reading his Bible in an attempt to understand the power that motivated his parents' lives and ultimately led to their deaths. In time, his Scripture study and rebellious zeal would blend and send the young man on a new mission. One of the first hints of this change was revealed on Christmas Eve 1816.

Irishmen, who hated all things British, probably carefully studied the newspaper each day, hoping to find some Montgomery- penned passage that would inspire more to join their revolution. It is certain that local government officials who read the Iris often wished to nail the man who was so often a thorn in their side. Yet on December 24, 1816, readers discovered a different stance from the fiery editor. On that day, his editorial did not divide Irish from English, but rather brought everyone who read the Iris closer together.

Written in the same poetic verse that Montgomery had employed during the aimless wanderings of his youth, "Nativity" - what would eventually become the carol "Angels, from the Realms of Glory" - told the story of angels proclaiming the birth of a Savior for all people, English and Irish, rich and poor, Anglican and Moravian. Eloquent, beautiful, and scripturally sound, Montgomery soon touched more lives for Christ with the stroke of his pen than his parents did in all their years of missionary work.

Still, when read between the lines, there was a bit of social commentary in "Nativity." A verse long-deleted from the carol speaks of a society that needs to right some wrongs. That lost stanza also reveals the writer's personal journey in finding purpose and meaning in his own life:

"Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
Doomed for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes the sentence"
Mercy calls you. Break your chain."

As Montgomery would soon find out, his poem would break chains, but not those he had envisioned. The impact of "Nativity" would actually foreshadow the writer's future, since he would come to revolutionize music and thinking in the English church.

As often is the case with inspired work, irony stepped in and took an important role in revealing "Nativity" to a mass audience.

Angels, from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o'er all the earth"
Ye who sang creation's story,
Now proclaim Messiah's birth.


Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ the newborn King.
Shepherds in the fields abiding,
Watching o'er your flocks by night,
God with man is now residing,
Yonder shines the infant Light.


Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar"
Seek the great Desire of nations,
Ye have seen His natal star.


Saints before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear,
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.

The Story Behind Silent Night

"Silent night! holy night!
All is calm, all is bright,
'Round yon virgin mother and Child!
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace."

Silent Night is probably the most well known of all Christmas carols. However, there is some controversy as to its origin, and there are a few different stories about how this song was written.

Here is one account:

In 1818, a roving band of actors was performing in towns throughout the Austrian Alps. On December 23 they arrived at Oberndorf, a village near Salzburg where they were scheduled to perform the story of Christ's birth in the Church of St. Nicholas.

Unfortunately, the St. Nicholas' church organ wasn't working and would not be repaired before Christmas. (Note: some versions of the story point to mice as the problem; others say rust was the culprit) Because the church organ was out of commission, the actors presented their Christmas drama in a private home. That Christmas presentation put assistant pastor Josef Mohr in a meditative mood. So, instead of walking straight to his house, Mohr took a longer way home. His path took him up over a hill overlooking the village.

From that hilltop, Mohr looked down on the peaceful snow-covered village. Reveling in the wintry night's majestic silence, he gazed down at the glowing scene. His thoughts about the Christmas play he had just seen reminded him of a poem he had written a couple of years earlier. The poem about the night when angels announced the birth of the long-awaited Messiah to shepherds on a hillside.

Mohr decided those words would make a good carol for his church to sing the following evening at their Christmas eve service. However, he didn't have any music to which that poem could be sung. So, the next day Mohr went to see the church organist, Franz Xaver Gruber. Although he only had a few hours to come up with something, by that evening, Gruber had composed a musical setting for Mohr's poem which could be sung with a guitar (since the organ was broken).

On Christmas Eve, Gruber and Mohr sang their new composition to their little congregation to the accompaniment of Gruber's guitar.

Weeks later, well-known organ builder Karl Mauracher arrived to fix the St. Nicholas church organ. When he finished, Mauracher stepped back to let Gruber to test the instrument. When Gruber sat down, he began playing the melody he had written for Mohr's poem. Deeply impressed, Mauracher took the music and words of "Silent Night" back to his own Alpine village, Kapfing. There, two well-known families of singers -- the Rainers and the Strassers -- heard it. Captivated by "Silent Night," both groups put the new song into their Christmas season repertoire.

Others say that isn't exactly true, and provide this as the origin of the famous carol:

The Christmas Eve of 1818 was at hand. Pastor Joseph Mohr of St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf decided that he needed a carol for the Christmas Eve service. The little poem he had written two years earlier while serving at the pilgrim church in Mariapfarr just might work. Perhaps this poem could be set to music. He hurried off to see his friend, Franz Xaver Gruber, who was a schoolteacher and also served as the church's organist and choir master. Maybe he could help. He did.

In a few short hours Franz came up with the hauntingly beautiful melody that is so loved and revered to this day. At the request of Joseph, who had a special love for his guitar, Franz composed the music for guitar accompaniment. Just short hours later, Franz stood with his friend the pastor, Joseph, in front of the altar in St. Nicholas church and introduced "Stille Nacht" to the congregation.

I Saw Three Ships

The tune of this carol is a traditional English folk song and the words of the cong (of which there are several versions) were written by wandering minstrels as they travelled through the country. In the original version of the carol, the Three Ships were the ones taking the supposed skulls of the wise men to Cologne cathedral in Germany. However, since the Middle Ages when it was first written, there have been many different lyrics with different Bible characters being on the ships. The most common lyrics used today are about Mary and Jesus travelling to Bethlehem. These lyrics:

I saw three ship come sailing in,
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
I saw three ship come sailing in,
on Christmas Day in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three?
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
And what was in those ships all three?
on Christmas Day in the morning.

Our Saviour Christ and His lady,
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
Our Saviour Christ and His lady,
on Christmas Day in the morning.

And where they sailed those ships all three?
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
And where they sailed those ships all three?
on Christmas Day in the morning.

All they sailed in to Bethlehem,
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
All they sailed in to Bethlehem,
on Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the bells on earth shall ring,
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
And all the bells on earth shall ring,
on Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the angels in heaven shall sing,
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
And all the the angels in heaven shall sing,
on Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the souls on earth shall sing,
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
And all the souls on earth shall sing,
on Christmas Day in the morning.

And let us all rejoice again,
on Christmas day on Christmas day.
And let us all rejoice again,
on Christmas Day in the morning.

Hark! The Hearald Angels Sing

The words to this great Carol were penned by Charles Wesley -- you probably will recognize that name as it was his brother, John, who became the founder of Methodism. During Charles' lifetime, he wrote over 600 songs (quite a catalog for any songwriter)! One of his most famous lyrics is Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, which many theologians say is the entire Gospel of Christ in one song. The melody for this familiar carol was composed by the famous Felix Mendelssohn almost a hundred years after Wesley wrote the text. How did the words and music come together? Here's the scoop behind the carol...

The little known fact is that neither Charles Wesley nor Felix Mendelssohn would have wanted this music to be joined with these words. Felix Mendelssohn, a Jew, had made it very clear that he wanted his music only to be used for secular purposes. Charles Wesley, on the other hand, had requested that only slow and solemn religious music be coupled with his words. However, in the mid Nineteenth Century, long after both Mendelssohn and Wesley were dead, an organist named Dr. William Cummings, joined the joyous Mendelssohn music with Wesley's profound words to create the carol we know and love today!

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