Monday, April 23, 2007

Voyager 1

Image, courtesy of NASA

At 22:13 UTC (or 08:21:32 UTC without light-time correction), Voyager 1 was at a distance of 100 AU (approximately 14.96 terameters, 9.3 billion miles or 0.002 light years) from the Sun, which makes it the most distant artificial object from Earth. At this distance, it is more distant from the Sun than any known natural solar-system object, including 90377 Sedna. Though Sedna has an orbit that takes it 975 AU away from the Sun at apihelion, as of 2006 it is less than 90 AU away from the Sun and approaching its perihelion at 76 AU.

At its current distance, light (which travels 186,282.397 miles per second (299,728.376773 kilometers per second) takes over 13.8 hours to reach the spacecraft from Earth. As a basis for comparison, the Moon is about 1.4 light seconds from Earth, the Sun is about 8.5 light minutes away, and Pluto is at an average distance of approximately 5.5 light hours. As of November 2005, the spacecraft was travelling at a speed of 17.2 kilometers per second relative to the sun (3.6 AU per year or 38,400 miles per hour), 10% faster than Voyager 2. Accurate information concerning its location can be found in this NASA paper with heliocentric coordinates extrapolated up to 2015 of both probes. It is not heading towards any particular star, but in 40,000 years it will be within 1.7 light years of the star AC+793888 in the Camelopardis constellation.

Voyager 1, as of September 2006, is at 12.22° declination and 17.051hrs Right Ascension, placing it in the constellation Ophiuchus. NASA continues daily tracking of the spacecraft with the Deep Space Network stations.
-- Article courtesy of --

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

What I find so amazing, is that last statement in the second-to-last paragraph...
...but in 40,000 years it will be within 1.7 light years of the star AC+793888 in the Camelopardis constellation.

This is a listing of stars that we can see.... Let alone the ones that are beyond our feeble 'Hubble-assisted' sight. And notice how far away from the sun it is right now: 0.002 light years, after 30 years of traveling at 38,400MPH. And we think that we are big stuff—able to live without God, because of the might of our nation. If this does not show people that we are but dust, I'm not sure what will!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Music of Heaven...

I was contemplating the other day how much I missed singing with other people. I just love to sing... Many of my friends think that I am half-cracked, but I just have something buried deep in my soul that responds to music—especially well-done arrangements of good old hymns. I have always had the dream of starting a small singing group; praising God, and having a good time of fellowship....A dream that has never been realized.
As I was mulling over these things, this song came to my mind: The Music of Heaven. I was struck with its simple, yet profound truth:
The music of heaven is sweeter in measure,
And purer in every strain,
Than the music of earth though it fills us with pleasure,
As it thrillingly rolls over valley and plain.
The music of heaven is sweeter in measure and purer in every strain than the music of earth.... That will be GLORIOUS!
When I get to heaven, there will never be a yearning in my heart to keep on singing long after the rest of a group is tired of singing for the evening. There will never be that sad realization that I can't find enough friends who want to sing with me, or that the ones that do want to sing, live too far away... I'll never have to worry about the fact that I can't always sing perfectly. Nor will I have to worry that my voice wears out before I am finished singing, and I won't have to sit in front of my computer, recording, and overdubbing a song four times to sing 4-part harmony on a song! (yes, I'm that desperate! :-p [it sounds terrible, BTW, just ask Dad! *~* ])
No, all that will be behind me, for:
"When we've been there ten-thousand years, bright, shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing God's praise, than when we've first begun!"
Now that sounds like bliss to me!!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Be Alive!!!

Ask. Seek the kingdom first.
Knock. Practice patience.
Smile often. Feel deeply.
Tell those you love that you do.

Give thanks. Speak truth.
Shine light. Be salt.

Love the Lord with your whole heart,
mind and soul. Forgive.
Receive forgiveness.

Lay down your life.
Receive it back. Lose it again.
Spread joy. Pray. Listen. Laugh heartily.

Trust enough to take a chance.
Sing praises. Rejoice.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pacific Garden Mission No. 2

'Beep, beep, beep,' the alarm clock's shrill buzzer shattered the morning stillness. I rolled over and glanced at the clock through sleep befuddled eyes. Suddenly, I sat bolt upright! "Oh Yeah! Today we're going to Pacific Garden Mission!"
I hopped out of bed with a purpose, trying to figure out what to get first. "I'll definitely need my camera," I thought, getting all the paraphernalia together. "Let's see, battery-packs, lenses, flash; good, all that's already in there."
"Son, we'll probably be staying overnight with the family we're going with," Mom's voice called out from the hallway; "So you'll probably want an extra change of clothes." "OK, mom!"
After a little more preparation we got ourselves around, and pulled out—minus the camera bag. About 20 minutes down the road I asked: "Mom, where's my camera?" "I don't know Honey... Did you forget to bring it?"
"Last I saw it – it was sitting on your bureau in your bedroom." Dad said. "I thought you were leaving it behind on purpose."
"Oh well," I said, with a little less enthusiasm. "I guess I'll just have to take mind pictures."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As we made our way through the congested freeways of Chicago's massive outskirts, we were having a great time. Everybody was in a good mood, and both vans were together. Sometimes we'd lose sight of the van that was following us, but soon enough they'd pop back into sight. Then came the exit...
"Daddy!" one of the children cried "The other van didn't exit with us! See! There they go!" Sure enough, as we all craned our necks to look, the other van, laden with over half of our group sailed on by in the seemingly endless torrent of cars, trucks, and vans. HONK!!! HONNNKKKKK!!!! A gleaming cadillac shot up behind us as we tarried for a brief second in the off-ramp. He cranked his wheels to the right, and floored his car as he roared on by. "Welcome to Chicago," I thought to myself ruefully.
"Hey! I thought you knew Chicago better than that!" Richard laughed as he called the other van's driver on his cellphone. "We go a different way usually" came the reply; "We were wondering where you were headed!"
Within minutes, we had arrived, and unfolding the extended version of my Homo Sapiens frame, we waited for the other van to arrive. Ten minutes later, they arrived, happy, but also sore. They all piled out of the van, and we made our way to the front entrance–a formidable looking group: 29 people strong. We filed into the small entryway, noting the faded furniture, aged decor, and clean, but dingy atmosphere. The lady behind the front desk stood up, smiling broadly. "Welcome to Pacific Garden Missions" she said cheerfully. "We're not quite ready to start the tour, but if you would like, we can supply you with tracts, and you can go out an evangelize on the street. We'll be ready for you in about three-quarters of an hour."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Out on the street, I was reflecting on my Madison experience of the previous evening. I was very grateful for it, as it served as an ice-breaker for me, and I was a little bolder than I would have been, had I not gone.
"Sir, would you like a Gospel tract?" I asked one dark fellow. "Sure!" he said "Can you good Christian people get me some food? I have not eaten anything today except for some chips! I'm hungry, man!"
"Well," I responded cautiously, "You're sure welcome to go to the mission. They will give you a meal, and not only that, but there is a gospel meeting tonight."
"Come on, man," he responded, a little more agitated than before "if you consider yourself a follower of Christ, can't you buy me a bag of chips? That's all I ask, man! Just a little bag of chips!"
"I'll take you to the Mission, if you'd like." I was getting a little unsure of how I was going to handle this man. "I'm sure they will feed you! Do you want me to show you the way there?"
"No, man! Just give me a bag of chips!!! I'm hungry! Didn't you eat lunch?" I nodded in assent to his last statement. "See!" he said, "You are full, yet you won't give a poor man on the street a bag of chips!" He walked off, mumbling something about stingy Christian people.
"What was I to do?" I asked Jonathan, who had witnessed the whole scene. "I told him where to find food!"
"I'm not sure" he said "I really don't think that we should have bought him his bag of chips!"
Our time was about up, the various groups that had split up were starting to conglomerate in front of the mission. When the last few people returned, we filed back inside, and were directed into one of the little chapels.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A black gentleman stood in front of us all, waiting for the last guest to be seated. He smiled pleasantly, and then welcomed each one of us; "It was ten months ago that I first came here. I was desperate, and I needed a place to sleep, and something to eat. I knew about PGM since I was a little tyke, and I decided that now was as good a time as any. I decided just to dive in, and see what they offered."
He went on to tell his life's story, how he had grown up, and wandered away from his mother's wise counsel, finally ending up in the streets. He recounted the story that is so familiar to us; a duplicate account of the prodigal son. "And when I finally came to the end of myself, I ended up right here; penniless, hungry, and destitute. I was in poor shape, but JESUS found me! Let me tell you friends!" suddenly his face morphed from a picture of suffering into an ecstatic, heavenly look. Gone were the lines of sorrow, the crevices that had been so carelessly chiseled into his face from years of sin and suffering. He gazed upward, almost shouting "Jesus found me and took me in! He saved me! My friends, I once lived for self, sin, and pleasure, but now..." he paused, as if for emphasis, "Now, I live for the one who died for me! The one that bore my sins on his own sinless body. The one by whose stripes we are healed!! There is no other way to God, folks!!! No other way!"
"What a testimony!" I thought to myself. "This is just the beginning of the tour, yet here we are getting an entire gospel message! I like this guy!"

.......To Be Continued.......

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Pacific Garden Mission...

Editor's Preamble:
I'm going to make an exception to my strict blog policy... I'm going to attempt to share our group's personal experiences at the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago Illinois. Unfortunately, we were in a great rush to leave on time, and in the great haste, I completely forgot my precious camera... Can you imagine? I packed it up carefully, charged the battery-packs, put everything into the case, and............ I was pretty bummed. So that obviously means no pictures. I will try my best to create mind pictures, though. Now for the real story:

The kitchen clock ticked steadily onward, as a brother in Christ and I shared our personal struggles, lofty goals, and the many desires we had for our lives. We shared about our recent trips to other countries, and of our desire to do more for the Lord. We also talked about the fact that life seemed pretty dry for both of us as we sat, waiting for the Lord to lead us in His way.
"Why does God create zeal in young people, if we are called to wait while grow up?" I asked, getting a little more agitated. "Here I am, full of life, vim, and vigor, and I am wasting it all by sitting here in America, pulling in a paycheck. If God wants labourers in his vineyard, WHAT AM I DOING SITTING HERE!?!?!"
"I'm not sure," he replied cautiously, "I am struggling with some of the very same issues. But God has a purpose in having us wait."
I struggled a little with his answer, knowing full well that it was the truth. In fact, I had preached the very same to others before, and many brothers and sisters had shared about the same struggles. What I was going through was not a 'private' struggle, and I knew it; I was just at the end of my rope.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Plopping onto my faded computer chair, I let out a long sigh... Just another day's work ahead of me; purposeless, and futile. I was beginning to think along the same lines of Solomon the wise in Ecclesiastes:
“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” –Ecclesiastes 1:2-9

What was I to do? Face the day as a man, and wait on the Lord. As I started working, my mind slid from the things of God into the world of graphics, html, and css. HTML divs, XHTML validity, and CSS pseudo-class selectors started floating around in the intangible abyss of my mind, temporarily stuffing most spiritual thoughts into the background.
Beep! The 'new mail' alarm on my computer snapped me back to reality. I switched mental gears from programming back into the human realm, expecting something important to show up in my inbox. It was from a recent client of mine, and with the subject "Let's Hit the Streets!" I figured that he was ready for me to publish his website as completed. Great was my surprise when I opened up the email, and read that this guy and a few of his employees were planning on going into Madison, WI to do some evangelism. "Sure!" I thought, as a briefly re-scanned the email, trotted over to my parent's bedroom, and showed them the exciting news. "Finally," I thought, "I can get out of this cramped little house, and do something, however little it might be, for the Lord!" I was getting charged up now!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Hello?" the other end of the telephone spoke out. "Hi, Wayne, this is Ryan! How are you doing?" I asked cheerily. "I'm just fine," my boss replied. "What can I do for you today?"
"Well, I responded," a little more hesitantly now, "I was wondering if I could come in early Friday morning, and get all the chores done by 2:00pm or so... I'm planning on going to Madison for some street witnessing."
"Yes, I suppose that would work out," he replied, making sure that all the details would work out with him. "That'll be fine then! Thanks for letting me know!" "No problem!" I said. "Thank YOU!!!!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"2:00PM," I typed into the time-clock spreadsheet at work. I jumped into the car and drove home, diving into the shower, and grabbing a bite to eat. Then I drove to the end of the road, and waited for the brother that I was riding with. After a profitable discourse, we arrived at the specified meeting-place, loaded up the tracts, CDs, and the prayer-station tent. I was beginning to feel a little trepidation, as they explained what we were about to do.
"First off, we put up the Prayer-Station booth." they instructed, "Then we put these little red aprons on to identify ourselves with the station." "What?" I thought, incredulously; "I'm going to stand on the streets of Madison wearing this dumb red apron?!?"
We all jumped into the van, and then one of the brothers suggested listening to this tape on the way to Madison. Mel agreed to play it, and we started listening to the man's testimony of mission-work in northern Canada.
As we approached Madison, my heart was full. The tape was almost finished, and I was replaying over in my mind the trials that the man had gone through at the hands of 'christian' people. In his love for these people, he had been beaten, slapped, punched, ridiculed, and almost killed by Russian Mennonites up north. Suddenly the small amount of embarrassment that I was going to feel by putting this little red apron on looked pretty puny. "What a chicken I am!" I thought. "Here these people suffered this persecution patiently from 'christians.'"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Ma'am, would you like a Gospel Tract?" I would ask, sometimes receiving a yes for an answer, and many times a no. "You have a good evening!" I'd say, as instructed by the leader. "Make them feel like you are blessing them even if they refuse." He had told us.
Suddenly, this short elderly woman came up to me with a look of disgust on her face. "And who do you think you are!?" she said angrily, announcing her presence. "What makes you think that you are good enough to be the mouthpiece of God? Boy, aren't you arrogant!"
"Tell me;" she demanded; "Tell me what makes you think that you are good enough to speak for God?" I tried to calmly reason with her, telling her that I wasn't good enough... And that God has commanded us to go out and tell the world the good news of the Gospel. After a few more words with her, she walked off, convinced that we were the most arrogant young men on the face of the earth. "It's boys like you that are shaping the demise of America!" she spat, as she turned on her heel, and took off down the street.
"You know, I don't know how I would have handled that situation if I hadn't heard that tape on the drive down here." I commented to the leader. "God's timing is so perfect!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"OK, boys!" the leader called out, "It's getting dark. Let's pack up, and clear out!" As we made our way back home, we all discussed our various meetings with people, and the blessings that we had received... Then I got a TXT on my phone from Mom. "Please call as soon as you are able" it read.
"Hello?" I asked. "Hi, Ry!" my mom said. "How'd your evening go?"
"Great," I replied. "What did you need? You wrote a TXT that said to call you."
"Oh, yes! I was wondering about tomorrow... I know that you already asked to have this evening off from work, but could you get tomorrow off too???"
"Oh, my!" I thought aloud. "What'll Wayne think of that?!? Yes, I'll call and ask! The worst answer I can get is no!" Mom could hear the smile in my voice. "You want to know what we are planning on?" she asked.
"Sure!" I replied, not having a clue of what I was about to hear.
"Well, we were invited to go this Saturday to the Pacific Garden Mission down in Chicago. Does that sound like a good idea?"
"Sure!" I said, not trying to hide my excitement. "I'll see if Wayne will let me off!"

=================================== be continued......