Thursday, October 23, 2014

Truth in Translation

I was in an antique store the other day, just browsing, killing some time and not really finding anything that jumped out at me.  As I walked around the quaint little store that was once a house I found myself in a former bedroom where all kinds of things you might find in a bedroom were - just the antique kind.  Hairbrushes, water pitchers and dry sinks, mirrors, etc.  There was a closet that did not have a door on it and it had several shelves that were packed with mostly linens and "fancy things" (a term I learned at my Grandparent's auction to describe needlepoint, cross stitch and anything hand made).

I rummaged through the shelves and the piles of blankets and quilts and pillow cases and in the back corner of a shelf about three down from the top were some books.  I'm always on the lookout for old hymnals so I thought that was what I might have found.

I had to move several items off the shelf and place them on the bed to get to the books, but when I did, I was pleasantly surprised.  I hadn't found hymnals, but I had found Bibles.  I believe to be written one in Swedish and one in Norwegian, at least that's what Google translate tells me.  One was published in 1905 and the other in 1951.  Not horribly old, but perhaps belonged to someone my grandmother's age and her mother's age.

It's intriguing to think about who they belonged to.

They are both fairly well read and both previous owner's liked to underline as there are many many red lines under some of the same verses that are underlined in my English bible.

The Word of God is what binds us.  The Word of God is what divides us.

Only the reader of the Word of God knows how the Word speaks to their heart.  I'd like to think that this man or woman holding these Bibles underlined them because they spoke so loudly to them in the darkness, like the Word speaks to me many times, that they wanted to come back to that spot over and over and over again. One will really never know, and it's really none of my business why a passage is underlined.

But it is intriguing to me that a person, who perhaps only spoke Swedish or Norwegian, was moved, for whatever reasons, by the same words that speak to me in English.

God's Word speaks to every language, every tongue, for all time.

Won't it be a beautiful thing in heaven when the language barriers are gone, the doctrinal divides are erased and we worship and praise with one voice, one tongue calling out to One Name.  The name that saves.

Jesus Christ.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Is Anyone Out There?

My daughter and grandson visited recently.  My daughter shared a story of the day she and Zeke left for the airport to come visit.  They had gotten up in the middle of the night to catch a 6 am flight and so it was dark in the car as they drove to the airport.  My grandson was awake in the backseat, facing backwards of course, and as they drove along it was quiet.  They didn't know if he was awake or not until about fifteen minutes had passed and they heard a muffled,  "dah?"  (Muffled because of the pacifier in his mouth).  My daughter said that it sounded like a question, like he was saying, "is anyone there?  I'm in the backseat by myself in the dark.  Hellloooooooo!"

We got a good chuckle out of that and I've been thinking about how much we all can feel like Baby Zeke may have been feeling that morning.

We're buckled into a carseat, no real control of anything, facing backwards, it's dark and the only sounds we can hear is the sound of our own breathing.  I've felt that way a time or two.  I've even given that muffled question, "Is anyone out there?  Helllooooooo?"

I came across a neat passage this morning, one that had been highlighted years and years ago, one that really had nothing to do with any circumstance I was in at the time, but as I did often back then, I highlighted it because when I read it, it felt like God was speaking it to me.  I couldn't relate to the actual circumstance of the context of the verse, but still God's word spoke loudly.  Loudly enough that I highlighted the words.

"And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped."  Exodus 4:31

Now I wasn't a slave of Egypt and I certainly wasn't Moses when I read those words for the first time, but it spoke to me then and it speaks to me now.

The LORD is concerned about me and has seen my misery.

He doesn't have us locked up in a carseat, facing backwards calling out in the darkness, not hearing us and not knowing where we are.  He hears us when we call to him.  He is paqad for us.  He pays attention to, observes with care and practical interest.  He attends to us even when it seems we're locked up in the dark.  He's there.

I think the biggest lie rejectors of Him believe is that He doesn't care.  Perception can be reality, but perception does not define reality.

His concern for us is immeasurable and sometimes hidden, but that doesn't mean He doesn't care and He's not there.  Circumstances may hide our view of Him but our circumstances never hide us from His view.

If you dig into the story surrounding this one verse, you will see that not only did and does God care for His people, but He goes to great lengths to rescue His people from their misery.

What's your misery?  Where do you not see God working?  How long have you felt you are locked in a carseat facing backwards in the dark, thinking you're all alone?

I hope you find comfort and hope and a new refreshing of trust that God is concerned with your misery.

Then do what the slaves of Egypt did, bow down and worship him.

He knows your misery, your aneyam, your affliction, whatever causes you suffering.

He knows and He sees and He is concerned for you.  Worship Him, not your suffering.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Go Giants

During the summer of 1994 we moved from Newport, Rhode Island to Monterey, California for what was one of our most memorable and favorite of "shore" tours.  We lived on what was formerly Fort Ord and had a million dollar view of Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

My husband attended Naval Post Graduate school and we were living the good life.  Sea duty was far from our minds and separations were a distant memory.

Our son was in the third grade when we moved there and just beginning to really enjoy playing baseball.  It wasn't long before he realized the San Francisco Giants played not far from Monterey and he became a life long fan of the orange and black team.  His love for the game and the Giants bloomed together and before long we were looking for opportunities to see the Giants play live.

In the spring of 1996 we heard about the Giants kids club and enrolled our son and two daughters.  Our son excitedly and our daughters, not so much.  (They got bribed with snacks at the game).  One of the perks of being a part of the club was the privilege to walk around the field at Candlestick Park.  Neither my husband nor myself had been fans of the Giants or the 49ers, but the day they got to walk the field we were pretty awestruck by the magnitude of the experience.

Now that third grader is married and a sports reporter, and I'm sure wishing he could report live on the World Series that is being played this week, especially when the series goes to San Francisco Friday night.  Candlestick is long gone, but the Giants will always have a special place in my heart because they are the team my boy loves to follow.

Go Giants!


Thursday, October 2, 2014

How Big is Your God?

I climbed a mountain recently.  Literally.

Not Everest, but a mountain nonetheless.  

After saying for years that I wanted to attempt the Chimney Tops Trail in the Great Smokey Mountains I did it and nothing could have prepared me for the experience.  I'd been told by family members who had hiked it in the past that it was steep, it was brutal on the heart and lungs going up and brutal on the calves going down.  I winced when the hikers cringed with calf pain the next day, but still nothing could have prepared me for the actual feeling of the calf pain until I experienced it for myself.

What on earth was I thinking?

But....this out of shape, more gray hair than natural color, woman did it.  Climbed a mountain.  

Now some of you may not think this was a big deal, some may even think the Smokies aren't anything like the Rockies or the Alps or the Himalayas, but to me this was a mountain.  (And according to the information board at the trailhead - the Chimney Tops Trail is 1400 feet in two miles, which is very steep!  Even if you're not out of shape and have all your original hair color!)

If you've ever driven through the Smokies, or any national park, you know how big nature really is.  And how small we are in comparison.  As we were driving to the trailhead and climbing higher in elevation, I began to feel really small.  And the problems and concerns and the earthly junk that is forever harassing started to get smaller as the mountains grandeur got bigger.

But then we started hiking and the view got more contained again.  I could only see what was in front of me (mostly on the ground as I looked down to make sure I didn't trip) and once in awhile as I looked to my right - ah, steep, straight down with big tall towering trees that you couldn't see the beginning or the end but just the vantage point of eye level - and looking to my left was mostly rock and dirt and bushes. And more rock.  

When it was still easy.

Thankfully my husband, who sweats profusely kept us at a slow pace to keep his sweat pumps at bay so my heart and lungs thanked him as we continued the climb with stops every few minutes to look back at where we'd been and look up and see how far we still had to go.

The first sign we got to after starting the trail said 1.1 miles to the top!  Ugh!  You mean to tell me we haven't even gone a mile???????!!!!!!!!!!!

But as we kept climbing and stopping and climbing and thinking surely we're almost to the top, I kept thinking more and more how big this *$%^&$^&(* mountain was and how (*^&%&^$$# small I really am.

My daughter and son-in-law, both in awesome shape and with their original hair color stayed a good pace ahead of us with the promise that we were "almost there."  Then there were the climbers coming down the mountain, those who had already made it, who were refreshed, who were smiling, who were talking without thinking their lungs would explode - thooossee people - they'd meet us and say, "you're almost there!"

Show offs!

Only a gazillion steps to go

Don't tell me I'm almost there if I'm not five steps from being to the top and still have a million to go! I thought grudgingly to myself.  Oh wait, I think I did say that aloud a few times after they had passed.

But finally, finally, we made it to the top.

Well, almost.  Not technically THE top, but pretty close.

This is where we started hearing we were "almost there".  Not!

Not "there" either


We scaled a little of the flat rock which was the ONLY way to the very top, but the thought of having to come down the same flat rock, which by the time we got there was very HOT from baking in the sun did not appeal to me.  And I had a little bit of a thought that I really didn't want to be on the news that evening as the lead story, "out of shape gray haired woman falls off the top of Chimney Tops Trail coming down." 

As close to "there" as we were going to get

The real "there"

The view from our "there" 

We didn't make it to the top but we sat and enjoyed the view from our "there."  And as I sat, I saw how big a mountain really is.  And I thought about how much bigger the One who made the mountain must be.  And if the One who made the mountain is so much bigger than the mountain itself, then the worries and problems and harassment that took a ride up the mountain on my shoulders with me that day really are small and they were the ones that got thrown off the top of that mountain that day.

God, the creator of mountains and trees, really tall trees, and life and all things that make life worth living, is bigger than any small thing that I carry around with me. 

My worries.

My fears.

My disappointments.  

He's bigger.  Much, much bigger.

The things we're facing in this country and this world now seem very, very big and very, very scary.

But you know what?

God is bigger. 

I thought I was small, imagine how he feels!

 Now we can be the happy ones who made it!

Sometimes it's good to look back at how far you've come so you can keep climbing.

Keep climbing.  Stop to catch to your breath and enjoy the view.  Don't stand too close to the edge, but keep your eyes on the trail.  Look back once in a while to see how far you've come, and when you turn around to look to see how far you have to go, just keep going.  One step at a time.  One foot in front of the other.  The view and the sore excruciating relentless calf pain for a week after is worth it!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hold on tight and no matter what, don't let go!

A few years ago my husband worked in New York City with some of the members of the NYPD.  One kind police officer offered to take my husband and I and an entourage of college kids smack dab into Times Square on New Year's Eve without having to wait outside in the cold all day long.  Our only instructions were to meet him at 10:30 on the corner of 8th Ave and 42nd street and he would get us up close and personal.

The college kids had spent the day exploring the city and at 10:30  our group of ten and another group of about 4 or 5 met our escort at the designated area.  If any of you have ever been in NYC on New Year's Eve you know what it's like to be surrounded by millions of people for blocks and blocks and blocks.  It is absolutely crazy.

When we surrounded our escort his only words to us were, "lock arms and no matter what, don't let go."  So we did, forming a human chain, following the man in blue.  As we bumped and jostled and stepped on the toes of people who had been standing in line for hours in the cold, and we heard the disgruntled complaints of more than a few as we all kept going by, with our humble "excuse mes", we finally arrived at a blockade that the police officer opened up for us unto a quiet, abandoned street.

The noise and the swearing and cursing and bumping melted away as we entered into this surreal block of silence.  The man in blue let us all go through and stopped those who were trying to ride the wave of our tails as he quickly closed the blockade counting us as we passed by.  We laughed and high-fived and skipped our way behind the police officer who walked us that quiet block and into the heart of Times Square.  Within seconds we were in the middle of the most exciting place on the most exciting night in America.  It was awesome!

We had access.   And we didn't have to do a thing, except show up.

I remembered that night this morning as I was just paging through the words God has given mankind to see them through this dark and lonely world and I came across a passage that jumped out at me when I saw the note I had written in the margin of my Bible.  So I do what I do, got out my tools and started digging and this is what I found.

This is the Greek literal translation of Romans 5:1-4.

Having been justified therefore by faith
 peace we have with God
 through the Lord of us Jesus Christ 
through whom also the access we have
 by the faith into the grace
 this in which we stand
 and we boast in hope of the glory of God
 not only that moreover
 but also we glory in the tribulations 
knowing that the tribulation perseverance produces 
moreover perseverance character 
moreover character hope
 now hope not does make ashamed
 because the love of God has been poured out into the hearts of us
 through Spirit the Holy the One having been given to us.

When I write, when I get behind the screen and my fingers touch the keys I never know quite how it will all pour out and settle.  I see the words standing at attention and waiting their turn to come down and make sense of the pictures I see in my mind.

Somedays I just have one word blaring like a loud siren trying to get my attention and so that is how I write on those days.  I look up a word, using a dictionary, my exhaustive concordance, and I just start researching and trying to lasso this wild word running back and forth and up and down in my brain.

Then there are other days, like today, when there are no sirens, no words jumping inside, and I'm enjoying a peaceful moment with God in His word, not really looking for anything special, just paging through His precious pages and a verse catches me, a word or two, or as in today, a note I had written in the top margin of the page.

When we believe with the faith that God has given us that we are justified and made righteous because of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross we GET access, we have our ticket, our VIP passes, to approach God, to speak to the Creator of trees and stars and cells.  We don't have to leave a message and wait for him to get back to us.  We don't have to set up an appointment with him for 6 weeks from now or two months or a year.  We don't have to stand in line for hours in the cold waiting to see something from a distance.

We get to be in the middle of the celebration that is part of the believer's life.  We get to be made better by tribulations, not made worse.  We get to bask in hope, not be ashamed of our sin.  We get to have God's love poured out on us (remember He likes to lavish us).  He pours out His best on us.  He doesn't save His love for those better,  those holier, those more religious than us.  He pours it out on all of us.

Whether we "feel" it or not, we are drenched in His love.

Whether we "see" it or not, we are marinated in His love.

Whether we "hear" it or not, we are soaked in His love.

Shame can't dry what God pours on us.

We have access, in the tribulations we are facing, to the God who pours out His best continually on us to produce in us perseverance, not defeat; character not wickedness;  hope not despair.

We can't do it alone.  But He's done it for us.

Your access card is valid.  For all time.  Even today.  Even with the memories of your past, your access is still active.

You may be getting jostled and cursed at and accused by those who stand on the outside rejecting Him, but your access card is still active.

Hang on tight and no matter what, don't let go!


 dikaiothentes - having been justified -  to show to be righteous, declare righteous, I make righteous, defend the cause of, plead for the righteousness (innocence) of, acquit, justify; regard as righteous

pistes - faith - faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness.  Faith is always a gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people.

eirenen - peace - peace of mind, God's gift of wholeness

echomen - we have - I have, hold, possess

pros -  with - to, towards, with

 kyrios - Lord - a person exercising absolute ownership rights

prosagoge - access - approach, access, admission

 kataischuno - does make ashamed - I shame, disgrace, put to utter confusion, frustrate

 ekkechytai - has been poured out - I pour out, I shed, bestow liberally.  Used of other things usually guarded with care which are poured forth or cast out