God

Parables and Fables

Treasure can come in many different ways; A good meal with friends, a quiet beautiful sunset, the laughter of children playing.  One thing that I definitely treasure are any drops of wisdom that I can acquire on my life’s journey.  They can more valuable than gold and silver.

I wanted to infuse this thought in the board game Treasure Trove as players traverse the world collecting fabled treasures.  We all fantasize about what it would be like to find lost treasure in an attic, or win the lottery, or what it what be like to have come up with Facebook.  It is human nature to wonder about such things.  And yet, the important things of life are right in front of us, if we choose to see them.  If we choose to search for them right under our noses.

I choose to place within the situation cards drops of wisdom that have come from all religions that remind us of spiritual truths.  I think it is God’s way of trying to teach us to search for the spiritual things of our lives, not just physical blessings.

Many truths about something of great value in God’s Kingdom are often conveyed in the sense of something that would be of value such as gold or diamonds.  One of the situation cards describes a large pearl, one of great value.  Most of you would recognize the saying as that of Jesus, who often taught in parables.

Have you ever tried to define what a parable is?  What is a fable?  We have an idea what they are, basically, short stories with fictional characters that have a moral lesson.  People love stories, and these are a great way to teach, which Christ did.

Included within the game is a booklet that gives brief descriptions of the treasures on the game board.  Some real, some only myths, and some of the treasures I just made up.  A footnote section at the back of the instructional booklet lists real treasure findings.  There is also some discussion about things on the game board.  What is an archeologist?  Who was Dr. Livingston?  What is a herpetologist?  Where is Shangri-La?

The following comment was placed in the footnote section concerning the difference between a parable and a fable.     

A parable is a brief story that illustrates a moral or religious lesson.  It differs from a fable that uses animals or inanimate objects as actors while parables generally feature human actors.  Jesus often taught his followers by use of parables.”

I don’t think people take the time to read the booklet given with the game.  Most of the time we are in too big of a hurry, including when we are playing the board game.  Such is the pace of our lives.  Consequently, we miss a lot of lot of little factoids, and truths. It takes time to search for those drops of wisdom and truth, but they can make the playing of the game that much more rewarding.  I think our lives are often the same way.  We are searching for life’s treasure often in the wrong places. 

Early this morning I read from the book of Matthew, Chapter 5.  Not one of the parables of Jesus, but his Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes. Now that is real treasure.  I could read it ever day, and never get tired of it.  If I had a large diamond, I suppose I would love looking at every day, but I don’t.  Instead, I will enjoy my treasure of living for Christ, and holding onto those beatitudes.

Star Gazers: Pondering God’s Blueprint

Astronomy is interesting to me, but not fascinating.  I like to visit planetariums, and listen to the presentations, but I have never wanted to spend a lot of time looking through telescopes in the backyard.  I have visited the Macdonald Observatory in West Texas several times, but those are huge telescopes.

                Star Trek however was totally fascinating to me.  I have seen every episode of the original series and still occasionally enjoy watching a rerun.  I loved the concepts that Gene Roddenberry challenged the viewer with:  The transporter, alien life forms, and parallel universes.  Most of all the idea of warp speed intrigued me.  To be able to travel many times the speed of light still sounds impossible to me.

                Even though they could travel up to warp nine, that is nine times faster than the speed of light, the Enterprise never left our own galaxy.  The Milky Way Galaxy alone would take years to travel through at the speed of light.  As for reaching another galaxy, the distance is thought to be too great for humans to accomplish, even traveling at a high warp speed.

                The vastness of space is mind boggling: Infinite is the word.  I remember when I was about ten asking Dad what infinity was.  “It just goes on and on and never ends,” he said.

                At the McDonald Observatory, visitors are allowed to peer through about a half dozen rather large telescopes.  The Visitors center also shows short movie presentations.  On our last visit there was a brief film that tried to give us an idea of infinity.  The movie was obviously a low budget production, but it sure intrigued me. 

                If you take a square meter, and expand to ten square meters, and then to 100 square meters, and on to 1000 square meters, that would be 10 to the third power ( ).  If you or I represent that small one square meter, then the film showed just how small we would be from a thousand kilometers up in space.  The moon is less than 400,000 kilometers away.  Pictures of the earth from the moon show our planet as small from that distance.  Of course, the earth would not be visible from , or 10,000,000,000 billion kilometers away.  Astronomers guess the universe to be about  kilometers in distance from the earth.  The point is, which we all know, was that the universe goes a long way out, indefinitely.  No big news flash there.  But here is what interested me.

                The film stopped at the outer reaches of the known universe, and then slowly backed up.   Through many, many far away galaxies, then traversing lots of vast voids of space, re-entered the Milky Way Galaxy, eventually to our own solar system and back to earth.  Then descended from the higher part of our atmosphere down to the surface of earth where that one person is resting on a blanket in a city park.  Back to square one, or the square meter we began from.

                Then the film takes you on a journey to go smaller, that is into the human body;  Through the organs, and into the cells.  You descend into mitochondria and into the cellular level.  With the electron microscope we continue getting smaller and smaller, actually into the electrons and protons.  I had cell biology in college, and I had microbiology.  I guess what fascinated me was scientists can now go back to .  Not quite as far as going to reach the outer expanse of space, but  is getting pretty small.  I’ll bet in time it gets smaller.  Almost like a universe within each one of us.      

                At first I felt small and insignificant.  However, as I pondered the reality that there is life at all levels within me, just like throughout the universe, I then felt a sense of purpose within God’s realm.   Others may feel the immensity of the universe makes them doubt there is a Creator.  On the contrary, that is opposite of what I felt.  I feel God’s blueprint in creation.      

               

Abandoned Temple

     

          

Have you ever wanted to explore the ruins of an ancient temple?  That would be a unique experience wouldn’t it?  If you had asked me what comes to my mind when I hear the word temple, I would think of King Solomon’s Temple.  I have been a bible reader all my life so I obviously have given much thought to the ancient Israelite Temple and its significance in God’s Kingdom.  God used the Temple to try and convey the nature of himself to mankind just as he had done with Moses and the Tabernacle.  God was trying to reveal His Holiness to them: His righteous.  He is still trying to do so to us today.  By the way, the following passage popped out at me as I was reading the bible just recently.

          “This is the basic law of the Temple:  absolute holiness!”          Ezekiel 43:12

          The Mayans had temples, the Greeks and Romans had temples.  There are temples all over Asia.  There are many to visit, but just for the sake of imagination, would it not be an interesting adventure to explore a temple all to yourself, especially an abandoned temple.  A temple no one else has explored, just waiting for you.  But, unfortunately, what are the chances of finding an abandoned temple?  You may be surprised you don’t have to travel to a distant or remote location.    

           

  In the New Testament, many times Jesus tried to teach his followers that God does not dwell in Temples or buildings but within peoples’ hearts.  I think this was a challenging concept to his Jewish disciples.  During the time of Moses while the Israelites were in the wilderness God would enter the Tabernacle.  After King Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem for God, scripture teaches that God chose to indwell there.  But why would the Creator want to enter the hearts of people?  After all, it is not always a safe place to enter.  Greed, envy, anger, lust, deceit: you name it and where does it start?  In the heart.  Unfortunately, to some degree all of us carry some of this dirty baggage.  And yet, amazingly, that is where God chooses to live.  The Kingdom of God dwells in our hearts.  That is where His Temple is.  It is something I think most of us know intuitively, yet something I personally struggle with.                        

         I want God to walk with me on my daily journey but I am hesitant to invite the Lord into my temple: my heart.  There are too many distractions.  When I sit still and try to pray, my mind wanders; the day’s schedule, bills to be paid, the upcoming football game and so forth.  On a more sobering note, I’m not sure God wants to come into my heart when I have anger issues, some degree of unforgiveness towards those who have wronged me in the past, anxiety over finances, and so forth.  I have shared these thoughts with my wife.  She responded:           

          “You may need to relax more before the Lord and accept his graciousness.  You may not believe you are worthy enough to invite God, but that is a lie from Satan.  God is always more than willing to engage you when you genuinely seek him, even if you don’t feel up to it at that moment.  Remember , you don’t always have to pray,” she adds.  

        “What do you mean I don’t have to pray?  I thought that is what I was supposed to be doing during intimate time with the Lord?”  I add, “As a matter of fact I often pace back and forth in the backyard very early in the morning underneath the canopy of the stars in order to reveal the passion of my prayer petitions to the Almighty.”  However, I admit to her, “I have wondered if I am working at it more than just, ‘letting it flow,’ so to speak.  I’m a disciplined hard worker, so it just seemed natural I would pray that way.” 

         “But that is just it,” she says. “Sit still, try to clear out the distractions in your mind, and rest.  Rest in the Lord.”  She goes on to say, “As I said, you don’t even have to pray.  If you are inviting the Lord into your heart he will know your prayers.  Through Christ we are made righteous.  Because of Christ we have the holiness that God wants and therefore He can enter.  Some days you will feel the presence of the Lord more than others: some days when you are tired you may even fall asleep.  But enjoy it.  The more often you relax and enjoy his presence, it will be that much easier for him to indwell within you.  It will not be long before you earnestly seek to return to this place of rest and the easier it will be.  It won’t have to be in the backyard or in the study, much less a certain time.  It will be a state of mind that is abandoning itself to the Lord.  That is not to say you do not need to engage in prayer, just don’t feel guilty if some days it does not seem to come naturally.  The Holy Spirit will guide you.  There will be days when you are drawn to your knees.  Other times you may want to ‘just sit,’ and peacefully reflect: yet you are still praying even if you are not directly articulating the words in your mind.”

        My wife calls it, “Abandonment to God.”  She explains, “We all have experienced the feeling of being abandoned to God.  Yet it is those times that provide an opportunity for God to reveal himself or his nature to us: His mysterious ways.  You and I grew up with the word ‘surrender,’ but I like the feeling of being abandoned to God’s providence.  Each of us has a choice to feel abandoned by God or to abandon ourselves to him.”

         As each of us journeys through life we will realize more and more our human limitations physically and emotionally coupled with a spiritual neediness.  I think God encourages each of us to invite him into our hearts as we become Temples of Abandonment. Our exploration is probably the most important search of our life.  Life’s treasures await us all in these temples…..these abandoned temples………God’s Temples.

Holy Water

 

     Please be very patient with me when you read this article.  Please do not judge me too hastily.  Please listen to what I am trying to communicate.  Please understand I am only sharing from my heart.  Please remember we are all human mortals searching the mysteries of the world we live in, it’s hidden truths and treasures. If you are patient with me, I won’t hold it against you when you snicker at what you about to read.

          I was raised Protestant and still am, as is my wife.  We met at a Christian University 35 years ago.  We are both reflective people and enjoy sharing with each other.  We are also honest and try to create an atmosphere where we can question our walk with God and admit our concerns about how He works in our lives.  This includes sharing the positive as well as the disappointments in our perceptions of God.

          My wife Melanie reads more than I do, including a good many inspirational and devotional books.  I am not a good reader but try to read the bible daily.  I enjoy her sharing the highlights of what she explores; it is always edifying.  Being the honest and direct person I am, I share with her the things that I read in the bible that make me question God and his dealings with mankind.  I appreciate it when she says, “that passage has also always troubled me.”  If I go on to convey what I think God, or Jesus, or Paul, or John is trying to say, she listens and then often affirms what my understanding is.  She might say “I think that is getting at what the nature of God is,” or “I was reading something recently that sounds close to what you’re saying.”  Let’s get on with what this to do with Holy Water.

          Melanie recently read to me from a book written by a lady who has a degree in chemistry and sees the nature of God at the smallest element of creation; the atom.  Convergence of Quantum Physics, Scripture and Prophecy was written by Bev Robinson and her husband Ras, a Pastor.  They are not the first to see God’s hand working in all levels of creation from the stars to the microbiological level.  However, there was one chapter that captured my wife’s attention.  A chapter discussing the power of words.  It challenges us to remember that what we say to others and what we receive from others in word has a stronger impact on us than we may realize.  Even at the molecular level.  Yes, even at the molecular level.

          Bev shared in the book some research done by a Japanese scientist named Masaru Emoto.  He was searching for scientific evidence as to whether or not the molecular structure of water is affected by words and thoughts.  Let me briefly summarize my understanding of his research.

50 individual drops of water were taken from a polluted water source, frozen on separate petri dishes, and photographed revealing malformed crystals.  50 individual drops were then taken from the same source, however prior to be frozen had words of love and thanks spoken over them as a blessing.  The difference was the crystals that received a blessing were mostly symmetrical and therefore pleasing to the eye. Those droplets that did not receive words of affirmation had crystals that were not symmetrical appearing malformed and ugly.  Sounds like a bunch of nonsense doesn’t it?

          It may indeed be ridiculous, but just think if there is any truth to it.   It would indeed affect us.  After all, our bodies are over 75% water.  So what?   

          Remember, God spoke creation into existence.  He exists in all of creation including the cells of our bodies.  He reveals himself to us through in a number of ways including nature, science, his animals, his Son Christ, and through his Word.  The Word (the bible), was given to us through prophets, Kings such as David and Solomon, scribes, apostles, disciples, and of course Jesus.  It was the words that these people of the bible spoke that often brought physical healing, inspiration, victory in battle, release from demonic spirits and so forth.

          I have always tried to weigh my words before I speak.  I am well aware of the numerous times I spoke sooner than I should have or words spoken in anger that are so condemnatory.  I will hopefully be more mindful of the words I say to others.  I will also be more open to the idea that peoples prayers over others for healing are not in vain.  Those prayers may not bring the healing that was specifically sought but I am confident some measure of healing at some level is occurring, whether I visibly see it or not.  There could very well be improvement( healing) at the molecular level.  I will leave the amount of healing and the timing up to God. I don’t think I will be quite as hesitant to pray over others as I have been, and I believe I will have more confidence in those prayers.  In other words some amount of good is taking place.

          At the end of our conversation I began teasing Melanie when I asked, “what about that jug of Holy Water I saw in the corner of the baptismal area of the Catholic church we visited?”  I had a snicker on my face.  She giggled: then we both paused at about the same moment.  We looked at each other until one of us said, “Someone may have blessed the water in that container with words.”  Food for thought, isn’t it?  Or should I say, possibly life giving water.  

“A person’s words can be life giving water; words of true wisdom are  as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”    Proverbs 18:4

  “Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach.” Proverbs 18:20         

                             New Living Translation

July 4th Quotes

 

           I enjoy quotes.  These are some that I noticed in the newspaper that Hobby Lobby had taken out for a  July 4th ad.  In recent decades I have heard and read somediscussion questioning just how religious the founding fathers were.  I have read a number were diests.  That may some truth but revisionist historians continue to try and persuade us that most of them were indeed deists.  I disagree.   A deist is one that does not deny a supreme being, but may have serious doubt about the Creator intervening in the affairs of mankind.  Miracles would be very suspect.  From my understanding a deist would have trouble believing God works directly in the affairs of people or individuals, much less answer ones prayers.  I have also read that many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were wealthy, which is true, but that they were mainly concerned with protecting their wealth as any good business person would do.  I believe the following quotes reveal they had more of a relationship, and therefore faith, iin a Creator than recent historiacal revision will credit.   

           There has also been much debate about their view of seperation of church and state.  They may have wanted to protect any new government from having to be under submission to one state religion such as the Anglican(Church of England) back in Britain, but there is no evidence they wanted a citizenry that denied the existence of God.  I believe they wanted the land to be filled with God fearing people; a land where the people were free to pursue God.  I hope we are not too quick to throw away our heritage that America was formed when indeed many or the people or at least the majority were believers in God.  I hope we strive to keep it that way. 

George Washington

   “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”  – George Washington

   

 

 “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams  

John Adams

       

Thomas Jefferson

 

 

 

   “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”- Thomas Jefferson      

                                 “I’ve lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: That God governs in the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can  rise without His aid? We’ve been assured in the sacred writings that unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”- Benjamin Franklin 

Benjamin Franklin

  

Blessed is the Nation whose God is the Lord Psalms 33:12  

 

Korean Treasure

 

 

We celebrated our youngest son’s birthday this past week as he just turned 19.  My wife had been cleaning out some old pictures and going through some shoeboxes of keepsakes when she found this article she wrote almost 18 years ago.  I would like to share it with you.

March 1991,                                                                                                                         

                It had come.  The report of 14-month old Jung Woo Lee, born in Korea was in our hands, complete with pictures.  The report described him as “bright and active.”  That sounded good.  “He is pacified easily if only soothed, and tends to adjust to new places soon.”  That was also good considering his age and all he had been through.  Then came the unsettling part.  “He is hot-tempered and stubborn so that he must needs do what he wants to do.”  A stubborn temperament, several disruptions in his young life, and now the prospect of a new culture and language at a time when language development was critical were real concerns.

                We considered our circumstances for the thousandth time.  Keith and I were both nearing 40.  This would be our third adoption, and the second of Korean origin.  We were well aware of our weaknesses as parents.  Did we want to disrupt the settled condition of our nice little family?  We could refuse the referral, of course.  But his little face looked back at us in his pictures with a look that was sadly endearing and seemed to say, “I am the one you have been praying for.”  And there are simply times in your life, as you know, when you are certain God has spoken and asked you to join Him in His work, and this was one of those times.  Keith phrased our decision well.  He said, “When do we step out in faith to face the Goliaths in our lives?”

                Three months later, I flew to Korea to bring home Jung Woo, whom we had named Timothy.  The first day I saw Timothy at the Eastern Child Welfare Office in Seoul, I fell in love with him, no exaggeration.  While his foster mother held him, I handed her a gift. It was a tile trivet with Texas wildflowers painted on it.  Timothy reached out his little hand for it, and I grabbed the other corner of it to take it out of his grasp.  Mrs. Kim, the foster mother, gently pushed my hand away and let Timothy have the tile.  In a flash, he had taken the tile and thrown it across the room.  Only a corner had broken off, and as Mrs. Kim, with not a word of reprimand, showed him how the edge was now rough and broken, I realized with a sinking feeling that some “Goliaths” are only two feet tall.

                Through the adjustment period over the next two years, I learned an incredible number of things.  I learned that a little child has the amazing power to alter completely the lives of everyone around him. I learned that I could not move as fast as he could.  I learned that I was not nearly as patient or wise as I thought.  I learned that interrupting a person’s sleep with screaming three or four times a night is a very effective way of destroying physical and mental capabilities.  I learned the meaning of perseverance, and that obedience to God does not always look like success.  And, finally, I learned that whether our giants are nine feet tall or only two, they are not overcome with strength or superior weaponry, but with small stones of faith in a mighty, promise-keeping God.

 Footnotes: 

  1. Tim is now a student in a college on a music scholarship.  We have great joy in seeing his jazz concerts.  I do not possess the gift of music he has been blessed with and love to see it in others much less mine own son (he is the one we have been praying for). 
  2. He does well academically and has many friends (he is bright and active).
  3. He is enjoying his college days (tends to adjust to new places soon).
  4. He still sometimes acts impulsively (he must needs do want he wants to do).  I am hopeful this will improve with age but he still upsets easily (hot tempered) if he does not get what he wants quickly.
  5. He still has a look of annoyance when we try to offer guidelines for his life (stubborn).  I’m sure none of the rest of you as parents have ever felt this way.
  6. Some days I envy King David who slew his giant while mine seems to be an ongoing struggle.  Then I remember King David had some real issues with his children.  Talk about rebellion.
  7. He has accepted the Lord as his Savior and continues to grow in that journey. (Small stones of faith).
  8. Jung Woo losely  translated means “right happy” according to our adoption paperwork from Korea.
  9. Timothy means “honoring God.”

 

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