What in the Heavens is going on?

planetary alignment 23 Sept. 2017

People are looking at the heavens. Are there new things there?

The solar eclipse in the United States this August was an unignorable phenomenon. It may have delighted or irritated you, depending on how it affected your personal life, but either way it was “there” in a very real way.

If nothing else, this event, which happened across the U.S. made more people think about what’s going on in the heavens.

Psalm 19 from the Bible begins:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world” (Ps. 19:1-4a, NIV). 

Rumors are going around (new rumors?) that there will be a special alignment of stars, planets, the sun, and the moon in conjunction with the constellation Virgo today, September 23rd (2017). You will have to figure out for yourself—maybe after a little research—what you think about the predictions and possibilities that are being put forward there.

So, what IS going on in the heavens? Well, for sure, in another 7-ish years from now, another solar eclipse will be going on. It will cross the U.S., but instead of crossing from the North West towards the South East of the country as the one in August did, it will come up from the South West and go up towards the North East of the U.S. In other words, in conjunction with the August 2017 eclipse it will make an X over the country, crossing one area twice (the center of the X).

I mention it, because this aspect of what is going on in the heavens is touching the earth—in the form of the moon’s actual shadow. These two eclipses are making a shadowy X over this country. Is this significant?

This has become a public question because of social media, but I am not addressing at this point whether some are taking advantage. Or whether they should. Or whether people are right (speaking truth) or not about what they are putting forward. Or whether they are sincere or not…

This is what I am addressing. Let me rephrase the question: What on earth do the heavens have to do with us?

What if it is true, as the Psalmist says, “The heavens declare the glory of God…”? There are two options. Either this God exists or He does not. And this Psalm offers two more options. Either the heavens declare the glory of God or they do not. And what does this God do who is “other” outside His creation even though He infuses and fills it with His Spirit (see the Bible Testaments) to communicate with us?

Could it be through the things of the heavens touching the earth that our unseen God is nudging us to be looking to the greater reality that He is “there” –Present. Maybe He is trying to remind us, without taking away our “free will” or right to choose, that life is not permanent.

Do we remember that besides birth, the only sure thing about mortal life, is death? Maybe reminders will change our minds and our priorities, helping us remember our souls are eternal and our relationships and dealings with other people matter.

Maybe because He can see from the beginning to the end, and is wise above any psychologist, doctor, or theologian on the earth, and He LOVES us, despite knowing every single detail about us, He is calling us to repent— ‘to turn (back) to’ Him? Maybe He wants us to look to Him for setting things right in our lives and getting our priorities straight and spending our time well and in meaningful ways, because how we live now WILL affect how we spend eternity?

Maybe He wants to save us from ourselves, from our stubborn adherence to hurtful habits, from the addictions and confusion that bind us and only keep making life worse, not better for us and others? Maybe ultimately, He wants to save us from not just physical death, but from spiritual death—permanent, eternal separation from Him and from other souls?

Why would God want to do all this for us? Why would He care at all, if He is the maker of the universe(s) and of everything good thing we experience? And can do anything He wants?

Maybe He does all this because it is His nature to love? Maybe it’s Who He IS? Maybe He IS pure, unadulterated love? Maybe He can’t be anything else? And maybe part of His love and justness is that He will not impinge on our “free will,” our right to choose true Love (or not)?

Material, earthly things ARE temporary. Life IS temporary. Everything about this life, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain,… are also temporary. But what if our souls go on eternally. What if God is looking after the well-being of our eternal souls, which includes maintaining our “free will” or right to choose His love and life or naught.

What if He is wooing people to Himself because He loves them, even while they despise and hate and mock and spurn and fight with all their might against His love–because they want to be “free” to choose and to go their own way?

This is what I know first-hand (through spiritual and mortal experience):

To those who have turned to Him, who have come into covenant and made a commitment to Him, He is a faithful, loving, provident ‘husband’—as much as we allow. He is faithful despite our “slips” and lack of faithfulness to Him. He remains with us notwithstanding our lack of openness or submission to His loving touch, even when we fail to trust in His absolute, sure, pure goodness and love. He is at work for us at all times and through all things. We only need to turn back to Him in truth to “see” or know or experience or realize this.

Through all things He remains one-sighted to benefit and bless and be with us to truly love us, and He constrains Himself though He would delight to be of much more benefit and blessing to us and to have much more communion or fellowship with us, because we don’t allow it.

This is the God I know through Jesus Christ. He is “there” and loves us as much as we will allow through our repenting—or turning back and back and back to trusting Him. With Him the impossible happens and we have the very real hope of a blessed eternal life.

I believe this is what the heavens declare, in a new and yet very old way, day after day.

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Inter-Dependent

Disk " Siberia"
IZOSOFT’S image Disk IZ115

(Reposting a revision of “Inter-Connected”)

The water, some splashing, some crashing, cleaned by the tides, ceaselessly moving. Light glinting, sparkling off the tops of waves, giving us joy, beauty buoying our hearts; turquoise to cobalt, azure reflecting azure.

At the beach, making memories, creating patterns with our foot prints in the sand, throwing rocks and sticks, jumping rope with seaweed strands, dancing to the music of the ocean together. Finding shells, agates, driftwood. Where did they all come from? They are all here, under our feet, in our hands.

While out there, orbiting, whirling, revolving, and spinning, planets, sun, and moon, not too far, not too near. They are just right for seasons and for tide-making, light giving, air warming, air flowing, droplets rising, droplets gathering dust, clouds, wind, more clouds, piling up, snow up high, rain below, ground drinking, filtering, cleaning, making wells of pure water.

Us! Here! drinking earth-cleaned water, eating grains ground then shaped with oil and baking, cut and topped with avocado, tomato, lettuce, onion, salt, mustard and another piece of bread; dried and salty potatoes chipped; huckleberries, black berries besides. We are sometimes swimming, surfing, walking, climbing, sitting, napping, and always breathing. All the nutrients, all the moisture, all the protection, all the beauty, all the wonders, we don’t need to think about, while we are here soaking up the sunshine, sitting in the shade. While bacteria, protozoa, fungi, algae do their magic unseen work, we digest, we exude, we live, above and below water, and on the land.

While those nectar-gathering bees we see and hear, that sting, that sing the song near us here at the sea continue it there in someone’s flower garden, with the plants humming along, the birds joining in the chorus of living together. We don’t hear the whole song, the birds also sing while picking ticks off the cattle, zebras and the rhinos far away in Africa. They aren’t here, but they are there, on this mild, wildly busy, calm summer day.

While here and everywhere are plants soaking up water, air, light; growing, living breathing with butterflies, fleas, gulls, herons, salmon, whales, turtles… living, breathing too; and up on the grassy slopes above the sea-side cliffs are sheep, goats, cattle, sometimes deer and smaller critters we can’t see, drinking, eating grass, alfalfa, leaves; growing, breathing, being.

Because we need the air, because it’s natural for us to want to breathe, we don’t stay underwater for longer than we can hold our breath. We breathe the air the plants breathed out, cleaned, the air the wind brought in, just the right mix, oxygen, nitrogen, and other gases. We breathe and the plants breathe what they need from us.

Us, breathing, playing in the waves and surf, picking and eating more berries, giving hugs, playful claps and caresses, laughing, crying, living together, being.

And busy below the splashing, crashing waves: agitated anemone and crazy clown fish, sightless snapping shrimp and gumptious gobies, fish-cleaning-fish and cleaned fish, encrusting entities helicospiraling hermit homes, serious spider crabs and amiable algae, algae and reef-crafting corals are living and relying, contentedly in balance, on each other too.

While our hands hold, our feet follow, our smiles encourage and we laugh—our hearts are pumping, blood is surging, lungs expanding, air exchanging, bones upholding, muscles moving, skin protecting, excreting, cooling, senses tasting salty air and water, feeling breezes, warmth, cold water, smelling ocean-side smells, hearing birds and bells and water whooshing; while within our cells motile mitochondria, of intricate parts, each there, perfectly performing; parts, also made of racing electrons and neutrons and space, are making us go.

While we are not too hot, not too cold, not too distant, not to close to the sun to live and breathe and hold our breath amid the mixing moon-made tides and currents. How many times and how fast have we circled the solar system center and not spun off into space, not parted with planets near us? When did the whirring revolutions each begin, still in order now? At which juncture of the riotous rotation and swirling in space were you born?

Have you seen or heard or tasted or felt or smelled anything?

With my ear to a shell I hear we have all we need, we have each other, we have all that is held together and that works together for living and being, because of one wise, powerful, caring, creative, loving, eternal GOD, the I AM, who is there.

Another Surprise?!

surpriseAnother surprise? Of course! Once more, this morning, God “surprises” me with a whole new understanding of a passage from the Bible. Not just a little turn in understanding, but a pretty MAJOR shift… Again!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to regale you with some “new” teaching you’ve never heard before or that is meant to impress you or shock you with something previously “hidden” –some mystery that no one has ever heard of or discovered before.

Truly, there is “nothing new under the sun,” as King Solomon once observed (Eccl. 1:9). But there are ALWAYS new ways of seeing the “old” things we thought we knew, as we grow and mature in our understanding of God and His goodness—the truth of the “I AM” or of who God is (Exo. 3:14-15).

You might think after many years of reading and studying this compilation of books, called the Bible, every day, there would be nothing new in there anymore, no surprises left between the covers. All the while you (or I) might think this, you (or I) would be wrong (So we need to watch ourselves that we don’t think this J ).

God and His Word do not change, but hopefully we do. Hopefully we let God’s Word penetrate our minds, beliefs, hearts, and so we are continually “surprised,” and so we are seeing “old” things in a  “new” light, and so our natures, characters, and lives are constantly changing—for the good.

First of all (FLASH, FLASH) the “surprise” this morning is yet another reminder to me that I should NEVER assume I know FULLY what ANY passage of scripture means EVER.

Next I am observing again, that when we sincerely seek to understand God’s heart, suspending our own understanding for a minute or two, and search His Word for other similar passages and words as those we are currently looking at, digging deeper into what He meant through those who spoke and/or who wrote it down in their culture and time, even with all their limitations—more about God will come to light—now, in our time, by the same Spirit, translated.

…I think the “surprises” are limited only by our own faithfulness or lack of faithfulness. When we value, so hold to and try, with the help and strength only God can give, to live out the light God gives, He can and will and delights to give us more…

What is the passage God gives me “new” today? It is in Luke, chapter 11 (using the ESV today): 33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

I’m wondering: What exactly is a “bad” eye? As I look up the cross references for the word “bad” from verse 34, for a minute, I think I have looked up the wrong cross reference which is in Matthew, chapter 20:15. It reads: “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’”[a]. No (I’m not wrong). It’s the right reference.

But then I read another cross reference for a “bad” eye, from Deuteronomy, chapter 15:9 which says: “Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly[a] on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin [Footnote: [a] Or be evil..].”

I look back at the footnote for Matthew 20:15: [a] “Or is your eye bad because I am good?”

This is “new” (to me)…A “bad” or “evil” eye means grudging? Or begrudging? Holding back good or holding back from wishing good to others? I never imagined this. I look up some more cross references to this word:

(Deut. 28:54) “[Because of national rebellion or disobedience to God] The man who is the most tender and refined among you will begrudge food to his brother, to the wife he embraces, and to the last of the children whom he has left…”

(Deut. 28:56) “The most tender and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will begrudge to the husband she embraces, to her son and to her daughter,…”

(Prov. 23:6) “Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies…”

(Prov. 23:22) “A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him.”

Another synonym for a “bad” eye is “stingy”?!

A “good” or “healthy” eye, then, must be a gracious, generous, giving heart. Yes! Of course! A heart just like God’s. This is how God has always been to me. It is how He treats all His children—all, despite our imperfections—all who look to Him, who want to and learn to believe Him, who come to love and so to follow Him and His true Word, embodied in Jesus—all!

NO ONE who seeks Him is EVER turned away. ALL who honestly seek Him will find Him.

I LOVE this “surprise” from my reading and study today. Though it is convicting, it is also comforting as it confirms to a greater degree the unchanging goodness of our God. I pray my heart might be more like His and less grudging or begrudging or stingy (as mine too often is). “Help me, Lord, through Your Spirit or Presence, which is only with me because of Jesus, to be more like You in my heart and attitude! Thank You, for teaching me “new” things from the “old,” LORD. Thank you for another “surprise,” another change of mind and heart today!

“Right? Of Course Right!”*

tevye

Watching this classic production, once more we see Tevye’s “existence is balanced as precariously as a *fiddler on the roof.”1 New ways and new challenges, one after another, press in on him…as they do us.

How does anyone ever really know what is right or wrong to do?

When people say they are being honest, what is the standard by which they judge? Honest according to whom or what? When people “see” and say that the world is a crappy place and their lives are a living hell, are they being more honest than those who say God is in control, and all things will work together for the good of those who love Him? Most people would say the first perspective is the more honest assessment. Is it? I believe the second perspective doesn’t deny the first, but that it doesn’t stop there. I believe, for that reason, the second perspective is more honest—because it doesn’t stop where humans and humanness stops. It goes on to acknowledge the unseen, but no less REAL, fact of God. The WHOLE of reality, not just what humans can or can’t fathom or generate. The God who IS there, and who can, who will, who does redeem.

Are you SURE there is no God? How can you be sure? Are you in fact living a half-truth, a lie, in denying His existence?

Even the self-proclaimed atheist uses, for example, the “bad” things “Christians” have done in the name of Christ to “justify” his or her unbelief! In doing this, even the atheist admits to SOME standard of what IS good—and in a sense even, they are right, except in assuming God is actually behind ALL the things SOME claiming to be Christians have done. Atheists also judge there could not possibly be a God, because if there were a God, He would not allow the atrocities committed all over the world! They judge these atrocities to be “bad,” and they are–and they are not generated by God. But by what standard do they judge?

Where does the (immaterial) sense that there is good and bad come from if not from the (immaterial) existence of Ultimate Goodness? There is certainly a sense in humans that/when things are amiss. Amiss from what—or Whom? All people have this sense of some things being good and some being evil—which is enhanced when evil is done to ourselves or to a loved one—and diminished when we deny the evil we or a loved one has done to another. There are those who claim that people can be born without this sense. How can they claim this? How can anyone know such a thing? There is ALWAYS, with everyone, a limit of what is “acceptable,” a defining, if you will, of what is “good” or “bad.” A sense that there is good and evil is one universal trait we share with all other human beings.

So again, how does anyone know what it truly right or wrong?

If we are going to be fully honest, we need to consider the WHOLE truth in order to find a REAL answer.

The only person who ever was and ever is always “right,” said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment”—Jesus, quoted by John2 said this—or according to another translation, He said: “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” 3

So it’s not that we should NOT judge at all, but that we need to judge rightly. And we are back to the original question: How does anyone know what is right or wrong? How do we know whether we are judging rightly or not? Just as for Tevye, “tradition”1 isn’t the answer, but neither is “progressiveness.”

The Answer is waiting with open arms to embrace us. He (though unseen) is staring us in the face: the One God of all the myriad gods, who came, not to lord it over us, but to serve and die for us, because we alone are not enough. With Him is the full truth, the light, the way.

What is right is this simple: honestly turn to and obey Jesus.

________________________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. “Fiddler on the Roof,” The Mirisch Production Company, VHS, 1971
  2. John 7:24, King James Version of the Bible
  3. New International Version of the Bible

Which Eyes See?

eye

Each day brings new challenges, new opportunities, new vistas… What am I seeing today as I journey down the river of life? I am seeing that, which eyes I see with, is important.

When I am grateful, I see what God is doing in us all of us despite ourselves.

When I am thinking only about what pleases me, I am never content, and everything and everyone displeases me.

After spending time in God’s Word and in prayer, I love people more, I see the big picture and what’s really important more clearly.

When I am dwelling on my problems I can hardly get myself to do the necessary things of life.

After reading or hearing the “news” I have mixed feelings. I feel frustrated and angry when it’s just me…

…When I remember we are talking about individuals God loves, my main feelings are sadness that so many people in our nation and in Europe have turned away from the only One who truly loves them to trust in themselves and their own human understanding. Christians among these (me too sometimes). I also experience wonder and bewilderment that God allows even “them” (whoever “they” are at the time) to practice their free will (unjustly); followed by gladness that God is absolutely dedicated to allowing each of us, individually, time and space (freedom) to “see”–if  we will—and to choose whether we will love Him and His good, just ways or not; followed by relief and gratitude that He hasn’t judged me immediately for my own sins and mistakes and shortcomings (unjustness).

When I’m heedless of anything but my own comfort, and things are going along pretty well, there is no problem I can’t solve–until things quickly dissolve.

When things aren’t going so well, I quickly remember and find true, there is no problem GOD can’t solve.

When sometimes, even the smallest thing goes wrong, and I dwell on it and dwell on it, it grows and grows until EVERYTHING seems impossible.

After I put my eyes back on the fact that God is all-seeing, past, present, and future and all-powerful and stop relying on my own understanding (what I think of my own abilities, of a situation, or of someone else, etc…) and sincerely turn it all over to Him for His help and guidance, immediately whatever was upside-down begins to be righted—even in the midst of horrible circumstances.

When I am tempted beyond my control and I give in, I feel worse about myself, no matter my justification.

When I am tempted beyond my control and I choose to love God (and others) more than (whatever it is) and whole-heartedly turn it, including my desire, over to God, He gives deliverance.

When I am trying to make my plans and to have more control of my life, I get frustrated and it doesn’t end until I stop.

When I submit to whatever it is God has already given me, in other words: what I know by His Word and Spirit and the conscience He has given me to be right, and try to love and be kind to those already in my life, and do well the tasks already at hand, and help others in their present need wherever I can, I feel content in God’s pleasure, and life is well worth living.

Sometimes escaping, one way or another, works for a while—but only for that while—then come the consequences. They always come, and sometimes they aren’t really worth the price paid.

So what am I seeing as I travel this river called life? What do I see more and more clearly as I journey? Not just in the above instances, but in all situations? There are no REAL substitutes. Life goes better, the journey is even joyful, not with Coca-Cola, but with God—The One whose Spirit presence is with us through Jesus.

Hide and Seek

Child looking to Jesus

At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do'” (Matt. 11:25).

Lord, thank You for Your Holy Spirit,

Who brings You to us through Jesus;

Who testifies of Jesus, of Truth, of You;

Who leads us to know and understand you more;

Who leads us toward righteousness–toward You.

Do not let Your people be deceived

by those who rely on human understanding,

who seek their own renown;

who believe and elevate themselves

instead of You, instead of Truth, instead of Jesus!!!

Let all be encouraged–or warned,

we, each one, will find what we seek!

Blessed are You, LORD,

for how You reveal Yourself,

even to children and the simple,

Yet You are hidden

from those who elevate themselves

and their own understanding

instead of seeking You!

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-10).

 

Poor?

two year oldAs each of our children came along, we watched them each go through the different stages of development. One of the stages, which they hit at about 2 years of age, we called the “Me do!” stage. They wanted to do everything themselves, even if they weren’t able to yet. They also did a lot of repetitive and sometime annoying things at this stage; we figured they did some of these things just because they could, because there seemed no other good or observable reason.

In this way and many others our children with their stages and quirks made us wonder about ourselves as children of God and what He has to put up with from us. We realized that we all pretty much just start the “Me do!” thing at age two. As we get older, though we don’t seek to get our way in the same manner that a two-year-old does, we too often are still just as willful—sometimes even more so.

This is one of the things that makes it hard for people to become Christians, and that makes it hard to follow God once we are a Christians. We are used to seeking and finding how to get our own way. Then along comes Jesus!

Often because we’ve heard of something repeatedly or are completely familiar with its existence, we think we also know all about it.

Everyone who is a Christian has heard of the Sermon on the Mount. Though we have heard of it, has it ever made any difference in our lives? Or helped us to deal with the very real challenges of life? Or are we going on our merry—or sometimes not so merry—but still ever willful way?

The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most powerful sermons ever preached. Only because the One who was teaching was Emmanuel, “God with us” in HUMAN form. But with power! –And wisdom– And eternal perspective…

We know with our intellects that God is the answer to every question and in every circumstance, but how does this spiritual reality translate to help us in this visceral world we are also a part of?

We are continuing on our merry way, then (by the grace of God) life happens, we find ourselves adrift on the ocean. Suddenly we are seeing things in a whole different light. We are in new terrain—often scary terrain: terminal illness, life-changing accidents, loss of income, the devastation of war or terrorism, our own or others hurtful choices, and on and on.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3 NIV). If you look up the word ‘poor,’ its meaning goes beyond not having what everyone else has, or continually struggling to get by day to day. This word as it was meant signified abject poverty, or being in a position of total reliance on someone else for one’s bare survival.

What did Jesus mean by poor? Do we think he meant those without money? (see Isaiah 51:1). Who is poor? Compared to God, all of us are wretched! What did Jesus mean by poor in SPIRIT? Do we acknowledge our poverty before God and our dependence on Him and what Jesus did for us? Is our attitude one of letting God be God, or are we still in the “Me do!” mode, trying to be our own God or someone else’s? How REAL do the words of Jesus get for us? Is it “Thy will be done”? or “Me do!”?

Technology!

Codex GigasThe codex was possibly as much of an advancement of the written word in its time, as the printing press was later during the Middle ages. What is a codex? The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition), definition is as follows: “A codex (from the Latin caudex for “trunk of a tree” or block of wood, book; plural codices) is a book constructed of a number of sheets of paper, vellum, papyrus, or similar materials, with hand-written content.”

Today I am posting two videos by Princeton’s Anthony Grafton. In one He describes the phenomena at the root of books and book making–the transition from scrolls to codices. In the other video he discusses the development of book printing.

I hope these videos will help you see the “old” or what is past, with new eyes and help you learn somethings you didn’t already know about the technology behind books.

First, before watching the videos, did you know that the codex was the first form of what we now call a book? Before the codex, scrolls and wax tablets were the media used for recording or keeping written information–before that, stone tablets. Scrolls, not to mention stone tablets, were bulky, heavy, and could not hold nearly as much information as a codex could. Wax tablets were not for keeping information long-term.

 The invention and use of the codex revolutionized the ability to share, transfer, and store knowledge and information.  Besides the invention and use of paper and the invention of the printing press, the codex was probably the most important technological advancement in the development of written media.
In codex form, both sides of the paper, parchment, papyrus, vellum, etc.., could be used for writing. Written material could be much more easily referenced and found. Professor Grafton notes other advantages in the video below as well.

“Published on Sep 5, 2013. Great moments in media history! Princeton University’s Anthony Grafton on the shift from the scroll to the modern codex back in the 2nd to 4th century – in INT’s ENLIGHTENMENT MINUTES. The origins of modern communication (before YouTube!)!” (found on YouTube).
The printing press changed the world in a major way. We cannot know the full extent of the impact of this invention. Anthony Graft shares some interesting facts about some of the initial challenges publishing entailed. He also challenges the advances that have been made in regard to the web, asserting that in no way do they reflect the full potential of that media.

 “Published on Sep 8, 2013. A history timeline for major changes in media – Anthony Grafton in INT’s ENLIGHTENMENT MINUTES. Princeton University professor Tony Grafton explores the history of major changes in media and communication – and parallels in history to our own video age” (found on YouTube).

What will be the next invention or use that will bring the written word forward in ways equal in its time to the codex and the printing press? Is the web such an invention? Do you agree with Professor Grafton that “We are very far from having leaped to a point where design on the world wide web…really exploits the possibilities of the new medium and shows us more of the things that it can do”? (taken from the first video above).

I agree with Professor Grafton. Beside and beyond that, I believe the possibilities are endless.

Easy Basics

Easy BasicsWhen my husband Bruce and I first got married neither one of us knew how to cook – nor bake. Some friends gave us Sunset’s “Easy Basics” cookbook as a wedding gift. It was one of the most helpful and appropriate gifts we received; it has been well used and loved. Once a week or so, we would choose a recipe to make together. The recipes from the “Easy Basics” book always turned out well and tasted great. We came to count on this book for fairly easy yet always good recipes. Some of our family’s enduring favorites have come from it and are still part of our family traditions and so are connected with some of our fondest memories.

The Apple Pie Bruce still makes from this book has become a staple in our home for Thanksgiving and sometimes is still requested for birthdays or other events. Another winner, which will by itself draw our children back home for a visit, is the Lasagne Belmonte; Bruce just has to threaten to make it, and “they will come” (he still actually follows the recipe—something I have wandered away from faithfully doing over the years). The waffle recipe is another that is often requested for birthdays or family gatherings when breakfast is involved.

Related to “Easy Basics,” Bruce and I have been asked by different people during our 31 ½ years of marriage what our “recipe” has been for staying together as a couple. We could say the above recipe book helped, and for sure, it would be part of the many ingredients which have worked together to hold us together, but I don’t think that’s what people are asking.

What are our “basics” for a marriage that lasts? What are the reliable fundamentals that have given us good results?

Before I tell you, I will warn you, what has helped us are truly “Easy Basics.’” Sometimes, for some reason, we want more complicated or sophisticated answers or solutions to our problems or for our life situations. But complicated is how things get when we don’t follow the “easy basics.” And in reality, seeking complicated or sophisticated answers is one of many ways of avoiding responsibility.

Here are our “easy basics”:

First is a total commitment to God – which means getting to know Him better through Jesus, not loving anything or anyone more than Him, seeking to follow Him in wholehearted trust demonstrated by faithful (sometimes inconvenient) obedience to His Word through His loving and Holy Spirit. This is the one solid foundation upon which all other relationships can be built, and the foundation, when lacking, which will result in one relational disaster after another.

The second “easy basic” is commitment to the relationships and life that God has given or allowed us to have. It is intentionality in seeking to know and apply God’s Word in our daily relationships and activities (through prayer!). It is not giving up on each other when each is undeserving—which we always are. It is tough love—learning and holding ourselves and one another to the responsibilities which our lives entail as given by God, not generally according our own or other’s expectations—but according to God, as revealed in His Word, Jesus, and in the book that testifies of Him, the Bible. It is encouraging one other to magnify (or live out) the gifts God has given each of us individually for the benefit of human kind. It is pulling together to learn more of God and His ways and then practicing what we learn as we go along, together. In other words, it is being committed to helping each other do the first thing.

About these “easy basics,” Jesus summed it up when He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

Restless

StormySea

When I saw the announcement for this lecture and the topic, I wanted to go. I was curious and decided that’s where I wanted to get this week’s chapel credits. This afternoon I attended the lecture by Colin Noble, a chaplain from Australia. The title of his speech was “Resting for God.”

It was a thoughtful, challenging lecture. I think my favorite part was near the beginning when Chaplain Noble demonstrated in a very simple yet profound manner, the “rest” he afterward also explained. He did this by asking us to stop, stop taking notes or doing whatever else we were doing. When he had our full attention, in that moment, without announcement, he broke into a short but very real prayer, thanking God for His presence with us and His provision.

We stopped and acknowledge God’s presence and provision.

Just another word, another lecture, another thing to forget? When else will we ever have time to do this? Our intentions are good, but we never have time.

We choose to be restless.

A whole day of rest once a week? Why not? So many reasons!
We have it all figured out. We have our plans.
You know, it is legalistic to set aside a day of rest.
We will lose gains in money, in time in our own efforts.
When else will we do all the things we need to do? How else will we make it?
Why should we do this? It is not needed for our salvation!

We are restless.

Why don’t we accept the gift of double manna from heaven?
We are just like the ancient Israelites.
Can others tell we believe in God’s presence and provision by how we live our lives? Do we believe in God’s presence and provision? Are we able to practice rest in God every day?
This isn’t a religious observance issue; it is a heart issue.

We don’t believe God. We are restless.

Don’t be restless. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).

Note: If you want to know which of the things above the speaker actually said, and which are my own thoughts and observations, you will have to buy Colin Noble’s book, “Resting for God,” a sequel to “Working for God,” when it comes out.