Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ocean > Pond.

I’m a Kansas-girl. I used to look out across land that is so flat you can practically see tomorrow coming. Mountains, obviously, were a big deal to me, the first time I encountered them. I remember when we first came over to New Zealand to tour the country and look for a place to settle down, going through areas like the Gorge, or even just Hibiscus Coast, where the roads are all over the place, going up and down hills and suddenly curving in a way that makes you wonder if the people who designed the road were just a little bit drunk at the time! Not to mention the altitude change! It was a big shock for a five-year-old.

The change in landscape wasn’t just limited to land itself. Growing up for the first five years of my life in a state in the middle of a very big country, I had never actually seen an ocean. Near the house I grew up in, we had a massive pond. It wasn’t a little perfect circle of water with a couple of goldfish in it. This thing divided our land from our neighbors’ in a couple of cases. My dad and uncle went fishing in it, and we have pictures of me holding up their catch of fish almost as tall as I was. I really want to make a point that this body of water wasn’t small, especially to tiny little me. At the time, I couldn’t imagine any bigger container of water. My experience was limited to my little inflatable paddling pool, the public pool by one of my friend’s house and this BIG pond.

So imagine the look on my face when we arrived in New Zealand, an island completely surrounded by not one, but TWO oceans! Standing on the beach, I was looking over the most water I had ever seen in my life. On the plane ride over, I had looked out the window and seen a vast amount of blue. Mom probably told me it was the ocean, but I had no comprehension about what that meant. To me, from so high above, it was simply a blue version of Kansas - flat and unmoving. But the ocean from the beach? That is a completely different story! Looking out to Rangitoto, a little volcano completely encircled by deep, vast water, my mind was blown.

Now, at the time, I probably didn’t show how impressed I was. In fact, to hide it, I would just continue my bratty ways, which is how Mom would certainly remember the experience. However, I would like to suggest that I have grown up since then. I would like to go public with this revelation: the ocean is WAY bigger than I could have imagined it! If we were to go out into space and look at Earth from an outsider’s perspective, I could point out Kansas to you. With a telescope and some effort I could point out the area that I lived in. But I admit it, I would have trouble finding that pond without a pretty high-powered telescope. To the opposite effect, I would also have trouble showing you all of the oceans at the same time. The pond that, in my experience was so massive, can’t even begin to compare with the ocean. Regina Spektor sings,
“Blue, the most human color,
Blue lips, blue veins,
Blue, the color of our planet from far, far away.”

The beach is now a place of refuge for me. I love the sound of the waves and their consistent crashing, even on a bad-tempered day. I like looking out and not being able to see where the water stops and the sky begins. More often than not, this scene always directs my attention to love. I want to avoid cheesy-ness in this part, so let the reader understand.

I would like to suggest that our experience of love is more limited than we think we know. We know love, even big love. Parents, best friends, lovers; depending on your life situation, but we all have people in our lives that have, at one point or on-going, showed us big love. It’s undeniable, it’s there. It’s big. Well, about as big as I thought that pond was before I met the ocean. Yeah, at the time, it was massive! And it’s still there, it still divides properties, it still has decent sized fish in it. But when I had an experience of the Love of G-d, my judgement of love had to evolve. The only difference between what I knew was big then, and what I know is big now is experience.

Listen carefully, I am not patronizing the love between parents and children, spouses or any other kind of relationship. However, in the same way that I cannot consider that pond to hold a candle to the massiveness of the water that covers 71% of our planet, we cannot consider that human love and G-d’s love are in the same weight class. Again, the difference is in experience. If you haven’t experienced G-d’s love, it will probably be a little difficult for you to understand what I’m getting at, so all I can encourage you to do is search. He isn’t hard to find, and He is quick to love. In a MASSIVE way!

Also, this hymn (and blog) is great: Enjoy!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Small thought..

I feel like I don’t talk about Jesus enough anymore.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Blogging is a sort of study... sort of...

I have tried studying today. It’s not really something that comes very naturally to me. I’d much rather bake peppernuts, and talk about Thanksgiving and rationalize that there is far too much pounding from the deck building happening directly outside my room for me to concentrate. Apparently that is not completely true, no matter how much I want to believe it.

So I sat down and started reading through one of my history-help books. I got stuck on the third page when it was talking about Elizabeth’s reign. Many historians consider her reign from 1558-1603 to be characterized by her lack of decisions, rather than strong, confident leadership in the bad situations she encountered. On the surface, I would have to agree that it certainly looks that way. For Pete’s sake, Mary of Scots was a prisoner in her England for eighteen years. It was a tough situation, but it seems like Elizabeth’s answer was to simply not do anything - not return Mary to her throne, not kill her, not bring her to court, not marry her off. However, I can’t help but think that some of this indecision led to an end solution.

I especially have this notion with her decision not to marry or name an heir. Not knowing what to do, as it was an increasingly hard decision to make, Eliz. simply decided not to do anything. If she was unsure, she didn’t move forward. As a result, when a solution was demanded of her, she turned her seeming indecision into a confident, non-negotiable decision. When Parliament demanded that she chose I husband, she declared that she had — that she was married to England, as the Virgin Queen. She commissioned paintings to be done of her that reflected her in this supreme way.

However, her rule was not completely done this way. The decisions that had to be made that were less personal to her (in the way that they might not DIRECTLY influence her in the way that marriage or murder of a Queen would) where always made with great confidence. There were very astute laws that she passed, such as the Poor Laws of 1601 and at the very beginning of her reign she drew up a Religious Settlement that defines England even until today.

In looking at this history, I am finding a lot of myself. At the moment, we are selling our house in preparation for my parents moving down to Tauranga. I am currently actively looking for a job and a place to live, as I really want to stay in Auckland. However, if I can’t find the resources to stay, I will have to go down South with my ‘rents. I am giving it a lot of thought and some prayer. This is a big decision for me, one that will define the next part of my life. The answer is important. My indecision may lead to a decision I don’t want to make. I can’t help but wonder if this is how Elizabeth felt too.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Righteousness and Social Justice.

This is part of an email I was sent tonight. Because I’ve been so busy lately, I haven’t had much mental space for blogging, but I did think this was worth posting:

Righteousness and Social Justice
One of the main themes of the Bible is righteousness. One dimension of righteousness is that we repent of our sins and do what is right. A parallel dimension of righteousness is that we are cleansed of guilt by the atoning blood of Yeshua (Jesus).
These two “halves” of righteousness can be seen in Abel, who was the first “righteous” man. He was righteous because of the blood sacrifices that he brought before God.

Hebrews 11:4 – By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts.
He was also righteous because of his good deeds.

I John 3:7, 12 – Let no one deceive you. He who does righteousness is righteous.
Cain was of the evil one and murdered his brother. Why did he murder his brother? Because his deeds were evil and his brother’s deeds were righteous.
We need to see both sides of righteousness. Believing in blood atonement without a demand for repentance and right actions is deception; attempting to do good deeds without the intervening grace of God is vain.

Righteousness also comes in a third dimension: social justice. Social justice is extremely important in the Bible, and is often ignored by modern preachers. Social justice is determined primarily by judges in the courts. The foundational rule of social justice is very simple: convict the wrongdoers and acquit the innocent.

Deuteronomy 25:1 – Approach the court that the judges will judge them. They will justify the righteous and condemn the wicked.

If the biblical principle of justice is so simple – convict the wrongdoers and acquit the innocent, so is the biblical principle of injustice simple as well: convict the innocent and acquit the wrongdoers.

Proverbs 17:15 – He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteous, both of them are an abomination of the Lord.

Moral justice is a foundation of the kingdom of God. David was chosen by God to be king, not only for his faith and psalm-writing, but for his righteousness in running the government.

II Samuel 8:15 – David ruled over all Israel and David did justice and righteousness for all his people.

The mistake can be made on either side. We can be too “light” on criminals, or we can be “condemning” of those who have not done wrong.

In Israel today, five major government leaders are under criminal charges: Former Prime Minister Olmert is being indicted; current foreign minister Liberman is under investigation; former president Katsav has been charged with sexual abuse; two cabinet members, Benizri and Hirshzorn, went to prison this week.

Some would say that the federal prosecutors are “head hunting,” trumping up charges to attack these leaders for political reasons. Others would say that corruption is finally being purged out of the government. In either case, a new “fear” of being caught for corruption is certainly spreading throughout the Israeli political system.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Igniter Media.

Subscribe. They’ve got some really good stuff from both the comedy side and the serious.

Here’s a serious one:

I think when we watch this video and also watch what’s happening to the world around us, it’s important to ask the question: “Who is this G-d that I serve?” There’s no denying that He’s real or that He’s in control. It’s not about how WE PERCEIVE G-d, it’s all about WHO HE REALLY IS.

Just a thought.

Friday, February 6, 2009


After a discussion about righteousness on Thursday, I felt the need to go look up the word to make sure I knew what I was talking about (actually a really good idea!).

Wikipedia was the first on the google search, and it came up with some interesting facts about the word. I learnt a few things, such as how righteousness is important to not only Christianity, but also to Judaism and Islam. “It is an attribute that implies that a person's actions are justified, and can have the connotation that the person has been "judged" or "reckoned" as leading a life that is pleasing to God.” I find it interesting that another god demands righteous living.

Also, there was a man called William Tyndale who came up with the word righteous from a previous, silly looking word that would take me forever to learn how to pronounce. In modern language it would mean something like, “rightwise” or “rightways”. I later looked up Tyndale on Wiki and he is pretty interesting himself. He came up with many “christianese” words and phrases such as: Jehovah (yes, I thought this was a Jewish word, but apparently not. Don’t tell the JWs...), atonement, scapegoat, passover, “let there be light”, “the powers that be”, “the salt of the earth” and my personal favorite; “the signs of the times” ( I have a thing for phrases that rhyme..) among others. In fact, check out his Wiki page:

Anyways, as I was reading along, this line really hit me. “In the Book of Job the title character is introduced to us as a person who is "perfect" in righteousness. This does not mean that he is sinless."Perfect" in this sense means that his righteousness permeates every relationship of his life as his working principle.” For some reason, this brings the word a little closer to earth, a little easier to attain. So what does it mean to let righteousness permeate every relationship?

According to some concordance that Wiki found, it means “’tzedek’ —righteous, integrity, equity, justice, straightness. The root of tseh'-dek is tsaw-dak', —upright, just, straight, innocent, true, sincere. It is best understood as the product of upright, moral action in accordance with some form of divine plan.” Notice that this is what G-d was trying to achieve out of His people when he gave His Law. How can we separate the Old Testament laws with the New Testament’s teachings? It’s all trying to attain the same thing: Righteous living. Imagine if everyone lived this way!

So, basically, taking all that upright, innocent, true and sincere living, focusing and purposing it towards being just and full of integrity while going after the heart of G-d and following His plan and ta-da! Righteousness.

Easier said than done.

So how did Job do it? I don’t know. So I’m gonna go through Job and look for it and get back to you, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have the magical formula written in chapter something, verse whatever.

From another, just as important perspective, G-d is talked about as being righteous. (Nehemiah 9:8b “And you have fulfilled Your promise, for You are righteous.”) There is no way that we can call Him our saviour without Him being righteous. There’s no way we could trust Him to be a holy G-d if He wasn’t righteous.

He stands for justice - He is our Judge - He must be righteous.
He was punished even though he was innocent - They couldn’t find fault with Him (Mark 14:55) - He must be righteous.
He was filled with purpose and was following a Divine Plan - He must be righteous.
He is sincere in His love for people - He came to redeem sinners - He must be righteous.

I don’t know. There is so much more to say and discover and go through, but this blog will get insanely long if I keep going. Keep the interest up by googling “Righteousness” yourself! It shows many verses and perspectives. Wiki, as usual, has probably the best grip on explanations; Job is my next stop.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Q: What is your favorite Bible verse about worship and why?

As I started to think about that question that I will have to answer in front of people (gulp) in about 7 hours (double gulp), my first thought was the verse in Revelation 4:8 which says:

"And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, 'HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND IS AND WHO IS TO COME.'"

No jokes, that last part, in my Bible at least, is all in cap lock. Perhaps because it is important and therefore, needs to stand out a little more. Or perhaps, and this is just an idea of mine, these creatures are so big and so incredible that what they say can only be written in larger letters because their voices are booming across the heavens, and to make it smaller wouldn't accurately portray what is happening. Maybe both reasons are relevant.

But the part of this verse that has always stood out to me concentrates on the part that goes: "and day and night they do not cease to say..." They do not cease. As in, never ever forever. That means right now, while you're reading this on the computer, when you're on the bus going to that place you don't like, at 3am when you're asleep ((...well, when you probably should be asleep...)). When you're buying that cheeseburger for that homeless guy or when you're looking at stuff on the internet that you know you shouldn't. Before the throne of G-D, four weird and amazing creatures who can only be describe in similes that compare them with animals, with eyes that see everything around them and inside them are BOOMING; "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME."

Reading or hearing this can only make me think about the eternity that we're currently living in. And how G-d can see all of it spanning out, though it has no end, and no beginning for Him who created us. Actually, in all honesty, even that's too much for me to think about in detail. On a smaller scale I like to think about how there are always people praying, every minute across planet Earth. Because I know there are houses designed for 24/7 prayer in certain places (( for more info)) I can be assured of this. Besides that, it is always daytime at some place on the planet, meaning the chances are higher for someone, somewhere to be praying, even while I'm sleeping. That thought alone is incredibly encouraging!! But then, when we read this verse in Revelation, and others like it that allude to the same thought, not only is there always someone communing with G-d somewhere on Earth, but there are creatures in Heaven who are also going at it with all their strange beings. There's the connection, "on Earth as it is in Heaven."

This piece of scripture speaks to me about worship because I believe that G-d is worthy of worship at all times, by everything. The most awesome worship is when everyone and everything is united and focused.