Senses Alike

I like the smell of a shotgun shell
Right after it is fired
I like the feel of bedsheet’s peel
When I am feeling tired
I like the sight of warm sunlight
When I am feeling worried
I like the sound of watered ground
When feet run fast and hurried.
I like the taste of tomato paste
When on the cheese-stuffed crust
I like the song that rights all wrong
When I just wait in trust
I like the knowing of all that’s growing
When I look with peering mind
I like the being of all that’s freeing
When I choose to be kind.

And a musical staff for an epitaph
When my opus must be signed.

The Idea Cycle ~ The Rock Cycle

This one hasn’t had much time on the inside, so it may be colder than other epiphanies.

My beautiful wife is in school, in a geological science class, and I sat with her as she read her textbook and came to understand something about our planet, which for me naturally led to revelation of how we are like the earth.

I have a great fondness of ideas. They are my joy. I got the blessing to paraphrase what my assistant Head of School was saying today about Christian Education Curriculum. He was saying how if we cannot find what we’re looking for out there, then we will have to create our own, and I worded it this way, “When we can’t adopt, we give birth.” While a curious reversal of the common order of child-bearing, I have found this generally true of me. I rarely find I can adopt ideas being dissatisfied so often with how they are organized, so I am often forced to give birth to new ones.

But new Ideas are merely old ideas remixed. In the same way, rocks. I was studying Exploring Earth Science by Reynolds and Johnson, and the Rock Cycle shows how rocks are formed on earth. According to Reynolds and Johnson these steps can happen in any order, but this order is the best at demonstrating them in action.

  • The first step of the Rock Cycle is weathering, where rocks are broken down by natural forces.
  • Second, Transportation, where rocks are transported across great distances
  • Third, Deposition, where the rocks minerals and nutrients settle on the ground and cease to move.
  • Fourth. Burial and Lithification– The process by which Rocks are covered up and become layers of rock.
  • Fifth, Deformation/Metamorphism, where the rocks are changed by extreme pressure and heat into different compositions.
  • Sixth, is melting where the rocks are scattered in the intense heat of magma and broken down to their simplest elements.
  • Seventh is solidification, where melted rocks cool and solidify beneath the surface.
  • Eighth is uplift where Rocks are lifted by volcanic forces to the surface.

When I read them, these eight steps made perfect, delightful sense to me as a bit of an idealist. I deal in ideas. And these eight steps make for a very helpful way of understanding how ideas are formed and take new shape anytime they come back into the world again. We ourselves are geologically like  idea-factories.

I will begin the metaphorical “Idea Cycle” with what Reynolds and Johnson classified as the eighth step in the cycle. Ideas can start at any point of this cycle and may skip steps.

  1. Inspiration (Uplift) Where ideas are born anew from deep within us, and are raw and full of life-altering force.
  2. Talking (Weathering) where ideas are expressed thoughtfully and dialogued about. They are hashed out, broken down, smattered and shattered in this phase of ideas, but it is very important when it comes to shaping ideas.
  3. Writing (Transportation) This allows ideas to be communicated over a wide distance and left to sit on their own once they have reached the reader.
  4. Reading (Deposition) Where ideas come to rest before the eyes of a reader as he or she takes the idea into their consciousness.
  5. Understanding (Burial/Lithification) This is where the idea becomes comprehended and a part of a person’s mental internal dialogue.
  6. Deconstruction (Deformation/Metamorphosis) When ideas are comprehended, they then are to be broken apart and figured out how they all work. What makes this idea tick?
  7. Emotion (Melting) This is where ideas take their most melted and scattered fiery passionate form.
  8. Values (Solidification) The idea has been fused into the bedrock of your person and you are become a person with deeply held values, and are then ready for them to inspire your every action, deed, thought, and intention.
  9. Inspiration again arises, from (according to this cycle) our values.

There is much I learn about this cycle even as I write it. For one, ideas are not set in stone. (Shameless pun.) Even if they were, stone weathers, transports, deposits, lithifies, deconstructs, melts, solidifies, and uplifts again. Notice, two, that ideas have life internal to the person and external to the person, just like rocks to the earth. The external life comes about in talking, writing, and reading. The internal life an idea is deconstructing, emoting, and valuing. The bridge between these two lives of ideas are inspiration and understanding. Inspiration is the idea trying to get out. Understanding is the idea settling in.

If you too deal in ideas, learn from these steps in the cycle. If you are not feeling much inspiration, perhaps you need to move between different steps of the cycle. Perhaps you need to feel something you’ve deconstructed, or express what you value, or write down what you have only talked about, or deconstruct what you understand.

And let Rocks have their humbleness communicated to you. We see rocks on the surface, but they have been through a lot. Your ideas may also have plenty of interaction on the surface, but they have been through a lot of personal digestion. And the ideas of other people belong right alongside yours because ideas do NOT last forever without being settled, understood, broken down, felt, valued. “The making of books is endless.” Solomon said so in Ecclesiastes. Some books need to be out of print because the ideas have already been recycled. The key is to let your ideas burn with the fire of the soul which birthed them, and live in the humility that Christ lived with when he walked among us as a fellow human being.

Thoughts and discussion welcome. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[No] One

[No] One

The problem isn’t God’s willingness to teach
It’s our willingness to learn.
No one wants a course in suffering.
No one wants a diet of hunger.
No one wants a hard road of obedience.
No one wants the hill of difficulty
No one wants the splintery cross on their back
Only to be suffocated when you have carried it long enough.

No one wants to learn humility or compassion
The fear of the Lord or the depravity of his own soul.
No one would be utterly dependent on God
Knowing that God is not subject to our fleshly wants.
No one wants to give up everything to have nothing but God.
No one wants to leave behind their job,
Their home, their family, their hobbies,
Their possessions, their favorite things,
So that all they have is a heart to know God alone.

No one wants to pay the price to know God.
No one wants to forgo opportunity for the necessity of waiting.
No one wants to cease from their work
Until God Himself arises to work through them.

How endless, yet how tireless His search
For just one with a heart to know him!
The one to whom the Son wishes to show Him.

Mark the man of mean estate
Who holds for sin that powerful hate
And bears the scars of loss and shame
So not in vain He can bear His name.

For such a price, God can be known,
For such a cost, Christ’s pain is shown.
And only to the fire-purged heart
Will God His glorious life impart.

Humility and Pride

I would like to introduce a way of thinking about the human composition. I understand that to discuss humanity is a grand subject unworthy of such oversimplification, but I hope you will forgive the philosophical implications of this picture. I’d like to view the soul, the heart, the mind, and the body at four levels. The deepest level is the soul and that is the essence of who we are, where the spirit lives and moves in and out. The second level up is the heart, where it is deeper than thoughts, though the thoughts can try to express it, it is the place where all stored information from the mind resides sub-consciously and cultivates emotion and mood and temper. The next level up is the mind, where thoughts are understood in a conscious sense, information is taken in and formed together into the simplest and most complex interpretations, often in an environment created by the heart, which assumes it’s stance of being at the soul and spiritual level. The Top level is the surface where the body is, where our mouths intake food and output words. Where our mouths breathe, and where our hearts pump life, and where our minds control us consciously and unconsciously to act. So there you have this pattern: four levels. Topmost is body, second is mind, third is heart, and fourth is soul.

Two other features of this pattern, I give you: The Spirit moves through all of them. The spirit moves through the body as energy to act, it moves through the mind as inspiration, it moves through the heart as emotion, it moves through the soul as the life principle that animates the whole  being. The Will is also something that moves and, if you will directs, the spirit where it decides to go. It is an elevator that reaches down to the level of the soul. It reflects the state of being just as it also reflects the state of the heart, and of the mind, and is visible in the human body.

These attributes, these building blocks can be seen as making up the human person. Now, I’m sure we can all think of other attributes that could be added to this basic 6 part composition, but I want to make a point about pride and humility.

C.S. Lewis is quoted to believe that the fundamental sin at the root of all other sins is Pride. I was in Starbucks talking with my wife and the man who was best man at my wedding, and he said, “I’ve always wanted to understand that emotion better.” “Pride? An emotion?” I said to him. I understood that pride is a matter of the heart, but it goes deeper than the heart in this word picture above us. Sometimes it’s frustrating when different cultures put the seat of the emotions at different places. In English it’s in the chest, in Hebrew it’s in your intestines, where will you put it next?

The point that my friend was bringing up, and I think it’s a valid one, is that pride is something deeper than the thought, and I agree with him. He and I are likely descended from the kings of Ireland and Scotland respectively, which doesn’t seem to matter to me all that much, since we are all descendant from the first King, Adam, but anyhow. Pride is a fundamental problem of sin. And even if you’re a King, or a knave, a prince or a pauper, a scoundrel or a scholar, you still can let pride rule your heart, because it is seated deeper than your emotions.

That’s exactly the point I want to make here. Pride is central. You can Stand haughtily like you’re high and mighty, that doesn’t make you proud. You can think grandiose thoughts of yourself that doesn’t make you proud. You can feel about yourself a sense of self-sufficiency in appreciation or deprecation of yourself, that doesn’t make you proud. All of those are symptoms of your pride. Your pride is at the level of your soul. It’s the impulse we have to crawl off the altar upon which we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. It’s the living principle of self-serving that naturally refuses the submission of the will to God. Pride is more formidable than any other state of being except one. Pride is more sturdy than confidence, more insistent than anger, more devious than mistrust. It twists the noble sword of truth into a dagger of division. It kindles a flame on the tongue that ignites the course of our lives according to our own being, rather than based on God’s own being. The Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life. These three, but the deepest of these is Pride. Lust of the flesh and lust of eyes are like two greedy hands feeding this impudent self-destroyer at the core of each of our very beings.

Pride is the opposite of humility, but even if humility is not grasped at the deepest level, pride can swing humility by the tail. Humility is pride’s sack-cloth it wears whenever it feels the need of ingratiating that part of all human beings where God intended for us to reserve our devotion and fealty to Him. Pride needs only an inch, and he can live in out-right rebellion against God. All Satan, the Proud One, needs in us, is the tiniest ledge—the smallest shadow he can hide in, and he will succeed in marring the glorious image of a holy God stamped on each one of us.

As I sat there with my friend talking about how Pride can be beaten. I wrote down this phrase on my phone when I went to use the bathroom: “Perhaps the will is the only vehicle that can deliver the nuclear blow of humility to the deeply subconscious and central issue of pride.” If the Will is like the Spirit and it can be like an elevator to all four levels of a person’s being (assuming again, my word picture is a good one) Can Humility be a choice of the Will?

Well let’s think for a moment. The Will is like the steering wheel for our whole life. If we don’t have much strength of will, it simply means we do not have much grip on the steering wheel, but we each and all have one. The Will is the place of decision. The Will Moves with resolve in action, in mental affirmation, in heart solemnization and soul “becoming.” The Will can deliver true humility to that deepest level.

Now, some of you, who I’m sure have already thought this out, may say to me, “Ah ha . . . but if you by your own will choose humility at the level of your soul, aren’t you able to take pride in that?” Well, I suppose so, if that’s what you were deciding. It’s not a serpent eating it’s tale though. It’s not a never ending cycle. All the soul needs is to choose to love God. How do I know?

Because in Numbers chapter 21, the people were complaining out of pride, so God sent serpents among them. By the way, He says in Deuteronomy that this whole time He has them in the wilderness is to test what is in their hearts. Deuteronomy 8:2, says, “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” So what is he doing here in Numbers 21? He sends the serpents among them to test them, to humble them, to see if they had a heart to keep His commandments. And what was the test? All they had to do was look at the serpent that was lifted up. That’s all they had to do. “Look!” Look! It is perhaps the most profound and simple movement of the body, but that’s not what saves a person. It is perhaps the most passive thing a mind can do to take in the information of a snake on the pole, but that’s not what saves a person. It’s perhaps the slightest nudge inside a person’s emotions against the organ of their acceptance, but that is not what saves a person. What saves a person, is the disposition, the humility to seek to see their salvation from the same hand of the one who afflicted them for example. It is the humility to seek salvation in God, not claim it for yourself. Humility gives it’s life at every level. Pride keeps back some part of it for himself.

To write about Pride is to do it an injustice. It doesn’t deserve this much attention, but because he has already done so much damage, I don’t need to convince you that it exists. You may need some convincing that it is in you. I know I did. I have a healthy does of the most unhealthy disease every man suffers from.

So how do we choose humility? What hope can we take that Pride is not incurable? Fear God is the beginning of wisdom. Fear God is to depart from Evil. Fear God keeps us from evil. Fear God is man’s all. Fear God is the antidote for pride. At least it abates it for a time, the way light abates a shadow. But should that flame ever flicker and die down, the shadows of pride will enshroud the soul evermore until the day when the Devil and all his works are totally and completely cast down. Fear God is the beginning.

This is an attitude of the Will, to transfer this Fear of God to all levels of our humanity. At the surface it is seen in obedience to God, and physical posture of submission before Him, and words which reverence Him. Fear God at the level of the mind is occupying every thought with him, seeking him and knowing Him. At the heart level, it is loving Him, and rejoicing in Him; thanking Him. To Fear God is for that fantastic word –which post-modern Christianity has all but retired—piety to permeate every part and parcel of us until we are no longer parts but we are one whole living in the Fear of God.

If any of you would give objection to this saying, “There is no need to fear God now that we have the Cross and Jesus Christ.” Or say, “’There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear,’ doesn’t the Bible say?” Of course you are right, except that you must examine more closely the meaning of Love as it is shown in the person of Jesus Christ. The attitude toward God, the soul’s position before God, the heart’s emotion toward God, the mind’s thoughts of God, the body’s posture toward God as seen in Jesus Christ was never irreverent or flippant. This lack of reverence we have for God is the very smell of Pride in a human soul that rises before the God who smells what is in secret, and cannot stand it. If Love be without reverence, it is not love, just like if love be without truth, it is not love.

So Pride versus humility. I am convinced that the answer to beating pride at that deepest level is from the deepest part of us, we decide to humbly and totally submit and fear the Holy God who fashioned us and created us in His image to rule and bless and fill the earth.

One way to test whether we know the fear of God, is if our hearts can feel the terror dripping from these words of the author of Hebrews 10:, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” If you do not feel the dread of this truth in your heart, you do not yet fear God. The emotions are not everything. They are a good thermometer. How hot is your heart at the knowledge and obedience of God?

As Paul said to his Philipian beloved church, I iterate, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” When Adam sinned, he sinned by mouth, by mind, by heart, and by soul. And when Jesus had the opportunity, “he did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped. But he emptied himself.” This is our example for how to repent from our Pride. “And he took on the form of a servant.” The answer is to be a servant who is “obedient to the point of death even death on a cross.” This is the Salvation of the human soul, seen in Jesus’ humility and humanity, which we too are called to have the same mind. And this is how we as God’s servants, can know true humility when we smell it.

I close with this for now: pride and humility are like the odors of our soul. Pride is the smell of rotting flesh. Humility is the warmth of justice submitted to God as good. You can see the body, you can hear the mind, you can feel the heart, but you can smell the soul. And humility is the only perfume that is acceptable in God’s nostrils.

The Scribe

After a return to translation,
– – I remember. My soul is spread out before God like a puddle of water in the hot sun. I feel my spirit rising up within me to moisten and soften my heart with tears that cleanse me of the world’s hardening smut and worthless frivolity. The English Bible is like a lantern with a fresh, warm firelight within it. The heat is intoxicating like wine’s drunkenness (without dissipation) that begets an even deeper sobriety. My melted form twists and swirls before the majesty of the Fire in which it was first forged, and in this white-hot groaning holiness, the dross collects around the mouth of my chest in guttural wailings and tears of joy and cries of laughter. The aches of futility are assuaged, and the drudgery of time is nullified, my youth kindles like a flame dancing on the wick of a single moment. I am opened up to the glorious goodness of God in humbled trust and the hope of glory is bursting from my heart in song, poetry, story, and questions seeking to lay hold of even more of the Answer.

– – This is only the birth of something new. From here, my thoughts and feelings are blessed to carry the fire of God’s Holy Word into every part of my being through my Journals probing and applying and forging of the truth of life’s mystery into a sensible, handled, accessible portal for myself and all who hear me to enter in to the same gateway into the Wonder of God’s person. Thoughts are laid like iron bars parallel upon the perpendicular wood of my emotions, laid out and empowered and straightened by the Holy fire purified, so that the locomotive of my will to choose and serve and love God with all my heart may transport this precious cargo all around the trail He himself has laid out for my wheels. Not to speed or slow except by His bidding for any hills or curves I cannot see from my own window on the side of the locomotive. As I seek vision, He shows me a map of the railroad upon which I am tracked, and helps me see ways to cultivate what I carry in my payload, even as He sets me in motion Himself. The payload is destined for a particular destiny of destination and the Boiler’s fire must not go out til there is no more track.

– – This birth and cultivation manifest a different sort of fruit than mere thoughts, but also a more excellent and beautiful abundance out of which my joy is mingled again with sorrow and expressed colorfully to the world: Heaven sings to the Earth and in the earth the reply rises from deep within it. A soul without song is an ember glowing but flickering with no tongue of flame. Music explosion makes the dance of heat give off radiant and comforting light to all who languish in darkness and who shiver in cold disbelief. They warm themselves with blankets of silence trusting their own heat to keep warm, when suddenly in their eyes and ears a melody of painful pleasure touches their dry frozen eyes with warm moisture and the dull ringing ears with magical delight. The skill of the composer to bend his heart and lightly carry his listener to a place where he has exercised the eternal possibilities of the finite, given the mind room to explore new patterns and meaning, and most of all, gathered all hearers into one solid pool of Eternity’s Elixir from which all souls take their draught which expediently refreshes it in God.

By a verse of translation a man is confronted by his darkness.
–     O that he would break at the sight and melt!
The next verse warms his heart with honest tears.
–     O that his laughter may accompany each drop!
Another and peace tests him with rest and sleep.
–     O that he may have the heart to keep pursuing his Beloved!
Still a fourth and the shape is delighting to his eyes.
–     O that he may preserve the art of the shape in all he does!
A Fifth and the Master knows the one who is just beginning to know.
–     O that he may cling to the Father’s hand and not let go!
A Sixth and the agony of the world’s condition is felt.
–     O that the scribe may not falter at the weight!
A Seventh and the glorious solution is realized.
–     O that God’s doings may be his only acts!
Eight, the numbers cease to count the length.
–     O that a finite man not grow weary of eternity!
Nine, who am I? I have forgotten myself for Him.
–     O that their happiness together be treasured forever!
Ten, the ripple has ceased and Christ is at hand.
–     O that nothing dare come between him and His God!
– – Words fail beyond 10, but colors and music and poetry and deeds of life can give the echo of Translation’s effects.

– – Even still there is more. In silence, He, that True Holy Spirit speaks, giving oxygen to the flame which fragile burns to light the way.
–     By this light, Jesus explained the Scriptures to his disciples so that their hearts burned within them.
–     By this light, Peter and the disciples proclaimed the deeds of God to all peoples and languages birthing the church.
–     By this light, Saints and Prophets saw visions, performed miracles spoke of the future, and conquered the world by faith.
–     By this light, the church spread abroad abolishing heresy and expanding His Kingdom around the whole world.
–     By this light, a monk translated the Scriptures for himself and started a Reformation of the church in Europe.
–     By this light, expositors and translators continue to reinvigorate the church with the fresh ever-true revelation of Jesus Christ.
–     By this light, I, a Light-bringing Advocate and son of the Word of Fire, live to remind God’s children using music and words of the Gospel of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ so that the church may be one, and the Earth be reshaped for the Glory of God.

– – And so, this gem, this secret Jewel of my existence I make know to you now, dear Joyous Bondwoman. Translation is the fountain in which I play youthfully, through which I am made wiser than many of the aged. It is the Treasure of my soul. It is the very firing of my secret furnace. It is my most intimate time with God. It is the Key in the ignition of my spirit. It is the inspiration of all music I do that is good. It is the stone upon which I sharpen the warrior’s sword and the oil with which I anoint my shepherd’s staff.
– – Without my translation, I quickly dim like a suffocating flame. The filth of the Earth I intake and spout forth futile flagrant folly and ferociousness without translation. Without my translation, many have been my failures and stumblings in anger, lust, and laziness, and anxiousness. The weakness of my mortal frame becomes a concavity which breaks to serve itself without translation. Without translating I see only ill in people’s faces, and readily condemn others. Only my own righteousness is my security without translation. By translation I am deeply reshaped to Christ’s form. Without it I am disfigured repugnantly to callous frivolity.

– – Still more, yea more. Still even more and more. Free time is but a canvas upon which to paint eternal mystery. O how I have sluggishly slacked in heart away from translating in Hebrew to this extent! How sweet and good and true love is when shared with another soul, though its effects are cultivated to similar results to translation with time-spent devotion to Christ. And in the light of Love like this life leaps and ladles out longevity. Time cannot validate itself without meeting eternity’s approval, and when I translate I cannot check the time.
– – I hope that your ears, as I have perceived them in the fire, be ready to receive this part of me so verbosely yet concisely expressed. This is translation, and this is what I pray that God has given you the heart to understand.

Matthew 13:52~”Every scribe who has become a disciple of the Kingdom of Heaven is like a head of a household who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”

 

Meditations of a Pearl

~It’s so hard to see in this place.
So deprived of even warmth as a comfort.
Nowhere to hide from the loneliness inside
The soft, cushy beddings beneath me beat me up.

This irritating, grating, infernal thing.
It won’t let go, and deeply I am suffering.
Keeping tender so life can keep me well-rounded
Or hardening myself and becoming a less beautiful thing.

This insignificant, minuscule granule–
This meager task I am given to do, bearing up under life’s weight
Around me the ocean of political and circumstantial upheavals swirls by,
Toying with my shy shell like one of an angry child’s legos.

It is endless, futile, like the sun’s faint glow which doesn’t warm me here.
My fists may clench like my teeth, unwilling to swallow the silt life thrusts me into
But anything kept in my fist will escape the moment my pearl sees the sun
That day when my tired muscles shall give out,

Whether by the prying knife, the ravenous creature, or the cruel, stony washboard of life
Eventually my deeply and closely guarded treasure will emerge
And through sifting be surfaced to be found by the Merchant.
May He find a pearl of great price.

~Inspired by T. Austin-Spark’s sermon, “A Pearl of Great Price.”

The Mystique of Reading the Bible in Greek and Hebrew– Part 4 (Last part :)

– – I have mentioned nuances a lot so far. What I mean is the combination of denotative and connotative meaning: meaning that is directly expressed and meaning which is subtly implied. A silly example of this is if a girl introduces a guy to . . . no . . . those are too messy . . . If a friend tells his friend, I now, know that you care about me.” the Denotation is: At this moment I know you care. The connotation is: At one time I did not know you care. The English Bible brings out some of these denotations and connotations from context, but one thing it can’t make up for is the use of syntax in Hebrew and Greek to establish emphasis in communication. One example off the top of my head is Romans 10:3, “Being ignorant of the of God righteousness and seeking their own to establish they did not submit to the righteousness of God.” The contrast denoted in English and Greek is clear, but the fronting of “The Of God” righteousness reemphasizes the point of the whole letter about the righteousness of God being revealed  English flattens this and misses some of the nuances pointing back to God’s righteousness in the OLD Testament.

– – It is at this juncture I want to introduce a point about God’s word i have never heard expressed by anyone else, but I think it will be widely agreed upon just by common sense. The Word of God is not just What He says, but also How He says it. It is the same in communication between people isn’t it? One man says “I love you” to a woman he is proposing to. Another time he says, “I love you.” to a co-worker who just got him coffee. Is the word communicated the same? No. Same words different relationship, different tone of voice, different inflection, different situation, etc. This is the way it is with human communication, and human communication of humans writing to humans in human ways with shared understandings is the way God chose to communicate His divinely inspired word. The Mystery of Jesus’ incarnation is not dissimilar.

– – What I have discovered after 8 years in Greek and 3 in Hebrew, is that the Word of God rings out so much clearer in the original languages, and He is very lovely in His leading, very brilliant in His glory, very true in His tone. Because I am still not a master of either language, I do read English and because I am in relationship with English-listeners I read English, but when I do, it reminds me of watching a VHS tape when you’ve seen Blue-ray. The picture still comes through, but the color, the sound, and the quality is sometimes lacking in the clarity to tell the story in the most meaningful and appropriate way. And I am still learning not to apply my English nuances to the Greek and Hebrew texts; it is something I wonder if we ever unlearn, or if we just humbly accept our own frailty and incapacity to get it right alone.

– – One more illustration which I sheepishly borrow from Kate and Leopold, but those who have actually been to Paris may attest to: The most famous art gallery in Paris is the Louvre. But some people don’t know that only a fraction of the paintings are on the walls, the real art show is in the basement. All the revered works of Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and so on.The Bible is like the Louvre, in English you will only get a fraction of all that it contains.

This is my call of exhortation. If you are content with the paintings on the walls of the Louvre, then by all means enjoy them, but if you seek to know the source of their art better, if you hunger for a richer depth of appreciation for the soul and ethos of the art before you, I invite you to come down into the basement, where the fragile treasures preserved timeless await the witnesses who have the heart to enjoy them.

– – But do not go without a guide. Art is best appreciated in conversation. You need bring nothing with you accept humbleness in your humanity, and a heart to seek out Him who is truly good. Let an expert in these paintings teach you so you can enter into the joy, anguish and love that rests deep in the art before you and the Heart within you.

– – To do this for the Bible in the original languages, I recommend Mounce’s Biblical Greek, and Van Pelt’s Biblical Hebrew to get you started! And find a good teacher or a fellow student to go through it with you. Languages live between people and die when unspoken; but God’s Word will never die. Enjoy the world you discover in the text; I guarantee it will be bigger than your current one and it is not very far at all from where you live out each day. Be patient, resilient, sentient, and repentant, and His Word will come alive in you to mold you into the shape of the Word: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thank you for reading this introduction, contemplation, explanation, and invitation.

The Mystique of Reading the Bible in Greek and Hebrew– Part 3

– – Here comes the point I am making: No translation is clear cut. Not even the English word “No” is an adequate translation for the three Hebrew words for “No.” or “Not” or the three Greek words. For example, the First of the Ten Commandments as they have been numbered in the Protestant Western tradition is “No other God’s before me.” But what kind of “No” is this? Or in Romans when Paul said, “Shall we continue in Sin that Grace may increase?” What was the emphasis conveyed in his words, “No.” English is a beautiful language with a substantial collection of words to choose from, and yet none of them mean “exactly” what the words in another language mean. And when people dig deep into the dictionaries of Noah Webster and Oxford, they are digging wells of deeper understanding that top into underground rivers not flowing with the same intensity or even direction as the authors ever intended.

– – This is why, as my hermeneutics professor taught from Moses Sylva’s book Biblical Words and Their Meaning “Meaning is at the clause level” not the word level. In other words, “Context is king.” Words and context in language are like teammates in a team. The team is the sum of what each individual contributes, and and the individual is defined by his role in the team. So context helps fit the right meaning to the words, and the words make up the context. So, then, if one reads in English the verse “No other God’s before me.” and does not see the Hebrew expression, “No other God’s before my face.” He lacks a deeper nuance which actually clarifies whether “before” in that verse means “ahead of me” or “in my presence.”

– – So many passages in various English versions are difficult when trying to juggle English nuances with a Hebrew or Greek flow of thought, especially if it is in archaic English which we don’t even use anymore. I mean, what does Lovingkindness *really mean anyway? It escapes me how people can hold so strongly to an English translation with outdated English, perhaps they enjoy the taste of “sweeter water” in their own English language. While I can sympathize with this enjoyment, achieving insight into the original meanings of the Word of God in Old English is limited at best. Why trade the perfectly valid nuances of modern English for outdated ones in search of richer meaning when both are utilizing an emotional and relational communicative manner completely separate from the original author?

(Continued in Part 4)

The Mystique of Reading the Bible in Greek and Hebrew– Part 2

The Bible is one of those rare books in which the heart of the reader is transformed while he reads.


The things the heart did not know are added into the mix
The things the heart thought it knew are shown to be multifaceted
The things that seemed complicated become more simple
The things that seemed simplistic become deeply rooted in deeper layers
And each layer of the Bible into which the heart breeches becomes at the same time a deeper layer of the heart of the reader.
So that whatever the Reader’s heart is searching for is found here in this book, and is found to lead to richer and more beautiful realities upon which all relaity is based.
The treasure of all treasures, the source of all meaning, the wisdom of eternity strung through time.
And all of this is brought forth from the mouth of One.
Who made Himself known to all the earth in Jesus Christ,
He is the Word, the Wisdom, the Way, the Wonderful.
And He is my Savior, my Lord, my friend, my beloved.
I am His and He is mine.
He is I am
יְהוָה Ἰησοῦς Χριστός.
Jesus Christ our Lord
Amen.


– – To read the Bible honestly in any language is to dig deeply into the soul of humanity; because of this, every person who considers the intent study of the Bible must be willing to be honest with the darkest parts of himself. And he must approach it with the reverent care-filled trepidation of a man who has unsteady hands performing surgery on his loved one; perhaps an even better illustration would be a regular patient frequently returning to the operating table with a weak, sick heart, trying not to Jerk around while the Doctor performs surgery on him.

– – In this humble posture, the empty hands are filled with the riches of God’s goodness, one little piece at a time. Each piece can enrapture the reader with the warmth of solidified volcanic rock fresh from the mantle. Over time even this rock cools and the heart cools in response; it must feel His fire again. It must grow with the heat of the All-Consuming fire of God’s holiness, which is the only fire hot enough to keep the chilly emptiness of the World’s vanity at bay.

– – Such began my own “addiction” to reading God’s Word. That is the word that first came to mind: “addiction.” but it’s probably more like drinking soda all your life, and then one day you try just plain water; and it supplies all your body’s needs for replenishment of oxygen and hydrogen through the digestive system, and all without a sugar coma, or the slavish cravings for more. Soda was the “addiction.” Water has offered the freedom from that addiction, and allows the drinker to enjoy all other beverages better. And in spite of every other option being open and enjoyable, water becomes my favorite drink for as long as I live. This is more like what God’s Word is to me, in contrast to the empty philosophies and ideologies of movies, books, and stories which today’s world commandeers to assuage our soul’s deep thirst for meaning, value, purpose and identity. God’s Word is the Water of the World,  by which all who drink of it may live.

– – I live out in the country with my family in two houses and a mobile home, and we all use well water. My Grandmother’s house has a well that was dug to a dept of 100 feet, with a water softener. It’s alright, but this water tastes like a tad of sulfur, and this iron-nasal taste that when I was a kid always tasted to me like boogers. (Not that I would know what they taste like . . . Then there’s my parent’s house where I live, the oldest of the houses. And this house, built in 1960 had a well dug in the back yard all the way down to about 200 feet. They didn’t usually drill that deep unless they had to, but I will tell you, as all others will say who have lived in my family, and as visitors with fresh taste buds attest to us: It is the best tasting, sweetest water around. No sulfur taste; no iron. Just good hard water.

– – You can gather by now one of my points: The deeper you go, the sweeter it gets. The same is true of the Bible. The English Bible translators have done a tremendous job at reconstructing the flow of meaning in another language. It is now possible to read all the way through from Genesis to Revelation the Gospel of God in a language easy to grasp! What a depth of gratitude we owe to those who have interpreted for us God’s Word. God’s blessing be upon them.

Continued in Part 3

The Mystique of Reading the Bible in Greek and Hebrew– Part 1

My Dear Readers, known and unknown,
– – I hope all had a very Merry Christmas celebration. Jesus is the reason for all the seasons and family and friends are the most precious gifts. My most prized gift I received this year is a close but definitive race between my very own blue ceramic, 12-hole, song-bird, “Ocarina of Time.” (Zelda fans will understand my glee!) and my very own black, single-bound, silver-edged, double ribbon-ed Readers Greek and Hebrew Bible! The Bible won by two words.

– – I am a student in Seminary and have learned to read, translate and exegete Hebrew. it’s a slow process, but I am gradually getting more cozy with it. I also took Greek in Seminary, but I had been translating in Greek since my Junior year in High school when my Dad taught me. As a result of studying the languages, the Word of God has opened up to me, like petals of a rose to expose the aromatic bloom of Jesus’ radiance! As Jesus said to the Religious Leaders in John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures [Old Testament] Because you think that you have life in them, but it is these that testify of Me.”

– – Some of my friends, while they confess admiration for the scholarship, don’t see any reason or feel sufficient motivation to learn the original languages of the Bible. They have expressed to me different reasonings:

  • “I don’t need it to do what God’s called me to do.”
  • “I understand the Bible fine comparing different English versions.”
  • “The English Bible I use is all I need for faith and practice and that’s good enough for me.”

These among other reasons are not bad reasons at all. In fact, I’d agree with the first reason that some people are called specifically to areas that learning to read the Bible in the original voice would be a superfluous expenditure of energy. And as for the second reason goes, the same way two eyes see three-dimensionally, so two or more English versions add a depth to anyone’s reading of the text. And the third reason does not have anything inherently wrong with it. they are right: understanding God’s word in a language of the heart and mind is really all one needs to be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

So, then, why learn to read one even two old languages just to read a book that is much easier to read in English? If you are a person who holds to the first reason, then by all means remain in that condition as God has specifically equipped you. If you are of the other two reasons or another and you are not sure why you would want to learn Greek and (or) Hebrew, allow me to share what I have discovered from my own personal study of the holy written Word of God in Greek and Hebrew.

Continue to Part II (I broke it up into four posts because it was getting long when I wrote it in my journal last night.)