Category Archives: Musings

Live the life you would be jealous of

Sometimes getting on Facebook can be depressing.

Whether it is seeing couples 10 years my junior getting engaged and married, or seeing the awesome adventures of those not bound by the grueling monotony of the 9-5 workplace, I can get a bit discouraged at times.  (Thankfully there are enough animated cat gifs to boost the happy)

One thing that so many people long for is the opportunity for travel adventures. I see pictures of people doing yoga poses on top of a mountain, or taking a selfie with an antelope out in the wilderness somewhere.  And I, like many, ask, “how do they get to do that? I wish my life were like that!”

We all know those ‘lucky’ people…

But what if we were one of those people in the eyes of others?

“Those adventurous people” don’t often post about their exhaustion, depression, anxiety, or monotonous tasks, but they still exist. You only get to see a small window into the awesomeness they share.

We can live the life we would be jealous of if we saw it on facebook.  There is great power in perspective.  You don’t have to have extravagant opportunities or travel to find excitement.

I challenge you to try to take a look at your life as others view it on facebook.  So often I have taken a picture of something in my immediate surroundings (a lily growing in my apartment complex,  a close-up of a chipmuk eyeball, an odd angle on mundane familiar objects, etc..) and people comment in awe at the adventure of my life!

We can CHOOSE to make the mundane magnificent! We can make adventure from the average!

Finally, there’s always photoshop. If you can’t make it to the Amazon rainforest, at least lie to all your friends and pretend you were there!  Just kidding! Just stand in your backyard and pretend the garden hose is an anaconda. Adventure awaits in the simplest of places!

stargate

Ignorance is no excuse for the law…

I recently obtained my first speeding ticket. After 12 years or so of driving, I figured I was finally due for the awesome feeling of violating local laws. (The only other ticket I’ve received was turning right on red where it was apparently prohibited.)

Speeding is not an easy thing to do in a Buick, so one would think I was intentional about it. However, I was driving what had been the speed limit when I was marked. Driving back to Michigan from Cincinnati, I was pulled over somewhere in the vast not-too-populous areas of Ohio.  Upon seeing a sign for a construction zone, and a new speed limit on those electric signs, I slowed to the required speed (which was duly encouraged by the car in front of me doing the same). After about 45 seconds of driving 55mph, I saw the lights flash behind me from the police car that had been tailing me since the sign for the construction zone.

police

I wondered if I had a tail light out?  Perhaps Ohio had anti-Buick laws?  The officer pointed out to me that I was doing 70 in a 55, and assumed I had just spotted him or the speed limit sign and only then slowed down. I submitted to him that I slowed at the first sign I saw, which was the one he was waiting near, to which he replied that there was a previous sign indicating the upcoming work zone. Upcoming? Meaning it wasn’t 55mph yet? So, I was ticketed for going the speed limit?  There were neither orange barrels/signs, nor signs of construction until I saw the sign and thus slowed.  Because the courthouse for this county is 4 hours away contesting the ticket seems frivolous.  Yet, I admit there is a possibility that I just failed to see some prior speed limit  sign, but I am fairly certain the sign that the officer was parked near was the first one.

According to the officer, who bears legal authority, I broke the law.  As a human, I tend to get defensive in such situations, because I feel victimized.  I didn’t know the speed limit was 55, so why should I pay a penalty for breaking that law? Whether you know of the law or not, breaking it has penalties.  This is a simple truth in human laws, natural laws, and God’s laws.

 

Both of my tickets were in situations where I was ignorant of the law. Thus humanly, I am often tempted to say, “it’s not my fault!” Yet breaking laws do have consequences, and while sometimes we have to deal with the unpleasantries of that, more often than not this is a good thing.  Would you want someone from another country coming to America, murdering people, and getting away with it simply because he/she wasn’t aware that was illegal? How about theft?

This concept transcends simply being a “laws of the land” ordeal however.  While most human rights organizations condemn it, in some countries/cultures “honor-killings” are permitted.  (the homicide of a family member because of a perceived dishonor they’ve brought to the family – including refusal to enter an arranged marriage, being in an unapproved relationship, or being the victim of rape)  Even if the culture (or national religion) permits it, this goes against God’s law. Sin is the transgression of the law, and sin has penalties.

We live in a culture where the concept of sin is either mocked, or celebrated and paraded like a trophy. So many people have a #YOLO mentality when it comes to making sinful decisions in the moment, and either ignoring the consequences or just dealing with them later.

We lament the destructive power of AIDS, yet ignore the transgression of God’s law(s) that lead to it in the first place. (How it first started and how its spread, etc…)  We spend billions of dollars trying to fix our health issues, when God’s word has laws that would prevent many of them.

When people think of “sin” they think of the “big ones,” but sin includes more than just stealing and lying, etc… Sin is breaking any law of God, which laws like keeping the Sabbath (4th commandment),  or physical laws like what foods to avoid, or simply avoiding unhygienic practices – all of which Jesus and his disciples abided by, with no biblical admonition to abolish such practices. Some have no direct immediate consequence, but some are more quickly evident (i.e. eating a vulture may well make you sick shortly afterwards, but luckily the bible says that’s an unclean animal and not to be eaten)

Human and divine laws are there for a reason, and whether you agree with them or not there are consequences for transgressing them.  This world is unaware of many of God’s laws, but countless billions still suffer consequences for breaking them.

God makes laws for His children that are for our good. So many of us, like rebellious teenagers, feel these rules are “not fair” and no fun or deny the validity of the rules or the rulemaker.  Yet these laws are not keeping us from life but rather keeping us alive. A comedian once noted that “teenagers are God’s way of seeing how we like it to have a being created in our image denying our existence” despite our loving attempts to care for the child.

So while I am not terribly happy about having to pay a speeding ticket that I earned unintentionally, I am happy to know God’s laws and the blessings that come from [trying to be] following them and avoiding the consequences that come from breaking them.

Learn how to drive

Driving is an adventure. The aggression and anger of “road rage” is not a foreign concepts to both Christians and non-Christians.  It is very easy to get upset if someone cuts us off, impatiently tries to pass us, drives too slow, or just generally is doing something “foolish” that we’re not a fan of. road rage

We are all too quick to judge the intent and cognitive capabilities of the other drivers, using phrases like “learn how to drive!”, “get off the road!”, or  “what idiot parked there?”

Not surprisingly, when we are on the other side of these situations – when others honk, yell and gesture at us for what we do – we feel indignant and wronged since clearly it’s not our fault!  There are always external uncontrollable circumstances that lead us to a bad parking job, or an aggressive move on the road, but it rarely dawns on us that other people may experience similar circumstances!

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. – Prov 18:13

I’ve been guilty of belittling a driver of a car in my mind if I see it parked very obviously over the parking line with no cars around, and have thought to myself “learn how to park!” However, what I don’t see is whether or not other cars were previously over the line, leaving the driver no choice but to park where he/she did.  (which happened to me this morning) In Michigan especially, snow piles dictate parking as well.  In general, for people to get a drivers licence, they have to know how to park, yet we reduce them to lower-functioning beings in our minds when we simply see just the end result, despite being blind the factors involved.

While facing the unpleasant situation of being stuck behind a slow car in a no-passing zone, it is not uncommon for one to think, “hey gramps! If you’re going to drive that slow you have to business being on the road – just stay at home!”  I don’t think we realize how blindly judgmental, selfish, and uncaring these thoughts are.  Because a driver is cautious on the road, do they deserve such anger?  A car moves slow (often the speed limit actually), and we – in all of our grand importance – are filled with self-righteous anger because WE can’t fulfill our right to speed and get to OUR destination 3 minutes sooner?

Why are we so angry? Why do we get upset to the point of insulting the intent or character of strangers based on some small action? Why do we get upset when others get upset with us?

I have been to “third world” countries where there really are no road rules, and people just figure it out as they go. The average American would most likely not survive mentally, emotionally, or physically.  Just riding in vehicles in those situations may have decreased my life expectancy!  Yet the people there are used to it and don’t have the same kind of road rage as we do.  Why is that?

It might be too simplistic, but I think it may be a matter of the illusion of control.  Our lives are SO busy in the West, so cluttered with time-suckers, stress, and drama, that we are out of control.  When we get into our little gas-guzzlers, WE are in control for a brief bit of time between point A and point B.  If someone threatens the perfect order we create (our perfect order we created that somehow includes us speeding and texting of course) we ‘rightfully’ become furious! I am no psychologist, but I think this illusion of control plays a factor.

If God is not regulating our chaotic lives, they are just that – chaotic.  The Creator of the universe gives us some reminders on how we’re supposed to deal with the “lemons” that life hands us:

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. -Proverbs 29:11

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. -Proverbs 19:11

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. -Ecclesiastes 7:9

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. -Eph 4:31

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. -James 1:19-20

And the list goes on. We’re not supposed to get upset so easily.   We’ve all seen TV shows and movies depicting the truth behind why a bully is a bully – the fact that there’s more beneath the surface.  There is something beneath our anger, and more simplistically, there is some reason for the actions of other drivers.

So the next time you park amiss, let it be a reminder that other folks have reasons for their “crime” as well.  The next time someone cuts you off, try not to call them an idiot, but realize that they might be lost, confused, or just didn’t see you.   We cannot discern the “thoughts and intents of the heart of man” but God can.  This applies to those who cut you off, but also your own heart and reaction to other individuals that God created in His likeness.  If you simply must verbalize a response to the unfavorable actions of other drivers, try saying,“I hope your day improves!”  🙂

I believe in Love

I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining
I believe in love even when I don’t feel it
And I believe in God even when He is silent
And I, I believe

This chorus of a song entitled “I Believe in Love” sung by BarlowGirl was taken from a poem written on the wall of a cellar, by a Jew in the Cologne concentration camp during WW2.

We read stories about tremendous faith in God’s word. Sometimes they seem distant to me, because the events happened so long ago in a culture so very different from my own. But hearing this song really prompted me to stop and think about what it would take to have a faith like that; a faith that would hold on to hope despite desperate circumstances.

This chorus reminds me of some of the things that we can and should have faith in. In my opinion the song lists them in order of how much faith is required to believe.

First, we can believe the sun its still there even when its covered by clouds. We usually do see the sun, unless you live in Seattle, and because of its consistency, even children understand that it is always there without any need of scientific proof. Still it does take some faith to know it will shine again.

Secondly, we can believe that love exists even when we can’t feel it myself. Obviously this would take some faith while being imprisoned by people filled with such hatred.

Finally, we can believe in God even when He seems silent in our lives. Many people have given up on God because of “unanswered prayers” or a lack of intervention. Many often ask, “If You are a loving Father, why won’t You [fill in the blank]?”

God didn’t create us to be robots, blindly following Him automatically. Rather He wants us to exhibit faith in Him, and to choose to believe Him, despite not directly seeing or hearing Him.

Faith is a tricky thing. We are told to pray to the Master of the universe for more faith. Yet it does not come in a gift wrapped box from Amazon. Faith comes through trials, because those trials give us the chance to be tested, persevere, overcome and believe in God even when it seems the evidence is lacking.

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials… This is easier said than done, but something we need to endeavor towards! It seems counter-intuitive to pray for unpleasant circumstances, but God chastens those whom He loves. We need to remember that God tells us “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” [Isaiah 55:8 NIV]

When I am feeling a bit discouraged in a trial, I’ll sometimes listen to this song and remember that faith is about believing in what you CAN’T see.


“I Believe in Love” by BarlowGirl

Full Poem:

“I believe in the sun

even when it is not shining

And I believe in love,

even when there’s no one there.

And I believe in God,

even when he is silent.

I believe through any trial,

there is always a way

But sometimes in this suffering

and hopeless despair

My heart cries for shelter,

to know someone’s there

But a voice rises within me, saying hold on

my child, I’ll give you strength,

I’ll give you hope. Just stay a little while.

I believe in the sun

even when it is not shining

And I believe in love

even when there’s no one there

But I believe in God

even when he is silent

I believe through any trial

there is always a way.

May there someday be sunshine

May there someday be happiness

May there someday be love

May there someday be peace….”

Ordinary Miracle

How often in our lives have we uttered the phrase “what are the odds of that?” Life is often filled with these situations. Some call it coincidence, some say luck, and other attribute them to ordinary everyday miracles. Time and chance happen to us all, but perhaps we are too quick to dismiss some ordinary miracles in our lives as simple ‘luck.’

I, like many, get discouraged at times with the lack of extraordinary miracles today. While you still hear stories of big things now and again, in day to day life it is uncommon for most to experience what they perceive to be God’s major intervention.

woods

You have probably heard sayings or stories about how we don’t ever see what miracles happen behind the scenes without our knowledge. For instance, we may be frustrated when our car doesn’t start right away, but later find out that there was a 20-car pileup on the road we would have been on at the time of the accident. While it is absolutely true that God works in our lives in ways we never see, that is harder to grasp – an intangible ‘what if.’ Sometimes we need to see miracles in our lives – even the small ones.

The trouble is that the human brain can be so smart that it’s dumb.  We seemingly must know the how and why of everything that happens in our lives. All too often we dismiss what could well be a small miracle (if there is a way to quantify or gauge the size of one) as a coincidence, luck, or simply feel satisfied with what WE did to bring about the result.

I remember a few of these times in my life. Some situations we can readily see God’s hand in, while others take some faith and are a conscious choice. When I was a young lad of about 13, I remember sitting together with my parents for a late dinner. My sister (17 at the time) was out with friends and was several hours late with no means of communication. (There was a time not long ago when teenagers did not have cell phones!). In the prayer over the meal, a request was made that God would protect my sister and that she would return home quickly. As soon as the word “quickly” was spoken, we heard the front door open. We all smiled, and said a quick “thank You” before finishing the prayer.  I choose to count this as an ordinary miracle.

What prompted me to think about these was a more recent event. Several months ago I was walking through the woods as is my custom. I got lost and found a nice trail where I was able to have a good emotional/spiritual moment. In a therapeutic endeavor I found a stick and symbolically placed all the issues I was dealing with onto it and chucked it as hard as I could into the woods. Our marvelous minds were made the interesting ability to connect an emotional or spiritual connection with a physical place or time. We can walk into a house, hear a song, or experience some other sensory snapshot and be filled with the emotional response that we initially had.  I had been hoping to find that trail since that day and reconnect with that time and place, but wasn’t able to. While walking today, I had finally decided to not worry about it and just enjoy the walk for what it was. Just as I decided that, I looked up and I was at the start of the trail!  There are several miles of trails in the area, and I got lost in the right part at an interesting time. This may seem small, but I count it as a small little miracle, and something that will hopefully help me remember to not worry as much.

We all have to discern things in our lives, and some things are just happenstance. However, other things may well have God’s hand in them if you look for it. If you see a butterfly float by you randomly, it could just be chance, but if you were affected by it in a deep and timely way, maybe there was something intentional about it. Either way, I believe we all could benefit from being thankful to God for how things work out because He is in control and has our best interest in mind, as we’re told in Romans 8:28.

It is my goal moving forward to write down every instance where I feel God has intervened in a way that is even slightly visible to my limited human eyes and comprehension. Many of these could probably be shrugged off as coincidence, but I will choose to count them as ordinary miracles.  I recommend the same, and hopefully in time this list will serve to remind us both of of God’s active part in our lives, and how thankful we should be that God works things for our ultimate good.

Total Eclipse of the heart… err moon

It has been been discovered that in the years 2014 and 2015 there will be two solar eclipses and four lunar eclipses, all of them occurring on “Jewish” Holy Days.

Tetrad of Total Eclipses on Holy Days

So, a tetrad is the fancy-schmancy term for a grouping of 4 things.  In this case, the tetrad is of total eclipses of the moon (blood red moons) coinciding with Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles two years back to back.

While this seems an arbitrary circumstance with which to base any assumptions, history points out a few interesting events in these periods. Still, should we take any note of celestial happenings?

They will be for signs:

“Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years…’” – Gen 1:14

But don’t get too riled up about them:

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them.’” -Jer 10:2

Until it’s time to get riled up; at the very end:

“Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’” -Matt 24:29

Lunar eclipses

“Seven back-to-back, blood-red moons have fallen on the first day of Passover and Sukkot, with the eighth time coming in 2014 and 2015”

The man credited with making this connection (Mark Biltz) found that blood-red moons on the first day of Passover and the first day of Sukkot on back-to-back years have occurred seven times since 1 A.D. Three of these occurrences were connected to significant dates in Jewish history:

  1. 1492/1493 (the final year of the Spanish Inquisition)

  2. 1948/1949 (statehood for Israel and the War of Independence)

  3. 1967/1968 (the Six-Day War)

The others were in 162/163 A.D., 795/796 A.D., 842/843 A.D. and 860/861 A.D. We don’t have any historical connections for these years at this time, but we do know of significant Jewish persecution during the eighth and ninth centuries.

It is notable that these events will have lined up three times [potentially] in one generation’s lifetime when the previous occurrence was over 450 years prior!

Sidenote:

The gap between these occurrences is 456 years to be exact-a number that when divided by 19 (the number of years it takes the for the lunar cycle to sync up again precisely) results in 24 (a number significant in Revelation as the number of elders around the throne of God, and also symbolizing the total number of leaders of “Israel” in both the Old and New testaments  – the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles.)

Coincidence? Maybe, but good food for thought.

Side sidenote:

The 19-year cycle of the moon may seem like an error but it is just the opposite. The 19-year time cycle is the standard by which the lunar and solar cycles are brought into harmony. It is in between these precise points in time that the harmony between lunar and solar cycles is approximated by leap years, and other fine-tuning adjustments provided for by the calendar mechanisms. No man-made calendar maintains this balance. It is as if God uses this precise alignment, every 19 years, to continually remind us that His calendar is still dependable and “on time.”

Blood-red moons for the last Tetrad of the century:

Passover

April 15, 2014*

Feast of Tabernacles

October 8, 2014

Passover

April 4, 2015

Feast of Tabernacles

September 28, 2015

*some discrepancy on when to observe Passover: 14th vs. 15th, etc…

Coincidence or significance? I am not sure. Either way, this eighth occurrence will be the last instance of the tetrad for this century.

Solar Eclipses

There were three annual solar eclipses on the 1st of Av, beginning in 2008 and running through 2010. The month of Av — and especially the 9th of Av — has been the most trying period throughout history for the Jewish people. Total solar eclipses have been a bad omen for the nations, while blood-red moons have been a bad omen for the Jewish people and Israel.

Adar 29/Nisan 1(new year)

March 20, 2015

Feast of Trumpets

September 13, 2015

Having a double year of blood moons on Holy Days is rare enough, but for the 2014/2015 period to also have 2 solar eclipses is very unusual and won’t happen again for hundreds of years (which almost all bible believers assume will not happen for this world as we know it)!

Sabbatical Years

2001, 2008, and 2015 are Sabbatical years. Prophetically, 2001 and 2008 have proven to be significant for physical descendents of Abraham, Isaac,and Jacob (Israel): 9-11 attacks in 2001 (akin to the “Harbinger” of Isaiah 9:10) and the election of a president who reflects the direction America has taken.  [Deuteronomy lists blessings and cursings for nations who choose to obey or disregard God respectively. and all too clearly one can see the cursings being fulfilled]. 2015 may well be significant as well.

Seven sets of Sabbatical years are counted to reach the Jubilee year (every 50 years). It is believed, based on a scripture in Isaiah that Christ would return on a Jubilee year:

“The Spirit of Yahweh is upon me, because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of Yahweh.”- Isaiah 61:2

To “proclaim” means “after the manner of a herald, with formality, gravity and authority.” The terminology coincides with the trumpet sound pro-claiming the all-important Jubilee at Atonement. Here is what some scholars say about the phrase “acceptable year”:

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary: “Acceptable year an allusion to the Jubilee year (Lev. 25:10), a year of universal release for person and property.”

Wesley’s Notes: “The acceptable year — plainly alluding to the year of Jubilee, when all, both debtors and servants, were set free.”

Here we see Yehshua rightly dividing the word. In quoting Isaiah 61 He stopped in the middle of verse 2, which demonstrates that He Himself, as the fulfillment of this prophecy, was now calling people out of the world to become His followers. He did not read the rest of the verse, which refers to the future when He returns on the day of judgment.  The “acceptable year” is Yahweh’s amnesty year as one translation calls it (http://www.yrm.org/sabbathsjubileeskeys.htm)

Significance of 2015?

History has hopefully taught many people that setting dates on an event that we’re told “no one knows” only leads to disillusionment and letdown.  However we’re told to keep watch, so the indication is that we can know when things are getting close.

Jesus said something seemingly confusing in the parable of the fig tree:

“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it[d] is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” -Matt 24:32-35

This generation, in context, would seem refer to the people Jesus was speaking to.  Clearly that did not happen, though many of the disciples of that time lives as though this would be fulfilled in their lifetime. Could it refer to the generation at the end time? If so, how can you tell when that generation “starts?”

Typically “a generation” in New Testament terms is 70 years.  Much of end-time prophecy was not able to be fulfilled until the formation of a Jewish nation [Israel] in 1948/1949. (A span of time with the double blood moon on the Holy Days).  If this date is used to denote the “end-time generation”, then fast-forwarding 70 years brings us to 2018/2019.

According to the parable, ALL THINGS would have to be fulfilled by then.  Subtracting the time of the great tribulation of 3.5 years, or 42 months [Dan 7:25, Rev 12:14] would bring us to 2014/2015. (A period with both the lunar and solar eclipses happening on God’s Holy days as calculated by the Hebrew calendar).

*IF* this is the case, perhaps the celestial bodies, designed to be for “signs and seasons” might be a sign to God’s people that things are about to get crazy.

So now what?

No idea. What is the conclusion of the matter? A total eclipse of the heart is what must happen, for man to be in tune with God’s will! [Bonnie Taylor reference anyone?]

Scripture tells us the sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the return of Christ. Could this be a description of the solar and lunar eclipses occurring during the year the great tribulation starts? Perhaps, but there are also more substantial events that will be going on near the end-times, so this prophecy might be more literal in that the moon may physically alter in some way etc…

This is akin to a tornado watch vs. a warning.  A watch warns people that the conditions are favorable for [some event] to occur, but it may or may not happen. A warning states that [some event] has been observed and is heading your way.

Making these connections is a watch.  Conditions might be favorable for Christ to return in the next decade.  However, God’s thoughts are not our own thoughts, and His ways not our own. (Isaiah 55:8)

Still, the next few years are SURE to be rather interesting!