U for You

24 06 2013

Lee, a translator to the Hdi people of Cameroon, searched for a word in their language that was representative of God’s love for us. Verbs in Hdi consistently end in one of three vowels, i, a, and u. But when it came to the word for love, they could only find i and a. Why no u?

Lee asked the Hdi translation committee, mostly influential leaders in the community, “Could you ‘dvi’ your wife?” “Yes,” they said.  That would mean that the wife had been loved but the love was gone. “Could you ‘dva’ your wife?” “Yes,” they said.  That kind of love depended on the wife’s actions.  She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.  “Could you ‘dvu’ your wife?”  Everyone laughed.  “Of course not!  If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got you water, or never made you meals.  Even if she committed adultery, you would be compelled to just keep on loving her.  No, we would never say ‘dvu.’ It just doesn’t exist.”

Lee sat quietly for a while, thinking about John 3:16, and then he asked, “Could God ‘dvu’ people?” There was complete silence for three or four minutes; then tears started to trickle down the weathered faces of these elderly men.  Finally they responded. “Do you know what this would mean? This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, millennia after millennia, while all that time we rejected His great love.  He is compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people.”

 

Bob Creson

President, Wycliffe Bible Translators USA

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Prairie

22 06 2013

summerscape

 

These are the gardens of the Desert, these
    The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful,
    For which the speech of England has no name,
    The Prairies. I behold them for the first,
    And my heart swells, while the dilated sight
    Takes in the encircling vastness. Lo! they stretch
    In airy undulations, far away,
    As if the ocean, in his gentlest swell,
    Stood still, with all his rounded billows fixed,
    And motionless for ever. Motionless? 
    No, they are all unchained again. The clouds
    Sweep over with their shadows, and, beneath,
    The surface rolls and fluctuates to the eye;
    Dark hollows seem to glide along and chase
    The sunny ridges. Breezes of the South!
    Who toss the golden and the flame-like flowers,
    And pass the prairie-hawk that, poised on high,
    Flaps his broad wings, yet moves not, ye have played
    Among the palms of Mexico and vines
    Of Texas, and have crisped the limpid brooks
    That from the fountains of Sonora glide
    Into the calm Pacific, have ye fanned
    A nobler or a lovelier scene than this?
    Man hath no part in all this glorious work:
    The hand that built the firmament hath heaved
    And smoothed these verdant swells, and sown their slopes
    With herbage, planted them with island groves,
    And hedged them round with forests. Fitting floor
    For this magnificent temple of the sky,
    With flowers whose glory and whose multitude
    Rival the constellations! The great heavens
    Seem to stoop down upon the scene in love, 
    A nearer vault, and of a tenderer blue,
    Than that which bends above the eastern hills…

 

prairie bouquet 1

 

 

Still this great solitude is quick with life.
    Myriads of insects, gaudy as the flowers
    They flutter over, gentle quadrupeds,
    And birds, that scarce have learned the fear of man,
    Are here, and sliding reptiles of the ground,
    Startlingly beautiful. The graceful deer
    Bounds to the wood at my approach. The bee,
    A more adventurous colonist than man,
    With whom he came across the eastern deep,
    Fills the savannas with his murmurings,
    And hides his sweets, as in the golden age,
    Within the hollow oak. I listen long
    To his domestic hum, and think I hear
    The sound of that advancing multitude
    Which soon shall fill these deserts. From the ground
    Comes up the laugh of children, the soft voice
    Of maidens, and the sweet and solemn hymn
    Of Sabbath worshippers. The low of herds
    Blends with the rustling of the heavy grain
    Over the dark-brown furrows. All at once
    A fresher wind sweeps by, and breaks my dream,
    And I am in the wilderness alone.

 

prairie tableau

 

 

William Cullen Bryant





The Coming of Wisdom with Time

19 06 2013

Though leaves are many, the root is one;
Through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;
Now I may wither into the truth.

William Butler Yeats

green leaves of summer

Proverbs 3:13-19

Lexham English Bible (LEB)

 Happy is the one who finds wisdom,
and one who obtains understanding.
For her income is better than the income of silver,
and her revenue than that of gold.
She is more precious than rubies,
and all your desires shall not compare with her.
Length of days is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life for those who seize her;
those who take hold of her are considered happy.

 Yahweh in wisdom founded the earth;
he established the heavens in understanding.





Easy Burden

16 06 2013

“Come to me, all of you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on 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 to carry and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Lexham English Bible (LEB)

Oh, really?

This, from the same Rabbi who said, “The one who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and the one who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

That, from the same Rabbi who said, “But you, watch out for yourselves! They will hand you over to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues and will have to stand before governors and kings because of me, for a witness to them…” and, “They will expel you from the synagogue,  but an hour is coming that all who kill you will think they are offering service to God.  And they will do these things because they do not know the Father or me.”

Indeed.  “These things I command you: that you love one another.  If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hatedyou. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”

Such service is easy? Such life is light?

Consider the records and reports available from Open Doors (www.opendoors.org) and Voice of the Martyrs (www.persecution.com) and Samaritan’s Purse (www.samaritanspurse.org).  How would tens of thousands of Christians so afflicted all around the world today respond to such questions?

Here’s one answer.

Ever since the rebellion that resulted in expulsion from the Garden of Eden, human beings have each toiled under increasingly heavy heaps of sin and its consequences. Jesus says to all, “Come to me…” As Adam Clarke has expressed it, “Sinners, wearied in the ways of iniquity, are … invited to come to this Christ and find speedy relief. Penitents, burdened with the guilt of their crimes, may come to this Sacrifice and find instant pardon. Believers, sorely tempted and oppressed by the remains of the carnal mind, may come to the Blood that cleanseth from all unrighteousness; and, purified from all sin, and powerfully succored in all temptation, they shall find uninterrupted rest in this complete Saviour.”

Here’s a second answer.

Jews of Jesus’ day, if they at all wanted to live lives consistent with their chosen and circumcised status under God, were told by the religious elite they had to obey at least 613 commandments. Add to that all the laws and regulations imposed by their Herodian lords and Roman overlords. Weary? The Greek indicates exhaustion from hard labor. Burdened? The Greek indicates loading down to buckling knees and breaking backs. How could anyone survive, never mind thrive, under such freight?

Even so, Jesus Himself taught, “… let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.  Do not think that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets. I have not come to destroy them, but to fulfill them.  For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one tiny letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all takes place. Therefore whoever abolishes one of the least of these commandments and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever keeps them and teaches them, this person will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say to you that unless your righteousness greatly surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Notice:  “Take my yoke…” Realize that a yoke is an implement made for more than one; a yoke is fitted to a team. Who is the one wearing the other side of the yoke? Jesus.  He is the one who has already been here and seen, heard, smelled, tasted, and felt that which is the human experience.  He is the Son of Man. He is also the Son of God, the Messiah, King of kings and Lord of lords. If Jesus is in the yoke with you, would it not then be easy and light?

Make no mistake. A disciple ( talmid ) of Christ is no pet; (s)he works. A talmid of Christ is no bench-warmer; (s)he gets into the game and plays. A talmid of Christ is no groupie; (s)he gets on stage and performs. A talmid of Christ is no camp-follower; (s)he gets on the field of battle and fights. A talmid of Christ is like Christ. As the Apostle Paul says, Christians conform to His image so that they might very well become His brothers and sisters.

And here’s a third answer.

Pick your sport. How does one become a medal-winning Olympic athlete? Pick your instrument. How does one become a medal-winning concert musician? Pick your armed service. How does one become a medal-winning, special-forces warrior? (S)he works at it … it meaning the transformation of talent into skill.  For almost all the rest of us, that work is more than daunting.  It’s drudgery. It’s dull.  It’s dreadful. But for the one striving for higher achievement? Ah, might that person not say the yoke is easy and the burden is light? What makes the difference? What does that person have that we don’t?

Verve.  Élan. Vivacity.  Esprit.  Spirit.

We’ve all experienced it, that inner something that makes certain work fulfilling – even fun –  while others think it miserable.

Verve.  Élan. Vivacity.  Esprit.  Spirit.

Think Holy Spirit. As Jesus said: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest part of the earth.”

As Paul prayed: “On account of this, I bend my knees before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you according to the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person,  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith (you having been firmly rooted and established in love),  in order that you may be strong enough to grasp together with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, in order that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.  Now to the one who is able to do beyond all measure more than all that we ask or think, according to the power that is at work in us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”





My Inheritance

14 06 2013

1 Protect me, O God,
for I take refuge in you.
2 Oh my soul, you have said to Yahweh, “You are my Lord.
I have no good apart from you.”
3 With regard to the saints who are in the land,
they are the noble ones in whom is all my desire.
4 Those who hurry after another god increase their sorrows.
I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood,
nor take up their names on my lips.
5 Yahweh is the portion which is my share and my cup.
You hold my lot.
6 The measuring lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.
Yes, my inheritance is delightful for me.
7 I will bless Yahweh who advises me;
yes, at night my innermost being instructs me.
8 I have set Yahweh before me always.
Because he is at my right hand I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices.
Yes, my body will dwell in safety,
10 for you will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
you will not give your faithful one to see the grave.
11 You will make known to me the path of life.
In your presence is fullness of joy.
At your right hand are pleasures forever.

 

Psalm 16 (LEB)





Summer

14 06 2013

Winter is cold-hearted
Spring is yea and nay,
Autumn is a weather-cock
Blown every way:
Summer days for me
When every leaf is on its tree;

When Robin’s not a beggar,
And Jenny Wren’s a bride,
And larks hang singing, singing, singing,
Over the wheat-fields wide,
And anchored lilies ride,
And the pendulum spider
Swings from side to side,

And blue-black beetles transact business,
And gnats fly in a host,
And furry caterpillars hasten
That no time be lost,
And moths grow fat and thrive,
And ladybirds arrive.

Before green apples blush,
Before green nuts embrown,
Why, one day in the country
Is worth a month in town;
Is worth a day and a year
Of the dusty, musty, lag-last fashion
That days drone elsewhere.

Christina G. Rossetti

 





The Exposed Nest

9 06 2013

You were forever finding some new play.
So when I saw you down on hands and knees
In the meadow, busy with the new-cut hay,
Trying, I thought, to set it up on end,
I went to show you how to make it stay,
If that was your idea, against the breeze,
And, if you asked me, even help pretend
To make it root again and grow afresh.
But ’twas no make-believe with you today,
Nor was the grass itself your real concern,
Though I found your hand full of wilted fern,
Steel-bright June-grass, and blackening heads of clovers.
‘Twas a nest full of young birds on the ground
The cutter-bar had just gone champing over
(Miraculously without tasking flesh)
And left defenseless to the heat and light.
You wanted to restore them to their right
Of something interposed between their sight
And too much world at once–could means be found.
The way the nest-full every time we stirred
Stood up to us as to a mother-bird
Whose coming home has been too long deferred,
Made me ask would the mother-bird return
And care for them in such a change of scene,
And might our meddling make her more afraid.
That was a thing we could not wait to learn.
We saw the risk we took in doing good,
But dared not spare to do the best we could,
Though harm should come of it; so built the screen
You had begun, and gave them back their shade.
All this to prove we cared. Why is there then
No more to tell? We turned to other things.
I haven’t any memory–have you?–
Of ever coming to the place again
To see if the birds lived the first night through,
And so at last to learn to use their wings.

Robert Frost
“And let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give up.”  (Galatians 6:9 LEB)