Today, Pentecost, I read the first lesson at church and it is Acts 2:1-21. It is immodest and somewhat difficult to say that I may have experienced something that the Apostles also did and still try to be humble, but that is how I believe it was. In this picture which was taken with a film camera, there are three lights in it that are just very peculiar. Well, you can see that the lights in the place are not blurred or leaving motion trails, and the three small lights, one on the right of the column with the clock, two on the left, all have an upward trail. I swear I did not Photo Shop this picture, and I will make no claims about what is in the picture other than me, my brother's wife and a clock, and three floating lights. I am aware that sometimes film gets static discharges that appear as luminous spots, and even if these are such static discharges; three of them? At the precise moment I was baptized? That's what I mean.
Thinking a little while ago about forgiveness in general and that I have to be more forgiving because I sinned greatly in my younger years. I am not talking about this horrific second marriage and such, as I think I did what I had to do and was as right as I could be, and continue to try to do so. I wish I had not married her, but she was about obsessed with me back then as she is against me now, probably stronger back then, she was younger. But that, again, is not for this page.
I did things that were wrong when I was a kid, but I did not do things that hurt anyone - more mischief than evil. I remember how we misbehaved at Oak Hills when I was a kid, with the twins, and that whole crowd back then. It is like something from a story, so unreal in today's world.
We were non-observant Jews back then, and that is probably a little over-stated. I could not find answers in Judaism as I did not believe anyone could observe the laws that make up Judaism. I was totally unaware, for decades of my life, that this is exactly what Jesus was about. If I had seen this, I would have been baptized while I was still in USAF, and probably would have made a career as I would not have felt like, and been treated by some as, the outsider Jew. My mother always referred to me as "The Statistic" since everything I enjoyed doing were traditionally not the arena of her brand of Jews (foxhunting, USAF, etc.), and her joke was that I was the insignificant statistical aberration that was unlike the larger number, if you don't get it do not lose sleep over it. I am the best example I know of how free will can screw us up, but free will is what the Lord gave us, and I do not see how it has not led to sin; free will, that is.
The above photo was taken at 00:07 on a snowy early Christmas Day 2002 (camera clock is off). I was reading (I think from Timothy, or Titus) at World Trade Center Ground Zero. Joe had asked if I wanted to read, and I did. Linked to the picture are NYPD photos of 9-11. I remember that I had forgotten to set the camera clock time and it was actually 12:07 AM. Spring forward, Fall back; I forgot to fall back on the camera clock - NEVER fall back!
I was walking the dogs in the Park on Monday, 28 May, and I was humming "Amazing Grace" and for the life of me I could not remember the last verse. I looked it up on the BlackBerry and immediately forgot it again. Well, had to see the oncologist on Wednesday, 30 May, and I was sweating out whether they would tell me it is back or would renew my prescriptions or would decide I am not longer eligible, and all that neurotic crap I do. Things went well, praise the Lord, and afterwards I went to the Patriot Store to buy some junk. Waiting on line to pay I look at the books for sale, and there is a beautiful leather zippered Bible cover/holder with the last stanza of Amazing Grace tooled into the front of it. Of course I bought it. What does this mean to me? It is a sign from the Lord that he is there and hears me and is involved with me.
Some time ago, in the autumn, I think - no, the properties menu says the picture is from 2 August 2011. Well, anyway, it was before the present visitation misery, and it was some other divorce misery that had me out walking the dogs on Rugby Road, and I came upon an Explorer with that license plate, on the left. Psalm 37.
Psalm 37 was right on target for the way I was feeling, which is actually a commentary both on the universal nature of these wonderful liturgical song/poems, but it also was specific to how I was feeling at that time. I was amazed that I had never seen that Explorer with that license plate before (yes, I do notice those things; I might miss a meteor falling in front of me but I generally read license plates and even tire brands, never said I was not nuts).
So, today, 31 May, I had an appointment with Dr. Joy at the VA, my primary care physician and a really good guy. He not only has an MD degree, but also a JD degree: He became a doctor after he was a lawyer because he wanted to make an honest living, or so he says. So we more socialize than have a medical visit. About a year and a half ago I saw him carrying one of the distinctive, green covered, Harvard Classics, and I asked him how he came to be reading that. He told me he was teaching himself ancient Greek. I told him that I had tried doing that about a decade or more earlier, after I read Izzy Stone's "Death of Socrates," which blurb states I.F. Stone taught himself Attic (ancient) Greek when he was around 94 to do this book, so I figured I should do that too, but it did not work out for me anywhere near as well as it did for Izzy
Not sure he believed me at the time. Pretty sure he believed me after I left him a stack of about ten books, including an Ancient (Attic) Greek/English dictionary, the Harvard Greek Grammar and about four of the Harvard Classics. So now we talk about that sort of thing. I dropped off a book I had by Norton, who did the new Cambridge Paragraph Bible, about the history of the King James Version. Well we were talking today and he told me that the whole matrimonial law scene is dominated by a process designed to make money for the lawyers. Okay, that is what I have always said, so now I am sure. I took the bus home and as I was walking down Rugby from the bus stop on Foster I passed this car with this license plate: Psalm143. So help me, this is not Photo-Shopped or anything other than what I saw. I looked at the plate, said to myself, Look at that, and kept walking. About three paces away I stopped and looked again not really believing this, and took the photo on the BlackBerry. Now I will tell you that I do not recall in my entire life ever having seen a license plate with a psalm title on it, and I have in the past year seen this twice, and both times the psalm was very much involved with my clear and present misery. Now be honest and think of how many times you have seen license plates with pertinent scripture citations on them. No, my neighborhood is not very religious, and the part that is religious is mostly muzzy or maybe Orthodox Jewish and Jews generally do not pay the extra fee for special plates.
My conclusion is that I find this another proof of the Lord letting me know he is there. And, yes, this guy will have a hard time getting out of his parking spot judging by the distance to the bumper in front of him. I do not remember what was behind him, maybe a Proverbs license plate? Job?
Today, 3rd June 2012 is Dad's 102nd birthday; it is Trinity Sunday, and the 85th anniversary of our church, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA) (yeah, I did the Website). Reverend Lindeman was the representative of the Synod at our church, and he gave a sermon that started off with a reference to the three states of water. About eight years ago, when the pastor at Advent-Gravesend was off on one of his trips, I gave the Trinity Sunday sermon (.pdf form or .mp3) and it alludes to the treble point of water. Hah! And on the subject of birthdays and anniversaries, as Dad's birthday is the same as the church, my birthday, 3rd December is the same day we all rushed out to Garden City for Pastor Omar's ordination. No, I do not believe in coincidence, and this shared incidence (nice way to get around that word, huh?) of our birthdays and our church's important dates only affirms the Lord knows the slightest details of our lives and is "dancing" this eternal divine interaction of the Father Son and Holy Spirit there, as Reverend Lindeman said.
Reading Luther's "Faith Alone" of 24 and 25 June, they fall into a pattern with Oswald Chambers ("My Utmost for His Highest") for 24 and 25 June. It is this broad idea that our faith includes suffering: We bear the cross with Christ, much like Simon of Cyrene did, but perhaps a more personal manner. I know in my life when I find myself enjoying a respite from the battle, that I must give thanks to the Lord for the "R & R" that he is allowing me between rounds of His purifying those He loves. That these two sources of inspiration - Luther & Chambers - should coincide on these themes only makes them more valid and clearly - to me - places the Lord "posts" his message to me.
Other thoughts are that I am thoroughly behind our beloved pastor in his position that he would not marry a homosexual "couple." I drew a parallel to Luther refusing to acknowledge or validate Henry VIII's divorce of Catherine of Aragon. In both cases the instrument of marriage becomes one not for procreation, but is perverted to recreation. (That is an over-simplification in Henry VIII's case, as he wanted a son and heir, yet he also changed wives like I change socks.)
This is not to say that having sex with one's spouse should not be enjoyable and truly a form of recreation, in that we re-create ourselves; it is saying that a category of "relationship" (I have grown to dislike the overuse of that word) that defines itself solely in the nature of its romantic or sexual practice - sodomy in this case - is a category of absolutely no value at all. Recall the Lord's destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?
Elaborating on my simile to Henry VIII's time, and to sodomites of today, consider that in both cases each of the categories (Henry VIII and sodomites) hold significant political power. Granted, and thankfully so, the sodomites do not have near the absolute power of a 16th century monarch, they have enough power to make defying them a test of one's courage and faith; especially in our corrupt, politicized judicial system today. Bravo and blessings to our beloved Pastor Omar.
I have on the desk a stack of yellow Post-It Notes with various Bible verses written on them, and a hint of why I wrote them down. May as well list these here, see if anything interesting comes from it.
The name "Ananias" appears in both Acts 5:1 and 9:10; in one he leads Paul to baptism, in the other he holds out on the Holy Spirit and is struck dead, with his wife, Sapphira. Interesting, maybe Ananias was a common name?
Then I have a notation about Isaiah 32:8 that says "liberals." Well, the verse says:
But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.
Well, can't argue with that. So what's next? Okay, I have a note that says: 1 Cor 5:7-8, "Why do we not celebrate Passover?" Well, that verse can be seen symbolically or literally in which we can interpret it that we should keep the feast day of Passover, or that the Lord's Supper is our continual Passover.
Note says, Luke 11: 46 & 52, "Lawyers." Not much I can add to that, other than Shakespear was right: "FIrst thing we do is kill all the lawyers." Can start with the judge in my divorce and then take care of her lawyer, then the idiot they appointed for Katie ... Okay, okay, that is for the other blog.
Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.
Guess that says something about having lunch with a lawyer, huh?
I am going to save Deuteronomy 22:5 and Romans 1:26 ... for another day; perhaps one in which I feel like ranting about how much more Sodom and Gommorah we are than Sodom and Gomorrah were. Just about hot enough to rain brimstone here, in NYC today.
I will say that I am intrigued with John 21:21-23; it is almost a great idea for a fictional novel based on the idea that John has never died. Kind of like the reverse DaVinci Code kind of thing. Imagine if John has never died, but will live until Jesus returns? Most people look at this verse and conclude that it is proof Jesus is not coming back because John has clearly died in the last 2100 years. But maybe not? I mean, anybody seen his death certificate?
What would he look like? Can he somehow rejuvenate himself and wander off and be somebody else for another lifetime? Very interesting stuff. Luke 21:32 adds to this intriguing idea, in that the generation cannot pass away if one member of it is still alive. That would be John, I believe.
Yes, it has been a while since I have posted anything here, been busy with health and legal matters.
However, I recently purchased a commentary, "The Book of Isaiah," 3 Volumes By: Edward J. Young, from http://www.christianbook.com. This is a set adding up to over 1500 pages of excellent work on my favorite OT book, Isaiah. I will not say much more about this here, other than to say that I am well into Volume 1 and the historical accuracy of Isaiah is remarkable. I am very happy that I am able to resume and continue my study of Biblical and ancient history that I had started so many decades ago.
Isaiah is my favorite OT book, probably next to Genesis, and he is certainly my favorite prophet. I remember when I had the Soncino Chumash, they referred to the "Christological References" in Isaiah; I now wish I had kept my Jewish texts, and my Masoretic Text Bible, rather than discarding them. Well, nothing worse for scholarship than energetic, new, fervent faith. Just another foolish thing I have done, on a long list of foolishness.
We so often expect our prayers to give us results in our time without realizing that "... one day is as a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is as one day." I am probably the most susceptible to this as anyone I know. I hope that my prayers will be answered and problems resolved right now, but it does not work that way. I want to ask the Lord to let me know he has heard me, praying about the inequity in the legal action and the court; how my wife is lying to entrap me, but I know we are not supposed to tempt or test the Lord, so I just do my thing. Well, I opened my Bible to the marked page, and it is Psalm 35. Read or listen to this Psalm and you will understand.
It has been a while since I have posted anything to this Faith Blog, and that is not an indication of the state of my faith, which I am pleased to say is strong. It is an indication of my general laziness and so forth.
I was thinking about faith and how the Lord manifests in our lives, and got to thinking about the two license plates (the Psalm 43 & 143 plates). I have noted that whenever I take the dogs out in the neighborhood, or when I walk somewhere I continually look for these plates, but I have never seen them again, nor have I seen any other similar license plates. So you tell me what that means, I know what it means. It is just a very evident and remarkable sign that we have a Lord who hears, and who does. In His time.
Like everyone else who has read the New Testament, I have always been puzzled by the Eucharist - the "body and blood" of Christ. The most basic question has always been: Why would the Lord want me to eat His body, drink His blood? It really sounds ghastly and to the non-Christian it is even more so and bafflingly so.
Well, this has been on a back burner in my sadly declining mind, and not long ago I got what - to me - is purely an epiphany of understanding about this sacrificial substitution. I will try to explain my understanding, which is probably only something new to me.
I remember in the Mel Gibson movie, "The Passion of the Christ" there is a scene passing by the Temple where a drain is literally flooding with the blood of the sacrifices, a literal cataract of blood. That stuck in my mind as an indicator of how many animals were slaughtered in the old Temple Sacrificial Cult. If you read Leviticus you get an idea of what was required; something animal lovers (me) might object to. Of course, the Jews were unique in that time in that they sacrificed animals and not people, a step up, perhaps.
So with his in mind, I go back to the Lord's Supper: how is this bread and wine to become the body and blood of the Savior? Then it clicked, in my rusty mind: The wafer and wine do not become the body and blood, the Body and Blood become the Bread and Wine; in other words, we no longer sacrifice flesh, we have some bread and wine, instead. It is not a mysterious transubstantiation it is a heavenly ordered substitution. Something on the order of: You will no longer sacrifice flesh and blood, I have sacrificed myself as the last of these; henceforth, "This [bread] is My Body, given for you, This [wine] is My Blood, given for you."
The time of blood and slaughter is ended; or so it means to me. Occam's Razor: The simplest explanation is always the correct one. (Besides. where on earth - literally - did they get all those animals to sacrifice? It was literally a slaughterhouse running all day - kind of like feed lots supplying MacDonald's, I guess.)
Tomorrow my father is 103 years old - remarkable. His "kid brother," my uncle Robbie, turns 102 in August.
I have done little with the website for a while. Forgive me, I am trying to get back to it.
You can read on the Dogs & Cats page about the fracture Mopsey had in her leg; I will not duplicate that here, but you can follow this link to get there.
When we took Mopsey to the local emergency vet, VERG, they told us that they were certain she had osteosarcoma and that it would shortly metastasize to her lungs and so she would pass on. This diagnosis was confirmed by my dearest and oldest friend, Dan, who is a UPenn VMD, and the smartest veterinarian I have ever known. He said, "Well, by the time it is diagnosed it will go to the lungs and that is the end." Dan was a little short tempered with me as he knows osteosarcoma is a painful disease, and he thought I was not acting in the best way as to minimize Mopsey's pain. I do not think it was until the head of orthopedics at the Animal Medical Center told us she was not in pain that Dan was satisfied she was not in pain.
I have prayed morning and night for Mopsey, and for Rufus and the cats, and I have no doubt at all that the Lord has heard this and answered our prayers. In our last visit to the AMC, our veterinarian in the physical rehab department had X-Rays taken and she was jubilant when the results came back that not only was Mopsey's leg healing, but the bone is thickening and the tumor is encapsulated. The vet actually admitted that she had to "thank God for this."
Later, when I told this to Dan, he said, "This is truly something you never see, it really is miraculous."
They had already given Mopsey the nickname, "The Miracle Kid," at the Animal Medical Center, and now that is really starting to stick.
As for the Lord blessing our pets and animals, many will argue that there is no provision in Scripture for animals to have souls; however, in Mark 16:15, it is written: "And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.'"
That is every creature, not every nation; it is expressly intended for the Gospel to be preached to the "creatures." If the synonym, "animals" was used it might have made this clearer. In meaning, it provides basis to believe that the animals, all of them, are to be included in the Good News, and this infers they certainly have souls, just as my Mopsey, Rufus, Tom and Huckleberry have. In light of this, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has most graciously done as I have humbly asked Him in prayer: He has reached out and touched Mopsey and created healing in her leg. All I can say now is, "Praise the Lord, amen."