Wednesday, August 31, 2005

batlh yInob!

This is a quick note - no audio on this entry -

PLEASE consider a donation in relief for Hurricane Katrina. Support to organizations like the Red Cross or the Salvation Army will assist them not only in this current emergency, but it will help them prepare for the next one as well! batlh yInob! Give with honor!

 But this I say,
He which soweth sparingly
shall reap also sparingly;
and he which soweth bountifully
shall reap also bountifully.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart,
so let him give;
not grudgingly,
or of necessity:
for God loveth a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:6,7

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Great Deeds!

jIH DichDaq bom, HIja', jIH DichDaq bom praises Daq joH'a'.
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD. [Psalm 27:6]

podcast version

Have you ever been caught up in a celebration that felt like a tidal wave? Can you remember being filled with a spirit of pure celebration, so exciting that there really wasn't anything you could do to restrain it?

I can think of two very specific times in my life where this happened, in very different circumstances, but surprisingly enough in the same place.

In 1987, I was fortunate enough to have tickets to the World Series - and I and my son were part of a clapping, yelling and singing mass of humanity that cheered the Twins on to victory - it was an awesome experience.

And again, some years later, I participated in a Billy Graham crusade in the same domed stadium, filled to the rafters with people once again cheering a victory - this time not an athletic contest, but the victory that God offers believers.

Now I think there is something, well, Klingon, in such racuous celebrations. There is a Klingon proverb "ta'mey Dun, bommey Dun," Great deeds, great songs. That is, there is something to cheer, to witness to, to SING about in great deeds worthy of celebration.

The Biblical notion is "testimony" - a legal concept of giving witness to an event, but in the Bible it isn't just a matter of dry recitation - our witness should ring out - some might even say it should ROCK.

The term here rendered "bom praises" (sing praises) comes from a Hebrew word, zemer, that is used 41 times in the Hebrew scriptures (almost exclusively in Psalms), meaning "to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument, i.e. play upon it; to make music" - like play a guitar - and it is used as to mean making music accompanied by the voice; hence to celebrate in song and music:--give praise, sing forth praises, psalms.

Not everyone has the same gift of music - nor do all appreciate the same kinds of music. Sometimes it seems like a surefire way to introduce friction into a community of believers is to ask them what kind of worship music they prefer - or worse yet, force everyone to use only one kind.

But scripture wisely does not tie us down to one style or fashion of music - because the details of instrumentation and style are not the point. The point is summed up well in that Klingon phrase "ta'mey Dun, bommey Dun," Great deeds, great songs. We have a great God, who has done tremendous things, wonderful saving acts for his people, again and again. We need to bear witness to this in words and songs that will remind us again and again that indeed we can turn to him. And when we remember that, with David we'll do just what the apostle Paul admonished us to do: will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. [Ephesians 5:19NLT]

Saturday, August 20, 2005


vaD Daq the jaj vo' Seng ghaH DichDaq pol jIH secretly Daq Daj pavilion. Daq the covert vo' Daj tabernacle ghaH DichDaq So' jIH. ghaH DichDaq lift jIH Dung Daq a nagh.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me secretly in his pavilion. In the covert of his tabernacle he will hide me. He will lift me up on a rock. Psalm 27:5

So'wI' yIchu'! If you were a crew member on a Klingon ship, you might hear that command. If you did, you'd be wise to expect trouble. It means "engage the cloaking device," and it is just what a Klingon ship might do when preparing an attack, or when trying evade one.

So'wI' comes from the Klingon verb, So', to hide. Adding the suffix -wI', "that which does" is kind of like adding -er to an English word, as in how print becomes printer. So a cloaking device, So'wI', is "that which hides."

ghaH DichDaq So' jIH - he will hide me.

We hear David say in this Psalm. The Hebrew word used here for So', or hide, is tsaphan, and means to hide by covering over - in other words, to cloak. It is used 30 times in the Hebrew scriptures - both positively (as it is here in the sense of protection) and negatively (in the sense of to lurk). But the concept - of God providing protection and sanctuary is a rich one throughout the Bible, that encompasses other terms. In particular we see the Hebrew word cathar, used 80 times in the Bible, express this notion throughout the book of Psalms:

In Psalm 17:
Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings

and in Psalm 31:
Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence

or Psalm 32
Thou art my hiding place

Some might question the idea of "hiding" - either in a hero like David, or in a Klingon. But we know that warriors - Biblical or alien - will use every means at their disposal to succeed.

Certainly the strategy - and the need - to hide would be familiar to David. A hero among his people, his very popularity made him a renegade when King Saul feared David would displace him. David had to live as an outlaw and hide from the King. Yet, even when he had the chance to kill the King as he slept, David did not use his stealth to steal the crown.

In most cases [and yes, I know the exceptions] Klingons also use stealth honorably, never firing from hiding, but only using their cloaking for protection during a fight. Their So'wI', their cloaking device is NOT a tool for deceit.

Believers too, have access to cloaking - though not a machine. It comes not in any technology, but is part of the faith relationship we need, of turning to the LORD in times of trouble.

As Psalm 119 says:

SoH 'oH wIj hiding Daq je wIj yoD. jIH tul Daq lIj mu'.

Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word. Psalm 119:114

So'wI' DaneH'a'? Davoqchugh, joH'a' DuSo'chu'
Do you need a cloak? If you trust him, the LORD WILL hide you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Just One Thing

wa' Doch jIH ghaj tlhobta' vo' joH'a', vetlh jIH DichDaq nej after, vetlh jIH may yIn Daq the tuq vo' joH'a' Hoch the jajmey vo' wIj yIn, Daq legh joH'a'

One thing I have asked of the LORD, that I will seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to see the LORD's beauty, and to inquire in his temple. Psalm 27.4

podcast version

wa' : Now there is an easy Klingon word to learn - it almost sounds like its English meaning: ONE. (I often tell people that just learning the number words in Klingon, or Ewok, will probably make you the most fluent speaker of that language for miles.)

"wa'" translates the Hebrew word 'echad, the same word heard in the shema - one of the most core proclamations of the Hebrew scriptures: shema Yisroel, Adonai Elohenu, Adonai 'echad - hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is ONE.

"wa' Doch ghaj jIH tlhobta'" - one thing have I asked - we hear the psalmist, thought to be David, say this and there is almost a fairy-tale quality to it. It makes me think of the "three wishes" granted by the Genie to Alladin.

What "wa' Doch," what one thing would you ask if given the opportunity? Does it surprise you that, just after talking about horrific enemies David jumps to something that may sound to our modern ears like "I really want to go to church!" ?

Why not safety? Victory? Prosperity for his family?

Well, we need to understand that David isn't just talking about a place here. The temple would not be built until after his life. If he was thinking at all of a specific place, it would be the sanctuary he put up to house the Ark of the Covenant in Gibon.

I agree with the writer who noted "David may ... mean 'the presence of the LORD.' His greatest desire was to live in God's presence each day of his life."

This Psalm echoes David's "Shepherd Psalm," with its confident "I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever." The Hebrew phrase "house of the LORD," (b'vet Adonai) in Psalm 23 is the same here.

What wa' Doch - one thing - should we seek? IF we take David's advice, we'll seek and enjoy God's presence. In the battlefields of life, that presence offers more than simple relief, for those who find that "one thing" will find an empowering, life-giving relationship not just - Hoch the jajmey vo' wIj yIn - all the days of my life - but FOREVER.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Confidence Man!

'a' an army should Dab Daq jIH, wIj tIq DIchDaq ghobe' taHvIp. 'a' veS should Hu' Daq jIH, 'ach vaj jIH DichDaq taH voqtaHqu'.

Though an army should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear. Though war should rise against me, even then I will be confident. Psalm 27:3

podcast version

There is a Klingon expression "Duj tIvoqtaH" - usually translated as "always trust your instincts." It is a phrase that, looking back over the beginning of Psalm 27 I would rephrase "joH'a' yIvoqtaH" - Always trust the LORD.

voq - to trust - this is the focus here. The word voqtaHqu' (really be trusting!) is used to represent the English word "confident," and translates the Hebrew word batach - to hie for refuge, in other words, to trust, be confident or sure. It is used over one hundred times in the Bible, and underlines the utter reliance of believers on the LORD, who they can turn to when surrounded by foes.

Taking this verse from Psalm 27, or even this whole Psalm, on its own, it may not be clear why the author is so trusting. There is not much more (at least so far) than just a declaration of trust in God, so where does this confidence come from? From history. Remembering all that God has done.

There is a principle I like to call "mnemonic theology," whereby when REMEMBERING what God has done, we reinforce the trust in what he can and will do. This remembrance is why being people of the book is so very important for believers. By reading and remembering the acts of God in history (his story, after all) we are encouraged to yIvoqtaH - continually trust - in Him. When we remember what God can do, we're more inclined to run to him when we are in need.

Fixing our thoughts on the LORD's deeds - thats what leads us to batach, to voqtaHqu', to TRUST: It's the same word in Isaiah 26:3's testimony to faith:

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you,
whose thoughts are fixed on you! (NLT)

Friday, August 05, 2005

When Evildoers Come

ghorgh evildoers ghoSta' Daq jIH Daq Sop Dung wIj ghab, 'ach wIj jaghpu' je wIj foes, chaH stumbled je pumta'.
When evildoers came at me to eat up my flesh, even my adversaries and my foes, they stumbled and fell. Psalm 27:2

Podcast Version

There is not much wishful thinking among Klingons. Practical and direct, their idea of pleasantry is to say nuqneH - what do you want?

So, to a Klingon, verse 2 of Psalm 27 comes as no surprise.

ghorgh evildoers ghoSta'
When evildoers came

Yes, joH'a' ghaH toDwI'wI' - God is my salvation - but enemies will come still.

Maybe a human would think that declaring God was your "light and salvation," as this Psalm does in its first verse would be leading into something, well, upbeat? This psalm made clear that it's author has no fear, yet the next words express an equal confidence that enemies lurk around the corner.

He's got no question that they are out there - worse yet when you hear his assessment of their intentions:

Daq Sop Dung wIj ghab
to eat up my flesh

This is not an indictment of cannibalism - it is just a strong way of saying how vicious the enemy is considered (we see this same idea expressed in psalms 14 and 53, by the way). I don't know of this ever being taken literally, but the meaning is clear: like Klingons with their bluntness, scripture presents us here with a realistic picture of the world - there are terrors to be faced, even when you trust God to be your light and salvation.

How do you face such trouble?

Well, when you're in the middle of a battle it is too late to plan for it. As the saying goes, "when your up to you waist in alligators, it's too late to drain the swamp." You need to prepare ahead of time. This is a theme, to "be prepared" that continues through this psalm - watch for it as we continue.

But notice as we see victory, as we see the enemy's defeat, it comes by grace. NOT by the battle prowess of the Psalmist, not by some warrior's might. The enemy, the evildoer will stumble -the word is kashal , "to totter or waver." Not just that, they will finally fall. The Hebrew is naphal, a primitive root with a host of meanings, like "lost, lying, overthrow, overwhelm, perish."

And remember, we trust in a God who not only ensures that evildoers will fall in the end, but sees to it that believers will not - as Psalm 94 says:

ghorgh jIH ja'ta', “ wIj qam ghaH slipping!” lIj muSHa'taH pung, joH'a', held jIH Dung.

When I said, “My foot is slipping!” Your loving kindness, LORD, held me up. (v18)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

No Fear!

joH'a' ghaH wIj wov je wIj toDtaHghach. 'Iv DIchDaq jIH taHvIp? joH'a' ghaH the HoS vo' wIj yIn. vo' 'Iv DIchDaq jIH taH vIp?

The LORD is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

podcast version

Klingons aren't just bold - they're fearless. If you can say "they don't know the meaning of the word fear," about anyone, it really would be Klingons. It literally isn't in their dictionary. The closest you get is the dispositional suffix for verbs: "-vIp."

tlhIngan Hol (the Klingon language) has a system of suffixes to modify the meanings of words - and one set modify verbs to give a disposition: HoHlaH (able to kill), HoHqang (willing to kill), HoHvIp (afraid to kill). So I've added this suffix -vIp to the word for "continue," taH, giving "taHvIP," afraid to continue. (Note: the Hebrew word used in this Psalm, yirah, is the same word used in Psalm 23 where we read "I will fear no evil.") Later in this verse I cheat a little, using the suffix alone to stand in for the concept of "afraid." That's a stretch, but we do have some evidence that at times (at least as slang) the suffixes may be used as standalone words.

You should note that there is a strong taboo in Klingon to admit fear. The Klingon Dictionary notes that while it is grammatically correct to say "jIghoSvIp" or "maghoSvIp" (I am afraid to go, we are afraid to go), it is culturally taboo. Be careful what you say to a Klingon!

A strongly military society it makes sense that Klingons would resist admitting fear. Yet I think they would appreciate the of the import of this verse:

joH'a' ghaH wIj wov je wIj toDtaHghach. 'Iv DIchDaq jIH taHvIp?
The LORD is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear?

In battle you need intelligence (light) and victory (salvation). Knowledge alone will not give you victory, nor will simple might make you able to have the right strategy. Banishing defeat - eliminating fear - is only possible when you have both "wov toDtaHghach je'," "light and salvation." I think the psalmist is reminding us this will happen only if we have the right ally: God.

Now, it is easy to think that the bravado of Klingons in keeping "fear" out of their vocabulary is mere bluster. Yet in verse after verse we discover that Scripture is reminding us again and again NOT to fear. When we hear Jesus say "Don't be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom." (Luke 12:32) or Moses when he says about Israel's enemies "You shall not fear them; for the LORD your God, he it is who fights for you." (Deuteronomy 3:22) we can see that we have an ally, indeed the only ally, who can help us cut fear out of our dictionary - forever!

As God says through Isaiah:

Don't you be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10