Saturday, July 29, 2006

Light makes....

joH'a', chaw' the wov vo' lIj qab shine Daq maH.

LORD, let the light of your face shine on us. Psalm 4:6b

(click for podcast version)

When you travel in space, "light" matters. Not merely because of the "blackness of space" but because light, the energy of the stars, can be a vital resource. A source of light, and power - just as it is on Earth. It is common to power spacecraft with solar energy - consider the valiant robots STILL exploring Mars, charging and recharging themselves with... LIGHT. In the future great solar sails will be used to drive ships through the solar system - even to other stars.

AND... in this verse we hear also of light - the light that shines from God.

joH'a', chaw' the wov vo' lIj qab shine Daq maH.

LORD, let the light of your face shine on us. Psalm 4:6b

There is one saying that humans have, which I expect Klingons would have no trouble with: Might makes right. It echoes the Klingon aphorism

reH lugh charghwI'. The victor is always right.

But the verse we're considering suggests a different thought that might be paraphrased "light makes right," for in this final clause of Psalm 4:6 we get the answer to last week's question “Who will show us any good?” We will find good in the LIGHT of God's presence.

Light is "wov" in Klingon. The Hebrew word here is "ore" and shows up over 100 times in the Bible meaning illumination or luminary in every sense, including lightning, happiness, and so on. It is the positive power of light - the way we see things, the way we see what needs to be done.

We enjoy God's light - the real, literal sunshine that gives life and energy to our planet, and the light of God's blessing. The gifts we receive FROM him every day.

joH'a', chaw' the wov vo' lIj qab shine Daq maH.

LORD, let the light of your face shine on us. Psalm 4:6b

This light is not ours to keep. We are not to hoard light for our selves - like the time Mr. Burns tried to keep Springfield in perpetual darkness so he could sell more power. We are, in fact to be light ourselves:

'ach vaj, chaw' lIj wov shine qaSpa' loDpu'; vetlh chaH may legh lIj QaQ vum, je glorify lIj vav 'Iv ghaH Daq chal.

Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Mt 5:16

As we travel around the universe, we look to the light of the stars, suns and what is reflected from the planets, and when we do, we experience the gracious gifts of God, the source of all life and light - GIVE THANKS! Reflect that light today - let your light shine!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Be Goooood.

law' jatlh, " 'Iv DichDaq cha' maH vay' QaQ?"
Many say, "Who will show us any good?" Psalm 4:6a

(click for podcast version)

David reports a proper question - one worth thinking about in any time - from Biblical times down to the departure of ET with his admonition to "be gooooood." Just what do we mean by "good?"

Now, "Good" - is a rich word in any language. Webster's lists over 40 meanings for "good" - from not weak or defective, valid, complete,having moral qualities, to conformable to the moral law or proper, among others.

The Hebrew word here, tobe, comes from a root meaning to "be good" - and itself is translated in the KJV in many ways - favour, fine, glad, good, graciously, joyful, kindly, kindness, loving, and merry - to name only a few.

In the KLV I've used QaQ, tlhIngan Hol for "be good" to be the word "good" - but it gets stretched across a variety of meanings as well - currently forms of it are used to represent the English terms good, goodness, well, righteous, righteousness and soundness.

All of this range of meaning is worth reflecting on when he hear the Psalmist present the question:

law' jatlh, " 'Iv DichDaq cha' maH vay' QaQ?"
Many say, "Who will show us any good?" Psalm 4:6a

What is the definition, what are we asking for, when we ask for "the good?"

Considering the phrase "one man's meat is another man's poison," it must be granted there is ambiquity between cultures, some variety in subjective assessments of "the good."

My idea of a "good day" doesn't (usually) encompass the Klingon phrase:

Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam.
It is a good day to die.

Yes, this may be "good" in the sense of proper - but few would consider such a day a "good one."

The answer I find is one Jesus offers - but it's not an easy answer. When confronted by a questioner who says to him "Good teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" Jesus offers the non sequiter "Why do you call me good? No one is good but one, that is, God." (Mt 19)

This puzzling response points us back to the definition, the standard by which to judge what is good: God.

I say it isn't an easy answer because it forces believers to think about things, not from their limited, time-bound perspective, but by reflecting on God and His Word in order to measure and guide our lives.

His questioner certainly got no easy answer, as Jesus continued,

"But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments."

When he defended as a "commandment keeper," himself Jesus drove the point further -

Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."
But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he was one who had great possessions.

law' jatlh, " 'Iv DichDaq cha' maH vay' QaQ?"
Many say, "Who will show us any good?" Psalm 4:6a

To point the rich young man to what was truly good and lasting, Jesus had to point him away from his temporal treasures. He needed to make a choice between his goods and what is truly good. And so must I, so must we all.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

nob the nobmey vo' QaQtaHghach.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness. Psalm 4:5a
(click for podcast)

On any planet, in any solar system - "giving a gift" (nob nobtaH) is a tricky matter.

Now, given the directness of tlhIngan interactions they may be puzzled at our human wisdom: "it's the thought that counts." After all, among the sayings of Klingon wisdom is the terse: ram meqmey. / Motives are insignificant. To a Klingon ACTIONS do speak louder than words. They don't care about "the thought."

Of course, when it comes to those times when we are RECEIVING the gift - birthdays, for example, sadly we may look at the GIFT - the substance - instead of the intent, the soul, as it were , of the giver.

The Bible details a complex system of gifts, of sacrifices that are part of the faith of ancient Israel.

As the Life Application Bible notes,

Worship in David’s day included animal sacrifices by the priests in the Tabernacle. The animal’s blood covered the sins of the one who offered the animal. There were specific rules for offering sacrifices, but more important to God than ceremony was the offerer’s attitude of submission and obedience.

It is in such a context that we hear David say:

nob the nobmey vo' QaQtaHghach.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness.Psalm 4:5a

Here's something I find interesting - in the Hebrew, the Latin, the Klingon, and the English, we tie the object to the act. That is we GIVE a GIFT. Or we OFFER an OFFERING. The Klingon says we "nob" a "nob" - the verb and noun give and gift are the same. Even further across the Galaxies, we find that the Mando'a language - spoken by Mandalorians, like Jango or Boba Fett connect the act to the object - they "dinuir" (give) a "dinui" (gift). You could render this phrase as dinuir haar tor dinui - give the justice gift.

Now, in our giving/nobtaH we are to be "righteous" or "just" - we aren't MERELY supposed to give a gift, but to do it the RIGHT way.

What does that mean? Here, is where the Hebrew parallelism of the psalm helps us out.

Often in the Bible's poetry we find one phrase parallels the thought to emphasize or clarify the meaning - this is no exception - I think the meaning here is much more clear when we read the whole verse:

nob the nobmey vo' QaQtaHghach. lan lIj voq Daq joH'a'.

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness.
Put your trust in the LORD

We are to GIVE to God - in service to him in worship, in service to others - it takes many forms, but the measure of "righteousness" comes in the simple clause - put your trust in the LORD.

"I couldn't," "I can't," "that's too much,"... I have so many ways to hold back, to limit the way I give, but this psalm stills my complaints with just a simple

lan lIj voq Daq joH'a' / put your trust in the LORD.

voq or trust - represent the Hebrew word batach - a word with the idea "to hie for refuge " - that is depend on God for our ultimate security.

This is where we can expand our gifts, our service beyond the limits we impose. TRUST in the LORD - depend on him and I'll find I don't need to hold back, I don't need to save a reserve. I'll give rightly, give the tor dinui, the righteous gift.

I like these words from St. Peter

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.
(1 pt 5:7 NLT)

What gifts do you have to share? Trust in the LORD and give!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

taH vIHHa'!

Search lIj ghaj tIq Daq lIj bed, je taH vIHHa'.
Search your own heart on your bed, and be still. Psalms 4:4b

Klingons, as I've noted before, are not Vulcans. Nor do humans present a passionless, dry and logical face to the universe. That is why we - humans and Klingons - need this word of scripture, the command to taH vIHHa' / be still.

[In fact, if you know the history of the Vulcan race, even they needed this advice - for they too have a violent and bloody history.]

I've noted that the Bible's advice is NOT to be without emotions. "Be angry, and don't sin" is how Paul interprets the beginning of this verse, in his letter to the Ephesians. The problem is not emotion - rather the problem is letting it run away with us. Even Jesus displayed anger in facing down the abuse of religious people when he turned the moneychangers out of the temple.

The concern is our response to troubling emotions - and this passage points the way:

Search lIj ghaj tIq Daq lIj bed, je taH vIHHa'.
Search your own heart on your bed, and be still. Psalms 4:4b

The word vIHHa', still, is the same Klingon term used in the KLV of Psalm 23's "still waters." vIH - be in motion, plus the negation suffix, Ha' means "not be in motion," i.e. be still. The Hebrew root here is different - here it is damam, only appearing a couple of dozen times in the Bible, translated as cease, be cut down (off), forbear, hold peace, quiet self, rest, be silent, keep (put to) silence, be (stand) still, tarry, and wait. Here it is used to tell us, in effect to "stop and think."

About what? We do well to reflect on all that God has done. Klingons like this - to recount triumphs - ta'mey Dun, bommey Dun (great deeds, great songs) as they say it. So scripture encourages us to remember what God has done

How can a young person stay pure?
By obeying your word and following its rules.
I have hidden your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:9,11 NLT

But the stillness matters too. To be vIHHa', still, means ceasing the endless flow of distractions that boil around us. From cell phones, ham radio, ipod, pager, computers and more, I feel at time wrapped in a thick fog of words, words and more words. We do well to cultivate silence. As Ecclesiastes notes:

The more words you speak, the less they mean. So why overdo it? Ecc 6:11 NLT

Search lIj ghaj tIq Daq lIj bed, je taH vIHHa'.
Search your own heart on your bed, and be still. Psalms 4:4b

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Ready, CHER , go!

'ach Sov vetlh joH'a' ghajtaH cher mob vaD himself ghaH 'Iv ghaH godly: joH'a' DichDaq Qoy ghorgh jIH ja' Daq ghaH.

But know that the LORD has set apart for himself him who is godly: the LORD will hear when I call to him. Ps 4.3

(click for podcast version)

I don't have a wristwatch. This doesn't mean I don't know what time it is - I certainly have a timekeeping device strapped to my wrist - it just isn't a watch. It is a "tlhIngan tlhaq" - a Klingon Chronometer. Made by Timex, this fine instrument keeps me supplied with all the valuable time-related functions: alarms, stopwatch, date and two time zones - it is all there, AND in Klingon too!. Very handy (I even have a spare!)

I bring it up becaust today's word - cher, set - is featured prominently on the controls. And not only are machines like my tlhIngan tlhaq "set," but, according to David, so are "the Godly".

'ach Sov vetlh joH'a' ghajtaH cher mob vaD himself ghaH 'Iv ghaH godly: joH'a' DichDaq Qoy ghorgh jIH ja' Daq ghaH.

But know that the LORD has set apart for himself him who is godly: the LORD will hear when I call to him. Ps 4.3

What does this mean?

The Hebrew word here is "palah" and occurs fewer than ten times in the Bible. A primitive root meaning "to distinguish" it is translated in a variety of ways: put a difference, show marvellous, separate, set apart, sever, make wonderfully. The idea seems to be that believers are distinguished, are drawn out of the mass of humanity.

This is in line with the Biblical idea of "the elect." Some might see it as supporting the argument for predestination - the idea that God foreordains all things gone before and to come. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without blemish before him in love.(Eph 1:4)

And perhaps we are SET apart, cher mob, by God no matter what. Yet Scripture also gives the language of choice. Moses says to the Israelites "Behold, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil" (Deut. 30:15), and Joshua later says "choose this day whom you will serve" (Josh 24:15).

This is a historic battlefield for believers: free will versus predestination, as some would cast it, and I don't expect any of us will be able to sort it out this side of eternity. How would a Klingon think of such things?

Well, there's a saying - I've mentioned before - "reH 'eb tu'lu" - there is always a chance. It speaks to the Klingon resolve NOT to give up, not to accept defeat. To such a mindset, a pure idea of predestination would not be appealing - the Klingon spirit would be drawn to the call to choose, to respond to the call, the chance, the choice God offers to all.

There's a scene in one CS Lewis's Narnia stories, The Silver Chair, where a character meets Aslan, who tells her she has been called into Narnia to do something for him. She objects:

I was wondering... could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here...."

Aslan responds

"You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you."

From the perspective of eternity we may indeed see things, choices we made as being driven from God's own plan - but a Klingon would probably lose patience wiht such speculation and urge us to "get on with it." I think David would too - consider the last clause, of this verse:

joH'a' DichDaq Qoy ghorgh jIH ja' Daq ghaH.

the LORD will hear when I call to him. Ps 4.3

Our focus needs to move beyond being "set apart" to what it means to our life - the LORD will hear! How we have come to be part of his company, this company of believers who are cher mob, set apart, may be imporant, but more important is the confidence we now have : the LORD will hear!

Call on him today!