Saturday, September 30, 2006


'Iv ghajtaH cher lIj batlh Dung the chal!

who has set your glory above the heavens! Psalm 8:1b

(click for podcast version)

Legend has it that earth's first orbital traveler Yuri Gagarin, toeing to his nation's atheist party line - looked out of his spaceship and announced he didn't "see God" in the heavens. Whether he really said that, any believer ought to reply that if you can't find God's presence on earth, you'll not find Him anywhere else in the cosmos.

David extols the wonders of God and looks up, singing out that the LORD has put his glory above the heavens. In Hebrew the term is "shamayim," from a root meaning to be lofty. The term, when used to indicate the "heavens" shows up over 100 times in the Bible. For the KLV I've used "chal," the Klingon word for "sky."

The heavens, shamayim or chal are what we call the realm that our planet's star travelers - cosmonauts, astronauts or taikonauts - move through. It is an inspiring realm - though not the realm of eternity. But it is a place of beauty that can inspire us to recognize the power of the one who created it all.

Heaven and earth is a phrase that does more than describe a specific location. It is a way of encompassing the whole of creation. Whether we call it shamayim v'eretz in Hebrew or chal tera' je in Klingon - when we think of heaven and earth, we are considering what God has made. When scripture speaks of heaven and earth (over 160 verses have those two words together) we're drected to the totallity of creation. It is a poetic way to say EVERYTHING, starting in the very first verse of Genesis when we read:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Daq the tagh joH'a' created the chal je the tera'.

David directs us in this psalm to see God's name as transcendant on earth and his glory above the heavens. In that way he underlines the fact God is above, beyond, all places we can see or name.

This is surely how Bible speaks of chal, the heaven. God created these things and they are wonderful, but we should not be distracted, to overlook the creator for his creation.

For Psalm 102 reminds us (as do our astronomers) these heavens are not eternal:

Of old, you laid the foundation of the earth. The heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you will endure. Yes, all of them will wear out like a garment. You will change them like a cloak, and they will be changed.
But you are the same. Your years will have no end. (Psalm 102:25-27)

Our hope, our ultimate destiny is beyond chal, beyond the heavens, with that one who created them, and will endure long after they are gone.

As you travel the heavens - whether in a spacecraft or from this globe we call spaceship Earth - there will be NO one coordinate where you will "find" God.

But don't worry - as he tells us through Isaiah - you can count on him to find YOU!

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)

Friday, September 22, 2006


Oh LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth,
joH'a', maj joH, chay' majestic ghaH lIj pong Daq Hoch the tera' psalm 8:1

(click for podcast version)

Tera'ngan - earther - is the Klingon summation of the residents of the third rock from the Sun. That is, tera'ngan, those from Terra or Earth. However this is NOT what David is thinking about in Psalm 8 when he says:

Oh LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth,
joH'a', maj joH, chay' majestic ghaH lIj pong Daq Hoch the tera'

When a Klingon calls you a tera'ngan, it isn't a compliment - you are merely a Human from a distant corner of the galaxy. Your identity is confined to the borders, the limits of your home planet.

Exactly the opposite of David's use of eretz - earth, in this psalm, what has been rendered with the Klingon word tera'. David declares that God's name - his self, fills the whole world, all of visible creation. God's name - everything one might know or say about the creator, is BOUNDLESS.

I've noted before that space travellers have said "Earth has no lines" - that is, seen from space earth doesn't really divide up the way our maps and politics show it. In the stirring introduction to Psalm 8, David says the same thing - about GOD. We so often divide his presence up in parochial, limiting ways. Our prejudices happily lead us to imagine "no, God isn't in that place, among those people." But that's not true.

Peter learned how false such thinking is, when in a vision God showed him that God truly is completly impartial - would that we would remember Peter's words:

Peter opened his mouth and said, "Truly I perceive that God doesn't show favoritism;
but in every nation he who fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him. Acts 10:34-35

The Life Application Bible notes, concerning Peter's confession:

In every nation there are hearts restless for God, ready to receive the Good News—but someone must take it to them. Seeking God is not enough—people must find him. How then shall seekers find God without someone to point the way? Is God asking you to show someone the way to him?

God fills every corner. As we capture David's vision of a God whose name is majestic across every corner of this globe, as we recall Peter's discovery that God is indeed for EVERYONE, let us find ways to share his boundless love!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

juppu' - Friends!

je Abraham ghaHta' ja' the jup vo' joH'a'.
and Abraham was called the friend of God. James 2:23b

(click for podcast)

In the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent numbers among his friends one unemployed actor with the unlikely name of Ford Prefect. Unbeknownst to Arthur, Ford is NOT a human, but actually hails from the vicinity of Betelgeuse, a star more than 400 light years away.

Such surprising friendships might make one ponder - how many alien friends do you have? I can number one - well, sort of. That is I have a small stone gargoyle figurine my daughter gave me years ago. I dubbed him "jupwI'," Klingon for 'my friend,' and he has sat faithfully by my computer ever since. He sits patiently as I clatter away on the keys and his friendship, while mostly imaginary, is a great reminder of a real friendship I do have - that of my daughter.

jup - friend - is the Klingon word that I've used in the KLV to represent the Hebrew word ahab and the Greek philos. Both words come from roots meaning "to love" - in fact the Greek word used here in James's epistle is familiar from the word philosopher (a lover of wisdom) and the city Philadelphia - the city of brotherly love. And even the root of the English word friend comes from Germanic roots (fre-on) for love.

Now, as casually as we may treat friendships - we do well to remember that a true friendship is far deeper and more powerful than mere acquaintainship.

je Abraham ghaHta' ja' the jup vo' joH'a'.
and Abraham was called the friend of God. James 2:23b

James is quoting the prophet Isaiah here, and he underlines the close relationship God wants to have with all of us. The theologian J.I. Packer notes:

God wants us as friends. ... Abraham and Moses are called friends of God (2 Chron 20:7, Exodus 33:11)... and Jesus tells his disciples: "No longer do I call you servants... but I have called you friends." (John 15:15).

For some reason, we don't assure one another of this as often as we should.

I recently heard one Bible teacher point out that when Jesus told his followers "No longer do I call you servants... but I have called you friends," there really was a change, for in NONE of the letters of Paul, Peter, James or John - only in the Gospels and Acts - do we find the word "disciples." The master/student relationship ends - God really yearns for us to become juppu' friends.

Some might note that all over the place in those letters, the apostles do call themselves "doulos," that is, bond-servants or slaves. There IS a difference, I think - for in a deep friendship we DO serve, we do care about our friend and look for ways to serve them - not because of obligation but because of the bond, because of the love we share.

Across this planet and perhaps out to the stars, we find many types of friendship - some close, some casual - yet all of them at their best can echo something of the relationship that God wants to have with us - as it says in Exodus that God "spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. "

In prayer, in worship, in reading scriptures, in fellowship with the company of believers, we have that same opportunity - what keeps us from it? Let us pray to daily seek his face and remember that God truly wants to be our friend.

je Abraham ghaHta' ja' the jup vo' joH'a'.
and Abraham was called the friend of God. James 2:23b

Saturday, September 09, 2006


'ach the joH ghaH voqmoH, 'Iv DichDaq establish SoH, je guard SoH vo' the mIghtaHghach wa'. 1Thes 3:3
But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you, and guard you from the evil one.

At my darkest moments I need words like these from Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians - the reminder that, whatever else fails, we CAN trust the Lord. Paul reminds us that God is voqmoH - faithful. The Klingon word here is literally "cause to trust." Paul shares his confidence that this Lord who will keep us from evil.

There is no doubt that Klingons understand the virtues of faithfulness and trustworthiness. You can hear some of that regard for trust in the cynical proverbs that use the word voq, to trust:

yIvoq 'ach lojmItmey yISam. Trust, but locate the doors.
yIvoq 'ach yI'ol. Trust, but verify.

On the positive side, you hear the same word in this admonition to self-reliance:

DujlIj yIvoq. Trust your instincts.

Now it's interesting that the word "Duj," instincts, also means "ship" - so rather than merely advising self-reliance, perhaps since this Klingon adage can be read as "trust your ship," that is, depend on others in our company. And Paul is pointing us to the most trustworthy companion of all.

'ach the joH ghaH voqmoH, 'Iv DichDaq establish SoH, je guard SoH vo' the mIghtaHghach wa'. 1Thes 3:3
But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you, and guard you from the evil one.

The word here for faithful is the Greek word pistis, used over 60 times in the Bible and conveys the idea of something that is objectively trustworthy and is translated in forms of believe, faithful, sure, or true. Pistis comes from the word peitho, to convince.

Paul wants us to be assured, be convinced of God's reliability - one writer says about this:

Though men cannot be trusted, God is faithful to his promises and his purposes. He may always be confided in; and when men are unbelieving, perverse, unkind, and disposed to do us wrong, we may go to him, and we shall always find in him one in whom we may confide. (Barnes)

This is not a simplistic vision of the world. Paul was not saying that the Lord would make life easy, or even safe at all times - but that we will be guarded from evil. Despite the travails Paul endured as he travelled spreading the word of Christ, he could still declare with confidence that God was faithful.

Hundreds of years before Paul's time, following the fall of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah wrote of that devastaion in his book of Lamentations. Yet, in the midst of the despair, he too expressed confidence in God saying:

It is of the LORD's loving kindnesses that we are not consumed, because his compassion doesn't fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lam 3:22,23

Every summer we plant morning glories, and by this time of year the lamppost on the street is consumed by them - you can barely see it. Every morning (until the first cold weather takes its toll) those delicate flowers unfurl, reminding me of God's unfailing compassion and I think again, "They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

'ach the joH ghaH voqmoH, 'Iv DichDaq establish SoH, je guard SoH vo' the mIghtaHghach wa'. 1Thes 3:3
But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you, and guard you from the evil one.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

nov jIH - Alien am I!

'The puH DIchDaq ghobe' taH sold Daq perpetuity, vaD the puH ghaH mine; vaD SoH 'oH novpu' je yIn as foreigners tlhej jIH.

'The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and live as foreigners with me. Lev 25:23

(click for podcast)

In the catalog of useful Klingon expressions, the Conversational Klingon learning tape offers this phrase and advice:

"you might need (help) in an emergency. You may have to be a little persistent to get a Klingon to come to your aid. ...not because they are ignoring you, or savoring your discomfort, it is just that what Terrans consider dangerous and unpleasant a Klingon usually finds exhilarating and enjoyable. So, if no ­one comes to your aid at first, shout out the phrase:

"I am not a Klingon."
{tlhIngan jIHbe'.}

This will make your plight explicit and a Klingon is sure to respond. "

Now, I'd note that another way you might state this idea is to say:

"nov jIH" / I am an alien.

Nov - alien, is our word for today. For here in Leviticus, we are reminded that our attitude is to BE an alien, or a "stranger and sojourner" in this world - in Hebrew the words are "ger," someone who stops as a guest, and "towshab," a temporary resident.

This passage from Leviticus is part of a section that covers legislation involving the year of Jubilee. The rules are ones that we would find challenging - as the Life Application Bible notes:

It included canceling all debts, freeing all slaves, and returning to its original owners all land that had been sold. There is no indication in the Bible that the Year of Jubilee was ever carried out. If Israel had followed this practice faithfully, they would have been a society without permanent poverty.

The point that captures my attention are the words:

vaD SoH 'oH novpu' je yIn as foreigners tlhej jIH.
for you are strangers and live as foreigners with me.

We're being told here that our lives are not to be rooted, pinned down to this world - as Larry Norman said "don't mind me, I'm only visiting this planet." If we can hold fast to that perspective, then we'll keep from getting weighed down and anchored by this world. The apostle Peter said it this way in his first letter:

Dear brothers and sisters, you are foreigners and aliens here. So I warn you to keep away from evil desires because they fight against your very souls. (1 Peter 2:11 NLT)

To me, one of the joys of imaginative stories of rockets and travel through space is the notion that we are on a journey, that our residence here is not perpetual. And I have to admit, it HAS pleased me that a number of modern translations have used the word "alien" to translate some of the Greek and Hebrew terms for wayfarer, stranger and sojourner.

When we recognize the journey we are on, the eternal home we believers approach through life - we can discover that all our priorities will re-arrange.

Looking for help from our Lord? Perhaps we do need to call out

"nov jIH," I AM an alien!