Monday, March 26, 2007

Not a Word

vaD pa' ghaH ghobe' a mu' Daq wIj jat, 'ach, yIlegh, joH'a', SoH Sov 'oH altogether.
For there is not a word on my tongue, But, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. Psalm 139:4

(click for podcast version)

This verse is, to me, very good news, for it assures me that I can be completely honest with God. We should not fear to express our inmost feelings in our prayers. Our calling on Him need not be restrained - for he KNOWS, as the NLT puts it:

You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, LORD.

What does this have to do with prayer? It reflects what Jesus had to say, as he was about to present what we call "the Lord's prayer"

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! (Matthew 6:7,8 NLT).

Now, note - this didn't mean "don't pray," but rather pray meaningfully - and the example is, of course, "the Lord's prayer," perhaps the perfect model for our prayers. We pray, because we must - we can't help ourselves. And we can be confident to be heard - as Jesus says "Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs" (Matt. 6:32 NLT)

And, I was happy to see that it wasn't too hard to reuse the vocabularly of the KLV to make a more proper Klingon translation - here's an attempt anyway:

"vaj jatwIjDaq mu' pawbe' 'ej yIlegh! joH'a', Hoch DaSovqu'neS"

A: vaj: so/then/thus/in that case

N: jatwIjDaq: in my tongue

N: mu': word

V: pawbe': not arrive

&: 'ej: and

V: yIlegh: you(imp:sg/pl) see (no.object)/him/her/it

N: joH'a': God

N: Hoch: everyone, all, everything

V: DaSovqu'neS: you honorific really know him/her/it/them

"vaj jatwIjDaq mu' pawbe' 'ej yIlegh! joH'a', Hoch DaSovqu'neS"

Do you hesitate to call on God in prayer - don't. He won't be surprised - he can't be shocked. And he's ready to answer.

Monday, March 19, 2007


SoH search pa' wIj path je wIj lying bIng, je 'oH acquainted tlhej Hoch wIj Hemey.

You search out my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.

(click for podcast version)

You don't need to be a Klingon to be alarmed by the cry "you're surrounded!" Of course, at such a time a warrior WILL prepare for a siege and a noble, last stand.

But the words CAN be good news - for to be surrounded - by your own support troops, or by one's own sturdy fortress is GOOD thing, a cause for hope, and not fear. And that is what the psalmist brings us in this verse, the third of Psalm 139.

This verse continues the explorations of how God watches over and knows all about us. It begins with the declaration that "you search out my path and my lying down."

You'll note that I didn't translate "search" into Klingon. Not because there isn't a word (it's "nej") but because "search" is not common in the WEB translation (when I wrote my simple re-lexifying translator I only did words that were used 100 times or more). I may add it soon - but it's worth noting here, because there are more ways to translate word here, the Hebrew zarah. The KJV uses words like cast away, compass, disperse, fan, scatter (away), spread, strew, and winnow. That translation uses the term "compass" as in en-compass, or surround, which is what prompted me to consider the plight of being surrounded.

Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

Considering zarah, I find of interest the meaning "to winnow" - to separate the good from the bad. God, we hear, does just that. Whether still or in motion, he searches us out, he surrounds us, and draws forth - just as the farmer does with grain - the good from the useless.

Reflecting on the notion of "being surrounded," the 19th century preacher Spurgeon gives us some interesting reflections. Quoting Matthew Pool he notes:

Thou compassest my path. This is a metaphor either from huntsmen watching all the motions and lurking places of wild beasts, that they may catch them; or from soldiers besieging their enemies in a city, and setting round about them. --Matthew Pool.
This does not precede an attack, but a care that purifies us, as Spurgeon notes elsewhere:

I am shut up within the wall of thy being; I am encircled within the bounds of thy knowledge. Waking or sleeping I am still observed of thee. I may leave thy path, but you never leave mine. I may sleep and forget thee, but thou dost never slumber, nor fall into oblivion concerning thy creature. The original (Hebrew zarah) signifies not only surrounding, but winnowing and sifting. The Lord judges our active life and our quiet life; he discriminates our action and our repose, and marks that in them which is good and also that which is evil. There is chaff in all our wheat, and the Lord divides them with unerring precision.

For many Christians, this season, the season of Lent is a time to search, and seek for God. A time to reflect and find reconciliation. What a gift to know that we do not face such a time in isolation - We are Surrounded!

Surrounded by watchful care,
Surrounded by a discerning God,
Surrounded by love.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Flight Plan

SoH Sov wIj sitting bIng je wIj rising Dung. SoH perceive wIj thoughts vo' afar.
You know my sitting down and my rising up. You perceive my thoughts from afar. Psalm 139:2
(click for podcast)

It's easier than you may think to get into space. True, missions to the planets and beyond are pretty costly. Still, there are ways to hitch a ride - and you don't even need Ford Prefect's electonic thumb. For years, I've managed to join missions to Mars, to a comet - even to Pluto, thanks to NASA and others who have been including micro chips and DVDs that take your name along for the ride (you just have to submit your name to their website when the mission is being prepared!).

Closer to home, there is a form of citizen space exploration that is avalilable at a surprisingly low cost: Near Space Exploration ( - mounting payloads by weather balloon to the very edges of space. Right now the magazine Make is working on their project to do just this. Another group, the Treasure Valley Near Space Program, has done this as well with a number of successful launches. At a fraction of the cost of a rocket, it is a tangible way to explore the shores of this new ocean.

Yet - there is a cost. Multi-millions of dollars, or hundreds - missions to space cost more than money and resources. They cost the care and planning that it takes to accomplish them. Take a look at the NASA, ESA - or the MAKE websites to get an idea of the care and planning that go into every successful space flight.

SoH Sov wIj sitting bIng je wIj rising Dung. SoH perceive wIj thoughts vo' afar.
You know my sitting down and my rising up. You perceive my thoughts from afar. Psalm 139:2

Now, I know the psalmist was not really considering space flight - but this verse parallels what must happen for every expedition to space. Whether to Mars, the ISS or to the fringes of space - these words describe the phases of a meaningful flight.

You know my sitting down and my rising up - there has to be a plan. A launch - and a landing - mark the endpoints of the journey, the "sitting down," since that is what you do, before and after your trip. And the rising up, the flight is planned as well - whether by rocket or lighter-than-air vehicle, every journey includes knowing the "rising up," where you intend to go. Every detail matters - delay in launch may mean a postponement of weeks (or more) to have success in a mission.

You perceive my thoughts from afar. For the journey to mean something you need reports - telemetry, radio transmissions - that give value to the whole enterprise. When you - or your spacecraft travel into space - you want to know what happens.

As far fetched as it sounds - describing a LIFE as a space mission - consider this:

God's investment, his concern for you are described in this verse - and in a sense describes our mission - our journey, through life. It is a journey that God cares about a great deal. We are not disposable, like a missle launched only for its destruction. No, God has for us a complete flight plan in mind, from launch to landing. And He's watching - not like some nosey snoop, but because he loves you, he wants you to reach the goal safely. When we hear You perceive my thoughts from afar - we realize that our worries, our fears - our PRAYERS - have his complete attention, they do not waft away to nowhere - he hears them all.

Whether or not you are much of a traveler - right now you are on a journey. The good news, the great and VERY good news is - you aren't going solo. God indeed is with you every moment.

SoH Sov wIj sitting bIng je wIj rising Dung. SoH perceive wIj thoughts vo' afar.
You know my sitting down and my rising up. You perceive my thoughts from afar. Psalm 139:2

Sunday, March 04, 2007


joH'a', SoH ghaj searched jIH, je SoH Sov jIH.
O LORD, you have searched me, And you know me. Psalm 139.1

(click for podcast version)

As we've considered in earlier studies - Klingons are known to treasure secrecy. Their "secrecy proverbs" enshrine this caution with lines like this:

jIjatlhpa' jatlh Hovmey.
"The stars will talk before I will."

So, it may not be a word of comfort for them to hear the beginning of Psalm 139, translated in the NLT as

O LORD, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me. (NLT)

What Klingon would want to be under such thorough surveillance?

The Hebrew word for knowledge - to know - here is yada, one we've seen before. It's easy to translate into Klingon - the word is Sov, both a verb, to know and the noun "knowledge." Appearing over 800 times in the Bible, yada can express a great deal more than mere factual knowledge. For God to KNOW us implies an intimate relationship - a knowledge so deep that we indeed have no secrets whatsoever! Who would want that?

The Life Application Bible notes:
Sometimes we don’t let people get to know us completely because we are afraid they will discover something about us that they won’t like. But God already knows everything about us, even to the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30), and still he accepts and loves us. God is with us through every situation, in every trial—protecting, loving, guiding. He knows and loves us completely.

On our planet we also value secrecy, at least, privacy. Driven by fears of fraud and identity theft we don't wish our personal information to be known. For example, complex rules and laws are established to secure the confidentiality of our personal medical details. And yet... At that moment you find yourself in the Emergency Room - you want that doctor who sees you to KNOW everything. At that instant you want there to be no secrets - for, in order to help you the doctor and nurses need to know you and your needs.

That is why this verse is such a comfort. As Charles Spurgeon observes:

[This is ] A cheering thought for sinners. If God knew them not perfectly, how could he have prepared a perfect salvation for them? A comfortable truth for saints. "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things."

joH'a', SoH ghaj searched jIH, je SoH Sov jIH.
O LORD, you have searched me, And you know me. Psalm 139.1

Give thanks! God knows you. Better than your best friend, better than yout closest relative - he REALLY knows you - and no matter what - he loves you.