Sunday, March 23, 2008

ghop vum - Handiwork

The expanse shows Daj ghop vum. Ps 19:1b

The expanse shows his handiwork.

(click for podcast version)

I've got an Altoids tin. To be honest, I've actually got lots of them. Like many people, I've found those sturdy little containers are just too handy to throw away. They're great for collecting odds and ends, and I've used them for that.

But I'm thinking of a very specific tin - it was one the smaller Altoids chewing gum tins. It doesn't really look much different from their gum tins.... except if you turned it over you'd discover there was a USB socket sticking out of one end. If you opened it, you'd discover it had a pair of AA batteries, a battery holder, and a circuit board. What you'd find is EVIDENCE, evidence of my ghop vum - my hand's work: handiwork.

Nobody looking at this would think it "just happened" - they'd assume (and they'd be right) that somebody planned to make this gum tin into something else. In this case it's a "minty boost" kit, a portable charger for iPods and mp3 players. It's a neat gadget I made from a kit to recharge the mp3 player on which I'm recording this podcast.

The expanse shows Daj ghop vum. Ps 19:1b

The expanse shows his handiwork.

The Bible reminds believers that when they look up into the sky, when they look deep into nature they see something - not something that HAPPENED by chance, but something that was planned and put together. It's craftsmanship, what the WEB and other translations call handiwork - a translation of two Hebrew words, maaseh (an action or work) and yad (hand). The sky shows us God's hand AT work. The word "handiwork" only appears once in the WEB or the KJV. The NLT uses the term "craftsmanship" for this Hebrew phrase - and likewise it only appears the one time in the whole Bible.

This is a very THIN slice of God. If you came across my gadget-in-the-altoids tin, you'd know it was handiwork, but learn very little about me. Maybe you'd form an opinion of my soldering skills, but you'd know little about my likes and dislikes. You wouldn't even know WHAT I used this gadget FOR - just that someone came along and MADE THIS change in an otherwise innocent and unassuming metal box.

But - it's a start. In the Bible, we hear Jesus say: "Look! Here I stand at the door and knock" - when nature throws us clues in the magnificence of creation, that's one of the ways the door is being knocked upon.

As I noted in my last podcast - when we see these notes and signposts that point us to God - we need to follow through, we need to seek out more than a mystical moment of inspiration. Across the centuries in the Scriptures and in the lives of fellow believers, we can find testimony that will draw us closer to Him,to the one who made this universe, who wants us to get to know him better. In the Bible we can learn not just that the Universe WAS made, but by whom. And we can learn about his love and plan for our lives.

God's handiwork is all around - His power and his steadfast creation is all around you, knocking on the door of your awareness. Open the door!

The expanse shows Daj ghop vum. Ps 19:1b

The expanse shows his handiwork.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Chal - Heavens!

The chal declare the batlh vo' joH'a'. The heavens declare the glory of God. Psalms 19:1

(click for podcast)

In grade school I drew a picture of my "house of the future," what I envisioned back in the 60's as the ultimate hightech lair. It was domed, set way out in the ocean, and featured an underwater "garage" for my submarine and had an observatory with telescope on the top.

I doubt it's a surprise that my house today doesn't have most of the details of that drawing. On the other hand - I do have the telescope. It's a simple refractor, bought mail order - but I've used it to see Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. And, though I've got no observatory - we have skylights, which at the right time of year have a terrific view of the moon.

The chal declare the batlh vo' joH'a'. The heavens declare the glory of God. Psalms 19:1

Peter Kreeft says the arguments for God's existence can be divided into "two basic groups: those which take their data from without—cosmological arguments—and those that take it from within—psychological arguments."

These words nicely delineate a very basic "cosmological argument" for God's existence - simply seeing the heavens points to their maker.

For many it may be hard to appreciate this if, like me, you live in a busy light-polluted city. But hop in your spaceship and get up and out into the black to look out, or drive far from the street lights, out to the country and look up. You'll see an endless tapestry of beauty - countless stars and galaxies - with a complexity we can only wonder at. Lacking that - you might take a look at - a new online observatory that Google has put online recently - your web browser can take you out into the Universe!

Internet, auto or spaceship - however you find your way to the sky - you may be moved to declare with the psalmist

The chal declare the batlh vo' joH'a'. The heavens declare the glory of God. Psalms 19:1

The word "chal" here is the Klingon word for "sky" and I've used it nearly 500 times in the KLV to represent heaven, heavens and skies in the WEB. It's not surprising that The Hebrew word here is likewise very frequent - nearly 400 times - shamayim, heard in the very first verse of the Bible

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

St. Paul reminds us that the witness of creation should point us to God

From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. (Romans 1:20 NLT)

The Life Application Bible notes:
What kind of God does nature reveal? Nature shows us a God of might, intelligence, and intricate detail; a God of order and beauty; a God who controls powerful forces. That is general revelation. Through special revelation (the Bible and the coming of Jesus), we learn about God’s love and forgiveness and the promise of eternal life. God has graciously given us many sources that we might come to believe in him.

The heavens are a tremendous witness to God's power. Such a witness takes us out of ourselves, makes us look past our own problems and limitations - it's fantastic. But if it ends there it's only artwork, only something to admire. What can change our lives is when we turn from the experience of creation and join in with believers - believers of this time and through the ages as we hear the witness Scriptures and the lives God's Word has touched. May you find that loving community today!

The chal declare the batlh vo' joH'a'. The heavens declare the glory of God. Psalms 19:1

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Changing Gears!

yIlegh, jIH 'oH making Hoch Dochmey chu' Behold, I am making all things new. Rev 21:5

(podcast version)

Nothing major - I've just decided that, for now, I'm not happy with the "going through the Klingon Alphabet" plan I've been working on, and I've decided to switch back to working through a Psalm verse-by-verse. I found that a happier approach (for one, I can print out a nice set of references to carry with me, plus I think it gives me a better focus). I'm aiming at starting with Psalm 19 soon, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for an interesting, thoughtful, and entertaining - if very unorthodox - book about studying the Bible, I recommend AJ Jacobs "The Year of Living Biblically."