Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Only God Sees the Whole Picture

From the blog “Flying Embers," posted on November 9, 2008.

(This re-post is the perfect compliment to something that was said in a recent conversation in my life, something that I wanted to write down but didn't have a chance to at the time. It went something like this: I believe that, by God's grace, every single living person should be granted to understand that they don't see everything about everything and everyone--only God does. Our perception of reality is warped, and always will be until we get to Heaven, and usually there's a very good reason why we haven't been allowed to see the whole truth in a situation. Perhaps learning how to love unconditionally and not judge people or be critical of them is one of the reasons...?)


Here's Fred's original post:

In the following quote from Isaac Watts’s book “Improving the Mind”; he addresses how we should take into consideration all circumstances surrounding an action; the persons, the time, place, manner, the purpose, etc. He uses a great little illustration to make his point. Now please, dog lovers don’t be prejudiced by the first line….

“Let me give a plain instance for the illustration of this matter. Mario kills a dog, which, considered merely in itself, seems to be an indifferent action: now the dog was Timon’s and not his own; this makes it look unlawful. But Timon bid him do it; this gives it an appearance of lawfulness again. It was done at church, and in time of Divine service; these circumstances added, cast on it an air of irreligion. But the dog flew at Mario, and put him in danger of his life; this relieves the seeming impiety of the action.

Yet Mario might have escaped by flying thence; therefore the action appears to be improper. But the dog was known to be mad; this further circumstance makes it almost necessary that the dog should be slain, lest he might worry the assembly, and do much mischief.

Yet again, Mario killed him with a pistol, which he happened to have in his pocket since yesterday’s journey; now, hereby the whole congregation was terrified and discomposed, and Divine service was broken off, this carries an appearance of great indecency and impropriety in it: but, after all, when we consider a further circumstance, that Mario, being thus violently assaulted by a mad dog, had no way of escape, and had no other weapon about him, it seems to take away all the colors of impropriety, indecency, or unlawfulness, and to allow that the preservation of one or many lives will justify the act as wise and good.

Now, all these concurrent appendices of the action ought to be surveyed, in order to pronounce with justice and truth concerning it. There are a multitude of human actions in private life, in domestic affairs, in traffic, in civil government, in courts of justice, in schools of learning, etc. which have so many complicated circumstances, aspects, and situations, with regard to time and place, persons and things, that it is impossible for any one to pass a right judgment concerning them without entering into most of these circumstances, and surveying them extensively, and comparing and balancing them all rightly.”

(Here's my comment to the post, which is something that I feel still very strongly, and hopefully always will:)

I love this post! I've seen it played out in my own life over and over again. Hear a story from one person's perspective and sympathize with them, take up their offense and be offended against the person they're offended against. Then hear the same story from the other person's perspective and realize that there's way more to it than first met the eye.
Anymore, I like to tell people I consider myself Switzerland--neutral territory. It's not even worth the energy to judge or criticize someone else or be offended against them, because I know for a fact that if I were aware of every detail of the situation, I'd feel completely differently.
It's actually quite a freeing place to be... Because even if we, as humans, know every detail of a story that can be seen or understood with the human mind, there are still all of the complex mysteries involving thoughts, motives, desires and histories that only God could ever possibly know. So why not just leave it in His hands, and set ourselves to the more important tasks in our lives--loving God, and loving people... Loving, not judging. Yours in Christ, Mel

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Whetting my Appetite for God's Word

Chris, the author of the blog "Pilgrim in Conflict," posted a comment on a previous blog post in which he linked to this portion of the book “When I Don’t Desire God” by John Piper. Ever since I read it the first time, God has used these words of wisdom to draw my heart nearer to Himself.


I—(Incline!) The first thing my soul needs is an inclination toward God and his Word. Without that, nothing else will happen of any value in my life. I must want to know God and read his Word and draw near to him. Where does that “want to” come from? It comes from God. So Psalm 119:36 teaches us to pray, “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” Very simply we ask God to take our hearts, which are more inclined to breakfast and the newspaper, and change that inclination. We are asking that God create desires that are not there.

O—(Open!) Next I need to have the eyes of my heart opened so that when my inclination leads me to the Word, I see what is really there, and not just my own ideas. Who opens the eyes of the heart? God does. So Psalm 119:18 teaches us to pray, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” So many times we read the Bible and see nothing wonderful. Its reading does not pro­duce joy. So what can we do? We can cry to God: “Open the eyes of my heart, O Lord, to see what it says about you as wonderful.”

U—(Unite!) Then I am concerned that my heart is badly frag­mented. Parts of it are inclined, and parts of it are not. Parts see won­der, and parts say, “That’s not so wonderful.” What I long for is a united heart where all the parts say a joyful Yes! to what God reveals in his Word. Where does that wholeness and unity come from? It comes from God. So Psalm 86:11 teaches us to pray, “Unite my heart to fear your name.” Don’t stumble over the word fear when you thought we were seeking joy. The fear of the Lord is a joyful experi­ence when you renounce all sin. A thunderstorm can be a trembling joy when you know you can’t be destroyed by lightning. “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to . . . the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name” (Neh. 1:11). “His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD” (Isa. 11:3). Therefore pray that God would unite your heart to joyfully fear the Lord.

S—(Satisfy!) What I really want from all this engagement with the Word of God and the work of his Spirit in answer to my prayers is for my heart to be satisfied with God and not with the world. Where does that satisfaction come from? It comes from God. So Psalm 90:14 teaches us to pray, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
(picture by Satashi Matsuyama, one of my favorite artists)

Feels like coming home....

Contented Sigh…

Finally, finally, FINALLY (did I say finally?) -- it’s the 27th!! Woo Hoo!!

It’s SO GREAT to be back to the blogosphere! I have missed this soooo much, and have been counting down the days to this day for a whole month. I’m hoping to write and post most of the story around why I haven’t blogged for the last 30 days, but it’s going to be very tricky to write, and may end up not happening, unfortunately.

During the past 30 days, there are several blog posts from other people’s blogs that have been brought to my mind over and over again, and that I’ve tried to share the main ideas of with other people. I hope to find those posts again and post them on this blog where they will be preserved for myself and my family for many years to come, Lord willing, for the glory of God.

Also during these days, I’ve been spending time listening to the New Testament on CD in my truck during the commute to and from work. What a blessing! The dramatized audio word-for-word reading of the scriptures is contained all on one disc because of the beauty of modern-day technology in the form of MP3 files. Thank You God, and thank you New Hope, for providing this marvelous resource!

(See this website for more details:

At the end of the disc there were several stories shared by someone who works with this organization, stories that left an indelible mark on my soul. One of their main purposes is to get the New Testament translated (in audio form) into the languages of all of the unreached people of the world, most of whom cannot read. There are people in the world who believe the God does not speak their language, and that He has to speak to them through an interpreter. By God’s power working through them, Faith Comes by Hearing is changing that.

God has also been taking me on a journey towards loving, valuing and craving His Word more and more every day. It started years ago, when I would hear people talking about how much they craved God’s Word, and how fulfilling it was to them to spend hours and hours reading, praying and studying. I recognized the absence of that kind of craving in my own heart and life, and began to ask God to give me more of a love for and desire for His Word.

Since then, God has brought about the answer to that prayer through various methods. Blogging has been one of them, as I’ve read the words of fellow bloggers who cherish God’s Word, and who post the words of men and women of the past who also cherished it, and wrote about its value so eloquently. Then in May 2008, our family went to a theme park in Orlando, FL called “The Holy Land Experience.”

While we were there, we were privileged to hear a 30-minute lecture about William Tyndale, who was responsible, in large part, for the wording used in the translation of the scriptures known as “The King James Version.” His life was dedicated to and given for the all-encompassing vision he had to see the scriptures translated into English from their original languages. God used that lecture to open my eyes to see how much has been given and sacrificed to bring us the priceless treasure that is the Bible.

He also used the ancient truths housed in a hymn called “O Word of God Incarnate.” When I recently heard it on the “Glad: Acapella Hymns” CD, it captured my heart so fully that I soon thereafter found all of the words online and set myself to memorizing them. As I would sing those words, the Holy Spirit would turn them into a prayer resounding from the deepest part of my soul.


Here are the words, for anyone who might be interested:

O Word of God incarnate, O Wisdom from on high,

O Truth unchanged, unchanging, O Light of our dark sky:

We praise You for the radiance that from the hallowed page,

A Lantern to our footsteps, shines on from age to age.

The Church from You, our Savior, received the Gift divine,

And still that Light is lifted over all the earth to shine.

It is the sacred Vessel where gems of truth are stored;

It is the heaven drawn Picture of Christ, the living Word.

The Scripture is a banner before God’s host unfurled;

It is a shining Beacon above the darkling world.

It is the Chart and Compass that over life’s surging tide,

Mid mists and rocks and quicksands, to You, O Christ, will guide.

O make your Church, dear Savior, a lamp of purest gold,

To bear before the nations Your true light as of old.

O teach your wandering pilgrims by this their path to trace,

Till, clouds and darkness ended, they see You face to face.


Ever since these words have been stored in my heart, the craving for more of God’s Word has been cemented. (Thank You, Father!) According to God’s infinite and holy grace, He has answered my prayer and allowed me to become of those people who would rather read His Word, or listen to His Word, than anything else on Earth.

I’ve been immersing myself passionately, whole-heartedly and joyfully in studying the history of the English-language Bible. The William Tyndale story is just a tiny drop in the bucket of the lavish, interesting, and intriguing string of events and people that God worked through to bring us the Bible as it is today. If you’re interested in reading more about it, here’s the website I’ve been reading mostly:

There are incredible pictures on this website of pages of Bibles dating back as far as the 1400’s and 1500’s and even earlier. They make my spiritual taste-buds water. I’ve been enjoying this study so profoundly that I’m considering taking classes at a Bible college to learn more about it, officially. The irony in this is that when I was a kid in school, I hated history. It was my worst subject. I’m so glad God has a sense of humor…


One more thing… I’ve decided to try to start posting about at least some of the movies I see that I find some sort of life-enriching value in. I’ve found several great movies by looking at friends’ blogs, and I greatly appreciate it when my friends recommend good movies, especially since there are so many different films to choose from. If you’re a fellow blogger, and you notice a post on my blog about a movie you recommended on your blog, please take it as a compliment of the highest sort!