Archives for category: Books and Words

Reading and more reading and Words and more words!.

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I have been playing Lumosity for about 15 months now for the sole purpose of improving my brain’s ability to think, process, improve, grow, and just overall, become better and, of course, prevent it from “going limp” – it does that some time, you know.  Well, today I think that I am losing the battle.

Granted, the longer one plays the games, the harder they get, but that mean little program tracks my improvements or non-improvements on a daily basis and as I am about to log out of the program, there it is on a chart right before my eyes.  Just like the stock market graphs, it looks great when it is going up and up and up, but not so great when it is going down and down and down.  I am not even fussy about the level lines.  It does mean that I am maintaining, but I like the upward spiral.

Oh well, I guess each day I am getting older too so I am fighting that as well as the fact that today I have a lot on my mind.  I mean, have you counted how many days are left before Christmas?  Have you figured out what you still have left to do?  But hey, it snowed most of the day today and “It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas”, so smile and be happy and hope that the Brain is more cooperative tomorrow when you want just the right word and it’s misfiled once again.  Things will get better!!

As I read various readings this morning, my mind was so confused.  I read Psalms 25 and was struck by the words in verses 4 and 5.  “Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me they paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”  Beautiful words which we like to hear.

But then, I was led to Psalms 137 which starts out with “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.”  Most of us would remember hearing these words and would even break out in song, upon hearing them, but how many of us really think about them or about the rest of this Psalm – a song of sadness and a song of hate…..yes, hate!  And yes, why not hate, when we remember what happened to the peoples of Israel, what happened to the people of Africa, what happened to the peoples of many of the Caribbean Islands.  I recently read two books – “The Covenant” by James A. Michener and “The Book of Negroes” by Lawrence Hill and also read “Roots” by Alex Haley some time ago and believe me, they are not easy books to read; and reading through the Old Testament alone gives us lots of examples of what Israel went through.

Eugene H. Peterson calls Psalms 137 the Scandal Psalm and says many people would like to remove it from the Psalms because it does express hate, but as I contemplate what would have been in the hearts of people who were torn from their land, their families, their loved ones, their people and who also had their children, their precious babies torn from them, would I not feel hate. Yes, when we are hurt, when we are violated, when we are in great pain, when we don’t understand why things are happening, God wants to hear how we feel.  God is a big God – He can handle how we feel and He can help to turn us around and help us work through our hate and our great sorrow.  God does not want us to suppress our feelings.  He wants us to express them and the Psalms illustrate this over and over again.  Peterson used this sentence which really struck me – “A ship that is dead in the water can’t be steered”.

Yes, sometimes we will feel actual hate – admit it, but then pray it out to God and let Him guide you in His ways. Many, many things we don’t understand, but all will be revealed to us one day.  Psalm 136:1 ” O Give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endures for ever.”  He will understand us even when we don’t understand ourselves.

A Psalm of David.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,  for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.  He will receive  blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.  Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, O gates!

And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

 Who is this King of glory?   The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!

Lift up your heads, O gates!   And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?   The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory!  Psalms 24

As I read Psalms 24 this morning, my mind was on the US election and how passionate the voters were, even standing in line-ups for up to six hours to place their vote.  I also thought about how close the overall results were.  I prayed for the results of the election before, not for any particular candidate, as I did not have a clear and definite opinion on which man would do a better job.

Reading over this Psalm, I am now praying that Barack Obama will keep a “clean heart and clean hands” and that God will use him to lead America in the paths that it should go.  There are many things that don’t look right to me at the moment, but God can change things in His own way and in His own time.  Pray for America!

Psalm 18: 46 The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.

The more that I read from the book of Psalms, the more I get excited about God and the place that He should have in our lives. Psalms 18:2 says that God is our rock, our fortress, our deliverer, our God, our rock in whom we take refuge, our shield, our horn of salvation and our stronghold.  I am purposely putting these in the third person, because even though He is mine, He is also yours.

Eugene H. Peterson in his book “Answering God” says “Significantly, while the psalmists called God a rock, they never set up a rock and called it God.  They called God a shepherd but never found a good-looking shepherd and made a statue of him to preserve the form of God.  They called God a shield but never embellished one with precious stones, hung it in a sacred place, and worshiped it.” He goes on to say that “An idol reduces and confines; a metaphor expands and connects.”

God cannot be measured … He is immeasurable!  He is not the rock, He is not the shepherd, He is not the shield, but the metaphors help to provide our insignificant minds with an understanding of God.  I keep getting drawn back to an illustration of what we must look like to an ant. When we stand over an ant running across our kitchen floor, we have complete power over it. We can crush it, pick it up and carry it outdoors to safety or give it poison to eat so that it will take it back to it’s colony and unknowingly kill all of it’s “relatives and friends”.  We can choose to pour gas on the anthill which took months and months of labour to build and burn it all up in just a few minutes, killing each and every one of the residents,or we can choose to dig it up and carry it away to another place.  And yet, even though we have the power to eliminate the ants or choose to just be amazed by their ingenuity, the comparison is not really even close to us and God.  We did not create the ants – we can only watch them; God created them and gave them the ability to do such amazing feats of carrying, building, and designing and His inspired word even tells us to consider them and how they work.

Yet, in the great scheme of things, who are we?  We, who are so much greater than the ants; we, who were created, even higher than the angels, and yet, we are still just a part of a creation.  But, not just part of a creation, God’s word tells us plainly that we are created in His image. And, not only are we created in His image, but that “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

How can we read this and understand it?  We look around and we see what is happening and has happened all around “the world” that God has created and we don’t understand.  We don’t understand the suffering, we don’t understand the sickness, we don’t understand the pain, we don’t understand how God could or would create man with the potential to be a rapist, a murderer, a pedophile, a sadist; but we also don’t understand the power of Satan in the world.  Maybe we just need to trust God that He knows what He is doing; we are just part of His creation, but a very significant part, and one day we WILL understand.

Walker Percy very wisely said “Metaphors are very strange because when you put two things together, it’s a way of discovering meanings which haven’t been discovered before.”

For today I will believe “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalms 18:2

I have just spent a considerable amount of time reading the blogs of other people, and wondering about the people and about what they write.  I have also spend a great deal of time reading a variety of books in the last several months and contemplating the information in them and the authors who wrote them.

I wonder – what does reading tell us?  Do the people who write believe what they are writing?  Is the author trying to get across an internal belief by writing a story which he or she clearly indicates is fiction?  Obviously people who write self-help books, or books of religious instruction or teachings would readily admit that they believe what they are writing to be true, but how much of the author’s true beliefs comes out in the fictional stories.

When I read a book, fictional or non-fictional, there is always something in it that I would love to discuss with others but others are seldom around to discuss the thoughts with me.  Perhaps I will start blogging on the subjects that I would like to discuss.

Today I was reading a book by Eugene H. Peterson called Answering God on the Psalms as Tools for Prayer.  Here is a section that really made me think.

“Two things are prominent in Psalm 1: an action and an image.  Torah-meditation is the action; a transplanted tree is the image.

Torah (law) is God’s words that hit the target of the human condition.  The noun torah comes from a verb, yarah, that means to throw something, a javelin, say, so that it hits its mark.  The word that hits its mark is torah.  In living speech, words are javelins hurled from one mind into another.  The javelin word goes out of one person and pierces another.  Not all words are javelins; some are only tin cans, carrying information from one place to another.  But God’s word has this aimed, intentional, personal nature.  When we are spoken to this way, piercingly and penetratingly, we are not the same.  These words get inside us and work their meaning in us.

As we prepare to pray, to answer the words God addresses to us, we learn that all of God’s words have this characteristic: they are torah and we are the target.  God’s word is not a reference book in a library that we pull off the shelf when we want information.  There is nothing inert or bookish in these words. God’s words, creating and saving words every one, hit us where we live.

The moment we know this, that God speaks to us, delight is spontaneous.  ‘The Psalms are the liturgy for those whose concern and delight is the torah of the Lord’. These are not words that we laboriously but impersonally study, as if for an exam.”

The writer goes on to describe how we need to meditate on the words, relating it to the sounds that a lion might make over its prey, describing the word meditate as a bodily action, involving murmurings and  mumbling words, taking a kind of physical pleasure in making the sounds of the words, shaping them on our lips, tasting them.  Meditation is mastication.

Have you ever read the Bible like that?  Have you ever read a poem or any writing like that and just “felt it in your bones, your soul, your heart, your spirit?

Thinking about words in this way makes me appreciate so much the wonderful opportunity that I have to read, read and read.  I have always loved to read ever since I was a little girl, seeing books as adventures, and I hope that I will never lose that love.