Saturday, November 30, 2013

To Believe the Story of Jonah

Milky Way Galaxy
Questions about the believability of the Bible sometimes end up  at the story about Jonah. God got Jonah's attention by allowing a large, whale-like sea creature to swallow and hold him for three days.  
Jonah's experience fits faith and reason when looked at through a lens of science about Planet Earth, on which both Jonah and the sea creature dwelt, one on land, one in water. 
Jonah, like us, had an address: Planet Earth within Milky Way Galaxy (see graphic here). Earth's galaxy has been described as a "barred spiral galaxy that measures about 100,000 light-years across, and is thought to contain between 100 and 400 billion stars."
A healthy sense of wonder helps when considering those few facts, since we don't feel Earth turning, orbiting the sun, and we don't get dizzy because of it, although Earth is turning at 1,040 miles per hour. For every second, Earth is moving almost half a kilometer through space, and who feels it?

After Jonah completed his job in Nineveh, I wonder about his reaction if he could have learned what humans have since learned about this planet, her earth and seas. 

About his three days in a large fish, I can imagine Jonah saying something like this: "Man, three days in the belly of a big fish are nothing compared to trying to comprehend that this Earth is an orb and it is continually traveling within something called a galaxy!" 

I think Jonah might have felt ready for a long nap to settle his whirling thoughts.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Reagan Quotes: Saving and Guarding a Great Republic

 "The poet called Miss Liberty's torch 'the lamp beside the golden door.' Well, that was the entrance to America, and it still is. And now you really know why we're here tonight. The glistening hope of that lamp is still ours. Every promise, every opportunity, is still golden in this land. And through that golden door our children can walk into tomorrow with the knowledge that no one can be denied the promise that is America. Her heart is full; her torch is still golden, her future bright. She has arms big enough to comfort and strong enough to support, for the strength in her arms is the strength of her people. She will carry on in the '80s unafraid, unashamed, and unsurpassed. In this springtime of hope, some lights seem eternal; America's is."  August 23, 1984 -- in his speech to the Republican National Convention
    "Government growing beyond our consent had become a lumbering giant, slamming shut the gates of opportunity, threatening to crush the very roots of our freedom. What brought America back? The American people brought us back -- with quiet courage and common sense; with undying faith that in this nation under God the future will be ours, for the future belongs to the free."  February 4, 1986 -- from the State of the Union Address

"[G]overnment's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." August 15, 1986 -- in remarks to the White House Conference on Small Business
     "I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering those nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete."  March 23, 1983 -- addressing the nation about his proposed Strategic Defense Initiative, later to be known as "Star Wars" 
"We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free."  June 6, 1984 -- at the D-Day Commemoration in Normandy, France


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Giving Thanks before Thanksgiving Day

I love to hold good books printed on paper and bound with a hard cover. But recently I've been worried about my eyes because words look fuzzier than usual. I put in a call today for an eye exam.
     I love to smile and to eat, so I make regular teeth cleaning appointments with our dentist whose office has the latest editions, by the way, of National Geographic. I had my teeth cleaned yesterday and Dr. G and I talked a bit afterward...about the human digestive system shown in living color on one of NatGeo's pages. He could name most of what we saw, including fiber, which looked like a long strip of wood. 
     This is the season to start bundling up before going outside, and when I go outside I love the crisp feel of the weather. 
     There's a meeting I need to attend next Monday, and I look forward to being with a lively group discussing lots of related history, archaeology, and theology. 
     All of these matters listed above are only a few parts of the life of this woman in North America, and they embed deep thankfulness for:

  • the opportunity to learn to read and write as a child and to go to school; ,
  • enough food to eat and healthy teeth with which to eat; 
  • a phone, a nearby library, several bookstores to choose from; 
  • prescription glasses that help my weak eyes see 20/20 and am able to have those prescriptions filled every time my eyes change a bit; 
  • a working digestive system and a dentist that finds such matters interesting in magazines; 
  • jackets and coats, boots and gloves to put on when I am cold;
  • Vocal chords that allow speaking and singing;
  • And many more blessings of living.
I get excited when I think about these things. They are good and so important, and I am thankful for so many good gifts, for my husband, our family, for neighbors and friends. I am thankful that God hears my prayers for each person on my list and added names, even if I don't know the people behind them. I don't have their answers, but I can lift their names to God. And I am thankful for a quote I read recently, about hope strengthening the heart.  

     Hope helps me bear grief, for it reminds me of the living hope that God gives the world through His Son and the messages of His life, suffering unto death, and resurrection. Hope reminds me that loved ones who have died have eternal life, because they trusted God, through Jesus. They put their lives and hopes entirely into His hands. I remember their hard times and maybe I think about that too much, for they have moved on. All is well and will forever be well with them; that's where they are now, and we will be together again one day in the liveliest of times.   
     I am eternally thankful for the salvation I now have by faith, due to Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection.  
     I am thankful that God loves when we have little love or faith, kindness or forgiveness. He loves us when we lack for many things, and I have come to realize that many others receive so much through people who love God. They depend on people to show them God's love and later they go out to share it, too. 
     What a thrill to have moments to think about these things. "What is the story you tell yourself about your life, Luv?" asked a fictional female British detective, sitting across from a self-pitying, unforgiving suspect. He was guilty of theft, but of more, too. He was guilty of thanklessness and the inability to let go of wrongs done to him in the past. He was guilty of wallowing in himself so he could avoid living, when his kind of character could live differently.
     In real life, we tend to tell ourselves all kinds of stories about our lives, but we wake up when we realize that the best stories are wrapped in whatever it is we can give thanks for in a world where millions never learn to read or write, to see a doctor when they are very sick, to have their toothaches taken care of, to eat enough every day, even to be sure of water every day. Among them are many thankful hearts, there to bring relief as volunteers or neighbors. I have also heard eye-witness accounts of how so many that are poor give and give and give to others. I am humbled by this. It connects us to others when we look outward and upward. Look up and live, someone said.
     Happy Thanksgiving can happen every day. Happy Thanksgiving holiday this year. 

Thanksgiving Quotes

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Finding Enjoyable Books-That's what I do!

"I'm not bragging. I'm applying for a job."
Those words became familiar on TV in our area, spoken by a young real estate entrepreneur with good sales stats. He replayed TV video ads that included those words every time. 

I admire his assertiveness in a tough business. In every business, in fact, establishing the name is a challenge. People recognize "Pat Hiban's Sensible Listing plan," and remember his name.  

Book-buyers and readers usually do not pay attention to publishing names, HarperCollins and others, like Opine Publishing, unless they're "in the business." They  pay attention to authors' names. Our authors' names have more recognition than before since they were published by Opine Publishing: Deirdre Reilly, Beryl Adamsbaum, Jane Bullard (pen name), and Mogama. C. H. Spurgeon's name was already known in the U.S. and especially in the UK.  

The local real estate entrepreneur began his ads ten years ago, and today he advertises less; it seems he is doing well selling property and houses. Pat Hiban's trucks are ubiquitous around town. He did a ten-year reminiscence ad recently, and it began with those words: "I'm not bragging. I'm applying for a job."

We're not bragging at Opine Publishing. We're applying for the job of helping you find new, different books you'll enjoy reading and recommending to others, as well as buying as gifts. If you cannot find copies of any Opine books by our authors, whether Deirdre Reilly, Beryl Adamsbaum, Jane Bullard (pen name), Mogama, and C. H. Spurgeon's rare book, The Mourner's Comforter, just e-mail. 

It's my job to get copies for you. I work to help readers like you find enjoyable books. At Opine Book Store are terrific books I think you might be interested to read, recommend, or give.   


Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Trust in the Face of Deception

"One of you will betray Me." 

Jesus knew in advance that one close to him would hand him over. With Judas, the betrayal was no less ugly because it was foreknown to Jesus, who was not deceived. He knew what was Judas's intent, and scholars agree that Judas must have thought himself clever and even may have thought himself to be "helping" Jesus unveil a great earthly kingdom. 
     Judas betrayed Jesus with a sign, a kiss of greeting in the garden of Gethsemane. That kiss identified Jesus beyond mistake to the guards assigned to arrest Jesus of Nazareth, the troublemaker of Israel's religious status quo. Judas soon realized that he had not understood what he was doing in betraying Jesus, and the realization of what he had done horrified him. In handing Jesus over in betrayal, Judas put the Lord into death-dealing hands. Judas soon destroyed his own life in a suicidal despair.  
     Betrayal and Deceit are twins in the arsenals of ambition or fear. Yet, they are not too hard for God to deal with. They are exactly the kinds of thing in human beings that Jesus came to root out, by His own sacrifice, for those willing for God to transform them.   
     Yes, thanks be to God, Jesus never denies His own. He keeps His words of promise and mercy. His love would never hand us over to what is bad for us, although evil tries to do this all the time. When evil forces its way into our lives due to human frailties, Christ stands with us as we put our trust in Him. Even in the valley of the shadow of death, He is there with us. 
     "O, grave, where is thy victory? Death, where is thy sting?" Jesus, the One betrayed, rose again, victorious and clothed in an imperishable body raised from death by God's power. 
     When deceit emerges into the light, its dangers to others suddenly becomes more clear. Yet, there is another assurance beyond circumstances: "I have overcome the world," says the Risen Christ. "Do not be afraid." 
     When we see the weakness of those who do not honor their words or promises, we are enabled with God's help to "bear with" the results that eventually weigh heavily on our lives. We learn more clearly whom to trust. We remember that no human is entirely trustworthy. At any point of deception, we can lean on God and trust Him to help us.  
     God always keeps His word during our troubles. God keep His promises. Here is one of my favorites among the many promises of God: It has and always will prove to be true:    
     "Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be confused, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up with my righteous right arm" (Isaiah 41:10).   

O Death, where is your victory? 
"...But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 15: 54-57). 

Word Study Source:
late 13c., bitrayen "mislead, deceive, betray," from be- + obsolete Middle English tray, from Old French traine "betrayal, deception, deceit," from trair (Modern French trahir) "betray, deceive," from Latin tradere "hand over," from trans- "across" (see trans-) + dare"to give" (see date (n.1)). Related: Betrayed; betraying.
Biblical source: I Corinthians 15:54ff: