Thursday, September 29, 2011

Today is Brought to You by the Letter ZAYIN

Zayin is the 7th Hebrew letter and means weapon or sword. In Modern Hebrew it means to be armed and that is the primary theme of the 7th book of the Bible: Judges.

Zayin sounds like an English “Z” and was drawn like a “Z” in ancient Hebrew. Key Bible words that start with this letter are zayin (weapon, sword), zakar (remember), zamam (think, consider), zuah (tremble), and zanah (to fornicate, to be a whore). Think about these words in relation to the Bible.

Two more zayin key words are zavav which means buzz and zevuv (zebub) which means a fly. I’ll bet you already knew this from the Hebrew for “Lord of the flies”. Remember they’d get off track and worship Baal? Baal means “lord” so Baalzebub means lord of flies.

Exactly 22 books later we come to the next Zayin book: Joel. Joel prophesies that the Lord will do the judging in the valley of Jehoshaphat. (I always liked that name because my father used to say “jumpin’ Jehoshaphat” as an exclamation.) In studying Hebrew I learned that this word is made up of two words: shaphat which means judge and yeho (jeho) which is the beginning of God’s name, Jehovah. So you get Jeho . . . shaphat – God judges. This links divinely back to the first zayin book, Judges, because in Judges (and only in Judges) is God given the title “the Lord the Judge” (Judges 11:27). The name Jehoshaphat appears dozens of times in Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, but “the valley of Jehoshaphat” appears ONLY in Joel, the second zayin book.

(taken in part from CROSSING THE SCRIPTURES, copyright 2011)


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Talents - Not Yet Appreciated

It was my third and last try. I focused all of my energy on the metal pan, resting on its side in a plastic dish rack with the sheet of paper behind it. Six eyes watched, more intently narrowing their attention on my face and hands, I supposed, than on the paper that should surely start to burn.

My fingers were stiff, the rigidity flowing up my wrists, my elbows, my arms, stopping at my shoulders. I forced it to continue, tightening my shoulders, chest and stomach. I could feel the veins on my neck popping out and wondered in a brief mental laugh if my eyes were bulging as well.

I knew I could do this. Why wouldn’t they believe? I had made the paper crinkle up in my first attempt. They dismissed it. In the second challenge, their idea, I made the spoon flip out of the cup. They just shook their heads. Disappointed, I guess. What were they looking for?

I willed even more energy to flow outward, through those solid pointing fingers, aimed, ten strong, at that old, black pan six feet away. A spark, a glow, and then the pan itself began to melt, golden flames shooting outward.

“See?” I grunted, still holding firm, afraid to stop. I croaked out another question, “Now do you believe me?”

The tall one shook his head and walked away. The husband and wife smiled together and took my hands. I went limp and gulped air. No one but me watched as the pan puddled, revealing the entire sheet of paper, crinkled still, but not even scorched.

“But, but, give me another chance,” I stuttered. I could not fail to win this competition. I had sold everything to come here. There was nothing for me, nothing at all beyond the door. They pulled me toward it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Good? Bad?

GOOD Things that are BAD and BAD Things that are GOOD

1) The pitter-patter of tiny feet – GOOD when they are attached to two- or three-year-olds, BAD when they are attached to four small, hairy legs and you don’t own any pets.

2) Masculine blue eyes that fixate on your breasts and follow you as you move about the room – BAD when the guy is drunk, angry and unknown to you, GOOD if he’s six months old and sitting in a bouncy seat.

3) The campfire-scent of seasoned wood promising toasted marshmallows – GOOD when you walk outdoors at dusk with hotdogs on long roasting forks, BAD when you wake in the middle of the night to sharp ringing alarms.

4) A strong peppermint flavor that makes your mouth water with one taste – GOOD when you’re celebrating a child’s December birthday with pink frosted cupcakes sprinkled with crushed candy canes, BAD when the peppermint is bottled and comes with a warning label.

5) Those three special, long waited for words of love – BAD when they’re said by the boy that sits next to you in Chemistry, breathing loudly, GOOD when, well, you know when.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Psalm 19, Revealing God

C.S. Lewis called Psalm 19 the greatest of the psalms with the greatest lyrics. As I’ve studied it this week I’ve “decoded” several things. First of all the psalm is divided into three parts: verses 1 – 6 show how God has revealed Himself through “natural revelation”, verses 7 – 11 explain “scriptural revelation” and the last three verses are a prayer.

Part one begins with “the Heavens declare the glory of God” and it goes on to claim how no speech or language needs to be used to prove that there is a God. Just look at the sky, folks, the amazing array of stars and the constant sun. There is abundant evidence of God and His glory, just look up; it is self-evident. Symbolically, the sun is given a couple of God’s attributes in verses 5 and 6: the sun is like a bridegroom; the sun is like a champion. I love these similes. Verse 6 ends with “nothing is hidden from its heat”. When I read that as nothing is hidden from God it reinforces my finite concept of an infinite God.

Part two changes directions in some interesting (puzzle-decoding) ways. First of all, the psalm writer (King David) uses the name of God only once in part one with the Hebrew word “El”, Mighty One. In the second part he uses another of God’s names, “Yahweh (Jehovah)”, six times as he speaks of “the law of Yahweh”, “the statutes of Yahweh”, “the precepts of Yahweh”, “the commands of Yahweh”, “the fear of Yahweh” and “the ordinances of Yahweh”. Law, precepts, statutes, etc., are all in reference to the Holy Scriptures. In other words, part two is talking about “scriptural revelation”.

So, we have two ways to know about God: look at nature, especially the sky, and read the Bible. Natural and scriptural revelations have been attacked by rationalism, relativism, existentialism and liberalism, to name a few.

Part three is a prayer wherein the psalmist asks forgiveness for three types of sins: hidden sins, willful sins and sins of word and thought. That completely covers it, doesn’t it? The last verse is quoted often by countless preachers before they speak: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How I Know that Summer is Over

10. Our chipmunks are knocking on the windows and pointing to the sack of sunflower seeds. (Yes, we’ve been ignoring them since we aren’t sitting outside reading as often. Poor little guys.)
9. We took the boat and the dock out of the lake. (Hooray, it only takes 2 hours to take the dock out compared to 8 hours to get it in.)
8. The hammock disappeared.( How will I nap, I mean read, so comfortably the rest of the year? I loved how the chipmunks would hop up through the ropes and search me for seeds.)
7. I’m almost out of marshmallows, firecrackers and sparklers. (Do you know that you can roast the new giant size marshmallows and get four servings from each one?)
6. We’ve had a fire in the fireplace three nights in a row. (Do you know that the marshmallows taste just as good roasted indoors as outside?)
5. The songbirds have flown south already. (Our wood thrushes go to Mexico – luckies.)
4. My tan is faded. (Oh, well.)
3. I’ve stopped painting my toenails. (Sandals out, boots in.)
2. My craving for caramel apples, donuts and cider surpasses my chocolate cravings. (But only for about 5 minutes.)
1. It was 62 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday and 26 on Friday. Get the flannel sheets out!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Today is Brought to You by the Letter TET

The Hebrew letter TET looks like this and sounds like our letter T. Literally it means twist or serpent. A good representative word that starts with TET is “tov” which means good, as in “mazel tov”. You hear this phrase at Jewish weddings, literally it means “good destiny” but is often translated as “good luck” even though Jews don’t believe in luck.

The alphabetic (or acrostic) verses in the Bible give us lots of clues to important key words that start with each Hebrew letter. Alphabetic verses each start with the next succeeding Hebrew letter in the original scriptures. We lose this poetic form in translation.

Some alphabetic verses that start with the 9th Hebrew letter, TET, are (King James Version):
Psalm 25:8 Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.
Psalm 112.5a A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth
Lamentations 3:27 It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
Psalm 119:71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
Lamentations 3.26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.
Psalm 119.68 Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.
Psalm 119:66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.
Psalm 145.9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
Lamentations 3.25 The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

Amazingly, the word “tov” appears more in 1st Samuel than any other Old Testament history book (Joshua through Esther). Why is that amazing? Because there are 66 books in the Bible and if you match them up consecutively with the 22 Hebrew letters, the ones that match TET are 1st Samuel, Obadiah and 2nd Thessalonians. More amazing connections are made to the letter TET in all three books.

You can learn more in my book CROSSING THE SCRIPTURES or in Richard Amiel McGough’s book, THE BIBLE WHEEL.

Excerpt 7 from TUNNELS

Sneaking past the weapon-laden sailors got my heart beating faster than when I took a wrong turn out of the suburbs and found myself driving past boarded up crack houses at dusk. My fears seemed caught in my mouth, along with that knife, the handle of which I was sure now held a firm impression of half my teeth. The last sailor passed and I duck-walked toward the captain’s quarters. I hunched under some porthole windows and took up my post crammed between a pile of rope and a couple of casks that held a brew stronger than my morning coffee.

“One more thing,” a deep voice, hushed with secrecy, intoned, “There’s been too much blabbing already.”

“Far too much,” a second voice agreed.

“I’ll tell you what I’ve heard myself . . . that you have a map of an island, that there’s crosses on the map to show where treasure is, and that the island lies . . .” I had my recording gear on again, but I was just fast enough pulling out paper and pen as well to copy the longitude and latitude that the captain now divulged. The knife fell from my lips to my lap, so aghast was I at what I heard that my jaws had slacked of their own accord.

The further conversations I heard, the mutinous plans, kept me busily writing in my cramped hidey-hole. The ship set to sea and my customary struggle to keep from tossing my cookies from motion sickness was apparently blocked by my unusual circumstances. I expected to be launched through another tunnel at any point or find myself lurking around giant clothes dryers, once again on the lookout for radicals bent on stopping my quest.

The thought gave me pause. My quest. My hazy memory was sharpening, pointing toward the absurdity of my situation and the bizarre surroundings, and yet everything seemed to make sense. My quest was noble. I had only to think of Jackson’s sturdy hand, her determination, the righteous tone in her voice when she had said to me, “They trust us; we’re doing good here.” I knew my mission was good. Everything was flooding back into my memory banks just as I heard that cursed seaman yell “Land ho” and everything went dark.

(Tunnels is a work in progress. Feedback is appreciated.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Between you and ME – Pronouns are Pesky

I had a dream last night in which I cut off a speaker and corrected her grammar. I guess grammar errors will forever haunt me. Here are the two goofs this figment of my imagination made:

1) She said “between you and I” instead of “between you and me”. Between is a preposition. Prepositions are words that show position (in, on, under, above, beneath) or express a relationship to another word (with, by, at, to, in, for, from, of). Prepositions are followed with an object pronoun. The object pronouns are me, you, him, her, us and them. Most people use the correct form of the pronoun automatically unless they have two pronouns, or a noun and a pronoun, connected by “and” as in the problem above. It’s very easy to check yourself just by mentally adding the preposition in front of the second word.

For example: would you use “me” or “I” in this statement?
She expected to be scolded by John and ______.
By thinking quickly as you speak you can make the little adjustment to your thought process: She expected to be scolded by John and (by) _______. See? You would NOT say “by I”, would you?

2) The second error dreamgirl made was to use a reflexive pronoun incorrectly. I’m hearing this mistake more and more as people use “myself” and “yourself” when they should be using “me” and “you”. For example: “How are you?” “I’m fine, and yourself?” I am so tempted to answer back “Myself am fine” and join the ranks of the language challenged. I’m not being snippy, I’m just tired of noticing these errors that foreigners learning our language would never make. They practice the dialogue “How are you?” “Fine, thanks, and you?”

Reflexive pronouns are myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves. You must have the matching subject pronoun in the sentence. You say “I see myself”, “you see yourself” and so on. You do not say “I see herself”.

Many people have started using reflexives when they need a subject or object pronoun. For example: My secretary or Mr. Blanchard or myself will be glad to help you. Think, think, think. You wouldn’t say ‘myself will be glad’, it’s ‘I will be glad’ – so it’s My secretary or Mr. Blanchard or I will be glad to help you. Always check what your sentence would be without the other subjects.

Since dreams seem to tell us things from our subconscious I’m going to go and re-edit yesterday’s project again. I’ll probably find these exact mistakes in my writing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Forgive the Terrorists? Should We?

Have you forgiven the 9-11 Terrorists?

Some people say they will never forgive them. Some people say they forgive, but will not forget. A very, very few say they have forgiven them and are trying to forget. That’s extremely hard on anniversaries like the one this year. The whole terrible tragedy is revived, remembered, chronicled and debated on endless TV shows.

Let’s talk about the forgiveness. Jesus said (Mark 6:25) “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Also (Matthew 6:14) “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” I must forgive the terrorists; I have to remind myself that Jesus hung on that cross for them, too, whether or not they even acknowledge Him.

Is America healing? Yes, though slowly. I wonder how much quicker it would be if there were more individual forgiveness. I forgive Khalid, Nawaf, Mohamed, Marwan, Ziad, and Hani. I forgive Waleed, Wail, Abdulaziz and Satam. I forgive Fayaz, Mohand, Hamza and three men named Ahmed. I forgive Majed, Saeed and Salem. Wow, that’s hard to say, especially aloud. Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)

Forgive, forgive, forgive. Read the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18 to see how limitless our forgiveness should be. After all, God has forgiven us ALL of our sins, every last one, but if we fail to forgive others . . . well, I don’t want the Lord to be angry with me, what about you?

Monday, September 5, 2011

From Rock to Block

From Rock to Block
Soon after Jesus proclaimed to Simon, son of Jonah, “I tell you that you are Peter (Petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church . . .” Jesus began to explain to the disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem, suffer, die and on the third day be raised to life. This is found in Matthew 16, Mark 8 and Luke 9. Peter broke in, interrupted actually, and took Jesus aside to rebuke him with words to the effect of “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!”

It is amazing to me that Peter should be so blunt, caustic, arrogant and wrong. But wait, he was human and although he had just answered Jesus’ who-am-I question correctly – You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God – he hadn’t grasped the concept that the Christ was first the Savior and then the King. He didn’t get that Jesus had to die to fulfill the prophecies.

Jesus cut him off and gave him the harshest rebuke in the Scriptures: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God but the things of men.” The word for ‘stumbling block’ in Greek can be translated as ‘offense’ or ‘rock that causes stumbling’ or, ‘death stick’. Death stick? Yes, that was the moveable stick or trigger of a trap that was used in olden times to snare an animal. You can see why modern translators chose stumbling block, but I like the idea that Peter has fallen into a trap. We all fall into that same trap when we do not have in mind the things of God.

Like Peter we may go back and forth between sturdy rock and stumbling block in our faith, our words and our actions. Peter finally understood and though he denied Christ three times before the crucifixion, he ultimately stopped stumbling and lived up to his name.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Excerpt 6 from TUNNELS

I lost sight of them, the young boy and the limping man, as I hurried after, digging in my bag to see what else I had. I kept my footing on the uneven walkway, nodding at people I passed. Most were dressed like old-fashioned sailors, sporting bandannas and earrings; all ignored me. I thought I must be invisible though one ancient half-dead seaman with hazy eyes, red cheeks and a stuttering tongue gave me a cockeyed nod. I hurried on.

At water’s edge I pulled out a well-packed one-person inflatable with a small compressed air inflator. I was glad to see that it wasn’t orange or red, but rather an indiscernible gray. I fit snugly in the oblong seat with my pack between my legs. I maneuvered under figureheads and around the sterns of several ships; their cables would have snagged an average keel, lucky for me I had no keel, but I did have to watch for the cables that slanted up and out of the water, threatening to catch me in the neck and knock me overboard.

At last I reached the Hispaniola. I braced an armpit around a fraying rope, anchoring myself while I dug through the pack for the knife and grappling gun I had seen at the bottom. With the knife between my teeth I felt like a pirate ready to board and do battle, a mission I might have preferred if I were as adventurous as my son. I steadied my aim and successfully shot the gun, catching the hooks around the rim a scary distance above. Had I done this before? It felt pretty natural. With equal skill I slung the straps of the pack over my back, withdrew the knife from my mouth and simultaneously slashed the inflatable and triggered the gun. The swishing of the deflating fabric matched the swooshing of my one-handed ascent; my stronger arm, the one that carried a whiny forty pound child every day, did not fail me. I transferred the knife back to my mouth to free up my right hand to take hold of the edge. I threw my legs over and let my feet find the planks. I freed the hooks and dropped the entire unit down on top of my little boat. The extra weight helped to sink it faster.

I was beginning to think that the ‘good luck’ that Jackson had wished me was working until I turned around and saw a dozen sailors, backs bent, trundling arms and barrels of gunpowder into the fore hold.

(Tunnels is a work in progress. Feedback is appreciated.)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Something for Those Who Didn't Win

On my other blog I ran a giveaway for my children's books. I decided to offer a half off coupon to those who didn't win and to YOU for the ebook version of THE SECRET IN THE HIDDEN CAVE. It's normally three bucks, but the coupon makes it just $1.50. Go to SMASHWORDS to download a copy. At checkout enter this coupon code: YN54X . It is good through all of September and you can pass this info on to anyone you know who has kids ages 8 - 12.
ALSO there’s a free teacher’s guide of questions that goes with this book at THIS LINK
Okay, now hit the tweets and stumbleupon, facebook, googlebuzz and email.