Thoughts From The Thinking Hill

This Pilgrim's Journey

Archive for the month “August, 2012”

Let’s Look At Betelgeuse Tonight!

Glad you stopped by my hilltop!  I WANT TO TALK ABOUT ME! ME! ME!  Well not really, but that’s the title of a song by of a popular Country singer.  The song tells the story about the singer and his girlfriend.  Whenever they are together she is always talking about herself and everything that is going on in her life. Never asks anything about HIM and all he wants to do is talk about himself!

Have you ever noticed how so many people think this world revolves around them?  Our world has become so hedonistic and self centered that we seldom pause to look around us and rarely, rarely above us.  Well, on this visit we are going to push the Pause button!  Please sit back while we are pausing I want to tell you a story.

When one looks up to at night at God’s glorius canopy of stars, the constellation of Orion appears in the Southern sky.  Orion the mighty hunter with his shield in his left hand, mighty club in his right and his sword by his side.  This constellation is a group of stars visible all over the world and has been recognized throughout the ages by people in every nation.  One star in this constellation is called Betelgeuse.  I know, I know, Yes, it’s a strange name for a star and especially so after I describe how magnificent a star it is,  but trust me thats is it’s name.  I don’t want to loose you but I am going to give you several facts here and I ask that you stay with me.  Read them slowly and try to picture them as you read them.  Now don’t go away!

The diameter is the distance across a sphere.

The diameter of the Earth is approximately 7,900 miles

The diameter of the Sun is 865,000 miles (quite a bit bigger than the earth)

The diameter of Betelgeuse is over 600,000,000 miles (that’s 600 million miles!)

The distance from the Sun to Earth is 93,000,000 miles (93 million miles!)

The distance from the Sun to Mars is 154,000,000 miles (154 million miles!)

Just suppose the star Betelgeuse were hollow and we were able to place our Sun right in the center of the star Betelgeuse and place the Earth and Mars inside of Betelgeuse in the same proximity from the Sun, that is 93,000,000 miles for Earth and 154,000,000 miles for Mars, they could make their entire orbit around the Sun without ever touching the walls of Betelgeuse!  Now that is BIG in anyone’s books.  Even with it’s magnificent size, Betelgeuse is not the largest star in our universe.  Bear with me for a few more facts.

This universe is so large that scientists measure distance in light years.  That’s the distance that light travels in one year’s time.  Consider this!  Light travels at the blazing speed of almost 700,000,000 miles an hour.  When we look up at the light from the star Betelgeuse, it has been traveling 700,000,000 miles an hour, for every hour, for approximately 640 years before we see it!  The light we see tonight would have left Betelgeuse long before Martin Luther was born and over 100 years before Columbus left Spain and sailed West in search of India and discovered the New World!

To be honest, I can’t comprehend these figures.  I have studied them and believe those who can comprehend them have somehow measured them with some degree of competence.  One thing I do know is that we live in a universe that is BIG, BIG, BIG by any measure.

Most of us aren’t over 6 or 7 feet tall and usually don’t move outside of a 20 mile radius of our homes every day.  When I stop to consider the smallness of our footprint in this world, in relation to this great universe that God has placed us in I wonder why we get so overwhelmed with the minutiae that consumes our daily lives.

Despite all of the largeness of this universe our Lord said “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And I say unto you that Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you?” And in another place he said “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?  But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

Isn’t that amazing!  A God that created a star as big as Betelgeuse and a universe that is measured in light years and yet takes time to clothe the lilies of the field, notices every sparrow and numbers every hair on our head and yet is more concerned about us and our daily lives than all of those creations.  Makes you want to stop stewing about the little things and place our every care on Him who cares for us, doesn’t it!

Having said all that, I know it’s not easy to let go of our trying to control every detail of  our lives and yield to His control.  Here’s a question for you to think about.  Would “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”  In answering his own question the questioner follows up by saying,  “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?   It is God that justifieth.  Who is he that condemneth?  It is Christ that died, yea rather is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, we are all accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all of these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers nor things, present, nor things to come, Nor height nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Now all of that is impossible to comprehend in the flesh, but we are of the Spirit and not of the Flesh.  Consider the first sentence of  the above quote. “…shall he not freely give us all things?”  We don’t have every word that was spoken by Christ while he was on earth but these words are specifically “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  I know that the lilies and sparrows sound like children’s church themes but these themes are given by the inspiration of God  and are recorded for our benefit.  Think about His love, Think about His Grace toward us, Think about His Everlasting care for us.  He never turns around and is surprised at the situations in our lives.  He is there in every situation to minister to us.  Lets get still and Think, Think, Think.

Perhaps we should spend a little more time thinking about HIM, HIM, HIM instead of ME, ME, ME!  The great Westminster Shorter Catechism’s first question is “What is the chief end of Man?  The answer it gives is “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”  Here’s another question, reader “Have you taken time to exercise yourself in that venture today?”

Let us not leave this hilltop visit without saying that God who stood on the edge of nothing who spoke this awesome universe into existence with a just His words, does care about you and, for reasons known only to Him, has bestowed His grace on your heart and in His Divine Love cares for you and all the issues of your life.  It is o.k. to take those issues that you find yourself telling others when you want to talk about ME, ME, ME and carry them to Him for He cares for you.

I hope you stayed with me for the whole story.  Makes one wonder with the Psalmist when he said “What is man that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that Thou visitist him?” He is a Great Big God with an infinite Mercy.  It really doesn’t take long to read these 1400+ words but before you run along and leave this hilltop, I would ask you to spend some time thinking about what you have just read and your relationship with our Heavenly Father because truly, truly His desire is towards us!

That’s how I see it on this Pilgrimage to that continuing city!

The Thinking Hill!

Above 50 years ago my family lived on a poor farm in Western Oklahoma.  Back then we farmed some row crops but most of the land was in grass and we always ran several stock cows as well as dairy cows.  Our house and barns were all located along a low lying creek area that was a tributary to Sadler Creek.  The terrain of the land rose quite quickly as you went North from the creek back into the farm.  A little over a quarter of mile North of the creek the land peaked out to a high hill that had some sparse clumps of grass but was mostly an outcropping of sandstone rock.

At the end of the day after chores were done I would often walk the narrow cow path up to the top of this hill and sit down to take in the beautiful view of the countryside.  Wow! What an awesome view from up there.  I could see way down into Greer County,  way over into Washita County and parts of far Western Beckham County.  I was around 12 or 13 years old when I first started making these evening visits to this hilltop and it was and still is one of my favorite spots in my life.  As I would sit there the evening sun would gradually descend over the horizon and darkness would slowly cover my hilltop with a blanket of darkness.  Back in those days we did not have all of the sodium vapor lights scattered all through the country side as we do now and when night settled over the land the evenings were magical with blackness that could only be known by having been there.

Along with the darkness came one of the Wonders of all Wonders to me, that awesome canopy of stars that hovers over our heads day and night but whose beauty can only be realized in seeing it against the backdrop of the blackest nights.  It is really difficult to get the real impact of it today with all of the lights scattered around and the massive illumination of the area towns. Unless you have seen it in a completely dark setting you cannot fathom the majesty of it all.  Sitting there I learned to observe some of the night constellations but the real wonder was the Great Milky Way.  This is a band of stars that stretches across the heavens from one end to the other and is so filled with stars that it looks like a white belt  of millions upon millions of tiny white dots.  Looking at these stars and knowing there were millions of miles between each one of them it literally was and is still overwhelming to me as to how big this universe really is that we live in.

Long before I heard the words of the 8th Psalm, I, like the Psalmist said “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that thou visitest him?”  I knew at the age of 13 that God had quickened my heart and as I sat on that hill thinking about the vastness of this universe, I knew back then that God was bigger than all of this grandeur that I was beholding and wondered why…. why would He take time out of all His great creation, to visit any of mankind, let alone me sitting on that barren hillside, but oh! how I enjoyed those times He would spend with me on that old hilltop.

So my visits went on sitting on that old rocky hillside.  I was 13 and coming of age and it was here that I began to put away childish things and consider this great creation that we live in.  These were my formative years and the night winds and my thoughts that transpired on that hilltop shaped that young man to whatever I have become today.  I can trace the deepest caverns of my soul all the way back up to that hilltop, sitting alone with God under the canopy of His great handiwork and learning from Him.

Some of you that read this have, in times past asked for my opinions, advice or prayers about various issues in your lives.  If there was ever any knowledge, wisdom, or strength that I shared with you at those times they had their seminal beginnings on an old rocky sandstone hilltop a long, long, long time ago.

Today, when I drive down State Highway 152 I pass by this old farm.  I always look with fondness at the old homesite along the creek and where the house and barns once stood.  Those have all been long gone but many fond memories remain.  Finally, I always lift my gaze upwards to that hilltop that still beckons to me and I long to go alone up there some night and once again just sit down and think.  Over the years I have tried to pull away from everyone and everything to be  alone to once again to sort things out in my mind.  My precious wife of my youth unfortunately has always felt this was a sign of rejection of her and it never was.   However, we have now been going steady for over 49 years and she has gradually realized this is my how I am wired and allows me these times to pull aside.  I think she has come to know that I will be a better person when I return.

So, Why this blog?  Having read several blogs of all kinds of topics on the internet and having experienced so many personal thoughts that friends have felt the liberty to share with the world via Facebook, I have concluded this world really doesn’t need another blog taking up time and space even if it is digital…. but I think I need it.   I need a place to put down my thoughts and work through some things in my head.  As one writer said “Over the lips and through the fingertips all of life’s problems are worked out”.   Sometimes these thoughts breed so fast that they need ot be put down in writing to knead and mold them so they may mature to their intended ends.  I thought perhaps some of you would like to look over my shoulder and follow along in this venture.  Not because I have any great words of wisdom to say but in hopes that it might encourage you also to take some of those 1,440 minutes that God allots to you and me every day to do as Winnie the Poo said to “THINK, THINK, THINK”.  Yes THINK about this world, your life, those around us and those things that you hold dear in this world, but most of all to THINK of our Heavenly Father and our relationship to Him, “For in Him we live, and move and have our being…”!  Now that’s pretty encompassing isn’t it!  He is not far from each one of us.  As my friend Elder Brown would say “NOW THAT’S AWESOME!”

That’s the way I see it on this Pilgrimage to that continuing City!

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