Thoughts From The Thinking Hill

This Pilgrim's Journey

Archive for the category “Bible”

To The Golden Shore!

Judson

They say “never judge a book by its cover” and that is so true.  I have books in my library with nice dust jackets with colorful pictures that look very nice on the library shelf, but they are like pretty, cumulous, summertime clouds.  Pretty to look at but there’s nothing of substance in them.   I also have the book in the photo above that most folks would pass over without a second glance.  It’s a paperback, 520 pages long, dog eared, yellowed with age and taped up with masking tape to keep the cover together.  It came to me in this condition as a gift from an aged friend that wanted to pass it on to someone that would enjoy reading it.  It’s titled “To The Golden Shore”  by Courtney Anderson.  When I opened its cover I stepped into the world of Adoniram Judson, a young man that struggled with faith as he was coming of age but came to embrace the Christ of the Cross.  Judson was so moved by the words “Go into all the world and  preach the gospel to every creature” he was convinced that others in this world needed to meet this same Christ.

Today is July 14, 2013 and there have been a lot of July 14’s that have come and gone but I don’t know of any that were as momentous as the one that happened 200 years ago.  July 14, 1813 was the first day that Adoniram Judson stepped off the good ship, Georgiana, onto land that was called in that day “The Golden Shores of Burma”.  What followed for the rest of this man’s life is one of the most marvelous and amazing stories of Christian witness that this world has ever experienced.

In August of 1806 five young seminarians met in a grove of maple trees for prayer and from this prayer meeting the first foreign missionaries would be sent from America to other lands.  The United States of America was a young nation and still in swaddling clothes and in the early 1800’s there was no Foreign Missions Society of any church or organization to send foreign missionaries anywhere.  These five seminarians and  their commitment to missions were instrumental in the Congregational Church establishing the American Board of  Commissioners of Foreign Missions to facilitate sending missionaries to foreign lands to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.   Shortly after the forming of the new Missions Board,  Judson undertook a voyage to the London Missionary Society in England to request assistance for financial support for the young Missions Board.  In route the British ship he was sailing on was captured by the French and he spent quite some time in a French prison.  His course of his life was being punctuated with, what can only be described as repeated moments of Divine Intervention and he was finally providentially released, made his way to London and eventually back to America.

In February 1812, after making their way through uncharted waters in forming a missions board and organizing financial support, Adoniram Judson and his new bride set sail from  the shores of America as the first of thousands of missionaries to follow, carrying the gospel message to distant lands.  They had dreams of going to India but India had all of the foreign missionaries it would allow and they were denied entry into the country.  After the delay of some time and after much prayer they agreed to go to Burma.

Oh, there had been a few missionaries in Burma, before Judson, but the language was so difficult that they had to settle for ministering to some of the European workers that lived and worked there.  Judson, after finding a Burmese man  that would teach him, set about working for hours on end, day after day,  trying to learn the Burmese language.  Painstakingly he endeavored to learn the language listening and struggling to understand the words of various items and would write them down how he understood that they were said.  He very methodically but ever so slowly, developed the first English dictionary of the Burmese language.  He knew if he could accomplish this feat that other missionaries could follow him having learned the language before arriving in Burma and minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ more effectively.

I walked with Judson in my spirit through this book but  I do not believe I would have been able to have made the same journey in the natural.  This man left home with a new bride, knowing that he would probably never see his family again with limited resources, no phones, no internet, very crude medical services.  He didn’t know the language and was a pilgrim and a stranger in a weary land.  He buried his children, buried his wife, suffered the loss of possessions, went without food and raiment, suffered fevers,  sicknesses, beatings and imprisonment, only to revive and lift up the Cross and continue on.   When we get to heaven he won’t be hard to find.  Just look for him among the group that have Faithful written on their crowns.

He worked with servants and potentates, soldiers and diplomats,  beggars and kings.  Through all he endured, somehow he managed to preserve his beloved dictionary that he worked on so tirelessly to complete.   I have never been so moved and blessed of reading anything about any man’s life, aside from the Bible.  This man’s life and journey has challenged me in my on life.  We are so tied to this world and this age, how we need to become strangers and pilgrims who look for a continuing city.

My heart was quickened and rejoiced a few days ago when I was looking for a Bible App on my Iphone and to my surprise one popped up on the screen, produced by the Myanmar Bible Society!  An app that could allow the Myanmar people to read the bible in the various dialects of their country.  Myanmar, for those who don’t know was formally known as Burma!  200 years after Adoniram Judson of Massachusetts stepped foot on the Golden shores of Burma to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Burmese people, the people he lived and died to reach, there is a Myanmar Bible Society distributing a Phone App that enables the Myanmar people to read the Bible in their own tongue and various dialects.  What a testimony to one man’s life and commitment to Christ!

Few people today know who Adoniram Judson was.  There are no admirers or pilgrims that pay homage to his grave for he was gravely ill when he last left Burma to seek relief in the fresh air of the ocean.  On April 12, 1850 he uttered the words “It is done! I am going”!  A few moments later he stepped onto his final “Golden Shore”.  There was no throng of people at his funeral, no songs, no sermon and there is no marker for his grave.  Adoniram Judson was unceremoniously committed to a watery grave in the Andaman Sea at Latitude 13° North and Longitude 93° East.  Many years had passed since he first asked himself the question “How shall I so order my future being as best to please God?” 200 years later I would like to dedicate this post to Adoniram Judson and say “Well Done Thou Good and Faithful Servant”!

That’s how I see it on this Pilgrimage to that Continuing City!

 

HE SAID “NOW, WE ARE GOING TO PRAY”!!!

Praying Hands2

Walking down the short hallway to the recovery room at MDAnderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, I could see my daughter, Kristie, very visibly shaken and crying beside our grandson, Korbin’s bed.  I don’t know if it would have been possible for her to be anymore distraught.  When we stepped into the room she  said “It’s his eyes!  They aren’t working right.  They dart back and forth when he tries to open them.”  I tried to reassure her that it would clear up when he came out of the heavy anesthesia they had administered to perform the surgery on his brain.  “No” she cried, “the Doctor said he didn’t know why they were doing that.  It could be permanent or it may clear up after awhile.”  She then called my grandson’s name loudly trying to wake him from the deep sleep they induced to perform the surgery.  “Korbin, Korbin, open your eyes!” His eyelids slowly raised a little but his pupils were sunk deep in their sockets.  Fifteen years earlier when he lay in an infant warmer, the day he was born, I had looked into those same eyes.  I don’t know what infants can see but those eyes locked on mine and I felt like they were downloading all of my DNA and inner being.  No one had ever made me feel like they knew my inner self until that day his eyes locked on mine and my life has never been the same since.

Our home church had been so kind to our family and had flown our Pastor and his wife, Pastor Kevin and Kendra Akins, to Houston, Texas to be with Korbin and our family during this surgery.  They were waiting with the rest of the family not a hundred feet away in the waiting room.  My mind began to race and I thought “We are not settling for this, I’m going to get Kevin and Kendra to come in and pray that God will give us a miracle.”  I remember taking a step back and then I heard my daughter call out loudly “WE NEED HELP IN HERE!”  I realized that Kristie’s husband David had grabbed me and was trying to hold me up.  It was a small recovery room but I estimate from the sound of the voices there must have been 15-20 people that rushed into the room.  My wife says she called my name and I turned to look at her.  My face was drawn to one side and she saw a look that was telling her “Goodbye”.  Instantly I broke out in a cold sweat.  They gently lowered me to the floor and the medical staff jerked off my wet, outer shirt and began taking vital signs.  They became very agitated being unable to find a pulse and one of the nurses with the defibalator had the paddles in hand and at ready.  Just before they administered a shock to my heart someone called out “I have a faint pulse!”  A gurney was rushed into the room and together they lifted me on it and rushed me down the hall. Hurrying along, they continued to monitor my situation and quickly rushed me into an elevator.  The doors shut but the workers never stopped. Checking and rechecking my vitals they started with their list of twenty questions.  “What is your name? Do you know where you are? Do you know what year this is? etc., etc.”  I became acutely aware my daughter had followed us into the elevator.  I tried to get her to go back to be with Korbin but she knew he was being tended to by the medical team in ICU and she was intent on staying with me.  A cloud of guilt and remorse settled over me like a heavy blanket, for all of the trouble I was creating for our family  in an already extremely difficult situation.

I was rushed to the bottom of MD Anderson hospital to the emergency room. Once the elevator doors opened they rushed me into a small room and closed the doors.  I never opened my eyes during all of this time.  The team of staff seemed to have swelled to 20 or 30 voices now.  My clothes were soaking wet and they stripped off my wet undershirt, still taking my vitals.  Everyone was talking at the same time and I was wondering “Who’s listening?”  The staccato of their voices all sounded like a flock of black birds.  All of a sudden they all stopped, turned and walked out of the room together.  Kendra had brought my wife down in a wheel chair and had pushed her up  beside the gurney, turned and walked out with all of the medical team.  This was one of those surreal moments when I seemed to be an observer instead of a participant.   I wasn’t worried about dying but as I lay there realizing they were all leaving at once, I thought how strange they would all stop what they were doing, leave without hooking me up to some monitor or leaving someone to monitor my condition?  One minute they are frantically trying to keep me alive and the next minute they all walk out of the room.  No monitor and no one left behind to watch me!

Once the doors closed the room changed from all of those voices talking at once to just deathly quiet.  I mean really, really quiet!   My wife was on my right and we clasped our right hands together and were both praying quietly.  I was praying for Korbin and her heart was broken but I knew she was praying.  On this eventful day, forty-nine years earlier we had our first date and have been walking lock-step on the same path ever since.  To her, it seemed our world was caving in.  A husband that appeared to be slipping out of this world in the ER and a grandson upstairs in ICU trying to  come back to us from brain surgery brought on by an inoperable brain tumor that had been causing complications in his brain.  How many ways can a heart be torn at once?

That very brief quiet moment was quickly interrupted.  What was this?  The door opened again and for the first time since they had laid me on the floor in Korbin’s room, I opened my eyes ever so little to see a tall, black man in blue scrubs come striding in.  I closed my eyes again.  He walked straight to my gurney, leaned over and placed his large black hands over ours and said,  “Now, we are going to pray!”  He didn’t ask if he might pray for us or even if we were  believers.  He just said “Now, we are going to pray!” Then he began to pray! He prayed  for me, for my wife, Jean, for our situation of why we were at MD Anderson…. and he prayed….. and how he prayed!  It was not a short prayer and this was not the first time this man had prayed.  You could tell from the flow of the words from his heart that praying was as natural with him as breathing.  There was no stammering or struggle to find words for his petitions.  They flowed as freely as the waters of an artisan spring.  I did not know this man but I  am confident that this man was well known around the throne of God.

Once he had finished praying he turned and left the room, shutting the door behind him.  For a very brief moment the quiet started to settle over the room but only for a very brief moment.  The door swung open again and in came the 15-20 medical people all chattering and calling out orders at one time, just as if they had never left the room.  For a few minutes it was as if we were in the eye of the storm and God’s messenger stepped into our presence to minister to us and confirm that we were not alone!

There were medical personel that were concerned that I was dying just a few seconds before, but as one man they had turned and walked out of the room closing the door behind them.  From the time this messenger of God stepped into my room and until he left and shut the door behind him, that door never opened!  I don’t know where everyone went or what they were doing to have all left at once but no one touched that door handle or interrupted us while this brother was praying for me.

I later asked Kendra why everyone left and why she left the room.  She said “I don’t really know.  Everyone walked out at once and I walked out with them”.  I asked her if she saw this man come into the room.  She replied, “Yes, he walked into the your room with authority  and closed the door with authority.  I thought he was going to perform some type of exam”.   All the time I remained in this hospital we never saw this brother again.  Who he was and where he came from I will never know in this life time but I am confident of Who sent him.  Like the prophet Elijah, dwelling by the brook Cherith, in a weary land and in a desperate  time where God by His Grace,  commanded ravens to seek him out and minister bread and meat to him on a daily basis, God sent this dear brother to my bedside to pray for me.  How awesome to be so in tune with God’s voice and walk in His presence that one could be picked to minister to a brother or sister in Christ after this fashion.

Many have told me this was an angel and I do believe that we are sometimes visited by angels unawares but I am convinced that this was a beloved brother in Christ fulfilling the bidding of His Lord that day.  This brother’s prayers were filled with themes the angels can only “desire to look into”.   This brother had experiential knowledge in the ways and walk in Christ and was no stranger in Heaven’s courts.

I was later transferred to St. Luke’s hospital and through my time at both hospitals I had two EKG’s, two complete blood work-ups, an ultra-sound of my heart, a CAT scan, an MRI and an MRV, and saw eight Doctors.  The last Doctor reported that all my tests came back good, they could find nothing wrong with me and dismissed me with a  clean bill of health.

Later that day, after I had returned to my motel room and retrieved my iPhone, I went to the Facebook site “Pray for Korbin” that was set up by my daughter for Korbin’s encouragement and support.  I saw that within seconds of me collapsing in the hospital that she had posted my condition and that they were not able to find a pulse.  Within moments people were praying for me everywhere, friends, family and total strangers from all over the United States that were following Korbin’s journey.  Many of these I have been able to thank personally for their prayers and some I am thanking here and now.  I am so thankful for the family of God that knows distance and location are not barriers to our prayers.  To all of you that have prayed for me and my family I say,  “THANK YOU”.

We are still on this journey with Korbin and I ask your continued prayers for his recovery. The events as told above are one of those “God moments” that have doted my journey through this life.  When they happen, it is like I am an observer watching the wondrous workings of God’s hand!  These are awesome moments and very personal to me. I send this story forth today to reaffirm to you the reader, that if you are “in Him”, you can live today “Casting all your care on Him; for He cares for you”!  And if you are not “in Him” please seek His face to know Him and His Grace for “In Him we live, ….and move,….. and have our being”.

That’s how I see it on this Pilgrimage to that Continuing City!

He Said “Awesome, Just Awesome!”

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THOUGHTS ON MY BIRTHDAY!

Glad you stopped by this evening.  It’s always good to sit out here on this hill after a thunderstorm has passed by.   The air is crisp and clean and the grass always smells so good in the evening.  Have a seat here I’d like to tell you about some things the Lord has been teaching me.  His visits with me out here are so special and enlightening to me.   I have a story to tell you while we sit here and look at this great night sky.  Some day I hope to tell you about the five brothers and their sister that use to me come sit with me here but that’s a story for another time.

I was born on a Wednesday morning on September the 4th many, many, many years ago.  That morning in that little red brick hospital in Western Oklahoma there were three babies born all within a short time of each other.  Two were boys and the other a girl.  Over the years I have visited from time to time with the other boy and know of his faith in Christ as well as his ministry for the Lord.  I know the direction of my life and of his but have often wondered how the life of the young lady went.

I suppose having known the events of that day led me to contemplate them all in more detail while visiting this hilltop.  When I was thirteen I would sit on this hilltop and meditate about the awesomeness of life.   I knew that undoubtedly there were other babies born around the world on that same September day.  Some, I don’t doubt were born deep in the jungles of Africa.  I thought about our positions and places in life for all babies born on that September day.  Why was I born in the land of freedom with the liberty to attend a Christian church, attend Sunday School to hear the Bible stories taught there and most of all hear the Gospel of Christ preached?  I could count the number of bibles we had  in our home and I would think about how my brother and I would listen to the radio preachers on the radio late at night on the powerful Mexican radio stations along the Rio Grande River.  Why was I afforded all of these opportunities of Grace and others were not?

Then my thoughts would turn to those other kids that were possibly born on the same day yet in a different land and growing up with far less privileges in hearing the Gospel preached or even having access to any bible.  What was the difference. Why was I here on this hilltop with the knowledge of God in my heart and being a believer in Jesus the Christ as the Savior of this world and others had never heard His name? This was not easy for me to understand and I struggled to know some real answers to these issues.

One doesn’t live long in this world before they understand that there are real differences in people.  The way they look, think and act.  The color of their skin, whether they are rich or poor, lovely to look at  or lacking any attractiveness at all.  There is an element in my extended family that is very racist.  I never understood the racist attitude and could never figure out why they hated someone else because of the color of their skin.  Why was the soul looking out through the eyes of my physical body born in the particular race that I am?  I thought about why some are born into wealth and others are born into poverty.  Why are some born and grow to be very beautiful and others have nothing physically attractive about them?  Why are some born with deformatives and others appear to be the perfect specimen of health?  I wondered why some were smarter and their schooling came so easy to them and I had to work at my studies so hard?  When we would bring our school report cards home my little mother would say “I wish you were more like your brother and get better grades!”   I never understood why math and the sciences came so easy to him but trust me, I was with my mother on this one.  I wished it was easier for me too.

God would visit me as I would think on these things and helped me work through these issues in those early years.  One can take the position that this is all left up to fickle chance, the luck of the draw or that which they call fate.  As I studied the vastness of the heavens above I knew that He who created all things had not left them or us to our own devices.  The deists believe that God created this universe but then backed away and left it alone.  God visiting me on this hilltop made me to know His presence, that He was still here and His love was toward me.  In these night sessions He taught me that there wasn’t anything in me that caused me be to be born the with the color of my skin, the financial rank of my family or whether I was to be smart or good looking.  There was nothing in me that gave me bragging rights or complaining rights. I accepted His teaching and incorporated it into my life.

It was many years later that I heard the Apostle in teaching the great treatise on salvation, to the church in Rome, say “Nay but, O man who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing say to  him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?”   The Apostle Peter wrote of the complexity of Paul’s writings “in which are some things hard to be understood…” and his treatise on salvation in the book of Romans is by no means an exception.  It has been a battleground for theologians over the years. However it is very clear in this book that God is the potter over the clay to make these earthen vessels we inhabit and He is very clear that we are  in no position to rail on Him for His work.   God led me in these paths while I was very young and latter verified them by unfolding His written word teaching me that He is still here and working in our lives everyday.  Yes, even today.  Even the Apostle James verified this when he said “Go to now, ye that say To day or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.  But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.”

Think about it the next time you are tempted to look down on others because of their looks, their financial level, their intellect or even their race.  Not only is it wrong but they that do so are guilty of mocking the handiwork of God.  I speak of the way God created us… not of men’s works as whether they are sinful or not.  What do you and I have that we brought into this world?  What shall we take with us when we leave?  One song writer wrote “The last suit you wear won’t need any pockets”.  That next breath we breathe is God given, the providence of your next meal is God given.  The steps you take this day are ordered of Him.  The Grace just to make it through this day is God given.   Today and everyday may we acknowledge Him in all of our lives and live life as pleasing to Him, being thankful to Him and offering unto Him the sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise, yes to Him who has called us into this Glorious Kingdom of Grace.  Looking  back let’s Thank Him!…Looking around let’s Praise Him!…Looking ahead let’s Trust Him!…Looking up let”s Expect Him!

That’s how I see it on this Pilgrimage to that Continuing City!

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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