Many of the "beautiful words" in literature and historical speeches were inspired by the Bible. Take Elizabeth Barrett Browning's famous sonnet. I memorized it when I was small... just because I liked it. (It was not a school assignment.)
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Elizabeth must have read Ephesians 3:18 for the inspiration of the breadth, length, depth, and height of Jesus' love. Then there is Patrick Henry who spoke the famous words, "Gentlemen cry peace, peace, there is no peace... as for me give me liberty or give me death." The no peace duo is from scripture and was a direct quote from Jeremiah 6:13-15 and Jeremiah 8:10-12. And, likewise Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. carried his dream from Isaiah 40:4-5 where all flesh shall see "...every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth."
The history books don't tell you about the Biblical influences on the classic literature. It's not a conspiracy or anything, of course. It's just that I doubt it is obvious to people who haven't read the Bible. It takes a familiarity with both literature and the Bible to see the connection.
But, the Bible inspires me, just as it has generations of Christians before me. I open the pages of the Book to find "beautiful words" to lift me in the dark moments and in the light of day. There is nothing more comforting than these words that swirl around in my head like the Autumn leaves in Fall, saturating my heart with their love. I am eternally indebted to a long line of Sunday School teachers, who like marathoners passed the torch to my hands with a smile and urged me to run. This is one thing I will take with me to the grave and beyond; God's beautiful Words.
Psalms 1:1-6 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the
ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the
scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth
he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of
water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not
wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but
are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not
stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the
LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
I find this Psalm comforting because it reminds me of the security that is in God's Word. I memorized it in High School, in the King James, which is why I have it pasted in that version. But, the hotlink reveals the KJV2000. But, beyond the comfort of God's Word, the passage warns us of the foolishness of taking the advice of those who are not invested in Scripture. We are told the conclusion of the matter for those who give advice carelessly. They won't stand when judged. They will die. Those who follow God's Word will live forever in the resurrection.
This is not always easy to remember, and I have found myself accepting advice from people I should not have been listening to. That never goes well for me. And, the bad results are just followed with an "oops, my bad," from the advice givers. Yet, the advice was given with such authority and I suffered the consequences alone. That's what happens when you get advice. Advice is free to give and costly to receive. I have found that those who set themselves up as experts have fools for constituents. I am better off praying and reading the Bible, than when I take the advice of well-meaning friends who are uninvested in the Word of God.
Do you ever sit outside and watch the rain...the wind...the thunder...the lightening? The reverberating booms, like cannon shots, can shake your soul, especially when you think of the power of God to display such majesty. You hear the thunder, you see the lightening and rain, you feel the wind. God's own "surround sound!" But, you can't see the wind... only the force of the wind. The windstorm from the tornado not only broke our storm door, but it ripped a couple of my windchimes to pieces, and damaged my coke-can wind plane. The elements can present quite an intrusion. Now the storm door won't close.
John 3:8 The Greek word pneuma means both "wind" and "Spirit." The Greek word phone (pho-nay) means both "sound" and "voice." So this verse is a play on words that not only literally says the wind blows and we can hear the sound of it, but it also literally says the Spirit blows and we hear its voice. But, we don't know where the Spirit comes from or goes. It goes whereever it wants to go. We only hear its voice and register its presence, like the wind.
Psalms 66:16; 68:11 These references to the great company of those who publish the word of God is used in the sense of quantity...plurality...of people, not in the quality of the people. Two words I remember learning how to spell in third grade are friend and Jesus. Ironic, I know. I immediately registered them both in my brain as words I would continue to need. Not only have I continued to need these two words in my writing, but I have continued to remember the happy occasions that brought me to the point of learning those words that year. I have continued to need friends, and I continue to need Jesus throughout my life.
Lisa and I were best friends in third grade. I remember the happiness that surrounded the friendship.I remember us passing notes to each other. I remember making Christmas cards in class for special people and writing "Happy Birthday, Jesus" as the expression of my heart directed. The feeling of the love of God made me feel full, even though I didn't know God yet. I knew of Him, and I knew He loved me... even though I couldn't find Him yet. Kids still do that, kids who don't even go to church or know much about God, they write about Jesus and His great love. The desire to express that life-changing love is common among humans.
Charles Spurgeon said of the name Jesus: "It is the sum total of all delights. It is the music with which the bells of heaven ring; a song in a word; and ocean for comprehension, although a drop for brevity; a matchless oratorio in two syllables; a gathering up of the hallelujahs of eternity in five letters." Psalm 63:6
We remember YOU God.
Not only do we remember God, but God remembers us. God took notice of the affairs of men, just as in, "And the Lord came down to see..." Genesis 11:5 God must have plenty to do in His realm beyond Earth's sphere, for it to so occupy His time that He must REMEMBER Noah. Genesis 8:1
Apparantly He was busy. Only five other God "memories" are mentioned: Rachael, Genesis 30:22 and His covenant, Exodus 2:24 Abraham, Genesis 19:29 His mercy and His truth, Psalm 98:3 accumulated iniquities, Revelation 18:5 and Hannah. 1 Samuel 1:19
But God is strong enough to take care of each of the needs He sets His eyes or mind on. Jeremiah 32:27 God is able, able to give grace for the depths of your need. Romans 5:2 Grace is defined as a favorable disposition, or kind feeling; and especially love, as exercised towards the inferior, dependent, or unworthy. (Hodge v. II, Systematic Theology.) Hodge refers to the conspicuously displayed grace of Jesus. Romans 5:17 I feel Him pouring rivers of grace in my life. Sweet grace of God!
Oh, such sweet abundance,
The grace Christ poured on me
When I could not compare
To the woman kneeled at His feet.
She poured out her oil,
And, washed the Master's feet,
My cup only held sin,
But my gift He held as sweet.
(My memory fails me ...I can't remember where I heard this. It could be a hymn lyrics, or perhaps something I read in a volume of the Interpretor's Bibles, or elsewhere. But, it is not mine. Incidentally, I noticed recently the full twelve volumes are scanned and available to read online, with voice audio read-aloud option.)
Acts 3:1-13 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the
hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's
womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called
Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter
and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his
eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting
to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but
such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and
walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his
feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and
entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And
all the people saw him walking and praising God: And they knew that it was he
which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled
with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. And as the lame
man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them
in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. And when Peter saw it,
he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why
look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made
this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our
fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in
the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.
This is one of my favorite miracles in the Bible. I think a major part of what I love is the lame man's reactions. Notice the bolded and underlined wording in the passage above. I can picture him hugging Peter and John. I can just imagine him walking, and leaping, and praising God. Such a fun story! But, what captures my heart most in this story is Peter's words at the beginning..."Silver and gold have I none...but such as I have give I thee..." I love those words! Peter realized that he had something more valuable than silver and gold. Isn't good health more valuable than gold even in this economy? If you think you are broke now, try having your legs broken, or your eyes blinded, or some other disability. You will really feel broke then. And, often money can't buy a cure for health problems. If I had a million dollars, I would give it all away now to buy my health back. But, no can do. Money is not taken here...not plastic nor cash.
Peter must have felt some sorrow that he could not give the man money, to help him in his sad situation. But, then he seemed to realize he had something even more valuable. But, back up to the beginning. The lame man was not a pretty sight. Yet, there he lay at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. What a sight to see! A lame man laying outside the church everyday begging. This was before welfare, disability, or food stamps existed. Imagine looking him in the eye as you went to church. The lame man wasn't going to be able to solve his problem on his own. The best that he could do was allow himself to be dropped off at the temple each day for forty years to sit and wait for money to be given him to survive on. That must have been a hard living. There had to be days he got nothing.
I've gone too far. It's more than a story when you've heard it for 40 years, as many years as he lay there begging. I think I memorized the first part when I was 7 years old. I feel like this man is a relative and I am so happy to see him healed each time I read it, as if I am witnessing the miracle for the first time. So, I can't finish the words. But, it's not my fault. I ran into the lame man again at church tonight. And, who can speak after witnessing such a miracle?
Job 11:16-17 Because you shall forget
your misery, and remember it as
waters that pass away: And your life shall
be brighter than the noonday; you
shall shine forth, you shall be as the
I remember hiking through the deep woods (no trails) on the first of August 2009. I remember this particular hike because I discovered a creek deep in the woods, when I crawled through deep overgrowth and trees that were as close as I was wide. The creek was peaceful and hidden, rocks out in the middle of it and it reminded me of the rivers in Tennessee where I use to visit my grandparents as a child. On this particular hike, I made the video attached below. I didn't realize I wouldn't have the chance to go back there for so long, since it was 2 months before the first surgery.
Needless to say, listening to myself on the video now, saying "Remember This" it seems like a call... a time capsule message beckoning me to fight, to refuse to give up until I can hike through deep woods for 10 miles again. It calls me to remember that I can and will ride my bike that 100 mile trip I was aiming for that summer. It stirs my dreams to run my first 10K, and maybe even my first half marathon instead of living on the memories of my 5K runs.
It all boils down to what I believe that God is. I believe that God is
able to restore my health. I believe that God
wants me to be healthy. I believe that God
is going to restore my health. After all...God is...
"God is good, God is love, God is a consuming fire, God is a merciful God, God is one Lord, God is a jealous God, God is God of Gods, God is among you, God is He that hath fought for you, God is upon thee, God is my strength and power, God is gracious and merciful, God is great, God is greater than man, God is mighty, God is with terrible majesty, God is our refuge and strength, God is the King of all the Earth, God is our God, God is judge himself, God is mine helper, God is for me, God is my defense, God is my salvation and my glory, God is a sun and shield, God is holy, God is in the heavens, God is pure, God is with us, God is righteous, God is able, God is at hand, God is true, God is a Spirit, God is no respecter of persons, God is my witness, God is revealed, God is faithful, God is not bound, God is well pleased, God is light, God is greater than our heart, and God is forever and ever."
I would give you these traits of God in the New KJV, but I collected them several years ago in the old English. The words could be different in the new English, and I don't want to look. I want to hold on to this in my heart. If you want to see it in either version, you can download free Bible software online, such as the SwordSearcher software I use. They allow you to read in different versions, and they offer search tools that allow you to put in any search term, such as the words "God is" and pull up all the verses that use those words. I sliced the phrases from there. It doesn't matter which version you use, but it is easier to memorize if you pick a version to use and stick with it. Just note, with most freeware you can use the free version for awhile, but then they ask that you send in a $20.oo donation eventually if you plan to keep using the software. I have used my paid version for about six or seven years...well worth it! "A workman is worthy of his hire."
I can't even write the three woes with a straight face. I woke up with my continuing implant problem, and the fevers sweats and chills of the stomach flu to top it off this morning, I took Nyquil and slept till now, and woke up with a neighborhood power outage, predicted to last till midnight. Travis is trying to whip up some sandwiches in the lantern light. I'm praying all the groceries we just bought last night don't spoil again like they did in the week long tornado outage we had a month or so ago.
Revelation 8:13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through
midheaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the
earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which
are yet to sound!
Revelation 8:13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst
of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the
earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which
are yet to sound!
As I was saying, this angel was flying through the midst of heaven, preaching three more woes of the last three trumpets to the inhabitors of the earth. Permit me the extravagance of the King's English on this beautiful verse. It's what I'm used too. Inhabitors sounds more active than inhabitants doesn't it, though I am getting used to the new english.
When things are rough, it helps to keep things in perspective. Afterall, nothing sounds near as bad as Apollyon, the loosing of the demons from the Euphrates River breathing smoke and brimstone (sulfer in NIV,) and that final domination of Christ over earth, to become Lord of all.
As a matter of fact, Travis just said there is a power truck in our driveway. That's good news :)
O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine
uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my
lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word
in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me
behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful
for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit?
or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art
there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of
the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy
hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness
shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth
not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are
both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me
in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully
made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My
substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously
wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance,
yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in
continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How
precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If
I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am
still with thee. Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me
therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine
enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and
am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect
hatred: I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me,
and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in
the way everlasting. Psalms 139:1-24
The song of your presence. I memorized the first twelve in high school, stirring the words around and around in my head until they were mixed throughly with my soul. Lucky for me. Where would I be if I had left school without them? I packed my bags and headed out into the world at seventeen, just after graduation, sure you were with me, "sitting behind me and before me, and walking all around me." The first year I spent in Brunswick...below the gnat line :) God, I was sure I had made my bed in hell, and there you were.
Later in college, listening to the astutely ignorant, I began to realize that the knowledge of you is so wonderful to me; it is high, I could not reach your wisdom from the college classrooms. Truth was to be found in Your Word alone. My professors were searching for truth, but they had not yet found it.
When they laid my baby in my arms, and I counted each finger, and reveled in the delightful sounds coming from those lips, I marveled because he was fearfully and wonderfully made. The words rolled off my tongue from the Psalm that had become a part of my chemistry, my makeup.
Just off the coral reef of Kenya, snorkeling in the ocean, I saw all the colorful fish, shells, and living things you had created, and remembered these words..."If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea." Or was it the wings of a jet, and the depths of the Indian Ocean?
Waking up in the recovery room after surgery, waiting on the doctor to be found to sign the unsigned orders for the morphine he had ordered, everything in me begged for those words, but my brain couldn't produce them. Lost in pain, and unable to see what was going on around me, I asked for someone to read me the Bible. They found "George" who knew some of the Lord's Prayer, but had never heard of Psalm 23, and certainly not 139. It didn't help. I was beyond comfort, because I couldn't see the words in my head. Satan stole the words in those hours of anesthesia. Betty the home visit nurse came to change my bandages. I was in a fog. But, I asked her to read the Psalm for me. As she read those words from my Bible, I marveled that I had awaken in pain, trying to remember those words, for when I awake from surgery, "I am still with you."
Now God, as I look back through these words, words that have comforted me for 30 years, I realize one thing. You know me. You have searched my heart. You who has held my central nervous system (my reins) in the palm of your hands, You know me better than I know myself. And, even when I can't remember the words, I know you will remember me.
I find myself loving the words John is speaking in the first sentences of the Gospel. I can quote them from memory in English, Spanish, and in Greek. They come to my mind often in any given day. But, do you know who the Logos the Word...is?
Logos: (log' -os) something said, a topic, also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; by extension a computation; specially the Divine (when with the article in John;) account, cause, communication...
The Greek word Logos is usually translated as "Word." But, it hides in Acts 18:14 and in I Peter 3:15. The Last passage is the headline tag I use at the top of my Reason 2 Believe Him website home page:
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
So, as you can see, the same Greek word is translated not only as "word," but as reason...my reason for believing. Now try John 1:1 the other way around...which would still be correctly translated:
In the beginning was the "REASON," and the "REASON" was with God, and the "REASON" was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. John 1:1-5 God is our reason. Yet the darkness couldn't understand the reason.
I remember the scent of the honeysuckles, they linger over years, on the breeze, and drift in and out of the trees. When the wind carried the scent past me, I would throw my bike to the side of the trail. Dropping to my knees, I would tear the stem gently and drink the nectar with my eyes closed. Then, as if the moment might be lost forever, I would breathe deep, and hang on tight to the memory. Never let go. The Spring came so suddenly drifting by me on Cinco de Mayo, as we crossed from the car to the restaurant...there above the smells of the Mexican food came the singing scent of honeysuckles from somewhere unseen. Then again leaving the chiropractor's office, the next day, I saw their bright yellow and white clusters hanging on the vines only because I'd had to park out back. There they were, a faint scent from over in the trees. I couldn't smell or taste them, so close yet unreachable. I sat there and wept, before driving away. Driving home from church tonight with the windows down, the honeysuckles came drifting on the breeze, their scent filling the car, in and out of the windows lingering uncontainably, unerasably in my head. I could taste the dew inside their tender petals, smell the nectar, just like riding my bike when I was a child.
I remember the rumble of the trains, clanking on the tracks across the street and through the field. Our tiny trailer shook with the vibration of the engine, and with the tromping of his little feet, and the cry from his lips, "train, it's a train!" My firstborn loved the trains. He would throw open the front door. The shrill whistle's call would linger for minutes, carry across the wind, and fill his eyes with delightful glee. On hearing a night train, I would tip toe to his room, push the door gently open enough to see him there in the dark, his face pressed to the window while the lights drifted past his window, and the clanking tracks left their indelible mark in his eyes and my heart. When we pulled up to the tracks yesterday, Mother's Day, I heard the rumbling of the engine, the whistle's call, but I couldn't hear the voice from so many years gone by. A little later in the evening, the tastes of an Italian dinner: the breadsticks, the olive oil, the salad was still on my mind when the phone rang. I knew it was my firstborn. What he said, was "Happy Mother's Day, Mom!" But what I heard was the sound of the trains, just like when he was at home so long ago.
I remember waking up, just barely, my eyes heavy with sleep as he climbed out of bed at 3:30 this morning. I drifted in and out of my coma like state and turned over only when I smelled the scent of the coffee drifting back to our bedroom. My eyes suddenly got a boost, because I knew coffee was coming around the doorway any second. And, there he was, showered, dressed, looking at me with those eyes that said, "I'll miss you." I sat in my recliner, comfortable, relaxing, when I looked over to the tv sitting silent, dark. I remembered the wide screen filled with the screaming race cars of the video games yesterday evening, acting as a backdrop to the curve of his face, lighting up his animated features as he seemed to be really there on the track, behind the wheel. Those same eyes from this morning seemed to be there one second, and suddenly they were not. The dark screen made the house seem empty now without him. When I walked into the church tonight, he stood there, looking at me with those eyes, and it felt like he'd been right beside me all day. I was home.
God has loved me most of my remembered life. The years have rolled past, in and out of my life, but God is a constant, remaining. I always knew I would have that little boy to love, I expected God to deliver. After all, I had laid in bed at night as a young girl, praying for God to give me brown eyed babies. They found the brown eyes somewhere other than genetics amazingly. God delivered on my prayers. And, I expected the love of my life, any day now as each year without him fell away, one less year to wait. I asked God for him. God listens, you know. But, I never expected the honeysuckles. They were an added bonus, unbidden, without a prayer, sent from God in heaven as a reminder of memories I have not yet known, of what celestial joys will taste like, to remind me to fall to my knees with my eyes closed and drink in the delightful nectar of His unending love...that found me when I wasn't looking. Somethings you never expect.
1 Corinthians 14:10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.
Careful with this verse. Paul was in the middle of a sermon here about the Spirit, and the manifestations of the Spirit. By voices, he was referring very specifically to languages...global languages. But, you can go so many directions with these simple words. There are many voices in our own language...many people talking and it is often difficult to distinguish which voice has significance. Best practice is to keep your focus on The Word. When you are unsure where the right answer lies, or which direction to take, open the Bible. It will have the answers. Paul wasn't talking about conflicting messages though or truth, was he?
But, she was a woman who heard so many different messages that she was uncertain who to listen to anymore, the Samaritan Woman at the Well. Then she met a man who told her everything. Naturally she was thirsty for more answers from The Word made flesh (incarnate.) It always seems like the more thirsty I am for truth, the more readily God's Word flows from my heart and memory. My memory is not what it used to be. I often can't recall verses at will anymore, let alone whole chapters. Yet, when I need the truth...when I feel dry and thirsty, there the verses are, flowing down like Isaiah's rivers in the desert. The Word of God is a wonderful gift to mankind. I build my faith on it to the extent I really don't hear anything that doesn't come out of or match the Bible. Call it selective hearing. It's not such a bad thing. :)
Are you hungry for truth? God is the Word, and the Word is truth, so God is truth. If you have God, you have truth.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
There are two faces of atheism. Some atheists are considered "Stong Atheists," in that they believe that there is no God. But, some are considered "Weak Atheists" because they simply have no belief , they have no faith at all. They can't believe that there is a God, while the first believes strongly that there isn't a God. But, oddly there are no atheists in grave yards...neither will you find the grave of an agnostic. No, the dead know that there is a God, as do the devils. Even Darwin is a believer now. He was converted at death, when he discovered his spirit did not die with his body. That's a chunk of truth to sleep on tonight.