Awe—three letters that define the feeling of reverence as it intermingles with fear and wonder. In the simplicity of those three letters is captured the complex feeling experienced by all those who saw this eclipse. I never knew how close the sun looked before today. As near and big as the moon on a clear night. As palpable as a low hanging fruit, just barely out of reach.
An ominous sound began to overtake the atmosphere, like the sound of rushing water, as the thousands of people around me began to cheer and wail in awe and excitement. Joy and fear mixed into a single voice which made the hairs on your neck stand as it spoke. A secular event marked by the smell BBQ and gasoline, quickly became a spiritual and sacred experience for everyone.
It is difficult not to be overtaken and pulled by the event. Its as if our brains are prone to spirituality. In the face of overwhelming grandeur and mystery our psychology inclines towards worship and reverence.
How interesting that scripture tells us not to be pulled in by it, as if knowing the weakness of our minds in the presence of natural majesty:
“Beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven” (Deuteronomy 4:10, ESV).
Can we teach animals to speak? Indeed, from bees to primates, animals have sophisticated methods of communicating (von Frisch, 1973). But can we teach them OUR language? All attempts have mostly failed whether that language be spoken, signed, or makes use of lexigrams. Animals seem only able to communicate in the present tense, oblivious of anything outside the here-and-now. They are further constrained to a limited number of topics. Memorizing words to get rewards rather than to express new thoughts. If communication is ever possible, it must be in their terms not ours (Kako, 1997).
How then shall God communicate with man? For as high as the Heavens are above the earth, so are His thoughts above our thoughts. How shall He describe a world which our eyes have never seen, our ears never heard, nor entered into our imagination? Sometimes the best way to reach a group of people, is to send others who belong to that group of people; and the best way to teach them what they cannot understand, is to compare it to the things they can. For this reason we cannot take the humanity out of the Bible, nor would we want to. To reach people through people, through prophets and apostles, teachers and evangelists. This is God’s method. To speak the words of God through the words of men.
Consider Washoe, a chimp raised as a child in an attempt to teach her sign language. Yet as difficult as it was to teach her a handful of words, it was her adopted son, Loulis, who better learned and acquired the sign language by learning it from Washoe. Being taught by his own kind, by his own mother, he began to learn and acquire our language (Fouts, 1989).
Similarly, Christ not only stands as the Mediator between God and man, but as the Translator. We can only understand God through Him. The intangible divinity made manifest in the tangible humanity. In the simplicity of Earthly metaphors, Christ makes known Heavenly truths. He explains how the Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, a net cast into the ocean, or a pearl of great price. He communicates to us by our terms and limits; and we learn and acquire the language of God through the humanity of Christ, our own kind. (John 1:14, NKJV).
Where there is water there is life. Our own planet has about 70% of its surface covered by oceans, rivers, lakes and ponds (Pearlman, 2016). Even our bodies are made of about 60% water, distributed throughout the various tissues and vessels of our anatomy (Helmenstine, 2017). To say we don’t need water is to inevitably suggest we don’t need 3/5 of our body. Water has many important functions in our bodies, from temperature regulation to waste transport. Even our brains need to reflect this percentage, for proper functioning. Losing even a small amount of that percentage, as begins to occur in dehydration, will have grave physiological and medical implications.
God has ordained our need and dependence on water, and has used it to symbolize His Salvation. We’ve drifted along this saltwater sea of sin and hate, from which we drink only to thirst the more intensely. But He offers us fresh and living water, which our souls have been deprived of. Even baptism speaks eloquently on behalf of God’s grace. He could have required long pilgrimage on our knees, or to climb the tallest mountains, as a symbol of our Salvation. But rather, He says only be baptized. With a world covered in about 70% water, and most living people making their home no more than a few miles from a body of water, it is clear that God intended to save the entire world.
Where there is water, there is life. So let the one who is thirsty come (Rev 22:17).
Be confident, because the way you are is the way that the person who will love you will want you. Love is better than pity, so why do you seek pity over love? Sooner do we grasp the wind, than someone’s love that is meant for another. Jealousy is the most confusing and pervasive of human emotions. The catalyst that turns love to hate. It makes us look with intensity but not with accuracy. What is and what could have been, are so quickly pierced in that moment. A feeling lost at sea, due to an un-anchored love.
I’m sure God can take two people, who will respect each other and keep their eyes on Him, and make them happy together. But there is still such a thing as the right and wrong person, even among Christians. Like the wooden yoke that pulls the plow, we who pull it must be equally matched. The person we choose to love can bring us and the families we create to the gates of Heaven, or away from it. So we must be careful. For not everyone who says “Lord, lord,” ought to have the keys to our hearts.
The arrogance of success, is thinking that what you have done yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow. For manna must be gathered daily.
Yet our capacity for guilt is so great that we can always find ways to blame ourselves. We are not good enough, in our own eyes. Those eyes which see the sun rising but not its light. Those eyes surrounded by love, yet seeing only the loneliness. The song of birds ushers the morning, while the music of crickets welcomes the night. Yet no one realizes that we’ve all felt the same. We are a broken people, and they will know us by our love. Jn.13.35.
A book about overcoming worry, should not go against its purpose by inciting worry in its reader. Dr. Winfred Neely does a good job of that. The brevity of this book, with its short chapters, and short subsections, and relatable narrative, makes it easily digestible and appetizing. The author is speaking to you, as opposed to lecturing you, a style of writing well suited for the subject matter.
This book is meant to be spiritual as opposed to psychological. By that I mean you are getting Scriptural guidance as understood through the experience of the author. This point of view is much appreciated by someone like me, whose had to study anxiety, stress and worry from the scientific perspective.
Anxiety tends to be a perspective-driven emotion. Meaning that the way you are looking at the world is linked to the anxiety you are feeling. Change your perspective, and you’ll change your anxiety. This book provides just that, a change in perspective through the practical approaches found in Philippians 4:6-7.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in a Scriptural approach to anxiety.
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Early in 2011 I was wandering around my college library, apprehensive about going to class. I already had an interest in the field of psychology and neuroscience, but I didn’t know much about it. I found this book out of curiosity. I had already heard about Dr. Oliver Sacks too, after having watched his biopic Awakenings, but I didn’t know he had written books. The name stood out to me as I was looking through the book titles.
Anyone who has heard or read any of Oliver Sacks books, knows there is much to be admired about the man and his craft. Back when I first began reading this book, I remember having an almost otherworldly sense of neurological disorders. These were people beautifully lost in the world of disease. Though at the time I knew nothing else about these disorders. The almost artistic aspects of each malady is contained in the title of each chapter, “The Lost Mariner,” “The Disembodied Lady,” “The Dog Beneath the Skin.”
Looking back from where I am now, I find new admiration for the book. I no longer approach it as a curious individual fascinated by the mystery. I come as one knowing the mysteries, having learned and dissected the topics in many of my classes. The Lost Mariner to me now is a person suffering anterograde amnesia due Korsakoff’s Syndrome. The Disembodied Lady is a woman suffering from a loss of proprioception. Though I may have gained more technical knowledge about each of these problems, books like this one still keep the awe and mystery awake in me.
I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in my blogs.
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What details would you notice if someone changed them?
Counterfeit money is a problem for many countries despite real money being drowned in security features that are intended to be both irreplaceable and noticeable by anyone; from watermarks, to color-changing ink, even metallic strips, and other special features. Yet many fake bills could have passed unnoticed through our hands, for the simple reason that we are unobservant, we’ve become so accustomed to handling bills that we no longer pay attention to them. It is said that the devil is in the details, and details often pass unscrutinized if they fit the general theme of our assumptions. (Eagleman, 2017).
Inattentional blindness as it’s called, is when you miss something that is in plain view. Psychological Research has demonstrated that not only are you blinded to things that are outside your peripheral field of view, but that not paying attention can cause us to miss the things you are looking directly at (Goldstein, 2014).
The Church of Laodicea thought that they were rich, and had become wealthy, when in reality they had no wealth, and were in poverty (Revelation 3:17). The only way a person can be convinced they are rich, while they are in fact poor, is if they think themselves in possession of authentic money, when it is infact false and counterfeit gold; holding no value, and no worth.
Pay attention to the gold you buy, and where it comes from. For it is written, “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich.” (Revelation 3:18, KJV). What Gentle and Loving irony, that the poor man, in his poverty, can buy wealth. That we may buy what we can’t afford, to receive more than we’ve invested. Yet that Heavenly gold once bought, makes us far richer than we are.
Be observant, lest you buy counterfeit gold.
Further Reading: Incognito by David Eagleman