Hurricane Rina is churning in the Gulf of Mexico. Rina is the 18th named storm of this hurricane season. Typhoon Roke recently crossed over Japan causing severe damage to many communities. Hurricanes and typhoons are the same kind of wind storms, just located on different sides of the International Dateline. That brings to 39 the number of tropical storms, hurricanes and typhoons that have received a distinctive name since March of this year. It appears we have always tried to name the wind. Every culture, every continent, every language has a multitude of names for the wind.
Our terms for the wind usually include descriptive words like cool, gentle, harsh or bitter. We have breezes, storms, gales, cyclones, hurricanes and tornadoes. There are puffs of wind, whirlwinds, windless and windswept images around us. Those of us who came of age in the Hootenanny Era of world history remember songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “They Call the Wind Maria.” Later the group Kansas sang the Ecclesiastes echoing “All we are is Dust in the Wind.”
Our Scriptures are filled with images of refreshing breezes and mighty winds. We call the Breath or the Wind or the Spirit of God Rûwach in Hebrew, Pnúema in Greek. The Bible opens with the Wind of God blowing across the endless deep signaling the start of our creation. I love the passage in Genesis where God breathes and Adam’s lungs are filled with air and his body is filled with God’s Spirit (2:7). The passage in 1 Kings when Elijah, depressed and alone, desperately needing to hear a word from God, cannot hear God in the fiery wind storms but only in the still, quiet voice (19:12). Read in Matthew where Jesus rebukes a fierce storm and the wind obeys (8:27). Or about the day the gathered church was set on fire and the wind of God’s Spirit was so loud people came from everywhere to see what was happening. We named that day Pentecost (Acts 2).
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Look for the fresh Winds. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
We have a cat that looks down on us. I once read that cats were worshipped as gods in Egypt, and they have never forgotten this fact. I attribute our cat’s propensity to her lineage. It is my theory that Doll is part alley cat and part squirrel. She is a climber. Whenever I am in my study at home she will climb up on my desk, step on top of the printer, then leap to the top of the bookcase, rattling everything in sight. From her vantage point up high she stretches out, hangs her head slightly off the edge and surveys her kingdom.
She has always done this. I was given this cat as a Father’s Day gift from my wife and daughters. Doll was so pleased when we set up our Christmas tree. It was the largest cat toy she had ever seen. So she jumped right in and started playing with it, in it and on it. She would climb up the trunk and lurk in the branches. She would hide there quietly until some poor unsuspecting target would pass by. Then she would reach out with a quick paw and swat at me. One time I saw her climb up on the piano and lunge across the wide open spaces, landing on the tree, sending it every which direction. I caught the tree before it fell over. Some of our ornaments have never been the same. After that I started calling her “Terror.” But that was frowned upon by the others in the house. At our former home she would climb upon the kitchen counter and leap to the top of the refrigerator before stepping up to walk along the ornamental plate rack located above the cabinet doors.
She is very spry for a 15-year-old cat. Climbing up high is still easy for her. Jumping six or more feet to the ground occasionally gives her pause. Sometimes she needs me to stand hunched over so she can jump on my back before she lands on the couch or floor. Sometimes she does not ask my permission first. We have a little ritual each night. I brush her, hide her fuzzy mouse and turn off the lights. She goes around inspecting the house and then comes in to loudly report that all is well. She plays hockey on the kitchen floor with plastic bottle caps, then at some point finds the mouse and offers it to us at the foot of the bed. Every morning she looks up to us and is pleased.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Take a leap of faith. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
Last week in Tulsa someone altered one of the programmable road signs on the interstate through town to read “Zombies Ahead” followed by “Use Peoria.” This went on uncorrected for some hours. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation was not pleased. Apparently this is part of an ongoing nationwide prank. Just type into Google Images “Zombies ahead signs” to see about 300,000 pictures for these kinds of signs and related images. Well, it is October. I’ve seen store clerks at the mall already wearing Halloween costumes to remind us that it’s time to buy more stuff. (This does not count the wide range of people who always dress as though every day is Halloween.)
I have been trying to understand our cultural fascination with zombies, vampires and the un-dead. Part of the fascination is simply a way for us to laugh at death and all things wicked. But death just keeps on coming after us. Part of the fascination relates to the sexual temptations, and abuses, of “bad boys” and “bad girls.” Vampires suck the blood (life) out of someone else so they might live a little longer. Zombies eat brains. These disturbing images may be some of today’s metaphors for bored, selfish, dead-end lives that that yearn for true life, real meaning and genuine fulfillment.
Living a dead life does not bring joy, no matter how relentless the quest for things to fill the emptiness or experiences to kill the pain. The old song says, “Once I was blind, but now I can see.” The Scriptures indicate that once we were dead in our own sins and blinding darkness. Our baptism illustrates the spiritual transformation of the death and burial of our lifeless ways, into the glorious resurrection of forgiveness and everlasting relationship with our Lord right here, right now. How many Zombies do you see every day? They are looking for Life. Let’s help them find Jesus.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Celebrate life. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
My great-grandmother used to listen to those old radio preachers while waiting for her “programs,” also known today as “the soaps.” Life would become very quiet when her programs were on the air. Then one day “Search for Tomorrow” became a 15-minute TV show. She was fascinated to see her radio friends’ lives portrayed on television. But she still listened to preachers like Herbert W. Armstrong and his son Garner Ted, or M R DeHaan and his son Richard. My parents listened to Oliver Green. Dorothy’s mother listened to Billy Graham and managed to get on all the mailing lists of the preachers who focused on Israel and the end times. Over time the radio preachers became mostly pentecostal and the soap operas became hour-long never ending sagas. Today’s radio preachers are being edged out by political commentators and the soaps have been steadily replaced by “Reality TV.” Why watch the trials and tribulations of Erica Kane when you can watch Kim Kardashian?
When pressed, I like to say that my favorite radio preacher is Garrison Keillor. He is most profoundly sermonic in his “News from Lake Wobegon” stories. Once he told a story about a spinster church treasurer who decided she had had enough of life’s disappointments, so she embezzled a large sum of money from the church, moved to Argentina and took up with a man named Ramone. Twenty or so years later Ramone had died and now she was sick and dying. She moved back to Lake Wobegon and quietly went back to her church where someone recognized her. The debate on how to treat this dying woman went full throttle. Keillor made this comment: “When you are in the Christian church and you argue against forgiveness—you know you are on the losing side.” Later in the story he reflected, “If you don’t forgive somebody, you never hear the rest of their story. Anger closes the door on the story.”
I have grown to appreciate the power of the story. The radio preacher, the soap opera, the celebrity/political scandal and “American Idol” all fascinate us because of the inner story. Stories inspire us; others are cautionary tales. What is your story?
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Tell your story. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.