Remembering a Birthday.

Reminiscing on moments in history is not foreign to the US citizen.  In fact, of 20 major holidays, 13 of them have origins of just that: remembrance.

Today is a bit different for me.

Yes, I know it’s Memorial Day, and while I have already begun recognizing and remembering the sacrifices that many have made so that I, and my family, can enjoy our “American freedoms,” something else distracts my mind today.  Something else won’t escape and won’t allow me to give my undivided attention to another.

That “thing” is my brother’s birthday.  Today he would have 27 candles on his cake — wow, that’s hard to believe!  I wonder what he’d be like at 27.  Would he have “settled down” and married?

Nah, probably not.

Would he have a house?  Probably not.  He preferred the migrant lifestyle.

Would he have a greater love for this land?  Yes, definitely.  In fact, just a week ago I was traveling up the North Fork Road in the North-western corner of Columbia Falls, Montana (a very scenic route) thinking of him.  Thinking he left too early.

Four years ago, on this day-his birthday, he and I left our hometown of Wilmington, NC for a spectacular roadtrip across the US.  Here’s my journal, penned just three days before:

In a discussion recently with a good friend I began to answer the commonly summoned, “so what’s new?” Such a typical cliche question that normally is followed by the typical (and, yes, cliche) “oh, not much.”

However, there was a pause and while it was for just a moment, it was a deep deafening pause as if thunder interrupted the conversation. It was then that I began to realize that my life is complicated and in need of more than just a simple one-line summation. OK, you can stop rolling your eyes now–those of you who know me well enough to know my life has been very complex lately and mostly due to self-imposed complexities.

Nonetheless, I began:

“Well, I’ve got some big changes on the horizon…in fact, starting real soon.”

My former roommate has always been very respectful and generous in his time toward me so he inquired further. He then learned of my ambitions to travel a few time-zones back…to the West.

In short, my desire for the West is inspired by a few larger intentions of my character:

1. Independence

2. Spontaneaty

3. Beauty

Independence – I have a strong desire to promote individualism. I believe we all benefit by the fruits of many individuals rather than the collective sum of the masses. The American West has historically and even today represents this very intention; that all deserve some room and no one holds rights or privilege over another.

Spontaneity – Some call it a curse, I tend to think it makes life more interesting. I’m not an advocate for mere existence. I desire to live. Get on the road, do something you haven’t, reach for the stars for it’s better to live for a minute than to exist for a lifetime.

Beauty – Beyond just surface pleasures, the Western portions of the United States far surpass what the East can provide, unless the smell of congestion, confusion, chaotic manipulation, and social inequity suits your fancy. I believe every American kid should visit the Grand Canyon, and every American parent should make that happen. Go visit God’s canvas!

So here it is. Welcome to the “Western Mecciafication!”

All packed and ready to go!

Chris and I, May 28, 2008. Wilmington, NC

Somewhere in WY

Chris and I, days later. Somewhere in Wyoming.

Montana!

Chris and I, Montana. June 1, 2008

Sometimes it’s hard to think about.  But, still, it’s easy to smile.  Chris was good at that, smiling.

Today, four years later, I certainly miss him.  But, I have the hope of seeing him again, given to me by God through His word.  God promises me a day with Him, and him(Chris), in paradise.  A day that knows no fear and sheds no fear.  Only peace.  A peace we are incapable of understanding today.

Some may find it bizarre, a belief in the afterlife (especially an afterlife that is so profoundly beautiful–typically, people prefer the likes of zombies!).  But, as I think of God and His will, His power, and His intention, I really can’t think of anything less than beautiful.  He is magnificent!

This gives me the strength to move on.  I love my brother and miss him dear, but I still have a mission while I’m here.

Today, I will sing Happy Birthday, but I’ll not cry.  I’ll smile.  For I know he has been renewed and is in the presence of our Father.  The Father.

At The Top!

Take a look at this:

Lone Pine State Park, Kalispell, MT

Pictured left is (almost) the top of the city of Kalispell, Montana.  It’s taken from Lonepine State Park and it was just days after arriving to this beautiful Northwestern city with my brother in 2008.

It’s rather typical – at least for young men like us – to assess a new environment and immediately want to get to the top.  Think about it.  You’re on a hike.  The trail bends slightly to expose an overlook to the deep ravine and what do you do?  You approach the edge.  It’s natural to want to be on the top.  To reach the highest point.  To say, “I did it!”

As a child, I recall visiting New York City several times.  Each time with a desire to climb a new skyscraper.  I remember standing on the sidewalk outside of the Empire State Building and looking up!  The building is so tall you can’t see the top from the ground!  And, of course, what follows?

“Let’s go to the top!”

It’s an internal desire of mankind’s to want to reach a little further.  Consider this short list of man’s epic climbs:

In May of 1953, two climbers reach the top of Mt. Everest (the world’s tallest mountain peak),

In July of 1969, an American astronaut becomes the first to climb out onto the surface of the moon, and

In May of 1872, the first American woman climbs the political ladder and runs for the office of the US President!  (Most people tend to forget the achievement of Victoria Woodhull).

Granite Peak, Montana

Granite Peak, Montana

In Montana, the “top” is considered to be Granite Peak, measuring over 12,800 feet in elevation!  This unique mountain was the last to ever be conquered due to its unpredictable weather patterns and technical climbing.

For the vertically inclined, much of the above information may be helpful in accomplishing some new (and adventurous) goals.  And, while this may be the beginning of establishing some new “tops” in our lives, the important question is: where is Jesus in all of it?

 

Is He at the top?

 

Consider, for just a minute, how you began your day.  What was the first thing you noticed?  Your alarm clock?  Your child crawling in bed with you?  Your dog or cat?  The sound of an automatic coffee maker?

Chances are, as we are approaching the Summer season, no matter what your first activity was,  you woke up with the sunlight.

God begins His love-letter to us (the Bible) in Genesis with the following:

“Let there be light”, and there was light.  And God saw the light and called it good, and God divided the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day and the darkness Night.  So the evening and the morning were the first day.

(Genesis 1:3-5)

Three take-home truths about this passage in Genesis include:

1)  God created Heaven, Earth, Light and Time.

2)  The Earth had no form, prior – and, still, at this point in time.

3)  God simply SPOKE everything into existence.

Notice how there’s no mention of the sun, or the stars, or the moon.  Just light.  In fact, it’s not till the fourth day that God created the sun, stars, and moon!  So, LIGHT predates the sun!

Now, consider John’s record of the Gospel.  Turn to John 8:12.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.

(John 8:12)

What-truly-is the source of life?  The SUN or the SON?

Birth of the sun: Day 4.

Now, let’s take a break from science, and talk diction (yes, words).

Protoevangelism.  Do you fancy a guess to it’s definition?

PROTO means “first,” or “the earliest form of,” and,

EVANGELISM means “delivering the Gospel (the good news).”

So, it literally means, “the first occurrence of the Gospel.”

Many Christians tend to consider the absolute first occurrence of the Gospel to be as early as Genesis 3:15.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and your shall bruise His heel.”

(Genesis 3:15)

There is certainly much to say about this passage, but for now we’re just going to focus on the promise within.  This is God speaking to the serpent (Satan), who just lied and deceived Adam and Eve.  God is referring to the coming of The Messiah.  However, many Jewish scholars find “protoevangelism” even earlier!

Then God said, “Let there be light;” and there was light.

(Genesis 1:3)

In Aramaic, the word for light is ‘nahora.’  Nahora is considered to be one of the secret names of The Messiah by these early Rabbis.

Are they incorrect in applying the name Nahora (light) to Jesus?

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

In Him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of men.

(John 1:4)

Arise, shine; For your light has come!  And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.

(Isaiah 60:1)

“The sun shall no longer be your light by day, Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the LORD will be to you an everlasting light, And your God your glory.”

(Isaiah 60:19)

The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it.  The Lamb is its light.

(Revelation 21:23)

Remember, in Genesis, God divided the darkness from the light and called it the first day.  And, ever since we’ve had the same thing happen.  Each day is signified by the arrival of the sun’s light.  Therefore, everyday begins with “the Light.”  It’s part of God’s natural order!

How do your days begin?

Do you thank God for the LIGHT (LIFE) of your day?

Notice how God, in His creation of things, created light and not darkness.  There is no darkness, only the absence of light.  Death is not the opposite of life.  It is simply the absence of it which is why when Jesus tells us HE is the life (John 11:25), He is also reiterating that there is no life outside of Him.

To be absent Jesus, is to be absent life.

The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

(Job 33:4)

The word for “life” found in Job is also the same Hebrew word found in Genesis 2:7:

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

“Khah-e,” is the Hebrew word for “life.”  And, interestingly, it is plural.

Yes, God gave us two lives:  1) Spiritual and 2) Physical.

When Adam sinned, he died spiritually.  This is clarified in Ephesians 2:1,

And you [He made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins.

Therefore, the light of day should be a reminder that Jesus is here!  He is sharing His light (life) with you!  Be thankful!

Just as a new day begins with sun light, new life begins with Son Light!