Years ago I had the distinct privilege to sit in a hearing of The Supreme Court of the USA. I remember it well, as do the other adults that I was with. There was a reverence, seriousness, silence and awe in the atmosphere. All were nervously leaning in to every word and doing their best to understand the proceedings and legal speech. I will never forget that experience.
The Supreme Court of the US is the “highest court in the land.” That means it is the final arbiter of the law and serves to ensure that we Americans receive equal justice under the law and proper interpretation of the Constitution of the US.
It was established by our forefathers as one of three co-equal branches of goverment in 1789; those three, of course are: The Legeslative Branch (“Congress”, which is housed in The Capitol), The Executive Branch ( housed in The White House, The President’s office and home), and the Judicial Branch (housed in the Supreme Court Building and lead by Chief Justice Roberts with the other eight Associate Justices).
The job of the Supreme Court is to hear controversial cases that have been appealed by states and then determine it’s constitutional standing and accuracy. This is called “judicial review”. Their scope of cases involve law and equity under the constitution; laws of the US; and treaties that have been made.
Our judicial system involves the Supreme Court, at the top, so to speak, but also 13 appellate courts, with 94 federal judges that serve in 12 regional circuits. These are circuit or district courts.
The 94 district courts or trial courts resovle issues by hearing facts and applying legal principles to decide who is right. Each case is decided by a Judge and a jury. Each American adult is expected to take their turn to serve on a jury, it is our duty.
There are also special courts in the US which handle things like bankruptcy, appeals for bankruptcy and Article I courts, (which deal with veterans claims, armed forces appeals and taxes).
Having recently finished reading the book of Job, I was reminded and blown away with the preception that he maintained his innocence before God. Repeatedly he refers to the Almighty as his judge and hearer of his case, as so often he uses legal terms in referencing God. Check out these snipits:
” I appeal my cause to God…” Job 5:8
” my witness is in heaven and he who testifies for me is on high” Job 16:19
” I desire to argue my case with God” Job 13:3
” will you plead the case for God?” Job 13:8
” I will argue my ways to his face” Job 13:15
” I have prepared my case” Job 13:18
In fact, Job has a strong case. God is The Judge. He sits on the circle of the earth and makes all rulers meaningless. (Isaiah 40:23)
We all will stand before the Great Ancient of Days, in the highest court in heaven, where we will see One seated on a firey throne, with flames coming from it’s wheels, and a stream of fire coming from him. Millions upon millions will stand before this Court as the evidenciary books are opened, facts are read and judgment is leveled by he Righteous Judge. (Daniel 7; Revelation 20; Revelation 4 & 5)
In the Throneroom of Heaven, sits the true highest court, and it is within this court that the Lord has taken his place to contend with and judge peoples. (Isaiah 3:13-14)
It is before THIS supreme courtroom of heaven that I emplore you to plead not only your case before God, but in prayer to appeal to the Judge of the Earth on behalf of the cases before the Supreme Court and lower courts of our land at this time.
With seriousness and awe may we lean in to this time in history by bringing our case before heaven’s Supreme Court.
Have you ever wondered if you are in the right place doing the right thing? Or had the opposite occur, when things synced up so perfectly and everything felt just as it should, with that, “WOW, this is amazing!” moment? Then again, how ’bout that heavy sense that “things just blew up”, and something is not right?
We all want to be in the right place at the right time, don’t we? We want it all to line up, sync up and to feel that “WOW!” moment.
That is what we will be addressing for the next five weeks (in our Sunday Sermons) – “The right place and time“. We will take a look a five different characters and see what insights we can gain from them on this topic. Our focus will be on Job, Elihu, Esther, Daniel and Mary and Joseph; we will let them teach us from their experiences. I hope you will follow along and check back each week.
Today, our first example is Job.
Job a target.
Job – success, suffering, & surprises
Was Job in the right place at the right time? Let’s see.
We find Job in the oldest book in the Bible, the one that bears his name – Job. He lived in Uz, which is in the Middle East between Damascus and the Euphrates River. He probably lived the same time as Genesis chapters 12-50 are happening, about the the time of the Patriarchs.
He is a noteworthy man of character. The biblical description says of him,
” … that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”
Job 1:1 ESV
It then goes on to ennumerate his family and wealth. He had seven sons, three daughters, and thousands of sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys. Plus shifts of workers to care for them all. He is described as the greatest man of all the people of the East. Job 1:2-3
He dearly loved his family and was 100% devoted to them. He even made sacrifices for them.
In spite of all this SUCCESS that he had, his name, the name Job means, ” the hated or persecuted one; (object of enmity).”
Was he in the right time and right place? His name sure didn’t match up with his fame. Things were good for him, but they sure weren’t adding up.
Job was a target.
He was successful. He was God-fearing. His family was his priority. He was the greatest in the East. Does that sound like you? (Well, three out of four, maybe?) And he was a target. (you?)
Satan was roaming and looking through the Earth. Job 1:7; 2:2
God targeted Job. Job 1:8; 2:36
Job was in the right place at the right time.
Job was successful.
He was prosperous in land, herds, wealth and family. Spiritually, he was God-fearing, blameless and sacrificed for his children as a priest. He was respected in the surrounding region as an influencial leader.
What parrallels can we draw? You’re doing ok with possessions, family. Maybe even involved in community affairs of civic leadership. You’re maybe also God-fearing. Perhaps your portfolio, stocks or investment properties are flourishing. You, too are successful.
Or perhaps you have found happiness and success in a less “wealthy” lifestyle, because you have wealth of another kind. You see yourself however by these measures as successful.
Job, in his success, was a target. God said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?” God was about to help Job get in sync with his name. Job was about to understand the impact of his name.
In one day, Job lost his family and fortune. Oxen, donkeys, workers, sheep, workers, camels, workers, sons and daughters. Within hours it was all gone! He was a target. AND, he was in the right place at the right time.
His response to his excruciating losses – he tore his clothes. shaved his head, fell to the ground and worshipped God, as he said,
” Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.”
Job 1:21 ESV
On another day, he lost his health and the support of his wife. Job 2:1-9
” Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil?”
Job 2:10 ESV
Somewhere deep in Job was the deepest of resolves that God is good, no matter what it looks like. God is good, all the time! And in all of this, Job didn’t sin with hip lips, by bad talking God and His ways.
Was he in the right place at the right time? You betcha! He was right on target.
Are there parrallels to your life? You tell me…
Truth is, bad things happen to good people. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. (Matther 5:45)
Suffering is not meant to punish us, but to correct us, restore us and keep us on the right path. Suffering is helpful when we turn to God for understanding and even ask important questions. Suffering is harmful if we harden our heart and reject God, or refuse to ask Him questions and miss His lessons.
Satan does nothing without God’s authorization. So when God authroizes Satan to unleash suffering on us it is to:
” …humble us and test what’s in our hearts.”
Deuteronomy 8:2 ESV
This isn’t because God doesn’t know what is in our hearts, but so that we will see what really lies in our heart.
Satan comes only to destroy everything about you. John 10:10 God’s plan is to purify our heart, by turning up the heat of suffering in our life, and to produce precious gold. 1 Peter 1:7; Job 23:10
Peter even understood this, he wrote,
“Don’t be surprised at suffering that comes on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you…” 1 Peter 4:12
God knew that suffering would produce steadfastness in Job. (James 1:2) Just like it will in you and me. James also goes on to say, “That he who remains steadfast will receive a crown of life.” James 1:12 Then James repeats what Job has just stated,
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.”
God is good. He only gives good gifts. Whether or not it looks like my definition of good, God is good and this gift is good.
Jesus told us that God, as our Father knows how to give good gifts to his kids. Matthew 7:9-12
Job was a target for the gift of God’s refinning.
Job was in the exact right place at the exact right time to be targeted by God for success and suffering. Job, God and Satan were all on target. But the best was yet to come.
Next week we will address Job’s friends and the part they play. In fact, for the next 35 chapters in his book, the friends’ dialogue with Job is the focus. But that’s for next week.
Job was a target and in the right place at the right time! Through his success and suffering he had remained steadfast and now he was ready for surprises.
Job received surprises!
God actually shows up and talks to Job (that makes it pretty clear Job was in the right place at the right time). God revealed himself to Job in chapters 38-42 and 42:5. (I personally think that THIS is the greatest surprise – to receive God’s presence and hear His voice.) God tells Job to pray for his three friends. And when he does, God restores Job’s fortune. All of it, and his wealth was doubled.
Job winds up getthing double the sheep, camels, oxen, and female donkeys. PLUS, another seven sons and three daughters. And this time, his daughters are included in the family inheritance and ancestry! His daughters are inheritors alongside of their brothers. Everyone in Job’s family was targeted by God’s surprises!
Job was on target, in the right place at the right time. Through his success, and suffering he received thesurprises of a loving Heavenly Father, because God is a good God.
Whether you are in success or suffering right now, remain steadfast and see the good and surprising gifts from your Father in heaven. God is good, all the time!
You are in the right place at the right time. Please rest assured. Please be encouraged that God IS at work on your behalf and that a surprise is just around the corner.
Up next week, Elihu – a spokesman. The tender truth-teller.
” Primer – an elementary textbook that serves as an introduction to a subject…”
Chances are, if I asked you when the first Thanksgiving was, you would refer in some way to the Pilgrims and their guests in the Fall of 1621, when they shared their first harvest in the new world. This is not really the truth, tho’.
That celebration, although they were thankful for their harvest, was not declared to be “Thanksgiving”, or even afterwards set apart as a regular festival for them to celebrate. It was more of a one and done event. Over a hundred and fifty years later, during the colonial revolution, the colonial legislatures often set aside days of prayer to recognize military victories. After Burgoyne’s surrender to the American’s at Saratoga, NY in October of 1777, the Continental Congress suggested a national day to be set aside to recognize the victory.
General George Washing agreed, proclaiming December 18, 1777 the first national thanksgiving day. In the years that followed, other national thanksgiving proclamations were made as well.
Then, on October 3, 1798, now President Washington, set the precedent for America’s National Day of Thanksgiving with His Thanksgiving Proclamation.
(I can hear Nicolas Cage, from National Treasure saying, “Phew…people just don’t write like this anymore.”)
Washington, the newly elected President of the newly formed United States of America was careful to abide by the newly ratified Constitution of the United Stated and therefore passed this proclamation on to the states, asking them to announce it and observe it. Newspapers published it and thanksgiving celebrations were held.
Washington celebrated that first Thanksgiving by attending a service at St. Paul’s Chapel in NYC and by donating food and beer to imprisoned debtors in the city.
In the years that followed, Presidents John Adams and James Madison also declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.
But it was not until October 3, 1863, during the height of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving Proclamation decreeing the last Thursday in November as America’s National Day of Thanksgiving. Congress folowed suit in 1870 by establishing it.
Harper’s Weekly carried it, and on October 5, printed an art piece by the famous Thomas Nast that illustrated “scenes of a grateful nation.”
Thomas Nast’s art
In many of our modern thanksgiving celebrations and family gatherings, lost are the deepest expressions of humble dependence and gratitude for God’s care, provision, blessings and protection, as found in Washington and Lincoln’s proclamations. Lost is the public humility and utter desperation for The Almighty’s divine providence by our elected officials. Lost is the recognition of our dire hoplessness without God’s intervention in our affairs. Gone is the humble submission to the Creator of the Universe, Giver of Life and it’s many benefits.
In his proclamation, President Washington said,
“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits and humbly to implore his protection and favor.“
1798 Thanksgiving Proclamation
It IS our duty, as individuals and as a nation. Not just to be thankful for family, friends, jobs, homes and health; but to give thanks to “our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
Where would we be without His blessings? Care? Guidence? Help? Strength? Protection? Provision? Life? Redemption? Love?
These are the elementary tenets of America’s Day of Thanksgiving. May we return to the most basic tenent of expressing our thanks to the Almighty for all He has done for us.
Giving thanks and being grateful are both positive and helpful attitudes, and both are generally a result of an event, so what’s the difference?
You may be one who uses grateful and thankful interchangeably, but they are not really the same. Here’s the big difference:
“The difference between grateful and thankful is that by definition grateful is directed out of the person who is feeling it, while thankful is generated inside the person.“
Smart Leadership Hut
Put another way, we are grateful for external circumstances. (Often by comparison, too.) This means we need something outside ourself to help us generate gratefulness. Gratefulness needs someone or something else to motivate expression.
Thankfulness on the other hand, can be generated on it’s own, from the inside without external triggers. With thankfulness, we can experience happiness because it comes from within, from an attitude that is full of thanks regardless of circumstances, from a heart not dependent on externals.
When we express thankfulness, we can be in any situation in life and realize that it is what is within us that brings our happiness and satisfaction, not what is outside of us. Our happiness and fulfillment is not dependant on our circumstances, people or places. And for this, we are truly thankful.
But should those circumstances, people and places line up favorably, we can certainly be grateful too.
In their absence, we can choose to be thankful.
Let me illustrate this by sharing two stories.
“The Masai tribe of West Africa have an unusual way of saying thank-you. Translators tell us that when the Masai express thanks, they bow, put their foreheads on the ground, and say, “My head is in the dirt.”
When members of another African tribe want to express their thanks, they sit for a long time in front of the hut of the person who did the favor and literally say, “I sit on the ground before you.”
These Africans understand well what thanksgiving is and why it’s difficult for us: at its core, thanksgiving isan act of humility.” (Story as told by Joel Gregory, in “Fresh Illustrations for Teaching and Preaching”)
Another story is told in the Gospel of Luke:
” Jesus was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance, and lifted their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When Jesus saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus feet, giving him thanks. ” Luke 17:11-17 ESV
This one leper was not content with just his external circumstances being changed when Jesus healed him. Although that seems to have been the case for the other nine. That one leper, was prompted by not only gratitude, but thankfulness. He turned back toward Jesus, and began shouting out loud his praise and thanks to Jesus. He then fell on his face, right at Jesus’ feet, and like the Masai, pretty much said to Jesus, “My head is in the dirt.” Generated not only by gratitude but by a deep and overwhelming heart of thanks, this leper humbled himself, at Jesus feet and expressed his thanks to Him.
Nine I believe were grateful for their healing. They never returned to Jesus or expressed their thanks, though.
One was both grateful and thankful. He was healed, and commended by Jesus for returning with thanks.
We can be like the nine, be like the one or still be carrying around our leprosy.
I trust you will join with the throng in giving thanks during this season.
Defined by Oxford as “to keep away from or stop oneself from doing.” Merriam-Webster concurs, ” to prevent the occurence or effectiveness of, to refrain from.”
What is it that you avoid? What things do I avoid?
A quick internet search offered these things to avoid:
Actually, a pretty good list, in my opinion. What do you think?
Here’s another great list of things to avoid:
grabbibg your phone without a goal
answering messages on the spot
waiting for others to contact you
see the negative first
buying more than you throw a way
not letting silence in
and the list continues, but you get the idea
But just for a minute, let’s go micro rather than macro. Micro looks at the small segments, compartments of your life. Lets go there.
In those places, compartments of your life, of your heart, (maybe known only by you and a close friend), what areas are avoided? What rooms are off limits? Which places are are sealed up? Which memories, motives and masks are eluded, evaded and escaped from? What are you avoiding or trying to stop yourself from dealing with?
This morning, in my life, those were the types of questions that were filtering through my mind and heart. What was I avoiding? Was I avoiding anything that needed to be dealt with? Were there issues, items or incidents that needed my attention rather than avoidance?
And here’s the thought bubble, that appeared very cleary over my head and resounded in my heart –
When we avoid God and what He is pointing to in our life,
there is a VOID in our life, and we are left empty, without what we need.
There is so much truth and power in that statement, my friend.
We avoid things in our heart for a miriad of reasons and excuses. No matter the reason, if it is avoided at all, it will indeed leave a void in your heart, that must be filled and healed. If we avoid allowing God into that place (or those places) in our heart, we fill it with things that will never heal it our last. Things like, bitterness, anger, resentment, hatred or even apathy, and isolation, perhaps becoming callous, hard, harsh or cruel. These things fester and inflame all we do. They poison our entire life, outlook, hope and relationships.
It would be wise for us to allow God into those places in our hearts that we have avoided, for He alone can fill the void and heal at the root level any issue we have been avoiding.
Is there a void in your heart that He wants to fill and heal?
Imagine spending three years of your life lovingly devoted to someone. Walking daily with them, eating, sleeping, traveling with them and even having sacrificed your career for them. In your heart you love them and are fully committed to them. “Never in a million years would you ever leave them”, is your declaration.
So sincere we (think) we are. So sure. We (think) that we know our heart and are certain of it’s trustworthyness.
Therein lies the fallacy.
We don’t really know the depth of our heart; it’s hidden caverns, twisted motivations, roots of anger, biterness, resentment, and pride. We don’t see it’s deceit, arrogance, fear, shame or wounds. We don’t really know the ability within us to hurt the one we love, or even abandon them.
Peter, Jesus devoted right hand man, experienced this very conundrum. Having declared that he would NEVER DENY Jesus in Mark 14:29, that, in fact, is exactly what he does. Mark 14:66-72.
But the phrase, found at the end of Peter’s denial is what gripped me,
” And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.“
Mark 14:72 CEV
Peter didn’t really know what he was capable of. He didn’t really know what was in his heart, but Jesus did. Jesus knew the good, the bad and the ugly of Peter’s heart, just as He does mine and yours. But here’s the impacting part to me, when Peter remembered what Jesus had foretold about him, he broke down and wept.
You see, realizing how well Jesus knows and loves us is overwhelming and should bring us to tears. When we understand that Jesus knows all of those deepest carverns, twisted roots and dark recesses of our heart, we, too, just may respond as Peter did, with weeping.
But first we must remember.
Remember that before He formed you in the womb He knew you. Jeremiah 1:5
Remember that He has searched you and knows you. Psalm 139:1
Remember that He knows when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2
Remember that before a word is on your tongue He knows it. Psalm 139:4
Remember that He has called you by name. Isaiah 43:1
Remember that He knows His own. John 10:14
Remember He formed your inward parts and knit you together in your mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13
Remember that your frame was not hidden from Him when you were being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths. Psalm 139:15
Remember that His eyes saw your unformed body. Psalm 139:16
Remember that every one of your days of life are written in His book. Psalm 139:16
All of this remembering is in itself overwhelming, but consider this, as well:
“But this I recall to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every mourning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:21 CEV
“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”
“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast in the sum of them! Were I to count them, they are more than the sand.”
God is LOVE. He keeps no records of wrongs, He is patient with us and demonstrates loving kindness. He bears all things with us, always believes in us, and endures beside us, even in our “denials”. (like Peter) 1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 4:8
THAT my friend, is what causes my eyes to mist over. That kind of love is overwhelming. I am captured by the depth of His love for me, in spite of my dark heart.
I believe THAT is why Peter “broke down and wept.” He remembered just how much Jesus knew about him, all the ugly betrayal that he held in his heart, and yet Jesus still called him. Jesus still told him that he was “the Rock”. Jesus still included him, taught him, drew him close, and loved him.
Let’s remember though, in Mark’s account so far, Peter doesn’t know the end of the story. He doesn’t know what we do about Jesus’ resurrection and appearing to the eleven disciples afterwards, Peter is left remembering and weeping. But not us! We know the end of the story. We know Jesus restored Peter, just as He will us.
I have been moved lately by remembering what God’s word says about His love for me, but also that He knows everything there is to know about me. That is unimaginable! He knows me COMPLETELY, and still loves me! Mindboggling. He loves me so much, He is ever calling me to come near, see Him and be changed. He knows me, my weaknesses, my words and my thoughts, my desires and He loves me. He knows me. He loves me in perpetuity.
Veterans Day is a Federal holiday that is celebrated on November 11 of each year.
We say celebrated, but is it really, by most Americans, or do we just gladly accept it as another day off work or school (for some), with little concern as to why?
As of the time of this writing, it is estimated that there are 19 million living American Veterans. This encompasses those who have served in our military forces from WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and The War of Terrorism. Of them, 9% are women, 325,574 are veterans of WWII, 2,500 veterans of D Day, fewer than 300,00 veterans are from Pearl Harbor, 500,000 represent the Korean War and 610,000 served in Vietnam on land, with 164,000 at sea.
Veterans Day honors them all. Veterans Day honors all American Veterans living or dead – thanking them all for their honorable service to our country. Memorial Day is the day when we pay special tribute to those who lost their lives in service to our country.
But why November 11?
In 1918, on the 11th month, the 11th day, at the 11th hour, a temporary cease fire was signed between the Allied forces and Germany during WWI. This became known as Armistice Day in 1919, the day the armistice was signed. Even though, the Treaty of Versailles marked the official end of WWI, Armistice Day remained in the public’s mind as the end of WWI.
After WWII and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a day dedicated to American veterans of all wars. It was officially changed in 1954, when President Eisenhower signed it into law. In Great Britian, Canada, France and Austrilia it is called Remberance Day and is celebrated around November 11.
It is important to note that it is Veterans Day, without an apostrophe in veterans. That is because it is not a day belongs to veterans, it is a day for honoring veterans. (Remember, an apostrophe denotes possession 🙂 )
These veterans are dying. We are loosing them and their stories. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us, the living, who know these vets, to firstly honor them, and not just on November 11. And when possible, to take the time to hear as much of their story as they are willing and able to share. When we visit memorials and monuments let’s be respectful and share their value and stories with those in our sphere of influence.
We are still a great nation and much of that is owed to the brave men and women of our armed forces who willingly served to promote our democracy and freedom. They chose to.
It seems like a no brainer for us to choose to honor them and yes, celebrate our veterans.
This question and response became a very popular and effective commercial for Verizon Wireless years ago.
We use our hearing 24 hours a day. Our ears are like antennae that pick up signals from all different directions. Then they process those signals and pass them on to the brain for interpretation and action. When both ears are functioning we have optimal hearing.
Do you think much about what you hear between those 20 and 20,000 Hz? Of course those important speech frequencies between 500 and 4,000 Hz are important, but what about the others, the whole range of things that you hear?
Even in “The Sounds of Silence”, what do you hear? (cue up Simon & Garfunkle, Disturbed or Pentatonix.) Is there really silence or are we still resonating with what has been heard?
We are cautioned in scripture, to
” Pay attention to what you hear: …”
Mark 4:24 CEV
Or as another verson clarifies,
” Be diligent to understand the meaning behind everything you hear…”
Mark 4:24 TPT
I love the urgent call to action in the Greek words used. “Pay attention” indicates, “look out, look at, see. Beware! Have sight, observe, discern and perceive” (Strongs Concordance G#991) While what you “hear”, means ” give audience to; be noised, be reported. Understand.” (Strongs Concordance G#191)
Jesus is the speaker in this setting and His warning to the disciples (aren’t we His disciples, too) is to “Beware and look out for what you pay attention to, give audience to- the noise of what is reported. Be careful what you understand.”
You see, Jesus knew the power of hearing 24 hours a day. Jesus knew the power of noises and voices bombarding us with signals every minute of the day. Jesus warned His disciples to PAY ATTENTION to what you hear. Jesus knew the importance of hearing.
I have come to believe that is why, the greatest command, (which we often state as love God and love others) actually begins with –
“HEAR, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.”
Hear. That is the first priority.
Our ability to love God and others begins with our willingness to listen to God. How we listen to Him is reflected in how we treat others.
“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. “
Luke 11:28 CEV
What we do and say is contingent what we hear.
“ The hearing is always found close to the speaking tongue. “
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Returning to our opening scripture – in the mix of all that we hear, ie. news reports, political outcomes, mandates, employment requirements, housing needs, a spouse or friend’s requests and complaints, doctor’s reports and never ending self talk…. PAY ATTENTION.
Are you hearing God? Can you hear His voice in the mix of your days noises? Do you recognize it, understand it, pay attention to it?
“The entrance of your words bring light.”
Psalm 119:130 NIV
When we hear and pay attention to His voice, we enjoy walking in light, clarity, and peace. Our path is illuminated and we feel a confident peace in our heart.
Can you name the famous person who made the statement in our title today?
Do you agree or disagree with it?
A few years back, while I was with a group of 8th graders in Washington DC, on tour at the world’s largest library, hanging on a beautiful banner was the quote, “I cannot live without books. Thomas Jefferson.” Walking beside me was one of our kids who wasted no time sharing his strong disagreement, as he loudly and emphatically blurted out, “I CAN!”.
I had chuckle because I knew him and realized how true it was, but in fact, it’s not really funny.
Although the literacy rate in the world increases by 4% every 5 years, I’m not certain the love of reading does. JK Rowling once said, “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” Today, only 14% of the world’s population remains illiterate. That’s a far cry from Thomas Jefferson’s day, in 1820, when only 12% of people in the world could read.
Books transport us to new worlds but also take us back to important moments. Books help us to develop our vocabulary, reduce stress, prevent cognitive decline, and increase our ability to emphathize. It is said, that reading books helps you to look after your mind and body.
What got me into this book thinking mode was what I did yesterday. After living in our city for over a year, I finally decided to visit our beautiful city library. I thought is was beautiful on the outside and that lured me inside.
Now, I’ve been a library card carrying reader for years. Geesh, I remember the days of going to the library and checking out every single state book on their shelf, for my 5th graders who were doing their famed state report. And when we moved to this county, I got a new library card that was for the County library system.
After walking around the library yesterday, enjoying all I saw, I decided to get some new reading material. While searching the shelves, I was pondering how many people never darkened the doors of a library and enjoyed this wonderful sense of being surrounded by millions of possible journeys, discoveries and challenges. How many were simply missing out?
As I finished my search and went to the desk to check out, come to find out my previous card was not the card I needed for THIS library, which, as I said, was a city library. Of course, the young man was more than able to get me set up with my new library card for that library.
There are 116,867 libraries of all kinds in the U.S. According to the American Library Assocociation the four kinds of libraries are:
academic – the ones attached to schools and universities
special – they serve a particular group of people (employees, military, ect.)
public – also called “circulating library” because they are accessable to the public to circulate books. (My county and city libraries fit here)
national – these are specifically established by the government to serve as the preeminent repository of information for the country. The public can’t borrow books here, but they can view books and items in the facility (or online now, too)
Although the United States does not have a national library, like other nations, they do however, have five that are recognized as being national in scope. These include:
The Library of Congress – this is the place where my dear 8th grader made his statement about books
National Agricultural Library
National Library of Education
National Library of Medicine
National Transportation Library
Let me close with some startling facts about the world’s largest library – The Library of Congress, located in Washington D.C.
For nearly 100 years, this library, after being funded by President John Adams, with $5,000, housed it’s collection of 3,000 volumes in the U.S.Capitol. In 1814, the British burned down our Capitol and the White House, and we lost our “national library”. One year later, in 1815 Congress approved the purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library of 6,487 books, for $23,950 to rebuild the library collection.
That collection of 6,487 books, was what started our current Library of Congress collection and was the exhibit that I had taken my 8th graders to see.
From that humble beginning of books (which were all owned by Thomas Jefferson, amazing!) the Library of Congress has grown to today’s collection, in which we have:
3 different buildings to house The Library of Congress
off site storage in Maryland and Virginia
2.5 million categorized books
74.5 million manuscripts
5.6 million maps
8.2 million items of sheet music
4.2 audio materials
17.3 visual materilas
22,000 items received and processed on a daily basis
in 460 different languages
the worlds largest law library
largest rare book collection
And I could go on. Nearly every thing that is copyrighted is submitted to the Library of Congress for consideration and filing. Not all are kept for posterity but as you can see millions of items are stored, retrieved, viewed, read, and studied in the Library of Congress. Anyone 16 years of age can apply for a Reader Identification Card, which is free and renewable every 2 years. With it, you can enjoy researching in any one of the 21 reading rooms. Or, without one, as I do, using the online resources that are now available.
Should you find yourself in Washington DC, you undoubtely will visit the Capitol and across the street the Supreme Court. But don’t miss the Library of Congress, which is also just across the street from the Capitol and next to the Supreme Court.
Books are important to advancing societies and reading those books is a mark of that population’s education.
Today, with digital and audio services for books available, the closest most people get to actual books is in the Starbucks at Barns and Noble. But what if, the internet died? What if the powergrid collapsed? What if all you had to read was in your house? How would you learn, find out things, experience new places and explore old ones?
Books, my friend.
How’s your library? Where’s your library card? What’s the last book you read?
“We cannot live without books”, replied the teacher to the 8th grader.