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Jesus didn’t deserve the disrespect. He never did anything to hurt Judas. In fact Jesus blessed Judas with so many good things. One doesn’t have to argue long to have any accept that this betrayal was the worst event in human history.
David speaks in Psalm 109 with prophetic words from his own experience. He had enemies too. While David had only done his friends well some turned on him with no provocation. Lies about us always hurt.
Do you remember when a friend called or stopped in to see you? Their whole demeanor was strained, emotions were raw and their disillusionment was inconsolable. They felt wasted, their knees were physically weak from the trauma and they felt like they were scorned.
They had been betrayed. Someone that they trusted turned on them. Reason did not exist. Facts were inconsequential. Allegations were treated as if they were facts. But, truth was abandoned for extreme prejudice of what might be.
David knew what this was like. He knew the agony of the lies told about him. This man of God felt the sting of wickedness directed against him.
In the life of God’s chosen servant he had done only good to his friends. But, one of them had returned friendship with accusation. Their repayment for his good was evil and hatred.
David prays an imprecatory prayer. He is not merciful in this intercession. This is not a selfish expression of revenge. Rather it is the retribution of righteousness against evil.
These lyrics to a song long ago forgotten express the desperate heart of life that is begging God for deliverance. The horror of the experience left David exhausted and overwhelmed. It became the prophetic picture of what Jesus experienced with a kiss from Judas.
All who have had been victimized by a friend’s betrayal understand the words of David, “my heart is wounded within me.” (Ps. 109.22)
The prayer of the victim of betrayal takes one desperate lunge toward sensibility. He asks God for help. In God alone is his plea directed.
When God rescues the abused and restores his life to blessing, then that testimony validates righteousness, innocence and refreshment.
Living a life that is blessed by God with joy and success is the best retribution against our betrayers. The words from the mouth of the righteous are praise to God. God can, will and does rescue those who have suffered the agony of betrayal.
photo credit: yahoo image
We strolled the streets of Chinatown. It was crowded with people from all over the world. They spoke languages from Europe, South America, and Asia.
Shops welcomed the international business. Children with happy voices played with new toys purchased with long-saved allowances. Parents looked so pleased that a trip of a lifetime was making family memories for all.
But, the inevitable hunger pangs come, disrupt and drive many to pursue a memorable meal. Walking, shopping, talking and smelling the aromas of the many restaurants stimulates the salivating glands. The clock reminds us that it is time to eat.
Just then, young ladies dressed in brightly colored ethnic outfits hand us coupons. Excitedly, they tell us of a very good restaurant that is celebrating its Grand Opening. They point to the offer for free appetizers and a generous discount off of a lunch special.
Already in a happy mood, Yvonne and I accept the coupon. The girls pointed us to the front doors of the nearby restaurant. We climb the stairs and are seated quickly.
We are suspicious from the start. The wait staff was insufficient for the many tables that were filled. Our greeter had all the charm of a girl on probation for a dozen misdemeanors. She wasn’t smiling.
The menu was limited. Our eyes bugged out when we saw the prices. To keep the cost down we ordered a few simple items.
Our waitress brusquely announced that our order did not qualify for the discount nor the free appetizer. It seemed too late to walk out. Instead, we waited for our food to come.
We ate what we ordered. At the end we were still hungry. The portions were very small. Happily I announced to Yvonne that we could at least get our parking ticket validated. But, the waitress informed me that they would only do that if we surpassed a minimum level of financial expenditure. We had not.
Don’t get me wrong. There are a number of great places to eat in Chinatown. Ask any local resident. They will tell you where to eat. I should have done that.
The food wasn’t memorable. The service was forgettable. Our overall experience was regrettable. But, I don’t want to give anyone a bad name. Just politely decline if you’re in the vicinity of San Francisco’s Portsmouth Square and someone offers you a coupon for a discount and free appetizer for a restaurant celebrating its grand opening.
photo credit: ijango image
My smile emereged naturally when I stepped on to the trail of Land’s End. The city parks department has rennovated this poplular destination and made it safe, friendly and restored its pristine beauty.
It was broad daylight but a feature of this area made itself clearly known. The foghorns sounded steadily. They had their individual repetitive sounds.
Those who navigate these waters know these familiar calls. Each location has its unique timbre and sequence. Captains can arrange their vessel route in the safe channel when they pinpoint these bellowing beacons.
I paused for several long moments entertained by the background calls. They were over shadowed by the calling seagulls. When I looked up to spot the gliders of the coast, three pelicans glided by.
The deep gullet and curved neck of these comical-looking birds made many of the tourists pause. Many gazed up, raised their hands to protect their eyes from the bright overcast diffused light of the sun.
The gravel trail crunched under my shoes. A small dust cloud marked the trail behind me. Every turn in the trail gave us a great view of something new along the Bay entrance to the Golden Gate.
Yvonne and I took turns finding subjects for our camera lenses. Sometimes we chose the same shot from the same location. But, as our hike progressed we customized our shoot to satisfy our own personalized tastes.
Once we broke away from the sights of the area to wave at a cute toddler who was weaving her way down the trail. Her parents smiled proudly as we acknowledged the love of their life. The antics of this innocent life was entertaining.
Further down the path we paused again. This time it was to chuckle at a puppy. It was having the time of its life. A minature fur ball with loads of energy, it tested every new scent, bluff charged nearly every living creature and barked happily when ever anyone would give it some attention.
Then, there were moments to pause. We drank in the splendor of the surroundings. The Golden Gate Bridge was in the background. Outside the bridge lay the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.
Here at place where God in His creative genius took extra time to paint His handiwork, life’s stresses can find relief. The life that He has given us to live discovers rejuvinating refreshment. It is soothing to let Him bath us in His wonder.
photo credit: brucefong photography
Some times the beauty around us is easily overlooked. By comparison colors, grandeur or expanse captivate our eye’s attention. However, some of the best stuff is right in front of our eyes but we miss it.
Land’s End has an allure. People from all over the world come to San Francisco and have this destination on their vacation schedule. For us it is a short drive from our apartment.
Yvonne and I parked the car. We disembarked and took our first steps down the hiking path. Bicyclists, hikers, strollers and joggers merged together.
The weather was routine. Overcast skies were above us. Temperatures were in the mid 60′s. A gentle breeze caused the leaves in the trees to rustle.
A wide path welcomed so many visitors. On either side of the route large trees over 100 feet tall guided our journey. The Pacific Ocean gave frequent glimpses with splendid views along the trail.
Seals on their rock made us smile. Pelicans rode air drafts shooting up the cliffs from the salty seas below. Wild flowers dotted the hillside.
What attracted me, however, were the trees. It was not the trees with their evergreen boughs that captured my gaze. Instead, the tree trunks amazed me.
Like pretzels growing on the mountainside of the Lands End walkway, these gnarly flora behemoths have a story. They testify to the many windstorms that have swept through this part of the world. Winds bend these living trees and hold them in odd positions altering their shape.
While their cousin fir trees grow as straight as arrows, these trees look more like a route through a maze. On one hand they might be considered ugly by some. On the other hand some who look longer see something far more unique.
There is strength in these trees. They did not succumb to the storms of years gone by and fall. Instead, they bent and survived.
multiple storms have beaten on these trees. But, like living lessons of perseverance, surviving by flexing was much more important than keeping outward lines of beauty.
The winding wandering trunks were like a puzzle. There is a lesson on life on display here. So many of us have lives that are gnarled from past storms that threatened to destroy us. But, by God’s grace we survived.
Scars from those hardships linger. They remind us that we have made it. Our troubles are past and we are still kicking.
photo credit: bruce fong photography
OK, so if you are new to my family you may have been stunned by the number 5. Actually, Yvonne and I have been blessed with three children. But, two of them are married. We love our two in-law children so much that we consider them as our own. Hence, three plus two equals five. It’s called family math.
There’s more to our DNA arithmetic. Five kids plus Yvonne and me makes seven. Six of our Fong 7 are now living in California. Fong #7 stills lives in the MidWest. But, he is moving to California next month to enroll in Grad School.
He came into California to tell us the good news. All seven of us were together. Very cleverly he waited until we were all gathered in our dining room. Then, he put his cell phone on speaker and he played the voice mail from the University inviting him to take a spot in the 2010 Fall class. We erupted in jubilation!
Hugs and high fives were bountiful. There were squeals and laughter. Teasing was overflowing. Family stuff like that is a blast!
Celebration is not hard to do among the Fongs. We celebrated with lunch. Then we took pictures at the SMU campus. Our partying continued on with dinner.
At the end of dinner I could feel the fatigue setting in. But, surrounded by not just my immediate family, we also had uncles and cousins filling up the chairs. No one wanted to end the evening except sleepy me.
My brothers countered with a temptation to large to ignore, “Ice Cream!” I relented. All of us piled into our vehicles and headed over the ice cream parlor that is always filled with lingering parties.
The happiness in that building matched our spirit. Birthdays were being celebrated at nearly every table. The waitresses led everyone in singing the song of the moment and we all joined in with enthusiasm.
Before me sat an enticing bowl of peppermint ice cream. It made my mouth water. The first bite was tantalizing and sparkled on my taste buds. Hints of peppermint candy were so refreshing.
Yvonne’s Orange Sherbert was just as delightful. Ice cream was at the center of our party. Celebration is living life to the fullest.
photo credit: ijango image
My clothes for the day were laid out. I slipped into my comfortable layers of clothing. The weather on the sea is very unpredictable so I wanted to be prepared to keep both warm and dry.
The bait shop was a welcome sight that early in the morning. Darkness surrounded my journey. But the bait shop was lit up and welcomed the early birds trying to catch the worms.
Fishermen are an interesting breed. They love their sport. None of us are bothered much by the odor of fish, the slime of our prey or the inevitability of scales, guts or blood. It all comes with the territory.
Men and women emerged out of the darkness and climbed aboard the C-Gull II. Captain Donnie and his deck hand Chris were hospitable, knowledgable and very patient in distributing their help. Their instructions on how to fish gave me confidence that we would all do some catching and not just a lot of fishing.
We cast off at 6:15AM minus one “no-show”. 28 of us laughed, told stories and enjoyed the long ride out to the fishing spot 2.5 hours due West of San Francisco. That day the Pacific was kind and gentle. No one got sick on the trip out. The return home was a different story.
For mile after mile the hum drum of the diesel engines purred against the surging salt waters. I dozed off many times. But, the great sound that greeted us was the drop in RPM’s and the skipper telling us to get ready.
For the first time Captain Donnie sounded excited. He announced that he was marking a lot of fish near the sea bottom. The he got all hands to act with one instruction, “Drop your lines and let’s catch some fish.”
My Penn reel went into perfect action. The spool spun like a top with smooth effortless descent. My one pound weight sailed into the depths with razor-sharp hooks baited with live anchovies.
It was just a matter of minutes and I was reeling up my first catch of the day. It was a brown rock fish. That was 9:30 AM. By 1:30 PM everyone on the boat had their limit of 10 fish each. Capt Donnie fired up his C-Gull II and headed for home two hours early!
photo credit: ijango image
There is a reason that the sport is called fishing and not catching. If it were the latter it would only be a minimalist’s sport. Instead, it is a magnificent experience, a slice of life that gives meaning to life.
I am looking forward to fishing in the Pacific Ocean. At 5AM I am scheduled to board a charter boat in Emeryville. We are to launch and head for the Farallon Islands within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Part of the experience is the anticipation. I have been on the website of the charter company several times. Every one of their pull-down tabs I have clicked and read.
I lingered over the pictures of recent catches. Some fishermen held up huge Ling cod. Others displayed tasty looking rockfish. Huge smiles were sported by those who proudly displayed halibut.
Yes, I imagined myself in each of those pictures. I have caught every one of those fish except for the halibut. One of these days I will haul one in and enjoy reliving the catch while feasting on its succulent flesh perfectly baked and garnished for dinner.
Before I begin my day with this favored sport, I called up on-line a list of fishing tackle stores. It was time to make fellow friends with anglers in the city. Amazingly, the only shop in the city was located just five blocks away. I smiled. This was a gift of God’s providence.
When I stepped into the cozy shop, Stephanie greeted me. She runs the store. Her knowledge is very good. After a smile she asked a question, “What are you fishing for?”
That’s when I smiled in return and said that I’m going out in the morning with hopes to hook rock fish. “Great,” she exulted, “meet Allen. He’s going out to fish for the same thing.”
Allen smiled and asked me where I was destined. When I mentioned the Farallon Islands, he perked up and told me that he was heading out for the same destination and for the same fish. Stephanie assured me that Allen was a top-notch fisherman and take whatever advice he was willing to give.
Allen and I shopped together. In the morning I hope that while a rookie on the Pacific, I have dreams of catching my limit. Getting ready to fish is as much fun as the fishing and catching!
photo credit: ijango image
The A-Team began strong. Hannibal Smith is portrayed as one tough dude. He can take a beating, get out of hand-cuffs in a weakened state, take on two killer dogs bare-handed and run a marathon through a desert.
Liam Neeson who plays Hannibal is a reason to want to see this film. His craft as an actor was a great casting choice. He improved the Smith role.
B.A. wins the audience again as he did in the original TV series. Here he has all of his remarkable likeability and antics with panache. His love for his van, ilk of flying and favorite word “fool” keeps all of us past fans smiling.
Everyone loves B.A. Mr. T made his career on this character. How to recapture that endearing story element? You cast the role with Quinton Jackson. He was memorable.
FACE is a charmer. He is the cocky, confident lady’s man that he always was but with a slicker personal strength and toughness that is needed to be the second-in-command of this fabulous foursome. This time around he also gets to show his brains.
Bradley Cooper filled the role of the fast-talking Faceman. He was believable and added strong qualities to that role. Another good choice.
Murdock is as goofy as ever. His covert mental insanity is his cover. He does it well and adds to the adventure of their escapades.
Dwight Schultz had the greatest challenge. For many followers, Murdock was a favorite. Schultz made us all remember and deepen our loyalties.
This movie added the pre-fugitive glory of the A-team as one of the best covert ops teams in the military. The frame-up and subsequent falling out with government officials drives the energy of this fast-paced movie. Multiple layers of the plot keeps the audience engaged in the developing scenario.
Twists and turns are not complicated but you have to pay attention to keep the good guys straight from the bad guys. Their faces change throughout the movie. Even the tease of a traitor on the team was tossed in the mix. But, that couldn’t be allowed, could it?
The action sequences were terrific. Also, the signature A-Team configuration of specialized equipment to put their plan together was not to be a disappointment. Do you want an entertaining fast paced movie without a lot of deep thinking required? Go and enjoy the A-Team. I’ll be there to see the sequel!
photo credit: yahoo image
This morning I woke up early even though I was on vacation. Quietly I stole out of our bedroom and wandered into the kitchen to quench my thirst with a glass of mountain spring water. That’s when I noticed that my brother’s van was just outside of the front door of the cabin.
He had arrived late last night. It must have been a long drive in the dark for him. Then, I smiled because I knew that he would have the dogs with him as well. Those dogs add a whole new dimension to any family gathering.
The morning sun was already well up off the horizon. It was beaming in plenty of sunshine on to a very comfortable rocking chair that is perfect for reading. So, I grabbed a novel, snuggled up in the rocking chair and entered into the world of a story told well.
Time has a way of slipping by quickly and quietly when a skilled word smith constructs his narrative. The thumping and rustling in my ears was not part of the story but of a bedroom door opening and the fast-paced paws of an overgrown puppy making a beeline to a new scent. Bo-gong was on his way.
Hi 60 pounds of muscle and sinew powered by an effervescent fun-loving spirit launched him up and into my lap. His tongue was slobbering over my hands, arms, and face. He would not allow his affection to be rebuffed.
This was not a greeting to be ignored. The best response is to join in the enthusiasm. So I did.
I grabbed Bo and hugged him. With a loud voice and enthusiastic squeals I rubbed his tummy, scratched behind his ears and massaged his back. As usual Bo did not just wag his tail in delight but wagged his entire back half with gusto.
Most dogs calm down after a 60 second foray of puppy love. But, Bo is not like most 1-year-old puppies. He knows only one speed and that is full-speed ahead. My attention had to be divided, however.
Cooper, the aging Australian Shepherd dog was growling at Bo. He is annoyed at the lack of canine dignity and let Bo hear his snarling raspy admonition. Bo ignored the older warnings of the ancient and kept on with his energy explosion. Cooper and I both agree. Energy and enthusiasm is so wasted on youth.
photo credit: bruce fong photography
We knew the reputation of Lake Tahoe’s beauty. A drive around the lake would be gorgeous. But, it is a 72 mile drive.
72 miles is not a long drive if you are on the interstate and blasting miles by at 70 mph. But, the road around the Lake was not anything near a freeway. Instead, it was a winding two lane road with hairpin turns and steep hills.
The first leg of our trip went through the forests of cedar, pine and fir. Occasionally, deciduous trees gave the landscape some variety. The fresh air and sunshine made this drive very inviting.
Next, the road began to climb. We passed granite boulders, babbling brooks and vistas of the surrounding mountains that gave majesty to the pristine wonder. It made perfect sense to pull over and pause to enjoy the scenery.
The views at one of those turn-outs was so stunning that both Yvonne and I disembarked the car with cameras in hand. Off to our right the beaches of South Tahoe spread out like a ribbon of sand separating the lush green forests and the deep green waters of the lake. Behind us the mountains of the Sierra Nevada Range that ring Lake Tahoe stood stalwart like sentries still lined with slivers of this past winter’s snow.
Later we rounded a sharp turn and carefully drove along a narrow ridge. On either side of the road were steep drop-offs. Traffic moved slowly as nervous drivers kept a steady pace along the narrow precipice.
Finally, a welcomed exit to a vista point drew in many drivers. We circled the small parking lot several times. Then, finding a legal parking spot we walked the path designed to give visitors a real show.
Yvonne and I stood at the viewing area and marveled at Emerald Bay. The waters were a lustrous green, just like the finest emerald that you would find in a high-end jewelry boutique. Steep mountain sides reach down and cup the water’s edge.
A quaint island sits in the middle of the water hideaway. Legends and stories of this gorgeous destination abound. For now it was therapy for two tired souls enjoying the splendid joys of relaxation. If you’re close you have to visit this spot and allow yourself the luxury to drink in God’s amazing handiwork.
photo credit: bruce fong photography