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If I could go back in time to the first Easter, I hope that my choice would have been to go to the tomb early on Easter Sunday.

Walking the typically rocky road with home-made sandals, I know that I could have felt my heart pounding.  It would have been so loud that I couldn’t hear the women talking about the predicament of moving the stone.  Knowing what I know now, but keeping it secret from those in that day, I would be straining to look ahead.

Maybe the sight of the absent soldiers would have confirmed what I know.  They had been blown on to their backside and been terrified that they would be executed for failure to do their duty.  All they had to do was keep Jesus’ disciples from stealing the body.

Yet, a power so great as to knock these professional soldiers out-of-the-way, disintegrate the Roman seal on the tomb as if it was never placed there, and then to move the stone out of the ditch in one instantaneous episode took place in a blink on an eye.  Like frightened children the soldiers reported to their authorities and rehearsed the lie that they were told to give.  That was better than execution or imprisonment to them.

The women were shocked to see the stone moved away.  Their confusion would have been my excitement.  Hearing the angel conversation would have thrilled my mind.

All the theology that I have learned would be validated through a few words.  As the women wondered what to do, they may have asked me what we should all do.  That’s when I would have let some of today’s Bible knowledge leak out, “Let’s go tell the disciples what we have seen!”

On the jog back to the gathering, I would have left the women, “You go report what we saw.  I’ve got two disciples on the road to Emmaus that I need to see.”

“What are you going to say to them?” they would have asked in surprise.

“I want to hear what their companions will be telling them,” I would smile.  “Don’t worry what anyone else says.  I believe what y’all (Texan for “all of you”) believe.  HE HAS RISEN!”

We loathe hurtful people.  We have a particular distaste remembering when hurtful people turn their hate on us.  What normal humans relish in being reviled?

Maybe for you it was during a family gathering and the whispering started when you walked into the house.  Small groups of people stopped their conversation.  Some stared at you with that smile of mockery.

Or perhaps it was at the office.  Across the way near the water cooler three co-workers were whispering as they stole a glance or two in your direction.  When you stared back they acted as if nothing was happening.

Worse yet, possibly it was at church when you were tortured with piercing words.  They made you the victim of their gossip.  To top it off they had the audacity to consider themselves and their fellow slanders the righteous ones.

Anyone who has led or anyone who has tried to accomplish anything knows what it is like to have a chunk of their heart torn out by those who practice hate.

What if that pain in your past could be removed as if it never happened?  If a wave of a hand could make it all disappear, scars and all?  Jesus did that for us when He died on the cross.

We needed miracle in our lives.  The pain was so excruciating that we sinned in response.  We traded insult for insult.

Now, tired and weary of the pain we looked for redemption.  Jesus gives it to us through His sacrifice on the cross.  The guilt and pain are placed on Jesus.

He takes it all and pays the price to get rid of it all forever.  Do you feel the relief?  But, there is more!

He not only made our hurt from others disappear it was so powerful He took away the act of the gossips go away too.  All of the world’s sins were taken on by Jesus on to Himself as He died on the cross for them all.  That is a good sacrifice.  That is why the Friday commemorating Jesus’ death is called Good.

While the Savior hung on the cross, people mocked him.  They spit on him.  They threw things at him.  He felt the hate for us.

He was beaten with angry hands.  A whip tore his flesh.  Worst of all the Father abandoned him because that was the price of sin.  He felt all this for us.

The darkness of separation from the Father did not last for the Son.  It was over.  Jesus declared, “It is finished!”  Good words on our Good Friday.

This is almost incomprehensible.  I actually am living and I am 65 years old.  For many years I will openly admit that I thought that this was not just a number, this was a symbol for OLD.

There was plenty of warning for this landmark in life.  The US mail service started it.  In each of my daily deliveries there were invitations to join old people’s groups.  Retirement plans, parties, investments and “special” products took up most of my mailbox space.

Maybe being frugal was finally an asset.  Discounts were mixed into this onslaught of advertisements.  Businesses wanted to attract loyalty to the almighty discount for Seniors.

The Feds were in on this too.  They kept sending reminders of Social Security.  The not so subtle message was work longer before drawing on your retirement funds.

Clearly they were running out of money and wanted to kick the old people can down the road before paying up.  OK.  I’ll work a few more years longer.

Uncle Sam doesn’t know it but I love doing my job.  Every day it is not about how to survive on a fixed income but on how I can make a difference in the lives of other people.  In fact I am privileged to make an eternal difference in the lives of other people.

I get to expand the everlasting news in the lives of people with the hours that I put into my daily job.  Calling it a “job” is a misnomer.  It is a ministry where I have the joy of teaching truth and loving well.

That’s the motto of my occupation.  I teach the Bible.  No it’s not old worn out religion.  It is lively and delightful joy.

Jesus Christ is at the center of all that I do.  He is not fiction or imaginative “good luck”.  Instead, He is the real deal.  Jesus brings love and forgiveness into the lives of people.

My “job” is to pass that good news on to as many people as possible.  Retirement is not in the picture.  As long as God gives good health, I will keep on doing this “work”.

Maybe it’s this life that keeps me feeling young and going strong.  Even at 65 I have my eyes set on making the next 5 years the best years of my life.  Want to join me?

14390852_10153329810707614_4178438488173353845_nOur flight to see our loved ones took the whole day with a stop along the way.  But, the anticipation was just too exciting to worry about the weariness of travel.  We talked about some of our great memories from past visits.  Now, we looked forward to making more.

When our plane touched down, we caught each other beaming with delight.  Soon we would cuddle little lives in big grandparent hugs, shower these little ones with love and drink in endless moments of laughter.  The rendezvous with our kids vehicle went smoothly but our warm hugs were limited to our son-in-law.  Grandchild #1 was sound asleep in his car seat.

Grandparents are not easily disappointed.  Instead of raucous hugs, laughs and presents we just gazed at the face of a sleeping angel all the way home.  When peepers finally popped open, smiles erupted and the long anticipated hugs flooded the afternoon.

Gifts of toys, new clothes, treats and fun little knickknacks filled our day.  Unbounded gratitude from these little lives warmed our hearts.  Isn’t it amazing how so much love is generated and shared when so little grown up conversations have been exchanged?

Hugs from these little ones are fabulous.  The warmth and unconditional affection melt the well protected hearts of adults who have shielded so much after so much of life has been hard and tough.  God has a way of rewarding the perseverance of lives lived in complete devotion to Him.

Soon we were taken by our hands and followed running little feet and our granddaughter was engulfed into the reunion.  Celebration took another half step higher. Oh, yeah, our daughter was there too!

Happy Thanksgiving to one and ALL!

Three days lay ahead of us.  Driving is not a favorite pastime of mine, so I have to plan and endurance schedule.  15 hours of driving make me pause long and hard.

Now it was time to get out my internet map planner and figure out reasonable distances to travel up to my final destination.  If I could drive an average of 5 hours per day, then I could manage.  My travels would target Westcliffe, Colorado.

We left Houston and planned to arrive in Ft. Worth, TX.  It was tough for me.  I got so sleepy when we started.

Then, I got sleepy after lunch.  Rats!  I should have eaten less or even skipped that noon day meal.  Now, I broke a lifelong habit of fasting from coffee.

Twice in my life I had consumed a cup of coffee.  Once was when I was in finals week during college.  Late night studies strained my consciousness.

Another cup was downed during graduate school finals week.  Yuck!  It tasted so bitter.  I didn’t like it.

After those two episodes, I did not try java again.  People have always looked at me in disbelief.  All five of our children drink coffee but neither my bride nor I do.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Sleep drove me to pull into the Golden Arches.  I stared at the menu not knowing what kind of coffee to order.

Finally, my eyes landed on “iced coffee”.  Hey, maybe that’ll be a good option for me.  When the McDonald’s worker asked me what I would like, I took a stab into the dark and order some flavored iced coffee, regular size.

We hit the road again and I sipped the beverage.  Yuck!  Memories of the same bitter flavor came flooding back.  The good thing was that I did not like the drink at all but the reaction was strong that I wasn’t sleepy any more!

That hotel was a great sight.  Sleep and a restful stay gave me renewed stamina to start driving the next day.  With one day of struggle under my belt the second day came easier.

Texas scenery changes every hour.  The elevation and the flora and fauna give the journey an amazing kind of fascination. Early struggles of tough driving moments were behind us and now long hours of driving was part of my conditioning.  Our road trip planning was paying off as a great journey.

 

IMG_3809Yes, I along with most of the humans in the Western hemisphere have seen many movies with exotic scenes of Hong Kong as the backdrop.  Suave and daring secret agents raced through town wrecking havoc as they chased enemy spies or ran desperately away from blazing guns and razor-sharp knives.  Whether it was during the day or night, on land or splashing through the water or flying massive airplanes between tall skyscrapers, this city was the stage for mysteries, adventures and drama.

Now, for the first time in our lives my bride and I are in Hong Kong.  We are seeing sites that we only remember from the silver screen.  They are spectacular when we are in the middle of those sensational scenes.

It is crowded.  Throngs and hordes and crowds of people are going everywhere.  The sounds of so many accompany the masses.

Yet, when it is time for many to board a bus, a tram or a subway train, the people areIMG_3782 orderly.  They queue up and patiently wait in line.  There is absolutely no one cutting into line.  Such order in the middle of such chaos is a stunning sight to take in.

Then, of course the city lights at night has to be a famous feature of this city.  Whether we gazed at Hong Kong island or took the Star Ferry and looked back on Kowloon, the lights of the city were festive in an unforgettable way.  I don’t remember the last time I walked through a city at night and felt no fear, but this was a welcomed experience.

IMG_3877Our hosts told us that we would feel quite secure in walking the city at night.  No pick pockets, no racial unrest, there were no shady characters waiting to rob anyone and no dark recesses that hid nefarious activities.

Man-made buildings and transports were features of the city.  Now, it was God’s turn. From the top of Victoria Peak we scanned the gorgeous islands that made up Hong Kong.  Each protrusion from the waters of the bay were a powerful reminder that God did His handiwork to make this natural harbor a home for one of man’s freest enterprise markets in human history.IMG_3916

Setting aside human structures and stunning vistas the most remarkable feature of this special city are its people.  We have special friends here who call Hong Kong home.  They welcomed us into their hospitality and we thoroughly enjoyed the embrace of love.

photos by brucefong photography

The drive from the South area of Bangkok to the North area where our hotel is situated is a long drive.  That lengthy commute is extended when it is rush hour traffic.  But, the views are sensational and leave an indelible impression on my soul.

Mid-rise dwellings abound in Bangkok.  These small uniform apartments collect human beings in family units throughout the landscape of this beautiful country.  I will meet very few of these people face to face.

When our commute took us off of the tollways system and plunged us into the streets of the city, faces attached themselves to the masses of this countries millions.  The Thai people are famous world-wide for their cheerful smiles and clasped hands and bowed head.  There were countless people sharing that interchange along our route.

Yet, I would know very few of their names.  I would know less about their lives.  Even less would ever cross my path as a friend.

Millions of people scurried about, shopping, eating, commuting, conversing and laughing. Some were making a living selling, cooking, driving, delivering, guarding, guiding and an endless list of other activities of a city.   How many human brains would it take to know each one and follow each of their lives?

Yes, that’s definitely an impossible human task.  Yet, it gave me a chance to realize how BIG God is.  He knows all of their names.

Not only does God know each of their names, He knows each of their lives.  There are no overlooked issues.  Even the smallest of details of all of our lives are known by God.

He doesn’t stress over an overload of information.  He is never threatened by a limit of His knowledge.  Nor does He become so busy that He doesn’t have time for us.

The God of the Bible is the God who is not just attentive to our needs, He is fully engaged in inviting us to be in His family.  He makes that possible through His Son’s sacrifice on the cross.  Jesus died for everyone without exception.

Do you feel left out?  Are you overwhelmed with matters of life?  Has life become so troubled that you feel forgotten and ready to give up?

God loves you.  He knows every detail about your life and circumstances.  Not only is He aware of your situation, He controls all of them as well.  Turn to Him in faith; it will be the best decision you have ever made.

 

 

IMG_3614Our guide was waiting for us at the Concierge’s desk.  She did her best to communicate with us in English and her efforts paid off as we got used to her vocabulary and accent.  There was a lot of pointing but also plenty of laughter and the typical overabundance of Thai smiles.

The drive through the city of Bangkok took over an hour.  She reminded us that the traffic was unusually light.  Our trip home would be a bit longer due to the rush hour.

Nevertheless, she made the trip interesting.  She pointed out the highest building in Bangkok, the United Nations headquarters of Asia, the Army base, various hospitals, Thailand’s best university, the picture of the King and his mother, the local grocery store and the names of the rivers that we passed over.  This must have been a route that she had guided many times in the past.

Finally, we rolled up to the Thai Cultural Center.  There we strolled the grounds and took in the pristine water features with quaint bridges, examples of Thai agriculture of rice, lemon grass and water lilies.  Then, we lingered long at the display of women harvesting silk from silkworms and spinning it into thread and then weaving into amazing scarves.

IMG_3586Then, it was time for the cultural show.  Elephants, dancers, martial artists and musicians gave us a massive portrait of the Siam that became Thailand.  The climax came with the traditional bamboo dance that originated in the northern parts of Thailand.

The dancers came into the crowd to seek volunteers to join them.  I was self-controlled and tried not to embarrass my family name so I gripped the seat that I was occupying with two tightly knitted fists.  Really, I could have done it!

On the way out of the parking lot our driver got excited.  He pointed ahead and slowed down.  That’s when the large monitor lizard of about 4 feet long casually walked across the asphalt looking for the nearest body of water to do some evening fishing.

IMG_3601The long drive back to our hotel took us through Bangkok traffic.  It is no fun.  But, it did afford me some opportunities for some fun photo shoots.

The famous Asian Tuk Tuk filled me frame.  Tiny 125cc motor scooters were the vehicle of choice for many locals.  They could easily zip here and there.

Safely back at our hotel, I just sat down and rested through dinner.  Images of smiles, dancers and a bustling city danced through my mind.  Bangkok is a delightful city full of treasures for the eye and a lasting memory.

photos by brucefong photography

The medical staff ushered me into the examination room and Dr. Wan introduced himself. He is in his 70’s and slight of build and very gentle in manner.  When he explains his practice and why he does what he does, you feel like you are hearing Yoda give a lesson about life.

My appointment was with Dr. Wan at 4PM on my day off.  It was tough to make it from my truck into the waiting room.  The pain in my back was agonizing.

Traditional Western medicine provided temporary but very limited relief from the back pain.  I had been trying almost every option from shots to pills to physical therapy.  Even surgery was starting to look like a viable option.

I would not say that my foray into the Eastern world of therapy was a desperate move.  It was one of several options that was on my short list.  Pain has a horrible way of making itself at home and disrupting every facet of your routine.

Simple tasks like putting on shoes was agonizing.  Walking any length even to put out the garbage at the curb was punishment.  Standing still for worship at church was more like penance for the sins of many lives.  It just hurt.

As Dr. Wan went on with his questions, I was reaching the limits of my self-control.  Reluctantly, I broke into Dr. Wan’s discourse, “I’m sorry but I am in so much pain now, I can hardly listen to what you are saying.”  Then, he went into action.

“Let me take of that right now,” he calmly assured me.  He was down on one knee.  With his left hand he grabbed my right knee.  My left foot was firmly in his grasped.

The strength of he two grips was remarkably powerful.  That’s when the surprise of his moves startled me into the reality that my back pain was subsiding at a breakneck speed.  “How did you do that?”  A few moments more of his technique and he simply smiled, “Let’s start your acupuncture and take care of this problem on a more permanent basis.”

He did not have to ask me twice.  From literally breaking out in a painful sweat to being relaxed and under control, I rehearsed in my mind what just occurred.  No pills, no painful manipulation, no fancy machines but just the right grip of an experienced man set my pain back into the “no problem” category.

 

 

The mystery of the Far East and its exotic shadows of life and health have been with me from my childhood.  Whenever family members caught a bug, the typical radio advertised local pharmaceutical remedies were administered. But, in our home there was also a flair and fanfare from Grandma’s recommendation.

Whether someone had a cold, cough or fever Grandma’s solution seemed to work wonders.  Then, more serious maladies like hay fever, spinal stenosis and sciatica visited our family.  Grandma was not deterred.  She had knowledge of life to pass on to the rest of us.

Herbs, soups and teas were no longer on the menu.  Instead, the conversation turned to acupuncture.   To the uninitiated this alternative method of treatment seems a bit odd or even bizarre. More than once I have heard people snicker.  At least the more polite ask what is the science behind the practice.

I certainly am not the most qualified person to champion the practice.  There is a long list of doubters who have many avenues to probe and questions to ask.  My expertise is in theology not acupuncture.

Nevertheless, what I lack in expertise, I possess in personal benefit.  The needles have been expertly implanted in various parts of my body to match the pathways of my Chi.  Can I explain how the pain goes away?  No.  But, can I testify to the fact that it does what no other medical practice has been able to do? Yes.

My appointment was with Dr. Wan at 4PM on my day off.  I was in a lot of pain.  It was even difficult to make it from my truck into the waiting room.  The pain from my back was agonizing.

Traditional Western medicine provided temporary relief at best.  It offered very limited relief from my back pain.  I had tried almost every option from shots to pills to physical therapy.  Even surgery was starting to look like a viable option.

Physical therapy made me feel worse.  Climbing off of the treatment bed was next to impossible.  I was limping back to my truck.

When I arrived at home, the challenge of getting back into the house lay like a bed of hot coals to walk over with bare feet.  I did not know if I could do it.  Gingerly, one step after the next and a normal short journey was all about pain.  It was time to try something new.  Maybe it was time to try acupuncture.

 

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