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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!”
Yes, 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 are 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.
Our 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.
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.
This was going to be a particularly difficult day. Pressures at work, a long line of demands had been queuing up for months, responsibilities were pushing the limits of our sanity. My bride and I were comparing notes and it was going to be a tough day to start the work week.
On top of our regular routine we have a major trip coming up in a matter of weeks. Details of overseas travel are horrendous! We had to find time to invest in that preparation.
Departure times and dates are already getting tangled in our scheduling. Today we would have to make sure we made those adjustments. Double booking ourselves is an inconvenience for everyone and could easily undermine our efforts to be effective at all of our responsibilities.
We both heaved a deep sigh of dismay, loaded up our car with our bags for our day and drove off into the dark morning for our long commute. My thoughts were lost in our need to get over the financial hump of needed changes, travel expenses and time investments. If I could I needed to think about relieving my bride of the pressure she was feeling.
Now, we discussed possible drastic changes in our circumstances. What dramatic changes could we live with if that meant the relief of life pressures? There were no easy answers.
Then, we rounded the arching on ramp to the Interstate freeway. The Houston eastern skies were waiting to cut short the threatening discouragement. In front of us the Creator was putting on a show.
Clouds burst out of the east, pointing to the west. Behind those finger shaped clouds were the indescribable colors of the divine palate, splashing reds, oranges and yellows in balanced effect. Blue skies in the background were pushing the loud colors , pressing the daylight splendor.
We both smiled at the interruption to our concerns. The God of all gods was breaking into our worrisome souls. It was sensational sunrise.
He was starting the day off with a splendid artistic masterpiece. In massive swathes of colorful strokes that were changing by the minute, we could only watch as He finished up the waking of a new day. No words but just splendor.
We got the message. What did we really have to worry about if He was in charge? Now, we had a day to look forward to instead of dreading.
photo credit: yvonne fong photography
When I checked the weather, the data took my breath away. Today was a scheduled bicycle ride day. In Houston the weather for bike riding makes year-round peddling a possibility. This news, however, could toss a wrench in my day-off plans.
The temperatures were down to 45 degrees. In Houston terms that is very chilly. A 5 mph wind calculates into a wind chill of 42 degrees. On a bicycle with the increased riding speed of 15mph that would feel more like 40 degrees. Brrrr!
Now, it was time to think and remember where I stored my cold weather riding clothes. 40 degrees is about my limit for comfort when it comes riding a bicycle outdoors. Anything colder means that I have to carry an ice pick and stainless steel flask filled with hot chocolate.
My base layer was set. All of the gaps for exposed skin were closed up. Good socks fit into my riding shoes.
My riding jacket was ideal for this kind of weather. Of course my long finger riding gloves were essential. My last item, however, eluded my searching.
That is one of those rarely used items that you relished on your last cold weather ride. But, my short term memory was no better than my long term memory on this search mission.
I looked in boxes upstairs, downstairs, garage, closets and miscellaneous containers. There sure are a lot of miscellaneous containers around our house. Each one is filled with really useful and valuable stuff. One of these days I am going to sort out and organize all of it.
So, I paused to think. Where would I have put that one last cold weather piece of clothing. Ahah! With a quick step into the garage and a look inside my gear for motorcycle riding, I pulled out that special items, Balaclava!
No, it is not a Middle Eastern dessert. There are no nuts or honey with this piece. Instead, it is made from bamboo, making it tough. It is light weight and just enough coverage to make it comfortable for my head not to freeze during a cold weather ride.
Now, I was ready. I pushed off and settled on to my bicycle seat. Soon I was getting into a rhythm for riding. The exposed parts of my face felt the chilly temperatures bite into my tender skin. But, the specialty clothes that I wore kept me very comfortable.
It was a reminder that the world that the Creator gave to us has its down sides. But, with some great choices a careful pattern of dress could easily protect us against the elements. Keep on enjoying His presence and the good feeling of a brisk morning ride.
photo credit: brucefong photography
So many of us have been surprised by the Minions of Despicable fame. They aren’t even the star character in the Universal Pictures animation movie. In fact they are extras that have risen to stardom almost by accident.
Now, in toy stores and pictorial renditions of favorite characters, the Minions surpass the original stars of the film. Felonious Gru was a star but his character doesn’t stick in the memory like his little Minions. The morphing of the super villain from interstellar thief to nurturing parent is enhanced with the supporting cast of innumerable minions.
Margo, Edith and Agnes are adorable. While I was watching the story, I wanted to adopt those three wee ones! But, there was something about those Minions.
Vector was the ideal villain of villains. He was dastardly. You didn’t like him.
It felt good to root against him. When he succeeded it was disappointing. His achievements made you cheer on Gru! But, still there were the Minions.
Didn’t those little guys make you smile? Their jabbering made you chuckle. Sometimes laughing out loud was just the right response.
The first time I saw them on the screen, I they reminded me of Hostess Twinkie. Since then I haven’t met a soul who thought the same thing. Oh well, maybe I’m a little out of touch.
There’s something about characters who make you react the way we do. Real humans could pay attention to a life truth here. Too many people miss this.
In each of our lives we will influence other people. Those people will rarely remember the words we speak or the deeds we do. However, they will almost always remember how we made them feel.
The same wisdom comes from that ancient adage, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Some of us who are educated beyond our moral capacity to implement that information productively, sometimes forget this truth. Instead, if we impress others, embarrass others, win arguments at others’ expense, then we feel a measure of satisfaction.
The Minions are a great reminder of just making others feel good because we have come into the lives of others. Influence people for good. It is a great way to live.
photo credit: brucefong photography
We were created to live according to a cycle of work that takes a break from the daily routine and then rests. God designed creation to function with a Sabbath rest included in our weekly routine. There is no legalistic basis to rigidly observe a specific day of rest any longer but the principle of a day of rest has never been rescinded in the Bible.
My calendar is typically very full. My normal work week starts early and ends late. A two digit-hour work day is more usual than not.
Most of my colleagues rarely see my routine. I will pass multiple shifts in a single day. Often when I see them, I simply flash them a smile.
My years on this earth have taught me a lot about myself. I can actually feel the need to find a respite. An urgency of the soul whispers that I must look for a break and get away.
Once I scheduled time-off in my calendar, I guard it. Just committing to an appointment gives me the final measure of endurance to finish my schedule. Then on the appointed day I am packed and off to a destination to rejuvenate my soul.
The morning of my single day of revival began long before the sun came up. All of my gear was stowed where I could retrieve anything that I would need for my day of solitude. At a rendezvous point, I met my guide.
Robert pointed me to my destination. He gave me the lay of the land. Now, I could hike and roam and explore what the Creator had left for us to enjoy.
The sunrise was glorious. It was like coming alive after a long and arduous workout. Relief was welcoming like releasing the barbell at the end of a rigorous training session.
Our sun lit up the woods where I wandered. Green grass, healthy trees and a backdrop of an endless sky with crystalized clouds surrounded me like a canopy easily designed by His creative finger. A natural smile erupts on my face while I pause from my hiking and take in expanse, beauty and wonder of His creation.
If you haven’t been in the habit of working hard for six days and then resting or doing something enjoyable for a seventh, then give it a try. After a while the rhythm of life will make you far more productive and deeply appreciative of the life you live. Really!
photo credit: brucefong photography
Our realtor was our guide to our newly adopted megacity of Houston, TX. We had no idea where to live or what to look for in local construction. A vague budget was in our minds.
She showed us a house with all of the basic room necessities and good curb appeal. Some of our wants were also on the list. Most importantly the price was within our target range.
Yet, a price range for a couple like us that was devastated in the housing market crash didn’t have much to put down for a new home. I looked at the construction issues with the very used home and figured out that the next decade of our life would be saving up to make major repairs on this fixer-upper.
Houston is famous for its heat. Good windows are a must to fight the blistering temperatures in the summer months. Keeping our air conditioning system happy was important.
The windows would eventually have to be replaced. We had that in mind when we made on offer for the house. Now, it was time to sign a contract and replace the windows with new ones.
Old windows are being torn out. New well-insulated and excellent guaranteed windows are going in. The installers are doing a superb job.
Half the windows are now done. I can see clearly now! The old broken seals and fogged up windows are going away.
The new glass is clean, clear and firmly mounted with strong heat resistant materials and block out unbearable temperatures. When the fogged up windows of our home make it impossible to enjoy the views it is sad. The whole house feels ugly.
Now, the improvement has given us a lift. Looking outside is fun again. Watching clouds float by and the daylight turn into night is enjoyable.
When we open the windows to let the cool winter breezes flow inside, the windows slide easily. We don’t have to grunt and tug to get old corroded windows to scrape painfully across worn out tracks. Figure tip control of well-made locks and well-lubricated tracks bring a great enjoyment to our home like few other purchases could.
Cost? Yes, it must be one of the most expensive home repair options that an owner must face. We counted the cost, prayed over the options and even took on additional income jobs just for this very reason. Then, God gave us His favor in an unexpected way. He is good, all of the time!
photo credit: brucefong photography
Have you visited the mighty Pacific Ocean? It is unforgettable. There is something remarkable about this massive body of water and how it impacts the land that is home for all of us human beings.
Countless people flock to the shores of the saltwater expanse. They play on the beaches, marvel at the power of the shifting currents, take advantage of the teaming life below the surface and find an incomparable respite every evening when the sun sets with a unique masterful display of color.
There is something else about the ocean that leaves a mark on our human memories. Along the shores, up in the hills are the vestiges of another power common on the ocean. It is the wind.
Temperatures shift and start the air moving in powerful layers from one direction to the next. God set this in motion with the creation of the world, currents not just in the waters but also in the air that keep alternating directions. It is the wind.
Tall fir trees with trunks gnarled, bent and twisted by the constant blowing of the winds stand in groves along the coast. They give me pause. Each one has stood against the threats to level them. Storms and daily pressure have left their mark but the trees still stand.
The scars and wounds add to the beauty of the fauna that decorate the hills along the edge of the Pacific. It is amazing that they have survived. While many gaze at the vast oceanic vistas, I for one turn away and soak in the scenic sculpture created by the winds and the strength of life in the trees.
This forest of trees almost appears as an army of sentinels slowly making its way to the sea. The onslaught of the sea winds have taken their toll on the tree features and come to a truce. Each force standing at the edge of the battle lines respecting the right of the other to be present.
The ocean coughs up its winds and the trees bend their boughs. Yet, the roots grip tightly to the soil and will not release further ground. It is a scene of power and persistence.
God created this dynamic picture of life. Nothing is static when it is truly living. There is always growth, always movement and always change.
Keep on living and keep on with growing. Change as necessary. But, hold on to what is important.
photo credit: brucefong photography
Financial investors know how important it is to start saving and placing those precious finances into income-earning locations. Parents and grandparents know how important it is to invest as well. They start young lives with the joy of reading. Books introduce the world of imagination, learning and life about the world in which they will live.
My first grandchild is two this year. As the day drew to a close and washing up had been completed, he gathered his blanket and an armful of books and ran into my arms, climbed into my lap, curled up so that he was comfortable and then he pointed to his books, gesturing for me to read to him.
He buried himself deeper into my hug. I picked up the top book and opened it up to the first page. These board books are fun to read.
Colorful characters and simple stories with clad truths make it fun. Even though I have never read these books, it was easy to put in a lot of expression and emphasis. The meaning of the lesson became more and more clear as I read to my grandson.
There were easy moments for me to ask him to point to colors, animals and objects on the page. He was participating and no doubt learning while he snuggled in my embrace. It was my first time in the role of grandfather reader.
I was relishing the moment. This has been a dream to invest in these little lives this way. I could introduce him to so many wonderful ideas and reenforce some of life’s most important values.
In brief well designed books, I taught my grandson about friendship, initiative, community, helpfulness and loyalty. He learned about telling the truth, honesty and industry. He will need these qualities when he lives his life among people who are not so helpful to others.
All during the reading I was thoroughly enjoying the cuddle moment. My grandson curled up and tucked himself in a comfortable position, inside Grandpa’s embrace. It was a special moment.
He is young but I hope that the love that we shared will always be a part of his life. It will for me. Reading and books and grandfather’s bonding time are treasures.
Did someone read to you in your childhood days? Do you remember going to a library in your youth? Classic novels probably still leave memory moments in your mind, right?
photo credit: KJB photography