For “Scripture Sunday”:
The View From the Top
“The amazing panorama seen from the observation deck of the world’s tallest building gave me a perspective on a much bigger picture.
As our boat pulled into the Persian Gulf west of the Strait of Hormuz, blistering winds blew off the Arabian Peninsula. My friend Benjamin, who lives in Dubai, was showing me around the emirate.
We took a ferry from Dubai Creek, with its motley collection of ancient dhows and tramp freighters, past huge artificial islands shaped like the world and the palm, finally disembarking at the ultramodern marina. Passing from ancient buildings and clunky watercraft to pristine skyscrapers felt like time travel.
The highest vantage point
Past the southern limits of this wealthy city lies only the desert leading to Oman and Saudi Arabia. Nowhere is this more apparent than from the At the Top observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, at 829.8 meters (2,722 feet), the tallest structure in the world. On a clear day one can see the coast of Iran to the north. And from that vantage point, the line between city and desert is sharp.
The view from above Dubai.
This change in viewpoint makes obvious things that are invisible from below. The World Islands, indistinguishable blobs when viewed from sea level, are impressive in their scale from higher up. Rooftop pools, gigantic fountains, highways and waterways running through the city are revealed in all their complexity.
From this unique perspective, I thought about how it must illustrate our blindness to many elements in our everyday lives. Our view is limited by our lowly vantage point.
Nobel Prize laureate Daniel Kahneman, in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, explains a phenomenon he calls WYSIATI, an acronym for “what you see is all there is.” This innate bias in our cognition leads us to assume that what we see of a given situation is all there is; there is nothing else to be considered or analyzed.
Theoretically we know this is not true, yet every day we reach conclusions as if it were.
Watching from on high
God, however, does see everything. He sees from above, both physically and spiritually, very real elements we simply cannot distinguish. “As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything” (Ecclesiastes 11:5).
God watches from on high, in part to see how much we try to think outside the human box, to concentrate on things we can only imagine. “God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God” (Psalm 53:2).
This is a constant challenge for us, but it is obviously important to our Creator. In our minds we seek to slip the surly bonds of earth; to have glimpses of what He sees.
And so “we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). One day, God promises we, too, will experience His view from the top: “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
What Does the World Need Most Right Now?
“With troubles facing every sector of society, what solution should get top priority today? Hint: It’s the same solution the New Testament writers urgently longed for.
Unstable is an understatement for our world today. Powder keg is more like it.
The winds of change whistling through areas of the world might carry a whiff of freedom, but it’s easy to underestimate the force and shifting nature of the winds. In the maelstrom, will the forces of anarchy ignite a new passion for a powerful ruler?
Elsewhere, precarious economies on the brink of financial ruin can ill afford additional stress, whether from war or even natural disasters.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis highlight that even careful planning cannot truly handle the worst that nature can throw at us. Nuclear power plants and other strategic sites around the world are more vulnerable than most of us want to believe. Humans have only been keeping scientific records of natural disasters for a short time. How can we be sure that what we consider worst-case scenarios are truly the worst that this planet will see?
The underlying cause
The Bible predicts wars, financial crises, food shortages, disease epidemics and natural disasters crescendoing in the end times—the times when human annihilation is possible (Matthew 24:7-8, 21-22).
Why are these and other troubles predicted? Because humanity as a whole has rejected God and the good and beneficial laws He gave. Obeying God’s laws naturally brings blessings, while trampling on them brings automatic curse.
These facts are detailed in Leviticus 26. After outlining the wonderful blessings for following His commandments, God said, “But if you will not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments … I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it” (Leviticus 26:14, 16).
Owing the financial production of our labors to enemies is only the beginning of the curses outlined in this chapter. But God doesn’t allow these natural consequences of sin out of a desire to see us suffer. Nor does He intervene to correct us out of hatred, but out of love. He deeply desires that we, His human creation, will wake up and repent of the evil we have done.”
Learning From a Pest?
“Solomon advised us to “go to the ant” (Proverbs 6:6).
Sometimes it's amazing what we can learn from a pest! While the weather is nice and food can be found in abundance, the ant doesn't just collect what it needs for that day and then go play. Instead, it collects and stores up in the plentiful summer months for the leaner winter times.
What a contrast this is from the way many in our society live today. We borrow from tomorrow what we may not be able to repay. We refinance our homes—going deeper in debt—to buy expensive toys we have little time to use. In today's society, debt is a way of life in contrast to that of our forefathers who lived more by the philosophy of the ant.”
For some reason the Through-The-Wall Heat/AC in the mini-house is a lot louder than the one in the main house even though they are exactly the same. It is really bothersome, I don’t know what could have happened to it. So we swapped out the insides of the heat/AC’s and now the noisy one is in the big house. I did this knowing that the man who made the offer on my house would put in Central Heat/Air as soon as he bought it. They seem to think that everyone wants central heat and air, which I don’t because of the mold and dirt that collects in the ductwork. Even when they clean it, it is still a harbor for mold, and I have enough trouble with my sinuses. At least I can clean a Heat/AC, and buy a new one every few years. If I were to have anything better it would be a duct-free mini-split, and as soon as I can afford it, I will have one installed in the mini-house.
Then, Wednesday, the man said that he couldn’t get financing, so here I am stuck with the noisy AC until I can move over to the mini-house. We even temporarily put a 6,500 BTU AC in the window as it would be more quiet, but it wasn’t really big enough, so I sold it while it was still installed and the buyer could tell that it worked.
We are still getting the Mini-house ready for the paint. Roy wants all the baseboards and door trim up first. So we cut some beautiful trim out of an old maple headboard and foot board. Roy and the table saw did a great job. Then he made rosettes and plinth blocks just the right size for the trim. Hans was here so he sanded them, and then we wiped them with a light stain. Some are already installed and they look great. When it is all done they can be protected with some satin polyurathane.
Then I came across a great big slab of beautiful lumber which had a double OG edge, so I sanded it down as it had some green paint splashed on it. We will stain it and put that thick transparent bar-like coating on it and it will be one of the counter tops in the kitchen. This is the counter on the back wall that is just for things like the toaster, coffee maker and juicer, those are the appliances that would be in the way in the cooking area.
We had trimmed the subdivision’s hedge which is next to the mini-house because it had got so high that it made my place dark, and difficult to see out. Some of the dead cut branches had turned orange and so we had to drag them out of the hedge and take them to the burn pile. I don’t think we will have a mildrew problem now that the sun can get to the house. This 16’ tall hedge was hiding a pretty smaller privet and holly hedge. So now it looks better on each side of the hedge. The subdivision doesn’t even trim the crepe myrtles any more, just as well as they committed “Crepe Murder” by leaving ugly knuckles, which isn’t right. Anything to save money.
Finally, I made the decision where to install the shelf for the microwave and toaster oven in the mini-house. My toaster oven is special, it is a a really good little oven, a Breville, and I use it a lot, but rarely for toast, as I have an excellent, fast, old Sunbeam toaster. The shelf will be a bit higher than I have now, but I can manage.
Also, I figured out how to place the bedroom furniture for the best use of the space. I had wanted the bed’s feet-end facing as you walk in the door from the living room, but after measuring, it won’t work. The bed will have to go on the left side wall between those two windows, whether it is feng shui correct or not. The wall at the end of the room also has two windows, and I have just the piece of furniture for that, a great big real wood shelf unit that will fit in between those windows and is 6’ tall. It will hold the bedroom TV and lots of other things. I was going to sell it, but not now.
The ceiling fan/light that we had put up in my living room had something really wrong with it, and wouldn’t stop wobbling. We tried all the usual remedies, but after a long time, we gave up and took the one out of my bedroom and put it in the living room. Then took a small one out of storage and put it into my bedroom. Finally I have fans and light kits that work right and don’t look like they will throw a blade at you.
Hans usually monitors at the subdivision pool on Saturdays, but something went wrong with the pumps and so he had the day off and came to church with me. We went to my usual church on FM 1097. Though if I had known ahead of time, I would have taken him to the larger church on FM 830. He enjoyed the service and the potluck, then spent a long time discussing different things with the elders while I helped clean up the kitchen.
The Bible readings were Num. 8:1-12:16. Zech. 2:14-2:24, (this is not in all translations of the Bible, but Chapter 3 gives the gist of it), and John 19:31 which tells about them wanting to take the body of Jesus down off the cross because it was a High Day, Passover, also a Sabbath, the following day. There were two Sabbaths that week. The Teaching was about “Transition”.
I didn’t take much for the church’s potluck. It took quite a while to peel and make some potatoes and rutabagas into crinkly slices with my salad shooter. I had a big pot of them and gently boiled them in broth until tender. I put them in a crockpot and warmed them up at church. There was plenty left over to make Salmon patties the following day.