Did You Know There’s Such a Thing as “The Jewish Cardinal”?

Jewish Cardinal_hiHaving grown up with beloved Messianic Jews, it wasn’t hard for me to imagine such a thing as a Jewish cardinal, but I still found this movie fascinating. Pope_John_Paul_II_in_Bosnia_1997g The Jewish Cardinal  (2014) is an inspirational portrayal of Aaron Jean-Marie Lustiger’s life. Lustiger (1926-2007) was the son of Polish Jews who became a cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. Visiting where his mother died  As Rachel Saltz from the New York Times says, “It holds your interest, even if Jean-Marie remains what he must be to Mr. Cohen: an enticing puzzlement, his faith a mystery.” 2014-01-22-16.42.46Although Aaron Lustiger grew up in an orthodox Jewish community, he found and fell in love with a Protestant Bible, converting to Christianity at the age of 13. 140103_JCC-Rockville-Banner_v21-960x391He considered Christianity to be God’s gracious fulfillment of Judaism and the New Testament to be the logical continuation and completion of the Old Testament (see Le Choix de Dieu [The Choice of God, 1987]). The-Jewish-Cardinal-MAIN-e1383127993992 Even though Lustiger became a Catholic priest, he always described himself as a “fulfilled Jew” and remained proud of his Jewish roots despite the criticism his stand brought from many in both the Jewish and Catholic communities.

Aaron Jean-Marie  was so outspoken against liberal theology, racism, and anti-Semitism that he earned the nickname “Bulldozer,” but he was also very warm and popular, using TV and radio programming to encourage faith, the jewish cardianl and he was deeply loved, particularly by the French youth. (In 1997, he organized a World Youth Day in Paris that was attended by more than a million people!)  website3As a stalwart conservative voice in the Catholic church, he rose quickly within the ranks, becoming the Archbishop of Paris at 55 and a Cardinal at only 57. 144                           On becoming Archbishop of Paris, Lustiger said:

“I was born Jewish and so I remain, even if that is unacceptable for many. For me, the vocation of Israel is bringing light to the goyim. That is my hope and I believe that Christianity is the means for achieving it.” Aaron Jean Marie LustigerHis epitaph, which he wrote himself in 2004, can be seen in the crypt of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and translates into English as follows:

“I was born Jewish.
I received the name
Of my paternal grandfather, Aaron
Having become Christian
By faith and by Baptism,
I have remained Jewish
As did the Apostles.
I have as my patron saints
Aaron the High Priest,
Saint John the Apostle,
Holy Mary full of grace.
Named 139th archbishop of Paris
by His Holiness Pope John Paul II,
I was enthroned in this Cathedral
on 27 February 1981,
And here I exercised my entire ministry.
Passers-by, pray for me.”

—Aaron Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger
Archbishop of Paris 20070806lustiger_0“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13, ESV…a modern version of the Protestant Bible he loved so well, although the verses are very much the same in Catholic Bibles.)

 

Fantastically Creative Sculptures: Whimsical to Profound

We have many eye-catching sculptures in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but last weekend while visiting in Portland, Oregon, I became aware that “there are sculptures, and then there are sculptures! (see below), so I decided to share a few truly unusual pieces of artwork from around the world:

Salmon Through WAll Salmon Sculpture, Portland, Oregon
Image credits: Ava Hirschsohn
Tripping Policeman“De Vaartkapoen,” Brussels, Belgium
Image credits: panoramio.com

Museum  “Sinking Building,” Melbourne, Australia
Image credits: Anonymous Panda

Pigs at the mall “Pigs at the Rundle Mall,” Adelaide, Australia
Image credits: peterclayton.com.au

MetamorphosisMetamorphosis, by David Černý Charlotte, North Carolina Children jumping into water “People of the River” by Chong Fah Cheong, Singapore
Image credits: gaartu.livejournal.comHippos in concrete “Hippos,” from Taipei, Taiwan
Image credits: Patche99z

People coming out of sidewalk “The Monument of An Anyonymous Passerby,” Wroclaw, Poland
Image credits: Anonymous PandaBlockhead politician  “The Unknown Official,” Reykjavik, Iceland
Image credits: geoffdeburca

Mustangs running  “Mustangs” Las Colinas, Texas
Image credits: mustangsoflascolinas.comWorld Traveler “Les Voyageurs,” in Marseilles, France
Image credits: Bruno Catalano

Shark crashing through roof  “The Shark,” Oxford, UK
Image credits: artmoscow.wordpress.com
Texas Catle Drive “Cattle Drive,” Dallas, Texas (USA)
Image credits: theworldofgord.com
Shoes along  “Shoes on the Danube Bank,” Can Togay and Gyula Pauer, Budapest
Image credits: Nikodem Nijaki

Man climbing out of manhole“Man at Work,” Bratislava, Slovakia
Image credits: Lukas Jaborka

Aren’t these marvelously creative? Some made me laugh, some made me stand in awe, and some were so evocative that I felt compelled to research them and learn more about the back story…and that sent me on a quest to study the sculptors and search for other unusual works of art. The question that came sifting back through my mind was this: What type of a piece of work am I? What if I could be anything…what would I want to be? Have you ever thought about this? Is it possible to be so striking that people wonder where we came from and get curious enough to do research into just Who made us and why?

“Fear not: for I am with thee…even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory. I have formed him; yea, I have made him…Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, and the LORD: and beside me there is no savior.” (Isaiah 43:5a,7,10-11)

(*Most of these pictures were listed on a site called The Bored Panda:
http://www.boredpanda.com/worlds-most-creative-statues-sculptures/)

Rise Up, My Love (95): Lips Like Scarlet

London Beauty ReviewSong of Solomon 4:3 “Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely:” Lips like a thread of scarlet—what a beautiful picture and a precious thought. When someone has pale lips, they are either frightened and faint, or else they’re ill. Red lips speak of just the opposite! They are a sign of boldness, strength, and health…and they are very beautiful. Universally, red attracts attention to itself. Red reigns over the rainbow. Stoplights are “arrest me red.” The hummingbirds and butterflies love red flowers best and draw deeply from their nectar. So here, we see the bridegroom attracted to his lover’s beautiful red lips and drawing deeply from her honeyed words: “Thy speech is comely.”

To be beautiful on the outside is one thing, but to be beautiful on the inside is quite another. The bride’s speech—that which comes from within her— is lovely too. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). The bridegroom was not only attracted to her physically, but he was drawn to her inner beauty of character, as expressed by her speech. Physical attraction complemented by genuine respect is the perfect recipe for a satisfying love relationship.

Lips display the emotion and will. How do we first judge if a person is happy or sad? By a smile or a frown. Hannah’s lips were moving as she prayed in the temple, although her anguish of heart was so deep that no words were spoken (I Samuel 1:13). The heart has a language that only God can understand, but even that which cannot be uttered is often seen on the lips.

It has been said that “the will kisses with affection that which it loves.” The will is declared through the speech. Job declared: “My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit” (Job 27:4), but that instead: “My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly” (Job 33:3). May our will be as steadfast to kiss with affection the truth at all times!

God “desires truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51:6); He also directs, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). Listen to the graciousness of our beloved’s lips! Of him it was proclaimed, “Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips” (Psalm 45:2). May grace be poured into our lips as well, so that our hearts overflow with praise of our Beloved! “Because Thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee” (Psalm 63:3).

Of what do you suppose the bride spoke? No word of self, for we have just listened to her speaking. All her thoughts and words were of the one she loved. Her lips praised his grace, beauty, and glorious majesty. Her lips were “like a thread of scarlet” telling a story of her great admiration for her beloved One.

There is a thread of scarlet running all through the Scripture: the theme of redemption through our beloved one, Jesus Christ. Rahab bound a “line of scarlet thread” (Joshua 2:18) from her window, and it was through that thread of scarlet that she and all her household were saved from the destruction of Jericho. From the promise to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15) and the blood of Abel’s lamb (Genesis 4:4), to the sacrifices of bulls and rams, to the declaration of John: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), to the Lamb in the midst of the throne in Revelation who “shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters” (Revelation 7:17), the scarlet thread of redemption is the cord that binds all of the Old and New Testament Scriptures together.

“Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet.” Oh, that our lips might like a thread of scarlet, washed in the ruby red blood of the Lamb, bright with boldness to declare the marvelous redemption and beauties of our Lord and Lover! “There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel” (Proverbs 20:15). May it be the prayer of our hearts that our lips are a precious jewel to our heavenly bridegroom!

“Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things” (Proverbs 23:16).

(Picture from London Beauty Review)

 

 

The Armstrong Archives (95): The Reason I Live and Love

March 26, 1981 Alan has the older boys out for breakfast at the Big Boy this morning, and Jonathan seems to think the crib is an okay place to play when nobody else is around, so I thought I’d take advantage of the quiet and at least say hello. This week is our annual missionary conference, and the boys and I are leaving in 1.5 hours for a morning “coffee,” and Jon is already calling, “Mama, nana!” (which being interpreted means he wants up), so this will indeed be brief!Jon on new riding toyTomorrow is Jonathan’s first birthday. We are planning to celebrate with a cheesecake—since that has become the national family favorite of all the rest of us—and a picnic at the hospital with Alan. Jon is also getting a motorcycle push toy, which Aaron and Michael have been begging to ride all week. Somehow bikes and hot wheels just aren’t the rage with something new—no matter how small—waiting to be worn out.1981 Terry VisitsLast week Alan’s brother stopped in for a visit. Terry brought some slides of underwater scenery around Roatan that were really beautiful and exciting, and Aaron has told about three different strange (and friendly) ladies about tube worms and queen angel fish. The boys are sure they would love to learn to scuba dive some time. Of course, Alan and I thought it looked pretty spectacular too. A whole other world. There are so many worlds in our world; most of us are able to see only two or three dimensions.

…back from the conference, full of exciting tales of peace and freedom from far off Japan and nearby Cleveland, Ohio. A personal God, one who can be found, and the challenge—do we value what we have enough to share it with others? I do! My problem is loving others enough to take the rejection. Most of you have been extremely gracious in allowing me to bubble over about what I think is the most marvelous thing in all the universe: salvation through faith in Christ, even if you don’t share similar beliefs. For that I’m most grateful. Thank you. If there’s one thing I don’t appreciate, it’s being coerced to do something against my will (i.e. high-pressure sales). In fact, “salesmanship” ranked last in my career profile at a big 3%. However, it is absolutely impossible for me to ignore the influence of Christ in my life. In Our Daily Bread Alan read an article to us the other day about John W. Peterson, who early in his composing career was advised to leave out the name of Christ and sing more about heaven in order to be more successful. His response was, “I have no song to sing, but that of Christ my King…” As Alan says, telling a Christian not to talk about Christ is like telling a dog not to bark. He can stop barking, but then he doesn’t really have anything else to say! In a psychotherapy class at Central I was told, “It’s great to act like a Christian, just don’t talk like one.” Do you know what I discovered? Outside of my motivation to love people in response to God’s love for me, I had no real motive for loving anyone! I don’t mean that I stopped liking people, or appreciating their kindnesses to me, but I mean loving somebody without any selfish motive, loving them without expecting or wanting anything in return. I can’t forget, delete, and omit the core of my reason for continuing to exist and have much worthwhile left to share with anyone else! Now I do attempt to be sensitive to the desires of those I love, and I do not wish to offend anyone. I am truly sorry for offending any of you in the past, and if my letters drive you to distraction, PLEASE tell me! I don’t send them for my own pleasure, so if they bring you pain, I’m wasting my time. Right?! That goes for future reference too. I tend to be fairly blunt and personal (which I come by honestly), but many people are not personal and don’t appreciate it in others. I can understand that, and I can “handle” that too. However, I find myself withdrawing from everyone, including many who may not mind reading ridiculously impersonally Xeroxed personal letters. So, rather than dropping out completely, I would like the privilege of being myself, but only to those who are interested in knowing our family through my eyes. So, please inform me and I’ll stop writing if you find yourself on my verbal abuse list too often!

 

More Silly Bloopers for Friday Fun

Sign outside a secondhand shop:

WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING – BICYCLES, WASHING MACHINES, ETC. WHY NOT BRING YOUR WIFE ALONG AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN?

Seen during a conference:

FOR ANYONE WHO HAS CHILDREN AND DOESN’T KNOW IT, THERE IS A DAY CARE ON THE 1ST FLOOR

Notice in a farmer’s field:

THE FARMER ALLOWS WALKERS TO CROSS THE FIELD FOR FREE, BUT THE BULL CHARGES.

Message on a leaflet:

IF YOU CANNOT READ, THIS LEAFLET WILL TELL YOU HOW TO GET LESSONS

In a Laundromat:

AUTOMATIC WASHING MACHINES: PLEASE REMOVE ALL YOUR CLOTHES WHEN THE LIGHT GOES OUT

In a London department store:

BARGAIN BASEMENT UPSTAIRS

In an office:

AFTER TEA BREAK STAFF SHOULD EMPTY THE TEAPOT AND STAND UPSIDE DOWN ON THE DRAINING BOARD

Spotted in a safari park:

ELEPHANTS, PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR

On a repair shop door:

WE CAN REPAIR ANYTHING. (PLEASE KNOCK HARD ON THE DOOR – THE BELL DOESN’T WORK)

In a newspaper:

MAN KILLS SELF BEFORE SHOOTING WIFE AND DAUGHTER
(After someone called the editor to point out the error, i
t took two or three readings before he realized that what he was reading was impossible! They put in a correction the next day.)

And, how about these headlines:

POLICE BEGIN CAMPAIGN TO RUN DOWN JAYWALKERS.
Now that’s taking things a bit far!

KIDS MAKE NUTRITIOUS SNACKS
        …Do they taste like chicken?

SOMETHING WENT WRONG IN JET CRASH, EXPERT SAYS
…Ya think?

MINERS REFUSE TO WORK AFTER DEATH
…Really? Those no-good-for-nothing’ lazy so-and-so’s!

JUVENILE COURT TO TRY SHOOTING DEFENDANT
See if that works any better than a fair trial!

WAR DIMS HOPE FOR PEACE
I can see where it might have that effect!

IF STRIKE ISN’T SETTLED QUICKLY, IT MAY LAST AWHILE
We hold these truths to be self-evident…

COLD WAVE LINKED TO TEMPERATURES
Wonders never cease!

ENFIELD (LONDON) COUPLE SLAIN; POLICE SUSPECT HOMICIDE
Elementary, my dear Watson!

RED TAPE HOLDS UP NEW BRIDGE
You mean there’s something stronger than duct tape?

And the winner is….


TYPHOON RIPS THROUGH CEMETERY; HUNDREDS DEAD
Did I read that right? Maybe in Cairo, but—are there ever typhoons in Cairo?

God always loves us(I think this one was intentional, but isn’t it cute…and true?)

“As for God, his way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30).
But as for the rest of us…not so much! :)

 

Unseen Growth Part 2: The Story of Jongi

FireplaceWhen Jon and Gerlinde were first married, they lived with us for awhile, and during that time they bought a little philodendron. When the moved to Washington State, they bequeathed the plant to me, and as I am a plant lover and dreadfully sentimental, I named the plant “Jongi” (for “Jon”+ “Gi,” because Jonathan sometimes calls Gerlinde “Gigi” for short). Jongi sits atop the fireplace in our bedroom and has grown into a veritable jungle of lush, sprawling vines.

Philodendron shootAbout a week ago I noticed something really strange. Can you see it? -5From the woodwork above the window ledge, a delicate leaf was forming…DSCN5115and before long, it began to unfurl!Philodendron growing through crackI  guessed that the vine had wedged itself along the top of the window frame DSCN5125 and was an offshoot from highest vine, even though I couldn’t see it. DSCN5119But, I was wrong! There was no trace of a vine growing along the top board. DSCN5123Where in the world had that leaf come from? Ahh…I finally found a tiny vineDSCN5124that had worked its way under the boards & traveled a good 3 feet in the dark! DSCN5126

Do you ever feel like you’re in the dark and not sure what you’re doing, even though you’re doing everything you know how to do? I sure do! Lord, if we’re doing the right thing even during times when we’re afraid we may have lost our way, would you please remind us of this little philodendron tendril and   encourage us to “keep on keepin’ on,” knowing that someday, Lord willing, we’ll find the light and come out right-side-up on top again? Thank You!

“For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36:9).

(Don’t know how long I’ll be without my photo library, but it may be a week! Meanwhile, the post on bluejays is half done, awaiting renewed ability to download the rest of the pictures. :) My normal blogging pattern will resume when time and photos meet again, but know that I am praying daily for you.)

“Song for Marion”…or Marion’s “Unfinished Song”

unfinished+songAlan and I were both very moved by this touching story of an elderly couple dealing with the ravages of cancer and the inevitable loss of their lifelong marriage…and their very lives.unfinished_song_final Unfinished Song—or, as it was called when released last fall in the U.S. (2013)— Song for Marion3630_Unfinished415658gives a bird’s-eye view into the lives of an effervescent cancer patient (“Marion,” splendidly portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave),1005-M-Song-for-Marion and her old, curmudgeon husband, Arthur Harris, as the couple faces the tragedy of cancer and the triumph of a life lived with zest and courage.song-for-marion03 The contrast between the characters, the way they deal with emotional pain, and their frustrations in the context of their enduring love song-for-marion-2is both comical and inspiring. UNFINISHED-SONG-pic-2_3The bitterness that Arthur feels over the threat of losing Marion is eventually overcome by his great love for her and his desire to please her… unfinishedeccleston500and the ending, though sad, is full of hope…even for the recovery of Arthur’s relationship with his estranged son. unfinished-song-1024x525If you’re aware that you’re growing old—either alone or with your mate—or if your parents are growing old…or even if you have a grouchy, old grandpa you’d like to understand a little better…you might enjoy this sweet story!

“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).