• sonnyholmes

The sea is a recurring image in King David's lyric poetry and songs. Scrolling through the Psalms Sunday afternoon I was taken by the profound ways he was influenced by that singular reference, the sea. His personal ocean going experience was most likely very limited. The King had been an earth bound shepherd boy and soldier throughout his years. What he knew about the sea was most likely learned in the scrolls of ancient Judaism or from the rabbis and colleagues who counseled. Still, his written Psalms resound with sea talk. They were profound elements of his faith, personal growth and development, the lessons of the sea in the epoch of Israel.

Yesterday, Psalm 104 gave me pause as the King extolled the majesty and glory of our Creator God. It is a Psalm about God's greatness, the wonders of his creative hand, the immovable foundations, the waters that stood above the mountains (see verses 5-6), and the limits of the created order. The simple phrase "Here is the sea, great and wide..." (verse 25) registered deeply with me. You see, King David could not explain the physical dimensions of the earth's waters, or define what differentiates an ocean from a sea from a lake, a gulf, sound, or river. He could not have known that 71% of the earth's surface was water or that these waters stretched .3 billion miles, averaged 12,080 feet in depth, or even imagined the 873,000 square miles of the Bering Sea.

What King David did know what that God "...covered it with the deep as with a garment, and waters stood above the mountains" (Psalm 104: 6). He knew that "You make water spring forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills; they give drink to every beast of the field...from your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work" (Psalm 104: 10, 13). King David probably only actually saw three or four of the 77 seas on this earth. But, he knew who created them. His Psalms mention the seas numerous times. But, these Psalms aren't about the seas. They are about the glorious God who created them all.

So, right now I'm staring at the sea. Harriet and I are blessed to be part owners of a beach front condominium in Garden City, South Carolina. We have four weeks each year to stare at the Atlantic Ocean, one of our glorious God's seas. What does the sea say to me right now---

Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things

both small and great. 26 There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in

it. 27 These all look to you, to give them their food in due season. 28 When you give it

to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works, 32 who

looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke!

Psalm 104: 25-28, 31-32, ESV

So, that's the deal this week. Old Sonny staring at the Atlantic Ocean and knowing, "Here is the sea, great and wide..." Glory!

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  • sonnyholmes

We always have a chuckle when I welcome new neighbors into our condo community. Many of them are relocating to the sunny south from the snow covered environs of northern America. It's been repeated in this space on many occasions, what I usually tell them about weather in the Lowcountry. That is, we have two seasons down here---summer and February. And, yes, it is February. My walk this morning was wet and cold. It made me hustle through my first 5,000 steps for a dry, warm space on the sofa. February indeed.

Our seasons are an interesting theme in Scripture. The creation account in Genesis 1 gives us brief mention of them.

And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate day from

night. And let them be for signs and season, and for days and years, and let them be

lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth. And, it was so.

Genesis 1: 14-15, ESV

So, there is the created earth and the seasons that mark our time here. We know them as spring, summer, fall, and winter. Here in the Lowcountry we are better acquainted with summer and February. You know, sunshine and heat, time on the beach, and warm days on the sofa.

The seasons are also used in a metaphorical sense in Scripture. In many instances they represent the nature of our time in this broken world, the phases of life. Wise Solomon wrote, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3: 1, ESV). Truly our circumstances carry us through some difficult hours, those more trying seasons, and moments of great blessing, the seasons when we more fruitful reality defines us. No doubt we all experience what we would call pleasing times, and just as assuredly those hours that try and challenge us. And, they are mystifying and perplexing, not as predictable as the four earthly seasons. Jesus reminded his disciples after the resurrection, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority" (Acts 1: 7, ESV). We just can't always fathom how or when these life seasons will come. They do surprise us at times.

Timothy is thought to have been a younger ministry partner of the Apostle Paul. He had evidently experienced some criticism because of his age and message. As a pastor for the past forty years I can certainly identify with the frustration he may have felt., the heavy downpours of harsh words in actions. Then, the Apostle Paul wrote to a timely word to him---"Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season..." (2 Timothy 4: 2, ESV). That certainly strikes a note for me, the instruction to be prepared all the time. And, it rings my bell on this February morning. My take? There are great moments in life, and some difficult ones as well. Being prepared for each is my daily challenge.

Even on a cold, wet February morning. Be blessed. And, prepared.

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Today many Americans are mourning or remembering two contemporary voices who touched and influenced our lives and died within hours of each other. Surely we all know the influence of Rush Limbaugh and Carman (really Carmelo Domenic Licclardello) as they spoke and sang truth across the fruited plain for the past generation. In my very limited opinion each of them reached heights of popularity in the public arena because they occupied unique platforms that represented the thoughts and opinions of so many Americans. Meaning, that their popularity was in part the result of how they spoke or sang what the American people thought and desired.

So what is this platform thing? It is the ability to speak or perhaps sing what is in the heart and mind of the American public. Truly, few of us have the stage to express our genuine beliefs to the broad spectrum of American thought. Yes, as a local Protestant Evangelical pastor, my personal platform was the pulpit of my local church. A number of years ago a friend and mentor challenged me to broaden that platform, that is, to find new venues to express my views about faith, life, politics, and other issues under the sun. Under that advice I developed a web site, blog, and wrote a book, new platforms for expression of my personal Christian views, which he thought worth sharing.

It is my belief that Rush Limbaugh and Carman both spoke and sang what a great number of Americans were sensing but were unable to express beyond their mostly limited venues. As our nation was under the political and religious systems of liberalism and secularism, they were able to speak, write, and sing what was in the hearts and minds of the silent majority. Their thoughts resonated with the American people. Few in government, the newspapers, or even in the musical field found such platforming for their ideals. Limbaugh and Carman touched the soul of American with their plain speaking truth and spiritual clarity. Today, working America, the people who vote, attend church every Sunday, and cling to our heritage as a nation under God remember their influence and mourn their loss. They occupied their platforms well.

Scripture teaches and advises that every believer understand the importance of having platforms to extend our influence on our broken world. Jesus said---

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be

restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under

people's feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor

do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to

all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may

see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5: 13-16, ESV

Their deaths this week challenge us to follow their lead and discover platforms for the messages entrusted to us. We can most likely not have such extensive stages of our messages. But, we can find new platforms for expressing the truth that shapes our lives. And, we must. Salt and light.

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