So… how bad is it going to be over here in central PA, specifically in Altoona. The last time the Brood X cicadas hit their 17-year cycle, I was at Hanover College. I can specifically remember that the entire ground was covered in cicadas. You could not take one step without stepping on one of these critters. I remember the deafening sounds. I can remember driving in my car and my windshield being covered in cicada guts… it was quite a summer.
But where are they? Aren’t they supposed to be here? I know my friends in Cincinnati and Maryland are getting them right now, but I haven’t seen or heard one here in central PA? Maybe here in Altoona we don’t get them?
Here is the thing. My son Ben is terrified of flies and bees. He got scared of them because a little beetle that my daughter was holding about a year ago, flew out of her hand and right onto Ben’s face. He totally freaked out. Now, I am dealing with his odd phobia. Basically, anything that flies around, he gets terrified, other than birds and butterflies. The fly could be a gnat, and he gets all shook up. I really have no idea how he is going to react when he comes face to face with the brood x horde.
But I am hopeful that the brood x horde might actually help him get over the fear of flying things. Face your fears, right? (well except for the fear that flew into his face a year ago) But the best way to get over your fear is to face it and overcome it. Begin to realize that there is nothing to be scared of whatsoever.
Faith is an act of facing your fears and the unknown path that it leads. We are constantly bombarded with things we are taught to be afraid of. Just a few weeks ago, the Colonial Pipeline got hacked and the entire state of Maryland freaked out. People rushed to horde on gasoline, as if it is the end of the world. I knew this because my family traveled to Maryland and there were zero places selling gasoline. But I had faith that we had enough gas to bring us back home to safe, secure, unafraid central PA. Fear can make us do crazy things. Afterall, remember the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it was impossible to find any toilet paper and hand sanitizer? Yikes.
Living with faith is all about trusting in people, trusting your community, and trusting in time. All of those things can be scary at times. For the past couple of years media has taught us to fear our neighbor, taught us that this country is divided, and that time is running out!
We forget that patience is a virtue, and that all good things happen when we wait. But also, faith teaches us to face those unknown tangibles in our life. We meet and greet people with a pure heart, without any malice or suspicion. We trust that no matter how bad things get, time is actually on our side. We meet our fears with faith.
So, for Ben, my 3-year-old son, brood x cicadas might be coming. It might be scary at first, but let’s face it together. And if he can’t shake that fear off this summer, then well the good news is that you won’t see them until the next 17 years.
So, yesterday I had to make a trip to Med-Express, everything is fine, nothing to worry about. I went there because I ended up on the wrong end of a fishing hook. Yep… I got hooked waaaaayyyy past the barb. It was my stubbornness that got me hooked.
So, Ben and I went to Glendale Lake to catch a bunch of bass that were all pushed up shallow. Well, bunch of bass turned out only to be one because I got hooked. How did this happen? Well, I got my fishing lure stuck in a mesh mat and it wasn’t too far off the bank, so I thought I could just reach in there and go get it. The water being ultra-clear, I can see everything on the bottom. I thought it wasn’t very deep. I was mistaken. I thought only my arm would get wet, turned out the water was about chest high and I was in a pickle.
My stubbornness told me, well you’re in it now, so just full send it! So I listened to my ego and just dove for it. I got to my lure, and apparently someone else’s lure got stuck in the same location. As I was grabbing my lure, my thumb caught the other lure’s hooks. I gave a yank to pull my lure out, but unfortunately, that yank, caused that other lure’s hook to dig into my thumb and break off. I had no idea what was going on when I climbed back up.
I was soaking wet, and now bleeding. One random fisherman noted, “Hey man, your thumb is bleedin’!” Looked at it, sure enough I see a curved piece of metal sticking straight into my thumb. So, I proceeded to get this thing out. There are two methods in getting a fish hook out… one is to push it through to the other side and the second one is a strategic straight pull. The hook was way too deep to push through the other side, so it was a straight pull.
Now, just so you know… if you do not have any confidence or tolerance to pain, I would not recommend anyone to do this. Just go to the ER. If you do this incorrectly, a lot of damage can be done. So do not ever do this, unless you know how to and you have a high tolerance of pain. Ok.. just wanted to get that out.
So, I have never been hooked past the barbs of a fishing hook before, but I have yanked hooks out for other people many of times. Unfortunately, the straight pull method usually required two people to do it effectively. Unfortunately, only Ben was around and the other two fishermen, didn’t have the confidence to preform this minor surgery. So I did it myself, it worked, went to the car and started to wash my hands with bottled waters, make sure that there was no foreign object in my finger, and then put iodine and rubbing alcohol on the wound. Used medical gauss to stop the bleeding and then wrapped it with a band aid, and decided to go to med-express because I have no idea how long it has been since I got a tetanus shot. I figured a tetanus shot would be a good idea since I had a rusted dirty hook jabbed in my thumb.
Med-express took about 2 hours for them to see me. It was a long wait. So many people, so little workers. Reminds me of that Bible passage in Luke 10 that says “The harvest is many but the workers are few.” The nurse who tended to me was super nice, but I knew he had a long day. He asked me, “Do you have any known allergies?” 3 times during the course of 5 minutes. Rough day man… It’s not easy being a health care worker when you are totally understaffed. He gave me a tetanus shot, which hurt like crazy!
So… it’s today now. My thumb, looks like it had better days, but really not too bad. Can’t type with it well, so I am trying to avoid putting any pressure on it. My left arm, which is the arm that I got my tetanus shot at, still very sore and tender. Apparently it is going to be like that for a few days. So I am moving slowly, and just being careful.
What have a learned throughout this ordeal? Number one, you ego, your stubbornness is what got you in trouble in the first place. It is vital, to put that aside. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and move on. Number 2, show your appreciation to all healthcare workers you see. Tell them thank you and never complain if something is taking too long. There are reasons, and they are going through a lot of work, and they do it respectfully, so be respectful to them. God bless you all. Take care of yourself and always be safe.
I’m just going to say it. I have been losing an insane amount of hair in the past three weeks. I originally thought that it must have been connected to my rapid weight loss. I thought that it was because I wasn’t getting as much nutrients as I was when I was overweight. But after some research into my family history. I have the male pattern baldness in my genes passed on my mothers side of the family. I was shocked… still sorta shocked, but also relieved that it isn’t anything serious.
It’s funny because, I never knew my family had male pattern baldness until now. So I really had no time to prepare myself in this moment as I am 40 years old. My mother had 6 sisters. My mother never knew her father, he died in the Korean War, when my mother was really little, so it was possible that He never had signs of balding. Then after much conversation, we realized there are two cousins that are male, on my mothers side of the family, who are balding. Nice. I must say, though, I am relieved. I am happy to know that what I am going through is normal, and that I do not have any kind of health issue.
But, I feel a bit stressed, trying to imagine what I would like with little or no hair. I have always had thick dark hair, and now I am coming to the realization that most of it might be going away at some point in time. Trying to think about whether I should do the comb over or just shave the whole thing. It is too early to think about it, I just have to wait until it happens.
I don’t think about it during most of my day, except when I take a shower, then I just see on the drain this insane amount of hair that used to be on my head! It is bonkers how much hair is on the drain! It looks overwhelming to me. But that’s life right? The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away!
So now I have a new favorite Bible story. It is found in 2 Kings 2:23-24. “From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.” It’s so wild that this story is in the Bible. Like out of nowhere, right?
Well honestly, modern translations to this story didn’t do the best job in translating this story correctly. The story sounds like 2 female bears just murdered 42 children. And then the moral of the story is what? Don’t make fun of bald people or respect your elders or else? Now modern translations say “boys” or “little children” but that might not be correct. I’ll have to explain in next week blog about this, because it involves A LOT of explaining and A LOT of background story. But for now, the moral of the story for me, is I hope to never call on a curse on anyone because of my baldness! But also happy to know that can be an option I may have at my disposal! Just kidding.
Luke 12:7 states that God knows the number of hairs on your head. But can God tell me, how many hairs will I have left? I guess I’ll find out later. I will have to come back to this blog when I turn 50 to find out!
Last week on Sunday, the sermon was on the passage found in John 15:1-8. I want to focus on one verse, that I didn’t focus on while preaching. But it is very interesting to keep this in mind.
In verse 2, in the NRSV version is states, “He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” And like in the NIV version it states as well, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful.” And as well King James version says something familiar. Basically what this means simply is that if you find yourself a branch that does not bear fruit… then good luck man… because you will be cut off the vine, and hence what Jesus says, the branch cannot survive on it’s own…. Or can it… let me explain later…. trust me.
Being a nonbearing fruit branch sounds pretty devastating doesn’t it? Really makes us think… I better do some good, bring people to church, get other people to be Christians, or something! It will give you a panic attack for sure! But what if you put in the right effort to be a fruit bearing branch, but no matter what you do.. it just seems like you cannot bear fruit! That’s gotta be frustrating! And it just doesn’t seem fair that because you didn’t bear fruit, even though you put in the work and effort to try to do so, that you would be cut off! Ouch! What a sting! And just doesn’t seem fair.
But here is an interesting note on John 15:2. Even though most modern translations translate it as “removing every branch in me that bears no fruit.” Key word is “removing,” or some versions, “cut off.” It we look at the Greek version of this certain word, αιρεω means “take away” or “take up.” And the times we see that particular word in the Bible it has been used interchangeably as either “take away” or “lift up.”
Now just imagine that the word in verse 2, αιρεω, meant “lift up.” Definitely gives a whole different meaning to what it means to be a nonbearing fruit branch! The reason for arguing that αιρεω, can mean “lift up” rather than “ take away,” is that a gardener will lift up or prop up a branch of a vine that is on the ground. When the branch is too weak, it will fall down, and bear no fruit, but if the gardener helps the branch by propping it up, it can strengthen and have a better chance in bearing fruit.
But also, remember, Jesus never specified what kind of vine this was. And to me honest I am not too sure what would be popular. I am assuming grapes, but when it comes to reading the biblical text, a number one rule is never assume anything when we approach a biblical text. What vine matters in how to create a successful harvest. For example, a couple years ago, my wife and I grew sweet potatoes. We started with a store-bought sweet potato and set it aside so that roots and a plant grew out of it. We actually cut off the plant from the potato and planted it. As the plant took root in the prepared soil, we started to cut off the stems and branches to make more sweet potato plants. And then it started to vine out, on the ground, and those vines rooted themselves into he ground. All said and done by the fall we had a good harvest of sweet potatoes.
Not too sure if Jesus was talking about sweet potatoes, probably not, but I bring this up, not to argue what kind of vine Jesus was referring to, but more so, that depending on how we translate John 15:2 matters how this verse is read and intended. If αιρεω, means “lifted up” great news, that means Jesus si giving a chance to nonbearing branches to have the opportunity to bear fruit. Or another way of looking at it, is sometimes, a branch can be cut off, and then replanted to make a new plant. Anyways, food for thought. Let me know if you have any questions, I love biblical scholarship a ton. That is basically all I do all day and night, I love studying man, and I love the Bible because of how rich it is! I just always wish I had more time in preparing sermons every Sunday.
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).