Sunday, April 15, 2018

Proverbs and Wisdom

 
 
PROVERBS
WORDS OF WISDOM FROM GOD
 
The Book of Proverbs in the Holy Bible is a practical book of instructions on how to live a better, more peaceful and joy filled life. The writer, King Solomon (the wisest man who ever lived), says the reason he wrote these things (other than the fact that God told him to do so) is:  "To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding...to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion - a wise man will hear and increase learning..." 1:2-5.
 
   Here are a few words of wisdom accompanied by pictures to illustrate the action - Enjoy!
 
"Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self control" 25:28
"Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go" 22:24
Ouch!  Trying to deal with a man who holds a chair like a club in one hand and accosts you with the other is certainly a situation to avoid -- wise words indeed!
  --The carving of the two men is on the walls of City Hall in Brussel Belgium.


"Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop than in a house shared with a contentious woman" 21:9
"Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord" 19:14
 
  This carving I spotted in an archway of a palace in Copenhagen, Denmark, shows a dutiful wife lighting the lamp as her husband sits peacefully by her side.
 
"The foolishness of a man twists his way, and his heart frets against the Lord" 19:3
"The lazy man says, 'There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!" 22:13
   This carved column on the side of a building in Helsinki Finland depicts a foolish, lazy, frightened man.
 
Two more carvings on a building in Helsinki (interesting choice of decoration, wouldn't you say?!).
"A wicked man accepts a bribe behind the back to pervert the ways of justice" 17:23
"The soul of the wicked desires evil; his neighbor finds no favor in his eyes" 21:10
"A wicked man hardens his face, but as for the upright, he establishes his way" 21:29
 
We'll end on a positive note with a sweet carving found in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia. The little cherubs are busily building -
"In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty" 14:23
"The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor" 12:24
"Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings..." 22:29.
 
    "The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens....for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught" 3:19 & 26.
 


Monday, March 19, 2018

Caribbean Cruise

CARIBBEAN CRUISE - February 18 - March 4

Here we are on the Celebrity Eclipse in the blue waters of our first port stop - St. Maarten.  We spent four hours wandering around the town of Philipsburg, popping into churches and shops to escape frequent raindrops.  Below is a view of our ship, plus three others visiting the island on that day (there was only one other ship with us on the other islands) -


Our next stop was the island of Antigua.  We walked several blocks to the bus station and caught a local bus to the southern end of the island to see Nelson Dockyards.  We rode Bus 17, along with a full load of locals, the 40 minute distance.  It was a very nice historic, British encampment with a great museum about their hero, Horatio Nelson.

We climbed the hill beside the boatyard and had a lovely view of rugged cliffs and pounding sea.

The next day we woke up with the beautiful island of St. Lucia below our ship.  A lovely, green mountainous jewel in the Caribbean Sea. We enjoyed a private tour and a muddy climb up the Tet Paul Trail with wonderful views of the famed Pitons.
The climb required careful footing and was accompanied by considerable huffing and puffing, but it was well worth the effort.   Pictures don't do the view justice even a little.



Barbados was our next stop.  We had to take a shuttle into town, which was surprisingly more like a regular city than most of the other islands we've been to.  There was shopping malls, escalators and plenty of traffic, along with the beautiful white sand beach -
 
 
 

The first of the ABC islands - Bonaire was our next port call.  It was a sunny, hot day and the island was beautiful.  We took a 2-hour van tour and saw the north end of the island (we'd seen the south end on a previous visit).  The island is chock full of cactus, but so nice.
 

One of our stops on the tour was to see this gorgeous beach where there were large sea turtles and numerous scuba divers - and the bluest water!


 
We had our first Caribbean overnight in Curacao (pronounced Curacel for some reason). The view of shops across the river is so colorful and lovely -- very much like Nyhaven in Copenhagen.  The city has a bit of a European look to it.  We walked a lot that day.
 
The Queen Juliana floating pontoon bridge Larry is standing on is unique and interesting.  It offers a nice view of the colorful shops on the shoreline.

 
Our final island adventure was Aruba.  We took a 3-hour bus tour and saw the north end of this large island.  The photo was taken atop a massive rock that we climbed (like the one below).  In the far distance, along the shoreline, you can spot our cruise ship docked in town.  This is a very Dutch island of rock and cactus, with wild donkeys and many grand hotels.


 
We'll end with this nice, big heart that sits on the edge
 of the water in Curacao. It's covered in locks that
represent "lasting love," which is a good motto
for our cruise - since we were celebrating
our 50th wedding anniversary






Saturday, January 13, 2018

Yum!!



 
Thank you, O Lord, for taste buds and for creating yummy food! 

God could just as easily have created us without the ability to taste.  We could have been constructed in such a way that we consume food at set times each day merely for nourishment and energy. Flavor would be a foreign concept to a people with no taste buds.  Ah....think of all the wonderful, delicious things we would have missed!

Here is a stack of fluffy, golden pancakes with sweet maple syrup drizzling down the sides - does that make your mouth water?  Such a response to food is one of the blessings of a sense of taste.  Anticipation of that first tasty bite is part of the pleasure of a good dish of food.

Here are a few interesting verses in the Bible about food:

"Men ate the bread of angels; He sent them all the food they could eat" Psalm 78:25.  This verse refers to God sending manna from heaven for the Israelites to eat in the wilderness.  God called the manna "bread of angels."  Doesn't that have a lovely ring to it?

"He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat; and with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you" Psalm 81:16.  Again, the verse refers to the Israelites, this time it speaks of the sad loss that resulted from their disobedience to God.

We'll end these food-related verses with a happy one - "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him" Psalm 34:8.  This Psalm of David opens a wondrous door to the men and women who trust in the Lord.  Through our faith, we are enabled to see how good God is and to actually taste His magnificence in our lives.  Yum, pass me another, please.

Thank you, O Lord, for your goodness and mercy and grace -- and for all the wonderful foods you've provided for us to enjoy!

Note:  Larry created that lovely stack of pancakes one morning last week (:


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Sola Gratia

 
Sola Gratia - "by Grace alone"
 

    I was recently introduced to the Latin phrase - "Sola Gratia" - which means "by Grace alone."  Not only does the sound of the Latin phrase have a lovely ring to it, the meaning is precious and powerful.  I chose this photo I took of a spiral staircase in the Benedictine Monastery in Melk, Austria, because I felt it could signify our upward journey toward a deepening relationship with Holy God and the continuing grace He offers us each and every day. 
 
    God offers wonderful grace to we His creations.  He offers grace through salvation and daily blessings and the privilege of serving Him and His very Spirit dwelling within us.  It's incredible and exciting to see all the ways He shows His love and grace to we mere mortals.

    One of the best Bible verses to show the true meaning of Sola Gratia is found in Ephesians 2:8-9:  "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

   I'm incredibly thankful that God offers a grace that is greater than ALL our sins.  As the famous song by John Newton so beautifully puts it:  "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see."

   I pray this New Year of 2018 will be a year of grace for each of us.  May we show grace to those around us as God has and still does show grace to us.





Saturday, December 30, 2017

Isn't it a Wonder?

Isn't It A Wonder...
I recently bought a little Golden Book called "Wonders of Nature," written by Jane Werner Watson, with lovely illustrations by talented Eloise Wilkin.  My children grew up loving her sweet illustrations and this book is full of them.  As I read the book, I was struck by the beauty of the message by Watson.  Although it doesn't appear it was meant to have a spiritual message, it most certainly does.  I'm going to share a few of the "wonders" mentioned in the book and include my pictures as illustration before I end with the spiritual truth I think is most beautiful.
 
"Isn't it a wonder that on the dry desert some plants have thick
stems in which they store water....and no leaves at all...and lots
 of prickly spines to keep thirsty animals from eating them up?"


These two photos of cactus and ocotillo in Arizona are perfect examples of the amazing wonder of God's creation in the dry desert.

"Isn't it a wonder that some birds fly thousands of miles
over oceans and land...and return to the same special
spots, to lay their eggs?"

The photo shows a bluebird couple who return to this box year after year to lay eggs and bring their baby birds out into the light of a new day.


"Isn't it a wonder that out in the pond smooth wiggly tadpoles
lose their tails and grow legs, and turn into frogs?"

The photo of a blue poison dart frog at the Science Museum in Durham, NC, is a beautiful example of God's variety and love of color and style.

"And that fuzzy caterpillars weave silken cocoons around
themselves and go to sleep, then wake up as pretty moths
or butterflies?"

Here is an owl butterfly that is so cool with its spots that look like eyes.

Isn't it a wonder that God created such a vast, complex and beautiful world for His children to live in?  And isn't it a wonder that God sent His only begotten Son to this earth to save His children from eternal death and offer them everlasting life in a place even more wonderful and beautiful than this earth?  As the songwriter wrote, "Oh, the wonder of it all, just to think that Jesus loves me!"




Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christ is Born

Christ is Born

What a beautiful and gracious gift God the Father gave to us all on that first Christmas night.  "He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life" John 3:16.

Why on earth would God the Father give such an unspeakably precious gift and why would God the Son agree to such an incredibly hard task?  The answer is found in one word - "Love."  God SO loved the world.  As incomprehensible as that is to our finite minds, it's a fact.  A fact that blesses our lives daily in more ways that we can know.

The stained glass window in Trinity Episcopal Church in Staunton, Virginia, shows shepherds worshipping the newborn King.  As we celebrate the birth of our Savior on Christmas day, let us join with the shepherds, the angels and the wise men - worshipping and adoring this greatest of gifts.

Here is part of the lyrics to an old French carol:  "He is born, the holy Child, play the oboe and bagpipes merrily, He is born, the holy Child, sing we now of the Savior mild.  Jesus, Lord of all the earth, coming as a child among us, Jesus, Lord of all the earth, coming down in lowly birth!"

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  I hope you have a blessed and happy Christmas!


Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Star

The Star

My sweet little granddaughter is entranced by the beauty of a star on the wall at the Children's Museum.  Stars have always been special to people.  Even the word star in Spanish - Estrella - has a lovely sound to it.

It's interesting to think that when God created them on the fourth day of creation, He filled the sky with stars by the very breath of his mouth:  By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth” Psalm 33:6.  Furthermore, we’re also told that when the foundation of the earth was laid, those newborn stars “sang together” and at the same moment, all the angels shouted for joy.  That is so cool!  What an amazing sound they must have made!

For the past 2,000 years, one particular Star has been of special interest to Christians.  The Star announcing the birth of the holy Son of God is surely the most famous and beloved of all the stars God created.  It's appearance in the night sky portended the beginning of a new age - the fulfillment of God's promise to Adam and Eve that He would someday send a Savior for all mankind.

 
This picture of another sweet granddaughter shows her gazing at a Thomas Cole painting of that scene in Bethlehem (on display at Chrysler Museum, Norfolk).  That beautiful, bright star is happily shining its light down on the stable where the King of kings has just been born.  Our choir sings a song with these lyrics:
 
   "Tonight in the city of Bethlehem, there's a star that fills the skies; Reflecting the Light of compassion from the manger where it lies.  Angels stand in awe at its splendor, kings and paupers bask in its glow;  Though it is found in a stable, still it shines for the whole world to know.  For the Light of Bethlehem lies in a manger, it's only seen through the eyes of a seeker.  Promise of Heaven, a gift divine, let the Light of Bethlehem shine."
 
 
The beautiful stained glass depicting the wise men following the star reminds me of a popular saying, "Wise Men still Seek Him Today."  May the Light of Bethlehem shine in your life and warm your heart with love and praise to His Holy Name.