Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Stop Light

The Stop Light

        I really like this vintage traffic signal hanging in front of the Jolly Roger Restaurant in the Outer Banks.  The vine hanging down from one side gives it an elegant, yet rakish appearance that is quite appealing.  I also like how the faded green paint causes the lights to shimmer like jewels -- or maybe it's the sunlight glinting on their glass surfaces.  At any rate, I consider it a true work of art.
       When I was younger, we always called these traffic signals "stop lights."  One might say, "Watch out, there's a stop light up ahead." 
        Even though the green for "go" light and the amber for "slow and be prepared to stop" are important lights, the red for "stop" would have to be the most important of the three.  If we don't stop when the light is red, we run the danger of a deadly crash, with harm to ourselves and those around us.  I guess that's why we always called it the Stop Light when I was young.

        I'm reminded of a verse in Job where Elihu says to his friend, "Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God's wonders...God comes in awesome majesty.  The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power" 37: 14 & 23 NIV.
        Sometimes we need to stop and consider God's wonders.  Otherwise, we tend to zip through life without stopping to appreciate the beauty God has placed in the world around us.  Stopping to smell the roses is not just an indulgence, it makes like more beautiful and enjoyable.

       Then there are times we should stop what we're doing and reassess our lives.  Does God want us to continue on this road, or does He want us to go in another direction?  In the book of Jeremiah, God told His people to "Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls" 6:16.

        There's a neat Child Evangelism song the kids love to sing.  Even though it's primarily a child's song, the truth of its message is as bright as that red light.  Here's how it goes:  "Stop, and let me tell you what the Lord has done for me.  Stop, and let me tell you what the Lord has done for me.  He forgave my sins and He saved my soul; He cleansed my heart and He made me whole.  Stop, and let me tell you what the Lord has done for me."
        Stopping can be a lifesaving action.

    

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Whalehead Club

 
The Whalehead Club

    I'm ever intrigued by paths.  Here we have a path in the form of a boardwalk that crosses over a boggy marsh from the Sound to the elegant Whalehead Club in the distance.  This unique hunting lodge is located in Corolla, North Carolina.  It has quite an interesting history.

     In 1922, the land (which was in the middle of nowhere at the time) was purchased by Edward Knight and his bride, Marie-Louise.  It took three years to complete the rambling waterfowl hunting lodge.  The walls are 18-inches thick and the frame is constructed of steel beams.  Also unusual for a hunting lodge is the elegant Art Nouveau decorative style used for the interior.
     In 1940, the house was sold to Ray Adams and just two years later, leased by the U.S. Coast Guard.  During WWII, German submarines were active along our shores and this location was used to train recruits.  In the late 50's, the house was used as a summer boarding school for boys, which sounds like a fun place to spend the summer!  Then, in the 1960s, the location was used for military and space program developments, which all sounds very hush-hush to me.
      These days, the beautifully renovated hunting club is a jolly good piece of history that's nice to walk around - and especially nice to tour through.

      Getting back to the path stretching out in the picture.  There's a verse in Proverbs that might describe this sturdy, straight pathway:  "Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.  Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil" 4:26-27 NIV.
       While there might be a few places on this pathway that I could pop off safely, for the most part, it's important for me to keep my feet on these well-placed, level boards.  If I swerve to the right or left up ahead, I'll find myself in either mud or several feet of gunky water and who knows what manner of danger within their depths.
       It's my choice.  I can either follow the rules and keep on the designated, safe path, or I can flaunt the rules and place myself in a possibly dangerous predicament.  I prefer to keep my foot dry and free from evil gunk.

        The object lesson is pretty straight forward.  If we seek to obey God in our daily lives, our paths through this world will be much safer and firmer.  God loves us and has a good plan - if we'll just follow it.  "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him" 2 Chronicles 16:9.  
 
      And if you ever find yourself in Corolla, be sure and enjoy a tour of this lovely hunting lodge. It's a very cool place!



    

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Outer Banks


Outer Banks
 
   Larry and I spent last week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  The ocean was beautifully rough and as you see in the photo, the sky was filled with majestic clouds.  God sure painted a gorgeous picture (:

 
  The Wright Brothers Memorial looked regal in the glow of late afternoon sunlight, perched up on the hill from where the brothers began their historic flight.  Here I am (below) cheering with the other fellows as we celebrate that first foray into the world of airplanes (for which I am very grateful!).
 



  Now, for a couple pictures of beautiful flowers I saw.  The first lovely purple (complete with busy bumblebee) was taken at the Lost Colony Theater, where Trish and I took a tour of Fort Raleigh.  The second lush looking red flowers were in front of the Elizabethan Gardens.  We had a fun day together while our husbands played golf.



 
Although these flowers are not lilies, I'm reminded of what Jesus said about how He takes care of the flowers He created:  "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toll nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you....Therefore do not worry..." Matthew 6:28-31.
 


Friday, September 8, 2017

Bow the Knee

BOW THE KNEE

   Our choir sings a song entitled, "Bow The Knee," by Chris Machen and Mike Harland.  We sang the song a few weeks ago, the first time we'd sung it since our tragedy in April.  It touched my heart deeply and I want to share the moving lyrics with you:

There are moments on our journey following the Lord
Where God illumines every step we take.
There are times when circumstances make perfect sense to us,
As we try to understand each move He makes.
When the path grows dim
And our questions have no answers, turn to Him.

Bow the knee; trust the heart of your Father
      when the answer goes beyond what you can see.
Bow the knee; lift your eyes toward heaven and
      believe the One who holds eternity.
And when you don't understand the purpose of His plan,
In the presence of the King - bow the knee.

There are days when clouds surround us,
And the rain begins to fall,
The cold and lonely winds won't cease to blow.
And there seems to be no reason for the suffering we feel;
We are tempted to believe God does not know.
When the storms arise,
Don't forget we live by faith and not by sight.

Bow the knee; trust the heart of your Father
      when the answer goes beyond what you can see.
Bow the knee; lift your eyes toward heaven and
      believe the One who holds eternity.
And when you don't understand the purpose of His plan,
In the presence of the King - bow the knee.

I smile through my tears as I sing this song and hold onto its eternal message.  I know too that there will come a day - in the not too distant future -- when Scripture will be fulfilled, "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" Philippians 2:10-11.

~Photo: The stained glass window is in a church we visited in Aarhus, Denmark.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Praise


Praise

This morning I choose my Portmerion cup and saucer for breakfast.  The creamy white china with a perky spray of pink and rose diantus flowers is both dainty and pretty.  I pour hot, dark Irish Breakfast tea into the cup.  Although not visible in the picture, delicate, undulating wisps of steam spiral upward.  The graceful swirls of vapor dance as they lift heavenward.  I believe they are rising in praise to their Creator.  The swiftly-fading beauty of that white mist is, I'm sure, pleasing to the Father who made it. 

I delight in knowing that the smallest and seemingly insignificant detail upon this earth is neither of those things.  Would that I would be as faithful as those tiny fingers of steam lifting heavenward throughout their entire existence. 

This is also a picture of the impermanence of our life on earth, as well.  In scripture we read, "For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" James 4:14.  While that might sound a bit morbid, it's really not.  We are simply being reminded that life on this spinning ball is very brief in comparison with the unending eternity that we will experience when our earthly life ends. 

So - it behooves us (nifty word, isn't it?!) to glorify and praise our Creator while our temporary mist swirls and spins down our earthly path, because the best of life doesn't begin until we reach the other side - and "only what's done for Christ will last."


Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Shepherd Boy


A Shepherd Boy

Earlier in the spring, I visited the historic Hunter House in Norfolk.  It's a beautiful late 1800s house with adorable nooks and crannies - and some nice fireplace art too.  The picture above shows a carved insert above a tile fireplace in the home's elegant dining room.  The shepherd boy in the picture reminds me of David in the Bible.  In fact, that was very likely what the artist had in mind.

The whole story of David's life - from start to finish - is an impactful picture of what God can do in a life that is dedicated to Him.  From the time he was a young boy working in his father's pastures, David wrote poetry and songs of praise to His heavenly Father.  Psalm 23 mirrors what David did for his sheep and what God did for Him (and still does for us every day).  "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters...."

David probably spent weeks at a time in the fields and pastures, caring for great herds of sheep.  As he faithfully cared for the animals and observed nature around him, he grew closer and closer to the great God who created it all.  His many wonderful Psalms are eloquent testimony to relationship and reverence for the Almighty.

  --"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?"
  --"When you said, 'Seek My face,' My heart said to You, 'Your face, Lord, I will seek.'"
  --"You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance."
  --"Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!"

Even as David fulfilled the job of shepherd boy, he had no idea that someday he would be king of God's people.  Indeed, on the day Samuel arrived to anoint one of Jessie's eight sons, no one even considered calling David from the fields -- until.... there were no sons left to choose from.  That's when the prophet Samuel said to send for the boy, because they would not sit down to eat until he came.  When David arrived, the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!"

I love the song by Ray Blotz and Steve Millikan, entitled Shepherd Boy.  The chorus repeats this heart-warming phrase, "But when others see a shepherd boy, God may see a king."

One of the wonderful lessons from that story is that we don't have to be the biggest or the best or the most educated or the richest - or any superlative you might think of.  God can and does use ordinary people to do His extraordinary work on this earth every single day.  What a joy and honor to be used of Almighty God to perform some work for Him. 

I love the verse in Philippians, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" 4:13.





Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Rejoicing with Song




 Rejoicing with Song

Recently, my devotional reading in Jesus Calling has been so on-target for my needs.  No surprise since Jesus has a way of making anything around us personally relevant to our particular needs.  Such faithfulness from Him draws praise and thanksgiving from us.  Here is a verse that brought a smile to my face and warmth to my heart:

"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing" Zephaniah 3:17.  He will rejoice over me with singing -- How very special!!

The Photo above shows angels surrounding Jesus Christ in heavenly places.  They are all in positions of praise to Him.  We are told in scripture that the angels are in constant praise to King Jesus.  The photo above was taken in the Church of the Spilt Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia and is done totally in mosaics.

God rejoices over us - and in return, as so many verses in Psalm testify, we should also rejoice over Him:

 "Shout joyfully to the Lord all the earth" 100:1
 "The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly" 118:15
 "Sing aloud to God our strength; make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob. Raise a song and strike the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the lute" 81:1-2

 
This picture is also a mosaic in the same church.  It depicts an angel praising God as described by Isaiah when he told of his vision of heaven.  He wrote:  "I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!'" 6:1-3.
 
The angel mosaic is a lovely, powerful depiction of that vision of a scene that takes place in heaven on a daily basis.
 
Although we are not yet in heavenly places with the ability to praise God in complete perfection, we can and should offer frequent praise to our great, loving, gracious Father, Son and Spirit - the God who is always with us, hearing our every thought, and caring for our every need.  All praise King Jesus!  Blessed be the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen!