Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Road Less Traveled

I'm fascinated by paths - they intrigue me and I want to see where they lead.  This pathway high on the volcanic cliffs on the island of Santorini, Greece, was no exception.  I had actually walked from the opening at the lower end of the path and was heading uphill when I turned around and took this picture.  What a delight to follow a path on the edge of this towering cliff.

Many verses in the Bible speak of paths.  Why do you think that is so?  I believe it's because our life is a journey, each of us following our own path each and every day of our lives.  Where do you think your path will lead today?

Robert Frost wrote, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."  I don't know if Frost had a spiritual message in mind when he wrote that, but there is definitely a spiritual message within it. The road less-traveled would be the path of God.  Matthew wrote a somewhat similar message, "..For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" 7:13-14.

God wants to help us make the right decisions and follow the right paths in our lives.  When detours pop us, He is right there beside us, wanting to help us if we'll just let Him.  Don't try to forge a path on your own -- too often it leads through brambles -- or worse.  Although God doesn't promise a smooth pathway, He does promise to guide us over the rough spots and make it easier.  I need to learn this lesson just as much as anyone.

Join me in praying these verses to our loving Shepherd and Guide:  "Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it...Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way" Psalm 119:35 & 37.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

True Wealth

I think this money-hungry couple statue is a hoot!  It's located near the entrance of the Harrah Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.  While my husband and I don't gamble, we still enjoy wandering along the famous Las Vegas Strip and peering inside the extravagant hotels.  The characters in this statue represent gamblers who "made it big" (a rare occurance I'm told).  The guy's name is "Buck," the woman is "Winnie," and the dog is, "Chip."  It's clever and it's also a vivid picture of how the world views wealth -- as a very desirable commodity!

My point here is that you can have all the money in the world -- or at least have your pockets and your bags stuffed with cash as this couple do, and you can still be poor.  That oxymoron is taught throughout scripture.  The bottom line is that riches without a relationship with God are empty.  Wealth may give momentary pleasure, but those who have fat bank accounts always want fatter bank accounts -- people are never satisfied when it comes to earthly pleasures.

But, when it comes to the spiritual wealth of a relationship with God Almighty, the Creator and Sustainer of this entire everything -- well, that is exceedingly fulfilling and rich beyond words -- and immensely satisfying.  I like the way the Psalmist put it, "The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver" 119:72. 

While having adequate money to pay your bills, stay healthy and take care of your needs is of definite importance, it takes a back seat to the importance of the sweet fellowship of our Heavenly Father. 

I''ll end with a song by the group Avalon, called, "I Can't Live a Day Without You," that speaks of this very thing:  "....I could have all life offers, riches that were far byond compare to grant my every wish without a care, oh, I could do anything, oh, yes, but if You weren't in it all -- I couldn't face my life tomorrow without your hope in my heart I know, I can't live a day without You.  Lord, there's no night and there's no morning without your loving arms to hold me, you're the heartbeat of all I do.  I can't live a day without You."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Three Truths

I love stained glass windows and some of the churches we visit have magnificent windows that picture scripture beautifully.  I like this richly-colored set of panels showing King Jesus seated on His throne in Heaven, surrounded by angels worshipping Him in song.  This set of windows graces St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Duval Street in Key West, Florida.

I used this photo to represent the power and majesty of God as I list Three Truths about Him that we can stand on in this seemingly uncertain world we live in.

1.  God has a Purpose for Everything ~ "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails" Proverbs 19:21.

2.  God is Always with Us -- and He Loves Us ~ "....and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" Matthew 28:20 / "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" John 3:16.

3.  God is in Control of All Things ~ "For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me...Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass" Isaiah 46:9 & 11.

In all ways and in all things -- these three truths will stand.  If we could see our suffering and difficulties from Heaven's view, it would make it easier, but since we can't do that, we must trust the One who can and cling to His promises -- and believe that He does indeed have a good outcome and a good purpose in the end. 

So, when the next bump in the road rears up in front of you -- just remember those three truths, hold them close to your heart and let God bless you along your way.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Walking with God

"Give yourself fully to the adventure of today.  Walk boldly along the path of Life, relying on your ever-present Companion."  Today's devotional in "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young, opened with those words and I smiled.  What joy to know we can walk along our day's path with Him as our guide, our encourager -- the one who knows the beginning from the end and what's around every corner.  Hallelujah -- I just want to shout at the wonder of it all!

The photo above was taken at Craters of the Moon National Park in Idaho some years ago.   I'm walking down a pathway surrounded by chunks of volcanic rock.  I confess, I  didn't continue along this pathway because I didn't know where it led or how long it was or if it was worth the effort.  The park itself is fascinating, but this path -- I wasn't too sure.  It looks a bit desolate, wouldn't you say?

How does your pathway look today?  Whether it looks like the Craters of the Moon or it's strewn with rose petals (how often does that happen?), God knows not only where your path leads, but how long it will take to get there and -- He says it is worth the effort.  Your path might seem desolate at times, but you never know what beauty waits for you around the bend (but, God knows).  I love the 23rd Psalm - don't we all!  Pull out your Bible and read it today and determine that you will choose to walk your path with God. 

I love that God promises to "restore my soul" in Psalm 23.  He also will "guide me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake."  Further in today's devotion, Sarah Young writes that Jesus says to us, "Trust Me...Fix your eyes on Me, the Author and Perfecter of your faith, and many difficulties on the road ahead will vanish before you reach them."

If we'll just trust and follow and worship this amazing God who loves us, we can say with the Psalmist, "my cup runneth over...Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Trees & Nature


I just love palm trees -- like this lovely line of Royal Palms in Palm Beach, Florida.  Perhaps I'm so impressed by palms because they are few and far between where I live in Virginia.  Florida, however, is filled with the elegant and stately tree and I am suitably impressed with each and every one of them.

I have heard from people who own palm trees that they are a mess to take care of -- really difficult.  That's the sort of thing about nature that reminds me that this was not the way it was suppose to be.  When God created the world, He pronounced it, "Good!"  The first chapter of the creation chapter in Genesis says, "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good...." 

But then, not too long after their beautiful creation where every bug, animal, blossom and leaf held to a lovely order that was only good, never harmful, sin entered the world and nature, along with man was cursed.  God said, "Cursed is the ground for your sake...thorns and thistles it shall bring forth..." Genesis 3:17-18.  It's no surprise then that as it says in Romans 8, "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now."

It seems kind of unfair to nature, but sinful consequences almost always spill over into further places than just our own.  As Tim Keller writes, "Human beings are so integral to the fabric of things that when human beings turned from God the entire warp and woof of the world unraveled."

Matt Chandler, in his book, "The Explicit Gospel," points out how cosmic the whole gospel is to everything -- not just individual salvation.  He writes, "We see that the peace that is made by the blood of the cross covers 'all things.' ...the cross spans the brokenness between man and God and the brokenness between earth and heaven."

Palm trees, along with every facet of nature, were created to glorify and praise the Almighty Creator God.  I think they do a pretty good job of that in spite of the curse that covers them as well as us.  But, someday, all will be healed and reconciled and nature along with mankind can stop groaning and start rejoicing.  Until that day, I'm going to smile every time I see a palm tree and think, "In spite of her limitations, she's standing tall and praising God.  We could all learn a lesson from such faithfulness."

Monday, February 11, 2013


On our recent trip to Florida, we visited all four of the Disney parks.  In the photo above, Larry and I are posing with a cute little Minnie Mouse who looks totally pert and friendly with her big smile.  I wondered if the girl inside the costume was bothering to smile for real -- and, of course, I'm well-aware that she wasn't a real mouse either.

As we were "doing" the various rides and adventures in the parks, I made an observation that has spiritual significance:  the "world" each park presents is not real.  Of course, we know this going in, but we sometimes forget that important fact because it all seems so real.  The Disney folk create trees, animals, buildings and even "people" that seem so real, you sometimes forget they're make-believe and illusion.  It's easy when you're surrounded by these things for the line between reality and make-believe to blur.  That's part of the fun in a theme park, but what about real real life?

While Disney is a master of make-believe and illusion, there is one who is the true master of illusion and further, the master of deceit as well (deceit is the darker side of illusion).  The one who holds that title is Satan. 

While Disney parks are lots of fun and full of beautiful things to see and do, the illusions Satan brings into your life are full of danger.  Don't let Satan fool you -- all that glitters in real life is NOT gold.  The dross he offers might shine briefly, but as it quickly turns to brass, we realize once again we've been fooled.  That satisfaction and happiness he promised was short-lived and like the rides at the Disney parks, you find yourself back on the pavement at the same spot where you started.  The ride is over -- what comes next?

Satan loves it when he can confuse us - like thinking wrong is right and right is wrong.  This has become a major problem in our world today.  The world is full to the brim with deceit and illusion.  Satan has blinded society and government alike - and even many churches into accepting evil for good - or at least acceptable.  1 John 1:8 says, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."

In Genesis 3:13, after Satan tempted Eve, she said, "The serpent deceived me and I ate."  With just a few words, Satan spun a make-believe world for Eve and he's been doing it to the rest of humanity ever since.

So -- what's a person to do?  Jesus said, "In me you may have peace...for I have overcome the world" John 16:33.  Also, in John 16:13, we're told that the Holy Spirit "will guide you into all truth..."  So, there IS an answer to the need for truth and reality -- it's God.  His Word and His Spirit will guide you in truth if you'll just ask Him to and seek truth. 

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free -- and therein is found "the fullness of joy" that comes through a Savior that has overcome the world and Satan.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

God's Presence

After what seems like a long interlude of silence, I'm back to posting again.  We lost our computer capabilities to a nasty virus just after the new year began, then traveled down to the warmth of Florida for three weeks, and still do not have our computer back yet.  I want to post photos with my writing, but will just have to insert them once we finally get our computer back.  I hate to be so dependant on technology, but that is the way the world seems to turn in our present age.

Florida was fun and -- I don't mean to rub it in, but very warm and even hot some days.  As I walked along the warm walkways in flipflops, admiring colorful flowers and all varieties of palm trees, I kept having to remind myself it was January!  Then, when we returned home, it snowed the next day.  I do love a bit of snow, so I was quite happy to change my flipflops for boots -- at least for a while (:

This morning, as I read through my favorite daily devotional, "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young, I read Jesus saying, "Follow Me one step at a time.  That is all I require of you.  In fact, that is the only way to move through this space/time world."  I looked up the corresponding verse in Psalm and one on the opposite page caught my eye and grabbed my heart, "In your presence is fullness of joy" Psalm 16:11.  As I sat gazing out my window and communing with God, I felt a great peace and joy settle over me.  I'd been worrying about several things earlier, but when I became still before God and gloried in His presence, all those cares melted away and the fullness I felt in His presence pierced my heart with joy.  It's really, really true -- when we draw away from the world and step into the presence of Almighty God, praising and glorifying His name, there is no fuller joy available in this world.

I'm afraid I haven't yet mastered the ability of living in constant awareness of God's presence.  Oh, I know He's always there (praise God!), but I become distracted by the world around me and get caught up in other things to the extent that I just take for granted He is there and don't actively, moment by moment "feel" that Holy presence that is always surrounding me.  I think that's why the scripture reminds us that we need to regularly "Be still and know that I am God."  In stillness and seeking His presence, comes the fullest joy.

I'm so thankful that God never leaves me, even when there may be a spiritual distance on my part.  He is always there and welcomes me back to the circle of His presence at a moment's notice.  What an amazing, above all else and extraordinary God we are privileged to belong to.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow.