Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tiger, Tiger

I love tea!  What fun to tour the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory in Boulder, Colorado where this picture was taken.  I think tigers are one of the most beautiful of wild animals, so I was especially glad to be able to pet this large, wonderfully tame beauty.
This tiger looks as if he's standing in a doorway ready to walk through, but he's really got his nose up against a window -- a very strong window, I hope.  He lives in the Animal Kingdom at Disney World and, as you can see, he gets a lot of attention.
Every time I see or think about a tiger, the grand poem by William Blake always comes to mind:
Tiger, Tiger burning bright
In the forest of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Did He smile his work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?
We, of course, know that "He who made the lamb" also made the tiger. In fact, He made every animal as we see in Genesis 1:24 when "God said, 'Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind'.... And God saw that it was good."
Thank you, O Lord God of all creation, for making such a beautiful world in which we can live and worship You. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013


  This lovely tropical pathway at Animal Kingdom in Florida seemed like a good photo to represent the path Enoch was on as he walked with God so long ago.  I imagine it as a beautiful place in the ancient world.

  In ancient times, when the earth was still young, a man named Enoch walked with God.  What do you think that looked like?  You might say he was living in a simpler time, so it was easier for him.  But - is a life on this ole sinful earth ever easy?  Plus, Enoch did not have written scriptures as we do, nor had the death and resurrection of Christ provided a way for the Holy Spirit to permanently indwell believers. 

   While Enoch lived a bit over 600 years before the great Flood, the times he was living in were probably already beginning to fray around the edges -- badly.  Remember, earlier in history, Cain had murdered his own brother and this was the legacy men were left to live with.  Then, hundreds of years before the flood, mankind started turning away from God and beginning the downward spiral of evil living that caused God to destroy the world of that day by the great Flood.

  Genesis 6:5 NIV reads:  "The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time..."  Yet, in the midst of this sort of time (a time that very much resembles our modern times), this man Enoch walked with God.  In fact, he was so close to God that at some point, when he was a mere 365 years old (at a time when people commonly lived around 900 years), God simply took him directly up to heaven - Genesis 5:24.  This is such a rare occurrence that the Bible only records one other man who never died -- that was the prophet Elijah.

   Here's what scripture says about Enoch in Hebrews 11:  "By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away.  For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.  And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him."

  So, to walk with God one must have faith in God and believe in and on Him, and must earnestly seek Him.  If we live in that spirit, the Bible says that we will please God -- and we will find ourselves on the path that is everlasting -- walking with God.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I took the photo of these bound wrists in Bermuda.  The statue depicts a young slave named Sally Bassett who was burned at the stake in 1730.  It's a gruesome memorial to her death and it made me think how horrible it is to be bound and enslaved.  Sadly, that's the condition of every person who is unsaved.  The opposite of being bound is being free.  The glorious news is that there is freedom in Christ.

The Bible is full of references to freedom. 

"This is what God the Lord says - He who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it" Isaiah 42:5.  God is speaking to Israel, but His word frequently applies to all His children.  "I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness" Isaiah 42:6-7.  Jesus reiterated these words when He read from the scroll of Isaiah during a visit to Nazareth.

Paul said, " dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit..." Romans 7:6

"...that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will" 2 Timothy 2:26

It's one of those glorious paradoxes in the Christian life: submission to God means freedom in Christ. 
Not to make light of this message, but below is a photo of Storm and Kendall taken at the Norfolk Zoo.  Imagine being taken captive and behind bars for real.  It would be sad indeed!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013


These are ancient Tear Bottles I saw on display in a museum in Rhodes, Greece.  I believe they may be made of alabaster.  There is a verse in Psalm 56:8 that refers to the Lord honoring our tears:  "You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?"  It was the custom in ancient times for people to actually save their tears in bottles such as those in this photo.

For years, it bothered me that I cry so easily.  When my heart is touched (and, my heart is  quite tender), I usually tear up and often outright weep.  I frequently cry during my times alone with God because I am so deeply moved by my encounters with Him.  After pondering my propensity for weeping, I realized that my tears are a form of praise to God and He is pleased by them.  Indeed, I believe He puts them into His spiritual tear bottle and counts them as precious in His sight. 

I wanted to share an answer to prayer that I had this morning.  I've been searching for my bi-focal glasses for a couple days with no success.  I've only had them for a month or so and they were expensive - as prescription glasses are - so I really needed to find them.  I decided to search the car for the fourth time.  As I opened the car door, I prayed, "Please, Lord, let me find the glasses."  Immediately, I reached under the seat and felt the glasses on the floor.  I burst into tears of praise at the wonder of it and cried out, "Thank you, Father!"  I felt truly humbled by His grace and thankful for His kindness to me.  I had a little praise party then -- complete with waterworks!

It's actually rather strange - sometimes when I have tears in my eyes, my vision is actually clearer.  I look outside and see distant objects perfectly clear when normally I need glasses.  I think that has a deeper meaning as well.  There are many times that God offers us a clearer vision of an event or circumstance when we have tears in our eyes.  Tears and the softening of the heart they represent allows God to speak to us in ways we might otherwise miss.  Thank God for the tears for they are precious in His sight.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Slow Down

Does it ever seem to you that life on this ole planet earth gets faster and faster?  People are in such a hurry!  Why, if I have to wait 30 seconds for a program to load or 15 seconds for an internet site to come up, I become impatient! 

I recently rediscovered some of the poems I wrote in my younger days and I'm having fun sharing them.  Here's one I entitled, "Hurry!"

Hurry, hurry, hurry, run to your job and work;
And if you run out of files and papers that need your tender care,
No doubt you will be alarmed to find,
You have some time to spare.
Rushing to and fro is par for people everywhere.
What balm for them to stop sometime and out the window stare.
The sky above is peaceful 'cause it never rushes round,
It does its job without a fuss and calmly tops the ground."

I think this beautiful view from the window above would be a nice one to stare out of.  This view sits calmly along the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon at the Cascade Locks.   I love windows with a view!

We all need to slow down once in a while.  I love the verse in Psalm that says, "Be still and know that I am God" 46:10.  The command in that verse is vitally important to each one of us.  I hope we'll all take some time this week to Stop, Look & Listen to the voice of God.


Here's a picture of my sweet granddaughter Kendall enjoying the fragrance and beauty of these lovely Springtime flowers at the Norfolk Zoo.  Most of us enjoy flowers and the beautiful blossoms of spring with their glorious colors are especially welcome after the bare-bone browns of winter.  When I was a mere 18 years old, I described my delight with Spring in a short, simple poem:

There's nothing like a day in Spring;
Such happiness that day can bring.
The warmeth of sunshine upon the face
Seems all of winter's cold to erase.
The heart fairly bursts with the joy of living
As it seems to mankind nature is giving
A glimpse of the beauty she has in store --
Springtime is but a peek through the door.
Just in the last two days, green leaves have popped out on the trees and purple Iris are blooming in my flower bed.  I've always loved Spring -- as evidenced by the poem I wrote many decades ago.  It's always been my favorite season of the year (yes, in spite of the pollen!).
God Himself is pleased when we enjoy His amazing offerings of beauty.  It was on the third day of His creation of this very earth that He created beautiful flowers.  In Genesis we see where God said, "'Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.'  And it was so...  And God saw that it was good." 
Thank you, O Lord God, for the beauty of this earth that you have given for us to enjoy.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Highway of Life

In the photo I took last September, this highway in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado curves off in the distance and we're not sure what might be around the corner.  The view of golden Aspens and green pine is beautiful on this stretch of road, but what lies ahead?

 My grandsons love to sing, "Life is a Highway / I wanna ride it all night long."  The song by Rascal Flatts is quite catchy.  It's also quite true.  Life IS a highway.  God describes it as a road or path in numerous scripture verses. 

Psalm 119 is all about walking the right path in life:  "I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free" v. 32 /    "Direct me in the path of your commands for there I find delight" v. 35 /     "I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts" v 45 /     "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" v 105 /       "Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me" v 133 /

On this Highway called Life, there are times when, yes, we might ride all night long, enjoying the stars and the soft moonlight.  There are other times when we're forced to walk -- or even crawl along that asphalt surface and, as the song says, "the road's so rough."  There are the good times and there are the bad times, but no matter what -- through all the times, God is right there with us -- above us, below us and all around us, and if you're a Christian, He's within you as well.

I like the Psalm written long ago by a young boy who would one day be a king.  That young shepherd David knew the Great Shepherd who leads us along the highway of life and he wrote, "...He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.  He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me...Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

The Great Shepherd -- now, that's a driver I can trust to steer me safely in the right direction as we ride along this Highway of Life.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rabbit Trails

I snapped this little rabbit in my flowerbed -- nibbling on the green leaves of those yellow flowers.  He's so cute, I thought I'd just let him go ahead and enjoy his meal.  He reminds me of the rabbit trails I sometimes find myself following.

As Christians, we might be walking with God on the path of His choosing one day and then strike off on a rabbit trail that catches our attention the next day -- a rabbit trail that might seem innocent enough until we're suddenly confronted by a lion at the end of that trail.

This lion is safely behind sturdy fencing at the San Diego Zoo, but finding a lion in the wild at the end of the trail -- now, that's something to be avoided at all costs.  We can guess what happened to the little rabbit in this scenario, but what's going to happen to you? 

We can't fight a lion in our own strength.  So, one of two things can happen:  you either stick around and he does some serious damage to your person, or you call upon the name of the Lord to rescue you from your predicament.  God is so merciful and all-loving.  He's right there, ready to rescue you when you call on His name.  But -- can you always count on coming out of such an encounter unscathed?There are times when the lion may have taken a chunk out of you before you cried out to God.  Chances are you will have at least a few scratches to show for your digression off the path of God.

So -- how do we make sure we stay on the right path and avoid the appeal of rabbit trails?

King David is a great example of a child of God who followed Him closely, but followed a rabbit trail that was so long and serious that two people died as a result and he himself was badly hurt.  You might say he fell into a pit with a lion and it took him a year to call upon the Lord to rescue him.  Yet, God did not give up on His beloved child David.  He lifted him back up and even proclaimed David to be "a man after my own heart" -- the only person in the entire Bible of whom that is said.

We need to always pray, as David did in Psalm 86:11, "Teach me Your way, O Lord and I will walk in Your truth..."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Battlefield

Never doubt for a minute that our daily walk along the path of life isn't taking us through a battlefield.  This photo shows a large three-dimensional marble picture that is attached to a wall in the courtyard of the Doges Palace in Venice.  It shows various pieces of armor - helmet, breastplate, shield and sword, but also the head of a lion at the top. 

While the lion's head in this picture probably represents Venice since it is the city of the lion, I prefer to let it represent Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah -- our King and great Commander.  I'm reminded by the pieces of armor of the verses in Ephesians 6 about putting on the armor of God.  Why do we as Christians need armor in the first place?

Walking with God doesn't mean we're surrounded by a "bubble" of protection to keep away evil and temptation.  You're still tempted and rough times still get to us.  On the other hand, God offers protection not only with His presence, but in the form of these pieces of spiritual armor to help us in the spiritual battles we face every day.  There's the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit - to name a few (see Eph. 6:10-20 for the whole story).
[photo taken in chapel at Fort Monroe in Newport News]
Rather than feeling fearful or in any way daunted by life or overwhelmed by your circumstances or your relationships, when you're walking across the battlefield with the almighty Commander God --  it's downright exciting!  Our Commander King Jesus knows where every hidden mine is planted.  When we're walking by His side, He'll say, "Stop, don't step there, danger lies just beneath the surface."  If we'll listen and obey Him, we'll be saved from a whole lot of unnecessary sorrow.

When we walk with God, He protects us.  That's not to mean difficulties won't arise, but every sadness or hardship He allows in His followers' lives is meant to be for our growth and believe it or not -- for our eventual blessing.   Praise God -- and pass the ammunition!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Tale that is Told

These drama masks on display outside the ruins of the amphitheater at Ostia Antica outside Rome were carved over 2500 years ago.  They remind me of the drama we call Life -- our Tale that is Told.

A verse in Psalm 90:9 says, "...we spend our years as a tale that is told."  I'm fascinated by that verse for two reasons -- it's obvious truth for one, but also for it's resemblance to the phrase from Shakespeare's Macbeth, which says, " is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" [act 5, scene 5].

What I don't understand is why later translations changed this verse to such an extent.  Even the NKJV writes it, "...we finish our years like a sigh," while the NIV puts it this way, "...we finish our years with a moan."  Neither of these later versions even say the same thing.  For me, I much prefer the original version published in 1611, "...for we spend our yeeres as a tale that is told" (spelling from translation).

It is believed that Shakespeare wrote Macbeth around 1606.  It's interesting to note that the first known performance of Macbeth was April 1611 -- the same year the King James Bible was published, and that James was a patron of the young playwright.  Hmmm....

 The entirety of Macbeth's soliloquy is so sad -- full of hopelessness and purposelessness, as he says:
"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

 This is the world's version of life -- a life without God.  How unutterably sad and empty!

Considering that, yes, we do indeed "spend our years as a tale that is told," shouldn't we be very careful indeed to tell a tale that is worth hearing?  When we let God write our story, it's filled with hope and joy and purpose -- the complete opposite of poor Macbeth's empty life.  I love the song by Steve Green that says:
"Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful."

 When our tale has been fully told, oh, to hear our Lord and Savior say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your lord," from His parable in Matthew 25.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"His Ways, Your Walk"

This is the cover of the newly-published book of my dear friend, Lou Ann Keiser.  Lou Ann has been a missionary with her husband Roy in Spain for many years.  I'm excited for Lou Ann because seeing the message God laid on her heart in the form of this book is a dream come true for her.

This Bible application for women is a wonderful explanation of how to walk in His ways, complete with scripture to back up every statement.  With the experience of raising two children who have become fine Christian adults with families of their own, years on the mission field with her husband, and countless counseling sessions with women from many backgrounds, she is able to speak with authority and confidence as she advises women in how to live a Godly life.

The book contains such chapters as How Can I Know God's Will for my Life? / Where is Mr. Wonderful? / A Mother's Mission / Spiritual Gifts / True Satisfaction / and so much more.  Lou Ann's book can be purchased from Amazon.  Enjoy her blog at

I'm so glad Lou Ann is happy with her book -- and don't you love the cover!!  She said, "The process was long and hard, yet rewarding.  I am definitely happy with the result.  I feel like I did what God burdened me to do and that, in itself, is satisfying."

We are thankful Lou Ann was faithful in completing what God called her to do, because now we all have this wonderful book available to us to be used for God's glory. 

You go, girl!!