Friday, August 30, 2013

High & Dry

This photo was taken in Wales during a trip we took there way back in 1997.  I snapped this shot from the window of Chepstow Castle (ca 1067) which sits high on a narrow limestone ridge above the River Wye.  What fascinated me was the major low tide they experience along that river.  The tidal range there is around 48 feet, perhaps the second largest in the world.  I just thought it was so weird seeing these boats hanging in the mud from their moorings -- high and dry.
 Have you ever felt like you've been left hanging high and dry?  I think we've all experienced that feeling sometime in our lives.  It's not a happy situation.  I'm sure if those boats in the photo could talk they'd probably be asking why they weren't happily floating in the river rather than hanging precariously with their hulls dragging in the mud.  Nobody likes to be left hanging.
There are times when we may feel as if God has left us hanging - high and dry.  David wrote in the Psalms:  "....Do not be silent to me, lest, if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.  Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You..." 28:1-2.  Then, in Psalm 22, he becomes even more plaintive in his distress:  "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?  Why are you so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?"
No doubt, we've all had times when we've felt like God wasn't there or wasn't listening to our cry.  We've felt kind of like these boats, left hanging in the mud.  The thing we need to remind ourselves of at such times is that He is still there and He still hears.  For one reason or another, we just can't feel it at that moment. 
There's a song by Barlow Girls called, "Never Alone," and it captures this whole feeling.  The chorus goes: 
 I cried out with no reply
And I can't feel You by my side
So I'll hold tight to what I know
You're here and I"m never alone
Let's listen again to David's words as his feelings turn around and he is lifted out of the mud by God:  "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry.  He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.  He has put a new song in my mouth - praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.  Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust..." 40:1-4.
This then is the truth we hold onto -- the one I wrote about earlier in the week -- God never leaves us alone.  Even when we can't feel His hand holding ours -- it's still there, just perhaps a bit more "invisible" than usual.  Re-read Psalm 23 and always remember the phrase in verse 4:  "...For You are with me..."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Far Side of the Moon

It's hard for me to get a good picture of the moon with my simple camera, but it doesn't stop me from trying.  The moon was so pretty that night, with a nice haze around it.  Although it didn't turn out particularly good, at least it's still recognizable as the moon.

Not long ago, I was thinking about a verse in Psalm and I misquoted it in my mind.  Have you ever done that?  When I looked up the verse and saw the mistake, I was kind of disappointed, because I liked it the way I'd misquoted it.  Then, I realized that both the correct quote and the misquote are equally true, so that made me happy. 

The verse I'd gotten muddled is found in Psalm 139:9-10 and I used it in a recent blog - it's "If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." 

Before I wrote that blog is when I'd been thinking of the verse in different terms.  Here's what I'd been thinking:  "If I settle on the far side of the moon, even there You will be with me."  The truth is still in it, but of course, it's not accurate scripture.  Can you imagine if such a verse had actually been written by David in the Psalms way back over 3,000 years ago?  At such a time in history, it would have been unthinkable that man would ever consider being on the far side of the moon and readers might have been incredulous -- yet, man has indeed been on the far side of the moon and God was indeed with him there.

The wonder and great comfort of this is that God is indeed with us everywhere -- even if we did make a trip to the far side of the moon.

In Hebrews 13:5, Paul writes, "...God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"  The comfort of that truth is incalculable.  Without it, we would live in a fearful and insecure place in this big, bad world, but with that truth as firm gospel, we can know that wherever we are and whatever situation we find ourselves, He -- the great, almighty God of all things -- is right there within and around us -- always. 

The next time you settle on the far side of the sea, or even the far side of the moon (or even the far side of your neighborhood), you may know that your loving Father is right there by your side -- holding you fast and ready to guide you.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Be Still

If this photo looks out of focus, that's because the puppy in the picture was in constant movement and made it impossible for me to get a good picture of him.  My sweet grandson Storm is patiently holding this little wiggling Chihuahua, the newest addition to their dog family.

I took six pictures trying to get a good one of the dog and he's in constant movement and out of focus in every picture.  Of course, I'm going to see a spiritual message in this: the obvious I see is that if we as Christians don't have frequent times of stillness before God, our lives are going to become out of focus on a regular basis.

God makes it clear in His word that we must have quiet times before Him to be cleansed, to recharge, to rejoice, to remember that He is God.  The Psalmist reminds us to, "Be still and know that I am God" 46:10.  I find that the times I neglect this important directive, I am not in a good place.  The "out of focus" feeling that I get is real and it is not the way I want to live.  The only saving grace about such times is that I eventually call out to God and say, "Help!  I'm spinning out of control here and I need you to grab my hand and help me get grounded and back to my right place with You."

God is so loving and patient!  He hears my cry and draws me back to that place of stillness where I can become grounded again.  I love the verse in 2 Chronicles 7:14:  "If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 

That "heal their land" bit, I believe, also refers to healing our needs and our heartaches and our lack of peace.  God is ready and waiting -- and even eager -- to help us be still and rest in Him and find the balance and focus we need to live life with joy and purpose.  We were not created to be in constant movement.  Even this little Chihuahua is still when he's sleeping (:  We need to "Be still and know..." that God is God and that we are His beloved children and rest in the beauty of that truth.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Light in the Darkness

"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" Matthew 5:16.

Marisa and I enjoy singing the little song, "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine .... let it shine, let it shine for the Lord."  As she holds this little brightly-lit lantern in a dark place, it helps light her way and also helps illuminate her as well.  Everyone knows how important light is, yet, many people live in darkness and don't even seem to realize how dim are their surroundings.

Some choose to live in darkness because the light would too easily expose their sinful ways.  It's much easier to hide a multitude of evils in the dark.  John wrote, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light..." John 3:19-20.

Then, there are other people are so accustomed to the darkness, they don't realize their true situation.  They stumble through their lives and many of them don't know they could choose to live in the light and enjoy a much brighter, more colorful existence.  The next verse in John says, "But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

God's first words when He created this earth was, "'Let there be light,' and there was light" Genesis 1:3.  Always, light has been important to the Creator.  God wants us to not only live in the light, but also be a light in a dark world.  As children of God, we are to be like lights on a hill, helping those in darkness see a great truth (salvation) and also shining a spotlight of praise to our Savior and King.

To live in the light, we need only accept the free gift of salvation offered by the One who is the light.  Jesus Himself spoke to the people and said, "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" John 8:12.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Skara Brae

I was so excited to view the ancient ruins of Skara Brae on the Orkney Islands in the northernmost part of Great Britain.  There's something about viewing well-preserved 5,000 year old dwellings that is thrilling!  Because this village had been covered in sand for 40 centuries, it had managed to remain in a relatively complete condition, making it possible to more fully study the ways of those early people.

We saw eight houses that were linked to one another by low, covered passages so that the people could get around in the village even when the weather outside was extreme, plus it would have protected them from wild animals and other dangers.  It seems like a really good idea to me.  The Neolithic people lived in this village for about 600 years until various natural calamities forced them to find new digs.

Our guide told us many things about how these early people lived and how smart they were in many of the things they knew and things they did as evidenced by what they left behind.  I remarked to one of the women on the tour with us that it was no surprise that these people were smart, because the first man God created, Adam, would have been brilliant and he was from an even earlier time.  The woman looked at me as if I'd sprouted two heads and then said, "Well, I don't believe that way."  It would have been humourous if it hadn't been so sad that most people don't believe what God says in His Holy Word.

The theory of evolution (and one must remember that even scientists say it is only a theory) and proponents of a very old earth have managed to blind nearly a whole generation of people -- and they're going after the next generation as hard as they can.  They don't have any real answers and they're all floundering around in theories and ideas that change with the wind.

I'm so thankful the Bible makes the origin of this world and everything in it clear and precise.  We didn't originate in some mucky sludge, nor did we go through a million years as monkeys or neanderthals.  We began as fully capable human beings created by a loving Father in His very image, and placed in a beautiful world that was as fresh and new as one week ago.  It's exciting and it's truth that cannot be proven wrong, because it is what it is.  I much prefer God's true story to the theories thrown around by scientists who simply don't know what they're talking about.

I love the way God tells it in His book:  "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" Genesis 1:1.  It couldn't be simpler to understand and believe.  God said it,  I believe it and that's good enough for me!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sweet Baby!

Everytime I see this picture I took of my grandson Landon last month, it makes me smile!  He looks so sweet and innocent and happy.  He can pull himself up standing now and soon he'll be taking his first steps toward a lifetime of walking and running and generally being an active boy.  He is so precious!

After God created Adam, I have no doubt when He looked at that innocent and happy young man it made Him smile as well.  Adam's eyes were probably as clear and excited about life as Landon's are.  Adam immediately started taking his first steps toward a lifetime of walking and running and filling his time with meaningful activity -- all the while, thoroughly enjoying his relationship with His Creator Father.  I envision Adam as being, not only handsome, but brilliant and kind and humorous -- and pretty much the best of the best. 

"So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  God blessed them..." Genesis 1:27-28.

Knowing God's amazing creation Adam was headed for a fantastic future makes it that much sadder and tragic when we know what happened and how incredibly far he -- and we as a result -- fell from that perfect plan.  Because of Adam's failure to trust and obey God, he sinned and we all lost big time.  God sadly told him:  "...In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return" 3:19.

Yet... even then ... God still loved this precious child (and Eve as well).  Even at that moment when the words of judgment were being given, God hinted at the hope that lay ahead for not only Adam and Eve, but all of His beloved children who would come after.  Those first words of hope were surprisingly found within the serpent's curse:  "...And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel" 3:15.

In those Words, a merciful promise held out for us -- that the woman's Seed - meaning the future Messiah - would someday bruise the head of Satan by way of His redemptive death on the Cross.  While all the details involving this future event were unknown to Adam and Eve, God knew every jot and tittle of His gracious plan and He knew that eventually (even though it would be thousands and thousands of years later) there would be a complete victory over what was begun by that first act of disobedience.  God knew that His beloved first creation Adam would some day (in heaven) again be that handsome, brilliant, kind and humorous son that would once again have a close and loving relationship with his Father.

In the beginning, he had enjoyed that close, personal relationship with God every day and after his sin separated him from that face to face closeness, he must have lamented his loss every day of his 930 years on the earth.  What a wonderful reunion Adam must have had with Father God when - after 930 years on what had become a sinful earth, he once again stepped into the presence of his Creator. 

Someday, all we who know Christ as Savior will know the joy of a face to face relationship with our beloved Father.  Until that day, let's seek to enjoy the wonderful, mysterious relationship with Him that He gives to His children every day.  It's amazing!

I'm also going to continue to enjoy my sweet baby grandson Landon and watch him grow into a handsome young man who, I pray, will serve our Lord and rejoice in a wonderful, close relationship with his Father God as well.

Monday, August 12, 2013


I took this photo in the famous Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles in Paris, France.  The Hall is 233 feet long and has 17 great mirrors facing tall arched windows with crystal chandeliers, gilt trim, and elaborate paintings which make it a truly remarkable space.  It is a beautiful room and I'm so thankful I got to see it. 

For the people who once owned and lived in this palace, this exquisite room was a hallway they passed through going to and from their bedrooms to other rooms of the house (though I'd hardly call it a mere "house").  Louis XIV, who created the room, called himself the Sun King and he considered himself to be "all that" and more.  He died over 300 years ago.  I wonder what he is thinking today?  I will let Psalm 49 answer that question:

"Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him.  Though while he lived he counted himself blessed - and men praise you when you prosper - he will join the generation of his fathers, who will never see the light of life.  A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish."

Proverbs has some things to say about riches as well:  "Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife," 17:1 and "Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil" 15:16.

The wisdom of the Proverbs is surely shown in 30:8, where it is stated, "...give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread."  And I might add, we should always, "Praise God from all blessings flow."

Friday, August 9, 2013

Frayed Edges

Do you ever feel like you're frayed around the edges?  This hosta plant on my back deck started the summer with beautiful green leaves, but somewhere along the way -- whether from too much sun, too much heat or too little water -- the leaves became frayed around the edges. 

Sometimes, I feel like I get frayed around the edges from too much to do and too little time -- I become what I call, overwhelmed.  At such times, I remind myself that many women have far more to do and far less time than I do to accomplish what is needed -- yet, I still feel frayed.  I also remind myself that many people have far more responsibilities and burdens than I do and far less resources to handle their needs -- yet, I still feel frayed.  Yes, there will always be people who are far worse off than we are, but that doesn't mean we don't need a bit of rest and encouragement ourselves.

I believe the biggest reason my edges fray is not just that I'm overwhelmed, but rather that I'm trying to handle things in my own strength and not taking the time I need to "be still" and know that God is God and He is in control of all things.  I get so wrapped up in trying to take care of things that I don't take care of my spiritual needs and such neglect will inevitably mean frayed edges.

Sometimes I feel like the verse in Psalm 55:6 is what I long for:  "Oh, that I had wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest."  I think we probably all have those moments.  But, rather than run away from our responsibilities and burdens, we grow stronger when we let God water us with His love and provide us with just the right amount of sunshine and shade -- that He would protect our leaves from the fraying affect of attempting self-sufficiency. 

God wants us to depend on Him and be aware that it is His strength working through us that gives us the ability to do what needs to be done -- with joy and peace.  When I become frayed around the edges, I need to pray with the Psalmist, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me..Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me" 51:10-12.