Saturday, September 26, 2015

Photo "Painting"

   Here is a tranquil beach scene that looks exactly like a painting, but it's actually a photo I took during our stay at the Outer Banks.  As I stood on the beach, I zoomed in on this distant colorful umbrella and snapped the picture.  It looks so much like a painting you can almost see the brush strokes.  In fact, it looks more like a painting than a picture, which I think is really interesting.  I may even use it for a book cover for an upcoming book I have in the pipeline.

   Although I'm really thrilled with the way this picture turned out, I just can't miss the chance of using it as an example of a thing looking like something it is not. 

   Two of my recent posts referred to Satan's tactics to deceive us and that's what we are reminded of with this painting/picture.  We've been doing an Andy Stanley study, "Twisting the Truth," in our Sunday School class.  It's subtitled, "Learning to discern in a culture of deception."  And isn't that what the dark forces are trying to do in our lives daily -- twist the truth.  Notice, the word "truth" is still there -- and there is truth in what we see around us, but you can count on the truth being twisted ever so subtly in many cases, and downright blatantly in other cases.

   Jesus warned us in Matthew 7:15:  "Beware of false prophets who come in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves."  There again, we have a thing looking like something it is not.  It looks like a mild sheep, but is inwardly a hungry wolf.  We could use that simile to describe a false prophet -- or, sad to say, even a friend who might be tempting you to go in a direction you know you should not.  How many times in life do we see examples of the old phrase, "With friends like that, who needs enemies?"

   Paul tells his young friend Timothy to be careful who he trusts, saying, "having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power, avoid such people!" 2 Timothy 3:5.

   The key to being able to discern rightly is being close to the One who knows what is real and what is not real.  A right relationship with the Lord will help keep you centered in the truth.  Our good friend Paul wrote to the Thessalonians and told them, "But test everything; hold fast to what is good" 5:21. 

   Enjoying a picture that looks like a painting is fun, but making a decision or accepting a thing that looks like something it is not can be dangerous.  We all desperately need to "learn how to discern in a culture of deception."


Saturday, September 19, 2015

By The Sea

The first week of September we enjoyed a vacation at the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  The first few days, the ocean was calm and warm.  Notice how few waves are in the photo I took.  It was lovely to wade on a long sandbar and relax in the soothing water.  Although we were not on a ship, I did think of the words of the Psalmist because we too saw the wonder of the Lord as we gazed across the great expanse of Atlantic Ocean in front of us:

"Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business
 on great waters, they see the works of the Lord, and
 His wonders in the deep" Psalm 107:23-24

Around the middle of the week, the water got rougher, as you can see in this photo.  Red flags went up and swimming was no longer allowed, although surfers were out enjoying the bigger waves.  It was pretty to see the white ruffles of waves following one another to the shoreline, ending in a wide froth of foam.
"Thus says the Lord, who makes a way through the sea
 and a path through the mighty waters" Isaiah 43:16
The Saturday we were going to leave and go home, the ocean was very rough, what I call "boiling."  Wave after powerful wave crashed along the sandy shoreline.  It was beautiful!  Surfers were out in force, but even they had difficulty battling the strong pull of the water.  And to think -- God holds all of that mighty force in the palm of His hand as if it were no more than a droplet of water.  He is awesome!!
"'Do you not fear Me?' says the Lord. 'Will you not tremble at
 My presence, Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea,
 by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it?  And
 though its waves toss to and fro, yet they cannot prevail; though
 they roar, yet they cannot pass over it'" Jeremiah 5:22
I thought these three little kids looked cute as they sat just above the waterline in their life vests, watching the amazing power of the ocean pounding at their feet.  It was a very good thing that God only allowed the waves to go so far and no further.  Though they roared, they could not reach the children.  Praise God for His protection!
"The sea is His, for it was He who made it, and
His hands formed the dry land" Psalm 95:5

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Tribute to the Memory of 9/11

A Tribute to the Memory of the 9/11 Tragedy
"Meet Me in The Stairwell
by Stacey Randall
You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the news on September 11th, 2001.  Neither will I.
I was on the 110th floor in a smoke-filled room with a man who called his wife to say “good-bye.”  I held his fingers steady as he dialed.  I gave him the peace to say, “Honey, I am not going to make it, but it is OK.  I am ready to go.”  I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children.  I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he wasn’t coming home that night.
I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to Me for help.  “I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!” I said.  “Of course I will show you the way home; only believe in Me now.”

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer.  I was with the crew as they were overtaken.  I was in the very hearts of the believers there, comforting and assuring them that their faith has saved them.

I was in Texas, Virginia, California, Michigan and Afghanistan.  I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news.  Did you sense Me?  I want you to know that I saw every face.  I knew every name – though not all know Me.  Some met Me for the first time on the 86th floor.  Some sought Me with their last breath.  Some couldn’t hear Me calling to them through the smoke and flames;  “Come to Me…this way…take My hand.”  Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me.  But I was there.

I did not place you in the Tower that day.  You may not know why, but I do.  However, if you’d been were there in that explosive moment in time, would you have reached for Me?

September 11th, 2001, was not the end of the journey for you.  But someday your journey will end.  I will be there for you as well.  Seek Me now while I may be found.  Then, at any moment, you know you are “ready to go.”  I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.               Love, the LORD
When I read this piece in our church newsletter, I wept the whole time I was reading.  I weep for the sorrow and the loss and the horror of it all, but also for the fact that God was there with every soul going through the crucible.  Knowing how Jesus wept after the death of his friend Lazarus, I can only imagine that the Lord felt great sorrow for all His creation was having to endure as a result of the work of the evil one, Satan. 
Praise God, the day will come when Satan is the one in the flames and we can at last be free from his influence.  Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

-Photos:  these two photos came from the 9/11 Museum in NYC