Gazing Upon Beauty

Beautiful Wild Rose

Beautiful Wild Rose

Beauty is not the structure of facial bones.
But shines forth when a child smiles.
Beauty is not found in the shape of the body.
But in sacrificing the body for another’s good.
Beauty is not in what we make with our hands.
It is in allowing our hands to used in serving.
Beauty is not in what we aspire to be.
It is in who inspires us.
Beauty is Jesus, living in and through us.

One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
Psalm 27:4

Reflection On Life

It is because we see so imperfectly that faith is so important.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1Corinthians 13: 12

Icicle River reflecting pool

Icicle River reflecting pool

The Fear

Fear can make us act in strange ways.

Fear at the doorstep

Fear at the doorstep, Fisher Fire 2004

So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you. (Matthew 25:25)

I am afraid of losing what little I have.
I am afraid I’m not smart enough.
I am afraid people will laugh at me.
I am afraid I can’t do it.
I am afraid of being alone.
I am afraid I’m a failure.
I am afraid of dying.
I am afraid that I’m afraid.
Fear is all I feel,
And my fears make me run.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

Everyone is a coward,
But the righteous run to the name given to cover our shame.
Everyone is a failure,
But the righteous run to the name for strength to start anew.
Everyone is afraid of pain and death,
But the righteous run to the name, who is the source of life.
Everyone feels fear,
But God uses our fear to bring forth faith.
Everyone has fears, but the righteous run to the name given by God to cover all our sin, weakness, and failures.
That name is Jesus, which means God saves.
Faith is running to God in the midst of our fears.

The Wonder of Dawn, the Dawn of Wonder

Wonderful Dawn
Those living far away fear your wonders;
where morning dawns and evening fades
you call forth songs of joy. (Psalm 65:8)

The love of God, commands us to love.
The forgiveness of God, brings us to forgive.
The righteousness of God, stirs a hunger and thirst for rightness.
The goodness of God, kindles a desire to be good.
The beauty of God, makes us long for beauty in us.
So we are told to ask.
We are beckoned to seek.
We are encouraged to knock.
Like the dawn, the Spirit of God comes to us and brings forth songs of joy.
(Luke 11:9-13)

Surviving an Accident: Learning to Live Again

How do you deal with sorrow and guilt that comes from being the cause of an accident. It is not an intentional act that requires confession and forgiveness, it’s just an accident. An unfortunate mistake in judgement, like spilling a glass of milk at a meal, or pulling out from the gas pump with the hose still stuck into the car. These are minor examples, but what if it is a major accident that results in someone being injured or killed. These accidents are life changing and extremely hard to get past. Frequently, they lead to isolation and depression from all the psychological pounding. It is analogous to a log caught in the rocks hammered by turbulent whitewater.

A log trapped in whitewater

A log trapped in whitewater

My mind swirls with relentless self-recriminations that I cannot switch off. The condemnation I feel begins to build to high levels. Friends with good intentions throw verses at me like: “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away,” or they talk about it being God’s will or purpose. But these words only seem to make me feel more isolated and upset, no one understands, I feel alone. The worst battering comes from the inner voices constantly berating me: “how could you be so stupid” or “you should be stronger … where is your faith.” With all this, the burden of guilt only seems to grow, not slacken. I begin to wonder if life is worth living.

Learning to Live

First, I must understand there is no easy answer or quick remedy. Second, I have have to learn to breath again, taking one breath at a time. This involves forcing myself to breathe in truth in the form of a memorized verse (e.g. “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” – Psalm 27:10) Then I exhale a prayer for help. Inhale truth, exhale prayer, over and over until the truth starts to sink in. I constantly remind myself “don’t panic,” for the waves will keep coming. During this process false accusations will bounce around in my head, stuff like: “you’re a failure,” or “you deserve to die.” I can only refute these lies with truth from God’s Word.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation (including terrible accidents) will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Lastly, commit your way unto God, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Prov. 3:5)

The Blessing of Dew

The blessing of dew

The blessing of dew

God’s commands are like the morning dew. We run around hurrying to take care of business, then get upset because our shoes are wet. It is only when we bow down that we notice the beauty God has blessed us with.

The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the Lord are sure
and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
(Psalm 19:8-10)

A Glimpse of Heaven

Looking up Snow Lakes Trail into the Enchantments

Looking up Snow Lakes Trail into the Enchantments

At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like angels in heaven. Matt. 22:30

This verse gives us a little peak into life after death. It is not meant to be a complete picture of heaven, just a glimpse. For someone who has lost a family member it can be very reassuring. When I think of my parents, to know they are “like angels” helps me deal with the loss. I look forward to the day when I can join them. Some people will be like the Sadducees (a Jewish sect that did not believe in the resurrection) calling Jesus’ statement “hogwash.” Reading in Matthew 22 Jesus’ responds to the scoffers: “you are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” No doubt my understanding of heaven is incomplete and sorely lacking, but I do know that Jesus loves my parents, and His power goes way beyond my understanding. Therefore, if I am mistaken about what the phrase, “they will be like angels,” means. I error on the side of being too shallow and meagerly.

The Love of God at the Far Ends of Life

Beauty when life nears the end

Beauty at the end of life

The love of God is not dependent on competence, nor diminished by the wilting of abilities with age. He loves the old on their last day of life. He loves the newborn (and the unborn) on their first day of life. He loves those suffering from mental illness unable to function. He even loves the demon possessed man running naked among the tombs of the dead (Luke 8:26-27). God loves us regardless of our condition or accomplishments.

Sadly, our natural abilities can be a hindrance to receiving God’s love, because success can so easily become the desire of life, pushing aside God. It is at the far ends of life that we set aside dignity and run to the love of God. Allowing him to bath us in forgiveness and hold us in his loving arms.

“For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). God’s love has no boundaries except the ones we impose by our foolish pride.

The Love of God (part 1)

Phlox, the name does not come close to capturing the beauty.

The name, Phlox, does not come close to capturing the beauty.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)

I have been meditating on this verse. Why does Paul pray that we grasp the expanse of the love of Christ, then turn around and say this love surpasses knowledge? I think it means: I won’t be able to fully understand the vastness of God’s love, but through Jesus I can receive its fullness. It is like the Phlox (wildflower pictured above), I don’t understand how such beauty comes out of a little seed; thankfully, that doesn’t prevent me from enjoying it.

By the time you read this meditation this Phlox will have withered and died, but God’s love is new this morning and will endure forever.

A Path Through Scorched Earth (Psalm 139)

Trail to Lake Caroline

Trail to Lake Caroline

All my thoughts are gray.
I am lost in despondency.
I cannot move for the weight of my darkness.
O Lord, You search for me, because You care for me.
I make my bed in Sheol.
Behold, You are here with me.
You stoop down to meet me, because You love me.
You come along side me, because of Your great compassion.
You understand how I feel, because You walked these paths.
You cry with me and do not run out of tears.
This gray day has been known by You since I was first made,
Its purpose is not lost, because You are with me.
Your compassion for me will never end; it will never grow old.
You surround me and have laid Your hand upon me.
I scarcely understand.
Though I forsake myself, You will not.
And someday, I will enter Your rest,
Because Your grip is sure and You know the way.