The Greatest Gift

Blackbird Island

Psalm 36:5

Show the wonder of Your great love,
You who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in You from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of Your eye.  Psalm 17:7-8

Even in the cold, God’s love makes us warm.
In rocky places, love gives us a soft place to lie.
His love gives us courage and protects us in truth.
When we do wrong love forgives and leads us to forgive each other.
When there is no time left, there is time enough for love.
Love brings hope even when we are hopeless.
When our lives fill with painful noise, love overcomes with a song.
When we trip and fall, love covers the hurt.
A mountain of anger will yield to love.
When life is empty love will fill the void.
There is no dark place that love cannot reach.
When life appears worthless, love makes it worthwhile.
Fear must leave when love comes in.
Love makes death a brief cry.
Love produces endless joy in the lover and the loved.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Merry Christmas

Light and Life

As I watched the sunrise this morning all the colors and beauty made my heart sing praise.

For in You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light. Psalm 36:9

Music by Aaron Copland / Sunrise over Leavenworth, WA / time lapse photography by Stephen Hufman / beauty, glory, joy, and praise all belong to God. Merry Christmas

 

Flying Through the Morning Mist

Morning Mist Along the Wenatchee River

Flying through the fog of fear

Life is like this scene along the Wenatchee River—shrouded in fog. I am often unable to see clearly to know what lies ahead. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Christians at Philippi, encourages us to to move forward not letting our past sins and fears bind us and prevent our advance.

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,…” Phil. 3:13

So I made my own list of the things I need to forget:

Past sins and failures that have been forgiven.
Past ugliness and pain.
Fear that I don’t have what it takes to keep going.

Trouble is to forget I need to replace my fears with something that encourages, and clears the fog of uncertainty as I move forward. This is why I also need to remember:

Jesus Christ died for my sins, and now I am new in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Jesus loves me and is my faithful shepherd. (John 10:11)
God is building me up in Jesus to do good things. (Ephesians 2:10)
Nothing can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:39)

When you can’t see ahead moving forward depends on what you let your mind dwell upon. (Phil. 4:8)

Link

Autumn Along the Wenatchee

Autumn along the Wenatchee River

This scene was beautiful but short-lived, the next year a second fire burned through this area. Life is like this landscape: beautiful for a time, but things happen. That is why I love John 14:6

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – Jesus

His compassion is new every morning.
He forgives me and helps me forgive.
He gives me a new heart.
He opens my eyes to see, and my ears to hear.
He is my strength and my self control.
He is the good shepherd watching over me and my family.
He is my shield.
He is my hope that conquers fear.
He is my peace and security––my Rock.
He loves me with an enduring love.
He promised to come back and take me home with Him.
No matter what happens He will never leave me nor forsake me.
He is just what I need for life.

Life is not life without Jesus.

Depression (meditation on Psalm 139)

Clouds Obscure My Vision

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.

Beyond My Wildest Dreams

Forest Light

Dreaming in the forest

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”   1 Corinthians 2:9

The question is how do I love God? I know from Deuteronomy 6:5 that I am told to love God with everything in me. But how do I do that?

To understand how, keep reading in 1 Corinthians 2.

“But God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.”  1 Corinthians 2:10

I can’t of myself truly love GodI need the help of the Holy Spirit. To receive that help all I need to do is ask and receive as His child. And what I receive is beyond my wildest dreams. To be loved by God and walk with my Lord.

Killing Time Till I Die

Crystal clear water of Iceberg Creek

Crystal clear water of Iceberg Creek

This stream coming down from Iceberg Lake reminds me of a hiker I met on that trail. He had diabetes and lived out of his car. He had a little money saved, and with it was able to buy gas, food, and insulin. Stopping at various camp grounds his days were spent hiking the trails of national parks. As we hiked and talked he spoke of the many regrets in his life. He really wanted to do something meaningful, something to make his life worthwhile. After a pause he woefully admitted: “Right now I’m just killing time ‘till I die.”

How sad to wander through life with such an epithet. It made me think of my own life. How do I avoid falling prey to similar regrets? The pursuit of what seems worthwhile, only to find in the end that it is mirage, empty of any lasting purpose.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10:10

In truth there is a spiritual battle going on. One side wants to steal and make my life worthless — “killing time, ‘till I die.” On the other side Jesus wants me to have a full life, a life with lasting significance.

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last.  John 15:16

This “fruit” is explained in the rest of John 15. The big thing for me is to know is life has a good purpose beyond the years of my existence an eternal purpose.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10

God has good things for me to do, so instead of “just killing time ‘till I die,” I want to follow Jesus, being filled with “living water” and flow like this stream — in the fullness of life.

The End of the Trail to Iceberg Lake

Iceberg Lake

Iceberg Lake

When I was young I wished to be older,

now that I am old I wish to be younger.

Life taken for granted is wished away,

until their is no longer room for today.

Ice floating on a lake is a metaphor for human existence “here today, gone tomorrow.” Psalm 103 reminds us of of this truth concerning life so that we might dwell upon what is truly important.

For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, Psalm 103:14-17

Thank goodness the Lord’s love is from everlasting to everlasting. That love anchors each day no matter what comes. It is the living water for our dry days. It is the sun breaking through on our cloudy days. It is what gives us hope when all seems hopeless.  The love of God is the most important thing for each day of my life. It will triumph over my  yesterday, provide joy for today, and be my hope forever, even though I am melting away.

His love is given to us in Jesus Christ that who ever believes in Him will be saved and live in His love forever (John 3:16-17)

Traversing the Mountains (Ps.103)

Iceberg Lake Trail

Traversing the mountains along the Iceberg Lake Trail, Glacier National Park

After wandering through the trees the Iceberg Lake trail breaks out to traverse the slopes of mighty mountains. I feel so small.

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:10-12

God through His love yearns to give us compassion and forgiveness. Not reluctantly, but in great quantity. These great mountains are dwarfed in comparison to the great love God has for those who fear Him (hold Him in highest esteem).

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him: for he knows how we are formed, he remembers we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14

God loves HIs children. He knows our weaknesses, our needs, and our failures. So when we humbly bow before Him, He treats us with compassion not as we deserve.

As I hike along the Iceberg Lake trail and marvel at creation, it puts me in awe of God, my Father, and His great love for me.

The Howling Wind (Ps. 103:5-8)

Iceberg Lake-2

The wind molds the trees along the Iceberg Lake Trail

Can you imagine the wind and harsh weather that molded these trees, but here they are  hanging on, some how surviving. We have to admit that what life throws at us sometimes makes us think we won’t survive … so oppressed we would rather die.

In the trek along Psalm 103 the next section extols the Lord’s abounding love and compassion. A love that helps renew our strength like the eagle’s.

Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Psalm 103:5-8

How does this help in our time of trouble, fear, high anxiety? By meditating on the goodness of God’s love found in 1 Corinthians 13

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

I can hold onto God’s love when the wind blows so hard I feel that I am about to crack because His love holds onto me.  Then instead of breaking I am molded into something beautiful like these trees along the Iceberg Lake trail.