An Unexpected Turn

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Bend in the road of the Blue Ridge Parkway

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Psalm 23:4

No matter how many unseen twists and turns life takes, God knows each one before hand and promises to go with us.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
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.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139:7-12

Lupine Lifting Up Praise

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Lupine lifting up to praise God

Praise the Lord, O my soul.
When I praise God, I begin to review all he has done for me.
He has forgiven me, and removed my shame.
He has redeemed my life from sorrow and death.
He satisfies all my desires.
He leads me into goodness and guards me on the way.
His love for me knows no bounds, and he will not let anything come between us.
He shares himself with me, and gives me his name that I should call upon him.
Even the flowers of the field praise the Lord.
What a blessing it is to praise God
Praise the Lord, O my soul.

A paraphrase of Psalm 103

Deception Falls

Deception Falls

The lower portion of Deception Falls, WA

If you have never stopped at Deception Falls, while traversing Stevens Pass, you are missing a beautiful spot. Now about my personal deception falls.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

When I make a sinful choice, I often place the blame on someone else, or point to the circumstances of life as the reason for my relapse into wrong (I can always find an excuse). This lets me think of myself as the victim and not the perpetrator. Unfortunately, this rationalization only takes me further from what I really need––forgiveness and the Holy Spirit’s help. So, I mope around enslaved to this subtle self-deception missing out on God’s joy. The good news is I am just a humble confession away from a pure heart and a renewed spirit. God’s grace to wash away my deception and renew the joy of my salvation

Gray Day

Gray Day

Sometimes the view is obscured

I awoke this morning feeling lost and lifeless. On such gray mornings I need a big dose of Hebrews 4:26.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Followed by Romans 15:13.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Usually it takes some time for the Son to burn off my grayness. Fortunately my coming before the throne is not about my feelings, but about trusting in God’s grace. 

Coming Before the Throne

Before the Throne

At Heaven’s gate

Trying to write, but I am so uninspired and sleepy.
Trying to pray for a good friend who has terminal cancer, but I am so lifeless in prayer.
Trying to live for my Lord, but I am so weak and easily tripped up.
How wonderful is my great high priest who sits enthroned at the right hand of God.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

My soul soars to His mercy seat and I fall before Him in thanksgiving.

Letting in the Sunshine

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The light of day

In this current culture of obscuring the truth with words (e.g. locker room talk, boys will be boys), I need to reflect on the truth found in 1 Corinthians 13.

Lust wants to possess, to force.
Love hopes for love’s response.

Lust wants to rule, to conquer.
Love brings freedom to the lover.

Lust wants to be served, and uses others.
Love wants to serve.

Lust is self-seeking.
Love seeks for good in the one loved.

Lust lies to get what it wants.
Love rejoices with the truth.

Lust becomes angry when it doesn’t get its way.
Love is patient and kind.

Lust leads to self-gratification.
Love leads to self-sacrifice.

The one who lusts becomes like the purveyor of lust.
The one who loves becomes like the author of love.

I may not have stated it all quite right, but I want to point to the one who came to proclaim the truth of God’s love.

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.

Beautiful Iceberg Lake Trail

One of my favorite hikes is Iceberg Lake Trail in Glacier National Park. I would like to use the pictures from this trail as a metaphor for an even better hike through Psalm 103. Hopefully both hikes will lift your spirit as much as they lift mine.

The trail starts in a beautiful aspen grove with the early morning light just touching the tree tops like a crown.

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Aspen along the trail

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion. Psalm 103:1-4

As I gaze at this grove of aspen the more I remember of the crisp cool morning, the birds singing in the trees, the fragrant scent of the forest. In the same manner, the more I dwell on all God has done for me the greater my praise for Him.

Saying Grace

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The beginning of another day at Icicle Gorge

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19

Before each meal I say grace, following the example of Jesus. The purpose is to give thanks for what God has provided, and ask the Lord’s blessing upon the food.

This morning as I lay in bed thinking of the coming day it struck me I could say grace over this day, following the same pattern of giving thanks and asking for God’s blessing. Saying grace over the day reminds me that God wants to bless it, to transform it into the fullness of why He has given it to me. Maybe the greatest transformation is in my perspective of the meaning and purpose of this day. After saying grace, it is no longer “just another day,” but one filled with God’s presence at every turn. The same possibility of blessing applies to the people we pray for: family, friends, and even person who cut us off in traffic.  What an awesome gift is grace, for we get to lavish it around on everything and everyone that God brings into our lives. This day will be forever changed simply by praying for God’s grace upon it, and with this simple prayer this day is elevated to eternal purpose.