God is oh so… amazing awesome creative majestic artistic awesome (did I say that already?) Awe-inspiring And a host of other adjectives.
To look at this scene; this artwork, and say this is just a random event is to live a life with blinders on. A sad life, really; going through life in black and white without the wonder and majesty of our Creator God. This is not random but purposefully crafted for our enjoyment but more importantly to the glory of God. People have complimented me on this photo, but really, how I can (or anyone for that matter) take credit for a beautiful photo like this. I mean, this scene was and is there. I just happened to be there to capture it on some digital media. This is God’s masterpiece, painted on His canvas and with His mighty hand.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. God’s masterpieces are all around you. Stop and smell the roses (or look at the mountains) and give God the glory.
Holy and awesome God, Your mighty hand is powerful and gentle. It can shake and rend the heavens and the earth and it can cradle a new-born life. Your hand can also craft a scene that can take our breath away; drawing our attention to You. Oh God, what can be known about You is indeed evident in creation. May we never be so busy as to miss Your majesty all around. Thank you for taking my breath away with such beauty. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
To anyone who says there is no God; that we are just a cosmic accident; or that life/creation just happened, I say hogwash. Check out God’s handiwork from today:
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Psalms 8 (ESV)
I took my kiddos to a wildlife park yesterday, just south of Puyallup, WA. They love going and looking at the various animals. The sleeping creature above is a grizzly bear and my son was fascinated with it’s beauty and size. Malachi would point and say, “Dada, dada, [something I didn’t understand]. Dada, dada]. He was excited and wanted to make sure I was seeing what he was seeing.
Of course we would never purposely get this close to a grizzly in the wild, but here we can get up close and personal. It’s safe and comfortable. We can sit back and enjoy the view with no danger of losing our lives. If by some supernatural chance, though, we suddenly found ourselves in this bear’s enclosure, our sense of comfort and safety would be gone in a heart beat. My guess is that we would be quickly moving to find a safe place; hoping not to wake the sleeping beast.
Many try to treat Christianity in much the same way; look at it from a safe distance. Don’t get too up close and personal, for to get too involved is to risk “losing your life”. Many want to be safe and maintain their life so they keep Christianity caged up and show it off to others. When it is not convenient, you lock the “animal” away in it’s cage, but Jesus will not be locked away.
I saw a quote recently by C.S. Lewis that said, “If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” There’s a lot of truth to that. Following Jesus means that our old life is crucified with him but we are raised to new life with him. It also means that we are not the same.
If you’re comfortable in your faith, then something is wrong. We are not of the world and the world hates that and therefore will make things uncomfortable for you. If you’re comfortable in your faith then you are of the world and your religion is locked away behind a “protective barrier”.
The Good News, though, is that discomfort in your faith is a holy discomfort, meant to sanctify you and bring you closer to God through Jesus Christ. To seek comfort in religion is to worship the world. So don’t lock away your faith but rather jump into the wild enclosure with Jesus and embrace the “unsafe” discomfort. Do not allow the world to sell you a comfortable bill of goods. Embrace the discomfort and draw closer to God through faith in Jesus Christ.
I am out of the stone age finally. A Star Trek wormhole appeared on Friday afternoon and I was instantly brought to the 21st century with the arrival of my Nexus 9. But unlike the fictional, but hope-to-be-true-soon TV show/movies, this wormhole looked a lot like a UPS truck.
And what a beautiful sight that was.
Now I know that God can use anything at my disposal for preaching His holy word. God can use paper manuscripts, tablets, smoke signals, sign language, interpretive dance (which I would never attempt unless the Holy Spirit took control of my body). God can communicate His holy word despite my sinfulness and shortcomings. And God will be glorified even when I do whine and complain about situations being “tough” (i.e. technology crashing).
The Holy Spirit can take my messed up words and attitude and use them to bring glory to God. The Holy Spirit can take a disastrous situation and use it for good (just ask Joseph as his brothers sold him into slavery but God used that to save millions and millions of people). God, through the Holy Spirit, can use any and all situations and people.
And God can use this whiny pastor as he complains about a piece of technology failing. God can even use this (near idolatrous) pastor as he gets googly…
(pun intended, get it? Google Nexus)…
…eyed over his new toy (I mean work tool). And praise be to God that the success of God’s kingdom advance is not dependent on me and me alone.
This world and everything it contains is fragile and thus are passing away; but not God and not His holy word. God’s word and promises are forever and will never fail or crash. And thank God for that.
Holy God, knock me down a peg or two (or more) when I get too whiny about situations. Humble me and help me see that it is Your Holy Spirit that gives power to Your words that proceed from my mouth. Knock me up across the head so I may not get too full of myself and depend on my so-called abilities. May You be glorified. In Jesus name, Amen.
When I need to get away and pray, one of my favorite spots is the sanctuary at Salem Lutheran Church (one of the congregations I serve). Last week I found myself there; staring at these stained glass windows. The room was dark but the sun light was pouring through these colorful windows. Even through I was squinting my eyes I couldn’t seem to look away as I poured out my heart to God. It may sound like a cliche but it seemed like God was pouring himself out upon me through those windows. It felt comforting during a time of chaos and impatience in my life.
My wife and I are in the adoption process and I am growing more and more impatient as I wait. We are excited about growing our family…and we want to do it now. We have filled out the adoption paper work and now are filling out grant applications. We are doing what WE need to do. The faith issue I keep having is that I expect God to follow though…NOW.
I need patience.
So I find myself in the sanctuary (a number of times); away from my phone and email, staring at those windows ~ praying. I am asking God to:
~ Calm my heart
~ Strengthen my faith
~ Increase my trust that God has a child out there chosen for us
I know God’s timing is often not my timing (which is hard) but God knows what God is doing. I keep thinking that God is molding and teaching Connie and me. I just wish I knew what God was up to ~ but I guess that is where the praying comes in.
So the waiting continues…
the prayers for patience continue…
God…continue to pour your light and love upon Connie and me as we wait. We look forward to meeting the child you have chosen for us. Strengthen our faith that you may be glorified in all we do. In Jesus name, Amen!
Every bathroom needs reading material but you got to love it when a business puts a Bible in their’s. You also should have seen the expression on my wife’s face when I walked out. “Did you just take a picture in there?!?” I can about imagine what was running through her head 🙂
In any case…this picture is screaming for a caption. What do you suggest?
Greetings and salutations…and welcome to another addition of “Monday morning check in” (I have no clue what that was…I guess I am just in a goofy mood this morning).
…if anyone is curious, the Twin Cities marathon web site has some pictures posted of me crossing the finish line. In a couple of them you can definitely see my pain 🙂 To view these snap shots simply go to the website at: http://www.mtcmarathon.com. Once there click on “finisher photos” under the marathon section then enter my bib number: 4387. There are a couple picture there that are not me. I am the one wearing the dark long sleeve t-shirt with the red hat (or the one in more pain than the others). Enjoy 🙂
Paying taxes (Matthew 22:15-22)
How appropriate that we get a text that talks about paying taxes. In a time of economic hardship the last thing people want to hear about is paying taxes. Here in Jackson, taxes are a huge issue. There is a battle currently waging about the proposed construction or renovation of the county Resource Center. Some want to see a brand new building and others want the current one (the old high school) renovated. Either way, taxes would go up quite a bit in Jackson. And this is after the new school referendum passed last year that some people believe the district is misusing. What a time we live in.
Here in Matthew 22:15-22 the Pharisees are looking for some dirt to nail Jesus with so they try to trap him with the issue of taxes. If he says that people should pay them then his followers would get upset. If Jesus says they shouldn’t pay taxes, then the Pharisees could bring that info to Caesar and accuse him of treason. But Jesus is smarter than this as he responds, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s“. So the question is what is Caesar’s and what is God’s? Discuss…
I hope people are not getting sick of seeing photos of our ramp project. For me…it is exciting to see the progress. With each thing that gets done, it means we are one step closer to using the ramp and moving worship back upstairs. This morning the guys were up and working by 6:30am and done pouring the top half of the deck by around 8am. Here are a couple more photos of what was done this morning (July 9):
The lower half of the deck has plastic with sand on top. This keeps the cement from drying out to fast and helps with the curing process.
So far everything is going great. The guys told me today that besides beating the heat, pouring early in the morning gives the cements time to harden before the “hooligans” are out of bed and therefore they can not leave their legacy in the cement. You can tell these guys have done this before.
Now our biggest challenge might be keeping Salem members at bay. The ramp may look like it is good enough to walk on, but we can’t be using it until early August. Hopefully people will understand.