Friday, July 31, 2015

Stumbling Upon Peace

Tip: When you go on a trip, leave the house early and be ready to pull over for spur-of-the-moment photo-ops. I promise, you won't regret it!

The moment I stepped out of my car, I was struck by not just the beauty, but the peacefulness of the above scene. Typically where there is a highway, one would hear highway sounds- tires on pavement, the occasional loud car radio booming. But here? This road was desolate; I heard the breeze blowing over the grass and trees, crickets and a bird or two chirping; far in the distance, the faint sound of a sheep pasture.

In this day and age, many of us forget what quiet and peace sound like and how important they are. We are so caught up in the noisy, busy rush of day to day life that we forget to take the time to find a peaceful place to think about and pray to God. The Lord says, "Be still and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10). We need that stillness. We need to spend time exaulting and honoring Him with our prayers and by pouring out our hearts to Him. Apart from learning about and talking to God, we cannot cultivate a true relationship with Him.

The book of Psalms contains many of David's prayers to the Lord; take time to read through them. Whether you are in a time of peace or a time of trouble, the book of Psalms is packed full of examples of how we may come before our God in prayer.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tips For The Reader

Tip: Look for natural frames. Peer through doorways, tree branches, rocks, architecture, and more. It could be just the thing needed to add that artsy touch.

I discovered this little shop during a trip to Friday Harbor last summer. The side of the little early-American style house had a large sign simply stating, "BOOKS". After working at a library for the past 11 years, that's all that is necessary to get me to walk in. I opened the door and was immediately enchanted as I snapped the photograph above.

Books mean stories, entertainment, and most importantly, knowledge. Some people love them, other people just don't get the attraction. Wherever you stand, scripture has some good pointers that we can take to mind and apply to the topic (and whether or not the header applies to you, read it anyway- these verses are for everybody!):

To the avid reader
- "Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil." (Proverbs 3:7) It is easy to look at other people and feel good about how smart you are. Don't even go there; that is not what knowledge is for. Yes, take in all those books, but do it to the glory of God and to encourage others to move towards Him.

To the one who can't stand reading- "I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You." (Psalm 119:11) I know you may not enjoy reading, but even if you never read another book in your life, please at least read the Bible. We can only honor God if we obey His commands, and we can't very well do that without reading His word (and reading it repeatedly- we humans are pretty skilled at forgetfulness).

To everyone in between- "Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth." (Colossians 3:2) Whatever find yourself reading, keep God in mind. If the book is full of good Christian morals, praise Him and strive to live out the qualities presented. If the pages are filled with dark deeds, foul motives, and other things displeasing to our Creator, use it as a reminder and warning- that is the fallen world in which we are to be ambassadors of Christ. It is not our permanent home, and someday it shall all be condemned and judged by God; never get sucked into that way of life.

Friday, July 17, 2015

You Never Hike Alone

Tip: Give some perspective. Big mountains are gorgeous, but unless there is something in the foreground to compare them to, it is hard to appreciate their size.

This is a picture of life; there are ups, downs, potential for rain, and great mountains (or events that seem mountainous) that we have to get through. Sometimes, we feel like we are doing it all alone.

What you do not see in this photo, however, are the two friends this guy is hiking the mountain with. That's just the way life is sometimes; but with true Christian fellowship, even when you cannot see them, you can be assured that your fellow believers are on your side- and what what's even more important- so is God.

So next time you feel like you are stuck on an uphill climb on a major mountain in life, take heart! Pray to God and thank Him for supporting you- you will never have to endure more than He has created you to handle (1 Corinthains 10:13). Then, whether in person, over the internet, or even snail mail (Gasp! People still do that!?), get in touch with your fellow Christians. Whether you feel close to them at the time or not does not matter- there is a special bond we have to care for and prayerfully support our adopted brothers and sisters such as you. You may be surprised at what will happen when you strike up a conversation with one. You could even write to me via this blog if you like- I promise I will listen and reply, because whoever you are, God made you, and you matter :)

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ... So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." -Galatians 6:2 & 10

Friday, July 10, 2015

My Rainbow Pride

Tip: Sometimes all you have is a a low quality camera on your mobile device. It's a bummer, but make the most of the situation! Good color and scene composition are the key factors in all photos.

Rainbows are gorgeous. Every time one shows up, people are often compelled to photograph it. They are a rare treat- until you log onto social media. The last few weeks in particular, the rainbow has been quite prevalent all across the news and internet. Sadly, despite it's current popularity, most people either do not know or have forgotten the meaning behind it. So, now seems like a good time for a little review, courtesy of Genesis 9:12-16:

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

Every time you see a rainbow- whether in the sky, on a flag, in a protest, or anywhere else- remember: it is the sign of God's covenant with us. Every time you see a rainbow, thank God that you are still alive to see it. It is only by His mercy that you have lived another day. With mercy like that, shouldn't we use the time gifted to us to learn more about our Creator and strive to make our lives signs of our thankfulness to Him?

For those of you who may not know the back-story, or who don't recall exactly how it went, this bit of history begins in Genesis 6. Verses 5-8 of this passage chronicle the events leading up to the aforementioned flood:

"The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord."

So, there is a little taste to get you going. If you do not know the full history, I suggest you go look up and read Genesis, chapters 6 through 10.

Friday, July 3, 2015

...And Proud Of It.

Tip: Don't limit yourself to seeing what the tourists see. Get creative and look for the little details when you go on a vacation trip (or anywhere else, for that matter).

Several months ago, I had the privilage of taking an amazing vacation trip to Texas. As soon as I got off the plane, the first thing I noticed was Texas' signature Lone Star. It seems pretty standard for most places to display their state flag or insignia to welcome guests at their local airport. 

During my two-week stay, I quickly realized that Texas isn't the average state- these guys are extremely proud of who they are, and they're going to let you know it; I saw the Lone Star and Texas flag EVERYWHERE. Any place that people can be found, there is a little reminder that you are in Texas. It was on the freeway overpass, nearly every business, most homes, shirts, windows, bridges, floor mats- even their sewer covers are adorned with it!

Now, let me ask you this: If the Texans can be this proud of who they are and where they live, shouldn't we, as Christians, be even more proud of who we are and of the spiritual kingdom of which we are a part of? Shouldn't those around us be aware of who we are? God never called us to be part of a covert operations team- He called us to boldly proclaim the gospel and live out life as Jesus did.

I pray we can immitate Paul in what he said to the church in Rome- "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16)