Friday, September 30, 2016

Describing God

I was thinking about adjectives the other day. What words do we use to describe things? Then I flipped to the back of my Bible and started searching out which adjectives were used to describe God. I ended up with a much larger list than I anticipated- but should that really be a surprise? Probably not, because God will always be far more amazing than we will ever be able to comprehend or describe.

All of the verses referenced here are in the ESV translation - if you're using something different, the adjectives could vary. I encourage you to consider what each of these words mean, both in definition and how they relate to God and in turn what that means for your relationship with Him. When you stop and think about the way God describes Himself to us through His word, He continues to become even greater to contemplate.

Almighty (Job 40:2)
Alpha  & Omega (Rev. 1:8)
Awesome (Psalm 111:9)
Blessed (Psalm 89:52)
Builder (Heb 11:10)
Compassionate (James 5:11)
Creator (1 Peter 4:19)
Crucified (1 Cor. 1:23)
Deliverer (Romans 11:26)
Everlasting (Is. 9:6)
Exalted (Psalm 108:5)
Faithful (Psalm 145:13)
Father (Is. 9:6)
Forgiving (Psalm 86:5)
God of Glory (Acts 7:2)
Good (Nahum 1:7)
Gracious (Psalm 116:5)
Great (Psalm 145:3)
Helper (Heb. 13:6)
Immortal (1 Tim. 1:17)
Jealous (Ex. 20:5)
Judge (Psalm 7:11)
Just (Psalm 111:7)
Kind (Psalm 145:13)
King (Psalm 29:10)
Lamb (John 1:29)
Light (Psalm 27:1)
Lord (Lev. 19:2)
Love (1 John 4:16)
Majesty (Job 37:22)
Maker (Psalm 95:6)
Merciful (Neh. 9:31)
Powerful (Psalm 29:4)
Propitiation (1 John 2:2)
Pure (Psalm 12:6)
Redeemer (Job 19:25)
Refuge (Psalm 46:1)
Resurrection (John 11:25)
Righteous (Psalm 11:7)
Rock (Psalm 18:2)
Salvation (Psalm 27:1)
Savior (Titus 2:13)
Shines (Psalm 50:2)
Slow to anger (Nahum 1:3)
Sovereign (Rev. 6:10)
Spirit (John 4:24)
Splendor (Psalm 104:1)
Steadfast (Psalm 86:13)
Strong (Proverbs 18:10)
Stronghold (Psalm 9:9)
Teacher (John 13:14)
Trustworthy (Psalm 111:7)
Truth (John 14:6)
Unchangeable (Job 23:13)
Unsearchable (Eph 3:8)
Upright (Psalm 33:4)
[the] Way (John 14:6)
Wonderful (Is. 9:6)
[the] Word (John 1:1)
Worthy [of praise] (Psalm 18:3)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Those Trying Times

"Welcome to solitary confinement,"  are words which undoubtedly once echoed through this room as a prisoner would get shoved through the open door into the small dark room. While none of us have likely been imprisoned in a solitary cell, we may have gone through times where we mentally felt like it. Even King David went through a period like that, and in the process he penned this Psalm:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
    light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,

lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
    lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

(Psalm 13)

There are several things that can be noticed about David's stance in this psalm:

1.) His sorrow coexisted with his joy.

2.) He was considered a "man after God's own heart", yet he still experienced very difficult times and felt distant from God.

3.) He was praying to God, despite feeling distant and abandoned.

4.) He recognized that counseling himself during times of hardship leads to more sorrow- he needs God's counsel.

5.) He trusts, rejoices in, and praises God amidst the hard times.

How can you be more like David as you tackle life's challenges?

Friday, September 16, 2016

How a Cookie Showed Me Patience

I found a still-wrapped fortune cookie sitting out at work the other day. I love those things, so I nabbed it. Upon breaking it open, it took a considerable effort to yank the paper out of the center; it seemed to have gotten baked into a corner. Popping half the cookie in my mouth (and discovering it to be the most hard, stale cookie I'd ever bitten into), I read the fortune inside: "HAVE PATIENCE - IT WILL BENEFIT YOU". 

I had to chuckle at just how appropriate the fortune in that cookie was. The fact, however, is this: we as Christians will have many 'stale' circumstances in life that we would rather not have to take in, and unlike that cookie, we can't just throw them away (whoops. I did that. Guess I didn't have enough patience!). It will be easy to take things on with a sour attitude, to run from them entirely, or handle the situation in other unhealthy ways. This shouldn't be us.  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23 tells us.

If we have the Holy Spirit in us, God will give us the strength and ability to have patience, even in the most trying times- but this doesn't mean it will take no effort on our part. Be willing to let things go, and be willing to endure what is before you, knowing that keeping your heart and mind aimed at God over the tough process will ultimately allow you to be closer to Him than you thought previously possible.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Slipping to the Spiderwebs.

Tip: If your hands are shaky or you are in a place of precarious balance, shoot using low aperture numbers (f/4 or below) and a high shutter speed to help compensate for camera shake.

Earlier this week I was taking a walk through the park and noticed the gorgeous fall colors beginning to show up a tad early along the river. My lens could zoom a little, but not quite as far as I wanted for the shot I was trying to get, so I strayed from the walking path and began to venture down toward the water. The entire time, I was shifting my gaze between my camera's view finder and the island I was trying to photograph. As would happen in such a circumstance, I started to lose my footing on the incline- fortunately, I caught myself. Looking up, it came to my attention that I would have ended up in the web of this massive spider, and on top of that, fallen into a blackberry bush, had I kept going!

Just as it is important to keep an eye on our physical footing, we ought to remember to be constantly aware of our spiritual footing as well. Stray too far in that regard and you will be far worse off than being covered in berries, scrapes, and having a large spider on your head! As 1 Corinthians says, "examine yourself!" Where are you headed? My high school youth group leader had this saying: "If it isn't bringing you closer to God, it is leading you away from Him." It may be nearly impossible to see  at the start, but every move you make (or even don't make!) takes you somewhere. Consider where you are heading.

"Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? - Unless indeed you fail to meet the test!" - 1 Corinthians 13:5

"Does not he see my ways and number all my steps? If I have walked with falsehood and my foot has hastened to deceit, let me be weighed in a just balance, and let God know my integrity!" - Job 31:4-6

Friday, September 2, 2016

Walking Without Light

It had been a hot day with temperatures soaring into the 100's, but I'd been dying to go for a hike, if even just a small one. Come evening, I grabbed my brother and headed out to meet up with some friends at the nearby state park. We enjoyed the cool of the late portion of the day and a lovely orange and blue sunset over the river. Eventually it became too dark to see much of the trail, so we flipped on our flashlight. All was great, until we reached the paved trail in the lower portion of the state park. Our light suddenly grew dim, then died completely. There were no street lights, and we were left in total darkness, except for the last bit of blueish sunset glinting up from the river. We would need to rely on the feel of the pavement beneath our feet to lead us to our goal... Wherever it was.

We can have moments like that in our spiritual lives too; things can be fine, then gradually your relationship with God starts to fade, then seemingly vanishes completely, leaving you in the dark. But just like you can revitalize a flashlight by throwing in some new batteries, your relationship with God can grow back into a spotlight in the foreground of your life when you begin to get back into His word regularly. It's not always easy, and often it starts off slow, but little by little, if you make time with Him habitual, you'll eventually find that God is the light you can't do without.

 "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105)