Category Archives: Inspired by Photographs

All of the thoughts here are inspired by a photograph. The thought may have come as I gazed and felt compelled to take the photo or later after I viewed the photo.

Light of the world.

Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12, NLT)

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Jesus also said: “You are the light of the world–like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see.” (Matthew 5:14, NLT) So let the light of Christ shine through you and let us bring light into the darkness and love into the world.

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Carried Along

Rush, rush, rush…get it done, reports due, projects, work… spouse, children, family, responsibilities…the list goes on.  We push ourselves to levels of exhaustion until we can push ourselves no more; someone else steps in and pushes us until we can no longer be pushed.  We find ourselves falling, spinning, spiraling out of control.

Exhaustion finally wins and we find ourselves being carried along by unseen forces.  It is in those times that we win or lose the battle.  It is in those times that we can chose to be carried by the forces of the world into places we do not want to go or we can rest in the loving arms of God and bask in His love.

The world takes from us all that we will give and then more and returns little.  God takes our pain, frustration, and exhaustion and gives us healing mercy, calming peace and strengthening love.  Those who trust in the world perish; those who trust in God find eternity.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”                                        –  Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

The Light

Morris Island Light House

Morris Island Light House

I have a thing about Lighthouses.  I suspect you might have figuured that out on your own but perhaps you have not fully figured out why.

There is something comforting in knowing that on a rocky patch of shore there is a light placed there by caring souls to guide ships safely home.

There is something about that beam of light stretching across the waves searching to give comfort to one who might be lost.

There is peace in seeing the strength of the rising structure above the horizon as it stretches toward the heavens.

There is joy in knowing that a warning is there to keep ships safe and clear of rocky shores that can send them to the depths of the ocean floor.

But the greatest reason I like lighthouses is because for me it is a symbol for Jesus who said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”   – Gospel of John 8:12

Every time I see a lighthouse or even a picture of one I am reminded that the light of Christ shone upon my darkness and rescued me from drowning in a sea of sin.

When I look upon that towering figure of light I am reminded that Christ’s light dwells in me and shows me the areas in my life that still need illumination.

When I see a beacon of light shining forth from a lighthouse I am reminded that I am to shine that light to the world that God might be praised.

“You are the light of the world.  A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.  Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”                                                                – Gospel of Matthew 5:14-16

Mountain Gazing

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2, NLT

I’ve been staring at a lot of mountains lately; some of them I’ll only have to look at, some I’ll have to climb.  The mighty hand of God is moving in directions I never dreamed he would move.  All this movement has left me with a lot of questions and more importantly a lot of decisions.

I have to evaluate priorities, needs, wants and desires.  I have to consider other people’s lives more so than I have ever done before.  I have to weigh the losses against the gains; the pros against the cons.

With all of this going on what do I do?

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I stare at mountains.

I first came into full contact with this psalm at my Grandmother’s funeral so many decades ago; it spoke to me as it had spoken to her and I committed it to memory.  Throughout my life, both the faithful and unfaithful times, it swirled in my head because it had been planted lovingly deep in my heart.

I grew up with mountains off in the distance; mighty mountains that rose 12000 ft plus above the desert floor.  Those mountains were to me the home of God.  I live a long way from those mountains now but I am still reminded of their majesty when I need God to see me through situations.

It’s time to start climbing.  The questions swirl, the uncertainty mounts, the issues rise and all I can do is stare at the mountains and know that at the right time, in the right way God’s answer will come and once again I will know peace.

Join the Dance and Give Praise

I witnessed a dance between bees and butterflies.  Flower to flower they change partners seeking the sweetness that is offered there then on to the next partner that promises a new fresh taste; never staying long enough to drink deep or fully of what is there, of what is freely offered.  This dance, orchestrated by God, has its purpose: nature cannot survive without this dance.

Could we also be dancing the same dance; church to church seeking truth?  A tidbit here, a sweet taste there.  We are touched by and we leave behind our touch.  Jew to Catholic to Protestant (Baptist to Presbyterian to Methodist to Pentecostal to Anglican to Lutheran to Mennonite and on and on and on) to Muslim.  Cross pollination of belief and understandings until the day truth is fully revealed as the Church Militant on earth to the Church Triumphant; the bride of the lamb.

We no longer pretend it doesn’t happen.  It is real.  There will come a time when all Christians sit down for one supper; all accepted at table without the verbiage to confuse and divide but the love and heart to join.  We will all one day sit together Jew, Muslim and Christian on the Holy Mountain and recognize our universal God.

So I dance.  The music of old rings in my head and my heart sings praise.  I bow, I raise my hands, I sit, I kneel and/or I prostrate, but I dance.  I rehearse my whole life long that I will be found worthy to dance the finale. And so I praise: Jehovah be praised, Allah be praised, Jesus be praised, God be praised.

The Chair: Sentinel of the Gate

For weeks now this chair has haunted me.  img_1048I first encountered it towards the end of a short walk and found my mind contemplating the idea of the ancient throne of God come down to earth.  A recent news report had shown that Christianity in America was on the decline and so my mind conjured up the idea that God was abandoning his kingdom on Earth, at least the part of it on American soil. That thought would explain its rusted appearance and plant life attempting to overtake it. 

The next day I again encountered this chair at the beginning and ending of a long walk.  Early on my mind still played with the idea that it was the throne of God but it had become a beautiful thing.  It beckoned me to come into a glorious day of bright sunshine, crisp morning air and the beginnings of spring.  Yes, the throne of God is truly a place of hope and renewal and I began my walk with the hope of finding that very reality of kingdom living.

As I approached this same chair at the end of my long walk I began to reflect on how that walk had been a metaphor for my life; the joy along with the pain and suffering.  The chair now reflected a dual presence; one holy the other sinister.  It became a visual reminder that there are gates to hell as well as heaven and I began to see the chair as a sentinel to both.  We must chose our path well for scripture reminds us that the path of the world is well traveled and smooth but the path to heaven is hard and cannot be traveled without struggle and perseverance.

Matthew 7:13-14

You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

 

 

 

Even Nature Bows Before God

Luke 19:36-40

As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.

“Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”

But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!”

 He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

We can learn much from nature.  An early morning school drop off allowed me to remember an important aspect of spiritual life:  we should begin our day in prayer before our creator and lift our face in praise and thanksgiving throughout the day. 

As I returned to the house from dropping my daughter off at school I glanced at the front of the house only to discover that the tulips bowed in the early morning.  

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I couldn’t resist the picture; raindrops had left their residue and there they were in all their glory.  Later in the day when I looked at the same flowers they were standing at their full height, open. 

I will be the first to admit I don’t know much about flowers and I can’t tell you if this is normal.  I know that in the morning they were 

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bowed and later they were erect.  This led me to reflect on the idea that they bow before God in the morning and then lift themselves to praise God stretching toward heaven as they glory in the light and warmth they receive.

All through nature we see aspects of God; in the plants and animals, in the formations, even in the clouds.  If we would just take a few moments each day to meditate on what we see before our eyes we would find more of God exists than we every realized. 

The Unfinished Symphony

Genesis 1:3-5

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”  

 

John 1:4-5img_1768

The Word gave life to everything that was created,

      and his life brought light to everyone.
 The light shines in the darkness,
      and the darkness can never extinguish it.

In anticipation, as if calling and beckoning, the creatures of the earth begin to stir and call out.  Only the dimmest of light has begun and the voices of the earth call.  They hunger; they hunger for all that the creator has to give them.  A symphony of sounds rises throughout creation.  Each creatures add its own voice to blend melody and harmony.

The sun begins to kiss the morning sky and darkness retreats into itself.  A new light is entering the world and the earth and all its creatures are awake to greet it.

My own soul hears the silent cry:  “Come into the light.  Come and bask in its glory.  Come and feel the warm kiss upon your flesh.  Come and experience the love of the creator.”

Slowly my mind comprehends what the creatures of the earth already know.  Slowly my mind listens to what my heart has been screaming.  Slowly my mind relinquishes to my soul and the spirit within me rejoices in the coming light.  My voice joins the creatures of the earth and adds unique notes to the symphony; notes only it can play.

The unfinished symphony continues its journey through the world and through time.  The composer invites new voices to join in.  On and on it goes til all voices have been invited and given the chance to be heard.


Everything Given…Everything Received

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      Tiny lights flicker at your feet,

          the flames of sheol, hungry hoping for a meal.

     Surrounded by the masses of people;

          taunting, jeering, insulting, mesmerized.

     Your blood, trickling down your face from tiny thorns;

          the crown meant to mock you, torture and humiliate.

     Your blood, dripping to the ground;

          from hands and feet nailed into place.

You took your place;

     lovingingly stretched out your arms,

          the whole world to embrace.

You knew it was coming,

     you knew how bad it would be,

          you took the lashes, the beating

               you took the nails.

You took it all for me.

I do not deserve this,

     You did not deserve that.

The thorns of my frivolity pierced your brow.

The lashes of my ambivalence tore at your back.

The nails of my sins hammered into your flesh.

You did all that for me; for me.

I do not understand this love; the depths of where it comes from.

I do not understand why or how you could love me.

I only know that you do; I see the cross and I know.

You gave up everthing so that I might receive everything.

There on the cross you handed it all to me;

     all mine to have just by opening my heart.

In God’s Hand

There is a song that I learned as a child that rings in my head periodically.  A song of simple words but deep truth.  “He’s got the whole world in his hands”.  From the beginning as recorded in the first book of the Bible it is evident that God has the whole world in his hands.

Even on the darkest day God holds us, He never leaves us, never stops loving us.  A day never passes that God does not hold us, not just in his hand but close to his heart.

in-gods-handOn that hill far away where His only begotten son hung on a cross, even there, God’s hand extended to hold His child.  While all the sins, past, present and future, of the world God had created were finding their way to the body of Jesus God held him.  God felt the pain His son felt, He knew the sorrow and anguish that His son experienced but in His hand he also held the sinners; he held the thieves beside his son, the Pharisees, the Roman soldiers, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, he held all that had ever been born or would be and yes He held you and me.  On the day His son lovingly spread out his arms to embrace the whole world God held the lives of the ones that Jesus died for.

God holds his creation with hands that create and do not destroy.  He knows us well because we are as close to Him as His hands.  He watches our every move with great interest and lovingly calls us each by name to come closer, closer, closer still.  We are not an experiment we are an object of love; loved into existence by the one who holds us in His hands and never lets go of us.