Archive for April, 2014

Uncommon Grace

Sunrise, April 30, 2014

With a gray gaze in the sky this morning, I had breakfast with a special friend who asked about a missed sunrise post. Last night, another friend who didn’t receive yesterday’s post texted, “I missed [your post] this morning! The skies have been rich in general revelation, have they not?”

Inconsistent earthling that I am, I do not post an observation every day but I do observe sunrise—even if just for a moment (or late). This we can count on: God is consistent in waking up the sun each day—sometimes—like today—with heavy eyelids covering its face; sometimes with a bright smile.

Yes dear friend of last night, God’s general disclosure of Himself is new, poignant with opportunity to worship and serve Him, and ever creative every morning. In the setting of the Sermon on the Mount, with the specific challenge of God’s love and our love even for our enemies, Jesus said, “…so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:45

God’s general revelation of Himself in creation each morning calls us to live out uncommon grace to others all day. Who is He urging me to touch today?

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Loud Voices

Sunrise, April 29, 2014

 

My friend Bill refers to the strong storms and gray skies of yesterday and today as “loud voices.” They cause a heavy chain of thought: God is not absent; He reminds us of Himself in both sun and storm; His protection hovers over us; He is God of both bright sunrises and hidden sunrises behind thick clouds; He is both love and judgment; in patience and mercy He does not desire any should be separated from Him forever; the sky will be brilliant with His soon return for which I can’t wait!

 

Psalm 65 says to us all the way to the ends of the earth His creation signs and they shout for joy. Today, an inner shout for the joy of skyward reminders of our great God!

Ladybugs in Heaven

“The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come,

and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.”

Song of Solomon 2:12

If you need them, ladybugs will be in heaven.

C.S. Lewis said, “The only imperative that nature utters is, ‘Look. Listen. Attend.” Springtime brings many opportunities to do so. So, where do ladybugs fit in? They do make cute stickers and posters for kid’s rooms. As proof, one of my grandkids had her first room with a ladybug motif. Beyond these things, ladybugs are pestilence.

One morning last week I ate my oatmeal on my back porch. The porch is high and looks down on a slopping yard with several flowering dogwoods and a brilliant red azalea bush. I had to filter the glories of springtime flowers through a parade of dead ladybugs (and one live one) on the window sill. They are everywhere and join the transition choir from winter to springtime. For now, springtime flowers and ladybugs must coexist.

I write about the dogwoods each spring. In an unexplainable way, though I even mourn the passing of them, I smile at the backlit dogwood petal snow as the wind carries the flowers away to cover our yards. I just bought a nice camera so next year I should have some pictures of dogwood flowers from overture to fanfare. I can’t wait.

The setting for Song of Solomon 2:12 (above) is a poetic expression of the love of a bride for her bridegroom. Their love is growing in every way, and the majesty of blooming flowers and voice of birds cheerfully express the exuberance, joy, and passion of their love. Creation—and we—make music as a normal, joyful expression to the One who made flowers and birds and songs and springtime. Such singing, whether internal or out loud, is essential to our worship and to life. Winter must pass; a season of flowers and songs must come.

Figures of speech allow witnesses and worshippers to creatively express what we really believe and long for. Springtime creation wonders, like dogwoods and azaleas, stir me to give thanks for: the new life we have in Christ, for the provision of beauty and art for our pleasure, and they stir us to worship. Those pesky ladybugs tell of the curse in Genesis, of our sin, and of our longing to be with Christ.

If you need them, ladybugs will be in heaven. But I doubt you’ll want or need them. The curse of Genesis, that includes pestilence, will be replaced by the completion of our salvation. Spring flowers voice a story. They tell of our desire to live, worship, and serve Father and Son in a place and time of pure beauty. I imagine there are dogwoods and singing birds in heaven, because they make us sing, and we will sing and worship, and—like young lovers—love every minute of it.

Thank you, Father, for the gifts of springtime. Like the bride of ancient days, help us to be exuberant in our love and expression of it to you!

Who in the Skies?

Sunrise, April 25, 2014.

Yesterday’s sunrise was expectant and full, with a “partial crescent” moon beaming with a wide smile. Though overwhelming in brilliance, it was cloudless. I have decided clouds make all the difference.

 

Today is the most unusual sunrise of this year! Clouds are churning and moving around, and two-thirds of the sky is gray with a light rain. But in the east, yellows and reds pierce through, at times competing with heavy gray clouds that completely hide the sun.

 

Fifteen miles away, Cheryl texts that there is not a drop of rain and the streets are dry.

 

Psalm 89’s creation section again rings joyful, “For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD?” We see clouds and colors and a watching moon, but cannot fathom the heavens filled with heavenly beings who serve and worship God and who are His messengers.

 

Father. You are the “who” in whom “we live and move and have our being.” Would You increase our awareness of your teeming, unseen, purposeful world, and the ways that we might also worship and serve You today?

To the Boat!

Sunrise, April 23, 2014.
 
There is barely a peep of the sunrise, but I am going to fully engage in it today. Going fishing!
 
Psalm 89 is blessing me this week, and this verse will surely be better understood from the boat:
 
   “Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD,
    your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!”
 
Just think: the heavens declare God’s wonders and the angels (“holy ones) are gathered around the Father right now singing about it. 
 
To the boat!

The Easter Eggs are All Gone

“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ ” John 20:15

 The Easter eggs are all gone. Now what? The Gospel of John, chapter 20 will help us.

Imagine the gripping scene at the empty tomb of Jesus. Mary Magdalene, once dramatically healed of seven demons and ever since a devoted follower of Jesus, stared into an empty tomb. The One she gave her life to was gone and her grief was overwhelming. Supernatural things were happening, including visitor-protectors—two angels—and they actually spoke to her (I would faint).

Mary was from a city with a reputation and she may have had one, too. Legend says horrible things about her background (And don’t we all have one?), but Scripture only portrays her presence and passion to follow Jesus in His journeys, at the cross and burial, and now alone at the tomb. The disciples had gone home; only Mary Magdalene remained. An unknown poet respectfully said:

   “Not she with traitorous kiss her Master stung,

   Not she denied Him with unfaithful tongue;

   She, when Apostles fled, could dangers brave,

   Last at the Cross, and earliest at the grave.”

Let’s not pass by the angels. Our culture has made a big deal about angels in the last few decades—often out of proportion to what Scripture gives to them. Like the Holy Spirit, they are about Christ and, secondarily, us—not themselves. We, perhaps, over emphasize them with pins and statutes, or ignore them. Hebrews 13:2, for instance, notes we should show hospitality to strangers since they may be angels unaware. Yikes.

In her emotion and sleep deprivation, and deeply torn in her spirit, Mary heard the voices of angels but could not distinguish the most important voice of her life—The Christ. Grief can do peculiar things to us. Sometimes, we don’t recognize God’s message or messengers. We may be seeking Jesus everywhere and He is right there within us, ready to comfort and guide us in the ordinary and extraordinary stops on our journey. One of Satan’s direct strategies is to keep us busy and distracted. We are Mary’s siblings: If Jesus was to appear we may not know it, too.

We love good endings and there is hope. Mary did finally hear Jesus.  

It is striking that Jesus stops Mary from clinging to Him and then the story takes a positive turn. Mary acknowledged Jesus as Teacher (“Rabboni”), stopped clinging—let go—of what was, and went to the disciples to proclaim the resurrected Jesus.

Our challenge may not be to believe in the resurrection, but, like Mary, to seek Jesus afterward as He is now, to listen to Him as Teacher, and to go and tell how He died and was resurrected to rescue us.

So much for the eggs.  

The Heavens

Sunrise, April 22, 2014.

“Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD…

   For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD?…

The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours;

   The world and all that is in it, you have founded them.”

   Psalm 89:5-6, 11

Beyond the gray sunrise there are deeper reminders, Lord.

Constant…Like the Father

Sunrise Friday, April 18, 2014.
 
Constant gray today. There was no variance. God is always consistent with Himself and His nature. He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” in character/attributes/nature.
 
I like gray sunrises and skies, too. I’ve stood out in it most of today in my part time roll at the funeral home. Loved it.
 
Happy Easter! I will be in South Georgia observing the baptism of our oldest granddaughter, Adeline. Don’t be too jealous.

Unfailing

Sunrise, April 17, 2014

“Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.” Psalm 36:5

Father, today we drink of a stunning orange and purple sunrise, embellished by puffy clouds and surrounded by blue sky—all drawing us to remember how deep are the heavens  you made, how constant your love, and how enormous your faithfulness to us each minute of every day. Thank you.

The Puppy

Sunrise, April 16, 2014.

Like a wide-eyed, floppy-eared, tail-wagging, long-legged, bouncing puppy that ran away but not far, the sun is back. He brought with him the blue sky and an invigorating morning.

I’m sure someone down the street won’t miss that pair of boots.

Hump Day, too!



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