Archive for September, 2014

New Day

New Day, September 30, 2014

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Before the fog came this morning God sketched wispy clouds and warm pastel colors as the sun pushed onward to give us a new day. God paves the daily path before us with new mercies (Lamentations 3) and guards us from dangerous obstacles that desire to trip us (Psalm 121).

Father, as I plan let me not forget your presence and personal hand over the details. Everything matters.

Fall Is In The Air!

The Herald-News, September 24, 2014

“Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” Acts 14:14

This time of year we step outside in the morning—the earlier the better—and, after we pull our jacket or sweater closer, we inhale a deep breath and marvel at the fresh smell and coolness. We are on watch for leaves to change color on every hillside and in our yard (my dogwoods are changing daily). Coffee or hot tea is a required ritual. We find excuses to be outside. We can open the windows at night now. Yes, we lament an earlier sunset, but the air is dryer and there is promise the grass will slow down its summer-long growth spurt and we can…rake leaves.

We are fickle, sometimes unappreciative folks. We look forward to the changes in seasons. “I can’t wait for spring,” we say in the winter. “Summer will never end,” we lament in August. But we universally all like fall.

Yet fall is so much more than a nip in the air and a rainbow of colors in our forests. Why do we have seasons?

Fall showcases God’s created lights “in the expanses” and signals His order in creation through seasons. “And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14). There is nothing like a pre-dawn sky this time of year.

Psalm 104:19 notes seasons remind us of God’s celestial order in creation and time; “He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.” (See Daniel 2:21)

Acts 14:17 (above) unveils a striking purpose: to witness to God Himself. Seasons declare His existence, His artful mastery of creation, His power, and specifically, the goodness of God. Crops come and go in their season under His care and also, in season, witness to the provision of God. Sweetest of all, fall comes, “satisfying your hearts with…gladness.”

There is a use of “seasons” in 1 Thessalonians 5:1, to alert us to the soon return of Jesus Christ to usher in a new season of—yikes—judgment—and, ultimately for followers of Jesus Christ, life in God’s presence forever. I really like that last one.

Fall is: about, for, because of, and a reminder of a coming time with God.

So, step on your porch, and breathe the air slow and deep tomorrow morning. And, sing a word of praise to the One who made it.

What song will you sing?

Blossoms Rare

Blossoms Rare

Blessed are all they that wait for him. Isaiah 30:18

The Herald-News, September 17, 2014

My friend Ron calls me “gimpy.” My wife, with a twinkle in her eyes and smirk on her lips, tells everyone who will listen that I have a sport’s injury. The truth is: grandfather’s should be very careful about ballgames they play with their grandchildren where balls are thrown, there is lots of running, there are raised bases to trip over, and where people are going to collide. Yep, I am the proud owner of a leg injury. I limp with joy because I was with the grands and they wanted me to play with them.

What has been a consistent theme or person—positive or challenging—during your last week? My brush with discomfort has colored my days (and nights) lately, and, I’ve noticed an unusual amount of suffering among my friends. Bill has blood clots and is hospitalized. Ron has searing and unresolved pain from an injury. John (not me) had to have emergency surgery. Jan had a virus so powerful she had to be hospitalized. Effie recently had the return of a chronic medical condition that sets her aside for days. And these are just the medical tests of faith!

It seems we spend a lot of our life waiting on God—waiting for Him to heal us, or restore our broken relationships, or provide a good job. What waiting room are you in these days?

We like comforting quotes. One of my favorites is, “God is seldom early but never late.” Words help. Friends help, too. God definitely uses others as agents to deliver soothing salves.

Yet, Psalm 121 tells us we may look in wrong places. Its famous question is, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come?” The point of the Psalm is “our help comes from the Lord” and not primarily from other sources. Mountains are majestic; even greater, God made “the heavens and earth.” Why don’t we talk to Him more about our troubles?

Do you remember the Apostle Paul’s ardent petitioning of God for deliverance from an unspecified “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Corinthians 12? God said, “No.” He reminded Paul there are heaven-designed plans for our pain and losses and crosses. For Paul, he could be experiencing God’s grace—kindnesses—in ways he could not without his “thorn.”

Effie, in writing about her recent physical condition, wrote about waiting on God and quoted Pilgrim’s Progress (http://sunrisesinthevalley.blogspot.com). I like this:

I longed to walk along an easy road…

   But Jesus said, “I choose for thee this soil,

   That thou might’st raise for Me some blossoms rare.”

What are the “blossoms rare” God wants to give and display for His glory through my injury?

Father, maybe…the wait is over for us; maybe not. Help us to accept “this soil” and to be rare blossoms of grace that draw attention to You. Especially if You are saying, “No.”

Dawn’s Early Light

Sunrise, September 26, 2014

“Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place…?” Job 38:12

“Dawn’s early light” brings perspective. A soldier, disciplined in readiness, stands ready to advance; a farmer, consistent in working hard, awakens to feed the world; an athlete, focused on the prize, prepares to win another race (Cf. 2 Timothy 2). May I add to Paul’s list, a fisherman, watchful for the right time to catch a fish, casts their line as the sun breaks the horizon.

Isn’t it a challenge to focus on heavenly things in our task-oriented, to do list world?

We start each day with perspective. For instance, faithful, gracious, merciful Creator-God has provided a new day for abundant life and purpose, and maybe, the coming of Jesus!

Ready, set, go.

The Wisdom

Sunrise, September 24, 2014

“I sing the mighty power of God that made the mountains rise,

that spread the flowing seas abroad and built the lofty skies.

I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;

the moon shines full at His command, and all the stars obey.”

-Isaac Watts

I timidly resisted

singing out loud—

my neighbors are grateful.

My thankful heart still praised

the Father

this splendid fall morning.

Lofty, clear skies,

our gift this morning.

The ruling sun rising brought

pink

then yellow

then blue.

There is no clear line where one starts

so clearly true.

Obeying stars bowed away

to the sun beyond compare.

“And everywhere that man can be,

Thou, God, art present there.”

Messiah

Sunrise, September 22, 2014

“There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead…”

1 Corinthians 15:41-42a

The sunrise has many choir members who daily sing a prelude of the Son’s glory long before the sun actually appears. This morning, the moon was positioned so close to the horizon its fingers could touch the queen of our solar system. The cloudless sky sang a tune in pink and yellow, and the barely-quarter moon soloed with highlights all around–and it glowed.

I am playing Handel’s, Messiah, as I write and rejoice. What song about Creator Jesus do you like?

Come, join the choir today and sing of the joy of God’s Son!

The Stillness

Sunrise, September 19, 2014

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power…” Hebrews 1:3

This morning, before the pink or yellow slipped in on the horizon, the quarter moon and stars stood in their place, waiting for the sun’s glorious entrance. The stillness of the heavenly choir defies the reality of billions of lights sitting in their home universes and galaxies—all moving in their appointed order and places—even when invisible by the sun’s blinding light. When the sun joins in the song is inexpressible.

Jesus Christ “upholds” these stellar delights and us. “The universe and everything in it is constantly sustained by the Son’s powerfully effective word (Colossians. 1:17). The term conveys the concept of movement or progress—the Son directs all things toward the consummation of all things according to God’s sovereign purpose.”

Nothing that happens today is random. And, we are wonderfully invited to join the heavenly choir to enlarge God’s reputation (bring glory) and to fulfill His purposes for today.

So be it (amen).

Creation and…Quiet

Sunrise devotionals are on hold for a few days–I am laid up with an injured leg (playing with grandkids).

Pastor and Friend, Dave Hobbs, sent this sunrise devotional. It’s great–think of it for your next sunrise.

Sunrise comes so quietly…greeted by soft-singing birds and a light breeze.  The clouds are all part of the orchestration of the quiet changing beauty.
Maybe God is quiet.  What He does may sometimes be loud (to us).  But He Himself is quiet…He is spirit…yet He is not silent.
John 1:1-2 tells us Jesus (the Word) is very close to the Father, in some way postured toward one another…
Genesis 1:26, Isaiah 6:8 and Hebrews 10:5-7 give hints and more of some of the divine conversations…wow!
And, He has spoken to us in the climactic splendor of His Son, Jesus, our Savior and Lord!  (Hebrews 1:1-2)
May we be quiet, like Him today, living in His peaceful presence…speaking to others with His grace and peace.

The Face

I ended my last sunrise post, “Everything provides an occasion for worship.” How would this be true today when the sky is filled with gray and clouds and the sun is hidden?

This thought stirred me to praise this morning: the clouds cannot hide the sun’s presence nor diminish the fulfilling of its glory and purpose. 1 Corinthians 13:12 is in the middle of chapters about spiritual gifts and shouts: the spiritual gifts and even love, properly and wonderfully practiced in church life, are dim reflections of the reality of our joy when face to face with the Father and Son.

A gray day retells the assurance of the day soon when, “No longer will there be anything accused, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face…” (Revelation 22:3-4)

Eat Your Spinach First

The Rhea Herald News

September 3, 2014

“Train up a child in the way he should go…” Proverbs 22:6

A famous book talks about lessons learned in kindergarten. What about those lessons never learned in childhood by adults?

My Robin has the cutest two daughters. We were recently laughing together about something the girls had done that was cute and mature. How many three and five year olds do you know that clean up their dishes from the table? It’s just fine that the forks and some milk sometime end up on the floor somewhere between the table and the kitchen counter. Can you hear it fall?

Robin and I decided to write a book, Things We Should Have Learned in Childhood But Didn’t. The truth is: Biblically-oriented parents are constantly moving their kids toward maturity and adults should grow up. Sometimes we don’t.

The following are some sample chapters with biblical principles implied or stated.

Chapter One: Listen before you speak. This will go a long way in relationships and in hearing what God is saying. “Be still and know I am God” Psalm 46:10.

Chapter Two: Follow Directions. Every parent has learned this painful lesson after midnight on Christmas Eve when putting together a 1001 piece doll house. The Old Testament set the pattern: Israel would receive blessings for obeying and cursings when they disobeyed.

Chapter Three: Watch Where You’re Going. Some kids have a habit of watching people watch them walk. Adults can, “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called…” (Ephesians 4:1).

Chapter Four: Love God with your mind, too. Program and/or rewire the brain for the kingdom of God with Scripture and good books instead of time-devouring momentary pleasures.

Chapter Five: Look People in the Eye. Honesty, integrity, and respect—biblical “just scales” help us sleep at night.

Chapter Six: Say Please and Thank You. Dignity and respect toward others is not only biblical but it builds respect in return and attention to Christ. Southerners are known for this.

Chapter Seven: Eat the Things You Don’t Like First. Spinach has no friends under sixty-five years old. It only gets colder and worse on the plate over time. Learning to just do what needs to be done without procrastination will relieve a lot of stress. Just do it. Going deeper, simple obedience, holiness, and walking by faith are important steps on the discipleship road to delighting in the ways and will of the Lord with a view to pleasing him in all things.

Robin and I are looking for a publisher. In the meantime, join us in watching kids everywhere. Enjoy them, learn from them, and laugh with them. And…eat your spinach first.



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