Archive for the 'CreationSunrise' Category


When I walked one morning last week the rising sun was sandwiched between two layers of dark clouds. Only a few feet above the horizon, it was blinding even through thick sun glasses. Behind me at the walking track was a normally sleepy mountain range. It frames our valley on one side and begins a plateau that goes for many miles toward the center of Tennessee. The mountain was glowing in a bright yellow I have never seen in twenty years of daily observation. Until the clouds took over and rain began, light and color surrounded me.

The weatherman promises this week will be stunning in its own way, with blue skies and warm spring temperatures. Now, maybe, we can get ahead of the weeds…

Truly, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Noting verses two through four, we watch and worship God and listen as creation and the sky continue to speak of God’s invisible attributes: “Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” Scripture affirms our senses are physical and spiritual instruments to energize our appreciation for creation’s glories and God’s gesturing offer of relationship.

“Glory” can be an elusive term. God’s glory is “The visible appearance of his beauty and perfection reduced to a blazing light.” It is His essence. Like His ways, it is inscrutable—unfathomable, mysterious, impenetrable, indecipherable. “Oh,” says Paul, “the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways…for from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:11, 36).

Do we love Jesus or do we love His gifts such as creation?

Romans 1:19-20a comments about God’s glory and creation, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” The context of Romans 1 sadly reminds us many, many have historically and now continue to reject God’s wooing invitation in the sky and have turned to themselves as the authority for what to worship and how to live.

Have you entrusted yourself for life and godliness to the One who made the feast in the sky?

Because of God’s grace, each follower of Christ is privileged to be like the yellow morning mountain—bright shining—glowing—with a glimpse of the One who made the sun and us. We are, “predestined to be conformed into His image” (Romans 8:29). “Amen,” as Romans 11:36 shouts!

Amen means “may it be.”


Five Visible Planets

Praise the Name of the Lord…

Praise him, sun and moon,

   praise him, all you shining stars!

Praise him, you highest heavens,

   and you waters above the heavens!

                                      Psalm 148:1, 3-4

Morning Moon is a waning crescent moon this morning, smiling hello before dawn. Always welcome (even in today’s twenty-something cold), its companions Venus and Saturn pointed to the horizon and paved the way for today’s blinding sunrise. It strikes me how brilliant these reflectors are and the joy they bring as night gives way to dawn’s early light.

I am so attracted to the animated creation language of the Psalms. I know, they are poetical exuberance over the reflection of God’s glory in “nature”/creation. But Oh, how we live for every glimpse!

Did you know January-February brings a unique opportunity to see all five of the visible planets simultaneously for the first time in ten years? Surely, the angels in heaven are clearing their calendars and making strong coffee every morning to not miss a flicker.

Keep Psalm 148 handy and check out and…plan your praises.

Stars and Hair

New Day, December 8, 2015

“He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names” Psalm 147:4

This morning’s astronomical center stage before the sunrise was a crisp, smiling, crescent moon brilliant co-star, Venus, both accompanied by a cast of luminaries quietly standing nearby. It was as though I could take a giant step and be on stage with them.

And yet they are so far away. Psalm 8 came to mind, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (3-4).

The holy distance and closeness of God stops us in our tracks. Theologians call this His transcendence and immanence. All at once He is immeasurable, inscrutable, and uncontainable, and still He cares about the number of hairs on our heads.

We long for and rejoice in and live for both.

Rain Again

New Day, December 1, 2015

“He made a decree for the rain” Job 28:26

Henry David Thoreau said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

This is the third day of rain. Like awkward middle schoolers, we are tempted to respond to constant gray and rain as if we’re holding our square dance partner’s hand for the first time in front of a room full of giggling others. Go ahead and blush as you remember those fateful days.

Rain gets a lot of bad press. But what if our starting point on a rainy day—or yet another wet day—was this: God has not made a mistake. From all the menu items He could have ordered for this new day He directed nourishing, contemplative, cleansing rain to be our main meal.

In context, Job’s word, “he made a decree for the rain,” illustrates wisdom. “Where shall wisdom be found?” he asks. He answers his own question: “God understands the way to it, and he knows its place.”

Rain, then, gives us wisdom to live. It can mock despair and wonderfully remind us of our Creator-God who is at work to display His glory and for our good.

Father, help me to not just look and complain but to see You.

An Autumn Wonder


“The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.”

Psalm 50:1

How great are cool and clear autumn sunsets in East Tennessee!

Mirrors Today

New Day, November 20, 2015

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

On a clear morning it is impossible to actually stare at the sunrise when the sun pops up on the horizon. We are unable to take in the sun’s brilliant glory.

This morning, the sunrise was reflected on the trees across the street. For a moment the trunks were colored with a pleasing yellow. They became a mirror of the sun’s brightness. Now bare without their covering of leaves, the trees appear bleached and reflect light starkly and with force.

I thought about the wonder of reflection and its protection for our eyes on earth—and our souls which aren’t yet ready for heaven. I then considered the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who reflects Yahweh, our Father. I longed for Christ’s coming and our living in His presence forever in the New Jerusalem, where my dimmed view of the Lord will turn into rejoicing as we see Him face to face. Knowing—seeing—through a mirror is so incomplete.

I reflected on the privilege, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Father, we see You in the glory of Your Son and, amazingly, we get to reflect Jesus. When will you ask me to reflect Him today? I know around me will be those blinded by darkness and You have privileged me to reflect the Light, Jesus Christ?

More of Christ

New Day, November 10, 2015

I will connect two seemingly unattached thoughts in a minute.

Clouds are in abundance and the sun hidden again this morning. Happily, most of the leaves are gone and the eastern sky is open. I stood outside, enjoying the heavy, moist, cool air. I was reminded of many Pacific Northwest days from our unforgettable years in Oregon. Hi Bert and Jon.

My first thought as I looked into the sky was of the great variety in God and His creation. Even the gray clouds had ripples and variations. I found great joy in the recent ordinariness of cloudy days. I speak with some silliness but respect when I say: How immense must be the heavenly library of how-to books for God to research how to make cloud formations to grab the attention of simple-minded Christ-followers like me. Thank You, Father.

And then my friend cancelled breakfast this morning. He woke up blinded in one eye and unable to “stand the light of day.” I think he meant literal light, which overwhelmed his other eye. He has had a lot of hospitalizations this year and I am genuinely concerned for him. Please pray for Bill.

For a moment my joy turned to sadness and, to be honest, a little frustration with God. You’ve been there haven’t you? Without wavering I can say Bill is one of the most Christlike men I have ever had eggs with. “Why” questions began to form, but then I made myself stop. With an unexplainable calling I hurried to Isaiah 40:18, “To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with Him?”

Our Father has not impulsively brought gray clouds or blindness. I recalled the Psalms: “in faithfulness you have afflicted me,” and, “You are good and do good” (Psalm 119:75, 68). Then, as I read further in Isaiah, I was captured by God’s purposefulness revealed to pagan Cyrus (Imagine!) when he said, “I named you, though you do not know me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God…that people may know, from the rising of the sun [behind the clouds]…there is none besides me. I am the LORD, who does these things” (Isaiah 45:5-7).

Of course, Isaiah 40 is well-known for its beginning words to an exiled, chastened community: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” In the Christmas season favorite oratorio, “The Messiah,” Handel has Isaiah 40:1-2 sung as a solo by a tenor, moving in and out with robust strength and tenderness all at once. I think of the Father that way. Do you?

In Christ, the daily-ness of ordinary living is accented by gray clouds and surprising interventions of God. Every moment elevates us to greater privilege and purposefulness. We hear Paul echoing, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10-11).

Blessing and more of Christ to you today Bill.

Parade of Glory

New Day, October 29, 2015

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water,     that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

We are in an in-between time, when fall has peaked out from the shadows and winter will boldly make its forces known. Lessons and encouragement abound. With a slight coolness setting in, I stood in my back yard for a few minutes before sunset last night, while courageous breezes swirled, sunbeams pierced through thinning trees, and burnt orange, blushing red, and vivid yellow leaves competed for position in a floating parade of glory.

The cloudy sky this morning cannot take away from the soul-invigorating experience of last evening. The leaves, especially, called me to Jeremiah, where he wrote to a rebellious people to be like leaves that are always green. The prophet used creation to provide a simple map for navigating difficult times and gray mornings: Trust God for our days and future. What does faith look like (Jeremiah said it twice)? Don’t be anxious and cultivate the garden God appointed for us now.

Father, cause me to not forget yesterday’s exquisite sunset or the prophet’s counsel today.

A New Prescription

New Day, October 26, 2015

“Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?”    Job 38:12-13

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see,” noted Henry David Thoreau. This morning I looked outside for the dawn only to find gray and rain. Happy Fall?

But God commanded this exact morning and caused this precise dawn.

Father, help me to see what the Apostle Paul did, what he wanted the Philippians to see in his absence, and what is not easy to realize in the gray and rain: “…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Lord, I don’t want to be unknowing and unseeing like the wicked. I need You to help me to be wise to Your ways and presence.

Now that I’ve said it, Father, Thank You very much for the dawn.

Autumn’s New Season

Thank you to my friend KS, who finds the most delicious creation quotes.

And Happy First Day of Autumn to all.

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love — that makes life and nature harmonize. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ~George Eliot


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