May 112019
 
Picture of peonies

Romans 1:20 says that creation teaches us about God, that we can learn about God’s nature simply by looking at his creation. With the reality of that truth sinking in my head, I am beginning to wonder what I could learn about God simply by taking a few minutes today to examine his creation?

What do the Spring flowers teach me? What can I learn about God from the peonies by the mailbox? Does a yellow dandelion in my yard say something about God’s character? When I smell the wonderful aroma of a Magnolia blossom, why is my brain filled with a sense of awe? And what about the spider lilies, whose leaves are dying? They will be hiding in the ground, unseen until the fall, when they will explode out of the ground to paint their fiery red display across our yard, proving that life has been there all along.

What can I say? If a few Spring flowers are my teacher, then I must know that God loves beauty, and color, and intricate, surprising shapes, smells, and textures. He wants us to see it too, for he scatters it everywhere. But he doesn’t leave it too long. He doesn’t want us to get used to it and start ignoring it. Even though it may be gone for a while, it comes back, and we appreciate it all over again. There are different flowers for different seasons. And even in the Winter, there are icicles, frost, and an endless variety of snowflakes. And by my driveway, even if they have to peek from under the snow, will be the buds on the camellia bush, a beautiful promise of the coming Spring.

Apr 192019
 

Sometimes God allows bad things to happen so that he can get glory. We see this clearly in John chapter 9, among other places in the Bible. Am I the only one? Or are there other people who don’t like that idea? God might let me or someone I love suffer because it’s better for him? That sounds a bit selfish and egotistical to me. Until I realize something . . .

God doesn’t need glory and honor to himself. He doesn’t need us to tell him how great he is. He has no ego or inferiority complex that needs to be fed by our praise like some Hollywood movie star, strutting about for the camera. No, God is complete in himself. God needs to get glory and praise because that is what we need, not because that is what he needs. So, when bad things happen so that God can be glorified, even that is really for us. Because he loves us. Because he wants what is best for us. And what is best for us, is to see him in all his glory.

Jesus’ death on the cross is a perfect example of all of this. Jesus suffered tremendous pain so that God could be glorified, right could win, and we could see him as savior and Lord. The pain and the suffering pointed a blinding bright spot light on the love of God as the “star of the show.” In the grand finale, when he bursts from the grave, we stand and cheer or bow and worship at the amazing acts of God. And as we give our accolades to him, he says, “The show was for you. I did it all for you.”

 Posted by at 6:43 am
Dec 152018
 

Well, after three months, we have one puppy left, and it’s getting harder and harder to let him go.  Just this morning, I already had to clean up poop and pee, and there is still a mess in the garage to deal with, but the puppy is still here.  I haven’t killed him yet.  In fact, I want to keep him around more today than I did when he was first born.  I’ve been thinking about why that is.

Buster Brown sleeping on his stuffed dog

Love is the key to all this.  When dealing with all the hardship caused by puppies, the poop, pee, chewing, waking in the middle of the night, etc. there are really only two emotional responses that can happen.  Either you decide to love them anyway, using that force which is always patient, always kind, always bears all things and never fails, or you can decide to move in the other direction.  You can let resentment build, let frustration grow, embrace anger, set your jaw and determine to get rid of the troublesome vermin as soon as possible. 

Option B is what causes little puppies to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere to starve.  Option A, an even stronger force, has the unfortunate side affect of puppies sticking around longer than they should on occasion.  Sometimes it even causes a lifetime of hardship.  But it’s a lifetime of hardship that is chosen because of a decision to love.  For me, I’d rather have the troubles of option A than the heart of option B any day. 

So, the puppy is still here.  And if it turns out that he is still here a year from now, don’t judge me too harshly just because I chose option A.  I learned it from my Father who, from the beginning of time, chose option A for me.

Oct 312018
 

So there’s this lady who painted herself all white, and wears all white clothes. She stands real still and pretends to be a statue. She’s a real person, pretending to be a facsimile of a real person. That’s her job. People give her money to pretend to be a fake person. Shucks, I gave her money.

It’s funny. Instead of art imitating life, it’s life imitating art imitating life. The curious part to me is why is it so fascinating to look at? I guess it’s because it’s hard to believe a real person could stand so still and look so fake. But why should that be interesting? There are plenty of people in this world who are going nowhere and constantly faking it . . . and most of them even get paid for it.

Sep 182018
 
Joy with her puppies

Our dog Joy had puppies this week-end.  Now she has nine squirmy, noisy, pooping, peeing, totally self-absorbed little fur balls causing her enormous amounts of grief and uncomfort.  Even so, she lays still for hours on end, bearing their constant grunts and squeals as thy crawl all over her, biting, sucking, and pulling in places they should, and shouldn’t.

I guess it is instinct that makes her tolerate their torture.  Somehow she knows that only she can provide what they really need.  Somehow she knows she must patiently watch over and deal with them as only a mother can.  Somehow she manages to deny her own needs so that she can tend to theirs.  For dogs, we call it instinct.  When people do it, we call it love.  But you know, the Bible says God is love.  So, should we really be surprised to find it reflected all throughout his creation?

Aug 312018
 

 

At the top of Horseshoe Falls

We recently returned from a trip to see Niagara Falls. It’s hard to find the right words to describe what it was like. Standing in front of the falls, hearing the constant thunder of the falling water, feeling the mist in my face, and seeing the massive roiling liquid sheet spilling over the edge into a foamy tumult… It was emotionally overpowering. Even now, just thinking about it, I want to bow down in worship, clap my hands, and shout the praise of the glorious God who created such a majestic wonder.

We planned to spend three days in the area of the falls. I thought it was too much time. After all, what else was there to do but look at the falls. So we figured out a bunch of activities to keep us busy and went about doing them – Journey Behind the Falls, Voyage to the Falls, Cave of the Winds and more. We filled up three days of fun with no problem and now that I am home, I think I would like to spend more time there.

The view from Skylon Tower

I know one thing for sure: If I ever do get the chance to go back to Niagara Falls for another three days, I won’t need a bunch of activities to fill the time. I could spend the entire time just looking at the falls and worshipping the God who created such a wondrous thing.

 

Jul 032018
 

I was swimming in the pool this past weekend, enjoying the cool water oasis in the early Summer heat, when my dog decided to take advantage of the cool water too. She walked over to the steps as if to enter the pool, lowered her head, and started lapping up the water. I swam over to her as she lifted her head and looked down at me, water dripping from her mouth, back into the pool.

For a moment, I couldn’t decide if she was drinking my pool water or if I was swimming in her giant water dish. I contemplated it for a moment, then decided whatever state I was in, therein to be content.

 Posted by at 1:26 pm
Jun 112018
 

God always shows up.

When I’m in the middle of the battle, I don’t see it.

I’m busy swinging my sword, or running for cover, or hiding from the enemy, so I don’t see it.

In the middle of a battle, it’s tough to see everything that is happening.

But when the battle is over, and you begin to put together the picture of what happened… how the battle was won… When the history of the battle is written, the last line of the story will be, God showed up.

 Posted by at 1:10 pm
Apr 132018
 

I have been thinking about success lately. Some people have it, some people don’t and I am often uncertain of the category in which I belong. In trying to figure out if I had it – indeed if I even wanted it – it became apparent to me that I must first discover what it is.

I think we often equate a successful person with successful actions. A person who is very good at something, who can accomplish great things, is often considered successful. But I think a man who can often accomplish what he sets out to do is not necessarily a successful man. Hitler was a successful leader (he managed to rally millions behind his loathsome cause), but does that make him a success? I think not. The two things can go together. I can be a successful manager AND a successful person, but I do not believe I need necessarily be both.

I suspect the world is full of people who think themselves a success when all they really are is a failure with a talent.

 Posted by at 1:17 pm
Mar 242018
 

The Gardener’s Handiwork

It almost looks like ghosts have invaded my yard.  Sheets and blankets hunch over my precious budding trees and bushes as if to cuddle them in a protective embrace.  A few unseasonably warm days have tricked my poor plants into blooming.  They know that Spring is on the way, but they have failed to account for Winter’s last gasp of chilly breath.  It happens almost every year.  There is nothing I, as gardener, can do to change the weather, but I can do some things to protect my precious plants from its effects.

Sometimes I wonder if the problem with the plants and the early spring freeze is because we have planted plants in the wrong place.  Am I trying to grow fruit in a place that is too cold for it?  Would my blueberries and apple trees fare better if they were planted further south?  Or would they then just bloom even earlier, still risking the cold?  Maybe I could plant them where it never freezes, but then how would I enjoy my fresh apples and blueberries this Summer?  I want my fruit near me, where I can watch it grow.  See it produce.  Enjoy it and share it.  So, when needed, I’ll protect it from the cold, fertilize it, prune it, and defend it from the bugs and critters that try to steal my blessing.   It’s what any good gardener does.

“. . . my Father is the Gardener . . .”  John 15:1

 

 Posted by at 7:30 am