Monday, July 28, 2008

Hosts

(Internet access is limited, but here is another post. Enjoy the Adventure!)

Sandy and I agree . . . this has been our most enjoyable time in Maine over the last several years. From the time we left Georgia we set our heart on looking for opportunities to live from a spirit of generosity. Since then, we have made it a point to go the extra mile to bless people with whatever resources we have available. Ours is not the Life Style of the Rich and Famous, but we do possess a temporal asset that is rare and invaluable - our cabin in Maine. Few places provide the unique experience of this spot along the Penobscot.

For instance . . .

As I write, the sunset is displaying colors that defy description. Each band of tinted sky blends and bleeds into the other. Then, there is the dynamic contrast of an intense bald eagle hunting for its evening meal, and the gentle, melodic lullaby of the wood thrush singing the forest to sleep. The baritone voice of the river joins the songbird's aria adding, and the syncopated popping and crackling from the fire pit keeps tempo. The setting is inimitable.

During our entire two-week stay we have had less than two days without company. We have extended hospitality every chance we’ve had, and it’s proved to be the recipe for the best vacation in years.

Life after 5

After 5 days of rain, and only sporadic glimpses of the sun, a stiff southwest breeze carried away dark rain clouds, and sticky, humid air. Along the river leafy oak and pine and maple trees lazily sway to its rhythm. Unrelenting downpours raised the river 8-10 inches, cranking up its music as it squeezes through the narrow slot between the ledges and the east bank. Ever changing currents catch rays of sunshine in their tumbling swirl and, turn the surface into a million glittering diamonds.

Earlier in the day we kayaked south around the foot of Birch Island. The confluence of the two branches that circle the island caused the unusual effect of towing our kayaks up stream. Resting our paddles across our laps, we enjoyed the phenomenon of currents flowing north on each side, as we gently moved south defying gravity. Elevated waters had opened cuts and channels we could not explore when the water is down, so we pointed our bows toward their mouth and let the current, that in a matter of yards returned to its normal pattern, pull us through. God’s natural world blessed us with a serendipitous gift.

Late this afternoon I split and stacked a pile of wood from the maple my father and had I felled last year. Tonight, I look forward to an evening around the fire pit. It appears that the sky will be black and clear, and the stars will make a grand appearance. a few hours from now the sunset will shush the wind to a whisper, nighttime will deepen, and the absence of daylight will eliminate one less distraction for the senses. Hearing will become keener, vision more intentional, and new, fresh wonders will emerge.

Later . . .

The night didn’t disappoint me. At 10:11 and 10:24 and 10:44 P.M., wonders of man's creative genius, satellites, passed slowly over the ragged hole in the canopy of trees above me – two came from the southwest, and one came from the northeast. But God would not be out staged, so at 10:45 and 10:54 P.M., He slung a couple of streaking meteors my way that zipped across the sky in a blink. At midnight I decided to leave the fireside and say good night to my Father and give Him thanks for His special gift.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Enjoy It!

God has given us all things to enjoy. ~Apostle Paul

Watching Sandy kayak across swift water . . .bait her own hook . . .catch her own fish . . .being fearless
River sounds
Night sounds
No unnatural sounds
Crackling Camp fires
Day Dreaming . . .night dreaming
Chilly morning air
Sleeping and awakening with the sun's cycle
Watching a deer on the ledges
Deep voice of an owl
Drenching rains
Heat waves . . . 80 degrees. . . go ahead . . .smile
My mother's scotcheroos
Taking down a tree with my father
Heating water to do dishes
Bathing in the river
Blessing friends with what we have
Watching our son's show at the Plow and Stars
Trying to salsa dance
Trying to merenga (mer-ang-a)
Laughing
Laughing a lot
A sense of Father God's pleasure

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Signs (Reposted)

Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take. Jeremiah 31:21

You could probably tell anyone where every STOP sign is in your daily commute. It is the one sign that demands our attention. You miss that one and it could cost you a fine or even be fatal. But you also pass many signs, such as: MERGE, YIELD, ONE WAY, DO NOT ENTER, DIVIDED HIGHWAY, SOFT SHOULDER, NO SHOULDER, LANE ENDS, and numerous street signs. You are so familiar with them you barely give them notice. You just cruise along oblivious to the many other signs.

Then there are those temporary signs: DETOUR, CONSTRUCTION, BUMP, SINGLE LANE, DO NOT PASS, REDUCE SPEED, and others. Those signs are meant to grab your attention. They are alerting you to change your routine.

I believe Jeremiah is talking about the latter group of signs -- the temporary ones. Signs that God sets up along the highway of life. He is alerting us that our routine needs to be broken, and we need to make an adjustment. I must admit that at times I have blatantly ignored the alerts or innocently missed them because I was not paying attention. How about you -- missed any? Those signs are important. We need to learn to watch for God's cues, lest He have to do a Bill Engvall and say, Here's your sign!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Solid Soul (From 2006)

Invigorate my soul so I can praise you well, use your decrees to put iron in my soul. Psalm 119 [The Message]

Just like a baseball player can go into a batting slump, we, as believers, sometimes go into a soul slump. The Scripture quoted above reminds us of this truth. The Psalmist reveals that the condition of our souls is exposed by our praise.

Replace the word invigorate with its definition and read the verse again, "Fill my soul with life and energy, energize me. Heighten and intensify my praise of You.

There is plenty of evidence in God's Word that a part of praise is euphoria, and people express that euphoria in different ways. But it is important to remember that praise will always build spiritual strength. Praise, built on the Truth, puts iron in the soul.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Done! But Not Written Down. (Reposted from 2005)

Done! But Not Written Down.

There are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. John 21:25

John didn't write down every single thing Jesus did. But he did write down enough to establish that Jesus was the real deal. His testimony drew others to Christ.

None of us have "eyes to see" or "ears to hear" or time to write down everything that Christ is doing. There is always some kind of blind spot that keeps us from seeing; there is always a din that drowns out His voice. None of these are reasons to keep us from recording something!

Later on in the Revelation, Jesus would tell John, "Write... what you see."

Look around you. What do you see? Can you identify God's hand at work? If so, how? Write it down! Stop and listen. What do you hear? Where did you hear it? Would God have you write it down?

John encouraged himself by writing about the reality of the Christ he trusted. His writings have been encouraging others for 2000 years.

An old gospel hymn instructs us. . .

Count you many blessings. Name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord has done!

What is God doing? Stop and write it down!

Friday, July 4, 2008

I Will Explain Later

God marks across some of our days, "Will explain later." ~Vance Havner~

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect . . . ~The apostle Peter~

In our earliest days of ministry (even though we never personally met him) Sandy and I thought of Vance Havner as a spiritual grandfather. We had many of his messages, and we read all of his books (which were collections of his sermons). Havner was an old fashioned orator with a pithy and gentle writing voice. A bit eccentric, he didn't get a driver's license until he was 60, and he didn't get married until he was 65. "I'm not one to rush into decisions," He explained. Death ushered him into life at 88 years of age. Sandy and I wept at the news. During that time we were planting a church from our home, and we could barely put food on the table. Try as I may, I could not get enough money together to fly to Chicago for his funeral.

By now you have probably figured out that I could go on and on about this remarkable man, but I will cease my digression, and get to his quote at the top of the post.

God is under no obligation to explain His actions, and for the most part we don't feel a need to get explanations, because we enjoy the spiritual rhythm of being in step with the Spirit. We have a pretty good sense of what God is up to in our life. We even help a fellow sojourner unpack and unravel rough spots in the adventure.

But then . . . our spiritual walk becomes a staggering stupor. Our rhythmic flow breaks off into a hundred branches. And our orderly life becomes a jig-saw puzzle. We don't plunge into atheism, but we do ask, "God, where are you . . . what are you doing?"

There is no pat answer for such dilemmas, but there is a defense. The apostle Peter and Vance Havner concur -- at the very minimum -- God promises, "I will explain later."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Life School

Life is my college. May I graduate well, and earn some honors!
~Louisa May Alcott~

The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me -- the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give me . . . ~The Apostle Paul~

Life is my college, says Alcott, and she showed up for class determined to do well. Ms. Alcott believed that if she gave every day of life her best shot there would be some honors on graduation day.

Life is the one college every person must attend. There is no entry examine -- you just show up on the day of your birth. You can't drop out, or flunk out, but you can sit idly, bored, neutralized, or full of fear, and you may have to repeat the same grade year after year. But everyone will graduate, and then receive their final grade.

The apostle Paul left words for his spiritual successors similar to Ms. Alcott's, but he is much more precise. He says, live like you are dying, and here are the disciplines: you must learn to fight fairly, and you must finish your race completely. Also, don't major on your minor, and minor on your major -- remain committed to the core curriculum -- Jesus' redemptive work. It is an open book test, so you must live your life like an open book. There are no trick questions, and every student will be graded fairly based on his or her abilities.

Spiritual Life School -- Everyone can graduate with honors!