It is said the tighter we try to grab on to the things of this world the more they slip through our fingers. If I just do this or if we can just get to this point then everything will work out as we plan…as if it is all up to us and we are in control. Then as we get older and begin to realize it is not up to us alone, there is the danger of going too far the opposite way…it doesn’t matter what I do, nobody cares anyways or I could just disappear and no one would notice. Both directions of belief are extreme, as humans we tend to go too far one way or the other and we tend to get too high or too low…imagine a horizontal line of your beliefs intersecting with a vertical line of your emotions and you get…The Cross. To find balance come to The Cross and hold on to Jesus. Amen.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
(This photo was taken in August of 2016 in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington)
Tune your spirit to align with God. When you find yourself in that moment you will know it. There is nothing like it. I have very few words to share with you this morning as my faith is best expressed through song. May the love and joy of the Lord wash over you and bring you peace. Amen.
“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
How Great Is Our God – Chris Tomlin
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spriritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
(This photo was taken in August of 2016 at Sapphire Point near Dillon, Colorado)
There is significant power in gratitude. It is one of the forces that can truly impact our perspective. The attitude of gratitude drives us to reflect and reconsider, it encourages a shift in focus on what is good, instead of what is wrong. It leads us to look for solutions, instead of problems. It helps us give thanks instead of complaining. Most importantly it takes the focus off of the self and the sinful nature within all of us. All that is good in our lives is from God, everything else is because of sin and selfishness, in us and in others. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1) Amen.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
(This photo was taken in October of 2018 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)
Here is a difficult thing to do on our faith journey. And like everything else this is not a one and done check box in life…it is ongoing, it is a process, it is not something we should do alone. God knows about you, He knows what is going on in your life right now, He knows your thoughts and fears and He knows you will need Him…He did two things to help you…He sent His one and only Son as a sacrifice to save you and He gave you free will. Choose faith, choose Jesus Christ, choose God’s Word…He knows you, He loves you and He is waiting to hear from you. Amen.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
(This photo was taken in September of 2016 at a lake place in central Minnesota)
The Book of Psalms is filled with songs and prayers of David that express a wide range of emotions. As you may know I believe in the power of music and its ability to stir us up in the deepest places of our hearts. I am thankful to those who have been blessed to create and produce music and do so out the love and passion they have to share their gifts. Today the words to one of David’s songs strikes me as comforting. I encourage you to read the entire Psalm 18…I will share the verse that grabbed my attention this morning below. Peace be with you on your journey. Amen.
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
(This photo was taken in August of 2016 in Glacier National Park in Montana)
When we believe, when we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who lived and died and was resurrected to save us…we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. When we can come to the Cross and confess our sins, we are forgiven and we are restored. As we move along the journey of faith, the Light of Christ is put into the empty space inside us. It is a space made by Him and made for Him. Many try to fill that space with other things. When we receive this Light, it is up to us to shine this Light in the world for others to see. If we are unsure how God wants us to do that, all we have to do is ask. May we all learn how God wants us to shine the Light of Christ in our lives. Amen.
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
2 Corinthians 4:6
(This photo was taken in July of 2018 on Lake Superior near the Apostle Islands)
As of last night our area in the upper Midwest has received 16 inches of snow in the last week. Last night, another 4-5 inches fell and it will continue to snow until this afternoon, we may get more on Thrusday. We are not the only area with weather affecting every day life. I thought I heard the Seattle area received as much snow from one strom that it usually receives the entire winter. The pattern for us has been snow, then cold, then snow, then cold…repeat, repeat. The persistence of it can put some people under pressure while some people have big smiles on their faces…I tend to be more in the latter group. It is all about how we choose to respond. If you want to understand more about yourself and how you handle things that cannot be controlled…observe your reaction in relation to the weather. The same is true when it comes to doing good things we need to be persistent and not give up. Things will go wrong, the problems will seem to big, we will read and see terrible things in this world, we need to focus on Jesus Christ, we need to be persistent in our faith…that is the answer to all that we cannot control. Amen.
“And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is right.”
2 Thessalonians 3:13
(This photo was taken in August of 2016 in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington)
What are the thoughts and things that stir up your heart and your mind? Sometimes, we make it too easy for evil to ensnare us. We get so easily distracted and consumed by the things of this world and forget what we have learned from God. Daily time with God’s Word and in prayer is the only resource I know of, for helping us to reset and refocus our hearts and our minds. The self and the sinful nature will not give up on tearing you down and breaking you apart. Find wisdom, strength and courage in Jesus Christ. He knows more than anyone the battles we are facing as He too lived on earth and was tempted by the devil. Seek Him and God’s Word and your heart and mind will be restored. Amen.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
(This photo was taken in March of 2018 while traveling through southern New Mexico)
It is uncomprehendable for our finite minds…in the Book of Ephesians chapter 3 Paul writes a prayer for the Ephesians…“…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…” (Ephesians 3:17-18) God stands by us, when we turn our backs on Him, He doesn’t give up on us. When we get consumed by the sinful nature, He forgives us. When He saw that all His efforts in the Old Testament to save His people were temporary fixes…He did the unthinkable, He became like us and He sacrificed His one and only Son to ensure we would be saved. God loves you…more than you will ever be able to understand during your life on earth. Seek Him and His everlasting love. Here is a song of praise about God’s love. Peace be with you.
How He Loves Us – David Crowder Band
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have enternal life.”
(This photo was taken in June of 2018 while walking the dog near Plymouth, Minnesota)
When we take time to reflect and think about how we interact with others and what our relationships with others look like, what do we see? Are we good listeners? Do we seek feedback? How do we handle missteps or miscommunications? The triat of humility is lost on many in the world. If we want to learn about it we should read about the ultimate example of humility in the bible, turn to the Gospel of John, chapter 13…that is a standard of humility all of us can learn from…may we all seek to find ways to be humble in this world. Amen.
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
(This photo was taken in June of 2013 in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado)