We all want a place where we feel like we belong. A place where the majority of the time people are interacting with kindness, goodness and love. The boom of electronic devices has created an invasion in our houses or places to be in community. It is interesting to me that we look down and draw into ourselves with these devices as our life and relationships are enriched when we look up, listen and engage with others and nature. One of the reasons I focus so much time and attention on nature in photography is because it is God created. He made the earth a place for us to live before we go to our eternal home. Wherever your home is invite God into it and invite Jesus into your life every day. The lessons we learn during life on earth are all to help us thrive in eternity. May you see God’s blessings in your life and relationships.
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
(This photo was taken this morning on the shore of Lake Superior in Ashland, Wisconsin)
Music has had a significant impact on my faith journey. I began listening to Christian radio stations around Christmas time in 1998. I think we all know the impact music can have on a person…when our favorite song of any genre is played it seems to be so powerful to us, it stirs us up in ways very few things can. Music is a wonderful way to worship and to praise the Lord. There are classic hymns and stirring contemporary music that can reach deep down in us and touch our lives. The ability to create this type of music is a gift and I am thankful for people who have this gift and that they use it to honor our Lord. Here are a few songs of praise…
God Of Wonders by Third Day
What A Beautiful Name – Hillsong Worship
Chris Tomlin – Forever
This is just a very small sample; what is your favorite song of worship and praise?
“All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.”
(This photo was taken in July of 2016 in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming)
It is good to take a walk and soak in God’s creation. To look around and see the intricate details that exist. The flowers, the trees, the water, from tiny bugs to mature wildlife our God is truly creative and imaginative. It is so easy to lose focus in life, to think that whatever is happening or not happening in our little piece of the world is the beginning or end of everything…we are neither. It was God who created the world and everything in it and humans cannot improve what God has created, we are here to assist to help maintain what God is sustaining. In order to do our part well, we need to have a relationship with the Creator and an appreciation for His creation. As the poem by Cecil Frances Alexander states; “All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all.”
May the awe and wonder of God’s creation be present in your life.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”
(This photo was taken in June of 2013 near Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado)
Today is recognized as Independence Day in the US. A holiday where people can gather and celebrate freedom. It is a day where we should give thanks to the Lord for all we have in our lives. Take a moment and reflect on your surroundings, people in your life…all of the good things are gifts from God. If it is difficult to see goodness, take some time to work on your relationship with God, talk to Him and listen in the quietness of time alone with God. You were created out of love by God, He is with you and you can have contentment, security, peace and hope for a future in a way that only God can provide by choosing to turn to Him and His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ. God is good…all the time…and all the time…God is good! Praise the Lord. May the peace and joy of the Lord be with you.
“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.”
(This photo was taken in June of 2018 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)
Instructions…directions…guidance…wisdom…understanding. It takes a certain attitude to be willing to follow instructions, to accept wisdom from another or to trust the guidance of someone else. We have to be humble, willing to admit we don’t know our way around a situation or place. This is easy when we are using one of our devices of “convenience,” a cell phone, Ipad, computer, etc. It is more difficult when we start involving other people in our need for assistance. We are challenged to learn how to have humility, to accept our level of knowledge for what it is and to seek out wisdom and to learn from others in history. God’s Word is the instruction manual for life we all can use. It provides the Way to make it through this world, it does not say do this and life will be easy and always happy. It is more honest than that and more about providing wisdom and guidance as help from those who already have lived on earth and know the troubles human beings will have in life. Pickup a bible and seek the understanding that God provides. The test for this book is happening all the time in our daily life, how are you answering the multiple choice questions of your life? May God’s mercy and grace be with you.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
(This photo was taken in August of 2016 at Sapphire Point near Dillon, Colorado)
As we work to grow in our relationship with Jesus, we may begin to focus on offering ourselves up in prayer. To most of us when we think about prayer we thinking of speaking, however, as we can learn from our relationships with others, listening is a vital yet little used characteristic in the world. Every strong relationship involves communication two ways. Speaking and offering up your words and support verbally and then also taking time to sit quietly and listen. I have been doing my reading and devotions in the early morning for several years and I choose that time for me because the world is very still and quiet in my life in the early morning and I have found I can truly meditate on God’s Word and let it soak into to my soul. I start each day speaking and listening with the Lord and it sets my perspective and attitude for good things. Seek the Lord and listen for His voice. May God’s peace be with you.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
(This photo was taken in April of 2016 at sunrise at a lake place in central Minnesota)
The world can get us down if we let it. We see and hear the heart wrenching stories all too often. People seeking vengeance and hatred and trying to create their own version of “Justice”…it is not for us to avenge. We can choose to put our hope and trust in something way better than anything the world has to offer. Only the Lord can restore that which is lost to evil and darkness. Patience and persistence are the keys to faith, believe and we will see the goodness of the Lord. He will make all things new (See Isaiah 65:17). Here is a great song that speaks this message by Steven Curtis Chapman entitled All Things New
If you want to see a change in the world and a change in your life turn towards God and the you will begin to see the New things. May God’s love and joy be with you.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
(This photo was taken in August of 2016 in Arches National Park in Utah)
You may have heard someone say or you may have said it yourself, a phrase such as ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’ This originated in biblical times after the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus appeared to the disciples at a time when Thomas was not with them. Even as one of the apostles who had been with Jesus he could not comprehend the resurrection and told his brothers…“unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” (John 20:25) Thomas was so sure this could not be true, that Jesus had risen, that he made this statement basically saying to the others…prove it! Oh boy, I have been there before. The problem with this approach to our faith is it is not faith at all…if we have to see it to believe it, what do we truly believe in? A simple example is the wind…the air can move at very high speeds at different elevations and we know this not because we can see it move, what we can see is what it can do. Don’t get caught being a doubting Thomas, rather learn from him and have faith in the One who knows us and can see what He has planned for our lives. May God’s love and joy be with you.
“We live by faith, not by sight.”
2 Corinthians 5:7
(This photo was taken in March of 2018 in White Sands National Monument in New Mexico)
Our journey is filled with these…moments where things are good, we are strong, confident, faithful and filled with hope and joy – Highs. We also have moments of fear, concern, sadness that are filled with despair – Lows. Every life has both whether you see it in others or not, they both exist for everyone. The key to living with all of this is how are you reacting to your highs and your lows? Reading and learning from God’s Word with the Holy Spirit as your guide is a great place to start. After that, the way to give and receive celebration for highs and support for lows is with Friends. Personal relationships, that is the key to living, learning and growing through out your life journey. Reflect on your personal relationships, with God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as well as with your friends. Pray about them and find ways you can enrich those relationships. Faith is not a destination, it is a way of living through the Highs and Lows that come to all of us no matter who we are or what we are doing. May God’s peace and joy be with you.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
(These photo’s were taken in July of 2016 at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming)
We will have what we need, we will not always get what we want (I am now hearing a Rolling Stones song in my mind), yet we struggle with worry and anxiety daily and that constant strain causes physical damage to our bodies over a period of time. God is our Creator and He knows exactly what we need. If we are saying it is not enough then we are too focused on our plans and not His. Before I started daily devotions just over 8 years ago I wasted a large amount of my time on worry and the worst part is, it was about things I can’t even control. As I have grown spiritually my perspective has changed for the better…I still pray a serenity prayer to help as old habits die hard. It is a test of faith to let go of the worries and to trust God with the answers and the outcome. May God’s grace and peace be with you.
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
(This photo was taken in June 2018, last weekend, while driving to South Dakota)