in this place

Maybe its just me getting old and trying to hold on to some shred of an idea that there is still youth left in me. Or maybe it’s just me being sentimental beyond belief. Maybe I just have too many romantic and nostalgic notions, or maybe I just live in the past too much.

But when I am here, in this place, surrounded by people who have known me since my youth, people who shared moments with me that shaped the heart of who I am, I can’t help but feel that much closer to the person I sometimes think I have forgotten how to be.

Here, in this place,  where the smells are all rain, pine, and clean air…here where all the sounds I hear at night are the cicadas and the crickets singing their night song…here where the stars reach down and touch the face of the water…here in the place where I grew up, my home away from home.

On this mountain God is real and on this mountain, God is near. I hear His voice whisper through the breeze at night, and I see His face on the smiles of the little ones too excited to sleep because they couldn’t wait to get here, just like I couldn’t wait to get here. I talk to God with every step I take on this holy mountain because I would swear this place is His temple.

I walk by places and some have changed, some are new, and some, ageless, remain the same. Each hill, each tree, each structure has a memory, and I know this place like I know my own hand. Yet, every time I am here, I see new beauty, I hear new words from God, and I leave longing for the next time I will be here. It’s all still the same as it was years ago, when each arrival brought the promise of new adventure and new friends and each departure held new memories and sadness over the leaving.

When I look back to what made me who I am today, it wasn’t the people I saw every day, it wasn’t the things I did at home, nor was it what I learned in school. What shaped me into me, were the people that I spent each summer with, those who taught me how to love with abandon, to trust even when it hurt, and to believe the best in others because they believed the best in me. The things that I learned here, like what God really did require of me, what heaven really meant, and that faith really is that simple have taken me farther than any equation in algebra or sentence diagram ever had a hope of doing.

So maybe I am just getting old or maybe I am just a sentimental, but either way, as I drive away from this place, my heart is sad to leave, but rejoices with the new things learned, new people loved, and the possibility that it won’t be too long until I see this mountain again.

 

missing Jesus in between

I feel like I missed Jesus this Easter. Oh sure, I went to three Easter services, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and 10 a.m Easter on Sunday. That’s not what I mean. I mean I missed preparing for Holy Week. It just all washed by in blur of busy and now here I am on Easter Sunday Night thinking how grateful I am that He doesn’t keep a record of my failings. 

 

IMG_0276-2At the beginning of the week I did get to spend four days in the US Virgin Islands. There were plenty of tourists to go round, but at early morning and sunset, I found I largely had the place to myself. It was in those quiet hours that I found my heart beating for something more...more than the frantic pace of my daily life, more than the over crowded schedule (that I had left behind), more than the list of obligations I could not see my way around.

For a full twenty four hours I was alone on that island (my friend had gone home a day early) and in those moments, disconnected from my world that demands so much, I looked for Him and He showed Himself. In the sunset, in the sunrise, in the breeze, and in the quiet, In the blues, the reds, the pinks. For truly all of creation proclaims His deeds.
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IMG_0179-2In that short space of time, those few moments that I slowed down enough to find Him waiting there, I realized I had been missing Jesus in between everything else that I thought was more important. I prepared for His advent four months ago, but I had lost sight of His life, of His life in mine. I don’t want to miss Easter again. I want to always find Him in the middle of it all, and to be in the middle of my everything.

He was wounded for our rebellious acts.
    He was crushed for our sins.
        He was punished so that we could have peace,
            and we received healing from his wounds.” Isaiah 53:5, Gods WORD Translation

 

Celebrating the Savior! Merry Christmas

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The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.~Psalm 19:1-2

 

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. ~Isaiah 9:6-7 

MERRY CHRISTMAS.

CELEBRATE THE SAVIOR NOT JUST THIS DAY, BUT ALL YEAR LONG!

 

Celebrating the Savior–Day Twenty Three of Advent (Catching up)

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Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.~John 6:35

What better way to celebrate the Savior than to partake in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. It is all tied together. His birth so that through His death we might find everlasting life.

The bread and the water, the water turned to wine. His body broken, His body poured out for us.

Christmas is about remembering that because of Him, we are saved. As the pastor said last night, Christmas and Easter are the same thing, we can’t have one without the other.

He came to die, He came to set us free, He came to save us.

Celebrating the Savior….

Celebrating the Savior–Day Twenty-two of Advent (Catching up)

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On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”~John 7:37-38

A person can go a couple of months without food or much food…but without water, not more than a few days. Water is necessary for life.

Years ago when I used to drive across country from the east coast headed to Colorado, I had to drive across Kansas. The longest 8 years of my life…Kansas is flat and there is not a lot of interesting scenery to look at, unless you happen to drive through during sunflower season. That’s pretty cool.

There are many places in Kansas where, in the summer, everything is brown. Dead and brown, but, driving along those open, flat spaces you where you can see forever, you can often find a snaking ribbon of green cutting through the barren plains. This is where the water is. A small creek running through the parched land can support an abundant wealth of trees, shrubs and grasses. Where the water is, there is life.

Jesus said He is the living water and that if anyone believes in Him and drinks from Him, that person will have rivers of living water.

Think about this and imagine Kansas. Flat, brown, dead, dying, wasteland. That’s us before Jesus. Now, enter the Savior, the Messiah, the one they call Jesus, the Living Water. When we come into a personal relationship with Him, we are like that green ribbon of life winding through the barrenness. The contrast is unbelievable. Where we were once dead and lifeless, now springs life and hope. 

And WE are that living water now, we have the words of Life, we are like that river, that river that has its end and beginning in Him, the Messiah Savior. The one we are celebrating.

Celebrating the Savior–Day Twenty One of Advent (catching up)

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He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters~Psalm 23:2

At this time of year there are very few green pastures around where I live…yet today’s Advent mediation focuses on the word GREEN.

So we had…tree,Cross, Nail, Red, White, Green. Colors that are typically “Christmas” colors but not in the way we think of them, normally.

The Lord is my Shepherd. We have talked considerably a lot about sheep and shepherds this Advent. And here we are back to the Shepherds.

Odd, isn’t it, that David would call the Lord a Shepherd and then Jesus would call Himself a shepherd in the New Testament. Shepherds, as we know, were not well liked. They were the lowest on the totem pole so to speak, no one welcomed them into their home for dinners, people gave them a wide berth when they went to the market because they didn’t smell real good…probably only slightly better than the pig farmers.

So why a Shepherd? So why announce the greatest news ever told to the shepherds?

Because Jesus was a King like no other King before or after Him.  Because we, His people, the ones He came to save, are sheep. Shepherds care for the sheep, protect them, keep them from drowning in the river. They give the sheep what they need.

So the Good Shepherd makes the sheep lie down in green pastures. Green means everything is alive and growing. Green pastures are much more beautiful than rocky brown ones. Green pastures sustain LIFE. Green pastures for sheep mean all you can eat buffet.

Basically...HE leads us to green pastures to give us what we need…

This Advent as we see the colors of Christmas all around, remember the significance of each color and that with GREEN He has given us all we need…

He has given us Himself…

Celebrating the Savior–Day Twenty of Advent (catching up)

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Come now, let us argue it out,
    says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be like snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.~Isaiah 1:18

Tree. Cross. Nails. Red. White.

Do you see the progression? This has all been about our redemption. This has all been about the Messiah coming to save us.

One thing leading into another until finally…

White.

whiteAs white as snow.

There is nothing more peaceful and beautiful than walking into a world of white. Everything is covered. Everything is different. Everything is new.

The tree of shame, the Cross of agony, the nails that held our sin, the blood that saved, all to cover us, all to make us different, all to make us new.

Behold if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come ~2 Corinthians 5:17.

White. the Color of Winter.

White, the color of covered.