Fearless Fascination

August Beach Trip--2

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) — So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

This past Friday, we decided to escape the Valley heat and the smokey air created by the numerous wildfires blazing throughout California this month. I watched my grandson race out to the place where the ocean meets the shore. He loves it! Maybe he's watched Disney's Moana too many times and hears the sea calling him. Maybe its the feel of the cold water rushing around his little legs and feet. Or maybe its just the sheer beauty of God's creation that draws him to the water's edge. I'm not completely sure what attracts him to the sea, maybe one day he will be able to articulate that to me. I do know this, I want to be more like Mason, in the way I approach God...I want to be drawn to Him, run to him, be filled with joy and laughter in His presence.

 


Long Exposure View Of Life

Long Exposure--2

A 30 second exposure taken near Shell Beach, California. This photo was taken after the sun had set, making it pretty dark outside. The long exposure time allows the camera to absorb more light, light that is not easily seen with the naked eye. At the same, the longer exposure makes the waves and splashes along the rocks look smooth and glossy.

How much better would our lives look if we approached them as long exposures rather than snapshots. Being patient and allowing the light of God to be absorbed into our souls enabling us to see life's seas as smooth rather than up and down with the winds and waves of each moment.

James 1:2–7 (NLT) — 2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. 5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

(Matted 8x10 Prints Available)


Surprised Not By Suffering But By Joy

Flower orange-

 

“Learn the discipline of being surprised not by suffering but by joy. As we grow old, there is suffering ahead of us, immense suffering, a suffering that will continue to tempt us to think that we have chosen the wrong road. But don't be surprised by pain. Be surprised by joy, be surprised by the little flower that shows its beauty in the midst of a barren desert, and be surprised by the immense healing power that keeps bursting forth like springs of fresh water from the depth of our pain.”

― Henri J.M. Nouwen

 


Keep Your Hands To The Plow

Yandell Happy--5

"But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” ~ Luke 9:62 (NLT)

I enjoyed an afternoon visit with Pastor Larkin Yandell (now 90 years old) and his wife Winnie today. They even let me take some photos while we were together. Pastor Yandell has been a great example to me as a small church pastor. He along with several other pastors in our local area were guiding lights for me when I began preaching at the tender age of fifteen. One of the things that has impressed me most with Pastor Yandell and these men is their tenacity and faithfulness. They put their hands to the plow and never looked back. There have been times when my heart was broken and spirit crushed and all I knew to do was trust God and keep on going, following in these men's steps.

Today, when I took this photograph of Larkin and Winnie's hands, I thought about how many lives those hands have touched throughout the years, how many doors they have knocked on to share the gospel, how many people they have pointed in the right direction, how many church building projects those hands have slung hammers on, and how many piano keys those hands have pressed throughout their time in ministry. And then I thought about the strength and encouragement those hands have found when reached out to one another when it seemed like they couldn't go on.

Pastors, the next time you feel lonely and discouraged reach out for the hand of your wife and know that God has provided you with one of the greatest sources of encouragement you will ever know. Then reach up and take hold of God's hand and carry on.

"For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” ~ Isaiah 41:13 (ESV)


The Sea, The Sky, and The Soul

Morro Bay--2

“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.” ~  Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

In the coming year, I hope to devote more of my attention to the sea, the sky, and the soul.

The sea reminds me of the amazing control God has over everything in this life. Jesus called his disciples from near the Sea of Galilee, he taught near the Coasts of Philippi, and he did the miraculous, walking on the water and commanding the wind and waves to be still at the sea.

The skies fascinate me and the more science explores the far reaches of the galaxies, the more amazing God is. He created the universe and then used its vastness as an illustration to Abraham of how great his promises were.

The soul of man, more specifically my own soul, is the most amazing of all. God breathed into man the breath of life and he became a living soul. Our souls long for a personal relationship with God. Jesus taught there was nothing on earth more valuable than a man's soul.

Where do we find the time to devote to the sky, the sea, and more importantly the soul? Perhaps pulling ourselves away from social media a little? Just a thought. It's what I am praying about.


He Knew Me, He Consecrated Me, He Called Me

Morro Bay Square Sunset-0990
Jeremiah 1:5
(ESV) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

The words of the Lord are so amazing! The Lord says "Before I formed you...I knew you" then He says "I consecrated you" and finally He says "I appointed you". These words bring joy to my soul, especially when I keep them in this order. He knows me, or loves me just because! Then he claims me as His very own. And then, because He loves me and has claimed me, He provides a place for me to serve Him.

One of the great dangers in ministry is forgetting that God knew you before He called you. Don't forget that God knew you and loved you long before you took on your current ministry role and He will love you regardless of how successful you feel or how long you serve in that position. Are you cultivating your relationship with the Lord? Are you taking time out of your busy schedule to simply be with the God who knew you, consecrated you, and called you? Is it time for you to take a morning off and spend it alone with God over a cup of coffee, your Bible, and a journal? Let us not be guilty of pointing people to a God we have neglected to spend time with ourselves.

1 Corinthians 9:26–27 (The Message) — 26 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! 27 I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.