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Posts Tagged ‘Relationship’

I was asked, as one of the guests requested by the Eagle Scout candidate, if I would like to speak during the ceremony. I asked if I would be allowed to share Scripture. The response was, “That would be good because the pastor had a conflict and can’t come.” Following is an approximation of what I said then:

Eagle Scout Candidate (ESC- I used his name where this appears), congratulations on your accomplishment. I am here to give you a challenge. Your Scout Oath speaks of duty to God, Family, Country, Others, and Self. Life is about relationships. I add family to the list because, even though it is not included directly in your oath, it is the most fundamental unit of society, even above government, and is surely included in “others”. The Scout Promise and Path is about fulfilling these duties within these relationships.

My challenge today, ESC, pertains to the question, What is our duty to God?

Micah 6:8 says, He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” In the context before and after this verse the prophet points out that this requirement is not being fulfilled. Is it an unreasonable requirement? Paul quotes King David, the prophet (Psalm 36) when he says,There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands,there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does goodthere is not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12) Paul summarizes the problem just a few verses later: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (v.23) Is God being unreasonable to require what we cannot do? What is the solution? The solution is relationship with God. Hear what Ephesians 2:8-9 says: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” The first step in duty to God is to know God through His Son, Jesus.  The next step is to live for God. These two steps cannot be reversed. You cannot simply serve God and be a nice person. You must know God through Jesus first, then He gives power to those who know Him by providing everything they need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:2-3).

ESC, my challenge to you is this: Know God through Jesus, not know about God. Know God by receiving Jesus as your Savior. Secondly, know God regularly through His Word and through worship. Thirdly, serve family, country, and all people through the power God gives, giving Him the credit. This is your duty to God.

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After a fire in 1925 the stumps of the recently logged area appeared as grave markers to some and the eroded soil and shallow bedrock prevented the forest from coming back in places, thus the name. 100_9964100_9963

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Upper Falls

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From the top of the Upper Falls

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Light rain, fog, lush spruce and wildflower growth

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Viburnum sp?

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Any idea which species?

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Just above the Lower Falls

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Looking down over the Lower Falls

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Lower Falls

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Enjoying some time together

The day could have been a wash, driving 2 hours to see it rain. Upon approach, the fog seemed unavoidable. The light rain started soon after we started walking and continued almost the whole time. When we got to the top of the Upper Falls, thinking to just take a  quick look and head for the car, we found a spruce tree, rhododendron combination that was keeping the rock at creek’s edge dry. We sat down for a lunch and snooze. I walked upstream a bit while my son snoozed on. It was a quiet time together with no one on the trail all the way back. In route to the Lower Falls we crossed the “fields”, heather thicket really, with scattered wildflowers. The hike was shorter than we had planned because we didn’t really want to get up on bare, Black Balsam with the possibility of heavier rain or lightning, but it was pleasant and relaxed. We both agreed it was an enjoyable time together and in the woods (fields).

 

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To paraphrase, children and grandchildren are a gift from the Lord. As distance and years pass it is harder to have quality time with either. My daughter commented that with a child you can do things that most adults (so called responsible adults) wouldn’t do. It is good that my grand-daughter has a mother who will play with her in the rain. It has been an exceptionally wet summer where I live, but 4 hours away where my daughter lives it has been an exceptionally dry summer. I’m thinking, “Oh, rain again.” My daughter is thinking, “Oh, rain again!” You have to supply intonation based on context.

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All the political hubbub with no real solutions. All the anxiety ridden news reports without real hope. All the suggested intrusions on freedom with no real security. We are not going to make progress and are going to regress rapidly without turning to the one and only solution. 

This poem actually began as two conflicting thoughts and considering the circumstances under which they came about. It seems to me now the first verse does not even go with the rest of the poem so I will separate it with extra space. See what you think:

I write poetry to keep from being bored
Focus mind when feet are nailed to a floorboard
Teasing out thoughts that are both far flung and near
Sorting through the hurtful and that which is dear

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When I think of all the wrong that’s in the world
Murders and abuse and war banners unfurled
My mind grabs for solutions to bring to bear
All beyond reach in a world cruel and unfair

There’s the pain to loved ones from me and others
Scarred relationships start with father, mothers
Friends and neighbors had words and are offended
Words out, actions done, cannot be rescinded

Is there no hope for mankind, is it all gloom?
Tearing down self and others, is this our doom?
No, there is hope, but it’s not in self-help plans
Nor is it in the police state or gun bans

Our hope is in God’s Son through His sacrifice
His death on the cross for sin paid the full price
By trusting in His work we have peace with God
Relationship growing in place of the rod

Repentance and forgiveness we have in Him
We may pass to others as a precious gem
When seeking to forgive and be forgiven
We have with sin and disharmony striven

This makes possible reconciliation
Moving past hurt beginning restoration
Extending peace to strangers and enemies
Doing right by neighbors knowing that God sees

Hope for the future and for the present too
Pointing people to purpose both real and true
Spending time and resources to relieve pain
Pointing to the Savior in Whom is real gain

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I kept wanting to go to the mountains but people, responsibility, and other priorities kept preventing it. Seeing my repeatedly frustrated efforts my wife said that I should go tomorrow. I wasn’t going to second guess the cessation of chores and her encouragement to go. Besides, after taking a walk with her early on this August 1st I knew that it was an exceptionally clear, low humidity, and cool day. (65 degrees was enough for several people to say it felt like the first Fall day- wishful thinking with August and September ahead.) So a hasty breakfast and quicker packing job and I was gone. I like solitude but I like company, too, but the whole reason I was going alone was because I couldn’t find anyone and one had even backed out. 

I even enjoy the drive up on a very curvy rode in a small, good cornering car with a clutch and adequate power. The air was crisp, the sky totally blue, and my heart was light. Bouldering by yourself is considered to be quite risky by some, but I have observed others doing it with care. You only attempt climbs that are straight up over the pad with no barn door potential. The weather meant exceptional friction, almost unheard of in the humid South in the summer. I was climbing well, but I can’t say if I was climbing exceptionally well because I couldn’t try anything really hard because of the ground rules for climbing alone I’d set down. During rest breaks I took pictures of fern and tree leaves.

Rockcap Fern (Polypodium virginianum) I believe

Rockcap Fern (Polypodium virginianum) I believe

Frazier Magnolia

Frazier Magnolia

I set up several videos of me climbing (I just admitted to a selfie! I will not let this become a regular event and certainly not an addiction. I must keep this under control.) You may check them out by clicking on the names below. It will be immediately obvious that I’m no rockstar, but I enjoy the challenge, nonetheless:

Disc and Throw

Chainsawleft

Trillium fruiting

Trillium fruiting

American Chestnut "bush"

American Chestnut “bush”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After bouldering around until my forearms were quite tired, I walked up to the top of the ridge, sat down, took in the view, ate lunch, and read my Bible. Actually, when I first arrived up top I lay down on the bouldering pad a prayed for awhile. There was such a rest in telling my Father all my burdens about work, family, and internal stress. I have been enjoying, not just tolerating reading Leviticus and Numbers. Numbers 2 and 3 seem like lists of camp arrangement and numbers of fighting men, and numbering religious servants, but they reveal several things about God’s character. He is orderly and efficient and given to detail.  The arrangement of Levites reveals His concern for His holiness among the people and grace to not destroy them with His fierce justice. The taking of the Levites in place of the firstborn and the redemption of 273 additional Israelites by a gift of five shekels each reminds us of the depth of our sin problem and the gloriousness of God’s solution in salvation. The more I read the Pentateuch (Genesis to Deuteronomy) the more I feel like Jesus is repeating Himself when He points to God’s holiness and the Law. As a man did He have “aha!” moments of learning the Word from His parents or the synagogue teachers, moments when He said, “I remember saying that.”? All of His Word speaks of His character and what is important to Him. Are we bored with it because we have little passion for knowing Him and what He cares about? Knowledge of Him is our ultimate goal here. Beautiful days in the mountains and hard days of difficulty or frustration are profitable and meaningful if we allow them to direct us to knowing Him more. Yeah, I prefer one over the other but I am slowly learning to muse, “Hmm, I wander how this situation may draw me closer to Him?”

House Fly

House Fly

 

Evergreen groundcover

Shining Clubmoss (or Shining Firmoss) Huperizia lucidula (Thanks for the ID help Sister L)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view up top increased my enjoyment of my time concentrating on God. He created all of the beauty around us to remind us of His beauty and the enjoyment we may have from these gifts from His good hand.

Left to Right: Table Rock, Hawksbill, Gingercake

Left to Right: Table Rock, Hawksbill, Gingercake

Exceptionally Beautiful August Day

Exceptionally Beautiful August Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tradition has frequently gotten a bad rap and frequently with good reason. Tradition as an excuse not to move forward, not to learn and grow, is a hindrance to be done away with. But tradition that strengthens relationships and belonging and remembering what is good and right and passing these on to the next generation is good. I think where this good kind of tradition goes wrong is when it is not explained to the new people (children in this case) and when it becomes more important than the truth it is supposed to point toward and when it becomes an excuse to be lazy and not grow. My family’s Thanksgiving traditions have changed slowly over the years growing into a 2 1/2 day event. Wednesday night is soup dinner and games. Several people usually run and race on Thursday morning. As many brothers (there are 4) as can come to the eldest brother’s house with children (8) and grand-children (12 + 1 on the way so far) to eat at 1 PM. In the late afternoon the willing and able (male and female, young (about 6) and old (oldest this year was 54) play flag football. On Friday we go for a hike and then meet again for one last dinner of leftovers. Those able to come, willing to participate, and able to participate changes from year to year and each event within the set of events and some sit and talk rather than participate, but the general way of things remains the same. Conversation is lively and involves catching up. It is a good constant in my life and I am thankful for the stability of my extended family. God has been good to us in so many ways; a godly heritage is much to be sought after. It is good to hear conversations about God’s provision and elements of our faith. It is good to celebrate and have fun.

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I have not blogged since August, the longest time off since I started blogging in 2007. The pace of life always seems on the uptick and where are the moments for musing? God is at work and life is still a challenge. I want to relate His goodness, provision, direction, and discipline in my life, but it is more important to live out what He has set before me than always write it down.

I had a dream the middle of this last week. I probably dream frequently as do most people but I infrequently remember that I have dreamed at all and even when I do the dream is vague and fades quickly when I awake. When I have a vivid dream I pay attention.

In the dream I was sitting in a chair at a white, plastic round table surrounded by chairs perhaps large enough to seat 6. The table sat near the inside to an entrance to a business, perhaps a department store or the entrance to a mall, but I could not tell which one because I was faced toward the multiple sets of double doors through which many people were passing. It was a hectic scene but I was focused on a piece of paper on the table before me. With a pencil I kept trying to organize how to pay the doctor bills, complete all of the tasks required of me by home and work, and fulfill all of the commitments I had made to people. As I struggled over the list occasionally I would glance up to see one or three or two people sitting at the table across from me. Every one of the people that would come and sit for a moment was someone I know and can name. Some would be saying encouraging words to me and others would just smile. These were all people who have and are helping my wife and me since her stroke. I could not understand their actual words but I understood the content of their words and smiles to mean that God was working it out and that they were there to see us through. I continued to fret and pour over the list. One couple who has helped us in various ways came separately to the table, first the woman and then the man. She smiled at me with an ever growing smile as if to say, “God has this under control, trust Him.” After she left the man came and lounged, legs crossed, telling a story as he is apt to do, interjecting my name with “It will work out.” Others came who have blessed us with their presence and concern and prayers and help and financial assistance and encouraging words.

When I awoke I had several immediate conclusions that seemed abundantly evident from the dream:

   1) God was saying to me that He had sent all of these people to help us.

   2) My fretting was useless, distracting me from blessing, lacking in faith, and sin, and I need to repent of it. (I didn’t even think that I was fretting or scheming but it is so easy to to fall prey to that lie. I knew God was in control and providing but I still was adding my “two cents worth” of figuring it out.)

   3) I need to thank some people who I have not really thanked for all of the help they have given us.

We need the church. You can’t fellowship by yourself. You can’t glorify God to the full extent and in the way He has ordained without believers’ input. The people of God help us in so many ways through prayer, encouragement, admonition, teaching, and material help. We miss out by not growing relationships with fellow believers in a local body of believers, worshipping, praying, working, witnessing, crying, and laughing together.

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