Icicles this size only form once in awhile. We generally do not let them “grow” so long. When the pastel “baby blanket” sunrise reflected in each one of them on this Winter morning, I was very grateful that neither we nor the wind had knocked them down! The frigid “bars on the jail cell” became something truly beautiful and inspiring.
We all build for ourselves prisons of one sort or another, even if we have never been anywhere near a “jail.” We unintentionally limit God’s work in our lives, and we lock ourselves up in our own little worlds and leave Him out of them more often than we should. Have you allowed one or more “prisons” to be created in your life? Take steps today to unlock all of your potential for service to Him and to be all that He would desire for you to be.
…tempted and tried, I need a great Savior … Rev. Elisha A. Hoffman
North of Fairbanks, Alaska, the conditions are often “ripe” for viewing extraordinarily beautiful sunrises and sunsets. My husband snapped this stunning photo while he was driving truck on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline project in the 1970s. Photos like this are often literally “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunities.
We can only imagine what it would have been like to be standing next to God as He created the world we now occupy. Perhaps, when He separated the heavens from the waters on the second day, it looked a little bit like this. Keep your heart and mind open for those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to fill a divine appointment or to make a difference in the life of someone you know (or don’t know). You may miss “the perfect opportunity” if you are not “standing next to Him”!
Lift up your eyes unto the heav’nly hills … Mrs. C. H. Morris
My husband climbed Mt. McKinley in 1977 and took many pictures of this beautiful and majestic mountain through the years. I have seen many “reflection” pictures in my life, but this one is my all-time favorite! The photo clip to the left is actually upside down. If it were not for the color differences, it might be impossible to tell. The shape is identical.
Obviously, what we think we see is not always what we are really observing. Our completely clear sight will come to us only when we reach our final perfection in Heaven. In the meantime, we should continually strive to discern what God has for us to do in this life, as we travel on our journey to the next, however long or short it may be. Commit yourself to live your life this week in a manner that clearly reflects Christ’s presence to others.
… when time with me is disappearing, I want to be alone with God … Rev. Johnson Oatman, Jr.
Glacier ice comes and goes. There was reportedly a 1000’ thick sheet of it covering the valley where we live, sometime long ago. Those of us who live here are unashamedly glad it is all gone. This picture of an iceberg from the glacier at Portage, Alaska does not portray what you would see if you visited there today. Portage Glacier is not at all the same now as it was when my husband took this photo.
Wherever you may travel or live on this Earth, nothing today is exactly the same as it was even 30 or 40 years ago. Age to age, nothing remains the same, except God. Our planet is finite, our bodies are finite. Our cars and our houses and our highways rot and rust and crumble over time. Only God remains the same – from the beginning of time throughout eternity, we can count on His presence and His love in our ever-changing lives and world!
But faith sees a light, yes, a beacon light … D. K. W.
This was such a “gray day” that the color photo almost looks like a “grayscale” image. The scenery is deceptively uncolored. The sun was very close to breaking out of the clouds, but was not quite making it through. This beautiful vista was literally a “landscape in grayscale” in a full-color world.
There are no “gray areas” in the Gospel. The deceiver loves to pull God’s people away from Him with lies and snares and subtle deceptions. We must be diligent to know God’s Word and to use it to illuminate and “clarify” all information we take in, whatever the source. Lord, let there be no “gray areas” in our lives. May we set our hearts and lives on “black and white” and clearly show the world who our God is!
If at times I do not see Him, I will trust and give Him praise … J. E. French
Each year, during the Christmas season, I am reminded that several Christmas hymns and many Christmas cards fail to finish the Scripture passage that, summarized and condensed, begins “Peace on Earth, good will toward men … ”
It may seem insignificant to some, but I have grown more and more convicted to call Christians to finish the passage, because it IS significant. The angels did not sing/say, “Peace on Earth, good will toward men,” as though they were referring to all people. Luke 2:14 says, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (NASB) “… with whom He is pleased,” is a serious qualifying phrase. On any given day, God is clearly not pleased with every citizen of Earth, even among those calling themselves Christians.
The significance of this passage should call us to seek to be men, women and children with whom He is pleased. This is accomplished through study of His word (so we know what pleases Him); through consistent practice of his laws (He handed them down so we would understand what pleases Him – and what does not); and through the sharing of His gospel – the very gospel (good news) that the angels were heralding – to those who have not yet heard, so they can also seek to please Him.
As you journey through the coming year, let your “resolution” be to realize the significance of the angels’ qualifier, and to seriously seek to be a child of His with whom He can be pleased from day to day. There is no peace to be had by any other means. God, through the angels near Bethlehem, did not promise that there would be peace among all men on Earth – now, or ever. He did convey there and then that those with whom He is pleased could expect to experience peace.
Years ago, I wrote the little poem below. It seemed appropriate to include with this post – my “qualifier” for the day.
CAN GOD SMILE AS HE WATCHES ME?
When He studies the things that I do and say,
Will God wear a smile at the end of the day?
Will each word my mouth speaks make Him happy?
Will the actions I take make Him pleased?
Will He whisper, “Well done, my faithful child,”
Through the day as He watches me?
As He makes His review of my actions and words,
Will a smile light the face of my loving Lord?
Or will He sigh and shake His head
As the things I do break His heart instead?
When I was choosing photos to pair with pre-Christmas verses, the intense coloration of this sunset really “spoke” to me about what an angel visit in the middle of the night might look like. It is as “unearthly” as any sunset photo I have ever taken, I think. I do have another “unearthly” looking sunset photo, but it has the appearance of a frightful monster, so I did not even consider including it in this little devotional book.
Can you imagine being Mary? Sure, she believed in God. But to have Him single her out for perhaps the most important “mission” ever assigned in history? Wow! Would that we could be so obedient and faithful.
The night is dark and I am far from home; Lead Thou me on! – John H. Newman
This shot was taken on Lake Roosevelt on the Columbia River one summer as some friends from church shared a relaxing outing with us on their houseboat. As one cruises along the river here, there is no doubt how the land is raised up to separate the waters from the waters!
What a joy it is to share time with likeminded brothers and sisters in Christ, whether it be actively working in ministry for the Kingdom or lounging in the sun on the deck of a houseboat praising the Master Creator right in the middle of some of his finest “work”!
He will keep me till the river rolls its waters at my feet … F.H. Rowley
Before I ever arrived in my current home town, God had set up a meeting with an individual who would make a profound difference in my life over the next 17 years. Via a request to the local internet service provider in what was to be our new community, my sons were “introduced” online to some kids their age; and I became acquainted with one of the mothers over the next several months.
Settling in to our new home, the mom I had “met” online invited me to a coffee gathering at the home of one of her friends. She believed it would be a good way for me to quickly get acquainted with a number of local women – and it was! In just a few weeks of Tuesday morning coffee sessions at Delma’s house, I had a solid group of new friends to make my transition to a new state and community smooth and pleasant.
In her early 70s and bound to a wheelchair, Delma was the least handicapped individual I have ever met. She provided in-home care for bed patients – a private nursing home – with the assistance of one or more friends, and had been doing so for many years. Because she could not get into everyone’s homes, this core group of friends all had our gatherings at Delma’s house, including parties for Tupperware, Pampered Chef, and etc. She also hosted the monthly prayer and planning meeting for the local Christian women’s club.
Over time, I learned much of Delma’s history. She had married in her mid 20s, but her husband was killed in a tragic car accident only three months into the honeymoon. She did not know it at the time, but she was pregnant. No one knows for sure whether the grieving had anything to do with it, but Delma gave birth, on what would have been her first wedding anniversary, to a son with Cerebral Palsy. John Hugh never walked or “talked,” although he had his own special way of communicating with his mother and immediate family members. Delma cared tirelessly for John Hugh, and he lived to be 18 years old – much beyond the medical community’s expectations.
The ultimate southern hostess, caregiving was always a part of Delma’s life. Her grandmother and mother were both quite frail in their later years, and she spent many years caring for them. She took in patients, especially when she could not go out and work at a regular job while she was caring for John Hugh and other relatives at home. In her later years, she also cared for her brother, who went Home to be with Jesus in the early 90s. At that time, her brother’s son invited her to move out West – and we are so glad she said “yes!” Having spent her whole life in the Southern U.S., moving to a ski resort town less than an hour from the Canadian border was quite the life change! Referring to herself as a “polar bear,” she loved snow and was well known for her prayers for more of it throughout each winter. Family and friends celebrated her 90th birthday with her last September – at her house, of course!
From her wheel chair, Delma cooked soups and baked casseroles and bread for friends and neighbors who had little time for cooking in their busy schedules; she always made a zucchini/cheese casserole for us on Wednesdays so I would have less cooking to do on Bible study night. When the city guys plowed her driveway, they got a loaf of bread; same with the staff in the doctor’s office and the vet clinic. Her “company brownies” are famous city-wide! We will take a plate of them to Bible study tonight to commemorate her “homegoing.”
Delma was many things, including an artist specializing in miniature paintings. We have several of her works, and will always treasure them. And I will never forget her plaster of paris 3D version of Mt. Rushmore! Painting under the name Ann Comer, she had a gift for miniaturizing scenes and characters. I think her smallest painting was only about an inch wide.
Delma was a faithful prayer warrior; and even when she could no longer get into a vehicle to come to church, she was at the head of the prayer chain and did calling for special events and gatherings.
When I received the call late last night that Delma’s brief stay in the nursing home was over – she is reunited with her husband and son and mother and grandmother – my mind roamed through 17 years of memories: loading her and her wheel chair up in our friend Judy’s minivan for marathon yard sale adventures, driving her to Christian women’s club luncheons and to church on Sunday, Chataqua parades and her booth in the park, a six-month “camping” spot in her front yard when we had sold our home and the new one was not in place yet, watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, yard sales in Delma’s yard where we all got together and spent whole weekends visiting and passing our “good stuff” on to someone else to enjoy, with a pot of “everything but” soup on the stove (everything but the kitchen sink).
Last winter, I slipped in to Delma’s every Tuesday and Friday to change from my snowboarding clothes and have a quick bite of lunch before I went to work at 12:30. This winter, I still stopped by Delma’s to change, but there was no welcoming or lunch – Delma was in the long-term care unit – and it was SO different to be in her home without her there. The snow left early this winter, but Delma left in God’s perfect time. We look forward to the day when we will see her again!
We have no doubt that the first words she heard were, “Welcome home, thou good and faithful servant.”
No special lenses, no camera filters, this photo just “happened” as I was taking pictures of a sunset through a smoky haze from distant wildfires near Wilder, Idaho. I have never seen a photo like this, yet all four of the pictures I took that evening have exactly the same peculiar halo draping over the setting sun.
If we view the world through the “lens” of Christianity, we will see things differently than those around us who are not Christians. We sometimes experience disappointment when people do not respond immediately to our sharing of the Gospel, or to the sharing of experiences we have had in which we credit God with a success or a victory over illness. We forget that those who do not know Him do not see things through the same “filter” we do. Pray for others and share Christ with them, but do not allow yourself to be disappointed if the “results” you think you perceive are not what you expected. You may never know until you get to Heaven whether your message or effort changed a life.
and to eyes that long were sealed was the glorious light revealed … Emma M. Johnson