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Good Morning or Guten Morgen as we are docked in Kel, Germany this morning as we awake. I have had a challenging time keeping up with my pictures and posting to you due to the fullness of our schedule. (Also, the number of pics I am taking.) Hopefully now that we are onboard the Longboat Eir on the Rhine River, the pace will slow enough to edit and post a few pics. This morning being Sunday I’d like to post a few pics of our Mt Pilatus excursion and tell a story of affirmation that the Father gave me up on the mountain.

Several weeks ago, my friend Greg shared with me how God powerfully spoke to him one day when in a time of prayer and meditation he asked, “Lord, what would you have me know today?” I was thinking about that a few days later during my prayer time and so I asked the same thing. Upon asking that question I opened my bible and these verses literally jumped out at me.

Proverbs 3:5&6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight. (or direct your steps as I’ve memorized it).

Proverbs 4:4 “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live.”

Proverbs 2:7&8 He (the LORD) holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, He guards the course of the just and protects the of His faithful ones.

That has turned into a recurring theme for me in my prayer time since. And our Mt Pilatus adventure was one of three or four times on this trip where the Lord has again affirmed my role of trusting in Him fully and His faithfulness in guiding and leading.
MT PILATUS

The day broke cloudier than forecasted, but as morning warmed, the low clouds dispersed some and sunshine and beautiful blue sky became predominant. Our drive from Zurich to Lucerne revealed the charming Swiss countryside – crisp, clean, and green. While navigating into Lucerne I could see the much higher mountains across the lake were visible on the lower reaches, but shrouded in clouds at the top.

We met our guide, Annette, and boarded the bus to the cable car for the ascent up the mountain. Up to the first and second cable car connections we remained under the clouds and the view became increasingly expansive and majestic. We switched cable cars at around 4000 feet elevation where we were still under the cloud cover, but in deep shade because of them.

The final cable car was a 30- passenger car that swiftly whisked us up from 4000’ to the visitor center near the summit at 6700’. I fly frequently so the sensation of entering the clouds and “white out” is common. However, it was a little disheartening when you are anxiously anticipating the amazing 360-degree view which includes close-ups of the Alps and you exit the cable car to white-out outside and gift shops inside.

The girls headed to the gift shops and Jeff and I wandered outside into the fog. We walked around a bit managing to find a trail to a mini-summit with a cross on it. The picture in the fog was a little hard to see, but we snapped it to show we had “climbed higher”. To add insult onto injury, there were posted placards that showed the amazing view we could be seeing if we weren’t wrapped in the deep fog. I have to admit, I was feeling a little sorry for myself.

I know what some of you may be thinking… “Dan, you are on this amazing trip… you had all the beautiful views on the way up… you are with your wonderful wife on an adventure of a lifetime and you are feeling sorry for yourself? What ingratitude!” Well, you happen to be right.

Fortunately, it was only a little later I realized that for myself. As Jeff and I worked our way down this little path I noticed another path diverting along the mountain top. I took that path off into the fog as Jeff headed to check on the girls.

I’ve learned that for me, as for many people I imagine, it is hard to really focus upon God, to seek His wisdom and guidance, and to clearly hear Him speak to my heart when: 1) I am ungrateful, 2) I am focused upon my own schedule / plan / or goals, or 3) when I am surrounded by to many distractions, like hundreds of other tourists. When I started down that foggy mountain trail, I had given up my goal of seeing the view from the mountain top because there was no view to view. I headed down a trail that the crowds either didn’t know of or care about.

As I trudged with my camera in hand I felt my heart softening as I realized what I have mentioned above. I was not where I wanted to be in my heart. The reality that the God of the Universe loves me and has provided bountifully for me began to fill my awareness. I repented of my self-centeredness. I moved into thanking the Father for the many wonderful blessings He has provided to me and the ones I love. Then I began praying for family, friends, my Radmen friends, and others whom I knew God was going to send across my path.

As I am sure many of you have experienced, I felt a weight lift. My soul was lifted as I turned my heart toward our good, good Father. And I hiked through the fog with an uplifted spirit. After a little while I noticed a couple young Swiss ladies hiking up from down below. I asked how far down until I could be below the clouds. Through their minimal English (and my non-existant German) I understood it was several hundred meters. I prayed asking the Lord to guide me whether to hike down or not. I sensed to stay the course, so instead of hiking down I exchanged pictures with them and continued along the path in the fog.

The next 10 – 15 minutes of hiking the rugged mountain trail in the fog was delightful. I had given myself over to accepting whatever opportunity I was provided to meet people and love them with Jesus’ love. I remember whispering one little prayer, “Lord, I’d love to see some of the view from up here.” But that prayer was uttered from a place of complete surrender. Whether the fog lifted or not, I was satisfied the Lord would do what was best.

I stepped into the gift shop to find girls and then a water closet and when I stepped out I was shocked – I could see all the way across the patio… and even the near-by summit that had been completely shrouded in fog the entire day. I quickly hustled out with camera in hand and snapped a few pictures. I saw the trail to the highest peak beside me and I quickly headed up the final 300 feet toward the now- visible summit. I had not gone far before the clouds began to close in again. I realized I had gotten exactly what I had asked for although now having a taste, desire for more sprang up tempting me back into the self-centered funk I had been in earlier.

“NO! God, you have been good to me. Lord, I thank you for the glimpse that you have given me. It was beautiful. And I loved the fact that across on the summit opposite me there was a cross.”

I remembered at that moment that our guide explained how the mountain got it’s name. Surprisingly it is named after Pontius Pilate. It seems that when he died, no one was willing to take his remains. So, they brought them to this mountain and threw them in a lake. The irony that on the mountain where Pontius Pilate’s remains may lie, there is a beautiful cross just resonated God’s greatness.

At that moment, I sensed the Holy Spirit whisper, “Do you trust me?”

“Yes, Lord, I trust you”

At that moment, for about 3 seconds, a single ray of light broke through the cloud and illuminated me and the trail where I was standing. While that thrilled me, I sensed I was to hike on to the top. The clouds quickly swirled back around me, but I pressed on. In less than 5 minutes I was at the top. As I arrived the clouds opened again for about 3 minutes. I did something a little uncharacteristic for me. Instead of whipping up my camera and snapping dozens of shots, I moved from side to side soaking it in and praising God. I did get a few shots before the clouds completely settled back in, but I mainly just worshipped.

There was one other thought that I believe was a gift from the Lord. One of the shots that you will see is of the cross on the other summit. It was clearly seen when I first got to the top, but I didn’t take the picture until it was almost obscured again. I was a little sad when the fog closed back in and I couldn’t see the cross. That was when the Holy Spirit spoke to me again. “Do not worry. Like that cross which is still there even though you don’t see it, I am always with you.”

 

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The start of the first chair lift in Kriens.

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Two happy tourists – our daughter Rhiannon and my photography padewan, Jeff.  He’s also our son-in-law.

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Just getting started.  About 1500 – 2000 feet up I believe.

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Just about to enter the first cable house.  Still 15 minutes to go in this car.

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The distance from cable house one to cable house two where we exited to the final cable car.

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View back to cable car house one.  You can see the Swiss central highlands spread out past Lake Lucerne.

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Cable Car house two and our first exit.  Elevation about 4000 feet and just under the clouds.

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This high valley had a ropes course, a toboggan ride, and other extreme sports activities.  We had to wait about 10 minutes for the 30 person cable car to the top.

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Sign showing our trip.

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In the 30 passenger cable car heading out from the station.

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Last view before going into the clouds.

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This was one of the clearer shots when we first arrived.  These horns were so mournful when we hiked around and could hear the sound in the deep fog.  One other remembrance – when the fog lifted, the guy was playing Amazing Grace.  I don’t know if he started before or after the fog lifted, but it was so cool.

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Jeff as we head up to the mini-summit.

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Jeff at the foot of the cross.

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Me at the cross.  See how deep the fog is.  This was true for almost the entire first hour we were up here.

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Look how steep the “not steep” side of the trail was.  We were a good ways into the alpine region above the tree-line.

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I am on the steep side of the mountain.  The Swiss girls took my picture for me.

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This was what I saw when I came out of the water closet.  That is the mini-summit where Jeff and I had hiked about an hour earlier.

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Another shot during the first brief opening in the clouds.

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View over the gift shop during the first opening, but as the clouds were sweeping back in.

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View at the highest point I hiked to on Mt Pilatus – summit Esel at 2118 meters or 4000 feet.

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The entire moutaintop at the clouds begin to settle back in.

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Summit Tomlishorn, a little higher at 2138 meters.  This is where the cross I mention in the story is.  This is my wide angle lens so it is so far away it is hard to see.

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The cross on the summit of Tomlishorn, the highest peak of Mt Pilatus. 

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Heading back down the trail, confident that God is always with me.  Just like that cross that I could no longer see because of the fog, yet I know is still there, God is with me and with you even when the fog of trials, challenges, and difficulties arise.

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The cog-railway we rode down.  It has the steepest incline of any railway in the world with one section at a 48 degree descent.

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Final view of the mountain top from the cog railway on the ride down.

Friends, it was thrilling. In fact, I guess it qualifies as a mountain top experience – twice over!

 

 

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This week I have had the opportunity to meet a sweet young woman who is battling cancer.  She is a single mom with three children under the age of 10.  We are partnering with her work family to take her meals, to visit with her, and pray.  Needless to say, she has been a primary topic of conversation with the Father this week.  A couple days ago as I was praying, the story of Jesus healing a woman with a chronic bleeding disorder came to mind.  The story is found in both Mark and Luke’s gospels.  Here it is from Luke.

“Luke 8:42a As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds.  43 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. 44 Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.  45 Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” 46 But Jesus said, Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” 47 When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. 48 Daughter, he said to her, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.””
I have prayed for healing for many people.  There have been miraculous healings.  There have been healings in other areas of lives than the physical malady we had begun praying for. There have been healings that have transpired through the efficacy of modern medicine which I take on faith the prayer helped to be effective.  There have been terminally ill patients who in prayer it became clear that ending this life well was the appropriate prayer.  And there has been a very small percentage of times when the results were not what I had hoped for.
Through today’s scripture the Lord showed me a new and crucial element of prayer for people who are ill.  Notice that the woman didn’t ask Jesus for healing.  She didn’t come to him with an elaborate petition for healing or a list of reasons she should be healed.  There was not an elaborate process followed to gain his attention and favor.  No, there was really only one thing she felt essential to be made whole.  She needed to get close to Jesus.  Close enough to touch the fringe of His clothing.  Her faith was in Jesus and proximity to Jesus brought about the flow of His healing power.
That’s it.  It is as simple as that – draw close to Jesus and let Him do what He will do.  Jesus is in the “making whole” business.  But be aware, to be made whole by Jesus will encompass much more than just healing from an illness.  He who created us body, soul, and spirit is interested in the totality of our lives.  He wants to perform a transformation in us in it’s entirety, not just on the surface.
This is liberating to me as an intercessor.  I have always known it was Jesus who heals, but I have at times taken on a degree of responsibility that I had to pray it through, that I needed to fast and intercede sufficiently, that I needed to have the right faith to see the healing happen.
I remember a fairly long season of prayer for a 20 year old son of a work friend who was diagnosed with leukemia.  We surrounded the family and prayed and he went into remission.  “Yeah God!”  It was but about 2 years later that it returned.  This time they determined he required a bone marrow transplant.  No match was found so he went through the auto marrow transplant where his own bone marrow was removed, it was radiated to kill all cancer, and then put back into his body.  He seemed to be doing fine and then he picked up an infection.  With no white blood cells to fight off the infection he slipped into a coma.  I felt guilty because I had not kept this young man high on my prayer list.  When he slipped into a coma I joined the prayer team interceding for his healing.  I remember getting daily updates and praying each and every day.  This went on for 40 days.  Amazingly he hung on in that coma.  He did not seem to deteriorate, but as the doctors began telling us, he wasn’t improving and he had to improve.
The break-through came about day 40.  I remember crying out to the Lord from my hotel room in Montreal.  It was in the evening and I looked up at the ceiling because that about how far it felt my prayers for Chase’s healing were going, bouncing off the ceiling and coming back to me.  As I looked up, spiritually worn out, I asked a different question, “Lord, what would you have me pray?”  “Pray for Chase’s mom, that she will release Chase to come home.”  Suddenly the whole prayer changed.  Instead of feeling like I was pushing against a wall, I had a real sense of being aligned with the will of the Father.  Joy and peace filled me and prayer flowed.
It was only a day or two later and the Mom’s prayer request suddenly changed.  Apparently she to had heard from the Lord because instead of the fervent plea to intercede for his healing, she asked us to pray for the Lord’s will to be done and for peace and strength for the family.  Chase passed a day or two after that.
I know the Lord heals.  The story above is one where the healing was Chase going home to be in the closer presence of the Lord.  For others He will touch them with healing as evidence of His love and power on this side of the veil.  In either case, the goal is the same, to draw us closer to Jesus and cause us to grow in our relationship with Him.
Closer to Jesus – it has become the cornerstone of my prayer for healing.
Closer to Jesus – it is the ultimate goal.
Closer to Jesus – where we live and move and have our being.
Closer to Jesus – it’s who we were created to be.
Closer to Jesus.  Close enough to touch Him.  Close enough to be touched by Him.
Be blessed today my friend.

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I just stepped outside into a beautiful, crisp late winter morning in the South.  The birds are singing a joyful chorus as a red hued ribbon on the eastern horizon foretells a bright sunrise in the next half hour or so.  A few wisps of fog in the low spots provides a reminder of the rain yesterday.  I am able to linger a few minutes to soak it in and praise our heavenly Father for His great goodness towards us.  As I do so I realize again what a blessing it is that we have a good, good Father.  A loving Father who has a plan for us that He will bring to fruition, even if the path to blessing means we won’t always get what’s fair.

A little over 14 months ago I was fired from my leadership role in a fairly large manufacturing plant.  It wasn’t fair.  It took several days before the anger dissipated.  I knew the right thing to do – to trust the Lord, pray for those who spitefully use you, look to the future and not back, etc.  In fact I had encouraged others who had gone through similar situations with these words, but I hadn’t personally experienced anything quite this intense before.  The issue was not in believing that God was eventually going to bring good out of the situation.  The problem was the unbidden thoughts of all the time, effort and sacrifice I had put in to build a successfully performing team only to have it taken away without even an opportunity to state my case.  Before I knew it in the courtroom of my mind I had witnesses lined up, my case presented, and a clear verdict against the ones who had fired me because – IT WASN’T FAIR!

The funny thing is, every time that my mind would go through one of those cycles, the Holy Spirit would whisper to me.  “Are you going to trust Me?”  Fourteen months later, I am soooo thankful the Lord stuck with me and continued to encourage me to trust Him.  Because I did.  And each time I did it was a little longer before I would have another pity-party and the pity-party would be a little less intense and a little shorter.  Within a month or two it had become a habit that as soon as a thought along those lines would come, I would squash it with.  “I trust you, Lord!”  and I would often have a scripture come to mind to go with it.  “I thank you Lord that you are for me and not against me.”  “I thank you Lord that the plans you have for me are to prosper me and not to harm me.”  “Thank you Lord that you are my God who takes hold of my right hand and says to me, ‘Do not fear: I will help you”.

Let me add parenthetically, that I know, I was buoyed by the prayers of God’s people.  It is a wonderful mystery to me that I fully recognize to be true, God allows us to partner with Him through prayer to change things.  There were a lot of people praying for me.  Several of the folks that I had worked with kept in touch and let me know they were praying.  My family is filled with believers and they upheld me in prayer.  And God, in His marvelous, omniscient timing, had prompted me to start the process to getting much more involved in the Care Ministry at our church just before all this happened.  So that when I was fired, I was immersed in a group of loving, caring, praying people.

Today, I can honestly say, I am in such a better place.  First and foremost, my walk with the Lord and the time with my wife is so much better.  The mountain of stress that I lived under (and that was killing me – literally.  See my blog about my heart issues.) was removed.  While I assumed in that transition time that I would see a little bit of a drop in my income before I started making a comparable salary, I was mistaken.  I didn’t come close to making a similar income.  But even so the stress never returned.  Amazingly, the stress of living on substantially less has never arisen.  It is another mystery, because we eliminated some expenses, but it really doesn’t add up to our lost income, but we still are having all our needs met.  God has consistently provided exactly what was needed.

Another very interesting point occurred about 3 months in.  The day I was fired, I called a friend who owns a consulting business doing what I do.  I had a sense I was supposed to work for his company.  And over time, we have developed a great working relationship and I am now getting fairly regular work consulting.  But the process of bringing me on took several months.  I went most of last year without paying work.  So I went through the process to get unemployment.

One thing I learned, is if anyone thinks it is easy to get unemployment, think again.  The process is pretty rigorous and includes a number of checks along the way to prevent milking the system.  I can see how dishonest people could still cheat, but it isn’t a cakewalk.  I had spent several hours getting set up and then, as I was ready to apply, the Lord whispered to me again, “Are you going to trust Me?”  I have learned that when the Holy Spirit gives us a check in our spirit about something, we should listen.  I had been pursuing the unemployment compensation because it was my right.  As several friends pointed out, it wasn’t really just a government handout, but something that I had been paying into for years so it was appropriate for me to get it.  But I realized the Lord was telling me “No” to getting the unemployment.  So I walked away from it and never drew unemployment.  It was just after that that I got my first week of consulting work.  Over the next few months I got about a week a month.  The last quarter I got 6 weeks of work.  As of this writing, I am looking at about 3 – 4 weeks per month for the next few months.

Now I have spent a lot of time talking about the financial side.  I was raised in a time and environment that emphasized my primary role was as provider to my family.  While there are a number of areas where losing your job hits you, the biggest for many will be the perceived failure as provider.  Losing my job took me to a place where the Lord was able to show me that I was not the ultimate provider for my family.  I have said this was true in the past and, in individual situations where circumstances dictated that I could not control of the outcome, I had submitted to God’s role as provider.  In this year long trial though, we have experienced His consistent supply of all our needs and even a majority of our wants.  It has been liberating in a way I had never really anticipated.

My life, and that of my wife and family, has been amazingly impacted for the good through my getting fired.  While it may not have been fair, it was definitely for the best.  It has strengthened my faith in ways that I could not imagine.  God, who I already knew and acknowledged as my Lord and Provider, has been able to demonstrate the absolute reality of His love and provision in tangible, practical ways for months now.  And He has clarified for me what our role is as His children.  We are to trust and obey.  Even if it means we don’t always get our way.  Even if it isn’t always fair.  When we put our whole faith and trust in the Lord, we will sometimes miss out on what’s fair to get what’s best.  And that my friend, is a pretty good deal.

Be blessed today and be a blessing to the people God puts in your life today.

 

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God in the Workplace

God is omnipresent. A big word that means He exists in all places at all times. He is everywhere. He is there, but we may not always recognize that He is there. One of the tactics used by the World, the Flesh, and the Devil is to put God into boxes and then shrink those boxes. While this doesn’t really work in terms of limiting God, it is often effective in limiting our awareness of God. The solution is very simple; maintain a close relationship with God and the reality of that intimacy will overwhelm any attempt to shrink God into a box.  The practical application of this is sometimes a little harder to achieve.

One of the early lessons in my walk with Christ was that I am not always capable of the success and achievements I aspired to.  But God did want me to be successful.  I believe that is true for every one of us.  God wants us to be successful, but not necessarily in the way we have pictured in our mind.  For me there have been goals that have had to be laid down because they did not line up with what God had planned.  And the interesting thing has been, when those have truly been surrendered, what has replaced them has been so much more fulfilling.

I was a project engineer early in my career.  I had a project to install several pumps, piping, tanks and assorted equipment.  I had $4.5 million to spend and a timeline to meet.  As a young Christian God was really training me in many areas.  One of those was an amazing season of prayer and God’s faithfulness.  As it approached crunch time on the projects with the paper machine outage and installation at hand, I was overwhelmed by my inadequacy to anticipate all the demands of the job.  I had done everything I knew to do, but I was also sure that questions would arise that I was not prepared for.  This drove me to asking for Gods’ guidance.  Not just a quickly uttered prayer as I rushed out the door, but a true covering-the-work-in-prayer type of prayer.  I knew in my own limited knowledge and understanding I would not be successful, however I trusted God to provide the wisdom and guidance I needed each day as I faithfully asked.  As the project progressed the questions and challenges did arise, but in every case the answers and solutions came.  Sometimes they came directly to me from out of the blue (God exists in the blue since He is omnipresent).  Sometimes they came from other persons.  Sometimes they seemed to resolve themselves.  At the end the project was a major success… on time and under budget.  The biggest take-away from that project was that the Lord’s faithfulness carried the day.  I offered up what little knowledge and skill I had and applied them to the job while surrendering this meager offering to the Father who supplied the remainder.

Today I get to that place of surrender on occasion, but unfortunately not always.  Because I have a lot of experience now in my field of work I sometimes just do what I have done before and not take the time to surrender each situation to the Lord.  In many instances it goes fine and when there are bobbles I can usually make the necessary adjustments.  However I realize anew how desperately I need the Lord’s help to be the man he wants me to be.  In the work I do, in my role at husband and father, with my grandson and the people I meet every day.  I want to be a success in the manner God wants me to be successful.  As I head out the door is a few minutes I am reminding myself that everywhere I go and in everything I do, God is there and aware.  Since He is a gentleman He patiently waits to be invited to join in.

I want to be your man Lord.  I want to do your will.  Father I offer the work I do this day, the people I meet this day, and every conversation, action, and thought I have this day to You.  Be glorified in and through me today.”

God’s peace to you and yours today and always.

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