Posts Tagged ‘worship’

Certain lessons seem to be particularly important for me to “get” because they are being reinforced  almost weekly.  Last week an exclamation point was made on the lesson – “It may not be what you expect, but trust Me, My plan is better!”

We visited our two married daughters over the course of last week.  Rhiannon and Jeff in Chattanooga Thursday – Sunday morning and then Christin and Michael in Elizabethton Sunday – Tuesday.  Everything went pretty much like we planned with Rhiannon and Jeff, but it seemed like every plan we made with Christin had to be scrapped or modified heavily.  No worries, we were just happy to be spending time together.

Monday afternoon one modified plan had us drive to the top of Roan Mountain where we enjoyed some beautiful views from the bald mountain top.  The wonderful 360 degree view had us thinking about sunrise pics over the NC mountains.  Checking the weather in Elizabethton, 20 miles away we saw that the weather report was promising and the plan was hatched.


Tuesday morning we arose at 4:45 am and we were headed out of town 15 minutes later.  We were excited to see a star studded sky as we rolled out of Elizabethton heading toward Roan Mountain.  Two miles from the top of the mountain was when I first noticed the moisture on the road.  A mile from the top I noticed the stiff breeze that hadn’t been present on any of our drive thus far.  Shortly thereafter wisps of cloud started sweeping across in front of the car and for the last 200 yards I had to drive at a snail’s pace into the parking lot because of the thick fog.

We were still an hour before sunrise.  I am quite used to fog.  But fog is usually stationary settling into the low areas on windless mornings.  On the mountaintop it was foggy with a 15 – 20 mph breeze driving it.  Undeterred we gathered camera, tri-pod, flashlights and goody bag and headed up the 3/4 mile hike to the top of the mountain in a cold, drizzly, windy fog hoping for the best.

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This is about 15 minutes before sunrise and we were beginning to think the sun may not actually burn through the fog like we were hoping.

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This is when you kinda wished you hadn’t been told about the number of bear sightings up on the mountain.

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Inside the woods the wind was blocked and it was eerily peaceful.

That breeze that we experienced in the Parking Lot was a foretaste and not the real deal.  We broke out of the woods about half way to the top and realized that the exposed mountain bald seemed to increase the wind intensity by at least a factor of two.

We made it to the top of the mountain, thankful that we had also been there the day before so we recognized some rock outcroppings as landmarks.  We hunkered down behind a rock for a bit hoping the clouds would clear and we would get some sunrise shots.  But while the clouds around us brightened as sunrise arrived the wind didn’t let up and the fog never thinned.

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The view right at sunrise… at least according to our watch.

Since we had been to the mountain the day before, we knew that amazing panoramic views existed from right where we were huddled.  Yet the wind, fog, and rain made it difficult to remember just how beautiful it was.  I was struck with how graphic an illustration that is of the impact of trials in our life.  When life is good it’s easy to see God’s hand at work.  But when trials press upon us it often becomes much harder to discern God’s actions on our behalf.  It is in these times that our faith is stretched.  Holding onto the reality that we have previously experienced – God’s faithful provision, is just like remembering the mountain view we had seen the day before.  We may not see it at the moment, but we know it exists.  Our task is to remember and wait for the reality to be revealed again.

We slowly made our way back down to the car and then headed back down the mountain.  A deer  came up beside us on the road and we slowed to let it pass.  A mile down the road we were out of the fog.

As we progressed down the mountain we saw sunshine followed by a brief rain shower.  The thought passed through my mind, “Sun and rain, I wonder if there’s a rainbow somewhere?”  Through a break in the trees just prior to the final overlook I could see a shower in the valley beside the mountain and a slight brightening where the sun was trying to break through.  As we rounded the curve at the final overlook this is the view that we saw.

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We were shocked by how quickly this rainbow appeared.

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The colors were vibrant and yet it was continually shifting from a single to a double and from a full to a partial rainbow.

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For a few seconds it formed a full rainbow… and we just happened to be in the right spot to catch it in all it’s glory.

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We couldn’t quite tell if the pot of gold was in that little barn or the orchard beside it.  What we knew for a certainty was that our Heavenly Father was enjoying our laughter and celebration with us as we alternately uttered words of praise and gasps of wonder while we snapped pics.

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The double rainbow was fleeting, but we saw it come and go two or three times in then 3 – 5 minutes the rainbow was visible.

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Looking toward the sun… and giving praise to the Son.

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The final pic as the shower ceased and the rainbow quickly faded.

The entire rainbow celebration lasted less than 5 minutes, but a number of things stood out to me.

  • We had to make the journey to be able to see the rainbow.  We didn’t know the rainbow was the purpose and penultimate pic of the trip, but our Father did.
  • We tarried in the dark, in the rain, in the wind, in the fog, and ultimately made close to a 2 mile hike seemingly in a lost cause, but God had a better plan.
  • We had to be in exactly the right spot AND at exactly the right time to see and enjoy the rainbow like we did.  If we had rushed at any point in the morning’s journey we would have missed it.
  • Our response to seeing the rainbow was pure wonder, celebration, and thankfulness to our gracious heavenly Father for this simple, but beautiful blessing.  And I believe He enjoyed it as much as we did.

Finally I remember where God first introduced the rainbow to His creation.  It’s in Genesis chapter 9:12-17.  And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.  Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.  Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

We didn’t get what we expected, but what we got was so much better.

And that’s just the way God is with His children.

Be blessed today and be a blessing!  If you like this, please share it with a friend.

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I had the privilege of serving as a room leader at Gauntlet 2016.  In my young adult life I was a youth leader at two different churches and I even lead a diocese-wide youth event in Louisiana.  Other life demands took priority as I entered my mid 30’s so my youth leadership became focused upon coaching and a four year stint as a scoutmaster.  Gauntlet is our church’s youth camp, but it is youth camp to the extreme.  There were over 5300 youth at the Gauntlet with another 1700+ room leaders and support staff.  We descended upon Daytona Beach in 129 buses and filled 9 beach-front hotels.  And for the first time we filled the entire Ocean Center auditorium.

I intend on posting several pics and a few highlights from the week in this blog over the next few weeks.  The Gauntlet is an environment where youth and leader alike hear clear teaching on how to become a Christian and what it means to live the life God has created us for.  It provides ample opportunity to speak with caring leaders and fellow sojourners about life’s trials, challenges, failures, and triumphs in a safe place.  Within this context each person is given multiple opportunities to identify and take their next step in the faith journey of life.

This was my second time to serve.  And I almost didn’t go.  My experience the first time was enough of a challenge that I questioned whether the Lord wanted me there.  I left the date open on my calendar and I continued to ask the Lord to make it clear if I was to attend.  About 4 weeks prior the Lord gave me the nudge that I was to go and He provided two very clear instructions.  “Don’t have expectations on how your students are to respond”  and “Trust Me.”  So I signed up.  I am so glad that I did.

That I had chosen the right path was confirmed for me on the bus ride down.  Everyone traveled down in “pods” of three or four buses.  We were the first pod of buses from our campus which also happens to be the furthest from Daytona Beach.  Just outside Jacksonville the bus in front of ours broke down.  The failure on the bus disabled their air conditioning, so our bus leader asked us to make room for the folks from the other bus.  Our boys immediately moved to the back of the bus tripling up in seats or standing in the aisle.  We spent the next 3+ hours waiting on one of the other buses to complete the trip down to Daytona and then return to pick up the passengers from the disabled bus so our pod could continue.

The AC in our bus was stretched to the max with the extra body heat and the lack of air movement over the AC coils, so it was not very comfortable in the back where the boys were all scrunched together.  But during that entire time there was no whining or complaining.  The boys chatted.  I got to know several of the young men like Hawk, CJ, Bernard, Nick, Sean (or maybe Shawn), Drey, Marcelous, Dillon, and others.  For three hours we sweated together, watching bus after bus pass us as we sat on the side of the road with the Florida sun beaming in the windows… and the mood never turned sour with self pity.  I’m chuckling to myself right now because I was, and still am, pumped at how mature the boys handled the situation.

Although I didn’t meet and begin getting to know them until we arrived in Daytona Beach, my two roommates and new friends, Dylan and Greg were among those on the bus who handled the situation so well.  And they proved to be just as mature and good-natured as my initial impression of the other young men on bus 5.  It was truly a blessing to spend the week with these two guys, to get to know them, and to talk about what our next steps in growing closer to Jesus are.

That’s enough of a story for today’s post. So without further ado I share the first of my Gauntlet 2016 pics.

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At some point in our lives, most of us want to hear God speak directly to us, directly into our life situation.  I am convinced that intimacy with God is our highest calling.  What Adam had in the garden before the Fall is a picture of what life in Christ can become… intimate, familiar, loving, without secrets or shame, the PERFECT relationship.  But for almost all of us we are still a long, long ways from it.

If intimacy with God is our highest calling, then why do we struggle so with achieving it?  Why is it that we don’t hear about or see where God is speaking to people regularly?  Why does my prayer life feel more like a one sided conversation than a dialog?  Why is the silence so quiet?

A conversation this weekend has brought this question into my spirit and I have been wrestling with it for three days now.  While I suspect there may be other reasons, I have insight into some of the reasons and a path through a season of silence that may be beneficial for you.

Let’s begin with the order of priorities God has for us.  The most important thing God has for us is to know Him.  That is priority #1.  Not knowing ABOUT Him, but knowing Him.  He sent Jesus to earth to engage humanity face to face, skin to skin, heart to heart.  Jesus’ life on planet earth was brief – 30 or so years, but in God’s providential plan, He inspired the writing of the Word which not only fleshes out the “God Story” for the billions of us who did not get to know Him in the flesh, but creates the pathway to meet and truly know Him.  Also in His plan, Jesus’ resurrection means Jesus is alive.  If He is alive then He is knowable.  At my conversion, I believe Jesus was right there with me, talking to me, offering me life in Him.  When I accepted, He placed His Holy Spirit within me and I was changed.  I know it.  I felt it.  Others saw it and commented on it.  It really happened.  Now humanity’s enemy, the bible calls Him Satan, has periodically tried to convince me otherwise.  Most of His attempts have been to get my eyes off Jesus, my spiritual ears from listening to the Holy Spirit, and my actions away from intimacy with God.  Those times I have been diverted, quiet ensued.  This brings me to the first reason we may enter a time of silence in our relationship with the Lord.

Spiritual warfare is a reality.  The enemy actively fights against God.  The children of God, believers who have been saved through faith in Christ, are at the frontline of that war.  There are many similarities in warfare we see and what goes on in the spiritual realm, but I want to focus upon one aspect – communication.  Knowing the battle plan and keeping in touch with command is vital in battle.  This is often hard to do, particularly when the fight is intense and the din of battle drowns out all other sound.  Spiritual warfare will have times when we are getting hit with any number of  assaults.  The good news is our Lord God is the ultimate Commander in Chief.  He has both a plan and resources to win the war and bring us through the battle.  When we are in the battle, we may not clearly hear Him, but we can trust Him.  We make our requests, we hold our position, and we do what we know from His Word we are to do.  In the absence of a clear word from the Lord, we trust the Word of the Lord and the last thing He told us to do.  And we hold on.  We also look for reinforcements.  This would be Godly friends who can come alongside us in the fight.  Ones who will join us in the battle.  Ones who will also be communicating with our Commander, the Lord God Almighty, about our needs.  Scriptures for this are 2Cor 10:3-5 and Eph 6:10-18.

Reason 2.

On-going sin.  Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins – all of them.  God in His wisdom has given us a role to play in our salvation.  We repent – we turn away from sin and turn to God.  There are many things that can be said about why sin is such an evil thing, but for the sake of this discussion I’m going to focus upon just one aspect.  From where we stand sin lies in the opposite direction of God.  If we choose to run after sin, we are turning our back on God.  Have you ever noticed the orientation of our ears?  They are cupped forward.  This allows the capture and amplification of sounds in front of us.  This also provides a degree of shielding from sound waves coming from behind us.  This is a physical picture of a spiritual truth.  When we turn away from God, it becomes much more difficult to hear God’s voice calling us back to Him.  That which we are facing grows louder and more strident.  The voice of God grows harder to hear.  And God seldom shouts.  Hopefully I can come back to that theme in another post.  God can and will shout, but it is the exception rather than the rule.  His gentle whisper and subtle nudges are the norm.

The remedy when on-going sin causes us to lose awareness of God’s voice is simple, if not necessarily easy.  Cease the sin immediately, repent, confess, and seek the Lord’s help through Godly friends and counselors who can help you take your next steps.  In this I have seen an accountability partner provide tremendous benefits.  God works through His people in the healing process.

Reason 3.

Emotional wounds not dealt with.  My understanding of God is that He has saved me utterly and completely.  My experience has been that in a few cases God walks me through the healing of damage created by sin, my sin and the sins others have done to me, over time.  Although I have been a believer for 30+ years, there are still times of periodic cleansing, teaching, and healing that He does in me years after I felt Him power-wash my soul.  I am getting into an area that still holds a degree of mystery for me, but I have seen this at work in my life and in others.  God will choose to heal some things from our past years into our walk with Him.  The forgiveness has long since been applied, but sometimes God wants to heal the scars.  In some cases our stuffed hurt actually encases a bit of poison that must be removed.  If the Lord wants to do the healing, our role is to allow Him, the Great Physician, to do surgery.  Covering it up, holding it in, saying it doesn’t exist does not further the Lord’s work in this area.  Giving it to the Lord, confessing and lifting it up to Him, is the right thing to do.  One of the areas I have seen this frequently take place is for people who have been victimized by sexual sin.  Opening up about this to a caring and wise counselor is a one of the most benefical steps in the healing process.

Reason 4.

Our unrealized expectations of God leading to a “God Grudge”.  An unfortunate situation often occurs when a person comes to faith.  A well-meaning soul will tell the new convert something like, “You are changed and your life will be rich, full, and exciting because you are a Christian.”  While there are many blessings that come with being a Christ-follower, absence from life’s difficulties is not one of them.  In fact, when we immerse ourselves into living a fully surrendered life we will experience times of need that lead us into greater dependence upon Him.  Sadly many believers reach a point where their expectations are not met, but rather than seeking Godly counsel, they bottle up the disappointment and trudge on.  Over time and as more unrealized expectations occur, a God Grudge develops.

I have seen this and been fortunate enough to speak words of encouragement to people to help them identify the source of their grudge and help them take it to God.  He already knows we are holding it.  He just wants us to admit it and then give it to him.  I can think of five situations where the persons took this step of faith and within a month a break-through in the natural realm of a long-standing problem was manifested.  Intimacy requires honesty.  God can handle our honesty.  We just need to be open to what He has to say back to us.  Psalm 51 resonates for Reasons 2 – 4.

Reason 5.

Disobedience to what the Lord has said.  I know that disobedience to the Lord is sin, but I want to zero in on disobedience to God’s personal word to us.  I shared my most poignant and painful example of this in a post last summer. https://areliablefaith.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/responding-to-the-nudge/.  In this story I share how I rationalized my way out of obedience to the Holy Spirit’s nudge and the consequences were significant.  This example and some lesser periods of waffling when presented with promptings from the Lord have clearly shown me that quiet ensues when we ignore what the Lord tells us.

Our Pastor has shared this with us as well.  “Have you done the last thing I told you?”  This is the question the Lord has laid on his heart when he has tried to maintain a dialog, while not being fully obedient to the last thing the Lord told Him to do.  I admit to the same thing.  A few years back I went through an extended time where the Lord repeatedly brought the same scripture to my mind as I prayed.  It wasn’t until I obeyed the practical application of that scripture that my prayer life moved forward.

God is not into superficiality.  There is no façade that works.  Obedience is essential if we desire unhindered dialog with the Lord.

Reason 6.

We are to wait.  This one is perhaps the most common for me.  And it really only becomes an issue when we get our priorities backwards.  At the beginning I said our #1 priority is to Know the Lord.  For the finite to know the Infinite takes all our life and at the end we will still fall far short of knowing God fully.  But that is what God desires and has called us to.  Part of the process for getting to know the Lord is that we walk in our second priority which is: Know and Do the Things God Wants Us to Do.  Life spent being where God wants and doing what God created us to do is a life well lived.  However, our “doing for God” can usurp our first priority – Knowing God.  When this happens we can get out of the Lord’s whisper range and we can move into the realm of silence.

I have fallen into this pit more than once.  I am an active person.  I also tend toward being a workaholic.  I struggled to type that because in my mind I am just thorough, but my wife and others have pointed this out with enough examples that I cannot deny it.  It is not uncommon for me to get involved in a good thing but fail to take the time to validate it against the Lord’s leading.  Being over-committed to good things invariably leads to being under-committed to the best things.

The solution here is pretty simple.  Make the #1 priority the #1 priority.  Isaiah 40:31 is on the spot.  “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.  The shall mount up with wings like eagles.  They shall run and not grow weary.  They shall walk and not faint.”

If we seek first God and His righteousness, then we put ourselves in position to hear, to learn, and to move when He says move.  For me waiting is manifested in a number of ways, but let me share my primary few.

1) Rising early with the bible, a cup of coffee, and a heart to enjoy anything new that I perceive is from the Lord.  This may be a new insight in the scripture.  It could be a person the Lord brings to mind that I pray for.  It is often an idea that rumbles around in my Spirit picking up scriptural ties that becomes a blog post.

2) Attending worship with the sole intention of lifting up adoration and praise unto the One Who is worthy of every last bit of praise I have to give.  There was a time in my life when I had to listen to a number of praise songs, concentrating on their lyrics before I moved into deep worship.  I seem to have moved to a place where I come expectant and ready to commune with the Father in worship.  This is awesome within our church, but it now occurs regularly whenever I listen to praise and worship.

3) Serving others has become a source of blessing for me.  I have found that in praying for and caring for others, I become more sensitive to the Lord nudging me, prompting me, leading me.  I know Who the answer is and so in listening to others in need, I am open to the Holy Other speaking life and hope to them.  Sometimes it may be through me.  Sometimes it may be through another in the conversation.  But I have consistently seen the Lord minister.  My role is to simply wait, be open and receptive, and do or say what I believe He leads me to do or say.

4) Out in nature – particularly at sunrise or sunset.  For this one I generally am simply swept up into the awesomeness of Who God is… Creator, Sustainor, Artist, Master Designer, intimate Friend, Loving Father – and worship ensues.  The utterences of my heart flow unbidden to the throne of grace.  Sometimes I sense something specific in my Spirit.  Always I receive the Lord’s refreshing.


I know this has been a long post.  I hope and pray it has been encouraging for you.  The Father loves you and He has a message for you.  Seek Him and He will speak to you.  Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

In closing I share a few of my favorite pics from my sunrise and sunset devotions.  Be blessed my friend and allow the Father’s blessing to flow in, through, and around you to in rich abundance.


Sunrise over Crater Lake, Oregon.


Crater Lake, Oregon


East Rim of Crater Lake at Sunset


Alpine-glow on Mount Rainier, Washington.


Update South Carolina Foggy Sunrise




The heavens declare the glory of God.


The best man can do is but a glimmer compared to the beauty the Lord bestows on the canvas of this world. View across our front yard.


Sunset on Ruby Beach, Washington.


Ruby Beach at Sunset and Low Tide


Splitting the Sky


Rows in the heavens


Sunrise in the South Pacific.


Darkness tried to hide it, but the Light cannot be contained!


Sunset over the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia.


Sunrise over Mahon’s Pool at Maroubra Beach, Australia


Sunset over my backyard this past Sunday.

Pretty Place, Camp Greenville, SC, Oct 16, 2015 (47)

The reason for our hope. Pretty Place, Camp Greenville, SC

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I saw a very familiar scripture in an entirely new way the other day.  Perhaps it is more accurate to say I saw it with an entirely new emphasis.  Matthew 11:28-30 is one of my favorites.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Whenever I read this previously my focus had been on gaining rest or help with the challenges and burdens of life.  I had always skimmed over the “take my yoke” part, accepting that this meant to be a believer.

Well, that changed last Friday.  I was worshipping the Lord and seeking His guidance for a word of exhortation I was to give.  As I sensed the Lord calling me to a place of holy listening, I became aware of a song playing that simply repeated this scripture.  Somehow it seemed like the volume increased whenever the yoke was mentioned.  As I prayed and pondered several thoughts came together which I share with you today.

First off, what is a yoke?  For many today the agrarian imagery that Jesus used may not be as familiar as it was to His 1st century listeners.  A yoke is a type of harness used to hitch a beast of burden to a load of some sort.  The burden could be a cart, something with wheels, or it might be a plow or harrow – devices used in breaking up ground.  In addition to connecting to a load the yoke connected a pair or team of oxen or similar to one another so they would pull as a team.  Finally the yoke provided a means for a driver to guide and direct the beast or team of beasts.

This scripture has a progression to it.  It begins with coming to Jesus.  For most of us this occurs when we get to the end of ourselves, a condition usually resulting in being weary and burdened.  When we come to Jesus He immediately gives us a measure of tangible rest and peace.  I remember this well and it was such a wonderful place to be, standing in stark contrast to the turmoil and difficulties of striving to do life in my own strength.  Today, I can look back and say that this was merely an initial deposit.  God has so much more in mind for each of His children if we but dive deeper into Him.  Hence the progression continues.

The next step is a big one – Take My Yoke upon you.  This is an invitation into the deepest, most amazing, most fulfilling journey this life offers.  However Jesus leaves the decision up to us whether to slip ourselves into the yoke.  As the description of a yoke above mentions this yoke will harness us to the work Jesus has planned for us.  In some instances it will connect us with others pulling in the same direction, lifting the same load.  It also provides a means for Jesus to lead and direct us.  All of these things play out in taking Jesus’ yoke upon us.

One of the greatest benefits of wearing Jesus’ yoke is that we become pupils of the Master.  Jesus says, “learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart…”  There are many, many things He will teach us and I am convinced that for each one of us He knows us well enough to teach us in exactly the manner we need for exactly the work He has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10).  But this scripture points to a universal “learning” when Jesus alludes to two of His character traits that we are to emulate – gentle and humble in heart.  Being fitted into Jesus’ harness will cultivate gentleness and humility that blesses those the Lord sends us to and opens doors to being Jesus’ hands and feet.

As we willingly wear the yoke we will find the character of Jesus being created in us.  By His Holy Spirit we are transformed into the faith-filled followers we were created to be.  And the rest we were given when we first came to Him becomes a soul-satisfying, deep and abiding “rest for your souls”.  It is as different in scale as a spring rain is from a raging hurricane.

It is at this point that we realize the Lord has given us work which we have accomplished without fanfare and seemingly without extraordinary effort on our part.  Yet these things are well beyond what we could have envisioned from the outset.  Following the Lord, doing the work He gives us – making disciples, caring for the hurting and sorrowful, meeting the needs of those in want, encouraging the fainthearted, preaching the Word, living a life that rejects sin, but embraces the sinner with Christ’s love – these tasks, these burdens become lightly carried, yet effectively accomplished.

This scripture offers us rest, but it offers so much more.  Life as a Jesus-follower is a life of growth and constant transformation.  Where He will take us is beyond our comprehension, but it is also good beyond comparison.

Be blessed today and allow the Lord to bless through you as you take on His yoke and live.

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The Lord knows what we need.  He always, always does.  The real question is do we respond when He says, “Let Me give you what you need.”

This week marks my 10th straight week of travel for work.  I signed up for it.  Actually I like to see new places, meet new people, tackle new challenges.  But 10 weeks is a long time to be away.  A few weeks ago the Father brought me to one of those – “Let Me give you what you need” moments.  It was a tremendous encouragement to me.  But over the past few days I have realized the message of that moment was given not just for me, but to be shared with others.

It started on a Friday night.  I had traveled all week.  My wife and I sat down together and watched a melodrama we like called “Heartland”.  We watched three episodes and to be quite honest with you, I was upset with the amount of drama going on in the characters lives as I went to sleep.  Now I know it is bit silly to get emotionally invested in fictional characters on a TV show, but what was happening wasn’t totally fiction.  You see I know people who are hurting just like those characters.  I also love people who can’t seem to consistently make wise decisions and that hurts me too.  I cannot unplug from the problems of the people around me and the show that evening touched a resonant chord in me.

After a restless night of waking, praying, dosing off for a few minutes only to wake and begin praying again, I finally fell asleep around 5.  I woke at 7 with a start.  It was like I was shaken awake.  And I immediately sensed the Lord whisper in my spirit, “Come let Me kiss you.”  I have three grandchildren and they know me as Papi.  When they come over, particularly if we have been apart for a while, the homecoming has plenty of hugs and kisses.  It was with that same sense of excitement that I got up and slipped into the front of the house.

I left our dark bedroom, slipped through the lighter kitchen and into the living room.  When I turned toward the east facing front of the house, the brilliant sunshine reflecting off the china cabinet struck me with tangible force.  I was drawn to it.  As I stepped into the warmth of the sunshine I felt the Lord embrace me and I knew the reality of the Father holding his child, me, and giving him a kiss of pure love.  I don’t know how long I stood there just soaking up the Lord’s gracious love.  After some minutes, I started making a circuit back into the darkened kitchen and back into the light.  For six or seven circuits I would just stop and soak in the sunshine and the Father’s assurance of His love for me.

After some time, I found myself just staring out the back of the house to where the sun’s rays were turning the early spring morning into one of golden clarity.  And the Lord spoke one more time.  “I am not through with you.  The best is yet to come!”

That, my friends is a balm for a road-weary soul.  That is a promise I can and will hold on to.  That is a promise for everyone who puts their trust in Jesus and then pursues Him with all their heart.  He wants to be found by us.  He desires to fill us with good things.  He will transform our heart to become more and more like His heart if we diligently seek Him.

And God, my God is new every day.  The creator of the universe is able to do abundantly, amazingly more in and through us than we can possibly imagine.  All He is asking is for us to take our Next Step with Him.

To reach out when He whispers, “Say hello to that person.”

To take the time to listen in love to that hard-to-love person God has put in your life.

To read His Word because you realize it contains the Word and words of life.

To be the spouse you know God is calling you to be.

To live a prayerful life even when busy-ness threatens to overtake you.

To slip out of bed when He says, “Come let Me kiss you.”


Be blessed my friend and realize you are the blessing God wants to bring into someone’s life today.

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As I have shared before, I am an engineer.  So much so that my wife struggles not to roll her eyes as she says it.  My natural inclination is to observe, analyze, and critique.  This mindset helps me solve problems and improve processes.  However by themselves they are not conducive to building strong, vibrant, loving relationships.  Through the years though I have changed.  I still have these attributes, but they have been tempered.  And I am a better person for it.

I am very thankful for my parents.  They strove to raise my siblings and I right.  They taught us manners, respect for all people, putting other’s needs ahead of my own, and the importance of family.  They took us to church and established a pattern of faithful attendance.  They disciplined me when I strayed, but at the end of the discipline was always a hug and words of affirmation.  My parents established an excellent foundation for the transformation.

As I have recounted in an earlier post, I strayed significantly through my college years, trying new and formerly forbidden things.  I was a person swimming further and further from shore.  But God did an amazing thing.  He brought me to a place where I could clearly see the two choices I had.  I could continue my life of swimming in deep water and being my own master or I could chose to follow Him completely.  It’s funny because He did not threaten me with bad stuff if I chose not to follow Him.  He just indicated that life “All In” with Him would mean He would never leave me or forsake me.

I accepted His offer and a change took place immediately.  God put His Spirit within me and I knew it.  I look at that weekend and that afternoon visit to the chapel at Camp Hartner in Louisiana as my second birthday.  I mention all of this as background though.  While God entered my life in a real and tangible way at that time, a lot of my ingrained habits and thought patterns were still influenced by the worldly patterns I had become comfortable with.  The Holy Spirit had been active in wooing and encouraging me to take the step of faith before my conversion.  When I accepted Jesus as my Lord, the Holy Spirit began the work in me that has led to much positive change such as the transformation of a fairly rigid engineer into a relatively relational person who happens to have some engineering skills.

The Holy Spirit will guide you as you seek to know and follow the Father better.  Here are some of the practical steps that I was led to which have proved crucial to my transformation.  In fact they fit under the admonition Paul gives in Romans 12:1-2.  “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.  Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Read the Word and Seek the Lord Early Every Day.  Start the day in prayer and quiet reflection on Who God is.  Talk to Him and let Him speak to you through the bible.  Select a good, short devotional to supplement your prayer time.  My wife and I have been blessed time and again with the short devotionals found in the devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  I have experimented with doing this at other times of the day, but I have found that dedicating my first hour or so to the Lord has the greatest impact and seems to flavor the rest of the day with a sweet sense of His nearness.

Develop Close Faith Friendships and Encourage One Another.  While this needs to be within your family too, it actually must include a few close friends.  I’ve dived into this topic at length in a previous post, but it is vital that we have people we trust who can be Christ’s hands, feet, and heart to us in times of need.  And we in turn will have times when the Lord uses us for others.  God did not intend for us to do life alone.  When He looked at Adam in the garden He said it was not good for him to be alone.  That is true of believers.  God knows we need faithful fellowship.  Ask Him and He will lead you to those people who will become your faith friends.

Join the Church and Plug In.  Jesus died for the Church, so the Church is very important to Him.  Find a Church that is vibrant.  One that consistently points to Jesus and what He is doing.  Look for signs of Jesus actively working within the Church.  Signs such as growth in numbers, bondages broken, lives being transformed, consistently maturing fellowship, regular outreach beyond the walls of the Church, and joy in following Jesus.  Once you find this Church then get involved.  Consider your gifts, talents, and passion and see where you can put them to work in the Church.

Bloom Where You Are Planted.  God has put you in a place to be His ambassador.  The life you live is a reflection of where you are in your walk.  Jesus desires to use each one of us in the redemption of this world.  If you are in a hard place, a difficult place, the light and love of Jesus will stand-out more than ever.  Every believer is called to minister in Jesus’ Name.  Some of that ministry may be within the Church, but my experience indicates that the greatest need and most frequent opportunities are outside the walls of the Church.  Make this a topic in your quiet time with the Lord, asking Him to guide you to the person(s) you are to speak to that day.

Remember, it’s All About the Relationships.  Jesus left His place in heaven and entered mortal life so He could relate to us, so He could establish a relationship with us.  He loves us so much that He took our place when sin, our sin, was judged and executed on the cross.  And because of that we can live in intimate relationship with Him.  And He wants us to value the relationships that we have with others.  Because they matter to Him, they should matter to us as well.  As we grow closer to Jesus, we will begin to see others as Jesus sees them.  And we will love more and more like Jesus loves.

Have a blessed day today as you grow in your life with Jesus.


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As I finished my run this evening, I was struck by the thought of how good God is to us.  “He showers me with too much love,” I thought.

I don’t deserve the goodness that He pours out upon me, upon my family.

I don’t deserve the kindnesses I have experienced from total strangers in Jesus name.  They were moved to bless and it overwhelms me.

Too many times I have not done what I know He wants me to do and yet His Grace is still upon me and evident in my life.

I have had times when I was happy with my “successes” and pride was a very real issue.  I am still a man who thinks of himself way too much and others way too little.  But day-by-day He leads me to understand that it’s not about me in the end.  It is about Him.  It is about loving others with His love.

Even when I am moody and controlling, His love reaches out to me, to correct me, to lead me, to show me the way of peace and joy… which does not consist of getting my way.

Like Isaiah, I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell among a people of unclean lips.  But God called and sent out Isaiah and He calls and sends me out.

Like Paul at times I can only cry out, “what a wretched man I am!”

But Paul was right – “thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

He died so that I might live and know Him in spirit and in truth.  It is too much love for this man.

And that is exactly the right amount.


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IMG_5222One of the thrills of my Mount Rainier trip was all the wildlife that I got to see and capture in my pics.  I shared a few stories already on Facebook, but now I have the pics that go with those stories.

I had never seen a Marmot before, but my experience this weekend would lead me to believe they are pretty common.  I think I saw six different ones and got pictures of several.  The most intriguing thing was that for two of them, I slipped up on them unaware and I got pictures of them gazing out over the beautiful view from their mountain top perches.  The first was on Saturday morning shown below.

Coming down the mountain I happened upon this Marmot taking in the scenery.  I happened upon a similar scene in Sunrise the next day.

Coming down the mountain I happened upon this Marmot taking in the scenery. I happened upon a similar scene in Sunrise the next day.

Even the Marmots appreciate the wonder of God's creation.  This fellow was on a rock outcropping on the side of Pinnacle Peak gazing out toward Mount Rainier.

Even the Marmots appreciate the wonder of God’s creation. This fellow was on a rock outcropping on the side of Pinnacle Peak gazing out toward Mount Rainier.


As I moved down the trail this fellow slipped down into the brush on the side of the mountain and began picking fruit off the plants.

One of several Marmots I got pictures of while hiking.  Early mornings are the best time to view the wildlife.

One of several Marmots I got pictures of while hiking. Early mornings are the best time to view the wildlife.

After taking this picture I looked around to see if I could identify what he was eating.  I saw what appeared to be blueberries and in my enthusiasm I quickly picked one and popped it in my mouth.  As it entered my mouth I realized I really didn’t know what it was I was about to ingest, so I quickly spit it out.  Visions of me writhing in the middle of a mountain trail because I had eaten a poisonous berry freaked me out just a little.

As I headed down the mountain I got into the forest and I came upon a couple stopped by the trail eating something.  The woman about my age asked me if I had eaten my share of blueberries.  THEY WERE BLUEBERRIES!

A juicy, sweet mid-morning snack along the trail.

A juicy, sweet mid-morning snack along the trail.

It was an absolute delight finding the blueberries ripe and within reach all along the lower part of the trail.

It was an absolute delight finding the blueberries ripe and within reach all along the lower part of the trail.

Finding the blueberries almost put me into sensory overload.  All five of my physical senses had been saturated.

The sights were phenomenal as I have tried to capture with these pictures.

The smell of the forest of fir and spruce brought on nostalgic thoughts of Christmas.

From the howling of the coyotes to the crunch of rocks underfoot to the bird song all along the trail my ears were filled with the sounds of nature.  What was missing was the man-made noise of cars and machines that so often fill our lives.  The deep stretches of quiet were also a welcome respite to my sense of hearing which had become numb from the ever-present sounds of civilization.

The chill morning air that caused my hands to seek my pockets or rub together was the first of many times my sense of touch was stirred.  Sitting on the mountain top a gentle breeze caressed my sweating brow.  As the day wore on and the miles hiked mounted, even the sore muscles reminded me I was doing something special.

So the blueberries were just icing on the cake.  The term ‘bursting with flavor’ literally came true as I snagged a second and then a third handful of plump berries and popped them in my mouth.



While I saw other marmots and lots of chipmunks through the day on Saturday, nothing prepared me for the 30 minute window early Sunday morning.  I took the trail from Sunrise up to the Sourdough Ridge and Wonderland Trail.  I started a little before 6 am.

The visitor center and parking lot at Sunrise on the northeast side of Mount Rainier.

The visitor center and parking lot at Sunrise on the northeast side of Mount Rainier.

I had my eyes peeled looking for wildlife.  I had come upon a nice herd of elk in the dark as I was driving up the mountain so I was already primed.  I scanned the beautiful valleys on either side of the trail as I headed toward Burroughs Mountain.

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I kept expecting to see a herd of elk or deer stroll across one of the meadows below me.

I kept expecting to see a herd of elk or deer stroll across one of the meadows below me.

I did not see them, but at about the same time of the morning that coyotes were howling on the trail in front of me on Saturday, one or two raised a cry somewhere down close to the lake in this picture.  I waited for a few minutes to see if they might break into the open, but they never did.

Coyotes began howling down around that lake a mile or so away.

Coyotes began howling down around that lake a mile or so away.

After this I was on high alert.  My head was on a swivel looking for wildlife.  In fact I switched to my “big” lens to reach out and capture close up pics if possible.  Shortly after the coyotes howled, as I approached the end of the Sourdough trail I saw movement ahead that appeared to be about the size of a dog.  I snapped pics thinking that a coyote had crossed in front of me but the exposure was all wrong as the fleeting shape was lost in the shadow while my camera adjusted exposure to the light beyond.

Balancing rock above the trail.  I saw movement sink across the trail ahead of me just after taking this pic.

Balancing rock above the trail. I saw movement slink across the trail ahead of me just after taking this pic.

I cautiously moved through the area where the “coyote” had slipped across the trail.  I thought that I should be able to see him since the area opened up into the wide open, tundra-like topography of Burroughs Mountain.

Oddly enough I bumped into the Manager of the plant where I am working out on the trail just a few minutes after this.

My friend trail running early in the morning at Sunrise.

My friend trail running early in the morning at Sunrise.

We chatted a bit and then I turned to point back where I had just come from and the direction he was heading to tell him to keep his eyes open for a coyote.  And this is what we saw.

We at first thought this was a coyote that for some reason was following me.

We at first thought this was a coyote that for some reason was following me.

We walked toward him to make him decide whether he wanted to take on both of us.  Instead he decided since we weren’t going to get out of his way on the trail, he would just go around us.

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I believe he had caught a chipmunk just before I noticed him.  I had come upon him quick enough that he slipped into cover in the few trees there so I passed by.  But he had a home down the trail and we were simply in his way.  I was surprised at his total lack of fear of us.

With the big lens on I continued up the path.  I stopped at one point a few minutes later to change lenses to my smaller lens to take landscapes, but I felt a prompting to leave on the big lens.

Now let me interject briefly.  I do not think I am special above anyone else.  I am just a guy who loves the Lord and in my imperfect way, I try to follow and obey Him as best I can.  However I do believe that God loves His children and enjoys our taking delight in Him and His creation.  I personally believe God loves to hear His children laugh.  So when I, in joyful exuberance, asked the Lord for some good pics of wildlife, I had faith I would get those shots.  Now that was about 5 minutes before the encounter with the fox.  So when I got the nudge to leave on the big lens, I did.  As I tightened the big lens on my camera I looked up at the ridge overhead and this is what I saw.

Mountain goats above me on Burroughs Mountain #1.

Mountain goats above me on Burroughs Mountain #1.

At this point I am thanking the Father for the simple and fun blessings He has given me.  But He was not through yet.  About 5 minutes later I looked down the slope and there is a family of mountain goats.

Family of Mountain Goats on the side of Burroughs 1

Family of Mountain Goats on the side of Burroughs 1

IMG_5183 IMG_5181

At this point I was just plain thrilled.  I remember telling the Lord, I was satisfied, that He had provided more than I had hoped for.  But the surprises weren’t through quite yet.  As I finally neared the top of Burroughs 1 I happened to look up.  And there on an outcropping overlooking the broad valley below was a Marmot enjoying the view.

My first thought was, I guess humans aren’t the only ones who can appreciate a beautiful view.

IMG_5193 IMG_5194 IMG_5195 IMG_5199

Here is the view he was gazing at.

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It was funny to me.  The Marmot reminded me of Mr Beaver in the CS Lewis book, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”.  In the land of Narnia the animals talk.  As the shutter on my camera snapped, the Marmot turned to look at me as if to say, “Why are you disturbing my morning meditation?”  To which I apologized and quietly moved on.

Psalm 104 perfectly fit this day.

Verse 1 “Praise the LORD, my soul.

LORD my God, you are very great;

you are clothed with splendor and majesty.”

Verse 18 says “The high mountains belong to the wild goats;

the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.”

Verse 24 “How many are your works, LORD!

In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”

The final verses sum it up.

27 All creatures look to you

to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32 He who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the Lord.
35 But may sinners vanish from the earth
and the wicked be no more.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
Praise the Lord.
If you like the pics stay tuned for at least one more installment of Mount Rainer pics.  Sunrise over Sunrise was absolutely magnificent.  Pictures can’t fully capture it, but they do a pretty good job.  Until next time, look to the LORD and enjoy His gracious mercy and love.

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Panorama view of Mount Rainier taken from the top of Plummer Peak.

Panorama view of Mount Rainier taken from the top of Plummer Peak.

I had a spectacular time hiking Mount Rainier this past weekend.  I drove up Friday evening and scouted out Paradise in preparation for an early morning rendezvous with the mountain.  I was at Reflection Lake about 5 am on Saturday striving for the perfect shot as the sun first struck the mountain.  I got some okay shots, but compared to the others I have selected, they don’t quite make the cut.

A little before 6 I hit the Pinnacle Peak Trail which begins across the road from Reflection Lake.  About 15 minutes up the trail I heard coyotes begin howling.  It’s a little unsettling to be alone on the trail and have four coyotes howling just a hundred yards or so ahead of you.  Thoughts of being alone, remote, and surrounded by animals that eat meat… and realizing that to them I am meat, gave me reason to pause.  I considered whether it would be prudent to turn around, but a brief prayer later I felt like the Lord was calling me higher.  And I knew He was more than able to handle the coyotes.

A little further up the trail I was struck by what a wonderful gift the Lord had given me.  My new job was enabling me to hike in the Mount Rainier NP, take lots of photos, and worship Him all in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  I realized that for most of my life I have been a Martha-like person, always busy DOING.  See Luke 10:38-42.  If I had not had the job change that I have, I would still be slaving away working crazy hours to put away “enough” money to retire in a few years.  The Lord gently reminded me that He is able to supply all our needs.  We don’t know how much is enough, but He does.  The measure that really matters is not how much money we make or have, but how much of US we have surrendered to Jesus.  Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and He commended her for it.  This day as my heart was bursting with gratitude, I realized I was sitting beside Mary… and it was a wonderful place to be.

Pinnacle Peak across the valley from Paradise.  Note the Pinnacle Peak trail up the side of the mountain which is how I got to Plummer Peak.

Pinnacle Peak across the valley from Paradise. Note the Pinnacle Peak trail up the side of the mountain which is how I got to Plummer Peak.

As I continued up the mountain I emerged from the forest out into my first scree field.  You can see the trail I hiked in this picture.  Pinnacle Mountain towered on my left and the jumble of rocks flowed steeply down the mountainside on my right.  The views just kept getting better and better.

This was my original destination until I felt the tug to "come up higher".

This was my original destination until I felt the tug to “come up higher”.

Plummer Mountain was my perch for an early morning devotional.

Plummer Mountain was my perch for an early morning devotional.

The maintained trail ended at the pass between Pinnacle Peak and Plummer Peak.  As I snapped pictures I noticed what looked like a trail heading over the Plummer Peak.  About 20 minutes later I found myself on the very top of the highest rocks you can see on the mountain above.  Whenever I describe a “mountain-top experience” in the future I will think of my time on Plummer Peak.

My mountain top bench where I worshipped the Lord in the beauty of His splendor.

My mountain top bench where I worshipped the Lord in the beauty of His splendor.

One more “coincidence” that comes to mind.  My goal when I set out was to get to the end of the maintained trail, snap some pictures, and come back down to head to Paradise.  However as I neared the top of the maintained trail I met two photographers coming down.  They had been up there to catch the sunrise from the top.  One of them mentioned that he was on the top and got some good panoramas.  Initially I assumed he meant the place I was headed.  As I took pictures I realized he must have meant something higher.  As great as the view was in the saddle, I become convinced by the experience this stranger on the trail shared that there was an even better place to aspire to, a higher place to attain.  So I continued upward.  I searched for the path heading higher.

Our faith journey is like that.  Our experiences of God’s grace shared with others is like the comments I heard from my fellow sojourner who had been somewhere I now desired to go.  Because he shared a good word of what was attainable, I was encouraged to seek and find the path myself… a path blazed by others… a path that I would have struggled mightily to find if it wasn’t for those who had gone before me making a way.

A view from the trail heading up the mountain to Plummer Peak.

A view from the trail heading up the mountain to Plummer Peak.

The shot above is toward the end of the maintained trail.  For some folks this might look a little scary, but believe me, this is a super highway of a trail compared to what was ahead.  As I entered the UNmaintainted trail area, there was enough of a path that I could find my way most of the time.  I only lost the trail once in the high meadow about 100 yards below the summit.

That final trail is a story in itself.  Just below the high meadow the trail became very narrow and steep as it crossed a large scree field.  One mis-step here and you would find yourself (or someone would find your body) hundreds of feet below.  The trail had it’s dangers.

A shot of the scree field as I am about to cross it.

A shot of the scree field as I am about to cross it.

Above this scree field I entered a meadow that you could not see from below.  It was a beautiful place with a great view aimed at Mount Rainier and covered with plenty of bench-high rocks perfect for sitting and meditating.  I got to a high place in the meadow and it appeared that the trail ended so I sat and talked to the Lord for a while.  He spoke through the beauty and wonder of His creation all around me.  It’s amazing how the fatigue and windedness almost immediately evaporated as I took in the stunning beauty.

View from my seat in the high meadow on Plummer Peak.  I thought I was at the end of the trail, but...

View from my seat in the high meadow on Plummer Peak. I thought I was at the end of the trail, but…

As I slipped on my pack and got ready to head down I glanced around and noticed what appeared to be a faint path leading higher.  A hundred or so feet further on it became a distinct trail leading to the top.  Refreshed from my rest and now excited to be heading higher again I pushed on toward the top.

The final trail up to the peak.  That is about a 300 foot drop off the left side of the trail.  The right side was quite steep too, but not like the left.

The final trail up to the peak. That is about a 300 foot drop off the left side of the trail. The right side was quite steep too, but not like the left.

The final leg was very steep and not without a heightened awareness of the danger that lay close at hand.  In fact that is one of the things that I noted several times over the weekend – a very real awareness of the danger, but without fear.  Caution in the approach – yes, but fear was swallowed up in a faith that the Lord was with me leading and guiding every step.

I carefully made my way toward the top on the path above.  When I was within just a few yards of the finish the path was guarded / blocked by several dead trees.  These snags show up all over.  Because of the cool climate, the deterioration rate is rather slow so they may remain for dozens of years.  These snags immediately brought to mind Dol Guldur, the evil lord’s castle in the Hobbit.  But upon further consideration I decided they were simply guardians of a very special place.  To slip through the closely spaced trunks I had to slip off my pack and lay down my trekking poles.  Jesus said something very telling about slipping through a tight space in Matthew 19:24.  “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”  I had to leave my possessions outside to get through.

Guardians at the top of Plummer Peak.

Guardians at the top of Plummer Peak.

A view through the Guardians.

A view through the Guardians.

Once through it was only a dozen or so steps to the top.  I was mesmerized by the stunning view.  A 360 degree spin revealed jagged peaks, deep forested valleys, and the mighty mountain.  The following are a few of those scenes.

A view over the guardians.

A view over the guardians.

Pockets of snow still lingered.  My friends here tell me this mountain usually still has snow at this time of the year.

Pockets of snow still lingered. My friends here tell me the mountain I climbed usually still has snow at this time of the year.

Mount Adams

Mount Adams

Mount St Helens which erupted in 1980.

Mount St Helens which erupted in 1980.

A view back down to where my hike started at Reflection Lake.  A little over 1.5 miles by trail and a little less than 2000 feet below.

A view back down to where my hike started at Reflection Lake. A little over 1.5 miles by trail and a little less than 2000 feet below.

I’ll leave you today with this final shot of the mountain from the top of Plummer Peak.  The time was around 7:30 – 8 am.  The day was just starting and yet I was filled to overflowing with wonder.  What a mighty and creative God we serve!

Mighty Mount Rainier

Mighty Mount Rainier

If you like these pics stay tuned.  I have several other really good shots from the remaining time in Mount Rainier National Park to come.

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You are wiser than the wisdom of all the wisest sages for You were their teacher.

You are stronger than the strength of all men and machines that have ever been.

You are fairer than the combined beauty of all the fairest maidens that have ever lived, for You formed them.

Your justice and righteousness renders the whole of righteous human judgment that has ever been rendered insignificant in comparison.

Your goodness is our succor. Your mercy is our hope. Your creativity is unmatched. Your favor gives lightness to our steps.

You, Oh Lord, are the One.  You are the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.  You are the source from which we spring. You are the Hope to which we aspire.  You are the reward to Whom we return when our life here ends.

Lord God, the joy which I feel in the midst of life’s trials are a gift from You.

The sweet fragrance of honeysuckle that gently wafts its way to me as I contemplate the wonder of who you are further reminds me that you are all these things – creativity, beauty, comfort, humor, wisdom, and more.

As the psalmist said, “Heaven is Your home and earth is Your footstool.”  This day, the foretaste of our final home from the footstool is glorious because You are there in fullness.

I am overwhelmed with You.

I find myself filled up with peace and a gentle, bubbly joy in the sure and certain knowledge that You are here and that You love.

Words fail to capture the complete wonder and gratitude that I feel, so I simply say,

“Thank You, LORD.”

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