a photoblog of God's handiwork.

Creation

Promises, promises…

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This wonderful and slightly enhanced scene was captured near Pecos NM a couple weeks ago.  Over the course of 4 days at this place, I think I saw a rainbow each day and double-rainbows at least two times.  It is odd that something so common fascinates me every time I see one.  Today’s culture has attributed a variety of meanings to rainbows, but I hold to its significance as a symbol of a promise made a long, long time ago.

After the flood (the one that made Noah famous), God acknowledged what He wrought in His judgement of sin that had grown rampant through creation.  Only a handful of people were spared from this judgement, and God made a covenant with Noah that He would never again judge via a global flood:

“This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.”  Genesis 9:12-15.

So that rainbow is God’s reminder to us of that promise. At a glance, this sounds very comforting, but don’t get too comfortable.  God did not promise that He wouldn’t judge sin in the world again, He only stated that worldwide flood wouldn’t be the tool of judgement.  In fact, He has promised that sin will be judged, but next time the tool will be fire!  Isn’t it interesting that two quite opposite forces are the tools He chooses to use?

But take heart, there is a way to survive the next judgement!  Ken Ham, the CEO of Answers In Genesis, explains this very well:

When the secular world hears the account of Noah’s global Flood, they often accuse God of being an ogre for bringing this terrible judgment on people. However, the God of the Bible is a God of infinite mercy and grace.

God told Noah to build an Ark to save representative land animal kinds and Noah’s family. However, this Ark was much larger than needed for just these animals and this family. Just as Noah and his family had to go through the door to be saved, so others could have gone through that door to be saved. In fact, after the Ark was loaded, it stood for seven more days before God Himself shut the door—seven more days of grace. And I have no doubt that Noah preached from the doorway, imploring people to come in and be saved. Noah’s Ark is actually a picture of salvation in Christ, as He is the door through which we need to go to be saved for eternity (John 10:9).

All need to be reminded that we sinned in Adam—we committed high treason against the God of creation. God is holy and pure—completely without sin. A holy God has to judge sin, but in His judgment, He also shows infinite mercy. When God judged sin with death in Genesis 3:19, He also promised a Savior (Genesis 3:15). God Himself, in the person of the second member of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ, stepped into history, fully human and fully God, to be a man so He could pay the penalty for our sin. Through the shedding of His blood, He offers the free gift of salvation to all who will believe.

 


The Bridge

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How many bridges do you cross on any given day you’re on the road? If you took the time to actually count them, I bet the number would be surprisingly high. We cross bridges so often that we simply taken them for granted and pass over without notice. Bridges are simply a way we can cross over obstacles that would otherwise be difficult, if not impossible, for us to overcome. And of course, those obstacles are in between us and where we want to be.

There was a time a few thousand years ago when the Creator walked the Earth with a fellow named Adam. The fellowship they shared must have been truly amazing, however it came to an abrupt end when Adam disobeyed his Creator. That first sin became an obstacle preventing him, and all others to follow, from enjoying fellowship with God. Fast-forward to roughly two-thousand years ago, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to Earth to be our Redeemer. As people redeemed from our sins, we could again fellowship with God. When He died on the cross, Christ became our direct path to the Creator. In fact, Jesus Christ stated that very clearly, as recorded in the Gospel of John 14:6; “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” The crucified Christ became our bridge to return to fellowship with God.


He Is

On a recent road trip through southern Utah, I pulled into the Kolob Canyon section of Zion National Park to stretch my legs and get a bit of fresh air.  This part of the park is conveniently located just off Interstate 15, and is a great preview of the remainder of this great place.  The red rock formations are incredible and majestic.  Every time I visit this spot the landscape tends to take on a different appearance, mostly due to the lighting and type of sky that serves as a backdrop.  On this day the early morning mist still hung low, as the sun tried to pierce through the clouds.  The high rocks seemed even more daunting that usual with this setting, and some Scriptural references to God as a High Tower immediately came to mind.  I felt that the 2 Samuel passages were appropriate for the image.

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A Veritable Tulip-Fest!

Last weekend I was in northwest Washington-state and my visit coincided with the beginning of the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  Over the past several years I have traveled on business to this part of the country, but wasn’t aware that the cut-flower and bulb business had such an economic impact in the Mt. Vernon-Burlington area.  And evidently the flowers were not in bloom at the time of previous travels, or I think might have noticed them.  My timing was fortuitous this year and I become one of the more than 200,000 people who flock to the locale each year to take in the sights.

The first field of blooms to draw my attention turned out not to be tulips, but daffodils!  And I actually believe I saw more acres of daffodils than tulips during my time there, however I didn’t cover the country extensively.  Even on a cloudy, dreary day, the brilliant yellow was impossible to miss.

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The variety of colors at the tulip farm was pretty amazing, and each row of flowers was like a work of art.  Mud and drizzling rain turned out to be a good thing, as many of the tourists stayed out of the fields and headed for their cars early, allowing for some relatively clean shots of the fields.

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While the tulip business in Washington doesn’t compete with Holland in terms of acreage or economic impact, it remains a very impressive sight to experience.  And the colors and beauty of the flowers serve as poignant reminders of He who made them!

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Did ya’ ever notice how…?

As I was driving down the highway last week, a thought – nay, a revelation – struck me suddenly.  And for some reason I heard this in the voice of Andy Rooney, using his signature “Did ya’ ever notice how….” line.  The amazing thing is that this thought had not occurred to me many years ago.  Oh, so you want to know the thought?  Well, as Andy would have said it, “Did ya’ ever notice how evolution only seems to work on Earth?

Think about that for a few minutes, and roll it around in your mind a few times.

The whole idea of evolution, the spontaneous generation of single-celled life from dust and gas and rocks and time and luck and…  It all seems absurd.  But even more absurd is the thought that those single-celled things “evolve” into fish then frogs then lizards then rabbits then monkeys then people!   Given enough time, the evolutionists say this will happen.  Okay, for a few short seconds here, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are right.  If so, then there should be all sorts of “tweener” critters wandering all over the place, right?  So where are they?  But I digress…

If the “science” of evolution is right, then this amazing and spontaneous generation of life from stuff should occur on other planets, too.  Life adapted to cooler temperatures and the high carbon dioxide atmosphere of Mars should be abounding on that planet, while the warmer weather and higher atmospheric pressure on Venus should support some really tough life forms.  Here on Earth we have life forms that don’t use oxygen, and some that can withstand extreme temperatures and pressure, so why haven’t those kind of critters appeared and evolved into complex beings similar to mankind on the other planets?

Did ya’ ever notice how evolution never produces anything as simple as a golf pencil, but instead can grow an amoeba into a person?  I’m sorry, I still don’t have enough faith to believe in evolution!

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“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1  For the rest of the story, click here.


The New Year

Happy New Year!  As the end of December approaches, we frequently offer that wish to the people we meet.  Very likely the phrase is so overused that few take it seriously.  On the surface it looks and sounds like a nice wish, but how do we qualify a happy year from a non-happy year?  Are there things we can do to increase the odds of having a happy year, or is it simply a matter of luck?  Many folks would probably suggest that something like luck, fate, karma, destiny, or serendipity are the key players in creating a happy year.  More technical thinkers might add political elections, the world economy, or perhaps even the weather as critical for setting up a happy year.  People in my demographic who are young at heart but getting long in the tooth will likely include general health and wellness as critical to set the stage for a happy year.  I suppose that an individual’s worldview would impact how each of us would answer these questions – and how we define a “happy” year.

Economic prosperity, good health, happy memories with friends and family, a promotion at work, graduations, losing weight and quitting smoking are just a handful of many things we might consider important when we judge whether or not a year has been happy.  Without doubt, these are all important things that can drive the quality of our day-to-day existence.  To some degree we can do things to help assure successful results in these areas, but we really can’t control most of them.  And even if lady luck, karma, fate showed up to help us out year-after-year, eventually the string of happy years will end.  Over time we will lose all these things we treasure, and eventually we lose our lives.  Then what?

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Then what???  How you answer that will depend upon your worldview.  From my Biblical worldview, every year that I have been counted among those of Jesus Christ, is a happy year.  Happy in the sense that I am one year further in my Christian walk.  One more year of growth in my faith and trust in Him.  One more year of experiencing how He answers prayer.  One more year being the recipient of His amazing grace and mercy.  So what happens after I use up all my “happy” years benefiting from these riches?  Then the best of all awaits – spending eternity worshipping my Savior in His heavenly kingdom!  And each year I become one year closer to obtaining that ultimate gift which He has prepared.

So for me, my string of happy years began when I accepted Christ.  At that point, I became a new creation.  That doesn’t mean that I suddenly stopped sinning, or don’t miss my dear friends and family who have passed away, nor have I reached some kind of perfect status from an earthly standpoint.  And while I still sin too much, stray from His leading all too often and lose my patience too frequently, each year for the rest of my life will be a happy year!  If you want to make a New Year’s resolution that will last forever and can’t ever be lost, make this and every year hereafter a happy year by inviting Christ to take your sins away and be the Lord of your life.

The New Year
by Martha Snell Nicholson

Dear Lord, as this new year is born
I give it to Thy hand,
Content to walk by faith what paths
I cannot understand.

Whatever coming days may bring
Of bitter loss, or gain,
Or every crown of happiness;
Should sorrow come, or pain,

Or, Lord, if all unknown to me
Thine angel hovers near
To bear me to that farther shore
Before another year,

It matters not—my hand in Thine,
Thy light upon my face,
Thy boundless strength when I am week,
Thy love and saving grace!

I only ask, loose not my hand,
Grip fast my soul, and be
My guiding light upon the path
Till, blind no more, I see!


Autumnal Vibrance

Our part of the country has been blessed by an incredible autumn season, with the trees retaining colorful leaves for a longer period than normal. While this could all end any day with high winds or a hard freeze, it has been a mesmerizing show of colors that leaves me in awe. The backlit trees, made possible by the early morning and late evening sun, almost appear to glow as if on fire.

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Not to be outdone, the young trees, shrubs and brush combine to create a spectacular mix of vibrant colors, made even more intense by the rays of the low sun.

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Even viewing a single leaf up close gives testimony to an impressive complexity that we often take for granted.

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Very soon the lingering leaves will fall to earth and find a way to disappear, leaving a stark, bleak reality behind. And then the cycle starts over again in the spring.

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The Psalmist wrote, “For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands.” Psalms 92:4.  And he goes on to write, “O Lord, how great are Your works! …A senseless man does not know, nor does a fool understand this.” Psalms 92:5-6.  Our Lord has created what we call ‘nature’ for our use and enjoyment. He wants us to take the time to appreciate what He has made, and to use it as a reminder to exalt Him in all things.