a photoblog of God's handiwork.

Posts tagged “Holy Spirit

To the end of the age

In the recorded history of man, I believe ravens and doves were the first birds mentioned by name.  In the Biblical account of Genesis chapter 8, Noah released a dove to see if it would find dry land.  Doves are still with us today, and there are a number of species resident in different regions of the world.  Some of the different breeds are so similar that, at a glance, they may appear to be the same.  Where I grew up the Mourning Dove was the commonly seen dove, so when I see one now, that is usually my default identification.  In fact, I had tentatively identified each of the birds below as such, and it wasn’t until I was post-processing the images in Lightroom that I recognized that they were all different.

Mourning Dove

White-winged Dove

Eurasian Collared Dove

Each of these birds has the same general coloration, but also each has very distinctive identification marks.  I have not studied doves in detail, but I have noticed that they are normally pacifistic, in nature.  Maybe this is why doves are often seen as symbols of peace.  Again, the Bible paints them as gentle, attractive animals with highly regarded characteristics.

Today, on Easter Sunday, we Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Prince of Peace, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  As the Biblical account of His life affirms, He was and is peace-loving, while at the same time He despises sin.  Very shortly after He was raised from death, He spoke to the disciples, saying; “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:18-20). There is a lot in this Scripture, and most Christians know it as the Great Commission.  However, there is also a promise of assurance in His words for us.  Jesus knew that there is a lot of danger when sending people across the country to evangelize and share His truth.  While they wouldn’t necessarily be protected from harm and humiliation, having the knowledge that the presence of the Holy Spirit would be with them would allow them to tackle enormous challenges, perform astonishing miracles, and reside with Him when their time on Earth was done.  As the dove has been with us throughout the age of mankind, the spirit of Jesus Christ is with us, and will be with us, for eternity.  That same hope in the living Christ that fueled the fire in the souls of His early disciples, can fuel our hearts and souls also.  The words of Bill and Gloria Gaither’s hymn states this message very well:

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.


Long John Silver Slept Here!

Well, maybe.  Local legends persist that the Pacific Ocean coast around Monterey, California, specifically at Point Lobos State Nature Reserve, fueled the imagination of author Robert Louis Stevenson, as he wrote Treasure Island.  There are many coves and features of this part of coastline that seem virtually identical to those featured in the book.  My daughter and I spent a day exploring this region last week, and listened to the unabridged audiobook of Treasure Island on our trip home, and we felt like we had seen the settings for much of the action that took place.  On our visit to Point Lobos, we were blessed with wonderful weather, active seas and a variety of wildlife to enjoy.

Whaler's Cove at Point Lobos State Nature Reserve

We hiked around much of the perimeter of the reserve, and encountered a variety of wildlife along the way.  At one point we noticed a Western Scrub Jay hopping vertically in a rather odd fashion.  Leah soon noticed that the Jay was actually attacking a snake, and soon was victorious!

Scrub Jay wrestles with a snake at Point Lobos SNR

Quietly hunting through the undergrowth of the trees, we spotted a Steller’s Jay.  He didn’t give us much time to photograph him, and we didn’t see another the rest of the day. So this departing shot is all we came away with.

Steller's Jay at Point Lobos SNR

A couple Sea Lions were either playing, fighting or courting in Bluefish Cove.  They seemed to be swimming in a tight circular pattern, and would alternately pop their heads out of the water.  One of them was dark with darker spots, while the other was light colored with brown spots.

Sea Lions at play in Bluefish Cove, Point Lobos SNR

The surf was becoming more lively late in the day, and I wanted to capture the energy of the waves crashing into the rocks.  You would think that this would be pretty simple, but I found it difficult to get just the look I was after.  After sorting through way too many images, this is the best I ended up with!

Surf's up at Point Lobos SNR

Watching the foamy water run off the rocks after the waves was almost as entertaining as seeing the surf-explosion itself!

Water runs off a rock at Point Lobos SNR

One of the unique features of the coastal oceanography off Point Lobos is that the ocean floor drops very quickly to depths much like the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Because of this, the tidal activity results in heavily oxygenated water, supporting an incredible array of sea life, both plant and animal.  It is difficult for us to fathom how deep the ocean floor is, only a mile or two from shore.  Similarly, understanding the depth of God, the Giver of Life and Creator of such a wonderful place, can be tough to comprehend.  I found a short anecdote (author unknown) that attempts to help us get a feel for His depth.

At one time, that thoughtful man who became St. Augustine was greatly disturbed because he could not understand the essence of God. “I admit there is a God,” he mused, “but how can I know of what He consists?” Christ had come down to earth with the claim that He was God. By His resurrection, which He Himself predicted, He proved that claim. He revealed that God is a Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But how could a mind as developed as that of Augustine accept this? One day as he was walking by the sea, he saw a small boy who, with the help of a shell, was emptying water from the ocean into a hole he had dug in the sand. “What are you doing, son?” asked Augustine. He was impressed by the naive answer, “I’m going to empty all the sea into this hole.” Augustine smiled. An inner voice, however, was saying to him, “You are trying to do the same thing by thinking you can understand the depths of God with your limited mind.”

Bad Hair Day?

I’ve been mulling over the idea behind this post for quite awhile and, despite some reservations, decided to go forward with it.  Now before you start sending me comments and emails, I know they are really feathers – not hair!  The head feathers on birds quite often are unique breed markings that also bring some degree of character to the birds.  That character may evoke an appearance of surprise, defense, elegance, comedy or maybe eccentricity.  Whatever the character, there is certainly a wide variety of head-dress styles sported by our flying friends, and I thought I’d share a sampling of them with you.

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Just as there are commonly vast differences between birds, there are differences among us humans as well.  Yet, despite our physical differences, followers of Jesus Christ, can take heart in Ephesians 2:10; “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.”  While this scripture offers some degree of comfort, it also tells us that, as new creations in Christ, through His grace,  the Spirit has designed and prepared us to be fruitful in good works.  The performance of good works is not a path toward salvation, but a product of our salvation.  Believers are blessed with knowledge of His will and the assistance of His Holy Spirit.

See the Wind!

With all the wind we’ve been having here in the north country, it is a good thing our snowfall is well below normal. The combination of normal snowfall and the winds of recent weeks would have resulted in spectacular drifting, which I am happy to not experience! Late yesterday afteroon I was on the outskirts of Billings and the wind was doing a pretty good job of keeping things stirred up in the valley. As I was driving in a westerly direction, I looked to the southwest of the Yellowstone Valley and saw that the wind was whipping up a lot of snow over the top of the Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains. I felt the wind was a little too nasty to set up my tripod, so I hand-held the camera to get several exposures to merge for an HDR capture. As I was essentially shooting into the setting sun, an HDR composition allowed me to get an image that is close to what the scene actually looked like.

Like the wind, the presence of the Holy Spirit is invisible. A person cannot see it move or work. However, one can see the effect of what the Spirit does. One can see how it acts on things—just as the wind stirs up the settled snow. One cannot see the wind, but everyone has seen how it makes tree leaves and the branches sway or dust kick up from a dirt road. Often we see the impact of the wind, but not the wind itself. It is the same with the Spirit. The Spirit moves, and we then see the impact in people’s lives. People act and a work gets done. What we see is not the Spirit itself, but the Spirit’s fruit.

“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

How to Make a Grown Man Cry!

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  Ephesians 6:4

Tonight I witnessed an event that has my stomach upset and my mind spinning.  For better or worse, I do a fair amount of travel by commercial flights.  I like the flying part, but since the 9-11-2001 attacks, the whole flying experience – particularly the airport segment – has become much less enjoyable.  Anyone who flies often really needs an extra helping of patience, but it seems to me that patience is in short supply.  As I waited in the Billings terminal for my 7:37 pm flight to Denver, the monitor screen above the boarding desk flashed an announcement that our departure time was delayed until 8:13 pm.  It didn’t really make much of difference to me, as Denver was my final destination for the evening.  I had computer work to do, which I could do at Billings or in the hotel at Denver, so I continued with my work.  Unfortunately, other people were not so nonchalant about this event.

Almost immediately after the announcement, a man in his late thirties came up to the unoccupied boarding desk and, without saying word, his body language screamed his anger.  Accompanying him was his young daughter, a girl of maybe 9 or 10 years old.  The father seemed to be muttering something, but his words were not directed at her.  The girl, as if responding to her father’s troubles, was offering some suggestions – along the lines that would be expected of a child her age.  Yet Dad ignored her every word.

A few minutes later they were both at the pay phone, with him dialing a number and the girl seeming to anticipate that Dad would be handing the phone to her.  In my mind I guessed he was calling his wife to tell her that they would either be late getting home tonight, or maybe they would miss a connection in Denver and wouldn’t make it home until tomorrow.  Soon, I thought, he would hand the phone to his daughter so she could say goodnight to Mom.  Well, I was partially right!

Dad began explaining to the party on the other end of the line that his flight was delayed, and they would be arriving late.  Very quickly his voice became much louder and his tone more angry.  Even worse, Dad’s end of the conversation escalated into repeated cursings of the other party, mostly beginning with F—, broken only by his demands that the other party “Shut Up!”  At first the little girl pleaded for Dad to give her the phone, but later she tried to hide in a corner of two walls, with her face buried as deep as possible, murmuring imperceptible pleas to herself…or maybe they were prayers.  Eventually Dad slammed the phone down and enlightened his daughter about the qualities of the other party.  Then the pay phone rang!  The girl tried to quickly answer the phone, but evidently Dad wanted to continue the conversation so he picked up right where he previously left off – same words, over and over, louder and louder – then slammed the receiver back on the hook, again.  But the phone rang again.  Same result, same words, same ending.  And then it rang again, but this time there was a different ending.  Oh, the conversation didn’t change much, but instead of hoping to get to talk to the other party, this time the girl walked away and melted into her chair.  Her face was red, but not with embarrassment.  She was oblivious to everyone else in the terminal, and, in fact, it seemed most were oblivious to her.  At the verge of tears, the distress on her face was heart-breaking.  I wanted so much to sit with her and just hug her, but instead I wiped my tears and prayed this would soon end.

But the game did change.  Dad returned to his seat next to her, as he continued to spit out words that I couldn’t hear, but I’m sure were not complimentary of anyone.  Then the phone rang, again!  This time the little girl bolted for the phone and answered the call –  but Dad quickly took the phone away.  Some new comments erupted from him; “Go Ahead!” “I’m ready for you!” “Do it and see what happens!” “I’ll tear you apart, just try it!”  Repeat again.  Then again.  I guess Dad exhausted his vocabulary, because the fourth time he didn’t even get up from his seat.  Finally the girl got to talk to the other party!

Let’s take a break for a moment.  By this time my feeble brain has filled in the gaps.  Bitter divorce.  Dad has weekend custody of daughter.  He’s not going to have his daughter back to Mom by the court appointed time.  Etc, etc, etc.  But I am excited because the little girl finally will get a chance to hear Mom’s voice and comforting words that will calm her down, as only a mother can do.  Oh, how I wished I was right!

Meanwhile, back at the payphone…”Mommy, we’re at the airport!”  “No, the plane isn’t here yet!”  “It’s late”  “No, Mommy, no!”  “Yes, I do!”  “Yes, Mom, I really DO!”  “But Mom, I love you!”  “I DO love you!”  Over and over, my heart wrenched as she pleaded with Mom, trying with all her might to convince her that this was not some ploy she and Dad concocted to get a few more hours together.  She begged with every ounce of conviction she had, wanting Mom to believe her.  In the end, she seemed to fail miserably.  As the call ended, I couldn’t make out her words through her sobbing.  I didn’t have to, I knew by now.  She ran back to her seat, crying loudly.  Finally, almost twenty minutes after this drama began, Dad put an arm around her.  I hope she felt it as a hug of love, but I’m afraid Dad’s motive was simply to quiet the poor child.  Right action – wrong motive – lucky result.

I can’t relive the subsequent phone calls.  By now, you know what happened.  Praise God our plane finally arrived and we could get away from the pay phone!  I prefer to not have anyone seated next to me on planes, so when I can, I book the furthest row in the back, next to a window.  Besides often not having the adjacent seat occupied, the other benefit is I usually get to board before most of the herd.  So there I was, in the back of the bus and settling in for a quiet hour to Denver.  A few minutes later, who should be heading my direction?  Dad and daughter.  But their seat assignments were odd.  Dad had an aisle seat on the right side of the plane, while his girl had the window seat on the left side – directly in front of my seat.  For awhile it appeared that the seat between would be vacant, but eventually a young man in his twenties filled that space.  At first the girl seemed upset.  After everyone was on board, I considered offering them my seat so they could sit together – but then I had another thought.  If everyone remained seated where they were, she wouldn’t likely hear any more toxic verbage from Dad, and perhaps she could have some innocent conversation with her row mate.  Thankfully, both happened – I finally guessed correctly.  A few times she peered at me front between the seats – I smiled, winked my eye, and prayed for her.

After we deplaned, I saw them once more.  Evidently the girl needed to use the restroom, much to Dad’s chagrin.  Or at least that’s how is sounded when he nearly hollered at her to “Hurry up, and go!”  Of course, I could be wrong – I was maybe fifty feet away and in a fairly noisy crowd of people when I overheard his sweet words.  I don’t know how the rest of the story played out, but again my mind has written the script.  Few words.  Loud words.  Hurtful words.  Hateful words.  No kindness.  No Regard.  No love.  No God!  More tears.

Am I being too judgmental?  Perhaps.  But this little girl is being used as a pawn between two adults who should know better.  The life lessons she learned tonight are the building blocks of disaster.  At her age, her biggest concern should be what clothes to put on her Barbie doll, cleaning her room or getting her homework done.  I prayed several times tonight that Holy Spirit will come upon this child, and her family.  She needs stability, peace, love, and God in her life everyday.  If you can spare a few minutes, she can use your prayers too!