Day of days…

A sneak peek at September 2, 2013…


Perspective Vista

20 miles, sunburn, mosquito bites, and all the rest brings this bliss*:

It’s not every day that we get out on top and see the vista. The fact of reality is that in between peaks there are always valleys, trees, and challenges. Life isn’t lived on the top of a mountain.

I think God knew what He was doing when He decided it would be that way… Human pride likes to puff up at any opportunity, and living on a mountain certainly would escalate pride’s cause. And furthermore, if we were able to live life with an expansive view of everything behind and before us, faith would suffer. It’s in those times when we’re walking in the trees, the only view being the sky above us and the trail under our feet, that we are thrust into greater faith. It’s essentially the exercising and strengthing of faith’s sinew and muscle. That is why there is the principle which states, “What goes up, must come down.” Rightfully so, I guess – all for our good.

However, there are times when we reach the top. We summit to one of life’s “perspective peaks.” God offers just enough of a view to keep the fire burning within us to press on. Suddenly all the mosquito bites we’ve been experiencing fade into oblivion as we glimpse into God’s greater layout. Definitely a perspective altering moment. We see where we’ve been, and those “Ah ha” moments happen:  that’s why that happened, or whoa, that was some seriously tough going, etc. and overwhelmingly what God has done for us becomes real. Tangible.

“When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” (James 1:2-3)

The hike is worth it, friends, for the view lies ahead.

*Mount Rainer is on the horizon just to the right of the center of the picture.

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Price of Misery

On a recent trip, I pulled into a gas station and found out that the pumps were currently defunct and everyone had to go inside and prepay before the pumps would work. I walked in right behind a guy in his mid-50ties. His vehicle was an old beater 1980’s pickup with a trashed camper and other junk in the back. He wanted to pay cash for his gas. Then he wanted to buy six boxes of cigarettes. The lady went over to the shelf and pulled them down, set them on the checkout counter and said “$186 dollars.” He pulled out a big wad of cash from his pocket and counted twenties. All for a smoke.

He wasn’t a happy type of guy either; the entire time I questioned to myself whether he was angry with the attendant, upset that he had to go inside to prepay, or fed-up at the price of his cigarettes… By the time he left, I decided none of those were the case – he’s just not happy. He lives and pays the price of a miserable life.

That’s a lot of money for just a few days’ worth of smokes…

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance.” (Isaiah 55:2)

What kind of sin are we buying for the price of misery?

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It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that some things are not “figure out-able” by humans… Haven’t we all been in various circumstances which human brut or reasoning can’t best? Why then are we so easily tempted to self-sufficiency?

I believe the answer resides in one word: fear. Fear is the iron arm behind the steering wheel; the best known, worst driver on the road.

But wait! Wouldn’t fear recognize the fact that I can’t do it? That’s precisely the case: fear knows its incapacities, making it clinch down all the tighter. The death grip.

Really living – reaching heights, soaring over new territory, traversing canyons, and experiencing all that God has in mind is only possible when we completely let go of our driving fears. When we not only recognize our inability, but also acknowledge His ability.

Yes, God!

“So don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you.” (Isaiah 41:10)

“The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.” (Psalm 118:6)

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By my God… No mountain stands unconquerable. No valley uncrossable. No river impassable. No wall insurmountable.

Yes – this. is. my. God.

Praise Him from whom all blessings flow for His never ending grace on our lives. As new phases bring change in my life – from driving in traffic morning and evening (seems out of place for a Montana boy), to being the busiest I have ever been… God is good. Family means more than ever. And what can I say but sing the praises of Him who works for our good?

My every day is lived suspended by divine mercy. I look to the mountain Maker for what happens next…

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1,2)

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We're engaged!


Dust-Turned Miracle?

Montana Sky

Have you stopped to consider lately that you’re a miracle? I mean, really.

You’re a miracle. And every living breath you take exudes immeasurable reasons why the Creator of your life is not dead. He’s living and active in your life.

First of all, just the fact that you exist is not by coincidence. The Intelligent Designer fashioned you just the way you are. Consider this: when salvation was at the initial brainchild stage, the tipping point was His thought of you.

Everything about you is a declaration to Divine formation. Even the way you curl those lips into a smile is proof of the miracles in your life. Yes, every moment of God’s continued pursuit to sustain you is marked with miracles.

Live as an emblem, letting His mighty works in you be seen: “Shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

But don’t let this puff you up. Don’t allow yourself to think that you’re really something. No, “for dust you are, and to dust you shall return*.” Everything you are, everything that defines you, and everything you enjoy is a gift given from God. Be confident in who He’s created you to be—there’s no other you, so let your God-given individuality speak. Lift up your eyes and praise the One who has made you. He alone is the mighty Miracle Worker in your life.

“I praise You because of the wonderful way You created me. Everything You do is marvelous! Of this I have no doubt.” (Psalm 139:14)

*(Genesis 3:19) That right there is another miracle—living dust!

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The Power of Words

Shopping carts

I was breezing down aisle after aisle. The minutes were adding up into hours while my sibs and mom sat for eye examinations. My cart was full, and so were all the shelves around me. People were everywhere. I was partially oblivious to all of them, going about my own business. But then, part way through my leisure shopping, it all changed. I was rounding the corner of yet another aisle when I saw two college-age girls merging my way. I smiled and paused to let them go first. To me they were just more passerby’s. I continued down the aisle and up the next.

793 - shopping

Then to my astonishment, one of the girls came back to find me. She came straight toward me. Right in front of me, looking into my eyes she said, “We noticed your smile as we passed by! And I hope you have a great day!!!” Then she added… “and it was so kind of you to let us go first!”

Wow. She made an effort to come back and find me just to speak encouragement. Of all people and of all times–I would have never guessed it! I thanked her many times, and told her how sweet her words were. And then she left. And I stood struck. She had just flooded the monotonous shopping routine with a burst that shifted my focus. I felt the blessing of her small gift elevating my own heart, and I determined to keep passing on the joy. I felt huge impact from the small kindness of just a few words spoken. They were simple words, but oh so powerful.

I left that aisle on a whole new mission. It wasn’t so much about shopping any more. I was still loading the cart, but praying all the while that God would give me an opportunity to pass the joy on to someone else.

It wasn’t long at all before I found my opportunity. I was walking along in the fresh produce department. A woman (probably in her 50′s) was re-stocking the ranch dressing. As I passed by I heard her sigh. I don’t know if it was a sigh of discouragement, tiredness, or simply boredom from her mundane job, but I saw an opportunity. I went right up beside her and said, “Thanks so much for all your work. It looks like you are doing a great job!” She looked at me surprised. Her face brightened and she said, “Oh Thanks! You don’t hear that very often!”

I was thrilled. A dear girl had surprised me with joy, and now I watched it beam from this lady’s surprised face!

And then the man behind the broom came through my line at check out. I’ve seen him at this job for years. His eyes are always glued to the floor as he paces back and forth on that all-too-familiar route of his. I lifted his eyes as he passed by me with a few words of appreciation.

How great was my joy! With every opportunity to share what I had been given, the joy grew in me. And I knew more than ever that this is what I want my whole life to be—a continual gift of joy to others, a constant pursuit of ways to encourage those around me at all times and in all places. After all, how could I ever run out of joy and blessing to give as long as I’m in the presence of the Joy Spring Himself?!

I want to always see past the lists and the shelves and the full carts of life to the hearts around me.


A Manger, A King, and Me?

Happy Birthday Jesus!*

You sure didn’t come in an expected way. Here You were God enfleshed, the Commander of the universe, Deserver of the very best. But You came lowly, humble, and unassuming. Your birth was the most notable and significant in the history of earth, yet it received recognition from only a handful of proletarian shepherds and three foreigners. Again, not what we would have expected. Oh, but I imagine heaven was wound almost dizzy with unutterable joy and excitement as they watched You squirm, wiggle, and cry Your way into this world.

Suddenly sin no longer had a chance as its Antonym had come.

The Savior! Jesus.

“Today, One Who saves from the punishment of sin has been born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord.”†

You became one of us, came to Your own people that we might see the splendor of God’s love. You brought hope to a desperate world.

What if You would have been born today?

The news might circulate something like this: “You know that high school girl that grew up in the yellow house over on XYZ street? Well, she just got married to that older guy named Joseph, the town builder. And now she had a baby! Must be why they had to get married so soon… She’s so young—only a freshman in high school!”

Your mom would tweet, “Just had God’s son. Delivery went O.K.” Everyone would shrug it off—a teenage girl? A few relatives would look at the pictures Joseph posted to Facebook. The YouTube video would go mostly unrecognized with only five views. It’s just another baby that was conceived outside of marriage—one of many happening every day. CNN wouldn’t even blink an eye.

Maybe Your birth would fit even more comfortably within the confines of “usual” nowadays than it did back then…

You certainly didn’t come with pomp or circumstance. Most of the world was clueless about Your birth; You were born right before their eyes and they missed it by their own choosing.

“The Light was in the world, and the world came into being through the Light, but the world didn’t recognize the Light. The Light came to His own people, and His own people didn’t welcome Him.”‡

Would that have been me if I were alive back then? Or wait. Is that me today?

Birth Your way into my life today. Make room in my heart to be Your manger.


A few questions I’ve been asking myself:

• Do I celebrate His birth, and what it means to me every day, or just once a year?
• Is peace, joy, and cheer something that I share at every corner, plus?
• Am I living to express the love, the amazingness, of Jesus?
• Do I give spoken gifts—affirmation, encouragement, interest?
• Is my life a hurried rush of preparation for what comes next, or a gentle pause, catching all the fullness of this moment?

*Sorry to be several months late; I heard that your birthday most likely was last spring sometime.
Luke 2:11
John 1:10-11

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