Archive for December, 2010

Where do you go to meet God?

Posted: December 27, 2010 in Get Close to God

  

Thirty-second in the series Get close to God

  

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.  (Mark 1:35) 

After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.  (Matthew 14:23)

 
 

You’re probably thinking, “I don’t have to go to a place to talk with God-I can do that anywhere!”  That’s true, just finding a quiet room in your house is a good place to start, but there is something about getting outside, where there is nothing but his creation surrounding you that makes it easier to feel his presence and tune into only him.

I learned this from my parents during the many camping trips we took while I was growing up.  We traveled from our home in Carol Stream, Illinois, to the Smoky Mountains to Yellowstone to Glacier National park and everywhere in between. 

My sister, Deborah, and I had already left the nest when Dad and Mom felt the call to move to the promise land of Tennessee, near Chattanooga, with my younger sister, Karen, and found a nice little place in the woods on a hill.  Dad left a secure teaching job he had held for many years and took a leap of faith without a job waiting for him.  As usual, God was always a step ahead of him and before long provided a great job. 

This picture is the view from their swing at the edge of their back yard.  This is where Mom and Dad would often sit and have a little talk with Jesus and with each other.  Now Karen is keeping the tradition alive in the same swing in the yard of the house she grew up in.

A few years after my parent’s exodus from the freezing North Country,  I moved to Dixieland myself and fell in love with a Southern Bell in Huntsville, Alabama.   We eventually discovered a little piece of heaven, a humble abode on three acres in Middle Tennessee that has been our home for the last 18 years.  We are blessed to have our grown children and their families live within a few miles away.  We all go to church together, then Sharon cooks for us so we can share our stories around the table.  Life doesn’t get much better than this!  Today, the day after Christmas, is one of those Sundays, and my son, Brian, just walked in from doing doughnuts in the snow on our off-road Go cart. 

I feel blessed to live in such a beautiful state.  The picture at the top of this post is from a bluff at Narrows of the Harpeth State Park about an hour west from our home.  The six of us went canoeing down that river about a year and a half ago. 

 

Another beautiful destination is an hour east at Monteagle Mountain.  It has some great hiking trails with a number of waterfalls along the way.  This picture was from a hike I took there this past Fall with a couple of buddies.  We ate our sack lunches on one of the overlooks and had some good spiritual discussions.

 

 Last month, my mother, who now lives in Bristol, TN, with Deb, came over and helped Sharon and I spread mulch on an area I cleared earlier in the woods out back for a park bench I made out of a railroad tie.  I call it the Prayer Cove because it’s now my favorite place to go and be with my Lord.  I can praise him as loud as I want but I mostly enjoy just remaining silent and basking in his presence, feeling his warmth, even in the cold snow, like this morning when I snapped this picture.

How about you?  Do you have a secret place where you go to meet your Savior?  If not, I highly recommend finding one!

He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  (Psalm 91:1)

 

Click here for the entire Get Close to God series

 

I think you’ll enjoy how Ken Gire makes you feel you were right there on that night.  This is from his devotional book, Intimate Moments with the Savior. 

 

 

 
For the census, the royal family has to travel eighty-five miles.  Joseph walks, while Mary, nine months pregnant, rides sidesaddle on a donkey, feeling every jolt, every rut, every rock in the road.

The night is still when Joseph creaks open the stable door.   As he does, a chorus of barn animals makes discordant note of the intrusion.  The stench is pungent and humid, as there have not been enough hours in the day to tend the guests, let alone the livestock.  A disquieting place for a woman in the throes of childbirth.  Far from home.  Far from family.  Far from what she had expected for her firstborn.

It is a relief just to finally get off the donkey.  She leans back against the wall, her feet swollen, back aching, contractions growing stronger and closer together.

Joseph’s eyes dart around the stable.  Not a minute to lose.  Quickly.  A feeding trough would have to make for a crib.  Hay would serve as a mattress.  Blankets?  Blankets? Ah, his robe.  That would do.  A gripping contraction doubles Mary over and sends him racing for a bucket of water.

A scream from Mary knifes through the calm of that silent night.  Joseph returns, breathless, water sloshing from the wooden bucket.

Joseph places a garment beneath her, and with a final push and a long sigh her labor is over.

The Messiah has arrived.

The Son of the Most High God umbilically tied to a lowly Jewish girl.

The baby chokes and coughs.  Joseph instinctively turns him over and clears his throat.  Then he cries.  Mary reaches for the shivering baby, lays him on her chest, and his helpless cries subside.

Deity nursing from a young maiden’s breast.  Could anything be more puzzling-or more profound?

She looks up at Joseph, and through a watery veil, their souls touch.  He crowds close, cheek to cheek with his betrothed.  Together they stare in awe at the baby Jesus, whose heavy eyelids begin to close.  It has been a long journey.  The King is tired.

And so, with barely a ripple of notice, God stepped into the warm lake of humanity.  Without protocol and without pretension.

Where you would have expected heads of state, there were only donkeys, a few haltered cows, a nervous ball of sheep, a tethered camel, and a furtive scurry of curious barn mice.

Except for Joseph, there was no one to share Mary’s pain.  Or her joy.  Yes, there were angels announcing the Savior’s arrival-but only to a band of blue-collar shepherds.  And yes, a magnificent star shone in the sky to mark his birthplace-but only three foreigners bothered to look up and follow it.

 Thus, in the little town of Bethlehem…that one silent night…the royal birth of God’s Son tiptoed quietly by…as the world slept.

  

Merry Christmas to all my readers and may the Lord bless you with a great new year!

 

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Get swept away!

Posted: December 12, 2010 in Metaphorically Speaking...

This morning as I was returning from my walk in the woods behind our home, I paused on the bridge to watch the snow flakes gently descend to earth.  The ones that hit the water disappeared instantly as they joined the current flowing slowly but surely downstream.

This image came to my mind later this morning as I heard my pastor reflect on how difficult it is to fit the real meaning of Christmas into our busy schedule.  Better yet, he offered, why not get caught up in what God is doing, and rearrange our lives around that?

The snow flakes that lost their identity as they were swept away actually conformed into a bigger, more powerful force that had a purpose and destiny.  I find it a lot easier to be like the flakes that find a safe place to land on the ground and to keep my identity as I do my own thing.  But I would be missing out on what my Creator has in store for me as we encounter adventures together on the rivers of living water!

Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives…I am thankful for the unknowns and that I don’t have control, because it makes me run to God.     Francis Chan, Crazy Love.
 
 
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