Thanksgiving Every Month

Thanksgiving is still on our minds. The food, family, and fun linger as pleasant thoughts. What if we gave thanks every month, all year long? It is effortless, really.

Start with a pink cumulo-status sunrise, January 2017.
Give thanks to God, for He is good. He creates sunrise and sunset for each day.2-1-17

The hairy woodpecker is largely immune to winter, even below zero temperatures in February. Give thanks to God for He is good. He created insulating down for woodpeckers. He knows what we need too.

Early spring finds this coyote on prowl at a Prairie Chicken Lek. Give thanks to God for He is good. The coyote has been provided food to
survive another winter. The abundance of spring has come. We receive his abundance every day.4-1-17

April brings blue in the form of eggs. This bluebird was half done with her clutch of 6. Give thanks to God for He is good. He created the miraculous egg! He gives us daily miracles.4-22-17

Spring reveals the power of the first thunderstorm. Give thanks to God for he is good. His power is evident in every cloud, even more in cumulonimbus. His power is for you, me.6-2-17

The flowers of June delight our eyes and clothe the land in unspeakable beauty. Give thanks to God for he is good. His love is evident in the blooms he creates. This beauty soothes our souls.6-14-17

July reminds us of Gods perfect timing. All of nature is set to God’s precise clock. In late July, without fail Cicadas emerge from their earth-bound home to become adults whose calls reverberate in the summer trees. They announce the renewal of the next generation. Everyday, God renews his love for us. His timing for us is perfect.DSC_0080_457sig

August comes. It shows us how often and much we take the goodness of God for granted. The pollinators, bees, wasps, moths and birds are faithfully on duty making fruit and vegetables which bring us health. Give thanks to God for he is good. We never tell pollinators to do their work. They follow the instructions of God who loves us.DSC_0075_439sig

September and October arrive. The colors of changing seasons cause us to drop our jaws at the profusion of color. Yet, we seldom give thanks for the eyes we use everyday to witness the beauty of the earth. God is ok with that. Our eyes are part of his love gift to us. Give thanks to God for he is good. Fall colors bring us joy. Joy is a reason for thanksgiving.9-19-1710-1-17

A full moon in November is a celebration. November is a cloudy month. To witness the moon rise above the horizon on a crisp November evening is one more in the parade of gifts God gives in a year. So is a female Pileated woodpecker demolishing a suet block in December. She was watching, and cautious; but her taste for suet won. Give thanks to God for he is good. Winter beauty is reason for thanksgiving.11-23-16

12 photos, 12 months…12 snips of 365 days of life. 365 days of steadfast 24/7 goodness and blessing from God. Give thanks to God for he is good …here is the best part for last…His love endures forever. Giving thanks? There are endless reasons because…once more…God is good.12-22-16

Black and White

Black and White…

Black…dark, shadowy, dim…

Light reversed.

White…snowy, bleached, hoary…

Black vanished.

Black-dark; white-light,

Opposites.

In combination, striking.

Attention arresting.DSC_0172_1056sig.jpg

Black and White

Sin filled me…flawed, error prone, easily angered

Sin less Jesus

…perfect Man, patient, loving, Savior

Sinful me? Condemned…

Jesus-condemnation remover

It’s Black and White…

Sinner forgiven…life everlasting.

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This is truth in black and white.

The Testimony of Geese

Lurking” begins in late winter. There is no malice or mischief in this waiting, it is intentional. There is still ice on wetlands. The “lurkers” stand on it. Some late winter days they loiter for hours. As warmer weather approaches and the ice melts from wetland waters, the “lurkers” get serious. No other loiterer is permitted to be in the place the two original “waiters/lurkers” have chosen. These waiters are not employees of a restaurant. They wear feathers. They fly. They honk. Sometimes they perch with webbed feet on the roofs of buildings to keep watch over their wetland turf. The early spring lurkers are Canada Geese (Brantis Canadensis) Imagine a large bird with a long neck and flat, webbed feet on the peak of a roof. But there is no danger, they can fly.DSC_0129_985sig

You may wonder why write about Canada geese in spring-when it’s near the end of fall. Today, the geese provide us with perspective. Winter is coming. These geese live outside 24/7. They have no warm building to escape to. Geese do not possess cupboards filled with food. They do have down feathers that keep them warmer than most of our human constructed warm weather gear. They will face freezing temperatures, snow, even blizzards. They live outside all day, all night in conditions we humans would expire from. They live.DSC_0154_993sig

Now, the rest of the spring story. Before the ice is off the wetland, the pair of Canadas begin nesting. The goose (female) builds the nest. She lines it with down from her own body. The gander(male) becomes his mate’s consistent body-guard. He is a true force.  25-30 days must pass as the female incubates and the male guards. Reading about this miraculous process does not provide the magnitude of effort two birds expend to produce a clutch of 4-6 young. She stays on the nest except for brief periods to get water and enough food to sustain her. My memories include a Canada goose incubating her eggs and observing her with head down and neck stretched over the nest-during a snowstorm. I got cold and went inside. The next morning, with ice covering the wetland she was still there. The gander was still guarding. That day for almost 30 more, they stayed on task. My activities that day after sunset included a warm meal, and a warm bed sheltered from any of the freezing elements both geese were experiencing for the entire night. That’s persistence. That’s unselfishness and dedication. It is self-sacrificing, all for the next generation.DSC_0160_996sig

Now, the perspective we can take from the life of a Canada goose. They never give up. This may sound strange, but they never complain. Cold or wet, comfortable or not geese persist-in every season. Yes, you say-they are geese! But they provide a living example we can learn from.

How are geese able to persevere, in all conditions? It’s mercy. It’s great faithfulness. The living example of the geese for us reveals the mercy and faithfulness of God. As Creator of the geese. God provides everything Canada geese need. Water, food, oxygen, yes-shelter, instincts to nest, fly, protect and stay with the same mate for life, these are evidence of the faithful mercy of God. You know the geese cannot generate any of these things by their own strength.

It is a short step now from the example of the involvement of God with the Canada geese. You and I were made “in the image of God.” Why is that important? Only human beings are given the distinct and separate designation of being “made in God’s image.” No other living things fit this category. Humans were made by God to reflect the character of God. We fail often at this-we are sinners. But God never fails. His faithful love exists each day for the Canada Geese who are facing the extremes of a northern winter. Even greater is the faithful love God offers us. It never ends, never ceases and wonder of wonders, it begins new every morning. Look at the geese and see the great faithfulness of God. Best of all, you and I can do nothing to earn this great love of God, it is not necessary. God loves us first, long before we have any idea we need His love. That’s a miracle.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23DSC_0167_998sig

The Best “Dessert”

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You can have dessert first… it’s the best.

Yesterday we brought up the subject of humans and faith. Candidly we recognized we put our faith in things that are temporary. An easy one is turning water into ice. Our faith is unwavering in the principle that water freezes-every time when the air temperature is below 32 degrees.

We acknowledged that faith in water freezing is faith in something temporary. We had a chance to think about faith in Someone everlasting, eternal. If we are honest, we realized that faith in God is unending, while all the things we put our trust on earth are temporary.

But, yesterday, I forgot something important. In my opinion it’s like saving the best for last, perhaps like dessert. You ask, “how could you?” My response, what do you expect from an imperfect human? Regardless of this, I DID forget the most important fact about faith in God. That is to remind both of us where faith comes from.

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What do you think? What is the source of faith? If we use simple logic (and my logic limit is simple) we conclude there are two answers. We generate faith in God-or-God gives us faith.

Examine these choices with me. If we generate faith in God ourselves, we know immediately there is a problem. For us to trust in God we must not want to be God ourselves. Have you ever gone just one day without trying to be a little god, solving your problems yourself? Sorry, but we are like toddlers in this respect. We daily say to God, “I’ll do it myself!” See the problem? How can we have faith in God if we are trusting ourselves? We cannot generate faith.DSC_0091_917sig

At this point we know the other answer is best. This truth should give us both great peace of mind. God gives us faith. Perhaps you wonder what does it cost? It was costly for Jesus, He painfully died for us on a cross to save us from our sin of making ourselves little Gods. Then He gives us faith-free. True faith is a gift from God. Jesus initiates and perfects our faith. He is our faith champion, and our Savior.

Would you want it any other way? We know our hearts. We’d rather not admit it but our default setting is to be a little god. This news, that Jesus gives us faith is eternally better than dessert.

Faith, it’s eternal dessert, better than all desserts. Served by an eternal loving Father God. It’s not fattening, but it is addicting. If you want more, ask God. He freely gives us faith and then, by his great love, he GROWS our faith. It’s called sanctification, God’s process of making us holy.

Why the photos with these words? They are evidence of God’s love. Examine them, the earth is full of the steadfast love of God-the same God who saves us and gives us faith far greater than all the earthly things we put our faith in. Faith is like the best dessert, but it is eternal, free, and life changing.DSC_0084_912sig

The BEST First

Here’s our word for the day: first. Like, first in line, in a race, in a contest, or first when a meal is served. In our childhood’s we wanted to be first. Yet, most adults around us advocated that we learn to wait our turn. Being first is good, and bad. The bad part of being first is selfishness. There are good things about first.

First is good when we think of human needs. First is wonderful when you are thirsty. The first swallow of fresh clean water is delightful. So is that first sip of coffee in the morning. It is great when you are really hungry and you put that first bite in your mouth. First is heavenly when you are really tired and you lay your head on the pillow to sleep.

First is magnificent in nature. We have arrived at the time of first cold, freezing cold. The first ice sculptures on the edges of lake are stunning figures of water in solid state. First cold brings resplendent beauty. First cold causes humans to bring out caps, jackets, mittens, even boots. It brings a cold refreshment to exposed skin. First cold makes first warmth upon returning inside a simple delight.DSC_0012_879sig First cold brings migration. Just the thought of geese, swans, ducks and songbirds on the move to unfrozen water and available food is thrilling…seriously. Hearing the haunting beauty of the first fall calls of migrating tundra swans puts goosebumps on my skin. DSC_0028_886sigBack to first ice, it represents a major change in all bodies of water. Ice seals the lake or wetland for a season of cold, a season of darkness and quiet beneath the frozen sheet. That season has come now.DSC_0013_880sigDSC_0017_882sig

Thinking about “first” brings us to the most important first. It is a true first that changes everything for every human past, present and future. This first is about love-the love of God. This is the core of that truth: God loves us first. We do not know how indescribably good this is. God loves us first. When God loves us first that means he loved us before we breathed our first breaths. He loved us before we could delight in this earth he made-for us to live on and delight in. Because God loves us first, that means all of our bad junk-lies, coveting, hate-you know all of the evil we do-is already covered. What came first God’s love or my sin? This is not a trick question. Because God loved us first, all of our evil behaviors are already covered by the love of an eternal living God. 1 John 4:19 says, “we love because he first loved us.”DSC_0022_884sig

Firsts in nature are delightful. They occur every season. The most important reason nature firsts are wonderful is that they remind us of God’s great first love. As first ice forms, as Tundra swans fly overhead, let your heart be at peace as these signs of God’s power also remind you of His everlasting first love for you and me. God loves us first even though he knew we would not deserve it, he loved us first anyway.  This is the best first of all.DSC_0031_888sig

While Chickadees Flew Overhead

A man I respected once explained what goodness is. He said, “Goodness is when everything is just right.” When everything is just right in nature things are beautiful and serene. Experience this once and you will desire the experience again. This kind of goodness we seek.

Where does the goodness and serenity of nature come from? Try this explanation. The peace and serenity humans delight to find in nature comes from the Sovereign presence of God. Can this be the explanation for the bliss humans feel when outside? It not only can, but is the reason we delight in a sunrise or sunset. It’s why we are awed at a rainbow or the mirror images on the surface of an entirely calm lake. It is a distinct pleasure to experience the sovereignty of God.

Sovereign means supreme, absolute, matchless. God is all of this. God is infinitely endlessly more. He is the author of the serenity and peace found in nature. His infinite nature instills an endless fascination and awe in the place beyond the current building you are in. He is the final authority, no one is greater. Because He is Sovereign, his presence is everywhere; especially in nature. It inspires the awe in us. This fact often escapes ultra-busy human beings.

You want this serenity. To understand why and see the sovereign presence of God, take a child outside. The best age is under three. My 20-month granddaughter demonstrated this to me recently. There is a coulee (deep valley) in their backyard. This little girl delights in this place. We sat together on the ground near the top multiple times. She was enchanted with the chickadees flying in the trees overhead. The first time we went I said, “shh,” she became still, reverently still. While I delight in the quietness and beauty of that place, watching my granddaughter enjoy it was a greater delight. It is not an accident, this quiet stillness from a 20-month old. We did this two more times; her response was always quiet, reverent awe. She’s 20 months old! Can you imagine a 20-month old sitting still, for even 2 minutes?

Jeremiah must have sat on the edge of a coulee. He sensed “everything being just right.” He wrote, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. (Jeremiah 32:17)

 Just one more truth needs to be expressed here. Sovereign God, Creator of all life and the peace and serenity of nature loves you. Remember, nothing is too hard for Him. Sit in a place where chickadees fly overhead. If possible, take a little child. Know God’s “everything is just right” is for you.DSC_0060_785sig

Calm Day-Calmed Heart

 

It’s 4:13 PM. The wind is calm. Calm would describe the wind speed since sunrise. Today has been still.

A calm day does something positive to the human spirit. A tranquil sunshine filled day produces optimism. There is a sense that everything is right at least in your part of the world. Happiness is a bi-product of a calm day too. Troubles fade. The difficulties of life are washed away by bright sunshine. Peace descends upon your heart. Stress from a thousand things slips away in the quiet. All of this happens, but only if you are outside.

Analyze a calm sun filled day, or a calm peace filled sunset. The absence of wind calms the human spirit. On a calm day our emotions settle. What makes a calm day? The absence of wind. Wind circulation occurs in two specific types, there are general and secondary winds. General winds occur over all the earth. They are the prevailing winds. There are two belts of them at 30 degrees north and south latitude. We call them trade winds. Secondary winds form within general circulation. Air or wind flows into areas of low pressure and away from areas of high pressure.

We know the science. We know why winds form and how. But, no human can control the wind. We have tried and continue to attempt to control the wind and ultimately the weather. The bare truth is we cannot.

We can simplify this discussion. Where does wind come from? God directs the wind. The Psalmist, said, “He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.” Psalm 135:7

There are days when God keeps his winds in his storehouses. He calms nature and then he calms us. I think God sends calm days to get our attention. Psalm 46:10 reminds us to “be still.” One of my favorite reminders from God is “be still.” A paraphrase of the Bible, the Message, expresses “be still” this way, “Attention, all! …See the marvels of God! “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” (Psalm 46:8-10)

A calm day, a cattle-filled sunrise, a quiet moon permeated sunset, these are the tranquil times outside. Especially during these times God calls us to be still. Step out of the traffic from time to time. Set aside your work, your sports, your recreation, your desire for things. Look long at God who loves you. You will find him holding out his hands, his eyes calling you to come into his love. Be still.DSC_0007_743sigDSC_0044_724sigDSC_0028_723sigDSC_0009_633sig