Tag: Nature

I want to be an Olive Tree

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What a blessing it was to travel to Israel, to see the city of Jerusalem, and to walk and meditate and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane.  I am forever changed by that experience.

 

 

115America is a fairly young country, so even our old buildings are not that old. Historically and intellectually it was amazing to see ruins and structures there that had stood for hundreds, even thousands of years. And to walk among those remains of buildings and walls that were there when Jesus walked among them was even more meaningful and resonated with me in a way that added to my faith.

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Seeing stones is one thing.  But to see trees, actual living things that were alive when Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane was mind-blowing!

To know that two trees I stood near, sat near, were the same trees that Jesus sat next to 2000 years ago created in me a connection that was so intimate, it seemed surreal.

Our guide taught us things about olive trees I did not know.   And when I read this Psalm, it added a whole new level of understanding and meaning to all that an olive tree actually is.  And it becomes my prayer:

Psalm 52:8-9  NIV

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
 for ever and ever.

For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.

Lord, make me like a green olive tree in Your house –

– one that is alive, and vibrant and growing,

one that produces fruit in season

and has long deep roots that penetrate deep into spiritual soil

– one that is protected because I am in Your house O Lord

one that You care for individually

and tend to personally

making sure I have everything I need to grow strong

– one that is surrounded by others in a community, the way olive trees grow

so that I can persevere and remain strong even when winds come

– one that will stand, in the midst of the others for years and years and years to come

even as the olive trees that have remained in the Garden of Gethsemane are still living, for two thousand and four hundred years,

and are the same ones Your precious Son knelt by on that fateful night He purposed for Your will to be done in His life on earth

 

Let me be like the olive tree that is both beautiful and amazing to look at

May others see me, and see Your care, and be drawn to You through me

As the olive tree produces food to eat,

and oil for lamps,

and ointments for anointing and healing,

Let me be nourishment, and light and blessing and healing to those around me.

May I draw on the strength of the community of other trees You have placed around me,

leaning into them,

drawing restful shade from them, without comparing myself to them

knowing that there are times when we take, and times we give back

 

May I trust in Your lovingkindness for ever and ever –

olivetreegogmeeven when I am confused

even when I can’t see Your will at work

even when I don’t feel You present

even when the world denies it

even through tears and pain and sorrow

O Lord, May You continue to guide and guard, heal and bless my life with Your Holy Word.  And I will give You thanks forever for what You have done; and will hope in Your name, for it is good; and will give You praise in the presence of Your saints.  Amen

Through Nature – God Speaks

The air was still, and cold enough to make your breath visible. There was a crispness in the crunch heard underfoot. The panorama of clear blue sky, bright shining sun, frigid lake and majestic mountains lay ahead like a still life watercolor. The one newly added element of beauty: a crystal, sparkling cover of frost on everything close to the ground.

ice twigs bird

Just yesterday, each individual blade of grass stood erect at attention, solid in its color, shape and form. Broad leaves on the grapevine fanned out, completely concealing clusters of heavy, ripe fruit. Tiny blossoms on the ground cover delicately looked up to form a carpet of color.

Beautiful? Yes. But this morning, the frost gives a fantastic surreal quality to the whole scene.

frostgrass

The cold has caused everything to bow down.

The tall blades of grass, still firm at their bases, are bent low in their length, all in a similar posture. The grape leaves droop from the stem, revealing bountiful clusters beneath. The small flowers, already low to the ground bend in humble submission. And yet, in this portrait of prostration, this vista of genuflecting humbleness, there is an exalting of each individual entity.

frosted leaf

The frost has covered and completely encased each blossom, each leaf, each blade of grass, redefining its shape and form in glittering beauty. The special uniqueness of each stands out and is magnified in glistening profile by the sun! What a picture of being humbled, but exalted, of bowing low, yet being lifted up!

Scripture tells us that one day every knee will bow, and for those who humble themselves in the sight of the Lord, He will lift them up. This very scene is played out in nature for us to see and appreciate.

frosted bent flower

It’s as if the plants represent us: bowing in the presence of our Lord. The frost is like the Holy Spirit on those who are believers. His light will shine on us and define us with a beauty that surpasses our own and exalts us in His presence.

 

This magnificent scene, so uplifting in its beauty, was short-lived; lasting only a few minutes before the heat from the bright shining sun took its toll on the icy beauty..

The image it created in my mind of what is to come will be with me always.

I remain grateful that through nature…God speaks.

The Geese are back! Silly or Smart?

Here in Colorado we get a huge influx of Canadian Geese this time of year.  They have migrated south for the winter from Canada.  And will be here till spring when they make their return flight.

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“Silly goose” is an expression, as in “Don’t be one.”  But they do some things that are quite smart for a bird  and for people too.  We can learn valuable lessons by observing them.  Here are two:

canadian-geese-1164819_6401  Travel in a group.

Not only is there safety in numbers, but the principle of flying in a V shape in the wake of the bird ahead has been proven to save a lot of energy. This allows the group to go much farther than the individuals could travel on their own.

When we pray together, encourage one another, mentor each other and work together, we can accomplish so much more than we can being loners. The Christian lifestyle is hard enough in our world today. With all the pressures and temptations, we need one another to stay on track and accountable.

geese-245636_6402  Take turns leading.

Because the lead goose literally pulls more weight than the others by being the first to break the air resistance, it tires out more quickly. So as they travel, the lead position is rotated.

The lead goose drops back to the end of the V and another in the line takes the lead. Because of the energy conserving benefit to the other geese in the V, this allows the group to go farther, faster than they could go alone.

We tend to go till we drop, burn the candle at both ends, wearing ourselves out. Especially in positions of leadership, share the responsibilities. Sure there are some things we need to do ourselves, but knowing when to simply say “no” or delegate is great wisdom.

To maintain this balance in your life, learn that there are seasons for the flow of activity. Balance refueling with expending energy to stay effective. And training up others to take our place should be part of our plan. Even if we continue in a ministry, sharing the load teaches and enriches others.

goose-1391251_640Try these in your life and ministry.

God has placed wisdom all around us in all shapes and sizes. We can learn from everything He created. Learn from the behavior of the goose.

Then you decide – silly?  or smart?

 

 

 

Is it Spring where you are?

 

bloom-blooming-blossom-355663

 

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God knows us so well, and so like a parent prepares a nursery for a long awaited newborn, God planned earth to meet our needs and reflect His provision and love. His intelligence and compassion are shown in giving us seasons.

 

As we cycle through a year we can experience changes in the world around us and learn lessons for our own lives as God gives us both change and consistency.

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God gave us a desire for change. But He also created us with a deep, deep desire and need for stability and consistency. He knows that random change without purpose can be scary and upsetting. And so He gives us purposeful, predictable change.

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Every few months we see something new and fresh in our lives all around us. It affects our entire environment. The growing seasons bring different harvests of foods.  The climate impacts the way we dress and how we build our homes.

 

bloom-blossom-flora-40797

 

The seasonal colors of plants impact the way we landscape our cities and homes and surround ourselves with the beauty of His creation.

 

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Like His love, which is secure and stable and never changes, He gives us the surety of knowing that the seasons always occur in a predicted order. In the midst of and in the excitement of change, we get the security of knowing that one season always follows another.

 

These same seasons of change exist in our lives. They do not occur every 3 months as the earth sees the change of seasons. Over a lifetime we experience seasons of change: waiting, testing, growth, calm, fruitfulness, pruning.

autumn-1001140_640With some issues, we can go through many seasons in a week. With some activities, relationships or circumstances, each season may last several months or years. Some things may take a lifetime.

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I believe God prepares us for these changes by reflecting change in His creation. Ask God to show you where you are – what season you are in with regard to specific issues in your life.

 

Is it a time of rebirth? Renewing interests with newfound vigor and attention?

Is it a time of growth? Should you be fertilizing a relationship, an idea, a project to prepare for fruitfulness?

Is it a time of harvest? Of enjoying the benefits and provisions of hard work, but letting go of some responsibilities? Changing over to a new focus?

Is it time for resting? Being refueled by cutting back and preparing for building deeper roots?

Ask God to show you how to recognize what He wants you to know about His timing. To hear more from God, look around you at the living, growing, 3-dimensional teachers in His creation: the animals, the plants, the environment.

And be willing to listen.

 

Be a Silly Goose for Christ – Part 1

wild-geese-2305252_640

We live in a flyway in Colorado, a path used in bird migration. Maybe there’s one where you are too. It becomes a major sky trafficking concern at least twice a year: when the birds are migrating south for the winter and north for the summer. If you’re near any body of water, you get a chance to observe a lot of birds and a wide variety of species.

pond-2393987_640One bird found here in abundance during these times, is the goose. Goose interaction with people usually leaves something to be desired. But observing the geese relating to each other and watching their behavior together can teach some valuable lessons to Christians.

1 Travel in a group.

Not only is there safety in numbers, but the principle of flying in a V shape in the wake of the bird ahead has been proven to save a lot of energy. This allows the group to go much farther than the individuals could travel on their own.

canadian-geese-1164819_640When we pray together, encourage one another, mentor each other and work together, we can accomplish so much more than we can being loners. The Christian lifestyle is hard enough in our world today. With all the pressures and temptations, we need one another to stay on track and accountable.

2 Take turns leading.

Because the lead goose literally pulls more weight than the others by being the first to break the air resistance, it tires out more quickly. So as they travel, the lead position is rotated. The lead goose drops back to the end of the V and another in the line takes the lead. Because of the energy conserving benefit to the other geese in the V, this allows the group to go farther, faster than they could go alone.

geese-245636_640

We tend to go till we drop, burn the candle at both ends, wearing ourselves out. Especially in positions of leadership, share the responsibilities. Sure there are some things we need to do ourselves, but knowing when to simply say ‘no’ or delegate is great wisdom.

To maintain this balance in your life, learn that there are seasons for the flow of activity. Balance refueling with expending energy to stay effective. And training up others to take our place should be part of our plan. Even if we continue in a ministry, sharing the load teaches and enriches others.

 

goose-1391251_640Try these in your life and ministry. God has placed wisdom all around us in all shapes and sizes. We can learn from everything He created. Learn from the behavior I’ve seen in these geese.

Dare to be a Silly Goose for Christ!