I was asked to share my personal template for my walk with God to our little but mighty church in the north woods of Minnesota. At the very least you will enjoy a personal story at the beginning of my talk. you can skip the music and introductory remarks by starting at 23:53 Watch and listen here
I outline my template for living and growing a personal relationship with stories and scripture. Our little u-tube set up is just a camera on a tripod taking sound from the speakers mic. It works for people who cannot make it to the church service.
Take a Walk
Have a talk
I share my heart. I will admit to being a better fisherman than a rusty, sometimes crusty speaker. I felt it worth sharing with you, Some of my side comments have been influenced by recent blogs (possibly yours). Life has been hard lately so I have been off grid a lot. I will enjoy coming back. Till then, I encourage you to know Jesus more and more, no matter what life is like for you these days.
5 words. Clear as could be. Have you ever had a voice speak to you in your head? Did I really hear that? I have been connecting with God in so many ways on this wilderness trip. Analogies from nature like the “knots” I just wrote about. Our wilderness trip group had just waited a couple hours for high winds to lessen so we could paddle in very dangerous winds in big water. God had been with us, I’m sure of it. I didn’t die or even capsize the canoe and nearly die (been there…). Now on a 3/4 mile (190 rod) portage, trudging over small mountains, through mud and up-down stairstep terrain, God says 5 words out of the blue as I step over a small insignificant, growing in the wrong place scruffy plant.
“I care about that plant“
I can think of a hundred other things I would have liked to hear from God and this?? Sigh…yes I sighed. I knew what He was saying without saying even though He said it long ago. My thoughts immediately they went to Jesus words “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” Matthew 10:29
“I know Lord” I prayed. “You care about me. You care about our daughter racked with a painful handicap and getting worse. I know you care about my wife 24/7 taking care of her. I know. I know” The world is falling apart Lord and you care about an insignificant plant enough to point it out while I’m carrying a 70 pound pack and running low on energy after an adrenaline laden paddle…”I know Lord, I know…Sigh.
“You are God and you care…I know Lord I know”…sigh
10 portages deep into the Boundary water Canoe Area Wilderness, we made camp. Designated campsites have a fire grate (usually with a view of the lake) and a latrine back in the woods. Rules of the wilderness allow gathering only dead and downed wood can be gathered for the fire. Many people bring a small portable single burner stove and fuel for ease and in case it’s raining or too dry so a fire ban is in place. We gather firewood and cook over the fire grate or over a little bug fire wood stove Lots of heat for a fifth of the wood or less.
On the edge of this particular campsite was a very rotten cedar log. I have no idea how long it had been there but cedar doesn’t rot real fast. Out of possibly hundreds of campers on this very desirable site over the years, no one bothered to give this log a second look in their wood gathering. Nobody saw any value in the old rotten log.
Experienced campers knowing the ways of wood and the woods have already spotted it. A priceless Knot.
I don’t know all that causes a branch to begin growing out of the main stem of a tree, but the base of the branch tied all the way to the center of the tree begins to build immense strength and structure as the knot may end up holding a huge branch a long ways out from the trunk for a hundred years. It must survive heavy winds and is the only supply line of water and nutrition. The branch must be tied in extremely well to the tree or it will die. This is the priceless knot area. The place where the tree interacts with the branch. The knot is the anchor area of the branch. A priceless area.
Knots don’t rot. Eventually yes but this log was full of extremely hard, loaded with pitch knots. I walked down the rotten log and kicked them out easily. To one who wants fire, priceless!
A pitch filled knot will burn a long time and put out a lot of heat. They burn like a torch and the pitch inside boils out before the wood burns up. I found five logs nearby full of pitchy knots I could pull out of the rotten logs. The hardened knots went to the center of the log, formed from the center out, always connected to the flow of sap from the core of the tree out to the greenery on the branches. Even in death they held a reservoir of sap now dry and hardened.
A burning knot will stay burning in a rain. A knot will hold it’s fire and coals long after the rest of the wood is gone. knots can be used as a spare tent stake. Knot ridges are so sharp they can cut a tent cord. A knot could be a dangerous weapon, although I’ve never herd of anything dying by knot (That’s a murder mystery book idea for someone).
Long after I am gone, my hope is in the knot area of my life. The knot that anchored my life’s branch. The knot that embedded deep into the tree of life I was grafted into. The knot that developed and grew with the strength given by the trunk. anchored securely, drinking deeply, and supplying life.
Just as we can see a tree growing out of a rock and say “behold, the power of a seed”, I believe God leaves pictures and analogies of truth lying in a rotted log on a wilderness forest floor. As I pitched a few knots into a pile some one said “what’s that?” I replied “knot…priceless’
Jesus said in John 15:5“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
The analogy of the knot as an anchor point connecting sustenance and nutrition to our lives in Christ here and for eternity as the knot does for the tree and it’s branches. works for me. The strength of our knots anchor lies in how much time we spend connecting with the savior. This is why we are encouraged to “pray without ceasing” 1Thessalonians 5:17. Never sever our connection to Jesus (That wood rot and lead to “not…priceless).
To see BWCAAdventure Expectations and this last trips pictures go to my other blog (click here)
Be it marriage, kids, church, politics, social media or any kind of relationship, you could probably write a hundred different captions on the picture below. Sometimes birds act like humans.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.Colossians 3:12-13
With a prayer on my lips “Good morning God” I sipped on a dark strong coffee in reflection to some of the Psalms I had read earlier. “Why do I not have the exuberance of the psalmist towards you Lord?” I asked out loud. I stand in front of the patio doors overlooking the deck. The sun was coming up on this frosty morning. “Lord, sometimes I have a frosty heart. My heart is turned cold so easily. Cold when I watch the news, Cold when I lie down and when I wake in the night. Why?
My mind skipped to a line of a memorized verse I John 5:12 “He who has the Son has life…” I whispered. A few minutes had passed in my reflections and I saw my frosty heart melt as I felt it. I saw what God was telling me. Unfolding on the deck was my spiritual insight which I share with you now.
Wherever the sun was shining the frost was melting. Wherever there was shadow, the frost remained. Our hearts are like this
My thoughts and the corners of my life are shadowed so easily by people, events, life and everyday concerns. In Christ is Life, all else can create shadow if it becomes more important or out of place.
What casts shadows on your heart? What things or people are in the way of the warming light of Christ that would frost over your peace, joy and Love given so abundantly by the Love of Christ?
“….let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
May we allow the Son to shine on the deepest pockets of our hearts today and melt any coldness in our hearts.
It was raining and raining and next day raining with low temps and occasional snowflakes. What does a person (who has been deathly ill with a level 10 cold) with a photo hobby do ? I put on a big coat and hat and went looking for art and reflections. My thoughts are at the end.
It is said that when one has a hammer, everything looks like a nail (especially if it’s my grandkids). In this case I had a camera (trying to keep it dry under a coat) and was looking for Artwork in nature. I think I found some.
Last years seed strands were still hanging. I see they are full of little drops so I get closer
I am an absolute nature lover. I have climbed mountains, wilderness camped winter and summer, my wife and I went white water rafting on our second honeymoon and the list can go on and on. There is a deep seated level of contentment looking into the fire while watching the morning fog lift off a remote lake as a pair of loons catch fish in front of camp. The beauty of a small tucked away lake with white cedars leaning over the shorelines while trout feed on an occasional bug falling off a limb is mind boggling. All I did for the above pictures was walk outside into my back yard in the rain.
I am also an avid committed follower of Jesus, the author of creation, the one spoken of in Colossians 1:17 “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” I have led and co-led 64 trips into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (click link for pictures). There seems to be a huge myth about how much we can get to know God by being in nature. I’ll put it in big bold letters.
How well can we get to know an artist personally by studying their brush strokes?
We can’t. We can only know something about them. It is the same with God. we can sure feel good out there. We can sure enjoy his artwork and marvel at the intricate pieces, but, God is not found in the rain drop, the leaf, a most beautiful flower or on top a mountain. Yet, He is here, there, ready to meet with us should we seek him at any given place or time. Always ready, nature or not. Please consider asking Jesus Christ into your life. An immediate effect is his artwork will mean so much more when you know the artist.
Luke 11:9-10 – “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
I have a constant running quest for details. The reason for this is my weakness for noticing the little things. I often don’t notice the small details. Who can see the trees while looking at the forest? who gets bogged down with the details while quoting John 3:16 as the overarching message of the gospel is contained in one verse? I was reading a good piece written by Mercy Oluokun (yep check her post out) this morning and mentioned to my wife that many books were written on one statement made in one of her pictures “We are blessed to be called His people…Joint heirs with Jesus Christ” The details of that statement are not only life changing but they are eternity changing for those who have stepped from unbelief into belief in our savior Jesus Christ.
I want to illustrate some details with photos I took this morning in a soft rain. Some of the small details are as follows. #1) In cloudy weather the sun cannot cast a shadow and the lighting is very even. Just try taking a photo on a sunny day of someone with a hat on. The hat shadows their face so much you cannot see it without using your flash.
#2) The lighting is often extremely good on a gentle rain day, beginning of day or end of day for the camera to pick up mirror images, reflections and the colors are deep and rich. Too much light washes out color, too little light and the color doesn’t burn into an image.
#3 No wind or a small wind makes a huge difference in how long you can set the exposure on a camera. The longer exposures will pick up even a minute movement. Reflection photos need time and depth of field to work well. Using a tripod always makes for better still shots.
#4 Water droplets hang wherever they can build up slowly and can contain a reflection of the whole world around them. They are like a 180 degree fisheye lens in miniature, and you can take a picture with the right camera, lens, light, setting.
If the smallest of details are so important in photography, are the smallest of details important that make up my character? How about the way I do my job? parent? handle anger, money, unplanned time or social media? how many small details have to line up for me to reflect the character of Christ so others notice that detail? These are questions I ask of myself when thinking about the little details.
If you would go on a wilderness canoe trip with me and I take you to one of my favorite walleye and bass lakes in the spring, I would get very detail oriented on your fishing equipment very fast. You will need a white twister tail 1/8 oz lead head jig on 6lb test line medium action rod and a good reel with a working drag to catch trophy fish. If you do what I say you will catch a trophy fish. You need me to guide you to where the fish are but you will catch a trophy. I told my oldest grand daughter this and here is the picture
I (at first) entitled this post Little Much and More because when all the little things are lined up and working there is much to be gained and so much more coming. I thought of this when I saw these words “We are blessed to be called His people” The blessing was overwhelming when the kids were little and they wanted to know Jesus. Overwhelming when I would talk long distance to them in college and they would assure me with detailed stories of their following Christ. Overwhelming when we said final goodbye to each of our parents. Overwhelming when I see such a detailed raindrop ready to fall to the ground knowing God has seen fit to count me as a “joint heir” with his son when he could have left me as insignificant as a raindrop.
So here I sit, looking at photos of raindrops, worshiping and thanking God. I am overwhelmed
Leave your story laying around for a soon to be wiser person to discover and read. You will, in this way, add another brick to building your legacy. This is in part why I journal. I think it’s worth the write
A journal has the potential to be a timeless magic mirror of ones heart and soul. Someone may look into the reflective pool of your life generations later and see the honest sought out thoughts of eternity gained. Knowing, trusting and living out a walk with the one who didn’t stay dead is worth the read and thus worth the write.
It could be said that a journal is a vehicle of time travel to the past and influencing an outcome of the future. Yes, worth the write.
Think of how to leave a trail of bread crumbs to the cross and one of rose petals to the Risen Christ. Record the changes in your life’s actions, thoughts and insights. Write of perspectives, mountains climbed, valleys and wayside rests. Smile, sweat, laugh and mourn with your words. Color, paint, picture and bleed between the lines. All these things are worth the write
Most of all, live your life in such a way it is worth writing about. Leave your pain and your chains on a page or two and leave them with Jesus. They don’t deserve a whole journal. Jesus says HE can make your life “Worth the Write”
May our lives be someday worth the read
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come 2 Corinthians 5:17
He knocked and came in. A weary smile and hello. 12 years of caring for his wife with a declining mind. I noticed that the snow had just begun to fall. The storm was coming. Softly and gently at first with memory slipping just like the falling snow when I glanced out the window. How innocent comes a storm sometimes.
We talked for a couple hours, mostly covering smatterings of the last 12 years interspersed with memorial preparations in the making. The snow outside had the makings of a storm coming and going. She whom we were remembering had thick slices of good times at first, very thin and meager slices of connection with her husband near the end. Every good time now deemed worthy of a memory token, beautiful and now treasured beyond measure
The storm was picking up speed but acting like an old car stuttering and grinding gears with a driver new to using a clutch. Her brain was like that, often disconnected with life, stuttering, charging and stranded in the next intersection. Oh the good times were really good, but shorter and shorter like camera shots, until all that was left at the end were a couple squeezes of the hand before hugging Jesus. He seemed at peace with much weight off his whole being but his sorrow brutal. A couple as “one” who Loved Jesus and each other fiercely,now an alone “one”
The storm was harsh as he left. “Drive safe” was my warning as he disappeared with his car into the storm. His storm has changed I thought. He is in the eye of the storm seeing the peace and beauty and reliving a life well lived. As soon as he left our drive our storm outside hit a hole in the clouds for a small while. I had seen the weather radar and the hole in the storm was predicted. The wind died and the lighting was an odd beauty not seen often. I stepped outside and snapped a couple of pictures, tokens for a memory. Beauty in the pause that tipped it’s hat to a life well lived here and received there.
His storm will start again when he is alone. he has a standard offer to call or drive over any time. Just come. It’s what Jesus does for all of us. Just come. Come in the storm or in the pause. Just come.
The storm quickly came again and would last into the middle of the night. I put on some layers, stepped out onto the deck and took a picture of the storm. a memory token of another kind. A token of his storm, my storm and yours. The token of the cross, a slain perfect lamb for a forever pause, forever beauty, forever connected to our creator after grinding gears in our storms here. Jesus says “Come, as you are, anytime”
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28