Friday, December 31, 2010

Celebrate. New Year's Eve: 2010

I took these pictures yesterday morning, but I like them as a way to end the old year and begin the new one. The sliver moon pictures were taken at early sunrise and the remainder were taken at sunset, after spending the afternoon cross country skiing up at Anthony Lake with Marshal, Jasmine, and Chung.

As this season, this year draws to a close, I like what Henri Nouwen writes on the theme of celebration: "Celebration is not a party on special occasions, but an ongoing awareness that every moment is special and asks to be recognized as a blessing from on high. It lifts up not only the happy moments, but the sad moments as well. Since joy enhances all of life, it does not shy away from painful moments of failure, departure, and death. Following the Lord involves celebration, the ongoing, unceasing lifting up of God's love that has proved itself victorious. Celebration is the concrete way in which God's ecstatic joy becomes visible among us."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Glory to God in the Highest

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them and the radiance of the Lord's glory shone around them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior--yes the Messiah, the Lord--has been born today in Bethlehem, the City of David. And you will recognize him by this sign: you will find the baby wrapped snuggly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger."

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a whole host of others--the armies of heaven, praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Overwhelmed with joy

How wonderful to be "overwhelmed with joy," as the prophet Isaiah writes. This is the season to be overwhelmed with joy as we wait to celebrate the birth of Christ who came to live with us and for us, "God and sinners reconciled." Yet we do need to be reminded continually, as the angels have told us, "do not be afraid...nothing is impossible with God." We are surrounded, always, by this most incredible and joyful assurance!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Everlasting Joy

"Joy and sadness are as close to each other as the splendid colored leaves of a New England fall to the soberness of barren trees. When you touch the hand of a returning friend, you already know that he or she will have to leave again. When you are moved by the quiet vastness of a sun colored ocean, you miss the friend who cannot see the same. Joy and sadness are born at the same time, both arising from such deep places in your heart that you can't find words to capture your complex emotions.
"But this intimate experience in which every bit of life is touched by a bit of death can point us beyond the limits of our existence. It can do so by making us look forward in expectation to the day when our hearts will be filled with perfect joy, a joy that no one can take away from us." Henri Nouwen

Friday, December 3, 2010

God always calls us back

"I trust in you, Lord, but keep helping me in my many moments of distrust and doubt. They are there and will be every time I turn my eyes, ears or hands away from you. Please, Lord, keep calling me back to you, by day and by night, in joy and in sadness, during moments of success and moments of failure. Never let me leave you. I know you walk with me. Help me walk with you today, tomorrow and always." Henri Nouwen

Sunday, November 28, 2010

He will take great delight in you

In today's "My Utmost for His Highest," Oswald Chambers writes, "We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God through our own efforts. We must either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest spiritual blessing we receive is when we come to the knowledge that we are destitute."

It is not busyness or achievement that brings us close to God. Our efforts will always fall short. Rather it is the undeserved kindness, the Grace God gives us, that makes us whole. Romans 3:24

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hold to what is good

I stand in awe at the force and the depth of Paul's intellect and spirit. Do I really love people; do I always hold tightly to what is good? There is no neutral ground. How will I choose?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

In You I place my trust

I am again turning to Thomas a Kempis, a 15th century theologian for this deep desiring to know God.

"You are the object of all good, the apex of life, the depth of wisdom. Your servants' greatest consolation is to hope in you above all things. I turn my eyes to you. In you, my God, Father of mercies, I place my trust. Bless my soul and make it holy with your heavenly blessing; let it become your holy dwelling, the place of your eternal glory. Let nothing be found in you temple that may offend the eyes of your majesty."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Shaping our minds and souls

We are the recipients of God's grace, but too often we live as though He doesn't matter. We think mundane, routine thoughts instead of filling our minds with His glory. We get bored, depressed and allow ourselves to think we are separated from His love.

What we fill our mind with is so important. We become what we think about; our words and actions are influenced, for better or for worse, by out thoughts. Consider the difference in our behavior when our thoughts are angry, bitter, jealous versus when they are forgiving, gentle, patient. When we steep our minds and souls with prayer, we allow God to shape us, and we become closer to Him, and calmer in Him.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

From Doubt to Belief

Rueben Job writes, "We move away from doubt at our own pace and with our own set of doubts and beliefs to master....One step along this journey that causes many people to stop and struggle is the step of actually believing God loves them and that they can be lovable in God's sight. This more than any other step along the journey makes men and women, young and old, stumble and fall from faith to doubt. Why is it so hard for us to believe that God's love really is unconditional and that we should imitate God's love, not only for others but also for ourselves?

"We are unwilling or unable to give ourselves the same gentle grace that God offers us and that we believe should be offered to others. Leap from doubt to belief and remember that God loves you, delights in you, and seeks your response of faith in Him and in His creation."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall in La Grande

Although La Grande does not present the quantity and intensity of fall colors that you find in New England, nonetheless, this valley vibrants with the reminder that the season is changing, that this is the color finale before the white of winter.

I taught a photo workshop to a group of students this past Saturday afternoon. After I finished the indoor, photo techniques session, we went outdoors to shoot. The weather was changing, but we had a nice soft light late in the afternoon. We spent nearly two hours just shooting in a one block area, shooting close ups and distance shots, enjoying the vast array of compositions. That night it rained, leaves started to vanish from the trees, and it snowed on the peaks above town.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Seeking and Longing

"Lord, let us seek you in longing, and long for you in seeking; let us find you in love and love you in finding, O Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen" Ambrose of Milan, c 333

And may we seek You and pray to You in weakness, so that you can be our strength alone.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Surely goodness and love will follow me

Last week's trip into the Eagle Cap Wilderness of NE Oregon reminded me how life is a blessing to be celebrated. Despite the challenge of rain and "agedness," Bob Carter and I enjoyed the kind of trip we never wanted to leave. We passed through storms into rainbows and clearing skies. Psalm 23 always reminds me that the God of life is a living and a loving God, whose presence never leaves us.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fall along Hurricane Creek in the Eagle Cap Wilderness

The Hurricane Creek trailhead, located between Enterprise and Joseph, OR, is one the most accessible to the Eagle Cap Wilderness. In less than a mile, you find yourself in this wide canyon with towering peaks on both sides of you. A three mile hike takes you to Slick Rock Creek falls, an excellent place for a picnic and for exploring the upper creek. However, it is another eight miles to reach the Lakes Basin, and few people commit to this distance.

Bob Carter, my PCT hiking partner, had never hiked the entire trail. We have hike most of this larger wilderness area, and we were eager to fill in this "blank." Despite predictions of rain, we took off last Saturday morning, October 9. Here is the first set of pictures.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Lord is my Shepherd

"The still dwelling upon God is the quietest but most potent action of all." Emmet Fox

Saturday, October 2, 2010

God's Love and Forgiveness

I think we often wonder , when God looks at our hearts, whether He can really love us. Rev. David Wilkerson of World Challenge recently addressed that question. He realizes that many fail to appropriate God's great love for us. He writes, "from cover to cover, the Bible speaks of how loving and tender our Father's heart is toward us. Scripture says of the Lord again and again:

--He is ready to forgive at all times - Psalm 86:5

--He is patient with us, full of tenderness and mercy - Psalm 119:156

--He is slow to anger - Joel 2:13"

My images this week are from Psalm 103. Take time to read and absorb its wonderful promises.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Source of Joy

In his book, "Here and Now," Henri Nouwen writes, "Joy does not come from positive predictions about the state of the world. It does not depend upon the ups and downs of the circumstances of our lives. Joy is based on the spiritual knowledge that, while the world we live in is shrouded in darkness, God has overcome the world. Jesus says it loudly and clearly: 'In the world, you will have troubles, but rejoice, I have overcome the world.'
The surprise is not that, unexpectedly, things turn out better than expected. No, the real surprise is that God's light is more real than all the darkness, that God's truth is more powerful than all human lies, that God's love is stronger than death."
And through it all, we have the assurance in Hebrews that through Christ, we receive mercy and grace to help us in our times of need.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

You go before me and follow me

As I read this magnificent Psalm, I am reminded again of how much more I need to fill myself with God and not with all the externals that I let fill me and satisfy me. St Augustine is right when he says that whatever we love outside of God, the less we love God. Yet, as this Psalm says, God never gives up on us!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Purpose of Life

Psalm 139.1 and the Chambers' quotation may seem, on the surface, to be a strange juxtaposition. I will let you draw your own conclusions. One thought I have is the infinite depth of God's call to us. He examines our hearts; He knows everything about us. How can we settle for anything less than His call to holiness and love?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The immediate importance of God

I was looking back over some of my pictures from my first trip to New Zealand in early 2009. I was struck again by the beauty of the country and the majesty of God. Rabbi Heschel and Henri Nouwen speak from a Jewish and a Catholic background, respectively. Like the Psalmist in Psalm 32, they remind of us the immediate importance of God. God is not someone we put off into the future. He is the NOW!