Saturday, January 26, 2013

For God alone my soul in silence waits

This week, I have held the first line of Psalm 62 in my mind. I have read different translations, but this one resonates deepest with me. Thousands of years ago, this writer recognized three things:  he had a soul, only God could fill it, and his soul needed silence. Today, it is so easy to get wrapped up in filling ourselves with things that don't matter; that only create "noise" in our souls, and separate us from God.

And so I try each day to begin with the Bible and commentary; with prayer and with quiet music.  Some mornings are better than others, but this fundamental spiritual discipline provides an anchoring reference point for the rest of the day. It is the foundation for the awareness of God that Chambers describes:

"Keep your life so constantly in touch with God that His surprising power can break through at any point. Live in a constant state of expectancy and leave room for God to come in as He decides."  Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest"

Eastern Oregon

Three Sisters Beach

Three Sisters Beach

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Released to His Eternity

Have you ever noticed a moth, a fly, a bee, or other insect flying up against a glass window inside your home?  Recently in New Zealand, as I was coming back from my morning devotions and opening the glass door into Matt and Teresa's home, I saw a small moth flying against the inside of the glass.  As I released it to the outside--the environment for which it was created and destined--I thought about our human condition.

Is our physical life in reality a flight/fight against the glass window constraints of this earthly world?  Isn't it true--as we think of how temporary our pleasures, our achievements, our lives really are--that we sense we were created for something more?  That in our heart of hearts, our soul of souls, we know our real life begins after this one, that indeed we are spirit contained in a limited physical body that will someday be released to join our Creator.

Shell Beach, Ohope, North Island, NZ

Three Sisters Beach, North Island, NZ

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Desiring God

Where do I find my meaning to my life?  I realize once I accept that only God matters, that only through Him and His Son do I find my meaning, then every daily decision I make must be wrapped into this search, this commitment. And yet, I do not always know whether my decisions are the "right" ones.  With this context, I take comfort from what Thomas Merton has written about his journey, his seeking God's will:

"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.  And I hope I have that desire in all I am doing.  I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire."

Three Sisters Beach

Three Sisters Beach

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Plymouth and the Taranaki District

Situated between Wellington and Auckland, and lying on the west coast of North Island, New Plymouth, was settled in the mid 1800's by Britishers from Plymouth. Largely pastoral, it is also a center of petrochemical activity. Filled with parks and walkways, one of which extends for seven miles along the coast, the city ranks high on the livability scale.

Mt Taranaki/Egmont dominates the area. It is a stratovolcano that resembles Mt Fuji.  In fact, the movie, "The Last Samurai" was filmed here. A National Park offers many excellent day hikes.  Meg and I did the loop that reached the base of Dawson Falls. Further back in the mountains we later visited Mt Damper Falls.

The beaches in this area feature both great geology and challenging waves.  These beaches are the heart of New Zealand's board and windsurfing activities. And, as you can also see, I have not left Three Sisters beach behind. The man of war is a jelly fish like marine animal which carries a powerful, toxic sting. Even on the beach, one should watch out for its tentacles.  What you see in the picture is the "sail" that provides its name.  The creature has no independent means of movement, and this protrusion catches the wind and current to move it across the ocean, as its tentacles below sting and paralyze its prey.

Goblin Forest, Mt Taranaki

Dawson Falls

Man of War

Mt Damper Falls

Mt Taranaki/Mt Egmont

Man of War on Three Sisters Beach

Arch, Three Sisters Beach

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Let the past rest

A New Year, a new month, a new day.  The past does not need to restrain or restrict us when we are willing to begin anew with Christ, who never leaves us.  Oswald Chambers, in his writing for December 31 from "My Utmost for His Highest," states how we can let our past rest and our future, ever recreated afresh, begin:

"As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, forgetful delight, nor with the quickness of impulsive thoughtlessness. But let us go out with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ.
Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him."

Bay of Plenty

Three Sisters Beach

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Three Sisters Beach, NZ--the best beach ever!!

Late yesterday afternoon, Meg and I visited the best beach EVER I have seen. Three Sisters Beach, on the Taranaki west coast of North Island, NZ, lies an hour's drive north of New Plymouth. It is accessible only at low tide.  To get there, you walk/wade down the Tongaparutu river.  The earlier you leave ahead of low tide, the deeper the water, as you can see by the pictures of Meg.

The "sisters" are sea stacks, vertical columns of limestone cliffs, capped by harder rock, that the waves' forces have eroded away from the headland. Frequently they are arches whose center has collapsed. The shapes are both whimsical and dramatic, and provide nesting areas for seabirds. They glow, along with the cliffs, in the early evening sun.

And, there is a most excellent motel about fifteen minutes north of here, the Mokau Motel, one the best you will find anywhere. It overlooks the Mokau River and the ocean, and Mt Taranaki.  The facilities are equally suberb!