********** A Christian Journal **********

Growing in the Spirit of Jesus Christ

Sunday, December 21, 2014

very nice...

nice guys

In my high school yearbook, and throughout my life, the comments most often associated with me, were nice, friendly, and smart (this last because I was in the high/accelerated section).

Now those are always very "nice" comments... can think of some I would not wanted attached to my profile. But, a part of me, always wanted to be thought of as exciting, very fun to be with, or makes me laugh.

 Now you have heard the expression... "Nice guys finish last". Well, I am an example of a "nice" guy that finished a winner... with a wonderful family. Still we nice guys have had more than our fair share of rejection... it appeared that most of the cute intelligent girls as an example, were looking for excitement... you know from the "bad boys" who paid them lots of attention, made them laugh, and were really fun to be with.

 Oh, the girls were almost always friendly with the nice guy and may even spend some time with them.. at least until something or someone more exciting turned up. What is important however, is not your sex appeal, or even your friend appeal, but your relationship with your Heavenly Father.

 He loves and wants to spend time with all of us. Spend time with Him... and not just a hello (how are doing?) either... real quality time and a lot of it. "Any" relationship requires a degree of trust and commitment. And this relationship is not based on who we are, but on who God is.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

We all carry excess baggage.  The longer we live, the heavier that baggage becomes.  Soon we become ships at anchor, staying in safe waters, never to sail far from where we are comfortable, nursing the few things that bring us temporary escape and some form of happiness.  Restricting us from experiencing new adventures, we deprive ourselves of any possible new found joy.  I understand but still find it terribly sad.  Friendships are like that.  We hold on to a few and hope not to lose any of those.  Possible new friends are kept under constant scrutiny as the baggage of the past throw up new barriers for future growth and weigh us down with imaginary storms. Eventually, if we are not careful, we can no longer move forward, even if we want to.  We become like the turtle with his shell, slowly testing each new step forward, and retreating back to safety with each and every new possible threat.  In time we never leave our shell.  

"It was a day in the life
Full of sadness and of strife
You never thought you'd make it through
Feeling people think the worst of you
Although it isn't always said
The nightmares follow you to bed
And when you dream it haunts you still
It holds you down against your will
So many tears have drowned your past
But the suffocating wouldn't last
One day you woke and saw the truth
Of the pain and suffering that stole your youth
Something special made you well
It broke that sad and awful spell
You new at once it wouldn't end
The happiness given by a true friend."
- Author Unknown

Monday, July 7, 2014

Photographic vision... interpretation of a photograph...


Images have different meaning to the photographer and to those that view it. Saying that, it is ultimately what was seen by the photographer that gives us a glimpse into the person (and unique vision) behind the camera. I first saw these shed doors while I was photographing church doors across the street. I was not overly impressed by the church doors but I kept thinking I should find, within those doors, a meaning, a spirit that would beckon me. Seeing I was a bit frustrated, my wife asked me if I saw the interesting shed doors behind me. I had not originally noticed them, as I was so intent on capturing the image of the church doors. When I turned, and gave them my attention, I was amazed at how they affected me... drawing me to take their picture.

Later in Lightroom and Photoshop, the image was processed. I struggled for several days with a title for the image. As is my habit, I searched for an appropriate quote to go with the image. Searching quotes for the words abandoned and forgotten, I finally choose a quote and a title, that just didn't thrill me.

I didn't give the image much thought after that until I decided to enter it in a juried art exhibit several years later. My daughter happened to be visiting at the time, so I presented her with my dilemma, and asked for her thoughts. It was around Easter and when she looked at the image, she thought of its resemblance to the crucified Jesus Christ and said it should be named forsaken. I immediately agreed with her, as did my wife... that was what I was meant to see all along. As we are to seek the encouragement and support of other believers, it took the combined "sight" of the three of us to finally put it altogether.

The shed, with its blood red spattered paint, the vines encompassing the top of the doors, its obviously battered, broken, and forsaken appearance has the semblance of Jesus on the cross. It was then that I remembered it was Jesus who said, " I am the door..." Although attending a "Bible believing" church is important... ultimately it is only through Christ that we are saved. The door of the church building... entering into a structure of formal religion (and becoming a member thereof) is not what is required for your salvation and spiritual growth... it is a personal relationship with Him, the Son of God, who suffered and died for our sins.

If you look closely and deeply into the image, you may find even more symbolism and meaning.

The framed photograph is now on display at The Whitaker Center in downtown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania until August 22nd, 2014.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

God's gifts and your sin...

God's gifts and your sin

We all have God given gifts and talents.
Those gifts are a large part of who we are
and they lead to how we think
and how we respond to the world around us.
They can be both a blessing and a bane.
They affect the pattern of sins
that are most appealing to us
as well as the pattern
of how we serve God.

This is part of the power of temptation,
because the pattern of your sin is related
to the pattern of your gifts.”
- John Ortberg

In John Ortberg's book,
the me I want to be,
He gives several examples of this
by sharing nine of these “patterns”.
Let us look at the
“artist pattern” and divide this “gift”
into its strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths: Loves beauty and goodness.
Brings imagination to life, love, and faith

Weaknesses: Finds that the need to be different
can become an end in itself. Can be tempted
to give in to impulses and live an undisciplined life

Biblical Example: King David, who had strong gifts
as a poet, dancer, and composer of many psalms

According to Ortberg,
“It is critical to learn the patterns
at the core of the me you want to be
and the corresponding sin patterns,
for no one is more vulnerable
than the person who lacks self-awareness.
Jesus warned about people
who go around taking spects
out of others' eyes while
failing to notice the
two-by-four in their own.
My signature sin is my own two-by-four -
so appealing to me that it is
my biggest danger,
so close to me
I am apt not to see it.”

In reading Ortberg's book
I was made aware of this
gift/sin relationship.
A good book to have in your
“Spiritual Growth” library.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

a spiritual journal...

" A [spiritual] journal... is a tool for self-discovery, an aid to concentration, a mirror for the soul, a place to [reflect], generate and capture ideas, a safety valve for the emotions, a training ground for the writer, and a good friend and confidant." - Ron Klug (How to keep a Spiritual Journal)

"Journaling as a spiritual practice is a way of keeping your soul in shape, exercising your values, expanding your visions, and processing the work of Holy Spirit in your life and the lives of those around you." - Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat (coauthors of Spiritual Literacy and Spiritual Rx)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

the new ipad...

the new ipad

My wife, son, and daughter
(along with some money I managed to save)
went together to get me a new ipad...
generation three... for Father's Day.

During the time I was recuperating
from my emergency appendicitis
(last summer)
my son's ipad2 (that I borrowed)
was, for me, a lifesaver...
a new device with new apps
to learn and explore.

I vowed then to eventually get one.

Thankfully, over the years,
my wish list has shrunken considerably.
Still, I find at least one...
usually somewhat expensive item...
that starts me saving my pennies.

Of course, it is imperative
to budget time accordingly...
the temptation, with anything new,
is to let it become an obsession.
Priorities must be set...
first and foremost... time with
the Lord in worship and service to Him...
and, of course, quality time
with family and friends.

Electronic gadgetry or other toys/tools
are rarely necessary (in my case) but
they can be useful and they help
keep me mentally alert and creative.

Discovering new and useful apps
is half the fun.
Some of my favorite apps
are Pandora, Blog Docs, FaceTime,
the several Fotopedia apps, Ticket to Ride,
TubePad, a couple of 'news' apps,
the Weather Channel, photo editing apps,
and of course, the Bible apps.
But there are so many... and
I keep finding new ones... many free.

It is a great way to store
electronic books, music,
photography, and videos.

The mobility of a hand-held device
that does so much is very nice to have.

Monday, July 9, 2012

As you continue your spiritual journey...

As you continue your spiritual journey... when you question, when you fall, when you allow yourself to become disheartened... remember these words...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

on a boat long ago...

July 05, 2012

My Sailor Outfit

Our family was visiting with relatives
one summer many years ago.
I was probably eight years of age,
or thereabouts.

Several of us took a motorboat far out on a lake.
The boat was a medium sized craft
with twin outboard motors.

For some reason, the boat stalled
and both motors died.
Try as we might...
we could not get them started again.

Dark, ominous storm clouds
were approaching.

As the clouds got closer,
the wind picked up...
 I for one, became scared...
and began to silently pray.
My prayer was for the motors to start...
but they just wouldn't turn over.

We had no method of communicating
with anyone and appeared to be alone on the lake
except for one small outboard motorboat.

As the small boat got closer to us,
we noticed that it was manned 
by one lone, young boy.
He seemed to notice our predicament
and as he came alongside, he asked if he
could be of any assistance.

Throwing us a rope,
he slowly towed us to shore
just ahead of the storm.

Prayers answered but not
the way I imagined.

I wonder how many unknown
blessings were received
from the way God
answered that prayer...
including the young boy
who towed us to shore.
I know that it
impacted how I
thought about the Lord.

Sometimes our prayers are not
answered in the way we want...
and sometimes it appears
that our prayers are not
answered at all.
But God always hears
and always has our
best interests at heart.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

bullfrogs and butterflies...

Here is a cute little song by Barry McGuire.   We can learn so much from the world created by God.  Everyone has the choice to change... and with the help of the Holy Spirit... can make the change that means a spiritual life freed from the shackles of bondage and sin.

Monday, July 2, 2012

prayer time

July 02, 2012

praying together

My brother (Tod) and I were brought up
in a Christian home.

We were taught to pray
before going to bed
and to say grace before meals.
Tod and I went to church
with our parents,
attended Sunday school,
and went to VBS
(vacation bible school).
We were encouraged to participate
in different church activities.

I never realized the tremendously positive effect
this had on my life until much later.

I thank the Lord for my parents love, guidance,
support and encouragement.

"...bring them (children) up
in the training and instruction
of the Lord."
- Ephesians 6:4 NIV

Saturday, June 30, 2012

I am...

As you travel through life... seek your God and Creator... and you will find... he is already there...
beside you forever.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A trip to the shore...

My dad, brother and I
A trip to the shore

Our summer vacation usually involved 
a trip to Atlantic City on the New Jersey shore...
when my dad found the time from work.

My dad was a family doctor.
In order for him to get away, he had to make sure
none of his patients were extremely sick
and none were critically hospitalized
(this was during the age of house calls).
Plans had to be made with a couple of other doctors
to cover for him as well.
We usually went for several days up to a week or so.

I have vague memories of playing on the beach,
splashing in the water a couple feet from shore,
eating honeydew melon for breakfast
(a favorite even now when I can find a good one)
and playing shuffleboard at the hotel.

A couple of events however stand out vividly in my memory
during two of those trips.

Once I poked myself in the eye while trying to put
a sock over a very damp foot.  My hand slipped
and bam... I gave myself a shiner.
I think that particular trip was cut short
because I remember my brother
was very upset with me for spoiling it.

Another time I thought I was going to drown.
Father took my brother's right hand and my left hand
as we wadded out from shore among the breakers.
All of a sudden I was being pulled head first into
an oncoming big wave.  
Evidently this was all planned between the three of us...
(to dive into a big wave)... my first at this sport.
but somehow I didn't remember and wasn't ready.
I might have been about six or seven years of age...
my brother, six years older than I.

The strange thing was... I didn't panic.
I remember becoming very limp
and thinking... well this is it...
completely at peace.
Yes, I took on water and came up
coughing and gasping for air,
but I think it could have been a lot worse
if I had panicked.

Thinking back on that experience,
I believe that even though
I was not actively pursuing a walk with God,
He was walking (and has always walked) with me.

I would bet that if you allow yourself to reflect...
you will also realize that He has always walked with you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Buckshot spring...

Buckshot Spring
(near Mt. Gretna, PA)

When I was about 10 years of age (1955),
My father, mother, brother, and I,
would make regular visits to this site...
established in 1938.

Here we would fill gallon jugs,
sometimes as many 20,
with free mountain spring water
from two pipes.

My father really did not like
the taste of chlorine
(and perhaps other chemicals)
in his drinking water.

The water from this spring
was fantastically refreshing.

I remember my hands becoming a bit numb
from the very cold temperature of the water...
but it was so worth it.

This process continued for many years
until the spring was permanently closed down
due to contamination.

We never got sick, however,
right up to the very end of our trips.

Not long afterward, a new
(more modern) facility opened up
not too far from Buckshot Spring.
This one required you pay per gallon.

There is a source of Spiritual (Living Water)
available... still and always will be free.

Come and drink...
it will refresh your soul.

"But whoever takes a drink of the water
that I will give him shall never,
no never, be thirsty any more.
But the water that I will give him
shall become a spring of water
welling up (flowing, bubbling) [continually]
within him unto (into, for) eternal life."

- John 4:14 AMP

Friday, April 15, 2011

April 15, 2011 (The Sound of Silence)

Be sure to turn off (or pause) the music on this page below, before playing the video here.

This song was written in 1964 when I was 19 years old and became a favorite of mine back then. I have not heard it for many years... until just the other day. There have been many "interpretations" of the song.

For the first time, I see huge religious/spiritual significance in the words. Seeking darkness (not in an evil sense, but as in a quiet place to be alone with your thoughts). Walking neath the "halo" of a street lamp (the "light" shedding truth on an otherwise cold and dismal world). A vision leaving seeds planted as in a dream. The harsh reality of a world worshiping a man-made selfish Babylonian society in the form of a seductive neon light. Many, many people actively speaking foolishness (talking without saying anything), not seeing anything but the blinding harsh light of their own self interest (looking and listening but not seeing and hearing) relying on (putting their faith in) their own wisdom and the wisdom of this world. And then there are those that know the truth and refuse to share it with those who do not... even failing to encourage and support their own brothers and sisters in faith. The silence remains... the truth is not being spoken or shared by so many believers. God is being rejected because too many people (even among the religious) treat Him as either non-existent or so far away only to be called upon as needed and refusing to let themselves be taught or guided by His will. The silence remains. The handwriting is on the wall for all to see but they see it not or seeing it refuse to accept it as truth. And the silence grows. If you hear the whispers let His Holy Spirit convict your hearts.

It is the way I see it... :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

April 08, 2011 (a dream)

passionate splendor

Let me tell you a story…

I had a dream sometime ago that I would like to share with all of you.
It wasn’t an “Epic” dream… just a short video clip.

Arriving in Heaven, I found myself in a dorm lobby.
There were others there…
several of them were well known during their earthly existence.
All were waiting for the evening dinner call.
The call came and I was told to simply follow the group to the dining hall.
After arriving, our group lined up with everyone else
in what appeared to be a cafeteria of sorts.

Food of every type and description was available.
If you like food the way I do… yes… this was Heaven.
No canned tuna or spam here.
There were several hard working, but happy, servers
that kept the food trays replenished and worked the kitchen.
For some reason, I felt moved to ask if I could help them.
Pleased that I should ask, I was given the job
of keeping some of the fruit trays filled…
fresh apples, peaches, oranges, strawberries…
every kind of fruit imaginable…
and all of it looked and smelled “heavenly”.
Many were served.

Although busy, I did not feel a bit tired,
and it felt great to be working
with such a friendly, happy group.
Finally it was our turn to partake of the abundance that remained.
We took our food to the far end of the dining hall
where remained one last table.
Much to my surprise there was Jesus sitting at the end of “our” table.
And there also were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
I remarked to several of those with me…
WOW, I guess we are very lucky this time to be sitting
at the very same table as our Lord and these others.
No, they kindly replied… no luck involved…
this is a special reward to those who happily serve.

“I say to you that many will come
from the east and the west,
and will take their places at the feast
with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
in the kingdom of heaven.”
- Matthew 8:11 NIV.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Song for a stormy night... 3/16/11

Sometimes we come across a song/video that speaks to us. This is one I found that speaks to all of us who have ever (and hopefully are still) in love. It can be viewed as a father's love for his daughter or more importantly "the" Father's love for all of us. I pray you will all find peace, joy, and love while viewing.

Friday, December 31, 2010

December 31, 2010 (winding down)

2010 is winding down…
very soon it will be 2011.

Like all years, it was filled with ups and downs
but the blessings from God our Father
continue to bring us joy and peace.

Back in late October, early November,
I finished two new projects…
my first published book and
a 2011 calendar.

The calendar was created using software from Mpix.
The book (It is how I see) was created
using Blurb’s software and is still
available for purchase at…

A full preview of the book can also be seen
at the above URL.

This upcoming year, dependent on the Lord’s guidance and will,
I have tentative plans to publish another book or two
as well as a new calendar for 2012,
and hopefully a few other projects as well.

Up to this point in time,
I have been using a Panasonic Lumix (DMC-FZ20)
point-and-shoot camera for my work.
Post processing was done in Adobe Photoshop CS2.

For Christmas this year, my daughter,
has made it possible for me
to get a new camera and an extra lens.
Cost was the limiting factor but
as I researched the products
available to fit my needs
I found a camera kit (the Canon Rebel T2i)
and a zoom lens (Tamron
SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD)
that received high marks
and still adhered to the budget.
This will provide me with a much better sensor
for larger prints and will permit me to shoot in RAW.

Thanks to my son, this spring,
I will have a new (custom made) computer
and a newer version of Photoshop.

Hopefully all of this will allow me to
take my photography to a higher level.
Saying that, it is remembered,
that it is still the photographer
and not his equipment that captures
and processes the final image.

It is the Holy Spirit
within me that allows
me to see.

I am excited to see where the Lord
will lead me in the new year.

I pray that all of you experience
a very blessed and joyful 2011
in Jesus name and for God’s glory.

Let us remember each other in our prayers.

Friday, December 24, 2010

December 24, 2010 (Artificial Submission)

It has been quite a while since I last posted here.

No excuses… I am sure you have heard them all before. J

Artificial Submission

Years ago I never thought I would have anything artificial…
I wanted the real thing. A wood burning fireplace with a cord
or two of neatly stacked firewood outside along the shed;
real candles that required a match (or two)
to ignite and with wicks to trim;
a real Christmas tree that we cut down ourselves
and required some work to stand up
in a stone crock surrounded by stones
and rocks strategically placed to keep
the thing upright and straight…
and a tree which required periodic watering.
Ah, the smells alone were enchanting.
This is being alive
and living life to the fullest.

Now I am older and perhaps a bit more… well older.
You get the picture… now, or you will eventually.

The artificial “electric” fireplace looks pretty good.
The artificial candles even flicker.
And the artificial tree has finally, after 5 years,
paid for itself.

No more smoke in the room because of poor draft and
a lot less dirt and soot on the curtains, etc. No more lugging in
firewood (or paying to have it delivered),
constantly stoking the fire, and cleaning out the ashes.

No more candles that burn unevenly
or won’t stay lit, and less danger from
three very active cats.

And no more struggles with the “perfect” looking
Christmas tree year after year. I don’t even have
to string the lights anymore. How about
the allergies from a real tree, the poison ivy,
and the hatching spiders that migrate to the
tree top and decorate the angel or star.

Yes the cats still like to play with the tree branches,
the ornaments, and they even try to eat
the artificial needles (with accompanying throw-up)…
hmmm… how about artificial cats?

Life is simpler now… ???

Oh but how I miss those smells… artificial
smells in a can or perfumed scented whatever
just isn’t the same… yet! Nor is the
fireplace sounds on a CD and you can’t even
roast “artificial” marshmallows or have the fun
of putting out the candles between your two fingers.

Still… I have adjusted. I don’t even have to squint
my eyes shut a bit to make it appear more magically
less plastic looking… age is doing that for me.

My point to all of this is to draw the line somewhere.

Lets consider what is really important.

Have we let
ourselves become comfortable with an artificial faith…
less genuine, less passionate, less active?

Do we have a “pose able” faith?
One we put on for show… a faith without works?
That is not even an artificial faith…
that is a dead faith… non-existent.

“Faith and works are bound up in the same bundle.
He that obeys God trusts God;
and he that trusts God obeys God.
He that is without faith is without works;
and he that is without works is without faith.”
- C.H. Spurgeon

Keep the “real” flame alive…
the one that counts.

Monday, October 4, 2010

October 3, 2010 (Bethesda Mission)

We served two groups of 30-40 in each group... all were appreciative...

The Bethesda Mission

In the lobby

Getting instructions and getting ready to serve

Ready to serve (the cold items)


the crew from the mission and our church crew together

Friday, September 17, 2010

September 17, 2010 (GO, and sin no more)

“Go and sin no more.” – John 8:11

Have you ever wondered what happened to people
that are mentioned in the Bible
and then are never mentioned again?
Or watched a TV series where a character is,
for one reason or another,
written off the show.
If they die, that is one thing,
at least that is some sort of closure…
although, even then,
I still wonder about the condition
of their soul.
If they don’t die, don’t you at least wonder
what happened to them…
what are they doing now?
Yes, some few may be brought back
and/or, at the very end of the series,
we may be told what eventually
became of them… but not always.

When my wife and I are out in the car,
she will sometimes turn to me,
and ask me… don’t you
wish you knew where all these people
are going and why?
Or an airplane will fly overhead
and she would wonder again
where they were going.
Even I, seeing an old house
would ponder about the stories
made within its walls.

Go and sin no more…

What happened to those, in the Bible,
that were healed, forgiven of their sins,
and told to go and sin no more?
Did they go and sin no more?
Was their life forever changed
and were they now complete?
Were they forever filled with His joy and peace?

What about those, like the young, rich man
who came to the Lord and went away sorrowful
because he was unwilling to forgo the world
and give His all to the Lord?
Where did he go and
what did he do with the rest of his life?

Go and sin no more…

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could hear…
”Come and abide with me”, or
”Come and walk with me” and eventually hear
”Welcome, good and faithful servant”, or
that we were a person “after God’s own heart”.

This is our choice… we must make that decision…
the offer stands open to all of us.

It is terrible never to have known God,
but it far worse to have known Him
and rejected Him.

Personally, I hope I never hear…

GO and sin no more…

Friday, September 3, 2010

September 3, 2010 (A new venture)

A New Venture

Lately I have been rather busy…
several events and celebrations,
household maintenance, new ventures, etc.

I’m sure all of you can relate.

This has required me to temporarily reset my priorities.
The Journal has suffered the consequences
with a missed (Friday) post because of the time
required to create a new entry.

Bible reading and time spent with our God
must always be our top priority.
The SonRays daily devotional (my other blog)
takes precedence over the Journal as well.

Saying that, I will take a little time
in this weeks Journal post
to promote my newest venture.
I have decided to “test the waters”
and sell some of my photographic art.

This venture was not undertaken without prayer
for His guidance.
Up to this point, I have avoided selling my photography
because I wanted this gift from Him
to be entirely for His glory
and not for any personal gain.
Please note that I continue to be
very open about my photographic gift,
His creation, and the relationship
between my photography and my faith.
The personal profile and each image
reaffirms this connection and hopefully
will provide others with seeds
for their own spiritual growth.
The money received from the sale
of these images will be used
in His service either directly
or indirectly (through ministry upgrades).

The images for sale (as of now)
will be through the online site IMAGEKIND,
and will be available in several sizes,
different formats, framed or unframed,
and as greeting cards.

The artist screen name is techranger and
the direct link to my work is…

This link will automatically update as I add
new images and galleries.
Currently there are three galleries…
and Flowerscapes…
a total of 14 images overall.

“Your talent is God's gift to you.
What you do with it is your gift back to God.”
- Leo Buscaglia

Please pray for this new venture to be used
for His glory.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August 20, 2010 (Some thoughts...)

Some thoughts on
excessive indulgence
and sinful behavior…

“Lord, I do not want to sin.”

Perhaps, but, in fact, you do desire
and enjoy the pleasure and satisfaction
you receive from sinning.
So, in part, that is a lie.

You do want that extra piece of cake,
one more drink, or that feeling
of self-gratification, whatever it may be.

Acknowledge to God that
you have these cravings and
that you do enjoy the pleasure
derived from your sins.

After all, he knows.

Now ask God to replace those desires with
the everlasting joy and peace
of remaining in His presence.

By being ever mindful of Him
you will avoid circumstances
that may lead to temptation.

When temptation does strike,
immediately flee closer to Him,
(your fortress in times of need)
and pray that He remove
temptations power from you.

Keeping yourself out of situations
that promote temptation involves commitment
and discipline… the strength to resist
temptation once it appears comes from
seeking God’s refuge and the support
of His Holy Spirit within.

Both require you to believe, love, obey, and trust
the Lord with your entire being…
all your strength, your mind, your heart, and your soul.

You either turn to God or you turn your back on God.
You either stay in His presence or you attempt
to hide from Him.
We can’t continue to play hide and seek…
one moment seeking His presence and the next
hiding from Him.
This makes us spiritual shallow and eventually
we will grow to love the one and hate the other.

If we pursue the dangerous course, sinning
will become such a lifestyle that we
no longer attempt to hide
and seeking Him will cease altogether.
The heart will become hardened
like untilled ground and only God’s plow
of tribulation will stand a chance of making it
into an area for productive re-seeding.
Responding to God’s plow is a chance
for a new beginning but the choice
remains… don’t be foolish…
hearts can become permanently hardened.

Surrender your heart to God’s keeping
by allowing the death and resurrection
of Jesus Christ to be your salvation…
and allow the Holy Spirit to work within you.
This is the best and only security
against a hardened heart.

“Help me, O God,
to look back on the long way you have brought me,
on the long days in which I have been served,
not according to my deserts, but my desires;
on the pit and the miry clay,
the blackness of despair,
the horror of misconduct,
from which my feet have been plucked out.
For my sins forgiven or prevented,
for my shame unpublished,
I bless and thank you, O God.”
- Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, August 13, 2010

August 13, 2010 (weekly capsule)

Sunday, August 8th

Have you ever become enamored
with a dream? Dreams are fine
as long as they do not become a roadblock
to spiritual growth. All dreams must be
brought before the Lord to be certain
that they follow His will for your life…
then the hard part…
while pursuing your dream,
take time to wait and trust in Him.
Some doors open, some close,
and some forever remain shut.

My dream (currently) is to have a bigger
and better camera… one that will allow
larger hardcopy prints of high image quality.
Money, of course, is the issue.

I have been told by two different reliable sources
that a fine art photograph in my possession
(by George A. Tice)
could go a long way in providing that money…
the problem is to find that “special collector”
willing to pay what it is worth.

I will trust in the Lord.

photo by George A. Tice
(Amish country – near Lancaster, PA)
taken sometime in the late 1960’s

Monday, August 9th

Today I attended my first “silver sneakers”
class at a local gym. I had no idea
what to expect. The class consisted of myself
and eight ladies.
I felt, at first, very much out of place.
Here I was the younger male exercising
with a group of senior females.
I should have been in a class more suited
to the stronger of the species.
My embarrassment soon turned to shame.
These classy ladies, of the fairer sex,
could run circles around me…
and they were so much more coordinated,
as I stumbled to keep up.
Remembering that football players
take ballet lessons to improve
their reflexes and flexibility,
my manhood was reaffirmed.

I will go to the Thursday class as well.

Tuesday, August 10th

Back to the gym in the afternoon… this time
for a cardio workout on the treadmill.

Later, that evening, my wife and I
took a leisurely walk down the lane
near our home.
Two whitetail doe and a fawn
crossed our path ahead, followed by
a buck and another fawn.
This is the first time I have ever witnessed
a “family” of deer together in the wild.
Always before it has been a lone mature buck,
or a grouping of doe with or without fawns.
They move so silently, with grace,
but with such speed…
definitely a joyful moment, as I took
my mate’s hand in mine.

Wednesday, August 11th

I had breakfast out this morning
with an old friend. We were good friends
all the way back in elementary school…
another blessing to renew a friendship after
almost 50 years… and to discover
that we share the same faith and love
in Jesus Christ.
Please pray for Ronnie as he goes
on a short-term mission trip to Uganda.

Later in the afternoon I accompanied
my daughter to deliver a load
of Styrofoam to a recycle center downtown.
We all must be good stewards of
the Lord’s creation.

Surveying our yard, I see a need
to remove some excessive (and unwanted)
vegetative growth circling our house, the shed,
and the borders of our property.
What is one man’s weed is another man’s flower.
I love native plants and enjoy wild violets,
yellow wood sorrel, cinquefoil, clover, etc.
(our lawn is full of them) but…
this overgrowth must go.
With the high heat and humidity
this summer’s greenery has been
excessively flourishing.
This year we have already had 25 days
of temperatures over 90 degrees.
Last year we only had three.

No gym today, so my wife and I took another walk.
No wildlife and very still… the air thick and heavy.

My son has flown to Texas for a job interview.
I pray that he will be lead into
a job and a place where he will
be of greater service to the Lord.
Please pray for him and his safe return.

Thursday, August 12th

It is early morning and still mostly dark.
There is a gentle rain.
Out on the porch with our three cats…
it is sultry but the rain is still refreshing.
With a distant rumble of thunder,
two of the “scaredy-cats” bolt for the door
and rush inside. Kokomo,
he of the Hemingway paw, remains.
Kokomo appears, at times, to be a bit kooky
and is subordinate to the other two.
However, he shows no fear as he settles down
on a cushion and enjoys a reprieve
from his “superior” feline friends.

“I will give peace in the land;
you shall lie down and none shall
fill you with dread or make you afraid;
and I will clear ferocious (wild)
beasts out of the land…”
- Leviticus 26:6 AMP

Back to the gym for another ROM class…
this one was well attended…
AND… eight men along with eleven ladies.
The instructor worked us a bit harder
and included some cardio exercises.
I’m feeling better and more fit already!

It rained again later in the afternoon…
more blessings from Heaven.

This evening the rain ended
and my wife and I took a (this time more
brisk) walk. The rain cooled things off considerably
and lowered the humidity… feels wonderful.

Friday, August 6, 2010

August 6, 2010 (weekly capsule)

Friday, July 30th

Today, my wife, daughter, and I took a day trip to Doylestown, PA.
We toured the Fonthill Museum, home of Henry Chapman Mercer.
Henry, quite eccentric, designed and constructed Fonthill
from reinforced concrete.
The exterior and interior of the building both reflect his
passion for the bizarre.
Here was an extremely intelligent and driven man,
always learning and always collecting artifacts
from wherever he traveled. Henry spoke
at least five different languages and earned
two degrees… one from Harvard
and a second from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

This guy survived on only 3 hours of sleep each night.
That would allow, for most, an extra 3-4 hours of active time
every day… approximately an additional full day per week.
Just think… an eight day week…
more time to learn, to grow,
to worship, to be of service to others.
The idea is tempting… but at what cost?
I need more rest to remain at a productive level.

Saturday morning - early
(the last day of July)

It is said of Edward Weston that he arose
around 4:00 AM to focus and reflect.
”Peace again! – the exquisite hour before dawn,
here at my old desk – seldom have I
realized so keenly, appreciated so fully,
these still, dark hours.”
– Edward Weston

The way to overcome sin is not so much
to remove what the Lord says is wrong
as it is to “replace” those wrongs
with what the Lord says is right;
to replace the selfish, uncontrolled
pursuit of childish behavior with
child-like trust and obedience…
to allow the “old man”, in me, to die
and to replace him with the new man
in the likeness of Christ.

I get angry with myself, then upset,
and finally ashamed with my repeated failings.
It appears that I still have quite an appetite
for worldly pleasures and a nagging
lack of self-control.
The difference now is that over the years
I have grown, and more importantly,
I know I am forgiven through the death
and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Edward Weston, reflecting on his earlier life…
”How young I was. That covers everything.”
- Edward Weston

How young in spirit, I still am…
I am still learning to forgive myself.

Sunday, August 1st

Our pastor just recently started a new series of sermons
titled WOW - Works of Wonder.

Just think of all those times
when we are so completely amazed
that we just can’t help but say,

This reminds me of a series of books,
that I highly recommend,
by Squire Rushnell…

Monday, August 2nd

The highlight of the day was going out to dinner
with my son and daughter…
Dad’s day out with the “kids”.

We went to a Thai restaurant…
The Bangkok Wok.
This was my first experience with Thai cuisine.
I had the chicken Pineapple Curry
(Pineapple chunks simmered
in coconut milk red curry.)
Very yummy!

OK, I admit it…
I asked for the “mild” version.

Tuesday, August 3rd

My wife and I went to Roots…
a favorite farmer’s market
for fresh fruit and vegetables.

We also picked up some ham loaf…
a mixture of ground ham and ground pork
that is made similar to meatloaf.

My wife makes both a great
meatloaf and ham loaf.

We eat well!

Wednesday, August 4th

Thought about mowing the yard today
but will wait until Friday… forecast… not so
hot and humid.

My son and I went for coffee this morning
before he headed back home.

My daughter had us over
for shish kabobs on the grill.

Did I mention that we eat well?

Thursday, August 5th

Coffee out with a very good
friend today… since he is Jewish
and I am a Christian,
we occasionally, as relates to our different beliefs,
have some interesting conversations.
Whatever the topic,
it is time well spent with a great guy.

Went to the “new” gym I signed up for today…
orientation for “Silver Sneakers” program.

Read that Medicare will last
an additional 12 years from last report (maybe)…
to the year 2029.

I will be 84 by then, if not
taken by the Lord before that.

Tomorrow, it is to the gym, early, after
my devotional time. Have to work off
all that good food and keep
God’s temple fit.

Then it will be time to mow
the grass before I have
the equivalent of a wheat field.