The Nature of Awesome

Awesome defined: “extremely impressive, inspiring great admiration.”

Actually

“Awesome” is a word used in a diet of verbal overindulgence. 

It’s used to describe our children, marriage, profession, vacations and the cat.

Each generation has their jargon. When I was young everything was cool and super. As in, “That was so cool,” or “That was just super!” Looking back on it the “super” was just super annoying. 

My Point?

If everything is amazing and awesome then what words are left to describe what is actually awesome and amazing? If I repeatedly say my kids are amazing for everything they do then what do I say when they actually do something awesome? If my breakfast burrito is amazing then what word do I use to describe the grace of God? 

Okay, Something Actually Awesome

For the past eight summers I have spent some time in the San Juan Mountains in Southern Colorado. I fly fish, hike and ride ATV’s. But mostly I sit quietly, look at the mountains, and reflect and pray. I seek clarity and inspiration, and find them. I leave as if I’ve touched the face of God. To me, that’s awesome, it’s, “extremely impressive,” because it “inspires great admiration.” 
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For the past three summers my San Juan Mountain friends have hosted my ministry staff for an annual retreat. They house, feed, and take care of us, and freely let us play with their mountain toys! They refresh our souls and restore our spirits. They minister to us so we can return and better minister to others. They do all that for us, but really they do it for the Lord, for they are believers, the church family of a sweet congregation up high in the mountains. We are one of their many ministries and they pray for us throughout the year. We return to Houston fresh and freshly prepared to faithfully follow Jesus. 

Now that is the nature of awesome!

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View from parking lot up at the mountains.
San Juan Mountain Church
The San Juan Family, truly awesome to me!

 

Thank you my mountain friends, you are the best!

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It Happened Sunday Night

“Tramp, Tramp, Tramp”

Do you know that song? It was a brutal Civil War marching song written by George F. Root in 1864 and was sung by soldiers as they marched into battle.

However

The tune wasn’t destined to remain a battle song. Nope, a lyricist named Clarence Herbert Woolston borrowed the music, gave it new words, and gave the song new life for generations to come.

Who was Clarence Woolston? He was born in 1856 and died in 1927. He was minister, author and writer of hymns and was Pastor of a Philadelphia church. 

And his song? You probably know it, have sung it, and even grew up with it. Here is a piece of the song he wrote:

“Jesus loves the little children, all the little children of the world, red and yellow black and   white, Jesus loves all the little children of the world.”

Yep

Woolston used the music of a Civil War marching song and transformed it into one of the most beloved songs of all time. Jesus loves the little children. Yep! Here are a couple of verses for you: 

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

“He took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them, and blessed them.” Mk 10:16

For Me

On Sunday night, our church’s Children’s Ministry performed their Easter Musical,

“It’s All Because of Jesus”

Watching sixty kids sing songs of praise was inspiring; they told the old, old story with young voices and fresh hearts. Jesus loves the little children indeed. 

Easter Musical

I cried during the performance, which isn’t at all unusual, but I did. Before they came into the Worship Center to start the performance, I had a moment to pray over them. That prayer was granted. There is just something about watching and hearing children sing about Jesus that melts my heart.

To Close

I get why Jesus loved kids. I understand why he wanted them to have unhindered access. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

Sure, kids can be loud, busy and constantly moving, even distracting and disruptive at times. But it’s their hearts. Jesus saw their hearts, and the love of a child comes from the very center of their pure and precious hearts. 

Thank you Mr. Woolston

Your song is a big hit. 

 

Salty & Shining Brightly

The essence of salt and the nature of light.

Salt

We were created to need it. It’s not our only need, but we die without it.

Light

The physical universe begins with light, for God spoke and gave it birth, it was day one. Not till the fourth day were the sun and moon purposed for day and night.

The light came first.

The Messiah

Jesus proved his authenticity by healing and he revealed his identity by the Scriptures. They recognized him as the Messiah, for his miracles and teaching were as the prophets predicted. They believed.

He launched his ministry by offering gifts to the disenfranchised. There were eight gifts in all. He said that blessings would come by having them. There were correlating actions or attitudes for each one. For example, those who mourned would be comforted, the merciful would receive mercy, and so forth.

The final gift was unique because there wasn’t a correlating action associated with it. The gift wasn’t given because of what they did, but because of what others would do: 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, 

for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Salt & Light

In the context of persecution, he said they were the salt and light of the world, which  was about their influence, their message, and a ministry that would bring the persecution. In that context, he cautioned them not to lose their saltiness or to hide their light.

The core meaning: Don’t let persecution leave you unsalted or afraid to shine your light. Discipleship must never hide under a basket.

To Close

He reached out to the lost sheep of Israel, to those who were unwanted because of their demon-possession, disabilities, and diseases. They were unclean and defiled. And Jesus came to seek and save them. He restored dignity and divine purpose by declaring them to be salt and light.  

He was the Messiah, called Emanuel. He was God among them and he came to save.

The Bible

Shalom

“Needs More Salt!”

My introduction to the importance of salt came from football.

Two-A-Days

For a week in August we practiced mornings and afternoons. The heat and humidity were horrific. We were soaking wet by the time we got to the practice field. After each work out, we were given salt pills to avoid cramping. They said it was vital that we did.

football practice
Took salt pills to prevent cramping 

Salt had other uses too.

Sore Throat

We gargled warm salt water for a sore throat. I can’t remember if it helped. We ended up at the Doctor’s office anyway. 

salt into water
Gargling with salt water for sore throats?

Food

I remember my Dad, after the prayer, reaching for the salt and pepper shakers. So, we followed his example. Mom would say, “You should taste the food first.” She was right. 

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We shake a lot of salt on our food!

Clearing Ice

We cleared ice from the front steps and walk ways with salt. Not sure why the salt melted the ice, but it did.

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Not my sidewalk or my bucket, but close, really very close.

Jesus Said

“You are the salt of the earth.”

That’s Matthew 5:13. I guess those who heard understood what it meant. The Jews knew the importance of salt, especially those living in the desert regions.

Bible Applications

  • Flavor
  • Preserving
  • Medicinal
  • Essential for life
  • Influence

Do believers bring a sweet flavor to life? Do they preserve the world with righteous influence? Do people of faith bring healing? Are we essential to the world because we are its salt?

The Salt Covenant

Scripture mentions a Salt Covenant. It was primarily about trust. Each side trusted the other to sustain the agreements. The agreements were established and then salt was exchanged, the salt was a symbol of life. With God, he trusts us to give him our obedience and we trust him to provide what he promised.

To Close

Was there a Salt Covenant between Jesus and his disciples? Were they the salt the Messiah sent into the world? They changed the world by their influence, healing, and their Messianic message, and trusted Jesus to be with them always.

Do we have a Salt Covenant with Christ?

Having Divine DNA

“You’re the spitting image of your father.”

“You look more like your mom every day.”

Such Things

Such things are said when children mirror their parents. It may be their looks, how they talk, or their mannerisms and personalities. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” we sometimes say.

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Kids want to be like their parents.

A couple of weeks ago, a good friend said to my adult son, “You are becoming more and more like your dad” I’m not sure how he felt about that? But I loved it!

Nurture/Nature

Is it DNA? Something genetic that gets passed down? Or is it nurturing within the family culture? We imitate those we are closest to.

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Sons want to be as strong as their Dads.

Fathers and Sons

Not to bias this piece with gender, but there’s an interesting beatitude about sons and the Father in Mathew 5:9:

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God.”

It’s The Only Beatitude That:

  1. Requires a specific action: “the peacemakers.”
  2. Promises a blessing of words: “will be called”
  3. Connects behavior with relationship: “sons of God.”
dad and son changing tire
Be with your father, become like your father.

The Context

“Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. Now when he saw the crowds…”  (Matthew 4:25, 5:1)

The eight blessings were rooted in the Psalms and the Prophets. The huge crowds of Jewish people understood what he said and what it meant. For them, the diseased, paralyzed, and demon-possessed, the outcast and lost sheep of Israel, Jesus offered connection, he offered them the Father.

To Close

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, for the Father embeds his divine DNA in the hearts and minds of his children.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.”

Shalom is a word the Jews say when greeting and parting from each another. 

It means Peace.

 

Believe It or Not!

Some things don’t make sense. Or, they don’t make sense to me.

Some Examples

  1. I don’t understand the internet, how so much information comes through a tiny wire into millions of homes and to millions of cell phones.
  2. I don’t understand road construction. Enough said.
  3. I don’t understand airplanes. I get there is less air over the wing and more air under it. Still, the weight of a passenger plane seems too heavy for flight.

Here’s A Thing

I recently went on an ATV trip into the Colorado high country. We got up to 12,000 feet. It was the last day of June, the sun was warm, and used sunscreen to prevent burning.

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It was so hot I nearly took my shirt off. Nobody wanted me too.

Yet, there were large patches of snow, and drifts over my head. I wore a shirt and shorts, and was often too warm. Was tempted to take off my shirt!  

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A huge snowdrift in summer!

Here’s Another Thing

I learned about Bristlecone Pine trees. They only grow at high elevation and rugged conditions. They appear to be rooted in stone. They are known to live for 3,000 years there’s a tree in California believed to be 5,000 years old. It’s the oldest known living tree in the world.

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The Bristlecone Pine, living at 12,000 feet and rooted in rock!

Here’s One More Thing

Jesus walked on water. He cured the sick and healed diseases. He gave hearing to the deaf, sight to the blind, and mobility to the lame. He cured the decaying skin of lepers and raised the dead.

I don’t comprehend that kind of power. On the other hand, he was there when his Father created the world. And nothing was made that wasn’t made through him, (John 1:1-2).

Do I believe God’s son created the world then balk at his power to heal? The former makes the latter a reality.  

To Close

Snow in summer, the internet, air travel, and the Bristlecone. Each are a mystery. Jesus our Messiah was raised from the dead, forgave sin, healed people, and then gave us the Holy Spirit.

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I believe. 

 Shalom

Two Amazing Places

It’s one of my favorite places, requires four-wheel drive, and sits at 11,000 feet.

What?

It’s Lake Kerr, a few miles from Platoro, Colorado. It’s not a huge lake, but it’s one of the most beautiful. When the wind is calm, the surface is like a polished mirror, reflecting the brilliant blue sky. 

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Lake Kerr, Colorado, one of my favorite places!

I have fly fished the lake, have walked its shore, and have picnicked with friends. There are snowcapped peaks around it, and occasionally, the elk will step out from the spruce into the lush meadows of green grass and high mountain flowers.

Kerr Lake 3
Like a polished mirror, amazing!

It’s not easy to get to. At its worst, the road is impassable. At its best, it requires four-wheel drive, and even then, you’ll wonder if you’ll make it. But, it’s so worth the effort.

Another Favorite Place

The Sea of Galilee is also one of my favorite places. It’s not actually a sea, but a lake, and surrounded by low mountains and hills, and Mt. Herman is usually snow-capped. They aren’t as majestic as the Colorado Rockies, but still really beautiful.

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The Sea of Galilee in Israel, an inspiring place!

I haven’t fly fished the lake, or walked around its shore, or had picnics with friends. It doesn’t require four-wheel drive to get to, but it does take some effort, it’s in Israel! I’ve worshipped there with friends, sometimes on the shore, and sometimes from a boat at sunset.

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Sea of Galilee at sunset

I have visited and studied the ancient villages and synagogues that exist around its shores, or close to them. And I’ve been deeply moved by its history and biblical significance:

  • It’s where Peter, Andrew, James and John made their living.
  • It’s where  Peter caught the fish with two coins.
  • Jesus calmed its storms that terrified his apostles.
  • It’s where he performed the miraculous catch of fish, twice.
  • It’s where he called his first disciples.
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Maybe my favorite lake and one of my favorite places to visit! 

To Close

Both lakes stir my soul. The former because of its overwhelming beauty. The other because of its overwhelming significance. I’ve shared both places with friends. I’ve prayed and worshiped in both, and found peace, silence, and the still quiet voice of the Spirit.

Lake Kerr is where I see the face of God. The Sea of Galilee is where I see Jesus walking on the water. At least in my heart!

Two favorite places.

Shalom

A Tired Treadmill

It’s Thursday morning, and I just returned from the gym. It was brutal.

Why?

Some mornings I’m energized and ready for a great work out. Then there’s the other kind, the kind I had today. Don’t really understand why. Maybe it’s a lack of calories, or maybe a poor night’s sleep. Or both?

Limping Through

That’s how it felt, just limping through. It’s the work out I couldn’t wait to finish. Any amount of weight was too much to lift. Any kind of aerobics were too aggressive. The stretching was painful. I gave it a shot. But after 30 minutes, I went home. 

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Not me or my gym, but close, really very close.

And Now…

Well, and now I’m blogging about it. Why? Because it’s on my mind and it’s my blog and I can waste the readers time with something innocuous if I want too. Sorry.

A Lesson?

Maybe. Let’s see, is there something I can link this to, something of value? Hmmm. Well, here goes:

  • Perseverance: nothing good comes easy
  • Patience: nothing good happens quickly
  • Power: the body needs fuel to work effectively
  • People: my work out buddy wasn’t there
  • Procrastination: not sure how it applies but it’s a good P word.

Something Spiritual?

The Spirit is willing but the body is weak. Yep, how true. My spirit wants to soar, to aim high, to reach for the stars. My spirit seeks to be lifted by the Holy Spirit. A weak physical work out is one thing, but a weakened spirit due to lack of nourishment is another.

Can my soul be energized with too few calories? I need the Holy Spirit?

To Close

I’ll get by with a weak work out. But not so sure with the spiritual part. Frankly, I need the fresh breeze of the Spirit every morning. My day is better with it and far less effective without it.

How about you?

Try, Try Again!

I’ve noticed some things…

  • It’s hard to be brilliant with a mediocre IQ.
  • Its tough to be gorgeous with below average looks.
  • It’s difficult to be a high achiever with only basic skills.
  • It’s impossible to be accomplished without a work ethic.

Of The Four

I can’t raise my I.Q. My looks were fixed at birth. I can’t order more skills from Amazon. However, working harder is within reach. Effort requires no skill, only determination.

Determination is within everyone’s grasp.

The Lie

Some say success comes only to the brilliant, to the beautiful, and to the gifted. No doubt it helps. But how would I know? However, it’s a lie that success is only for the blessed.

  • “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” T. Edison
  • Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Unknown
  • “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” Babe Ruth

The Messiah

Reading about the Messiah’s ministry, I get these insights about his work:

  1. He was an early riser.
  2. Every day he taught, did miracles, and blessed people.
  3. He went to different villages & synagogues every day.
  4. He always welcomed children.
  5. He was never too busy to help someone.
  6. Jesus often worked till late in the evening.
  7. He had the Spirit’s power, but the work ethic was all him.

Now Jesus

“At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” Luke 4:42-44

A Famous Quote

The following quote came from a Teacher’s Manual written by American educator Thomas H. Palmer (1782-1861) He wrote it to motivate students to do their homework.

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Be encouraged. Don’t give up. Effort requires no talent, just an unyielding desire to see the job done.

Success may be just around the corner.

Shalom