Apr 20 2022

Tune In

George Washington Carver once wrote, “Nature is an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour—if we will only tune in.”  I have loved this quote ever since I came across it several years ago.  It speaks truth to me.  I really do believe that nature is one of the means God uses to speak to us.  Everyday there is an opportunity to “hear” something new.  But how many of us get these messages?  A lot of us don’t and Carver intimated why—we fail to tune in.  Either we forget to pay attention or are not fully convinced that God does in fact speak through nature.  I admit that I do not always listen as I should.  I, too, sometimes forget to tune in.  But over the years I have heard God speak to me in powerful and moving ways through nature.  In this post I thought I’d share with you some of the things I’ve learned about God in or through nature.

First, I have learned that God truly is the Almighty, that God is all-powerful.  Looking up at the Milky Way on a clear night, standing before a roaring waterfall, watching glaciers calve into the sea, looking up at majestic mountains I have felt humbled by God’s power.  God is the Creator of all these things, the Creator of everything! God’s power is undeniable.  It is incomprehensible.  In nature we are reminded of this day after day.

Second, I have learned through nature that God is wise and all-knowing.  Only one who is infinitely wise could put the world together the way that it is.  God’s wisdom is on display everywhere we look.  Everything God made has a purpose.  Everything!  We may not always know what that purpose is but that is only a sign of our limited understanding.  With unbounded wisdom God made this planet livable.  Things had to be just right for earth to sustain life as we know it.  God’s design of this earth is amazing!  The evidence of this is everywhere we look.

Third, I have learned that God is the consummate artist and the author of beauty.  Every day I get to witness God’s handiwork and I stand in awe of it.  I see the beauty in my neighborhood where I walk almost every day.  I see it when I’m out driving around.  I see it when I visit our state and national parks.  I’ve seen it in my international travels.  There is beauty to behold everywhere you go.  God could have made all flowers and all birds to look the same but chose instead to bless them with an infinite variety of colors, shapes and sizes.  This attention to variety and detail can be seen in all of nature.

The last thing I’ll mention here is that I have learned in and through nature that God is love.  The fact that a home was prepared for us in the first place is proof to me that God loves us.  The fact that God gave such careful attention to details necessary for our survival, as well as other creature’s survival, is a testament to God’s love for us.  So is all the beauty that we find such delight in.  Nature teaches me that God delights in us and cares deeply for us.

Now all of these truths can be found in the Scriptures.  The Bible speaks extensively about God’s power, wisdom, creativity and love.  And we will never find a clearer picture of God than that which we find in Jesus Christ.  But nature augments these truths and brings them home to us in a visible and tangible way.  If we are wise we will make sure to tune in each day so that we might catch God’s “unlimited broadcasting station.”

What have you learned about God through nature?

–Chuck


Mar 24 2022

Holy Love

During my retirement I have been rereading some of my textbooks from seminary.  Many of these are over forty years old!  Currently I’m reading The Christian Doctrine of God by Emil Brunner.  In this classic work Brunner highlights the self-revelation of God and emphasizes God’s revelation of Godself as holy and love.  Both aspects of God’s nature must be maintained in order to have a significant grasp of who God is.  Brunner says “love is the very nature of God.” “Love is the self-giving God: love is the free and generous grace of the One who is Holy Lord.” Elsewhere he adds, “Only now do we understand why love and revelation belong to one another. Love is the movement which goes-out-of-oneself, which stoops down to that which is below: it is the self-giving, the self-communication of God—and it is this which is His revelation. The idea of self-communication gathers up into one the two elements love and revelation.”

Reading Brunner’s words has caused me to give further thought to God’s self-communication through nature.  I firmly believe that God has used that which God created to reveal numerous truths to us.  These truths are given in love and continuously point us back to the Source of this love—a God who is Holy Love.  So many times nature has forced me to recognize the holiness of God.  How can we not be struck by God’s holiness or otherness when we contemplate the sun, moon, and stars?  The Psalmist wrote “The heavens declare the glory of God.” (Psalm 19:1)  How can we not sense God’s holiness when we visit the ocean, mountains, or desert?  I find myself standing in awe of God in natural settings more than any other place.  I suspect many of you do too.

Yes, Creation points me to the holiness of God over and over again, but it also serves as a perpetual reminder of God’s infinite love.  Creation may be viewed as an incredible gift God has lavished upon us out of love.  It is a precious gift for many reasons.  In Creation we find many of our physical, spiritual, mental and emotional needs met.  In Creation we discover a beauty that both humbles and inspires us.  For those with eyes to see, all around us is the evidence of God’s love.  The fact that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) here on earth reveals the full measure of God’s love for both the world and us.  Recognizing the value of this gift of love should move us to pay more attention to God’s overtures of love and affection.  It should also move us to cherish, protect, and preserve this amazing gift.

Now that spring has arrived I hope we will all get outside more and with the eyes of faith contemplate the wonders and glory of God’s handiwork.  As we do so, let us offer our praise and thanksgiving to the One who has been revealed to us as Holy Love.

–Chuck


Dec 29 2021

Nature-RX

I had my annual physical exam a couple of days ago.  After telling my physician about some issues I’ve been having he prescribed a couple of new medications for me.  I am hopeful they will prove beneficial.  I am certainly thankful that we live at a time when there are wonderful medications to help us experience better health. Ironically, shortly before Christmas I received a green T-shirt in the mail that had “Nature-RX” printed on it.  I have no idea who sent me the shirt but I love it.  The shirt will serve as a reminder to me that nature has healing benefits we could all use.

Various studies have revealed a host of benefits from spending time in nature.  These benefits include an increase in happiness, an antidote to stress, anxiety reduction, improved moods, lower blood pressure, enhanced immune system function, a sense of meaning and purpose, and the promotion of cognitive development in children.  Spending time in nature also improves concentration, energy and focus. It even makes a person more giving.  If there was a pill that would do all of this for us I suspect we’d all be asking our doctors for a prescription.   We would even be willing to pay a high price for such a medicine.  Well, in nature we find all this available to us for free and anyone can take advantage of it.

Today we actually know just how much nature is required to reap many of the benefits I’ve mentioned.  A recent study revealed that people who spend two hours a week in green spaces—local parks or other natural environments, either all at once or spread out over several visits—are substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t.  Spending just 120 minutes a week outside can do you a world of good! 

I would be negligent if I didn’t also note that there are many spiritual benefits to spending time in nature.  As we get outdoors we have a chance to observe our Creator’s handiwork.  Our spirits get lifted as we admire the beauty of the earth.  We can actually commune with God through nature.  If we will pay close attention we can also learn many spiritual lessons from the natural world.  It is obvious from reading the Gospels that Jesus did just this.  I believe we can likewise find comfort and peace, as well as joy and strength, from time spent with God outdoors.  Viewing beautiful sunrises and sunsets, observing the wonders of the night sky, or paying attention to the flora and fauna around us can draw us closer to God.  Surely spending time in nature ought to be considered a spiritual discipline.  It is something we can all benefit from.

The “Great Physician” has written us a marvelous prescription that will have positive benefits for us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I hope we will all be wise enough to take advantage of this prescription in the coming year.  Why not make a New Year’s resolution now to do just that?  Happy New Year and God bless!

-Chuck


Nov 29 2021

The Light Prevails

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”  Isaiah 9:2

The season of Advent began yesterday.  Over the next few weeks Christians will be preparing for the celebration of Christmas.  Advent is a time of waiting and eager anticipation.  It seems to me that the natural year offers us a helping hand for Advent.  This is the time of year when the nights are long.  Many people find the long nights disconcerting.  It doesn’t seem right for it to be getting dark when it’s barely 4:00 p.m.  Some folks even experience depression as a result of the longer nights.   That’s understandable.  As a general rule, we long for light.

Right now a lot of us are longing for longer days.  Those days of extended light will soon be here.  After December 21 the time of daylight will begin to lengthen.  At the winter solstice we celebrate that the darkness does not prevail.  That is a theme of Advent as well.  The darkness that prevails in the world right now will not last forever.  A better day is coming, a day characterized by light.

The prophet Isaiah lived in a time of spiritual darkness and prophesied that “a great light” would dawn upon the people.  Christians believe that he spoke of the coming Messiah and that his words were fulfilled with the birth of Jesus.  It was a bright light in the sky that led the Wise Men or Magi to the Christ child.  Later Jesus would identify himself as the “light of the world.”  The author of the Fourth Gospel declared “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5) 

I am thankful that God’s Light was revealed to us in such a marvelous way that first Christmas.  Over the years that Light has brought me much comfort and joy.  It has also brought me a great deal of hope.  I look forward to the day when that Light will be made manifest in all his glory.  In the meantime we will have to endure periods of darkness and do all we can to share the light of Christ with others.  How encouraging it is to know that sooner or later brighter days will come.  The Light will, in fact, prevail over the darkness.  Our Advent hope will be fulfilled.

–Chuck


Oct 27 2021

Songs of Joy

Have you heard any joyful songs lately?  Perhaps you have heard some on the radio or your personal playlist.  It might even have been at church or a concert.  There are lots of places you can hear songs of joy if you will truly listen.  Did you realize the earth itself sings songs of joy?  This is something I’ve been reminded of the past couple of days as I’ve been reading the Book of Psalms. 

Psalm 66 begins with the words “Shout for joy to God, all the earth!  Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious.”  God’s call to creation to break forth in songs of joy can be found numerous places.  In Psalm 65:8 David says “The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.”  In the verses that follow reasons are given for this request for joyful songs: “You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly.  The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you ordained it.  You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.  You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.  The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.  The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.”  (vs. 9-13) 

I find it fascinating that it’s not just humans who are meant to experience joy and gladness.  God’s desire is for all of creation to experience these.  I cannot help but believe that all of creation does, in fact, feel joy and even sings its songs of joy to its Creator.  It has been doing so since the beginning.  The question is, are we hearing its song?   I’d dare say most people are not because they have not been taught to do so. 

Through the birds we can hear songs of joy.  Through the wind we can hear songs of joy.  In babbling streams we can hear songs of joy.  These are fairly obvious examples.  But there are other ways we can “hear” or sense creation’s songs of joy.  It might come through viewing the sun and moon, observing the beautiful foliage of autumn, or paying close attention to the various landscapes around us. Simply by being and fulfilling their purpose, all of creation offers up songs of joy to God.

When the Psalmist declared “Shout for joy to God, all the earth!” surely he had humans in mind as well.  We who have been created in God’s image should certainly be singing songs of joy.  How can we who have experienced God’s love, mercy and grace not sing for joy?  I hope you and I will do everything we can to add our voices to creation’s songs of joy.

–Chuck


Sep 22 2021

Letting Things Go

Today is the first day of fall.  Here in western Kentucky it certainly feels like it.  All of a sudden the temperature has dropped significantly, the wind is blowing, and the leaves are falling.  I am so thankful to live in an area that has four distinct seasons and I always look forward to the arrival of autumn.  

In recent days I have seen a familiar meme reappear on social media.  It says “The trees are about to remind us how lovely it is to let things go.”  I think there is something powerful to this quote.  In each of our lives there are things we need to let go of.  Things that hold us back and keep us from experiencing the joy and abundant life God intends for us.  As I look at my own life I see a number of things I need to let go of.  Let me mention just a few…

First, I need to let go of anger.  We live in very divisive time.  It seems like just about everyone is angry at someone or some group.  Unfortunately, I find myself feeling this anger periodically as well.  Anger is one of the Seven Deadly Sins and for good reason.  It can kill the soul and relationships quicker than anything. The Bible speaks to us of the dangers of anger.  At one point the apostle Paul warned, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26)  What did Paul mean by this?  He meant we should not hold on to our anger, that we should let it go.  There will be little joy and peace in our lives as long as we remain angry.  If there is anger in your life, it is time to let it go.

Second, I need to let go of my pride.  The pride which is a sin causes people to think that the world revolves around them.  They tend to think too much of themselves and not enough about others.  Here, too, I am guilty.  I do not always give others the love and attention I should.  My foolish pride gets in the way.  The fact that pride is also one of the Seven Deadly Sins leads me to believe that this is a common struggle.  I know my life would be richer and more meaningful if I could learn to let go of my selfish pride.

Third, I need to let go of regret.  In life all of us make mistakes.  We all do things we shouldn’t and many people go on to live their life with the heavy burden of regret or remorse.  Even years after we’ve messed up we still beat ourselves up over our failures.  I admit that I struggle with this.  Although we should always learn from our past mistakes, we should not hold on to them.  God doesn’t want us to.  The Scriptures make it clear that God forgives us and that we are to forgive ourselves as well.  The simple truth is that the past can’t be changed.  It does us no good to hold on to it.  When it comes to our regrets, now would be a good time to let them go. 

I could go on listing things I need to let go of.  My tree has many leaves that need to fall.  I share my truncated list just to get me (and hopefully you) thinking about the things that need to be let go.  As you see the trees shedding their leaves this fall let them remind you of the things you need to let go of.  Autumn teaches us that we’re not intended to carry all that weight.  It truly is a lovely thing to let things go that are dragging us down.  I hope you have a wonderful fall.  Blessings!

Chuck